Culture, Common Knowledge and Post-Conflict Reconstruction

CHRISTOPHER J. COYNE

Department of Economics
Hampden-Sydney College, Australia

Abstract

Post-conflict reconstruction is one of the most relevant policy issues in the world today. It is argued that widespread coordination characterizes a successful reconstruction. Critical to this outcome is common knowledge among citizens, which facilitates the coordination of activities on a set of beliefs aligning with the aims of reconstruction. The nature of common knowledge in the post-conflict context and its importance in coordinating citizens on reconstruction efforts are analyzed. Emphasis is placed on the role that existing cultural products play in generating common knowledge and institutional change. Historical evidence from German and Japanese cinema and media, effective mechanisms for transmitting common knowledge, serves to illuminate these claims.

Keywords: cinema, collective action, common knowledge, culture, media, post-conflict reconstruction


1. Introduction

Can foreign occupiers impose liberal democratic institutions at on weak, failed and war-torn states? While the historical record indicates mixed results, attempts to spread liberal democracy continue as evidenced by current reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. One thing that is clear from past experience is that the institutions necessary for liberal democracy cannot be manufactured with ease. The question then becomes: how, if at all, can success in post-conflict reconstruction efforts be achieved? As President Bush recently indicated in his second-term Inaugural Address, "…it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world." Given this, we should expect the questions posed above to remain important in the future.

Post-conflict reconstruction involves building or rebuilding both formal and informal institutions. Specifically, it involves the creation and restoration of physical infrastructure and facilities, minimal social services, and structural reform and transformation in the political, economic, social and security sectors (Cowen and Coyne 2005: 31-2). Ultimate success in the reconstruction process is defined as the achievement of a self-sustaining liberal democratic, economic and social order that does not rely on outside assistance in terms of monetary and/or military support. Admittedly, it is debatable whether these are the "right" ends to pursue. However, this paper takes it as given that this is the goal of the United States when it engages in reconstruction efforts. Instead of analyzing the desired ends of these efforts, this paper focuses on the viability of the means available to occupiers to achieve these ends.

Much of the current literature concerning reconstruction seeks to devise a generic template for imposing liberal institutions on conflict-torn countries. For instance, Dobbins (2004), Orr (2004) and Diamond (2005) attempt to determine "lessons learned" from past and present reconstruction efforts that can be applied to future efforts. These studies focus on political will, the number of troops and other controllable factors such as foreign aid. While it is important to learn from the past, these studies overlook the key role that context and culture play in social change. This paper seeks to begin to fill this gap.

The reconstruction process involves fundamental shifts in the political, economic and social orders. As such, a major part of reconstruction involves coordinating the populace around a new set of beliefs, ideas and conjectures (Cowen and Coyne 2005: 33-35). Given this realization, the cultural context of a conflict-torn country is critical to the reconstruction process. I define culture as incorporating a worldview, a means of framing events and activities involving "public, shared meanings, behaviors, institutions, and social structures" (Ross 1997: 45). Cultural products describe man-made artifacts that expand one’s awareness of the world and themselves. They can be seen as the part of a culture that allows individuals to "…communicate, perpetuate, and develop their knowledge about attitudes toward life" (Ross 1997: 45). Examples may include art, ceremonies, cinema, literature, media, rituals and symbols.

Because reconstruction involves a fundamental change in the worldview of the populace, reconstruction efforts cannot ignore the cultural context of post-conflict countries. In order to achieve a self-sustaining political, social and economic system, the process of change must be grounded in the culture of a society. Members of the indigenous populace must view reconstructed institutions as legitimate in order to make the investment required for their long-run sustainability. Given this recognition, it is critical to understand the role that culture and cultural products play in efforts by external occupiers to establish liberal institutions in conflict-torn societies.

The core thesis of this paper is that a successful post-conflict reconstruction involves widespread coordination around a set of beliefs, ideas and conjectures aligning with and supporting the aims of reconstruction. This outcome requires the existence of common knowledge, enabling citizens to coordinate their activities around the necessary conjectures. Mechanisms that allow for the development and dissemination of common knowledge are therefore critical to a successful reconstruction.

It is argued that existing cultural products are especially effective as mechanisms of common knowledge generation. This is due to the fact that these products are embedded in the local context of the conflict-torn society. I look at historical evidence from cinema and media in pre and post-conflict Germany and Japan to illuminate the theoretical claims and gain insight into the implications for current and future reconstruction efforts.

Both Germany and Japan had reached a high level of development prior to the U.S. occupation. Further, both societies had an established national identity and associated cultural products that greatly eased the reconstruction process. It is not my claim that the cultural products in these countries are solely, or even primarily, responsible for the ultimate outcomes of reconstruction efforts. Rather, I seek to explore the contribution of cultural products in facilitating coordination among the indigenous populace. The impetus which mass media and cinema has on a society is nothing new and my contribution can be seen as exploring this widely accepted fact within the context of postwar Japan and Germany.

2. Cultural Products and Common Knowledge in Post-Conflict Reconstruction

Widespread social change involves coordinating individuals around a new set of beliefs, ideas and conjectures. As such, the process of social change entails what social scientists often refer to as a coordination "problem." David Hume recognized this in his classic example of several individuals rowing a boat, each individual wanting to coordinate his actions with that of the other rowers (1739: 315). If rowers can coordinate their oar strokes the boat will move forward. Likewise if their oar strokes are uncoordinated, individual effort will be wasted, as the boat will fail to move.

Once conflict has ended, and reconstruction begins, the situation can be seen as a problem of coordination. In a coordination situation, individual "players" must choose between several courses of action. Individuals will be better off if they can all coordinate their actions with others. Choosing the side of the road to drive on is one common example of a coordination problem. In the context of reconstruction, it is possible for members of the populace to coordinate on several different sets of conjectures, some of which align with the aims of establishing a self-sustaining liberal order and others which do not. To illustrate this, contrast those who follow the directives of occupiers and engage in peaceful interaction and exchange with those who choose to coordinate on and engage in insurgency and terrorism.

Both Germany and Japan serve to illustrate the case where a large part of the populace coordinated on a set of conjectures aligning with the ends of U.S. reconstruction efforts. Counter examples would be insurgents in Somalia or Iraq who engaged in battle with the occupying forces. How do individuals overcome the coordination problem in the context of reconstruction and coordinate their activities on a certain set of beliefs, ideas and conjectures?

The key to overcoming the coordination problem is "common knowledge." The notion of common knowledge is interdisciplinary in nature. The concept can be found in various forms in linguistics, symbolic anthropology, mathematics, game theory, logic, computer science, philosophy and psychology. The key characteristic of common knowledge is that it is "public" – those who are exposed to it know that others are exposed to the same information or knowledge (Chwe 2001: 15-18).

In short, a piece of information is common knowledge if all individuals involved know it, and all of the other individuals know it and all the other individuals know that all of others know it and so forth. It is important to note that sources of common knowledge do not have to be free of charge. Rather, the key is that the recipient knows that others have access to the same information. While much of cultural studies rightly focuses on the content or meaning of what is communicated, we must be careful not to overlook the public nature (i.e., common knowledge generation) of cultural practices.

Cultural products such as art, ceremonies, media, rituals and symbols all serve as concrete examples of sources of common knowledge. These mechanisms serve to generate common knowledge available for all to observe. As Clifford Geertz has indicated, culture is embodied in public symbols and members of a society communicate values through the use of those symbols (see Ortner 1984: 374-5 and Geertz 1964). As Petro notes, "Rituals, ceremonies, education, and the like provide ‘templates’ or ‘blueprints’ for the organization of social…processes" (2004: 110).

Given that a key part of establishing new political, economic and social orders is creating common knowledge around those new orders, cultural products are critical for generating the necessary shift. The anthropologist, Victor Turner, has analyzed how individuals turn to their root paradigms for support during times of crisis (1974: 64). Turner contends that symbols and rituals are part of the social process that serves to overcome social contradictions and can also "instigate social action" (1967: 36). As such, cultural products must be recognized and incorporated into the reconstruction process.

To better understand the importance of common knowledge, consider a reconstruction that has turned into a coordination situation. In such a world, individuals will attempt to find cooperative solutions by coordinating with others. Common knowledge allows them to do so because large numbers of individuals can coordinate more easily on matters that are relatively obvious. From that standpoint, common knowledge makes coordination on a certain course of action focal.

It must also be noted that common knowledge alone does not guarantee successful reconstruction as defined at the outset of the paper. Stalin was able to create common knowledge via the threat of force, which made bad conjectures focal in East Germany. In that instance, it was common knowledge among citizens that if they failed to follow government directives, they would be subject to harsh punishments. Given this realization, the key issue becomes discovering the best means for developing common knowledge around ideas, beliefs and conjectures aligning with liberal democratic political, social and economic orders.

Intuitively, many of the same mechanisms which generated common knowledge in the pre-conflict period will also be effective in the post-conflict setting. The reasoning here is straightforward. Existing indigenous mechanisms are embedded in the culture of the conflict-torn society and will be perceived as legitimate. As such, they will be more effective than those imposed exogenously. As we will see, indigenous mechanisms serve as a constraint on the efforts of occupying forces. When they exist, identifying, maintaining and incorporating indigenously established cultural products as a means of developing common knowledge can greatly assist the reconstruction process.

The cultural mechanisms that transfer common knowledge will differ from place to place depending on many issues, including the pre-conflict level of development and the specific culture of the conflict-torn society. By focusing on the nature of common knowledge in Germany and Japan – considered by many to be cases of successful reconstruction – we accomplish two things. First, these case studies illuminate the theoretical claims put forth above. Second, the analysis contributes to our understanding of the success of reconstruction efforts in Germany and Japan relative to other reconstruction efforts. While many studies focus on the role of military force in these reconstruction efforts, this study contributes to understanding the cultural aspects of the reconstructions.

3. Common Knowledge in the Reconstruction of Germany and Japan

One finds historical support for the importance of cultural products and common knowledge in previous successful reconstruction efforts. Specifically, the role of cinema and media in post-conflict Germany and Japan illustrates the importance of common knowledge in the reconstruction process. There are three key indicators that establish German and Japanese cinema and media as effective common knowledge generation mechanisms in both pre and post-conflict periods.

    1. Cinema and media were well-established mediums of information and entertainment dissemination. These cultural products had a long history in each country and were embedded in the indigenous culture prior to the arrival of occupiers.
    2. The second indicator is attendance and circulation figures. Although reliable statistics are sporadic, those available show attendance and circulation generally increasing over time, implying an increase in consumer demand as well as the reach of information.
    3. The amount of resources invested by those in positions of political power to influence and control these industries. These individuals, seeking to shape and influence the underlying worldview of the countries continually sought to control these industries to influence the nature of common knowledge generated.

In addition to contributing to our understanding of the historical occurrences in Japan and Germany, this analysis also provides insight into the role of common knowledge for current and future reconstruction efforts. Admittedly, the histories of both the cinema and media in Germany and Japan are complex and this paper does not cover all the related intricacies. The following discussion is meant to be suggestive rather than exhaustive. The aim is to establish cinema and media as deeply embedded cultural products in Germany and Japan and to understand the role they played in social change in the post-World War II period.

3.1 Cinema in Germany

German cinema can be traced to the early twentieth century, beginning with showings in the back rooms of pubs and shops, as well as at traveling fairs and circuses. The popularity of film quickly spread and the showings shifted from such informal accommodations to dedicated theaters. By 1910, there were an estimated 2,500 to 3,000 theaters in Germany with 350 concentrated in Berlin. The rapid expansion of the film industry meant that even in its early years, cinema served as a source of common knowledge among the populace. The largest cinemas seated up to 1,000 customers. As of World War I, one-third of the population attended the cinema each week. By 1914, the cinema had become a reliable source of news, international fashion and consumer trends (Fehrenbach 1995: 14, 16).

The effectiveness of cinema as a means of generating common knowledge is evident in the responses of intellectuals and state officials. We would only expect these individuals to exert effort criticizing the cinema if it was indeed reaching a large number of people. As it turns out, the extensive popularity of the cinema met great resistance from both cultural elites and government officials. In a 1912 memo, the Prussian minister of culture compared popular cinema to "trashy pulp fiction and pornography" and postulated that cinema was having a negative impact on the young, "eroding…their ability to contemplate great works of art" (quoted in Stark 1982: 132). His comments exemplify the typical response of state officials to the success of cinema. Whatever the motivations of these critics, one thing is clear - the cinema had reached a level of development where it could shape and influence cultural norms and was viewed as a threat to the status quo.

To further understand the impact of cinema, one can also consider the reforms promoted by critics. These efforts called for state intervention to regulate those aspects of the cinema industry perceived as "negative." After much lobbying for nationalized standards, the German courts determined that film control should remain a largely local issue. Within these guidelines, influenced by the intellectual elite and state officials, the individual states created film control offices in their state capitals. The rules varied from state to state. Some required adults to accompany younger viewers to movies; others censored content (Fehrenbach 1995: 19-21; Hake 2002: 22).

These efforts did have some effect as filmmakers, attempting to make their films more "respectable," shifted their target audience from the working-class to the mainstream. As the German film historian, Heide Fehrenbach, notes, the filmmaking culture was "transformed, liberated from its restricted, class based exhibition space to forge a ‘universalized, homogenized mass culture’" (1995: 22). In fact, beginning in 1913, more and more newspapers began dedicating space to film reviews and criticism, further illustrating mainstream acceptance of cinema (see Wollenberg 1972: 10 and Hake 1993).

In sum, there were two major occurrences related to German cinema in the pre-World War I period. The first was the development and expansion of the industry. The second was state intervention in the industry, prompted by state officials and critics who realized the ability of cinema to affect common knowledge in a manner they did not desire. Both of these trends would continue for the next several decades.

World War I led to a decisive change in state intervention in the cinema industry. There was less concern with the moral aspect of films. Instead, state officials wanted to use the cinema to increase nationalism. In a 1917 memo to the War Ministry, General Ludendorff, an officer in Germany’s high command, implicitly confirmed cinema as a powerful generator of common knowledge when he wrote: "Our victory absolutely depends on using films to exert the greatest possible persuasion wherever people can still be won over to the German cause" (quoted in Stark 1982: 161-2).

As a result of this realization by state officials of the potential for cinema to create a common and widespread support for the war, the Photo and Film Office was created in 1917. This office was responsible for developing and producing newsreels on the war effort, which were distributed both at home and abroad. The Photo and Film Office also established nine hundred "soldier cinemas." The aim of the soldier cinemas was to promote viewings by the members of the army on the western and eastern fronts (Fehrenbach 1995: 19-21; Stark 1982: 161-2). A large part of this propaganda movement relied on stories and images – some true, others fictitious – to evoke emotion from the viewer in support of the German cause (Hake 2002: 23).

One difficulty for German state officials was the small percentage of domestic films that made up the total German film market. In 1914, films produced domestically represented only 15% of the total German film market. In contrast, French productions represented 30% of the market, American films claimed 25% and Italian films held 20% of the total market (Fehrenbach 1995: 24). This presented a problem because the government could not directly control the content of foreign films. Initially, at the outset of World War I, officials banned foreign movies covering certain topics such as espionage or treason. By 1915, the regulations had become much stricter and all foreign films were banned.

It is important to realize the extent to which the state controlled all aspects of the film industry and attempted to maintain the popularity of the medium. Government leaders insisted that propaganda films be well written and technically adept. Further, every half hour of "enlightenment" was followed by a half hour of "harmless entertainment" to avoid overkill of the propaganda message (Fehrenbach 1995: 26). Plans for a privately owned but government "influenced" film company ceased with the end of the war in 1918.

With the conclusion of the war, Germany’s film industry expanded rapidly. The number of film production companies increased from 11 in 1911 to 131 in 1918, and the number of cinemas increased from approximately 2,300 in 1918 to 5,078 in 1929. Internationally, Germany ranked third in 1927 with 241 films as compared to 742 in the U.S., 407 in Japan, 141 in Russia and 74 in France (Fehrenbach 1995: 27; Hake 2002: 47; Wollenberg 1972: 11-17, 24, 37). The removal of the stringent film laws enacted prior to World War I was partly responsible for this expansion. The new republican constitution allowed for freedom of speech and the removal of censorship laws. The result was a drastic increase in the production of domestic films.

As in the prewar period, critics feared that cinema was causing the morals and culture of the German populace to erode. In May 1920, under the building pressure of critics, a censorship law (Reichlichtspielgesetz) was passed requiring that two film boards review all films prior to public distribution. As part of this law, the film industry was again opened to foreign films, although these films also had to be reviewed.

In the 1920s, Hollywood films constituted one-third of all feature films shown in Germany. American films and culture became popular among a large portion of the German population and were viewed positively by many critics as well. There is a relevant connection to be drawn here between the German experience with American culture and film in this period and the Allied occupation some twenty plus years later that aimed to permanently impose many of these views. American values and culture was not alien to many Germans and, to some extent, the German culture in the pre-Nazi period had absorbed many of these values communicated to them through American films.

Despite lobbying on the part of critics and officials to increase censorship, the German cinema industry continued to develop. By 1933, German films dominated the domestic market, and a national cinema industry and identity was well established (Fehrenbach 1995: 41). The period of the Weimar Republic (1918-1933) was a critical time in the development of the cinema. Many of the stringent laws and regulations imposed during World War I were lifted. Of course relaxing these laws did not mean that the opposition to the film industry – both domestic and foreign – was eased. The opposition to a deregulated market in film would continue until Hitler’s rise to power.

Upon Hitler’s rise to chancellor in 1933, he named Joseph Goebbels the head of the newly formed Ministry for Public Enlightenment. The amount of effort and resources dedicated to controlling film, radio and press by this Ministry is staggering. In July 1933, Goebbels established the Reich Film Chamber responsible for reviewing all film treatments, production personnel and final film productions before release. A formal censorship law, passed in 1934, mandated that each film receive a grade determined by their political, artistic and educational value. In 1935, screen licenses for all films made prior to 1933 were revoked. Despite these regulations, the German film industry produced 1,000 films between 1933 and 1945. As Hake points out: "These numbers suggest…that films were considered an important part of everyday life, propagating National Socialist ideas…along the lines defined by the regime" (2002: 59).

Although the film industry was not officially nationalized until 1942, the Nazis had great influence over the entire industry. Perhaps the greatest instrument of control was the Nazi operated Filmkreditbank, which provided credit to German film producers. By 1935, Filmkreditbank had financed approximately 70% of all German films (Fehrenbach 1995: 43; Hake 2002: 63). By 1942, the Nazi regime controlled over 8,400 cinemas across Europe, and their films reached over 1 billion total viewers (Fehrenbach 1995: 43; Welch 1983: 12-14; Wollenberg 1972: 36-8). This translates into 13.8 viewings per person for the year. Other notable aspects of the Nazi propaganda program were the Filmvolkstag (People’s Film Day) and the Youth Film Hours. On those days deemed "People’s Film Day," viewers could attend cinemas at discounted rates. Youth Film Hours targeted children and reached 11 million youth viewers in the 1942-3 year. The Nazi controlled German film industry was successful. In 1933, 245 million tickets (3.7 per German citizen) were sold, in 1936 the number rose to 362 million (5.4 per German citizen) and in 1938 a total of 440 million tickets (6.5 per German citizen) were sold (Hake 2001: 72; 2002: 64-5).

It is important to note that, despite Nazi censorship laws, American films were still shown in Germany through 1940 and film magazines at this time provided articles on such Hollywood stars as Katharine Hepburn, Myrna Loy, Claudette Colbert and Gary Cooper. Berlin cinemas ran week-long special programs focusing on these same actors. The presence of American films in the 1920s and 1930s provided Germans with a view of the world beyond Germany, and this exposure to American cinema planted the seeds of western culture.

In the immediate post-WWII period, the four powers that occupied Germany realized the central role that mass media – print, radio and film – played in German society. The military seized these industries as well as the complementary industries that supported them. Production in these industries was suspended. Initially, the U.S. Information Control Division (ICD) released films aimed at reeducation, with topics including Nazi death camps (Todesmühlen (Death Mills), 1945), other Nazi atrocities and war tribunals. Many of these films and documentaries were mandatory and Germans were required to have their ration cards stamped at the theater (Fehrenbach 1995: 55-6, Hake 2002: 87-8).

The U.S. plan for the cinema industry required complete restructuring because it was ultimately to be based on open markets and competition without state control. In July of 1945, the occupying forces allowed twenty theaters to open. Soon thereafter, a policy of opening 250 cinemas per month in the U.S. zone began. The films shown were imports from Hollywood that conveyed messages of the American life and democratic institutions (Hake 2002: 88).

In November of 1945, the production of domestic German films resumed. Domestic producers were required to get licensing from the ICD. In order to receive a license, films were required to communicate a message consistent with the end goals of reconstruction. The licensing process was slow, as the ICD reviewed the background of those involved in the filmmaking process – producers, directors, actors, etc. Due to competition for film-related resources from the Soviet zone, a new program for encouraging native film production and making the film industry self-sustaining was undertaken in July of 1946. These programs were critical in allowing indigenous agents to be involved in the film making process to utilize their knowledge of German culture. Film attendance increased throughout the occupation. In 1946, total attendance was 300 million, or 4.4 films per citizen, and in 1947 it was 459.6 million or 6.8 films per citizen.

With the creation of Bizonia (the merger of the U.S. and Great Britain zones) in January of 1947 and the extension of the Marshall Plan to all the Western zones of Germany in 1948, the three occupying nations had to reach an agreement on the policy for the film industry. After a series of negotiations, the three occupying powers agreed to a model very much in line with the original goals of the U.S.

Around the same time, negotiations began with those in the film industry. A film producers’ association was created and the preliminary aspects of a voluntary censorship code were developed by the film industry in 1949 under the umbrella trade organization the Spitzenorganisation der Filmwirtschaft e.V. (SPIO). In mid-July of 1949, occupation laws were lifted and the self-sustaining German film industry began (Fehrenbach 1995: 58-63).

Throughout the rest of the occupation, German film would play a key role in developing common knowledge among the populace. This knowledge was important in achieving both the immediate goals of reconstruction and the longer-term goals of establishing an independent culture and national identity. As Hake writes: "In the Western zone, the cinema after 1945 emerged as the driving force behind the ongoing self-transformation of postwar culture and society" (Hake 2002: 104).

In 1948, 443 million Germans (6.6 films per citizen) attended the movies and in 1949 attendance increased to 467.2 (6.9 films per citizen). The postwar films served to create common knowledge around the new political and social order as well as giving those reconstructed orders widespread legitimacy. These films also helped define the break from Germany’s past. Films dealt with a wide range of topics from anti-Semitism – Affäre Blum (The Blum Affair, 1948), Morituri (1948) and Der Ruf (The Appointment, 1949) – to pacifism – Die Brücke (The Bridge, 1959) – to military life – Hunde, wollt ihr ewig leben (Dogs, Do you Want to Live Forever, 1959) – to the role of women in society – Die Sünderin (The Sinner, 1951), Mädchen hinter Gittern (Girl Behind Bars, 1949), Liebe kann wie Giftsein (Love Can Be Like Poison, 1958) and Anders als du und ich (Different From You and Me, 1957).

The U.S occupation forces, by identifying and maintaining an indigenous cultural product eased the process of generating common knowledge and hence coordination. The cinema had a well-established history and was well embedded in the lives of German citizens both before and after World War II. In the Western zone, 3,000 theaters were operating by 1950 (up from 1,000 in 1945), with an attendance of 487.4 million (7.1 films per citizen). In 1951, attendance increased to 554.8 million (8.1 films per citizen) and in 1952 it reached 614.5 million (8.88 films per citizen). An attendance record was reached in 1956 with total attendance at 817.5 million (11.6 films per citizen).

3.2 Media in Germany

The history of media in Germany can be traced back to the seventeenth century. Censorship, political control and the fragmentation of German states prevented the printed media from developing on a larger scale until the mid-1850s. The boom in mass media in the late nineteenth century has been attributed to German unification, increased literacy, and advances in technology resulting in lower costs (Humphreys 1990: 13-4).

In 1874, Bismarck’s government enacted the Reichspressegestez (Imperial Press Law). The Reichspressegestez created a national press law and removed some censorship laws and state licensing requirements. However, media policy under Bismarck was hardly liberal. For example, an "Anti-Socialist Law," which banned the publication of socialist ideas, was enacted in 1878. This law, which was lifted in 1890, illustrates that, while censorship laws were eased under Bismarck, they were far from absent. The important point is that under Bismarck, media in Germany started to develop into a commercial industry. Increased circulation led to increased advertising, and it provided a solid foundation of funding for the publishers (Humphreys 1990: 14-5; Sanford 1976: 10).

During the Weimar Republic, from 1918 to 1933, the media continued to develop newspapers that supported different political and religious viewpoints. In 1920, approximately 600 papers supported the Catholic Center Party. The socialist and communist press, supporting the Social Democrats, produced approximately 200 papers (Humphreys 1990: 16). In order to gain market share and meet consumer demand, news coverage by these papers expanded. For instance, the Social Democrats found that they could broaden their customer base by including sports, photos, entertainment and business sections in their publications.

Radio also became an established means of communication under the Weimar Republic. Radio had been used within the government during World War I and commenced broadcasting on a national scale in the 1920s. As such, the advent of broadcasting in Germany was mainly government driven, but the Weimar Constitution did not address broadcasting. As a result it was governed by a complex set of state regulations and contracts between the central and regional governments. Throughout the Weimar period, radio was viewed more suitably as a tool of public administration rather than a commercial industry (Humphreys 1990: 125-6). Despite state control of radio, it was a well-established means of common knowledge generation.

In addition to the diversity of media coverage, another characteristic of the Weimar period was the consolidation and concentration of the media industry. Alfred Hugenberg, a staunch conservative industrialist, created the first German multimedia empire. Hugenberg’s influence and operations were vast and included an advertising firm, Ala, which controlled a large share of the commercial advertising market, various news agencies, a syndicate, Wipro, which supplied news and information to other press agencies and a cinema news company, Wochenschau-Produktion Deauligfilm. Hugenberg’s media outlets had a large political and cultural influence, and he willingly used his control over various media outlets for political ends. From 1920 onwards, he was a leading figure in the extreme right-wing nationalist German National People’s Party. In the early 1930s, Hugenberg and the German National People’s Party supported Hitler. They were a major reason for his control of a parliamentary majority, resulting in his eventual election as chancellor in January of 1933.

The Nazi regime effectively used the press as a mechanism for the dispersion of propaganda. This becomes clear when considering the change in circulation of Nazi publications over time. In 1927, there were three Nazi daily newspapers with a total daily subscription of 17,800 (.3 per 1,000 citizens). By 1929, the number of dailies had increased to ten with an increased circulation of 72,590 (1.1 per 1,000 citizens). In 1930, there were nineteen dailies with a circulation of 253,925 (3.9 per 1,000 citizens), and there were 59 dailies with a circulation of 782,121 (11.9 per 1,000 citizens) by 1932. After the Nazi regime assumed power in 1933, one observes a significant increase in both the number of daily publications and circulation. In 1934, there were approximately 97 daily Nazi newspapers with a circulation of 3.4 million (50.8 per 1,000 citizens). By 1939, these numbers had doubled to a daily circulation over six million (97 per 1,000 citizens) (Hale 1964: 59).

As with the German cinema, the German media was an effective mechanism for developing and disseminating common knowledge. The resources used by the Nazi’s to control the industry illustrate this. Soon after assuming power in 1933, the Nazis enacted the "Emergency Decree for the Protection of State and Nation" which laid the foundation for state control of the media. This decree defined specific requirements for journalists, and it placed controls on the work of editors and journalists. "The Reich Press Law" of October 4, 1933, identified journalism as a "public vocation" and further specified the requirements for this career. With these new regulations, editors and journalists became tools of the state (Hale 1964: 83; Humphreys 1990: 21-2; Shirer 1960: 245).

The previously discussed Ministry for Public Enlightenment, under the direction of Joseph Goebbels, impacted German media as well as German cinema. In addition to cinema, the Ministry controlled the radio, press, theater, literature and advertising. Initially, the Nazi regime did not seize control of all media outlets. Instead of direct control, a form of indirect control via the Ministry was established in the form of "partnerships" between these independent papers and the Nazi papers. Each morning the editors of the daily newspapers in Berlin would meet at the Ministry. Here, Goebbels or his aides would tell the editors what news was to be reported and which news events were not to be reported. He also specified appropriate editorial topics. In addition to this physical meeting, written directives were issued. For newspapers published outside Berlin, this directive was sent via telegram (Shirer 1960: 245).

The Nazis also closely controlled radio. In fact, radio was at the center of Goebbels’ program of shaping public opinion. The radio was used to disseminate the various pronouncements and achievements of the regime. As with print media, specific guidelines were established. The guidelines defined who could participate in broadcasting (Humphreys 1990: 124-128; Sanford 1976: 67-70; Shirer 1960: 247-8). To understand the reach of radio in Germany, consider that between May of 1932 and May of 1939, the number of listeners more than tripled from 4.17 million to 12.5 million (Uricchio 1992: 192, fn 6).

With the onset of World War II, the Nazi state strengthened its control of the media to an even greater extent. Private newspapers, which were deemed a potential threat, were closed. By 1943, approximately 1,000 publishers had been shut down by the Nazi regime. Others, although not closed, were either purchased or confiscated via force and incorporated into the state-run media network. By 1945, approximately 82.5% of the total circulation capacity in Germany was under Nazi control (Humphreys 1990: 23).

As with the cinema, the Allied forces realized the importance of media – both print and broadcast - in the lives of Germans. On November 24, 1944, the Allied forces drafted a detailed plan for taking over control of the press and broadcasting industries following Germany’s surrender. Under Law No. 191, issued on May 12, 1945, all public communication was banned. Every broadcast, publication or performance had to be approved and licensed by the occupation forces. While the licensing process was organized, the occupying forces issued their own newspapers in their respective zones – the Neue Zeitung (the U.S. zone), Die Welt (British zone), the Nouvelles de France (French zone) and the Tägliche Rundschau (Soviet zone). The U.S. also created a decentralized broadcasting structure with several broadcasting stations in their zone, including Radio Breman, Radio Frankfurt (which later became Hessischer Rundfunk), Radio Stuttgart (which later became South German Broadcasting Service, (Süddeutscher Rundfunk ) and Radio Munich (Radio München). The British developed a single corporation – the North West German Broadcasting Service (Nordwestdeutscher Rundfunk) for their zone as did the French – the South West German Broadcasting Service (Südwestdeutscher Rundfunk), which was later renamed South West Broadcasters (Südwestfunk).

The end goals of the Allied occupation regarding the print media and broadcasting media were fundamentally different. Initially, the broadcasting system was to be based on the British model of public service broadcasting under which broadcasting organizations were neither privately nor publicly held, but rather were "public service" bodies or corporations under public law. After discussion and compromises between the Allied forces, a regional, decentralized system was developed. By contrast, at the outset of the occupation, the ultimate goal of print media policy was the return of the press to complete private ownership via an Allied run and controlled licensing process (Humphreys 1990: 26-7, 128-9).

The license process involved careful screening by the Allied forces of the end goals of those to be involved in the media endeavor. Only those deemed to be committed to democratic ideals were granted licenses and there was continued oversight of the licensed activities. Between July 1945 and September 1949, a total of 169 papers were licensed in Germany, 58 of which were in the U.S. zone (Humphreys 1990: 36). The newspaper in the U.S. zone employed German journalists and German speaking émigrés who understood German culture and how to communicate the U.S. message to the German populace.

In her comprehensive historical analysis of the Neue Zeitung, Gienow-Hect (1999) advances a thesis countering the common argument of cultural imperialism on the part of the U.S. She argues that the employment of indigenous actors (i.e., German journalists) in the U.S. zone created a paper that played a key role in the successful reconstruction. This is due to the fact that German journalists served as the most effective transmitters of the desired message given their understanding of the German culture. A similar approach was taken in broadcasting. By the end of 1947, all stations except the North West German Broadcasting Service in Britain’s zone were under the supervision and operation of "reliable and Anti-Fascist" German journalists (Humphreys 1990: 131).

With the defeat of the Nazi regime, the goals of the occupying forces included reeducation and democratization. The media was a key generator of common knowledge around a new set of beliefs, ideas and conjectures. It also required that these mechanisms eventually be turned over completely to indigenous actors if the end goal of a self-sustaining order was to be achieved. As the process of reconstruction took place and new political and social institutions began to evolve, the strict licensing regulations were slowly removed in a series of laws through 1949.

On September 21, 1949, Law No.5 Concerning the Press, Broadcasting, and Other Organs of Reporting and Entertainment were enacted. This law enabled every German citizen who was not identified as a threat to produce any publication or article without the approval of the occupying forces. The first post-WWII German paper published by Germans was the Frankfurter Rundschau, a bi-weekly of four pages with an initial circulation of a half million. As Julian Bach, a media correspondent who experienced the occupation in person wrote: "it is something more than just a bi-weekly dispenser of news…it is a symbol…it represents their first taste of news, printed openly by Germans in Germany and untainted by Nazi propaganda…"(1946: 221-3). The number of papers in the U.S. zone quickly increased from 187 in September 1949, when licensing was still in effect, to 527 by the end of 1949 with a total circulation of approximately 4.6 million (67.57 per 1,000 citizens) (Humphreys 1990: 41). The process of turning over complete control of the means of common knowledge dissemination to indigenous and private individuals had begun.

3.3 Cinema in Japan

The advent of film in Japan can be traced back to 1896 with the development of the Edison Kinetoscope. A little over a year later, projectors were introduced, which allowed films to be shown on a screen. Newsreels were first produced in 1900 and in 1903, the first theater devoted entirely to film was constructed in Tokyo. In 1912, the first major film company, Nikkatsu, was established. This marked the beginning of mass production by the Japanese film industry. Film was aimed at entertaining the masses and drew on traditional drama and literature for material, especially from kabuki (traditional theater) and kodan (historical tales). Even in its earliest stages of development, the Japanese cinema reached several classes within the general populace. Showings in Tokyo offered seating sections for the "upper-class," "middle class" and general admission. Students and military personnel were charged half price for tickets. By 1926, film attendance in Japan totaled 153.7 million people (2.5 films per citizen) (Anderson and Richie 1982: 22; High 1984; Kasza 1993: 54; Sato 1982: 7).

Government censorship impacted the cinema industry from its beginnings. In the early period of Japanese cinema, any image that reflected badly on the royal family was banned. In 1908, a French film entitled The Reign of Louis XVI (Le Règn de Louis XVI) was banned because of a scene in which citizens attacked the royal palace. The Film Control Regulations (Eiga torishimari kisoku) were adopted in 1917 and enforced by the local governments of the Home Ministry until 1925. These regulations were enforced largely through business licensing at the local level.

Over time, film laws shifted from decentralized control to more centralized control. In 1925, the first national censorship law – Censorship Regulation of Moving Pictures – was enacted. This law required domestic films, along with "explanatory scripts," to be submitted for government approval. Films believed to "desecrate" the imperial family, or "harm the dignity" of the nation could be censored. An important part of this law was that it deemed films to be "entertainment" rather than "speech" or "publication". This allowed the Home Ministry to circumvent the constitution, which allowed for free speech. Although the Home Ministry controlled the regulation of the film industry, it consulted often with the military and Ministry of Education for input on which films were acceptable.

Even with the new law, the production of films was still high – 15,348 films were inspected in 1926; 16,101 were inspected in 1927; 18,893 were inspected in 1929 and 18,436 were inspected in 1932 (Kasza 1993: 54, 59). The national film policy was paternalistic in nature, and it sought to shape the moral, political and social views of the populace. Reviewing films against a strict set of guidelines allowed the government to filter the content of the films viewed by the Japanese people. The fact that the government exerted resources reviewing each and every film against a strict set of guidelines supports the claim that the cinema was an established means of developing common knowledge among the Japanese populace.

In 1935, the Japanese government imposed import restrictions on foreign films. Foreign films, including American films, were still shown but were reviewed for content and censored prior to being shown in theaters. In 1941, after Pearl Harbor, all American films were banned from entering Japan and those already in the country were confiscated. While American films were quickly removed from the Japanese mainstream, the populace had exposure to American culture and film in the pre-1941 period. The exposure of the Japanese populace to American culture was significant given that western culture and institutions were not alien to the Japanese populace.

The 1925 national Film Law was superseded in 1939 with a more comprehensive film law. Under this law, all producers, distributors and theater operators had to be licensed by the government. In addition, the law encouraged and required showings of films "useful to the national education" (Hirano 1992: 13-6). As of 1940, the total number of theaters in Japan was 2,363 and film attendance in Japan totaled 440 million people, the equivalent of 6.1 films per citizen (Freiburg, 1987; Kasza 1988: 232).

In 1942, the government established the Film Corporation to monopolize the government distribution and showing of films. From this time through the American occupation in 1945, the military aspects of Japanese film became the main focus of censorship. Any scene that was deemed to suggest anti-war sentiments was removed. For instance, the families of soldiers leaving for war had to be presented as proud with no hint of sadness; scenes portraying the enemies in a positive light were also removed. Western music and scenes with birthday parties were removed because they were considered to be "Anglo-American." As in Germany, the Home Ministry set aside one day a month where admission was free to certain members of the general populace. In 1940, the Office of Public Information was created. This signaled a policy shift away from the prevention of negative themes to the promotion of definite themes for movies. Specifically, the Office of Public Information created a list of approved "national-policy themes" that filmmakers were to follow (Anderson and Richie 1982: 129-134; Hirano 1992: 24-5).

Prior to Japan’s surrender, the United States spent a great deal of time studying and developing plans for the Japanese cinema. This further confirms the cinema’s importance in the generation of common knowledge. For example, The Department of War invested great resources in studying Japanese films in order to understand the culture. One of the resulting reports, "Japanese Films: A Psychological Warfare," produced by the Research and Analysis Branch of the Office of Strategic Management, analyzed the various aspects of twentieth century Japanese films – specifically, the underlying themes and cinematic techniques. The report concluded that Japanese films were effective as a means of disseminating "nationally controlled propaganda" (Hirano 1992: 25-6). In short, the analysis by the U.S., which took place prior to the war’s conclusion, indicated the critical role that cinema would play in the postwar situation in both eliminating "militaristic ideology" and disseminating democratic ideas (Hirano 1992: 127, Dower 1999: 75).

At the conclusion of World War II, film – and more generally mass media – became a major part of the reconstruction efforts of the U.S. occupying forces. The occupying forces quickly took control of the industry and assigned responsibility to the Information Dissemination Section (IDS) - which would later become the Civil Information and Education Section (CIE) - and the Civil Censorship Detachment (CCD). The goal was to expedite the process of establishing a society with free speech and religious worship as well as to disseminate democratic ideals and principles.

For the first week after the occupation, the theaters were closed. Soon thereafter a government directive was issued calling for the opening of theaters showing approved films. The occupying forces called a two-day meeting of the top Japanese film executives, producers, directors and wartime film bureaucrats from September 20-22, 1945 at the IDS. Here, key members of the Japanese film industry were told that the occupying forces wanted their assistance in reconstructing Japan in a positive manner. They reviewed a list of desirable subjects and topics that were consistent with the aims of the reconstruction. The occupying forces realized that working with indigenous agents who had a deep understanding of both the Japanese film industry and culture was central to achieving success.

The occupying government lifted the strict Film Law on October 16, 1945 and issued directives calling for freedom of speech and press. The occupying forces also implemented its own system of censorship through the CIE. In addition to CIE censorship, the procedures included a review of all films by military censors. These directives declared that the Film Corporation would cease operations in December so that a self-sustaining, competitive film industry could develop. Each film company had a distinct liaison section established to interact with the censors to ensure that films met the occupation guidelines.

Although these directives placed clear limits on what Japanese filmmakers could produce, films covering a wide range of topics were released. Topics covered included wartime militarism – Machi no ninkimono (Popular Man in Town, 1946) and Inochi aur kagiri (As Long as I Live, 1946), women’s liberation – Hatachi no seishun (Twenty-Year-Old Youth, 1946) and sexual expression – Aruyo no seppun (Certain Night’s Kiss, 1946) and Yoru no onna-tachi (Women of the Night, 1948) (Hirano 1992: 148-175). The occupying forces clearly respected the opinions of the Japanese filmmakers at this time. While they enforced the directives regarding the cinema, the occupying forces gave filmmakers the opportunity to re-write and submit multiple versions of scripts and discuss issues with censors. This process, while not free from censorship, allowed ample room for the opinion and influence of indigenous agents from the film industry. This enabled the development of a self-sustaining industry which would continue with the end of the occupation in 1952.

The double censorship – CIE and military – ended in June of 1949 with the establishment of the Film Ethics Regulation Control Committee. The Committee was established as an entity to deal with censorship that was independent of both American and Japanese political bodies. At the same time, pre-production approval was ended. While strict censorship was removed, final CIE approval on all finished films was still required through the end of the official occupation on April 28, 1952.

As this subsection suggests, Japanese cinema clearly played an important role in the reconstruction of Japan. Despite the film laws established throughout the occupation, approximately 1,000 films were made in Japan between September 1945 and April 1952 (Hirano 1992: 11; Dower 1999: 426). To put this number in its proper context, it must be remembered that in addition to the occupation film laws, there was also physical destruction from the war itself. This destruction clearly affected the operation of the film industry. Nonetheless, the occupying forces maintained an indigenous cultural product for common knowledge development to assist in the coordination of the populace around the aims of the reconstruction. Moreover, they included the indigenous agents – producers, directors and executives – making the cinema even more effective in achieving their goals of a self-sustaining national identity and social order.

3.4 Media in Japan

The earliest newspapers in Japan appeared in the 1860s. These papers served mainly to convey information regarding commerce. By the late 1860s, the Chūgai Shinbun had an unprecedented daily circulation of 1,500 (De Lange: 1998: 28). By the turn of the century, Japan’s press was developing rapidly. Papers began publishing information about foreign countries, including Britain, the United States and Russia as well as stories and news translated from foreign newspapers. Even in its earliest development, the press was recognized by the government as a means of disseminating common knowledge. A letter from the Meji government in 1871 to the publishers of newspapers stated, "Newspaper publishers should make it their purpose to develop the knowledge of the people" (De Lange 199: 34). During rebellions in 1876 and 1877, the government instituted emergency police controls over all reporting.

By the early 1900s, the popularity of newspapers in Japan had increased dramatically. Between 1894 and 1904 the daily circulation of the Hōchi Shinbun had doubled to 40,000. The daily circulation of the Tokyo Asahi Shinbun had increased from 20,000 to 75,000 and the Osaka Mainichi Shinbun had reached a daily circulation of 90,000. The top selling national paper, the Yorozu Chōhō, had a daily circulation of over 140,000 (3 per 1,000 citizens) (De Lange: 1998: 93).

The media was a critical means for the development and transmission of information in Japan’s wars with China and Russia. In 1894, the public had rallied behind the government’s war effort against China, and the media supplied their demand for information. Approximately 130 reporters from more than sixty newspapers accompanied Japanese troops and reported their experiences (De Lange 1998: 109). Ten years later, the press served as the main avenue for public discourse on the Russo-Japanese War. In the prewar period, different papers took various stances ranging from a clearly pro-war stance (Osaka Asahi Shinbun, Tokyo Asahi Shinbun and the Jihi Shinpō) to pacifism (Mainichi Shinbun and Yorozu Chōhō). As public opinion shifted in support of the war, most papers followed suit and rallied behind the war effort.

In both wars, the government enacted censorship laws to monitor the press. The close monitoring of the press would remain in effect until the U.S. occupation. The Japanese government’s goal was to utilize the media in coordinating the populace around the war efforts. As considered above, the resources invested by the government serve to confirm the influence of Japanese media as an effective mechanism of common knowledge generation.

Despite the limits on expression, the press continued to remain popular among the Japanese populace. By the mid 1920s, major daily newspapers with nation-wide distribution had combined circulation of between 1 and 1.5 million, or between 16.7 and 25.1 per 1,000 people (Hanazono 1934: 93; Hane 2001: 240, Kasza 1993: 28). In the late 1930s, the Japanese government centralized the press by passing a law that allowed it to control financial and material resources, prices and labor. This empowered the government to centralize the media and control the flow of information both in and out of the country (De Lange 1998: 148-9).

In the pre-World War II period and throughout World War II, the press was used as a propaganda tool by the Japanese government. In 1937, the "National Spiritual Mobilization Movement" (Kokumin Seishin Sōdōin Undō) was launched, focusing on state ideology and worship of the emperor. Writers and editors were invited to the Cabinet Information Division for "cordial meetings" (kondankai) where they were encouraged to play an active role in the movement. Even with these controls, the total number of periodicals increased from 813 dailies and 3,980 total papers in 1918 to 1,330 dailies and 11,118 total papers in 1932 (Kasza 1993: 32).

In addition to the press, radio was also a well-established means of disseminating common knowledge in the prewar and wartime period. Between 1926, when the national radio monopoly Nihon Hoso Kyokai (NHK) was created, and 1932, the number of NHK branch stations increased from three to nineteen and the number of radios increased from 361,066 to over 1.4 million. The entire broadcast structure in Japan was controlled extensively by NHK. Pre-broadcast censorship was imposed in 1924 and remained in place until the Allied occupation. Political criticism was forbidden – governments could broadcast policy but no opposing views were allowed. An intricate set of telephones and telegraph machinery was put in place connecting each individual regional Ministry to the Communications Ministry so that controls on radio could be implemented quickly and efficiently (Kasza 1993: 88-91).

Perhaps the best example of broadcasting as a means of common knowledge dissemination is the first radio message directly from Emperor Hirohito to the Japanese populace on August 15, 1945, to announce that Japan had lost the war. Millions of Japanese citizens gathered around radios to hear the address and the message was simultaneously broadcast to those Japanese overseas by short-wave radio. Radio announcers quickly summarized the address in everyday language so that all could comprehend. Newspapers rushed to print special editions incorporating the text of the emperor’s message and commentary (Dower 1999: 34-6).

Similar to the case of Japanese cinema, the U.S. realized the power of media and radio as a means of common knowledge in Japan, and they invested resources during the war to understand both the magnitude and operation of these mechanisms. In 1944, a subcommittee of the State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee analyzed strategies for dealing with Japanese mass media after the war. The resulting paper from that investigation, "Control of the Media of Public Information and Expression in Japan" suggested that all media activities should initially be suspended and brought under the control of the military. These recommendations were never realized. At the Potsdam conference, the form of occupation agreed upon was to undertake and administer policies through the office of the Japanese government. The mass media, in this context, was to support the execution of occupation policies.

Soon after the occupation began, McArthur issued a Press Code consisting of ten Articles outlining a free press. Among the directives was to publish truthful news and refrain from publishing news that would disturb the public order or cause distrust. It also stipulated that the promotion of the aims of the reconstruction would require "minimum control and censorship" of the press, radio and film (De Lange 1998: 167-9; Dower 1999: 75, 406-7). The implementation and enforcement of these directives fell under the control of the CIE and CCD. Censorship by the occupying forces occurred from September 1945 through September 1949 and continued in reduced form until Japan achieved its sovereignty. The indigenous populace was able to engage in media activities but all articles were to be reviewed by the occupying forces prior to publication to ensure that they met the requirements set forth in the Press Code. By the third year of occupation, while censoring still occurred, the major papers had developed a sense of what they could and could not publish to the point where official censorship was minimal (Brines 1948: 246-249). The CIE also controlled the distribution network of papers which served as an extra check on the information which was distributed.

Over this four-year period, the censorship examiners reviewed approximately 26,000 issues of newspapers, 3,800 news-agency publications, 23,000 radio transcripts, 5,700 printed bulletins, 4,000 magazine issues, and 1,800 books and pamphlets (Dower 1999: 407). Occupation control of the media also involved the purging of members of the press – a total of 350 were banned from the media (De Lange 1998: 168). The aim of these purges was to ensure that spoilers were prevented from utilizing mechanisms for the distribution of common knowledge for aims contradictory to those of the reconstruction.

The press grew rapidly even with the censorship framework in place. By 1948, there were 126 papers throughout the country. The top paper in Tokyo had a daily circulation of 1.5 million - 18.7 per 1,000 citizens. Total circulation of all newspaper was 18 million – the equivalent of 224.7 per 1,000 citizens or one copy per 4.5 people. This number increased steadily and by December 1949, total daily newspaper circulation in Japan was approximately 27.9 million copies a day – one copy per 2.9 people. Magazines covering a wide range of topics supplemented daily newspapers. By the end of 1949, the total circulation of non-daily periodicals was approximately 55 million or one paper per 1.5 people (Brines 1948: 249; Lewe van Aduard 1954: 39-40).

On April 28, 1952, the Peace Treaty went into effect and the Allied occupation formally ended. With the departure of the occupying forces, all the regulations previously enforced by the Allies via the Press Code ended. The centrally controlled distribution of newspapers also came to an end. Clearly, censorship of the media played a role in the reconstruction of Japan. However, the occupiers maintained the indigenous nature of the media industry. As such, it served as an effective mechanism for generating common knowledge during the reconstruction period.

4. Conclusion: Lessons for the Present and Future

The analysis put forth here provides some implications for current and future reconstruction efforts. The most obvious implication is that occupying forces should make it a goal to identify pre-conflict mechanisms for developing and transmitting common knowledge. Further, they should attempt to maintain the indigenous nature of these cultural products because they can serve as a reference point to generate change. As discussed at the outset of this paper, cultural products play an important role as a source of knowledge, norms and beliefs. As Petro notes, the acceptance of new institutions can be facilitated by "…placing new institutions within the context of traditional cultural values, with the help of appropriate symbols" (2004: 202).

Given this, it is important to note that the activities undertaken by occupiers are ultimately constrained by the existing culture and cultural products in post-conflict countries. For instance, Germany and Japan had reached a relatively high level of development prior to the U.S. occupation. This development meant that these countries had some industrialized cultural products – such as cinema and media – with a widespread reach. Lesser-developed countries may not have industrialized cultural products like those present in Germany and Japan. These countries will still have a distinct culture and cultural products – ceremonies, rituals, art, etc. – but they generally will not be conducive to the types of institutions that occupiers wish to establish.

Stated differently, successful reconstruction efforts require certain institutional prerequisites which serve as a foundation for formally reconstructed institutions (see Coyne 2005, 2006). In Germany and Japan, it was a coincidence that the preexisting formal and informal institutions aligned, to a large extent, with the goals of the occupiers. This is not the case in more recent efforts in Somalia, Haiti, Afghanistan and Iraq where there is a disjoint between existing institutions and what occupiers hope to accomplish.

Further, it is not clear that political agents have the know-how to shape culture as they see fit. As Fukuyama indicates, cultural forces change "the most slowly of all." This has important implications because it places liberal democracy "safely beyond the reach of institutional solutions and hence public policy" (1995: 7-9). Indeed, while public policy cannot effectively create culture, it can destroy or distort culture and have the perverse effect of increasing social tensions. This lack of knowledge is good reason to err on the side of restraint when considering foreign occupation as a means of generating change.

Yet another implication deals with the issue of censorship. As the case studies of German and Japan media and cinema indicated, censorship took place in both the prewar and occupation periods. With advances in technological capabilities (i.e., Internet, satellite television and radio, etc.) available at decreasing costs, it is now possible to receive news and information from around the world. This will make it increasingly difficult for occupiers to censor news and information in conflict-torn countries. For instance, some Afghan citizens have purchased homemade satellite dishes, constructed from flattened paint cans, and are able to receive hundreds of channels from around the world. Where the populace is able to receive external information in addition to that provided by the occupying forces, attempts to control content by the occupying forces will serve to discredit their efforts.

Finally, given the unique circumstances in Germany and Japan, as well as the limited knowledge of policymakers regarding effective cultural change, alternatives to military occupation must be considered. For instance, an argument can be made that the U.S. should adopt a position of principled non-intervention coupled with a commitment to free trade in goods, services and cultural products (see Boettke and Coyne 2006). A commitment to cross-cultural trade would allow the West to pursue some notion of cosmopolitanism whereby individuals are "citizens of the world" (see Appiah 2006).

The essence of the cosmopolitan ideal is that individuals need to develop habits of coexistence with others at the personal, local, national and international levels. The philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah (2006) emphasizes that cosmopolitanism entails an ongoing conversation with both neighbors and strangers. As such, it advances the possibility of achieving mutual understanding between individuals who hold different worldviews and adhere to different moral systems. At the same time, cosmopolitanism recognizes the real possibility that consensus on a single worldview may not be reached. Such a possibility does not necessarily lead to conflict. Instead, it can result in a cooperative decision to "agree to disagree."

A commitment to free trade can be seen as a means of merging cultures and finding a common middle ground. In other words, trade is a means of engaging in an ongoing conversation and pursuing the cosmopolitan ideal. Through cultural trade, individuals in different countries will tend to share, or at a minimum, become aware of, common cultural products (see Cowen 2002: 17-18).

 

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About the Author

Christopher Coyne is an assistant professor of economics at West Virginia University, the North American Editor for The Review of Austrian Economica and an associated research fellow at the Mercatus Center, Arlington, VA.

Author's address

CHRISTOPHER J. COYNE
Department of Economics
Hampden-Sydney College
Hampden-Sydney, VA 23943
ccoyne@hsc.edu
www.ccoyne.com


Journal of Intercultural Communication, ISSN 1404-1634, 2007, issue 13.
Editor: Prof. Jens Allwood
URL: http://www.immi.se/intercultural/.