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11 Jun, 15 tweets, 3 min read
It means many of the foundational studies of communications theory were done at the Experimental Division for the Study of Wartime Communications at the Library of Congress, which was run by Harold Lasswell, one of the most extremely eminent theorists in the history of the field
This was only one of many major US government directed efforts to control public opinion during the war and the years leading up to it that employed more or less the entire US academy of the social sciences. Also at the Library of Congress: OWI, the Office of War Information
At OWI theorists like Margaret Mead worked on applying anthropology to the design of propaganda, especially in the East. OWI was the US's "overt" propaganda agency, and its work was used to psychologically tweak and perfect US psychological warfare conducted by Voice of America
Meanwhile at the FCC, German exile sociologist Hans Speier (whose PhD advisor had been Karl Mannheim himself at the University of Hidelberg) directed the exhaustive study of German wartime radio broadcasts. (Speier later became head of RAND Corp's Social Sciences Division)
Speier was one of over two hundred leading German social theorists working in American institutions after fleeing Germany in 1933. "The University in Exile," was established through Rockefeller Foundation grants paying three years salary for any University that hired these expats
Before America entered the war there was a concerted effort to manipulate public opinion to increase favorability for intervention in Europe. The British even established an office for "British Security Coordination" to conduct psychological warfare for this purpose on US soil
BSC occupied three floors of the International Building in Rockefeller Center, serving as embassy for the UK security complex in America, representing MI5, SIS (MI6), the Special Operations Executive, and the highly secret Home Defense Executive (whose papers remain unreleased)
Operating on very tenuous legal ground, BSC was frequently ran afoul of the FBI and worked against America's existing security agencies to cultivate a new network for British-American intelligence collaboration. Their star recruit was William Donovan and the OSS was the result
Without the knowledge of the concerned agencies of the US Govt, the knowledge of the public, or authorization of the Congress, BSC agents were brought into polling organizations like George Gallup's, where they tailored public opinion surveys to manipulate national perceptions
The term "psychological warfare" was coined by a report published (to the general public) in 1941 titled "German Psychological Warfare" that presented a highly questionable interpretation of clinical German military psychology as a "new weapon" Americans needed to fear.
It was written by Committee for National Morale, (funded by the interventionist owner of Time Henry Luce), and included Margaret Mead, Kurt Lewin, George Gallup, Walter Cannon, and Greg Bateson. It didn't just coin the term "psychological warfare," it *was* Psychological Warfare
These members of the Committee had been recruited via Walter Lippmann, who happened to be renting William Donovan's house at the time. Lippmann helped facilitate the Wartime alliance between American military and intelligence and the social sciences academy that continues today
Lippmann was unquestionably the most influential columnist in the American press in the 20th century, and a pioneer of Communications Theory with his book Public Opinion. A book where he explicitly argues that technocratic social psychologists should manage and control the public
The implementation of these long percolating attitudes among social scientists, the nation's foremost industrialists, and Progressive managerialists during WWII was indeed, literally, the biggest Public Relations campaign in history, equivalent to the Manhattan Project in scope
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