Re: Kelly and sociology

J. Maxwell Legg (
Thu, 04 Feb 1999 11:58:33 +1300

Bob Green wrote:

> I may be quite wrong on this point, but does anyone know what schools of
> sociology were influential in Kelly's development, or more specifically if
> his discussion of punishment owes a debt to sociological theory.

George A. Kelly was one of several Council on Foreign Relations members
whose work was chosen to appear in the army psychological warfare pamphlet
article titled "Foundations of War" at

[ ].

His bio in the army pamphlet reads "Professor of Politics, Brandeis
University: Research Associate, Center of International Affairs, Harvard
University, 1961-64, 1967-1968; author of Idealism, Politics and History
and Lost Soldiers: The French Army and Empire in Crisis: 1947-1962;
co-editor of Internal War and International Systems."

I found a bio on-line that said he died in 1966. The bio reads

"Kelly, George A 1905 -- 1966 Psychologist, born in Kansas. He studied at
several universities, including Edinburgh and Iowa, and taught at Fort Hays
Kansas State College prior to World War 2, during which he was an aviation
psychologist with the US navy. From 1946 he worked at Ohio State
University, leaving to take up a post at Brandeis University in 1965. Best
known for his novel approach to the understanding of personality, he
devised the repertory grid test, an open-ended method for exploring an
individual's "personal constructs. "

from an article of the same title that appeared in Military review, XL, no.
7 (October 1960) pp. 4-13. The article is about the unprincipled use of
psychological warfare -- something the Council on Foreign Relations and its
branch organizations are experts at.

I thought you might be interested in the Kelly article. It was scanned in and
can be sent privately or to the list. Here's some excerpts...



The psychological weapon has been used in warfare since time immemorial,
but never have its manipulators been so conscious of their activity as such
as in this present "century of total war." The role of Communist "agitprop"
and the function of the Hitlerian mass spectacles, hate campaigns, and
"blood and soil" motifs are too well-known to require comment here. Today,
propaganda technique and subsidiary uses of mass psychology may be at the
total service of an aggressive ideology, one which either holds the formal
levers of command in a nation-state or aspires to do so through subversion.

"Political progress" was encouraged through systems of rewards and
punishments, creation of fear, doubt, and apprehension among the subjects,
enforced autocriticism, and the whole battery of psychological manipulation
which we collectively call "brain-washing."


An intellectual substratum, sometimes misused or misconstrued, governed the
French practice of psychological action, or at least was often used to
justify it scientifically. It was believed -- and indeed the belief is
shared by many psychologists -- that there were rules, almost amounting to
natural laws, which could be discovered pertaining to the imposition of
obedience on amorphous crowds such as the Islamic peoples of North Africa.
The works of Lenin and Trotsky were combed for all points relating to crowd
behavior, and the unsystematic science behind the nefarious art of Hitler
and Goebbels was studied. Other pioneer, and often native, crowd
sociologists, such as Gustave Le Bon, hinted at laws and techniques that
were introduced helter-skelter into the arsenal.

Probably the most influential maitre de pensee was the Russian emigre
psychologist Serge Tchakhotine, a disciple of Pavlov, who maintained in his
book, The Rape of Crowds by Political Propaganda, that crowds could indeed
be manipulated by clever oratory and skillful demonstrations through the
induction of "conditioned reflexes." Tchakhotine, who, although himself a
Marxist, had absorbed much of the Hitlerian method from residence in late -
Weimar Germany, set great store in the mounting of mass demonstrations, use
of symbols (Swastika, goosestep, and Roman salute), military music,
crowd-leader dialogue, and other rhetorical and psychological tricks. More
than a little of the Tchakhotinian style can be detected in some of the
performances at the Algiers Forum in the days following the 13 May 1958
coup d'etat, and directives of the psychological action services from this
period clearly reveal the debt.

Because of the regular rectangular layout imposed in the reconstruction for
reasons of internal security, the technique became known as quadrillage
("gridding"). Quadrillage also implied that spheres of author- ity in the
area could be well-delineated. This produced, we may say guardedly, a
measure of military control and guidance previously unexperienced in both
city and country; at the same time it notably improved conditions of
hygiene, diet, medication, and the general standard of living. The
dislocated natives often became, in effect, wards of the army. [7]


It should be noted that these phenomena have attracted a great deal of
attention in the French press, most of it unfavorable. I do not propose to
judge this point. The excesses which the exponents of l'action
psychologique on occasion permit themselves are quite obvious and need not
be spelled out in an article which strives to avoid the polemical. The
outstanding question appears to be this: How is it practical and morally
defensible that "Western, Christian, and Mediterranean values" can be
defended through recourse to the methods of the very enemy that is seeking
to destroy these values? Is there a judicious balance? Where precisely can
the line be drawn? Maurice Megret, a distinguished writer on military
topics, construes I'action an "infantile malady of
information." But perhaps the case is not quite so simple. Certain
psychological warfare officers have unquestionably been carried away by the
possibilities of the new role they have staked out for themselves. "Call me
a Fascist if you like," said Colonel Trinquier in an interview in 1958,
"but we must make the people easy to manage; everyone's acts must be
controlled." [8]

No other Western army has reached the point of crisis implicit in the
French hesitation about psychological action. Perhaps this is due to the
fact that our formal and political institutions are sounder and less
subject to crisis. But it is also because we have not experienced the same
bitter lessons, in length and intensity, of la guerre revolutionnaire.
There may assuredly come a time when it will be necessary to fight such a
war, not simply on our own territory or on that of a "modern" nation.
Therefore, the French experience and its contingent problems are worth the
most carefully detailed scrutiny by our qualified military experts.