Carl Gershman (born July 20, 1943) has been the President of the National Endowment for Democracy since its 1984 founding. He had served as the U.S. Representative to the U.N.'s Committee on human rights during the first Reagan Administration.
In a 2006 interview, Gershman said, "I have to confess that in my early youth I was a kind of a social democrat of sorts; I'm now really a democrat. I'm non-partisan; I try to bring Democrats and Republicans together in the United States." Carl Gershman was the Executive Director of the Social Democrats, USA (SDUSA) from 1975 to 1980, having previously been an officer of the Young People's Socialist League (YPSL). From 1965–1967, he served in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), which was a domestic version of the Peace Corps. He graduated from Horace Mann Preparatory School, from Yale University, and from the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University.
Schooling and VISTA
On July 20, 1943, Carl Gershman was born in New York City. In 1961 he graduated magna cum laude from Horace Mann Preparatory School of Riverdale in The Bronx. As an undergraduate at Yale University, he was active in the Yale Civil Rights Council, and volunteered in Mississippi and Alabama. In 1965 he graduated magna cum laude from Yale, with a Bachelor of Arts degree, and upon graduation was inducted into the honorary society Phi Beta Kappa. From 1965–1967, he served in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), which was a domestic version of the Peace Corps. In 1968 he graduated with a Master of Education from the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University. From 1969–1971 he was Research Director at the A. Philip Randolph Institute, where he assisted its director, Bayard Rustin.
Youth Committee for Peace in the Middle East
In 1968, he worked in the research department of B'nai B'rith, and in 1972 he served on the Governing Council of the American Jewish Committee. From 1969–1974, Gershman successively served as Director of Research, Co-Chairman, and Executive Director of the Youth Committee for Peace in the Middle East, and edited its magazine Crossroads.
In 1972 he and Irving Howe edited a collection, Israel, the Arabs and the Middle East. Gershman served on the Editorial Board of Dissent, which was edited by Howe.
American social democracy: YPSL and SDUSA
In a 2006 interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Gershman said, "I have to confess that, in my early youth, I was a kind of a social democrat of sorts; I'm now really a democrat; I'm non-partisan." From 1970–1974, Carl Gershman was a national leader of the Young People's Socialist League (YPSL), the youth section of the Socialist Party of America; he served as Vice Chairman, Co-Chairman, and then Chairman of YPSL. Acting as YPSL's Vice Chairman at its 1972 December Conference, he wrote a thirteen-page, singly spaced, international-affairs document which called for the Cuba's Castro regime to stop funding guerrilla movements and also for its "loosening the bonds" of repression; it was approved and an alternative document calling for the U.S. to recognize Cuba's government was defeated. YPSL criticized the "New Politics" led by George McGovern, which had lost 49 of 50 states to Richard Nixon in the 1972 election.
At the Socialist Party Convention in December 1972, he introduced the international program, which was approved by a two to one vote; the losing alternative, proposed by Michael Harrington, called for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces from Vietnam, while the majority resolution called for a negotiated peace settlement. At this convention, the Socialist Party changed its name to Social Democrats, USA (SDUSA) by a vote of 73 to 34. Harrington resigned from SDUSA and founded the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee (DSOC) in 1973. In 1975 Gershman published a monograph on the foreign policy of the American labor movement.
Gershman became a leader of SDUSA. From 1975 to January 1980, Gershman served as the Executive Director of SDUSA. In 1980, he debated Michael Harrington on the topic of foreign policy.
United Nations: Committee on Human Rights
Gershman served as the U.S. Representative to the U.N.'s Committee on human rights during the first Reagan Administration. He and other members of Social Democrats, USA were called "State Department socialists" by Massing (1987), who wrote that the foreign policy of the Reagan administration was being run by Trotskyists, a claim that was called a "myth" by Lipset (1988, p. 34).
National Endowment for Democracy
Carl Gershman has served as the President of the National Endowment for Democracy since 1984. In a 2006 interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Gershman said
"I'm non-partisan; I try to bring Democrats and Republicans together in the United States, which is not that easy because we're very divided politically, today. And also, people from the business community and the trade union movement and intellectuals, and so forth, and try and bring people together around a common democratic faith and philosophy."
In a 1982 speech at the Palace of Westminster, President Ronald Reagan proposed an initiative "to foster the infrastructure of democracy--the system of a free press, unions, political parties, universities." The U.S. government, through USAID (United States Agency for International Development), contracted The American Political Foundation to study democracy promotion, which became known as "The Democracy Program." The Program recommended the creation of a bipartisan, private, non-profit corporation to be known as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). NED, though non-governmental, would be funded primarily through annual appropriations from the U.S. government and subject to congressional oversight.
NED was established in 1983 by an act of Congress. The House Foreign Affairs Committee proposed legislation to provide initial funding of $31.3 million for NED as part of the State Department Authorization Act (H.R. 2915). Included in the legislation was $13.8 million for the Free Trade Union Institute, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO (much of which went to support the Polish labor union, Solidarity), $2.5 million for an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and $5 million each for two party institutes. The conference report on H.R. 2915 was adopted by the House on November 17, 1983 and the Senate the following day. On November 18, 1983, articles of incorporation were filed in the District of Columbia to establish the National Endowment for Democracy as a nonprofit organization.
NED is structured to act as a grant-making foundation, distributing funds to private non-governmental organizations for the purpose of promoting democracy abroad. Approximately half of NED's funding is allocated annually to four main U.S. organizations: the American Center for International Labor Solidarity (ACILS), the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), and the International Republican Institute (IRI). The other half of NED's funding is awarded annually to hundreds of non-governmental organizations based abroad which apply for support.
After the Polish people overthrew communism, their elected government awarded the Order of the Knight's Cross to him. He has awards from Romania and from the Chinese Education Democracy Foundation. He received the Light of Truth Award from the International Campaign for Tibet. He received the President's Award from George Washington University.
- Gershman, Carl (December 1975), The foreign policy of American labor, SAGE policy papers, 3, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, Washington D.C. (Washington Papers 29), SAGE Publications, pp. 1–82, ISBN 978-0-8039-0572-6
- Gershman, Carl (1978), Capitalism, socialism, and democracy, SD Papers, 1, discussions also by Sidney Hook, Bayard Rustin, and Penn Kemble, New York: Social Democrats, USA, pp. 7–9, Selected Reprints from Commentary (April 1978) pp. 29–71
- Rustin, Bayard; Gershman, Carl (1978). Africa, Soviet imperialism and the retreat of American power. SD papers. 2. New York: Social Democrats, USA.
- Gershman, Carl (May 1978). "After the dominoes fell". Commentary. SD papers. New York: Social Democrats, USA. 3: 89–93.
- Gershman, Carl (1978). The world according to Andrew Young. SD papers. 4. New York: Social Democrats, USA. Reprinted from Commentary (August 1978).
- Gershman, Carl (1979). Selling them the rope: Business and the Soviets. SD papers. 6. New York: Social Democrats, USA. Reprinted from Commentary (April 1979).
- Gershman, Carl (November 3, 1980). "Totalitarian menace (Controversies: Detente and the left after Afghanistan)". Society. New York: Transactions (purchased by Springer). 18 (1): 9–15. doi:10.1007/BF02694835. ISSN 0147-2011.
- Gershman, Carl (1993), "The polity: Commentary", in Freedman, Rita, Does America need a social democratic movement?, Following commentary by Jim Chapin (pp. 86–89) on panel presentations by Seymour Martin Lipset (pp. 71–75), Will Marshall (pp. 76–81), and Fred Siegel (pp. 81–86), chaired by Ronald Radosh (p. 85), Washington, DC: Social Democrats, USA, pp. 89–93, Gershman discusses American social democracy as a form of radical-democratic Americanism, which has been properly inspired more by Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Woodrow Wilson than by Karl Marx and Eduard Bernstein.
- Gershman, Carl (December 12, 2003), A democracy strategy for the Middle East, National Endowment for Democracy
- Gershman, Carl; Gutierrez, Orlando (January 2009). "Ferment in civil society (Can Cuba change?)" (pdf). Journal of Democracy. 20 (1): 36–54. doi:10.1353/jod.0.0051.
- Gershman, Carl (August 29, 2011), Remarks by Carl Gershman at a photo exhibition commemorating the 30th anniversary of the founding of Solidarity (The phenomenon of Solidarity: Pictures from the history of Poland, 1980-1981; Woodrow Wilson Center), Washington D.C.: National Endowment for Democracy
- Anonymous, Meet our President, National Endowment for Democracy, retrieved 2011-08-13
- McKew, Maxine (August 20, 2006), Carl Gershman: America's democrat, Sunday Profiles, Australia: Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), retrieved 2011-08-13
- Reed, Dale (1999), Register of the Carl Gershman Papers (pdf), Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Archives, Stanford University, retrieved 2011-08-13