International Endowment for Democracy (IED)

International Endowment for Democracy (IED)


* Solicited money from donors in other nations and funneled it to American leftist groups
* Accused the U.S. of military agression, economic injustice, environmental degradation, and torture
* Ceased operations in about 2009

When it was established in 2006, the International Endowment for Democracy (IED) identified itself as “a new foundation of progressive American scholars, lawyers and activists dedicated to promoting real democracy in the country that needs it most, the USA.” The foundation’s principal objective was to serve as an opposing force to the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which IED dubbed the “National Endowment for Hypocrisy Democracy.” Specifically, IED objected to NED’s pro-free market, anti-socialist orientation. By IED’s reckoning, capitalism was a system capable of benefiting only a small minority of people while subjecting most to “a worsening economic plight as well as a fall in the quality of life and in personal security.”

IED was originally funded by a handful of left-wing professors, lawyers, journalists, and authors located chiefly in Canada, India, and Europe. Thereafter, its funding continued to derive almost entirely from non-governmental organizations and individuals outside the United States.

IED used some of the money it raised to finance the activities of U.S.-based “groups and institutions working to defend democracy in America.” Its funding priorities included: “progressive workers’ groups”; “progressive media”; “progressive education”; and “investigations into the undemocratic practices of our so-called ‘democracy’ … while the current Government is hypocritically engaged in promoting ‘democratic nation building’ in other lands.”

Viewing the American political system as corrupt to its core, IED did not directly fund any political party.

IED’s Statement of Purpose complained that in America, “too many people have been denied the vote either by law or through discrimination,” and “politics was always dominated by the rich who also controlled the main means by which people acquire their political information and ideas.”

In IED’s calculus, George W. Bush was “a usurper” who had “stole[n] … two presidential elections” and subsequently presided over an “illegitimate government” that exhibited “arrogant disregard for democratic values and procedures” in both its domestic and foreign dealings.

According to IED, “the tragic events of 9/11 were used [by the Bush Administration] as a pretext to make an unprecedented assault on American civil liberties in the so-called ‘Patriot Act’ and to carry out an economic program that favors corporations and the rich as never before.” The U.S. government, the Endowment added, “has become the major danger to world peace, having started two unnecessary wars (at least one of which was based on lies) and threatened several others.” Moreover, IED derided America for “bullying and bribing weaker nations to adopt free market economies” while remaining blind to its own “rapidly growing gap between … rich and poor,” and to the “erosion of decent paying, full-time jobs and social benefits” in the U.S.

Additionally, IED impugned “the American government’s unwillingness to even admit [the reality of] global warming, let alone act upon it (other than to make it worse), has raised the stakes to the point where the very future of our species is in jeopardy.”

The president of IED was Bertell Ollman, a Marxist political science professor at New York University and the author of Alienation: Marx’s Conception Of Man In Capitalist Society.

IED’s board members, executive committee members, and honorary chairpersons included such notables as:

  • Mumia Abu-Jamal: convicted cop-killer, former Black Panther, and leftist icon
  • Carl Boggs: author of The Two Revolutions: Gramsci and the Dilemmas of Western Marxism (1984); author of Imperial Delusions: American Militarism and Endless War (2005)
  • Michael Brown: co-founder of Socialism and Democracy
  • Eduardo Capulong: law professor and member of the International Socialist Organization
  • Ramsey Clark: founder of the International Action Center
  • Bernardine Dohrn: former leader of the domestic terrorist group Weatherman
  • Barbara Foley: English professor and author of Radical Representation: Politics And Form in U.S. Proletarian Fiction
  • John Gerassi: political science professor and author of Why America Is So Hated
  • Martha Gimenez: founding editor of The Progressive Sociologists Network; winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Marxist Section of the American Sociological Association
  • David Harvey: author of _The New Imperialism_, A Brief History of Neo-Liberalism
  • Michael Hudson: author of Super Imperialism: the Origin and Fundamentals of U.S. World Domination
  • Abdeen Jabara: former president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
  • Mark Kesselman: author of The State and Class Struggle: the Trends in Marxist Political Science
  • Joel Kovel: Marxist professor and environmental activist
  • Sandra Levinson: founder and longtime director of the Center for Cuban Studies/Cuban Art Space in New York City
  • Harry Magdoff: former co-editor of Monthly Review; co-author of six books on the capitalist economy with Paul Sweezy
  • John Manley: author of Marx and America: The New Deal
  • Michael Parenti: Marxist writer, lecturer, political science professor
  • Michael Ratner: president of the Center for Constitutional Rights and former president of the National Lawyers Guild
  • Ellen Ray: co-author of Guantanamo: What the World Should Know
  • Annette Rubinstein: lecturer at the New York Marxist School
  • Michael Smith: radical lawyer
  • Lynne Stewart: radical attorney who represented World Trade Center bombing mastermind Omar Abdel Rahman
  • Gore Vidal: America-hating author and essayist
  • Leonard Weinglass: trial lawyer; civil rights activist
  • Richard Wolff: Marxist economics professor
  • Ellen Meiksins Wood: former co-editor of Monthly Review and editorial board member of New Left Review
  • Howard Zinn: Marxist professor

IED’s legal counsel was William Schaap, a radical attorney who served as co-editor of the periodical Covert Action Quarterly and the book Bio-Terror: Manufacturing Wars the American Way.

By 2009, IED was essentially defunct.

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