In 1962, the AFL-CIO launched its government-funded labor education project in Latin America — the American Institute for Free Labor Development (AIFLD) — to spread the tenets of anticommunist, “free” trade unionism. From its earliest days, leftists and anti-imperialists accused the Institute of being a CIA front with the mission of “brainwashing” Third World workers into becoming counterrevolutionaries. While AIFLD was indisputably a Cold War program aligned with US foreign policy objectives, its goal of proselytizing US-style industrial relations should not be understood solely as a CIA-manufactured ploy. It was also the product of a broader social-scientific vision in the 1950s and 1960s to rapidly “modernize” the Third World and to stabilize labor conflict through rational, pluralist industrial relations.
“Comradely Brainwashing”: International Development, Labor Education, and Industrial Relations in the Cold War
JEFF SCHUHRKE is a PhD candidate in history at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He holds a master of arts degree in international development and social change from Clark University and master of science degree in labor studies from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His writing has appeared at In These Times, Jacobin, Labor Notes, Salon, Truthout, Alternet, and Portside.
Jeff Schuhrke; “Comradely Brainwashing”: International Development, Labor Education, and Industrial Relations in the Cold War. Labor 1 September 2019; 16 (3): 39–67. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/15476715-7569788
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