THE FREEDOM ACADEMY CONCEPT – DEFENSE OF LIBERTY AND DEMOCRACY – A FEW NOTES

Introduction

After around half a century the formulation of the Freedom Academy concept is worth remembering. It was highly debated in the United States for decades. It is a fascinating story on how a grass roots group in Orlando, Florida, managed to attract interest, both in Congress and media, for a political warfare academy, a ‘civilian West Point’ to counteract hundreds of political warfare schools in the Soviet Union and elsewhere.

In this report the term political warfare refers to warfare other than military action used to enforce the will of a state or movement upon its foe. Political war may be combined with violence, economic pressure, subversion, and diplomacy but the chief aspect is propaganda (if waged by an extremist enemy), information (when used by a democracy) and psychological warfare (definition based on Paul A. Smith Jr., On Political War, Washington D.C., 1989, pp. 3 and 227).

Communist Political Warfare

Communist political warfare was part of the revolutionary global civil war of Communism from 1917 to 1991. It had it’s roots in the French revolution. V.I. Lenin argued that if a revolution was to be successful it had to be led by professional revolutionaries.

There were hundreds of Communist political warfare training schools in the Soviet Union and in other countries on other continents. Most infamous was the central International Lenin School (ILS) established in 1925. Subjects taught there were guerrilla warfare, revolutionary techniques, armed uprising, agitation and propaganda, political warfare etc. For more on this subject see Bertil Haggman’s book in the section Selected Literature.

The Orlando Committee and Alan G. Grant Jr.

The Freedom Academy concept was a typical private initiative that started in Orlando in the fall of 1950 by citizens speaking in local high schools on communism, communist strategy, and the Soviet threat. The initiator and prime mover of the group was Alan J. Grant Jr., who had fought in a parachute regiment during the Second World War, graduated from Harvard Law School and written a thesis at Harvard on guerrilla and revolutionary war. The Orlando Committe was formed in 1953, 50 years ago, and in 1954 the Freedom Academy concept (first called Free-World Academy) was presented in a report later sent to the White House.

The report resulted in a decades long struggle inside and outside of the American Congress. A bill was introduced both in the Senate (sponsored by Senators Karl Mundt and Paul Douglas) and the House. In 1960 it was passed by the Senate but it bogged down in the House. New bills were introduced in the beginning of the 1960s. Opinion polls showed that the American people supported the Freedom Academy bill 4 to 1.

The Freedom Studies Center

As the efforts to create a Freedom Academy were resisted in Congress and by the Department of State a privately funded academy was inaugurated. The initiative was taken by the American Security Council and the Institute of American Strategy, both in Chicago and founded in the 1950s. It resulted in the Freedom Studies Center established in Boston, Culpeper County, Virginia, with Mr. John M. Fisher as director. Close to Washington it offered training for all segments of society in the Free World on Communist strategy and tactics and the development of programs for defending and extending the sphere of freedom in the world. A detailed curriculum was prepared and cooperating educational agencies including universities joined to make it a success.

In 1973 a library was established. A newly constructed library building was to be named “Sol Feinstone Library for the Survival of Freedom”. Mr. Feinstone was a well known historian, philantropist, and collector of American primary source material from the Revolutionary War and the early years of the United States. He had helped fund a number of libraries all over the country. The plan was for the center to start operating as a Freedom Academy in 1974 and Alan J. Grant Jr. was on the Planning and Development Committee. The goal was to collect US $ 11,000,000 to establish and build a campus at this ‘civilian West Point’ (comparable to the Naval Academy in Annapolis and the military academy at West Point) but the full plan was never implemented. For years, however, a program of seminars was in place.

Conclusion

Thanks mainly to the Reagan administration and East European freedom fighters the West won the cold war but the global civil war has continued. There is still a need for a Freedom Academy, this time to study the new phase of war, international terrorism, asymmetrical warfare the islamo-fascist strategy and tactics. The growing threat of the nexus of weapons of mass destruction, outlaw regimes and international terrorist groups such as al Qaeda make a Freedom Academy necessary.

The term political warfare is rarely used today. Other terms like public policy and communications are common but are essentially similar to the political warfare term. The focus has turned away from communism but there are still communist states like North Korea, Cuba, and the People’s Republic of China.

It seems during the Cold War that jurists played an important role in education on and against communism. Alan J. Grant Jr. was a jurist and soldier with experience from World War Two. He had studied and written on revolutionary war. It may be surprising that America’s lawyers increasingly in the 1960s assumed the task of shedding light on the problems of the Soviet government and the Communist world.

In 1962 a Committee on Education Against Communism of the American Bar Association was established with Morris I. Leibman as Committee Chairman. Program Manager was Dr. Frank R. Barnett. The committee was active in three major areas: (1) supporting university summer institutes for high-school teachers; (2) preparing an disseminating special studies; and (3) conducting, in cooperation with state and local bar associations, briefing sessions on political warfare for lawyers.

An important contribution was the book Peaceful Coexistence – a Communist Blueprint for Victory (for details see underneath).

This was part of the broader effort of the Freedom Studies Center and others to provide films, basic books and material on communist strategy and tactics. It should be fitting to remember these efforts half a century later and build on that experience for a post-Cold War Freedom Academy.

Selected Literature

Eugene H. Methvin, “Let’s Demand This New Weapon for Democracy”, (The Reader’s Digest, May, 1963).

Alan G. Grant Jr. et al, The Green Book, The Orlando Committee.

“1,000 Attend Culpeper Ceremony: Cold War School Is Dedicated”,
Richmond Times-Dispatch, Monday, Sept. 26, 1966.

James J. Kilpatrick, “A Great Concept: Freedom Studies Center”, The Sunday Star, Washington D.C., October 2, 1966.

Peaceful Coexistence – A Communist Blueprint For Victory, Chicago: American Bar Association 1964, several printings, 40,000 copies distributed, 123 pages.

Richard V. Allen, Peace or Peaceful Coexistence, with foreword by Bertram D. Wolfe, Chicago: American Bar Association, 1966, 233 pages.

Bertil Haggman, The Global Civil War – Will the West Survive ?, 2010, 76 pages.

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