AMPP front page - The Architecture of Modern Political Power
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BAOBAB PRESS -- Volume 4, Number 13


In all of world history, it would be difficult to link as much mischief to any one name as can be traced to the Rockefeller family over the past century. From the ruthless monopoly capitalism that characterized the early industrial era to the building of an investment empire that spans the globe, the name of Rockefeller is usually the first that comes to mind. The slaughter of union organizers, blackmail of competitors, industrial and political espionage, ruthless population control schemes, and plots to overthrow governments are all part of the Rockefeller legacy.

It was John Davison Rockefeller, the patriarch of the Rockefeller dynasty, who built the family fortune with the Standard Oil Company he founded in 1870 at the age of 31. Within ten years, Rockefeller's new firm had gained a stranglehold on oil refining in America, controlling such a huge share of production and shipping that he was able to undermine competitors by extracting from the railroads a private "tax" for every non-Standard Oil petroleum shipment they accepted.

By the mid 1880s, John D. Rockefeller had become a millionaire many times over. He had also become what one historian calls the most hated man in America, if not the world. Several state attorneys tried in vain to have him jailed for his corrupt business practices. And by the turn of the century, Rockefeller's widely-criticised financial dealings prompted the passage of federal regulatory legislation to curb the power of monopolies. Even these anti-trust laws, however, were insufficient to limit the expansion of the vast Standard Oil empire.

Rockefeller himself was an austere, humourless Baptist, with an annoying habit of proclaiming that his wealth came from God. In reality, however, his fortune was amassed not only by extortion tactics against the railroads and the systematic sabotage of potential competition, but also through some of the most oppressive labour practices imaginable.

The Devil's Money

Numerous published accounts of the labour movement in the early 20th century confirm that workers at that time were often subjected to barbaric, slave labour-type conditions. And the situation at the Rockefeller-owned Colorado Fuel and Iron Company in Ludlow, Colorado was among the worst. Labourers worked scandalously long hours under extraordinarily risky conditions. They were physically disciplined by company thugs and paid with vouchers that could only be exchanged for company housing or for food and other commodities dispensed by management. For all practical purposes, in other words, Rockefeller mine workers received substandard family housing and food, but no expendable wages whatever.

In 1913, when the United Mine Workers began organising, management responded by bringing in a battalion of private union busters. The miners promptly walked off the job and evacuated the company premises. The hired enforcers then retaliated by invading a tent city set up by the strikers. Two women and eleven children were killed in that first confrontation, and more than 75 minors lost their lives in a series of bloody battles that followed.

The so-called Ludlow massacre, as the Colorado incident was known, was just one in a series of events that kept the Rockefeller name constantly before the public and prompted the family to launch a then-unprecedented propaganda drive to improve its image. At the time of the Colorado mine revolt, the Rockefeller fortune was in the hands of John D. and his son, John D., Jr. Under the guidance of a clever public relations agent, films and press releases were distributed nationwide portraying the Rockefellers in a favourable light. One of the best-remembered gimmicks of this period was the legendary dime give-away. As the Rockefeller holdings soared more than a billion dollars, John D. Sr., over a period of years, presented shiny new dimes to an estimated 30,000 citizens -- always with cameras present to record his "generosity."

But serious philanthropy was the more durable part of the effort to redeem the Rockefeller name. In 1901, the family launched the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, which later became Rockefeller University. Two years afterward, they established the General Education Board. And a Rockefeller Sanitary Commission was created with family money in 1909.

Then, in 1913, the year of the bloodbath in Colorado, the Rockefeller foundation was launched with $50 million worth of Standard Oil assets. Its charter described the foundation's goal as the advancement of "the civilization of the peoples of the United States and its territories and possessions and of foreign lands..."

But the foundation's "philanthropic" activities more often than not conveniently served the Rockefeller corporate interest, a pattern that continues to this day.

Industrial Colonisation

A foundation allows an investor to avoid paying taxes on that part of the company's profits that is set aside for the "public good." The foundation is generally administered by the donor with the help of a hand-picked board of directors, and has wide leeway in determining what projects actually serve the public interest.

The Rockefeller Foundation at first turned its attention to science and academia, pouring money into colleges and universities to promote a worldview friendly toward the expansion of investment.

The Rockefellers also developed a keen interest in birth control. The Ludlow, Colorado experience had taught them that growing numbers of discontented, underpaid workers posed an imminent danger to wealthy industrialists such as themselves. The Rockefeller Foundation made its first grant for birth control studies to the Social Science Research Council in 1923. Thirteen years later, the Foundation created an Office of Population Research at Princeton University to address the political aspects of population change.

By the early 1950s, the Rockefeller financial empire extended over much of the world, including billions of dollars in land holdings, agricultural enterprises, industrial developments, financial institutions, and trading corporations, most of them in Latin America. In the late 1960s, there were no fewer than 13 separate foundations and 75 trusts administered by the Rockefellers.

Just as John D., Sr. was a tycoon and John D., Jr. was best known for "philanthropy," the next generation of male Rockefellers -- John D. III, Nelson, Laurance, Winthrop and David -- became the global administrators. Nelson, who served briefly as Vice President of the United States under Gerald Ford, is probably the best known of the five.

Shortly after the end of World War II, Nelson Rockefeller set up two important institutions which would become models for international activities in the next decades. The first, called the American International Association for Economic and Social Development (or "AIA"), was a non-profit organisation established to promote "reforms" in the fields of agriculture and health in Latin America. The other, the International Basic Economy Corporation ("IBEC"), was a profit-making investment firm begun in 1947.

A report published in 1969 by the North American Congress on Latin America describes how the two entities worked hand-in-hand to enrich the Rockefellers:

"AIA, nominally a non-profit organization, conducted a market and product survey of the hybrid seed corn industry in Brazil in 1946. It discovered that only one domestic company produced hybrid seed corn, Agroceres Limitada. AIA persuaded the Agroceres management to form a new company in which Agroceres would provide the technical knowledge; AIA then organized IBEC as a profit-making venture to provide Agroceres with the necessary capital for expansion. IBEC thus came into control of the formerly indigenously-owned Agroceres and since then has cornered over 45 percent of the Brazilian hybrid corn seed market."

Similarly, IBEC and other Rockefeller-owned firms have accumulated a controlling share in "local" industries and commerce throughout the region -- chicken farming in Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, Mexico and Peru, for example; building construction in Puerto Rico and Chile; food processing and distribution in El Salvador, Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, and Peru; manufacturing in Uruguay, Mexico, Colombia, and elsewhere; shipping firms in Panama, Bermuda and the Bahamas; mining operations in several countries; and financial services and investment corporations almost everywhere -- often using tactics similar to those employed by Standard Oil to suppress indigenous competition.

Combined with the family's vast petroleum and mining interests in the region, the Rockefeller empire quickly amassed an incredible level of economic control within the region. This control was augmented by millions of dollars from the various Rockefeller "philanthropies" poured into local universities and research centres in Latin America, and Asia in the hopes of creating an intellectual climate conducive to the family's lucrative business operations.

Global Action

The interests of the financial elite in the United States soon became indistinguishable from the interests of the government. Indeed, the Rockefeller family has been a major funder of such influential associations as the Council on Foreign Relations, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, the Overseas Development Council, and dozens of "world affairs" study centres at American colleges and universities from which the nation's political leaders are drawn. In fact, 23 of the scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project to develop nuclear weapons were graduates of Rockefeller study programmes.

As the cold war escalated in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the government increasingly turned to private institutions like the various Rockefeller endowments to funnel money into regions where the U.S. wanted to increase its influence or to support groups and operations deemed too sensitive for the government to back openly.

For example, it was disclosed by syndicated columnist Jack Anderson in December of 1979 that the Rockefellers had helped to plan the August 1953 CIA coup in Iran that brought down Mohammed Mossadegh and installed the detested Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. According to Anderson, the Rockefellers were handsomely rewarded by a grateful Shah who deposited huge sums of cash in Chase Manhattan and consigned the construction of new housing to a Rockefeller firm.

Similar accusations have been made about a possible Rockefeller role in the 1973 coup that toppled Chile's Salvador Allende.

Whatever part the Rockefeller dynasty might have played in such cloak-and-dagger operations, there can be no question about its usefulness in more mundane tasks like eavesdropping and money-laundering.

The use of private organisations and foundations as government surrogates in the nation's psychological warfare effort was detailed in a secret June 4, 1952 memorandum written by White House strategist William A. Korns and archived in the records of the old Psychological Strategy Board. A condition for the deployment of "private resources," the memo advised, would be a determination on "the overt-covert issue." The document further explained that non-governmental actors should be used only when necessary to conceal the involvement of the U.S. government. "If there is reason to believe that the Made in America label may in some instances thwart the achievement of our long-range objectives, it would follow that private capabilities should be used on a highly selective basis," Korns wrote.

In fact, the same memo, titled "Cold War Resources of Private and Other Government Agencies," also hinted that such American business ventures could be of use in intelligence gathering because of their experience in dealing with local officials. It specifically referred to the Standard Oil Company's negotiations in India, at which time "the State Department [was] in close touch with the corporation," and mentioned Nelson Rockefeller's International Basic Economy Corporation as one organisation regarded as "sensitive to political direction."

There was probably little need for "political direction" in the case of IBEC, however. Nelson Rockefeller himself had previously held sensitive posts in government that allowed him to place his financial ties to Latin America at the government's service. In 1938, according to a book, American Propaganda Abroad by former U.S. Information Agency official Fitzhugh Green, "the United States government began its own modest cultural thrust among the Latin American republics, called the Office of Inter-American Affairs, under Nelson Rockefeller in the State Department."

Two years later, and still fully seven years before IBEC was launched, Nelson Rockefeller was appointed to oversee a secret U.S. government ideological and economic warfare offensive south of the border. As an undated and formerly-classified White House memorandum relates, such "psychological" activities were then still too controversial with the American public to be discussed openly. "Propaganda was still a horrid word," says the document, a history of American propaganda efforts overseas, "and the national administration in 1940 could not hope to establish an admitted propaganda agency. American psychological operations or opinion-influencing activities had to be cloaked in the subterfuge of agency titles."

There was, nonetheless, support among politicians of both parties for "an agency to coordinate our defense activities in Latin America and to foster Latin American attitudes favorable to our objectives," said the document, provided "its propaganda aspects were properly concealed."

"In August 1940," the review continues, "Nelson A. Rockefeller was appointed as Coordinator of Commercial and Cultural Relations Among the Latin American Republics (hereinafter identified as CIAA)." The history also notes Rockefeller's "economic, financial and commercial responsibilities in Latin America," and states that the "primary function" of his office was "to employ all these instruments in conjunction with an extensive American information programme," carefully planned to mold Latin American public opinion.

Controlling Births

The Rockefeller clan was supportive of controversial foreign interventions in other ways as well. One of the most important of these measures was population control. In 1952, at the height of an era of anti-communist hysteria, John D. Rockefeller III, Nelson's older brother, established the New York-based Population Council. He was later to recall that the centre was founded on the basis of his belief that "the mounting tempo of growth among the world's poorest people represented a major threat to social-economic development [and] to political stability."

Since social and economic "development" had become practically synonymous with Rockefeller business interests and "political stability" had been purchased through a clandestine "information programme" directed by Nelson Rockefeller's old CIAA, one could reasonably conclude that population growth in the so-called "third world" was viewed even more importantly as a threat to the global power and prestige of the Rockefellers.

Ramparts magazine, in a May 1970 article called "Why the Population Bomb is a Rockefeller Baby," put it this way: "World War II had exhausted the older colonial empires, and everywhere the cry of nationalism sounded: from Communists in China and Southeast Asia, from neutralists in Indonesia and India, from independence movements in Africa and from economic nationalists in Latin America. People wanted their own steel mills, use of their own oil and iron ore and, most menacing, the right to protect themselves against integration in an international marketplace which systematically favored the already-industrialised."

The population "problem" was given an even more dramatic evaluation by retired U.S. Army Colonel Alexander Stuart in a 1958 book published by the Exposition Press in New York and titled, Overpopulation: Twentieth Century Nemesis.

Stuart described the impact of population growth in poor nations as nothing less than a blank check for communist "agitators" which ultimately would lead to "the loss of access to strategic raw materials: petroleum, manganese, tungsten, tin, chromium, etc., those substances upon which our whole industrial machine depends."

A pattern of interference soon emerged. Two years after the Population Council was inaugurated, for instance, the China Family Planning Association was formed, based on preliminary work done by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Rockefeller-funded population outfit at Princeton. Similar birth control organizations were established in other countries, such as Kenya, where "advisors" dispatched by the Population Council worked with former colonial administrators to introduce the idea of birth-prevention on a small scale. By the mid 1960s, such "planned parenthood" societies had been set up in almost every developing country.

In 1968, just three years after the U.S. government began openly financing those same birth control centres as part of its foreign economic assistance programme, a Presidential Committee on Population and Family Planning was organised. Under the leadership of John D. Rockefeller III, the panel recommended that foreign population programmes be expanded "as rapidly as funds can be properly allocated by the U.S." Yet another commission of a similar nature was formed in 1969 by President Nixon to continue the old group's advisory task -- and it, too, was headed by John D. Rockefeller III.

Ideological Outreach

Foundation money and other assets controlled by the Rockefeller family were instrumental in making population control an issue at the United Nations, as well. Indeed, the very ground on which UN headquarters in New York was built was a gift of the Rockefeller family. And the first director of UN's Population Division -- Frank Notestein - - came from the Rockefeller-created population office at Princeton University and later succeeded John D. III as president of the Population Council.

Rockefeller money continues to be a major force in public and private "security" operations around the world. Millions of Rockefeller dollars are spent each year for research and policy studies related to U.S. political and economic interests abroad. For instance, the Rockefeller Foundation recently allocated $1.5 million for a study by the Overseas Development Council offering U.S. leaders "timely analysis of U.S. interests in developing countries" in the post cold war years. And in the past few years, it has contributed millions more to influential institutes involved in plotting the course of American military and commercial engagements overseas.

But population control is quickly becoming the number one foreign mission of the various Rockefeller trusts. According to a 1988 article in the New York Times, the Foundation alone was expected to spend between $60 and $75 million on population activities in developing countries over the next five years.

In recent years, the bulk of Rockefeller population grants have gone to Africa. According to the index of grants made by private endowments, the Rockefeller Foundation provided thousands of dollars for population "education" in Benin; sponsored meetings on fertility regulation and training seminars for contraceptive counselors in Nigeria; contributed to family planning clinics in Tanzania; and supported population policy development in the Sahel, among other things.

Borrowing a tactic from Nelson Rockefeller's old CIAA office, the Foundation also bankrolled a "workshop on population and media issues" held under the auspices of the Africa Press Trust in Lusaka, Zambia.

Additional grants were given to a British-based "African Resources Trust" to establish a coordinating group for non-governmental organisations, to the African Centre for Technology Studies in Kenya, and to the internationally-managed Cairo Demographic Centre.

And a UN directory of population activities lists still more operations of the same sort attributed to the Population Council, which now derives much of its multi-million-dollar operating fund from the "aid" budgets of the U.S.and other developed countries.

Even more interesting is a relatively small allowance bestowed by the Rockefeller Foundation on the CIA-created African-American Institute in New York. That award, in the words of the foundation grant list, was to be used toward the "creation of [a] South African Development Bank." Equally ominous was a $25,000 contribution from the Rockefellers to the World Bank for the purpose of furthering the implementation of its population reduction policies for sub-Saharan Africa.

The foregoing investigative report was prepared in the U.S. using documents available from the U.S. National Archives, the Library of Congress, published resources of the United Nations Population Fund and the U.S. Agency for International Development, and a variety of private publications, including the following: Nature Against Us: The United States and the World Population Crisis, 1965-1980 by Peter J. Donaldson (University of North Carolina, 1980); The World Population Crisis: The United States Response by Phyllis Tilson Piotrow (Praeger, 1973); Ramparts magazine, May, 1970 ("Why the Population Bomb is a Rockefeller Baby"); The Big Foundations by Waldemar A. Nielsen (Columbia Univ. Press, 1972); The CIA: A Forgotten History by William Blum (Zed Books, 1986); Population in the Global Arena by Parker G. Marden, Dennis G. Hodgson, and Terry L. McCoy (Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1982); American Propaganda Abroad by Fitzhugh Green (Hippocrene Books, 1988); The U.S. Intelligence Community by Jeffrey T. Richelson (Harper, second ed. 1989); "The Rockefeller Empire: Latin America," NACLA Newsletter, April-June 1969 (North American Congress on Latin America, New York); and Overpopulation: Twentieth Century Nemesis by Alexander J. Stuart (Exposition Press, 1958). Additional background was obtained from The New Grolier Electronic Encyclopedia (Grolier Electronic Publishing, Inc., 1991), the Foundation Center in Washington, D.C., and Biography, a program of the cable television Discovery Channel.

Copyright 1994 U.S.A. / I.P.F.A.