Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

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Repost: FTR #78 Interview with Christopher Simpson


In 1994, Christopher Simpson published a formidable little book entitled Science of Coercion: Communication Research and Psychological Warfare 1945-1960 (Oxford University Press.) This work sets forth the profound and vitally important relationship between the U.S. national security establishment’s psychological warfare machinery and the structure and development of mass communication research as an academic discipline in this country. The two are so inextricably linked that, as Simpson points out, it is altogether possible that mass communication research as an academic discipline might not have crystallized in the 1950s had it not been for military and intelligence input. This two part interview highlights some of the central points of the book including: the pivotal influence of America’s World War II psychological warfare institutions on the development of both the media and communication research; the effect of several National Security Directives (NSC 4, NSC 4-A and NSC 10/2) on U.S. national security policy and psychological warfare development; the importance of military and intelligence community funding of leading communication research centers; the significance of Public Opinion Quarterly as an exemplar of the marriage of communication research and psychological warfare; the role of communication research in U.S. covert actions; the evolution of “development theory” (a social science concept that is known as “low-intensity warfare” when applied to national security matters) and the progression of, as Simpson puts it, “one generation’s psychological warfare” into “the international communication of the next.”


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