In the political world, “soft power” is the use of culture and consumer products as a way of influencing foreign policy. Rather than guns and bombs, things such as consumer goods and music can be used to coerce, persuade and co-opt a population.
One of America’s greatest contributions to the world is rock’n’roll–and we don’t need to discuss the power this music has. So here’s the question: did the CIA ever use rock’n’roll as a weapon? The Awl takes a look.
At the exact same time that such insanity was sweeping across the government, the CIA was paying for the publication of books and articles by plenty of ex-communists and others with leftist leanings and Marxist pasts. The CIA showed a willingness, since its inception, to fund whoever made sense as a tool regardless of the political climate, and despite the politics of those funded.
As the twentieth century wore on, it seems safe to assume that the CIA continued acts of cultural propaganda. The files remain secret and the names redacted. We know some of what they did in the 40s, 50s, and 60s, but nothing after that.
An informed guess would point to rock ‘n’ roll and its various offshoots as an obvious art form to fund.