Cold War Psychology Comes Home
The intimacies that transpired between Cold War psychology and policy-makers' approach to urban rioting were not figments of Kenneth Keniston's overheated imagination. The Kerner Commission made full use of resources that had been developed for the use of the military during the 1950s and 1960s, sharing with such projects as Camelot not only similar approaches to the psychology of crowds, revolutionaries, and rioters, but overlapping personnel as well.
Ted Gurr and Ithiel de Sola Pool linked the two experiences, illustrating the flexibility of policy-oriented experts and their desire to operate in diverse areas of government. Ted Gurr, a consultant to CRESS (the organizational sponsor of Project Camelot, renamed in 1966)
turned his comparative studies of civil strife abroad toward more domestic topics. In 1968 he argued that sophisticated frustration-aggression theories could be applied to the circumstances of Guatemalan guerrillas, Indonesian students, and urban black Americans with roughly equal effectiveness, a view that was adopted, as noted above, by the commission's director. Sola Pool, a vocal figure in military behavioral science, won a Kerner Commission contract worth $221,000 for his consulting firm, Simulmatics Inc., to track the media's contribution to urban riots.
Beyond the presence of such individuals, the entire project of riot analysis was infused with the sense that the military had the most "Directly Related Experience," according to the rifle of a Kerner Commission memo on successful psychological warfare and counterinsurgency campaigns. Much of the riot training and equipment advice sought after by municipal administrations and police departments came from the military, whose own experts sometimes derided the value of civilian knowledge on these topics.