Creating a New Society Change Agents and Influence Peddlers


Social engineering, an activity of shifting the mind and heart of individuals and thus changing personal and group behavior – is a progressive endeavor. But please don’t misunderstand. This isn’t about “revolution” in a violent sense. Rather, it’s a process of incremental action that cumulatively moves toward the goal of a “better world” or the “good society.”

For the average person living in the moment of cultural change, such shifting sands trigger vaguely uneasy feelings. Something doesn’t seem right. Yet we progress: Accepting values and cultural views which our parent’s generation struggled over, our grandparent’s refused to accept, and our great-grandparents… well, such ideas of transformation may never have entered their minds. Or, conversely, they had seen the results of the “better world” in places such as Mussolini’s fascist Italy, Stalin’s Soviet utopia, or Hitler’s socialist Germany.

Change agents of yesterday and in the present understand that if culture is to fundamentally shift in a permanent way, then social values must move gradually until a tipping point is reached. For this to occur, institutional hubs must first be altered from within; government, the education system, media and popular culture, religious organizations, and other key societal crossroad need to embrace the new worldview. Once the gatekeepers in those sectors accept the new order, the larger pool of individuals that comprise civilization will experience a push toward transformation – the creation of a new mind for a new society.

At this point a vocal percentage of the general population embraces the “change” rhetoric. Grassroots momentum builds as they claim this transformation as their own, viewing it as “organic,” a bottom-up approach. Demands are loudly shouted; the top1% of society must reform to the “will of the people.” We must unshackle ourselves from the old masters, or so we’re told. Never mind that other “top-down” masters, those who called for change long before the public caught wind of the idea, are waiting in the wings with their version of transformation.

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Foundations and Transformation

The “top-down” change agents “reforming” our social and political institutions are not difficult to discover. Indeed, for the past one hundred years in the Western World, and the United States in particular, an army of social and policy engineers have been accepted as part of the structural landscape. Enter the “expert” pressure peddlers: The interlocking complex of philanthropic foundations, think-tanks, executive organizations, and high academia.

Today, if you are a person of significant political influence, odds are you’ve spent time rotating between those doors (and probably the corporate/financial world too). This is exactly what has been going on since the days of Andrew Carnegie, Nicholas Murray Butler, Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson.3 Indeed, it’s an outgrowth of America’s “Progressive Era.”

All of this said, it must be remembered that not all foundations and think tanks operate as agents of internationalist transformation. But there is a select core of “progressives” that carry this banner, and it is those primary groups we will examine.

Examples of globalist foundations include the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (and other Carnegie organs), the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the World Peace Foundation. Similarly minded “intermediate” think-tanks and executive organizations include The Brookings Institute, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the Aspen Institute, and the Social Science Research Council. In terms of globalist influence through high academia, one can turn to the London School of Economics, the American Council on Education (more an “executive organization”), the Columbia Law School, the Oxford Centre for International Studies and its Global Economic Governance program, and the historic role of top university personnel as government advisors, foundation directors, and members of major think tanks.

The start-up of the Carnegie-based family of foundations is a prime example of this interlock, and an important one as Andrew Carnegie is considered the father of philanthropic foundations. Consider this history as presented by the Carnegie Institute for Science,

“In 1901, Andrew Carnegie retired from business to begin his career in philanthropy. Among his new enterprises, he considered establishing a national university in Washington, D.C., similar to the great centers of learning in Europe. Because he was concerned that a new university could weaken existing institutions, he opted for a more exciting, albeit riskier, endeavor – an independent research organization that would increase scientific knowledge.

“Carnegie contacted President Theodore Roosevelt and declared his readiness to endow the new institute with $10 million. He added $2 million more to the endowment in 1907, and another $10 million in 1911.

“As ex officio members of the first board of trustees, Carnegie chose the President of the United States, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the secretary of the Smithsonian Institute and the president of the National Academy of Sciences. In all, he selected 27 men for the institution’s original board. Their first meeting was held in the office of the Secretary of State on January 29, 1902, and Daniel C. Gilman, who had been president of John Hopkins University, was elected president.”

Further, when the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace was set up in 1910 — after prompting by Columbia University’s Nicholas Murray Butler –the first president of the Endowment was US Senator and former Secretary of State, Elihu Root. Added to the trustee list was former US Ambassador Robert S. Brookings, who would later launch The Brookings Institute, currently one of the most influential think-tanks in the United States. Similar stories of “interlock” could be given for other major groups. However, as alluded to before, many of these foundations and organizations viewed social management as a priority from inception. The Carnegie family of foundations provide some fascinating examples.

●The Carnegie Institute of Washington (now called the Carnegie Institute for Science) established the Department of Experimental Evolution at Cold Spring Harbor, New York, thus funding and empowering the eugenics movement, both in the United States and in Germany. [More about “Eugenics and Foundations” in the next article from Forcing Change]

● Carnegie foundation money was channeled to the World Peace Foundation, who in 1912 promoted a 5 point program for world government:

1) a world judicial system,

2) an international parliament or congress,

3) a system of world laws, 4) an “international army and navy,”

5) an International Protectorate with an International Police.

Furthermore, substantial overlap existed between board members and personnel from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the World Peace Foundation. To review the complete 5-point program, see the article, “In Their Own Words: International Good-Will.”

● The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace worked to advance internationalism through the “well-organized and systematic education of public opinion.”5 To this end, the Endowment set up “Mind Alcoves” where special book collections from a globalist and leftist perspective could be made available to the general public.6 And thanks to Andrew Carnegie, the infrastructure for these Mind Alcoves already existed. From 1886 until the 1920s, Carnegie funded the construction of 1,681 public libraries in the United States (and over 800 in other countries).7 In an age when radio was in its infancy and television unheard of, the Endowment’s library program was a masterful tool for shaping education and public opinion. Not surprisingly, this “education of public opinion” converged with the Endowment’s claim of “scientific research” as it related to economics and international law.8 Pulling some of the pieces together, the US Congress Tax-Exempt Foundations report of 1954/55 noted that “a prime purpose of the Endowment was to ‘educate’ the public so that it would be conditioned to the points of view which the Endowment favored.”9

● In reviewing the early annual reports from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, it’s obvious they were deeply involved in shaping American opinion and government policy – partly through supporting “Agencies of Propaganda” and the Endowment’s “Propaganda Fund” – and through its many commissions and departments who directly interacted with policy makers and government offices. To this effect, the Endowment focused on domestic concerns such as education and immigration, and established commissions and agencies to review matters of foreign affairs, including input into war efforts and advocating for world law. The Endowment was also heavily involved with supporting international bodies that interlocked with American and foreign governments, including the Interparliamentary Union, the Pan-American movement, and the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague. By its own admission the Carnegie Endowment was “an unofficial instrument of international policy.”10

This role in foreign affairs was recognized by a Congressional committee chaired by Carroll Reece from 1953 to 1955. Commenting on the Carnegie Endowment, the report quoted the following,

“…[the Endowment has] undertaken vital research projects for the [US State] Department; virtually creating minor departments or groups within the Department for it; supplied advisors and executives from their ranks; fed a constant stream of personnel into the State Department trained by themselves or under programs which they have financed; and have had much to do with the formulation of foreign policy both in principle and detail.”11

But the Reece Committee’s report, Tax-Exempt Foundations, had far more to say. Signaling out the three titans; the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Ford Foundation, the committee noted,

“In the international field, foundations, and an interlock among some of them and certain intermediary organizations, have exercised a strong effect upon our foreign policy and upon public education in things international. This has been accomplished by vast propaganda, by supplying executives and advisors to government and by controlling much research in this area through the power of the purse.


“The net result of these combined efforts has been to promote ‘internationalism’ in a particular sense – a form directed toward ‘world government’ and a derogation of American ‘nationalism.’ Foundations have supported a conscious distortion of history, propagandized blindly for the United Nations as the hope of the world, supported that organization’s agencies to an extent beyond general public acceptance, and leaned toward a generally ‘leftist’ approach to international problems.”12

This, the Committee noted, was subversive – not in a revolutionary sense – but through “a gradual undermining, a persistent chipping away at foundations upon which beliefs rest.”13

Millennium Dreams

Many historical examples of how foundations acted as an engine for social change could be explored. And they should be explored. However, it’s important to note that more recent projects demonstrate the continuation of this agenda.

My own experience in this field came while attending international events. For example, in 2002 I attended the FIM Global Governance conference in Montreal, Quebec. Here, leading figures from the World Federalist Movement, the World Trade Organization and the United Nations, brainstormed with representatives from government and non-governmental organizations.

Items of interest included world taxation schemes, the creation of a “people’s” world parliament, United Nations empowerment, and the question of how local administrations (city, county, municipal) could be involved in the growing sphere of international governance. Bill Graham, at that time the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, responded during a Q&A session that he supported the idea of a global parliament attached to the World Trade Organization. Funders for this event were the Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation, along with support from Quebec government offices.

Global Governance 2002 loosely fit with some of the pre-millennium projects coming from major foundations and think tanks. During the 1990s, these entities pushed hard for the international community to discuss and adopt some measure of cooperative security; the idea of a global security framework. Some of these projects were based on a single conference, others on a series of research projects, consultations, assemblies, and published findings. In most cases, deep interlock was clearly evident. While some of the ideas were fresh, the basic concept of “world order” that percolated behind these projects was anything but new, for as mentioned before, the World Peace Foundation – backed with Carnegie personnel – introduced one version of collective security in 1912 (see page 16).

A few pre-millennium examples are given below, with three projects explained in some detail.

● 1991-1992: The Brookings Institute, Cooperative Security Project.

● 1993: Aspen Institute, International Peace and Security in a New World System.

● 1995: World Order Models Project, The Global Civilization: Challenge for Democracy, Sovereignty, and Security. [NOTE: The World Order Models Project was a long running program funded by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Rockefeller Foundation.]

● Project on World Security: During the late 1990s, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund examined security challenges and global governance in their Project on World Security. “Understanding and managing the dynamics of this new age,” one Project document noted, is a “central objective of foundations…”14  It was further explained that foundations are leaders in world transformation, supporting “global actors” and “agents of change” so that societies can integrate within the global community, and to construct “hybrid regimes” to “manage transnational challenges.”15  The Rockefeller Brothers Fund was also pursuing grant making opportunities with other foundations who were pursuing world security programs.

● Preventing Deadly Conflict: From 1994 to 1999, the Carnegie Corporation of New York hosted a similar project on world security and global power sharing, titled the Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict. The core of this Commission was found in its personnel, which represented a matrix of interlocking personalities from think tanks and research groups, foundations, academic offices, the United Nations, and government departments, including George H.W. Bush, UN Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali, and Jimmy Carter. In his contribution to the Carnegie project, Mikhail Gorbachev emphasized that globalization will transform the world, replacing nation states with regional systems, an indisputable regime of global law, and “international political leadership.”16 [Italics in original]

● Our Global Neighborhood: In 1995, the UN-linked Commission on Global Governance released its seminal report, Our Global Neighborhood. Funded in part by the Carnegie, Ford, and MacArthur foundations, this Commission played a massive role in advancing the debate on global governance, including the idea of a global carbon tax and carbon-trading system that “would yield very large revenues indeed.”17 Another suggestion was the creation of an internationally controlled, elite military force.18 As Our Global Neighborhood states,

“The development of global governance is part of the evolution of human efforts to organize life on the planet, and that process will always be ongoing. Our work is no more than a transit stop on that journey.”19

And this brings us right back to my experience at Global Governance 2002 in Montreal, for it was Our Global Neighborhood that set the tone for this event.

Presently, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, which operates as a grant-based foundation and a policy research group, is working hard to become “the first international and hopefully global think-tank.”20 Besides its headquarters in Washington DC, the Endowment has a “Carnegie Europe” office in Brussels, a Moscow-based institute, a “Carnegie Middle-East Center” in Beirut, and the “Carnegie-Tsinghua Center” in Beijing, China. It’s anticipated that the Endowment will be establishing similar institutions in India, Latin America, and Africa.

Halls of Power

It must be noted that think tanks and foundations are not lobbyist groups in the popular sense. Writing on the complexity of the think tank/foundation community, James McGann of the Foreign Policy Research Institute tells us, “tax laws governing nonprofit organizations in the US prohibits them from attempting to influence a specific piece of legislation, [therefore] think tanks tend to understate rather than overstate their influence on major policy issues.”21

Nevertheless, progressive foundations and think tanks are centers of power – providing a “holding pattern” and launching pad for Western elites, a home to return to, and direction.

In the fall of 2008, the Carnegie Corporation of New York (the flagship of the Carnegie foundations) launched its “Advice to the President” portal, a website where over 140 foundations, think-tanks, and media groups could deposit documents and working papers on foreign and domestic policy ( The Carnegie Corporation hoped the website would “help guide President Obama and members of his administration,” but also noted it was a place to present different views to concerned citizens 22 – in other words, it was meant to help shape debate in the public arena.

This makes sense from an opinion-shaping point of view, as the major foundations and think-tanks already have an open door relationship with government leaders, congressional offices, and federal agencies. Noting this existing two-way road, the Carnegie Reporter touched on how the Obama administration would impact The Brookings Institute – headed by former US Deputy Secretary of State and “world government” advocate, Strobe Talbott.23

“One critical role played by think tanks is to provide an idea haven for individuals coming out of the twenty-four-hour demands of serving in a presidential administration… Just as he [Talbott] was preparing to lose U.N. Ambassador Rice and other Brookings scholars to Barack Obama, Talbott was simultaneously wooing outgoing members of the Bush administration to come to Brookings.”24

In the 2009 Spring edition of the Carnegie Reporter, freelance journalist Lee Katz’s wrote about the rise of foundations and think tanks: “They can be seen as almost a fourth branch of government, influencing Congress, U.S. federal agencies and presidential administrations.”25

And P.J. Crowley, now serving as an Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Department of State, called these institutions “the closest thing we have to a shadow government.”26

A good example of this came on July 15, 2009, when US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a foreign policy address at the newly opened Washington branch of the Council on Foreign Relations – a research institute/think-tank that historically advocates internationalism, and is interlocked with similarly-minded foundations.

“Thank you very much… and I’m delighted to be here in these new headquarters. I have been often to, I guess, the mother ship in New York City, but it’s good to have an outpost of the Council right here down the street from the State Department. We get a lot of advice from the Council, so this will mean I won’t have as far to go to be told what we should be doing and how we should think about the future.”

Making It Work

Internationalist-leftist minded foundations, think tanks, and acedemia/executive organizations can be viewed as transformational wholesalers. And when we unpack their influence pattern, we can roughly discern a lineage. Here is an incomplete yet telling breakdown; keep in mind that more complexities exist, including points not covered in this essay such as corporate and financial channels, private government research organizations, mental health associations, and faith-based groups. However, I have included Cultural Programs – often funded by foundations – and Media/Publishing, as think tanks regularly submit editorial pieces and are frequent guests on issue-based Washington television shows.

Major foundations and think tanks influence government by way of special advisors, representation on commissions and committees, the submission of reports and white papers, involvement in hearings, applying pressure via affiliated lobbying groups, and direct involvement through the exchange of personnel – and as alluded by Hilary Clinton on page 9, by being the long established resource base upon which governments turn to.

As government policy and programs line up with the worldview of these titan foundations and their interlocking circles, other civic and social institutions – education, media, and religious bodies – start parroting the new paradigm. Segments of the general public, pliable under the constant (and generational) pressures of change, accept the transformation rhetoric. Moreover, a point is reached where a percentage of the public actually thinks this progressive transformation is their idea (as hinted on page 2 and the top of page 3). Thus begins the “common” ownership stage, and soon everyone feels like a shift is taking place; because it is.

Two feed-back loops at this public juncture play a crucial role. The first feed-back channel is structural; The foundation/think tank community conducts and reports on longevity studies, takes polls, and otherwise monitors public responses. These research tools are not new, but their findings now exude more influence as it bolsters the paradigm shift. Armed with this supporting data from the general public, elites from think tanks/foundations present their findings to Congressional and Parliamentary committees, special commissions, and other government channels. In turn, policy makers tweak existing programs, create new one, and implement administrative changes to reflect the new reality. Eventually this filters into the public space, and the feed-back loop begins another cycle.

The second feed-back loop is simply the reversal of the above, but in time it becomes more raw, more emotional, more populist. Reaching a critical stage, the masses accept the new worldview and transformation agenda as the only viable option to fix society’s problems. In turn, the vocal public demands that schools, governments, and other institutions “change to meet the times” and “do something.” The aroused crowd, at this point, may emerge as a movement. When this takes place, the experience is couched as “organic” – a convergence at the grassroots level of emotions and activities dedicated to a new worldview; and about “community” – the feeling of “belonging” and having mass-ownership in the change.

Thus, pressure is exerted upward into higher social and political strata, and as the public mood gains energy, policy makers respond. Foundations and think tanks, in turn, discuss and debate the nature of this social evolution, and feed their insights back into the system.

Today’s “Occupy” movement represents part of this loop process; the so-called 99% who protest for “progressive” change. It’s an “organic” movement, but this doesn’t mean the grassroots component is without historical context. Indeed, it’s intellectually supported by leftist circles and indirectly through outfits like the [wealthy, radical, socialist] Tides Foundation. More importantly, it has generational and ideological roots that drink deeply from the Progressive Era – the same fountain that witnessed the birth, growth, and institutionalization of today’s elitist think tanks and foundations. This isn’t to say that the Carnegie/Rockefeller interlock community supports the Occupy protests, just that it’s part of a continuum of social transformation that stems back over one hundred years – the quest to create a new society.

By Carl Teichrib, Chief Editor