“The place of the artillery barrage as a preparation for an infantry attack will in the future be taken by revolutionary propaganda. Its task is to break down the enemy psychologically before the armies begin to function at all.”
Thus wrote Hitler in Mein Kampf. In the course of World War II, this assertion would often prove relevant to the work of strategists seeking to overcome the reservations of generals regarding the psychological component of modern warfare. Nazi Germany prepared for the confrontation with a radically different conception from that of World War I. Specialists in geopolitics took note of this in 1938.1
That year, Washington entrusted six private companies — including the major networks NBC and CBS — with the production of radio programs for transmission abroad, with Latin America as a top priority. The American authorities finally rid themselves of the inertia into which they had been plunged by their isolationist policy and by a broadcasting system in the hands of a private sector whose major concern — as in many countries working under this arrangement — was anything but international coverage. There was much time to be made up. It was not until February 1942 that the government, on the edge of war, took over from the six companies and created a government radio station, the Voice of America.
The future Axis power [Germany] had taken a considerable lead. As soon as it arrived in power in 1933, the National-Socialist Party inaugurated shortwave programs, in English and German, destined for the United States. Two years later, Italian Fascism began broadcasting in Arabic toward
Africa and the Middle East, obliging the British to move quickly to do the same. The Japanese Empire began to broadcast in English and Japanese toward Hawaii and the west coast of the United States; later, once the Sino-Japanese war had begun, it extended its sphere of action toward northern China and India.
In 1936 the Spanish Civil War showed the important strategic role that radio was called upon to play as a type of weapon. The public broadcasting facilities of the armies of General Franco initiated a large number of programs in Arabic from Tetuán, in an effort to dissuade inhabitants of Spanish Morocco from rallying to the Republican forces. The Republican radio in fact transmitted from Valencia in Arabic, as well as in French and even Russian, the latter destined for fighters in the International Brigade.
The Soviet Union, meanwhile, had proven itself a pioneer in the internationalization of the airwaves. In 1922, the Kremlin had what was considered the most powerful transmitter in the world. Faithful to the slogans of Lenin, this “newspaper without paper or borders” had in 1929 begun regular shortwave transmissions in German and French, and the following year in English and Dutch.2 Before World War II broke out, the Soviet Union was broadcasting in more than ten languages and a multitude of dialects. But in transmitting power she was surpassed by Nazi Germany. The strength of the Soviet radio was based on the networks of its worldwide organization. At its Third Congress in 1921, the Communist International had published a programmatic document entitled Theses on the Organization and Structure of the Communist Parties that, in addition to ratifying the conception of the party as the vanguard of the proletariat, governed by the principle of “democratic centralism,” proposed that its member parties profit from the Soviet Communist Party’s experience in the press and in agitation and propaganda work, under both legal and clandestine conditions. The Comintern, as a centralized worldwide structure, soon revealed itself to be a fantastic instrument of “international communication,” the national communist parties serving as relays and bases of support for the network. The first radio station established in Moscow in 1921 was in fact named Radio Comintern.
It was not until 1938 that the BBC — which was to be a catalyst in the fight against Germany — created a service in German and later began to broadcast in Spanish and Portuguese toward Latin America. Four years later, Broadcasting House in London was transmitting in sixteen languages, in addition to the regular broadcasts in English destined for the British Empire (the Imperial Service had begun in 1932). As for France, she had launched a colonial service in 1931, which was replaced in 1938
by Paris-Mondial. At this date, however, only one of the six transmitters called for in the initial project was actually in operation.3 On the eve of the world conflagration, Germany and England possessed more than 120 radios for each 1,000 inhabitants, while France had only 77; Italy, no more than 15. The United States had “taken off with nearly 200 radio receivers per 1,000 inhabitants. On the other hand, the underequipment of Soviet citizens was flagrant — 27 radios per 1,000 inhabitants — and this condition was not compensated for by group listening to”wire sets” connected to loudspeakers in sessions organized by the authorities, notably to better control their audiences.4
Where did the international organization of communication systems stand during these years? In 1920, an international conference on postal, rail, telegraph, telephone, and radio communication took place in Paris. The following year the Inter-Ally Technical Committee on International Radiocommunications prepared a conference to be held in Washington (1927) where it was decided to merge the International Telegraph Union (1865) and the International Radiotelegraph Union (1906). In 1932, during a conference organized in Madrid, this alliance gave official birth to the International Union of Telecommunications (IUT)5. (After World War II, this body, whose mission was to regulate all aspects of radiocommunications, would be integrated into the United Nations system in the same manner as the Universal Postal Union.)
From the beginning of radio broadcasting, states faced a triple problem: the dividing up of the spectrum of frequencies, the threat of “foreign aggression,” and organizing the exchange of programs. In 1925, the international community set up an International Union of Radiodiffusion (TUR)6, with its seat in Geneva. (This would be one of the rare international institutions established in Switzerland to continue to function during the world war, under German hegemony and in the absence of representatives of radio stations belonging to countries hostile to the Axis.) The IUR and IUT together regulated the airwaves until the eve of the war. Numerous international congresses and committees, composed mostly of legal experts and diplomats, examined the best ways of assuring that radio would serve the cause of peace. The League of Nations had commissioned a report in 1931 on “all international questions raised by the use of broadcasting from the point of view of good relations between nations.” This document served as a basis for discussion in the establishment of the Geneva Convention. This first international convention on foreign broadcasts, signed in 1936 by most of the member countries of the League, was tantamount to a pact of radio nonaggression. But reality proved to be stronger than agreements and conventions. In 1934, the only way imagined by the Dollfuss government to prevent Austrians
from listening to Nazi propaganda broadcasts was to jam the airwaves. This was the first time this technique was used as a defense against this equally new type of “attack on national sovereignty.”
For the U.S. government, the main danger of the moment was the formation of a “fifth column” in the countries where German nationals lived. Ironically, the Third Reich tried to apply a doctrine formulated several years before by President Calvin Coolidge, a conservative and isolationist Republican, to the effect that national sovereignty extended to citizens and their possessions wherever they lived. By this criterion, the German nation included both subjects of the Reich (Reichdeutsche) and citizens of other countries if they were descendants of Germans (Volksdeutsche).
Relayed by the foreign branches of the shortwave station in Zeesen, not far from Berlin, Nazi propaganda aimed above all at rallying German residents abroad (estimated at 14 million people) and inciting them to form clubs and associations, or even mini-National-Socialist parties with a local Gauleiter — veritable pockets of subversion which, if need be, would prepare for invasions with acts of sabotage, create confusion, and spread Nazi ideas. The danger was considerable for the United States, which had to reckon with the presence of large concentrations of German descendants in the Americas — 600,000 in Brazil, 150,000 in Argentina, and a strong colony in Chile — as well as with a long tradition of ties between the Prussian army and several national armies. It was in response to the threat of a Nazi “cultural front” in Latin America that the government in Washington was obliged to think for the first time about strategy in a wider framework than its own geopolitical interests. A flurry of decisions resulted.
The Roosevelt administration mobilized experts on public relations to study the best approaches to the Latin American countries. The State Department, in June 1938, formed a Division of Cultural Relations that worked — in spite of its general title — almost exclusively with countries of the southern continent. Time magazine and the Reader’s Digest were enrolled in this task. The first issue (in Spanish) of a foreign-language edition of Reader’s Digest dates from these years. Hollywood eliminated from its productions — which dominated Latin American screens — characters that risked offending the sensibilities of the inhabitants of the diverse republics.7 Walt Disney was designated “ambassador of good will” and his animation studios in California appropriated popular figures from Mexico, Brazil, and the Andes. From this “good neighbors” policy came, notably, films such as Saludos Amigos and later Los Tres Ca-
balleros, and numerous episodes of comic strips.8 Rotary and Lion Clubs placed their networks in the service of understanding among peoples. In this same framework, the government solicited the aid of private radio broadcasters, who offered their usual sponsors the chance to finance certain programs in Spanish or in Portuguese, such as President Roosevelt’s fireside chats.
Nor did the United States neglect investments. World War I had inaugurated the era of financial hegemony for the United States, which, as holder of half the world’s gold stock, had begun to become a massive exporter of capital. Between 1919 and 1930, its share in foreign investment rose from 6.3 percent to 35 percent.9 A region already favored by investors, Latin America became under Roosevelt the chosen land of American firms. This preference would last nearly twenty years, since it was only in the 1950s that the center of gravity of direct foreign investment by the United States shifted to Europe.10
Old treaties were dusted off. A doctrine formulated by President Monroe in 1823 had asserted the necessity of preventing any extracontinental power from setting foot in Latin America, in the name of U.S. national security. But not until the eve of World War II did the United States approach its neighbors to set up a multilateral system of defense. Before that date, U.S. armed forces had left the field open to their future European enemies, with the German and Italian armies having privileged relations with their counterparts in several Latin American countries. The United States maintained relations only with the Brazilian and Peruvian navies, by means of a naval mission operated, by special Senate ruling, not by Washington, but by the host country! The first military mission was installed in Colombia in 1938. Only the zone of the Caribbean and the Panama Canal — “the American Mediterranean” — had, since the beginning of the twentieth century, been incorporated into the “American defense system.”
The White House’s cultural counteroffensive at the end of the 1930s was thus concomitant with a military strategy: it evolved in the framework of a geopolitical theory that established the concept of “hemispheric defense”. The front that the geopolitical analysts of the time labeled “cultural,” “ideological,” or even “political” (the matter was never settled), earlier reduced to a minor role in international diplomacy, now acquired full recognition in world power relations. The front of culture, information, and ideology began to take its place in the art of war and in struggles for the conquest of a “hegemonic position.” This latter term was dear to the American geopolitical analyst Nicholas Spykman, who defined it as the result of a combination of the military potential of a nation and the ensemble of factors such as “size of territory, nature of fron-
tiers, size of population, absence or presence of raw materials, economic and technological development, financial strength, ethnic homogeneity, effective social integration, political stability, and national spirit.”11
During the course of World War II, the term “propaganda” was gradually replaced by that of “psychological warfare.” As Harold Lasswell put it shortly after the surrender of Axis forces:
From: Lerner, D. (Ed.). (1951). Propaganda in war and crisis: Materials for American policy. GW Stewart.
The word originated and gained significance in Germany as the German s who were defeated in World War One began to look into the causes of that “collapse.”… The vogue of the expression “Psychological Warfare” came in part from the rapid expansion of specialized psychologists in Germany, the United States, and in other Western countries. The psychologists wanted “a place in the sun”; that is, they were eager to demonstrate that their skills could be used for the national defense in time of war. Early in the Second World War a group of Americans translated some of the important German literature into English for the purpose of opening the eyes of the military to the usefulness of psychology, not only in testing for specific aptitudes, or in propaganda, but in considering every phase of the conduct of war under modern conditions.12
Lasswell himself had taken part in this popularization of doctrines on propaganda with his book World Revolutionary Propaganda in 1939. Considering the trajectory of the term is useful above all for explaining the use made of it by the American military. The British — the BBC showed itself particularly effective in this type of operation — preferred the term “political warfare,” the name given by an important agency, responsible for information disseminated abroad: the Political Warfare Executive.13 The difference in terms is secondary, or at least so believed Ladislas Faragó, who played a major role in bringing the notion of “psychological warfare” to the United States during World War II, and who saw the two terms as synonymously designating “that form of intelligence operations that uses ideas to influence policies. It deals with opinions and with their communication to others. It is organized persuasion by non-violent means, in contrast to military warfare in which the will of the victor is imposed upon the vanquished by violence or the threat of it.”14
This common-denominator definition hardly masks the divergences that came to light not only in the area of doctrine but also in the field of jurisdiction-divergences that could by no means be hidden by the victory over Nazism. In this realm of definitions, while there are many terms, there are few available meanings. The endless debates on the difference
between psychological warfare and information, propaganda and information, persuasion and communication, usually end in a scoreless tie, so fragile is the partition separating one from another, particularly in time of war. On this changing terrain, a definition is useless if it does not refer to uses.
From this point of view, World War II was without a doubt the first full-scale laboratory of the modern sociology of mass communications. Not only all the famous names of the era but also those of the future, all linked in one way or another to the fate of the discipline, took part by serving the cause of psychological warfare: Leonard W. Dobb, Carl I. Hovland, Alex Inkeles, Morris Janowitz, Joseph I. Klapper, Harold D. Lasswell, Daniel Lerner, Leo Lowenthal, Lucian W. Pye, Wilbur Schramm, and others, a list to which one should add many university professors of all persuasions, such as the anthropologist Clyde K. Kluckhohn or the philosopher Herbert Marcuse. All of them worked within the new structures created at that time.
The United States entered the war on December 7, 1941. At the time, they possessed only two agencies for conducting propaganda outside their territory: the CIAA (Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs) and the COI (Coordinator of Information). Founded in August 1940 and placed under the presidency of Nelson Rockefeller, the CIAA worked in close collaboration with the State Department, but its official mission was confined to Latin America. The COI, established in July 1941, was entrusted with covering the rest of the world. In June 1942, the COI gave way to the Office of War Information (OWI) and the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), with no clear demarcation between these agencies. It was not until March 1943 that the White House clearly defined the missions of the OWI and the OSS; the OWI was to orient information directed abroad and engage in “overt propaganda,” while the OSS was placed in charge of “covert propaganda.” Sociologists and psychologists worked within the OWI or the OSS. Many became advisers to the Voice of America.
In the immediate postwar period, a multitude of authors published works in which they attempted to draw lessons from their own practical experience. In a fascinating book, Clyde Kluckhohn recounted how anthropology had been pressed into service in constructing a coherent strategy of psychological warfare against imperial Japan — a strategy to demoralize troops while preserving a certain continuity in the social organization with a view to allowing for a cultural transition.15 Edward A. Shils and
Morris Janowitz published a prototypical study of the impact of Allied propaganda on the German Army’s effectiveness in combat. The original feature of their work was its focus on the social structure in which the messages were received. Contrary to the widespread idea of propaganda as a panacea, they showed that it was only when primary groups (notably groups of friends) began to disintegrate that propaganda facilitated that disintegration. It was the fundamental indifference of German troops toward the millions of Allied leaflets and radio broadcasts that led the authors to examine basic military organization and its relation to the system of primary groups.16
The sociologist John Riley and the psychologist Leonard Cottrell drew up a survey of research and a list of recommendations that ran counter to the theories in force before the war. “The international models must replace the conventional stimulus-response concepts,” they wrote, “if we wish to understand communication phenomena and to use this understanding in psychological warfare.”17 These conclusions were not shared by Carl Hovland and his team of experimental psychologists at Yale, who during the war had tested the effects of films illustrating the causes and aims of the war on American soldiers in the Pacific and on the European front, using as their basis the very schema criticized by the authors just cited. The Yale psychologist had even drawn a model: the psychodynamic model of persuasion. The persuasive message, according to him, was one whose properties were capable of altering the psychological functioning of the individual and bringing him to perform acts desired by the sender. A veritable “bible” of persuasion techniques resulted.18
Opinions were quite mixed regarding the impact on the development of social science of its enrollment in the war effort. One of the most severe critics was Paul Lazarsfeld:
During the Second World War, most government agencies made extensive use of domestic communications research. This led to a multiplication of established activities rather than to a search for new problems and new methods, a kind of freezing at the pre-war level. At the same time, international communications research made its beginning. The concern with shortwave propaganda, especially the German side, stimulated most of the early research and writing.19
But most of the evaluations did not gratuitously return to the past, for another war was on the horizon, one that would pit East against West for 40 years. Many “reenlisted” with their acquired baggage, this time in the service of the “Free World.” Thus, in 1951, John Riley and Wilbur Schramm, both formerly with the OWI, published The Reds Take a City:
The Communist Occupation of Seoul, with Eyewitness Accounts. The tone was set.
In 1947, three years before the Korean War broke out, the OSS was transformed into the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) and in 1948, the OWI gave way to the Office of International Information. The zeal with which the OWI was dismantled seemed to Wilson Dizard, a top adviser on governmental information in the early 1970s, “more than indecent.” Some government officials viewed this body with suspicion, for in their opinion, the antifascist struggle had stuffed it with Roosevelt partisans and communist infiltrators. In the 1950s, at the time of the anticommunist “witchhunt,” the U.S. Information Agency, the government agency for foreign propaganda, was subjected to four inquiries by the Senate Committee presided over by Joseph McCarthy. A purge ensued, and a number of suspect books were sent to the pulper.20
The law that instituted the CIA was known as the National Security Act. It legitimized the wartime institutions and made their priorities those of peacetime. Above all, it furnished the legal framework in which the exceptional mobilization of the war could be maintained, thus preventing a state of demobilization that would recall unpleasant memories of the crisis of the 1930s. The immediate postwar period had in fact plunged the country into a severe crisis of reconversion. The Marshall Plan — as well as the Korean War — stimulated a recovery. Unemployment decreased from 6 percent to 3 percent and the growth rate nearly reached 11 percent in 1950. In the view of analysts of the relation between military conflict and the health of the American economy, the return on the Korean War “investment” was remarkably profitable. As one of them remarked ironically: “Americans began to dream of a system that maintained a high level of military expenditure, independently, so to speak, of war.”21 One thing is clear: the recovery was worldwide and was followed by what one French historian called the “thirty glorious years,” that is, the three decades in which the industrial economies enjoyed exponential growth.
The National Security Act sealed the permanent alliance between industry and the war-oriented state — an alliance without which the formidable takeoff of the aerospace and electronics industries would never have occurred. In presenting the Act before the Senate, the Secretary of the Navy, James Forrestal, summed it up as follows: “This bill… provides for the coordination of the three armed services, but what is to me even more important, it provides for the integration of foreign policy with national policy, the integration of our civil economy with military obligations; it provides for continual advances in the field of research a applied services.”22 And so the basis was laid for the synergy between pri-
vate business and the Pentagon, industrial production and military research, university research and the needs of national security. This synergy had proved itself in World War II, and that is how ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator, Analyzer, and Calculator) was born. ENIAC was a first-generation, large-scale electronic computer built-in top secrecy by professors Eckert and Lauchly and their coworkers at the University of Pennsylvania for the Ballistic Research Laboratories of the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps. As a measure of the qualitative leap in attitudes to research and development in government and military circles, it may be noted that in 1930, only 14 percent of the public and private budget for research and development was spent by the government; by 1947, the governmental portion of the national bill was 56 percent. As an expert at the Industrial College of the U.S. Armed Forces observed in February 1950: “The expansion of the government’s activities… is an index of the increased ability to administer these matters as systematic activities. The relationship between R&D and national security has long been known, but the scale of effort and the speed of progress have so increased that this relationship now has an entirely new significance.”23
The Cold War precipitated a questioning of the concept of psychological warfare. “It has been my impression,” L. S. Cottrell told the American Sociological Society,
that far from being a clarifying concept that structures a field and guides action, to say nothing of research effort, the term “psychological warfare” is ambiguous and leads to confused thinking and action. It lends itself to use for covering too much or too little, and to mistaken decisions as to appropriate divisions and responsibility in action programs as well as research…. Let me note here that I recognize the importance of the role of psychological theory and research methodology for the area we are discussing. Nevertheless, the strategic error the psychologists have tended to make, with notable exceptions of course, is that they did not rapidly move to supplement their own imaginations and skills with top quality competence in the other relevant disciplines, especially sociology, anthropology, social psychology and political science.24
In academic circles, efforts were made to find a replacement for the concept, or failing that, to sketch the contours of a new content. One scholar drew up an inventory of the expressions used in practice to designate this polymorphous reality: “war of ideas, struggle for the minds and
will of men, thought war, ideological warfare, war of nerves, political warfare, international information, overseas information, campaigns of truth, international propaganda, psychological warfare, war of words, indirect aggression, agitation, international communication.”25 One of the major concerns was to find a way of marking the differences between yesterday and today, between a meaning that had acquired its legitimacy under military rules, and another in quest of a more civilian orientation. As Murray Dyer put it: “In a given democratic society the answers to such questions must be given, [if] at all, by political, as distinct from military, authority even though military considerations may be a governing factor.”26
The result of this debate over basic definitions made itself felt even before the 1950s were over. The term “psychological warfare” kept its place in the academic community, particularly among researchers coming out of experimental psychology, such as Carl Hovland and his team at Yale. But at the same time, concepts such as “political communication” and “international communication” made headway.
This dispute over concepts is explained in part — as Cottrell clearly implies — by the rivalry between disciplines and currents of thought, the stakes being the carving up of research territory and the tapping of considerable financial resources available to university research centers.
The competition between scientific paradigms is particularly visible in the evolution of theories on the effects of the media in the 1940s and 1950s. To a theoretical tradition based on the stimulus-response scheme and represented by Lasswell and his mechanistic conception of the process of communication, or by Hovland’s adaptation of the behaviorist theory of learning, replied sociologists such as Paul Lazarsfeld. His work People’s Choice, written in collaboration with Bernard Berelson and Hazel Gaudet, came out in 1944. These researchers tried to measure the influence of the media on 600 voters in Erie County, Ohio, during the presidential campaign of 1940. Their goal was to observe and evaluate intermediary elements that slipped between the initial and final points of the communication process and that had a direct influence on the “effects” obtained by a message.27 This book gave rise to many others, not least the famous Personal Influence, coauthored by Lazarsfeld and Elihu Katz, published in 1955 but based on studies performed ten years before.28 Taking up the conclusions of the first study, the two authors approached not only voting behavior but also the behavior of consumers in the market for consumer goods, fashion, and leisure activities, and looked particularly at their choice of films. In studying individual decision processes of a female population of 800 people living in a city of 60,000 (Decatur, Illinois), they rediscovered — as in the preceding
study — the importance of “primary groups.” They apprehended the flow of communication as a two-stage process where the role of “opinion leaders” was essential. This became the “two-step flow.”29 At a first level, there are those who are relatively well-informed because they are exposed directly to the media; at the second, there are those who have less contact with the media and depend on others to obtain information. From this first category are recruited the opinion leaders who retransmit information to the second group via interpersonal channels. What underlay these conclusions was a questioning of the theories and doctrines of “mass society” and its uniform effect on its inhabitants, as well as theses, optimistic or pessimistic, on the omnipotence of the media. The very notion of a massifying effect gave way to a hypothesis well summarized by Bernard Berelson in 1949: certain types of communication that refer to certain types of problems, addressing certain types of people who find themselves in certain conditions, produce a certain type of effect.30
The fact that in the evaluation of “media effects” one current of thought subscribed to the behaviorist hypothesis and another refuted it by invoking communication in two stages did not substantially change the matter. What separated the two positions was secondary, for they both began with the same presupposition: a self-contained individual, disconnected from any bond with society. For these heirs to the political philosophy of Hobbes and Locke, neither people nor the media themselves were socially situated — that is, situated in networks of divergent and contradictory interests, evolving in a structure in which they constructed themselves as subjects while at the same time being molded by it. Here lies the point of convergence where those who attributed a mythic power to the media joined those who, later on, relativized that power to the point of diluting it into the neoliberal principle of the absolute sovereignty of the consumer and his or her self-determination in making choices.
Very few research reports on “international communications” in that era fail to sing the praises of the intellectual in the service of the “Free World.” Here are some examples. The first comes from a study by a famous Sovietologist, Alex Inkeles:
Shortly after the end of World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union became locked in a large scale ideological struggle in which the weapon has been propaganda, the field of battle, the channels of international communications, and the prize, the loyalties and allegiances of men and women throughout the world. Undoubtedly, the most important aspect of this combat is its effect on
the minds of men, and the implications of such effects for national stability and international peace. The specialist on mass communication and public opinion has a major responsibility for studying those effects.31
The second example is an extract from a study made by Joseph Klapper and Leo Lowenthal in the course of their work as experts for Voice of America, the medium par excellence of the official policy of the United States:
The psychological warriors of the United States are today engaged in mass communication by press, film and radio…. This paper proposes to review the contributions of opinion research to one type of psychological warfare: specifically, its contribution to the evaluation of international broadcasting. Some of these contributions are adequate to the tasks at hand; others fall somewhat short of present needs. Such shortcomings, and suggested modes of overcoming them, will also be specified.32
When we remember the bellicose title of the work on the taking of Seoul by Wilbur Schramm — founder of the celebrated Institute for Communication Research at Stanford University (1956) — we are scarcely surprised to find in another of his works the following assertion of the necessity to “professionalize psychological warfare”: “The world has progressed to a state in which self-preservation alone demands the most intense psywar pressure that a body of trained professionals commanding immense resources can bring to war.”33
On the other hand, it is less easy to understand the promptness of Paul Lazarsfeld, chief of the famous Bureau of Applied Social Research at Columbia, in answering the call by offering his colleagues, in an issue of the Public Opinion Quarterly (Winter 1952-53), the outline of a new field of research on “international communications,” whose construction seemed to him inseparable from the new political situation. In the same issue, Leo Lowenthal announced the birth of a “new discipline of international communication.” Several months before, a subcommittee had even been organized within the American Association for Public Opinion Research to promote it, with Lowenthal presiding. “The relationship be tween practical policy and social science,” wrote Lazarsfeld,
should be a two-way relationship. It is not only that we should contribute to the social sciences. This is imperative not merely for academic reasons but because, to a considerable extent, the national and international welfare of the country, as Lasswell points out, is tied up with the techniques of social research. The policy-makers
should be joined by social scientists, not only because we can help them, but because the exclusion of the social sciences from the social events of the day impoverishes the social scientists who are themselves an important resource in a country. It is very much to be hoped that, in this sense, international communications research, because it is working in an exposed area, will contribute to the improvement of the relation between social sciences and those groups and institutions who are the actors on the social scene.34
This framework seemed to the dissident sociologist C. Wright Mills so narrow that he argued: “Sociology has lost its reforming push; its tendencies toward fragmentary problems and scattered causation have been conservatively turned to the use of corporation, army and state.”35
It was in 1953 that President Eisenhower launched a resounding call to all active forces of the nation to defend freedom: “The struggle in which freedom today is engaged is quite literally a total and universal struggle…. It is a political struggle…. It is a scientific struggle…. It is a spiritual struggle…. For this whole struggle, in the deepest sense, is waged neither for land nor for food nor for power-but for the soul of man himself.”36
On the technological front, the flow of investment from the Pentagon into research and development of new technologies of information allowed the computer industry to take off in those years. A report commissioned by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), on the threshold of an era when international competition in this sector began to sharpen, read as follows:
In 1959, research and development contracts worth almost a billion dollars were allocated to computer manufacturers (in the United States). This figure is comparable to total sales of computers on the civilian market in the same period, and it exceeds considerably all support given to the computer industry in other countries. Coinciding with these years during which this new and important industry was established, this policy no doubt had a much greater effect than any other national policy pursued at the time or since.37
A number of American historians of computer science agree on the fact that the Korean War was decisive in the expansion of “computer needs.” They also agree that one contract in particular allowed IBM to outstrip all its rivals: the one it secured as lowest bidder for the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS), which gave this corporation the opportunity to conceive the first transistorized computer in November 1959.
During the 1950s, the continental defense network SAGE (Semi-Auto-
matic Ground Environment) was built at the request of the U.S. A Force. Each computer was linked to a radar unit that received data on space. aircraft flight trajectories. The transmission of information between computers, linked by telephone lines, made it possible to assimilate information from different origins and build up a continual data base in This network, which inaugurated “telecomputing,” prepared the way for most of the innovations later used by all computers. According to historian Philippe Breton, SAGE no doubt “inaugurated the entry of man into the artificial worlds which he placed between himself and a nature more and more inaccessible in ‘real human time’ and served to stimulate indus try, particularly IBM, toward the mass production of sophisticated and reliable computers.”38
It was also under the aegis of the Department of Defense that the architecture of the first network of data transmission, the Advanced Research Project Agency Network (ARPANET), was organized in 1968. It was supposed to link together the calculation centers of American universities and, thanks to a satellite connection, link these centers with Europe via London and with the Pacific via Hawaii. Its official mission was to service all the projects by the federal government, and it would later serve as a point of reference for most of its counterparts in Western countries. Starting with its conception in the line of national security (the first experiments date from 1958), this system would retain the initial idea of a network of calculators linked in such a way that the transmission of numerical data could proceed by several different routes and that the whole would not suffer unduly from the destruction of one or even several centers of calculation.
Before the 1950s were over, another Cold War front opened: the space race. The Soviets overtook the Americans by launching the first artificial satellite, Sputnik, in 1957, and then in 1961 by putting the first man into space, Yuri Gagarin. President John F. Kennedy called upon his nation to redouble its efforts to reach the moon before the end of the decade. As one commentator explained, “The U.S., its psyche as well as its sense of security shaken by the prestige and military import of Russia’s Sputnik, opened wide the fiscal thrusters and spent billions upon billions to catch up to and pass the USSR in space.” “39
That was the beginning of a frenetic dash that can only be compared to the arms race. The rush to the stars became a preeminent arena for winning the Cold War. The bridgehead was NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), founded in 1957, with a mission to re-
search and promote projects of space exploration. Its administrator proclaimed far and wide the new patriotic vocation:
For the first time in the history of mankind the opportunity to leave the earth and explore the solar system is at hand. Only two nations, the United States and the Soviet Union, today have the resources with which to exploit this opportunity. Were we, as the symbol of democratic government, to surrender this opportunity to the leading advocate of the Communist ideology, we could no longer stand large in our own image, or in the image that other nations have of us and of the free society we represent.40
In 1962, five years after the success of the first artificial satellite Sputnik and the riposte by Explorer, the United States launched its Relay, Syncom, and Telstar satellites. The first of the Telstar series was the first “active” communication satellite, so called because it was equipped with amplifiers that magnified the signals transmitted toward the earth. It linked the United States to Europe for the first time. Also in that year, the U.S. government set up an institution whose mission was to exploit space technology: Comsat (Communication Satellite Corporation). The founding act, approved by Congress (the Communication Satellite Act), defined the mission as follows: to organize this technological innovation and exploit it commercially. Following an original formula proposed by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission), Comsat took the form of a new kind of private company, assuring an organic link between the state and large telecommunications companies. Half its shares were offered to the public and the other half to 163 approved firms in industry and communication. Four giants-American Telephone & Telegraph (AT&T), International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT), General Telephone & Electronics Corporation (GTE), and the Radio Corporation of America (RCA)-together held 45 percent, leaving the other 5 percent to other firms. Some 175,000 subscribers divided up the other half. On the board of directors, three representatives of the White House sat alongside the stockholders’ delegates.
Armed with this operational tool, the United States proposed to the Western countries in 1964 to lay the foundations of an international network of communication by satellite. Thus originated Intelsat (International Telecommunications Satellite Consortium), with Comsat as its administrator. The hold of the United States on this system was therefore absolute. Not only did it control management via Comsat, but it owned more than 60 percent of the shares in the consortium. Great Britain, France, and Germany held a total of 20 percent, and not a single country of Third World was among the 19 controlling nations. This American
supremacy was also manifested in the area of supply contracts, with major U.S. corporations taking the lion’s share. Between 1965 and 1968, scarcely a fifth of the contracts were landed by European or Japanese firms. They often limited themselves to copying American accomplishments.41 It was not until the 1980s that American industry would be successfully countered by the European aerospace industry. This was also the decade of the deregulation of Intelsat, a public system forced, at the instigation of the Reagan administration, to face competition from private satellite systems.
In 1965, the first geostationary satellite for commercial telecommunications, Early Bird, was put into orbit, inaugurating the first generation of the international network of Intelsat satellites. Its capacity was 240 telephonic circuits or one television channel. At that date there existed on the entire planet only four ground stations capable of receiving the relayed signals, located in the United States, Great Britain, and France. The same year, the Soviet Union launched its own system of international scope (Intercosmos), conceived as the socialist camp’s answer to Intelsat, and in 1971 created Intersputnik, a commercial body in which ten countries participated by the end of the decade, as against roughly a hundred in the rival system.
In signing the act creating Comsat, Congress had recommended that it “direct care and attention toward providing such services to economically less developed countries and areas” — a task it began to perform during the second half of the 1960s. A new research path in international communication opened up: prospecting the uses of satellites. Among the first nations targeted as experimental terrains were Brazil and India. At the forefront of the effort were researchers such as Wilbur Schramm, author of the first report published by UNESCO on the application of satellites to educational ends, and research institutes such as the one at Stanford.42 It was a time when American mass communication research was in the good graces of major U.N. organizations.
The space race as a grand narrative of the American nation-state was to last a little over ten years. The epic began to fizzle out toward 1972. “The point of view of the pragmatist has superseded that of the patriot and the pure scientist…. The Cold War turned temperate and a more peaceful era converged with the growing awareness of moth-holes in the social fabric down here on earth.” It was in these terms that a general administrator of NASA traced in April of that year the new lines of the space policy of the United States.”43
Communication satellites, meteorological observation satellites, satellites to aid air and maritime navigation, and satellites to observe natural resources took over from moon exploration and garnered the lion’s share of government budgets. Détente favored the flowering of joint Soviet-U.S. space projects (such as Soyuz). Civil reconversion of high technologies of space was proceeding apace.
Technological optimism prevailed in the major electronic and aerospace firms that sought to diversify in order to escape the monoproduction of defense equipment. With the end of the wars in Southeast Asia, the acceleration of the civil application of these technologies, whose exclusively military cycle was over, was confirmed day after day. All hopes of resolving the great social imbalances seemed warranted. As a high official of General Electric declared in 1975: “Private business should play its part in dealing with the problems of housing, education, traffic, health, waste disposal, pollution control…. We may see the emergence of a ‘social-industrial complex,’ a partnership of business and government addressed to the resolution of these major social problems.”44
In the strategy of vertical and horizontal integration followed by the great multimedia conglomerates in the late 1960s, the sector of education and pedagogy won a place in the sun, so strong was the belief in an expanding market in this area. It was an era when psychologists, sociologists, and educators worked with television producers to find an alternative to the commercial logics of the large networks, with generous support from educational foundations such as Ford and Carnegie. The resulting programs would be transmitted by the public service network also created in the late 1960s.45 The Black and Hispanic minorities placed on the agenda the fight against school inequalities and the integration of children from the ghettos.
The state’s discourse on the use of space for the benefit of human beings in a world order where the welfare state remained a major protagonist was the theme of this “new space era.” “It is necessary to offer the spirit of science and North American technology in order to resolve the problems of development. The unprecedented progress of science and technology, the demographic explosion, the explosion of communications and knowledge, demand new forms of international collaboration,” declared President Nixon in 1971.46
Here again, we may ask whether there were, in the 1950s, any frameworks of research on “international communication” other than those
inspired by the logic of the Cold War. Was there another way of rethinking this subject, based on experiences acquired in the war period? The answer is yes, notably in the thought of Edward T. Hall, even if the common sense distilled by the most prominent research marginalized his way of seeing the Other beyond one’s national borders. As a U.S. officer in a regiment stationed in Europe and then in the Philippines and composed essentially of black soldiers, he observed his men’s difficult contact with local populations. In the 1950s, Hall worked successively in the Pacific as an intermediary between the military and the indigenous populations, and then in the Foreign Service Institute at the State Department, whose mission was to familiarize employees and diplomats with the cultures of the countries to which they were assigned.”47 Based on these overseas contacts, Hall wrote first a book, The Silent Language, published in 1959, followed the next year by an article in the prestigious Harvard Business Review, where he extrapolated conclusions for the use of businessmen.48 His article began as follows: “With few exceptions, Americans are relative newcomers on the international business scene. Today, as in Mark Twain’s time, we are all too often ’innocents abroad,” in an era when naiveté and blundering in foreign business dealings may have serious political repercussions.” His conclusion was that “our present knowledge is meager, and much more research is needed before the businessman of the future can go abroad fully equipped for his work. Not only will he need to be well versed in the economics, law, and politics of the area, but he will have to understand, if not speak, the silent languages of other cultures,”49
In this work, Hall, a representative of what came to be known as “the invisible school” or the Palo Alto school, analyzed the codes of intercultural communication. Laying the basis of “proxemics,” he spoke of “cultural shocks” provoked by contacts among businessmen of different cultures. “Culture” was defined as the set of codes governing all interaction. He thus suggested that businessmen of his country become aware of the differences that governed silent languages such as those of space, time, things, material possessions, friendship patterns, and even modes of negotiating contracts or agreements. These informal languages meant, for example, that a delay in replying to a message would not be interpreted in the same way in the Near East as in the United States, because the sense of time was not the same. Similar differences of symbolic meaning underlay rules of organizing space, as witnessed by the architecture of offices, or the surface area or the number of floors occupied by the chief officer of a corporation. This new way of seeing relations with other cultures implied a questioning of the mathematical theory of information born in the context of
the “machine” universe of World War II. This theory had been formulated in 1949 by Claude Shannon, researcher in the laboratories of the Bell Telephone Company, subsidiary of AT&T, and was rapidly consecrated as the master reference of the social sciences. What the Palo Alto school contested was the legitimacy of transposing this schema — which had grown out of an attempt to make telephone communication as efficient as possible — to the field of communication among humans. Against this linear model of communication between a sender who codes and transmits a message, defined as an abstract statistical magnitude, toward a receiver who decodes it, the Palo Alto school proposed a model of circular or retroactive communication, that is, a permanent social process at several levels and in multiple contexts, integrating not just two or several “variables” but multiple modes of behavior. These are the multiple languages and codes of which Hall spoke.
This type of approach to the complexity of social communication would not be legitimized until the 1980s, a decade that witnessed not only the multiplication of intercultural relations via the market but also and above all the beginning of the United States’ decline from absolute economic hegemony. The United States discovered that its ubiquitous and unshared power exercised over more than three decades had coincided with a profound ignorance of others. A study of 1,500 managers worldwide undertaken in 1989 by Columbia University showed that American executives suffered from “insularity” and “parochialism.” When they were asked to list in order of importance the traits of the manager of the twenty-first century, no more than 35 percent of the Americans mentioned in first place some experience outside the country in which the headquarters of their firm was located, as against three-quarters of their counterparts in Europe, Japan, and Latin America. Asked about the impact of international events, only 17 percent of the Americans judged as “substantial” the effects of the project for a single European market in 1993, as against 34 percent of the Latin Americans and 52 percent of the Japanese. But that is another story. 50
In the next chapter we shall take up once more the subject of war. On the terrain of military operations, Western armies had to face, in the 1950s and 1960s, another shock of cultures, and not just of ideologies: the wars of national liberation.
N. J. Spykman, America’s Strategy in World Politics, New York, Harcourt, Brace & World, 1942.↩︎
J. Hale, Radio Power Propaganda and International Broadcasting, London, Elek Books, 1975.↩︎
A.J. Tudesq, La radio en Afrique noire, Paris, Pedone, 1983.↩︎
P. Miquel, Histoire de la radio et de la television, Paris, Richelieu, 1973.↩︎
This is incorrect - according to the ITU’s website, it took the name “International Telecommunication Union” in 1932/4. Maybe the ‘IUT’ in the text is a mistranslation which keeps the French language order. SPKB.↩︎
Again the text seems to be incorrect here, maybe again due to mistranslation from French to English; according to wikipedia: The International Broadcasting Union (IBU; official name in French: Union Internationale de Radiophonie, UIR, modern translations in French: Union Internationale de Radiodiffusion/Union internationale de radio-télévision, UIR) was an alliance of European radio broadcasters, established on 3–4 April 1925. The union had its headquarters in Geneva. The UIR aimed to resolve international problems of broadcasting. Wiki↗️↩︎
A. L. Woll, “Hollywood’s Good Neighbor Policy: The Latin Image in American Film, 1939-1946,” Journal of Popular Film 3, no. 4, 1974.↩︎
R. Schickel, The Disney Version: The Life, Times, Art and Commerce of Walt Disney, New York, Discus Books/Avon, 1969.↩︎
P. Melandri, Histoire des Etats-Unis depuis 1865, Paris, Nathan, 1984.↩︎
C. Layton, L’Europe et les investissements americains, Paris, Gallimard, 1968.↩︎
Spykman, America’s Strategy, p. 33.↩︎
H. D. Lasswell, “Political and Psychological Warfare,” in Propaganda in War and Crisis, ed. D. Lerner, New York, George W. Stewart, 1950. By the same author: World Revolutionary Propaganda, New York, Alfred Knopf, 1939.↩︎
M. Balfour, Propaganda in War 1939-1945, London, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979.↩︎
L. Farago, War of Wits: The Anatomy of Espionage and Intelligence, Funk & Wagnalls, 1954, p. 323. See also ed. Farago, German Psychological Warfare: A Critical, Annotated and Comprehensive Survey and Bibliography, New York, G. P. Putnam’s, 1941. An other enduring classic is P. M. A. Linebarger, Psychological Warfare, Washington, D.C., Infantry Journal Press, 1948.↩︎
C. Kluckhohn, Mirror for Man,New York, McGraw-Hill, 1949.↩︎
E. A. Shils and M. Janowicz, “Cohesion and Disintegration in the Wehrmacht in World War II,” Public Opinion Quarterly 12, 1948. See also a classic on formal organizations: S. A. Stouffer et al., eds., The American Soldier: Studies in Social Psychology in World War II, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1949.↩︎
J. W. Riley and L. S. Cottrell, “Research for Psychological Warfare,” Public Opinion Quarterly 21, 1957.↩︎
C. I. Hovland, A. A. Lumsdaine, and F. D. Sheffield, Experiments on Mass Communication, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1949.↩︎
P. F. Lazarsfeld, “The Prognosis for International Communication Research,” Public Opinion Quarterly 16, 1953, p. 482.↩︎
W. Dizard, The Strategy of Truth: The Story of the U.S. Information Service, Washington, D.C., Public Affairs Press, 1961.↩︎
C. Moisy, L’Amerique sous les armes,Paris, Le Seuil, 1971.↩︎
L. S. Rodberg and D. Shearer, eds., The Pentagon Watchers, New York, Doubleday Anchor, 1970.↩︎
B. J. Williams, “The Importance of Research and Development to National Security,” Military Review, February 1950, p. 11.↩︎
L. S. Cottrell, “Psychological Warfare: A Misnomer,” in A Psychological Warfare Casebook, ed. W. E. Daugherty and M. Janowicz, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1958, pp. 18-19.↩︎
R. I. Perusse, “Psychological Warfare Reappraised,” in ibid.↩︎
M. Dyer, The Weapon on the Wall: Rethinking Psychological Warfare, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1959, p. 32.↩︎
P. F. Lazarsfeld, B. Berelson, and H. Gaudet, The People’s Choice, New York, Duell, Sloan & Pearce, 1944.↩︎
E. Katz and P. F. Lazarsfeld, Personal Influence: The Part Played by People in the Flow of Mass Communications, Glencoe, Ill., Free Press, 1970 (1st edition 1955).↩︎
E. Katz, “The Two-Step Flow of Communication,” Public Opinion Quarterly 21, 1957.↩︎
B. Berelson, “Communications and Public Opinions,” in Mass Communications, ed. W. Schramm, Champaign-Urbana, University of Illinois Press, 1949, p. 500.↩︎
A. Inkeles, “The Soviet Characterization of the Voice of America,” Journal of Inter national Affairs, no. 5, 1951, p. 44. See also his major work Public Opinion in Soviet Russia, Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1950.↩︎
J. T. Klapper and L. Lowenthal, “The Contributions of Opinion Research to the Evaluation of Psychological Warfare,” Public Opinion Quarterly 15, 1951-52, p. 651.↩︎
W. Schramm et al., The Nature of Psychological Warfare, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1958, quoted in Dyer, *Weapon on the Wall, p. 58.↩︎
P. F. Lazarsfeld, “The Prognosis for International Communication Research.”↩︎
C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1970, p. 92 (original edition 1959).↩︎
Quoted in Dyer, Weapon on the Wall, p. 25.↩︎
OECD, Allocations de ressources dans le domaine de l’informatique et des telecommunications, Part III, Paris, 1975. On the history of computer science, see N. Metropolis et al., eds., A History of Computing in the Twentieth Century, London, Academic Press, 1980.↩︎
Philippe Breton, Une histoire de l’informatique, Paris, La Decouverte, 1987, pp. 129-30.↩︎
J. Fletcher, “Toward Corporate Continuity in Space: The Case for NASA’s Future,” Finance, April 1972.↩︎
J.E. Webb, Space: The New Frontier, Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office, 1967.↩︎
A. Mattelart, Multinational Corporations and the Control of Culture, Sussex, Harvester Press; Atlantic Highlands, N.J., Humanities Press, 1979, Chapter 3: “The Diffusion of Space Technology.”↩︎
W. Schramm, Satellites de telecommunications pour /’education, la science et la culture, Paris, UNESCO, 1968 (Collection Etudes et documents d’information, no. 53).↩︎
Fletcher, “Toward Corporate Continuity in Space.”↩︎
Quoted in J. Woodmansee, *The G.E. Project: The World of a Giant Corporation, Washington, D.C., North Country Press, 1975.↩︎
See M. Mattelart, “Education, Television and Mass Culture: Reflections on Re search into Innovation,” in Television in Transition, ed. P. Drummond and R. Paterson, London, BFI, 1985.↩︎
Department of State Newsletter, February 1971.↩︎
G. Bateson et al., La nouvelle communication, presentation by Y. Winkin, Paris, Le Seuil, 1981.↩︎
E.T. Hall, The Silent Language, New York, Doubleday, 1959.↩︎
E.T. Hall, “The Silent Language in Overseas Business,” Harvard Business Review, May-June 1960.↩︎
J. Solomon, “U.S. Managers Remain Focused on Home,” Wall Street Journal (European edition), July 18, 1989, p. 1.↩︎