Academic journal article International Journal on World Peace

C.D. Jackson: Cold War Propagandist for Democracy and Globalism

Academic journal article International Journal on World Peace

C.D. Jackson: Cold War Propagandist for Democracy and Globalism

Article excerpt

C.D. JACKSON: COLD WAR PROPAGANDIST FOR DEMOCRACY AND GLOBALISM, John Allen Stern Landham, University Press of America Inc., 2012 xvii+126 pages, paper, $28.99

An overlooked and concise book, C.D. Jackson: Cold War Propagandist for Democracy and Globalism focuses on a unique player during the Cold War, C.D. [Charles Douglas] Jackson (1902-1964). Probably adapted from his essay (see acknowledgements, p. ix), this is the first book from historian John Allen Stern, who is now Professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. Neither a biography nor a portrait, C.D. Jackson aims to explain through one key character the background and the official policies (or strategies) that promoted a positive image of the USA and the tacit strategy of a "good propaganda" (what an oxymoron!), officially a "democratic propaganda" for promoting American values and worldview, domestically and abroad, especially in Communist countries.

During the early 1950s, C.D. Jackson was an image-maker, officially the chief adviser for psychological warfare for the U.S. Government, at the U.S. Army Department of Psychological Warfare. He is the man behind the creation of an incomparable machine of ideas emanating from the USA: Radio Free Europe (p. 33). Prior to that, he worked as a successful "businessman and public relations guru" (p. xi). In fact, C.D. Jackson was the powerful general behind the national strategy aimed to promote capitalism and the American Way of Life as opposites to Communism during the years following the end of World War II, when zones of influences were still moving and sometimes unclear. C.D. Jackson was the incarnation of the U.S. policy then. To sum up, C.D. Jackson was totally dedicated to his mission to "sell his most important idea to the world: that the United States possessed the best way of life, and that democratic capitalism delivered more to the largest number of people" (p. xi). Furthermore, Stern mentions that both C.D. Jackson and U.S. President Eisenhower believed in political warfare and were convinced that it was "just about the only way to win World War III without having to fight it" (p. xi).

Privileged vehicles for this U.S. propaganda were general magazines (C.D. Jackson had worked for Time and later as publisher of Life magazine) plus international media like Radio Free Europe and Voice of America (VOA) (p. 102). As Stern aptly observes, U.S. magazines like Time, Life, and Fortune formed a triad for the "subtle and nuanced" promotion of American values thorough the world, and especially behind the Iron Curtain (p. 34). According to Stern, Radio Free Europe's strategy was then to "feature American sales methods to project 'democratic ideals' " (p. 31). In order to achieve this goal, Radio Free Europe reproduced the U.S. genuine recipe into programs made for foreign markets in which it "adopted the format of American radio with entertainment, music, humor, international commentary, and local news" in Communist countries like Czechoslovakia and Poland (p. 31). Although this point is not much discussed here, this strategy reconfirms the relevance of dominating markets with "Made in USA" cultural products (i.e. mass marketed movies and music) along with disseminating the American Way of Life, values, and worldview, often at the expense of other national cultural expressions and local productions (p. 75).

Ethically, this touchy issue of using any form of "good propaganda" or "democratic propaganda" at a very large scale remains fundamentally questionable, as the author aptly explains here (p. 109). Aren't all political regimes, including the worst ones, convinced of making "good propaganda" that will help and elevate all citizens? But by doing so in democratic countries, a portion of each individual's freedom has somewhat disappeared (p. 109). This whole discussion brought here about these ethical dimensions is what makes this book so important.

In the first chapters, Stern revisits the concept of "democratic propaganda" (mainly in Chapter 3). …

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