Sunday, December 23, 2007

Radio Warriors

I just started reading War of the Black Heavens: The Battles of Western Broadcasting in the Cold War which I discovered via Mountainrunner's public diplomacy/info ops book list at Amazon.

For most of the cold war Western propaganda was subtle. The Americans soon learned that the brash frontal attack was less effective than the low-key approach of the British. The message was to convey not just a social system or politics or economics but a total culture. Russian Communists saw the dangers for them in the Radios' techniques of inspiring confidence by admission of the faults of the West and the development of a tolerant and neutral reaction toward gentle criticism of socialism. pop music and talk about consumer goods conveyed the message that life abroad was better and, thus, spread discontent and insecurity.
Communism wanted to make everything and everyone the same. But the Radios always emphasized individuality, variety, difference. They developed the critical faculties of their listeners. The Radios did not only convey information. They helped convey the concept of a civil society and of basic human values; they preserved a sense of national identity and made the connection with the broader cultural movement of Europe.

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