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Education or Domination? By: Andrew Gavin Marshall

Education or Domination? The Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Ford Foundations Developing Knowledge for the Developing World

The following is an excerpt from a chapter on the birth of the American Empire in an upcoming book by Andrew Gavin Marshall, as part ofThe People’s Book Project.

Note: the following is still in draft form, and is not by any means a final product, but more just to serve as a sample of the information and perspectives which will be articulated throughout the entire project.
For the previous excerpt from this chapter, directly preceding this preview, see: “An Education for Empire: The Rockefeller, Carnegie and Ford Foundations in the Construction of Knowledge.”

Note: the following excerpt is largely derived from information published in Richard Arnove’s “Philanthropy and Cultural Imperialism: The Foundations at Home and Abroad.”

The Rockefellers Engineer Black Education

The education which facilitated American imperial expansion around the world was not situated within the Western imperial powers alone, but was simultaneously expanded into the ‘Global South’, those regions of the world which America and the West sought to dominate. This was a pivotal aspect of the imperial project, as it was imperative for America to rule the world, but in a fashion not so reminiscent of the previous age of empires, where domination and empire were openly acknowledged and propagated. Following the two world wars which were the result of a clash of empires, the notion of imperial domination outright was largely discredited. Therefore, the era of ‘informal empire’ came to dominate: imperialism without formal colonization. This project necessarily involved the creation and support of domestic elites in the countries which were targeted for domination.

To prop up a domestic elite which would be subservient to foreign (i.e., Western) interests, an educational system had to be constructed which would produce foreign elites that were indoctrinated with hegemonic ideology, and would thus come to see ‘cooperation’ with the West, and the opening up of their domestic resources to foreign corporations not as a capitulation to a foreign dominator, but as a necessary part of the process of ‘development’.

In the first half of the 20[SUP]th[/SUP] century, the Rockefeller Foundation and Carnegie Corporation undertook joint projects aimed at constructing an education system for black Americans in the South as well as for black Africans in several British colonies. In 1911, the Phelps-Stokes Fund was chartered with the purpose of managing “the education of Negroes both in Africa and the United States.” This restrictive educational system for black Americans had already been institutionalized, beginning with the ‘philanthropic’ endeavours of Wall Street bankers and northern industrialists and capitalists at several conferences in 1898. The education was constructed on the basis that, as one conference participant stated, “the white people are to be the leaders, to take the initiative, to have direct control in all matters pertaining to civilization and the highest interest of our beloved land. History demonstrates that the Caucasian will rule, and he ought to rule.” As one conference organizer stated:

Time has proven that [the ‘negro’] is best fitted to perform the heavy labor in the Southern states… He will willingly fill the more menial positions, and do the heavy work, at less wages, than the American white man or any foreign race… This will permit the Southern white laborer to perform the more expert labor, and to leave the fields, the mines, and the simple trades for the negro.[1]

The conferences resulted in what became known as the ‘Tuskegee educational philosophy,’ which was decided upon by 1901. Three major decisions were taken at the conferences. The first major decision was that “it was necessary that provision be made to train a Negro leadership cadre”:

For this purpose, then, it was concluded that certain Negro colleges would be strengthened to educate a strong professional class – doctors, lawyers, ministers – which would be responsible for raising the general physical and moral level of the race in the segregated black communities… [Second], it was decided that the Negro had been educated away from his natural environment and that his education should concern only those fields available to him. This key decision marked the formulation of the concept of a special Negro education. Third, it was decided that this special education – vocational and agricultural in focus – of the Negro had to be directed toward increasing the labor value of his race, a labor value which, not surprisingly, would see the white capitalist as chief beneficiary.[2]

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Education or Domination? The Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Ford Foundations Developing Knowledge for the Developing World « Andrew Gavin Marshall
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