June 16, 2016

Marshall McLuhan 1977 Interview - Violence as a Quest for Identity


[McManus]Way back in the early fifties you predicted that the world was becoming a global Village.

[McLuhan]We are going back into the bicameral mind that is tribal, collective, without any individual consciousness.

[McManus]But, it seems, Dr. McLuhan, that this tribal world is not friendly.

[McLuhan]No, tribal people, one of their main kinds of sport is butchering each other. It is a full-time sport in tribal societies.

[McManus]But, I had some idea as we got global and tribal we were going to try to -

[McLuhan]The closer you get together, the more you like each other? There is no evidence of that in any situation that we have ever heard of. When people get close together, they get more and more savage and impatient with each other.

[McManus]Why is it? Is it because of the nature of man?

[McLuhan]His tolerance is tested in those narrow circumstances very much. Village people are not that much in love with each other. The global village is a place of a very arduous interfaces and very abrasive situations.


[McManus]Do you see any pattern of this in, for example the desires of Quebec to separate?

[McLuhan]I should think that they are feeling very abrasive about the English community and about the way the American south felt about the Yankee north a hundred years ago.

[McManus]Is this going to be a pattern right around the world?

[McLuhan]Apparently, separatisms are very frequent all over the globe at the present time. Every country in the world is loaded with regionalistic and nationalistic little groups.

[McManus]But in Quebec for example, like do you define it as the quest for identity?

[McLuhan]Yes, all forms of violence are quests for identity. When you live out on the frontier, you have no identity. You are a nobody. Therefore, you get very tough. You have to prove that you are somebody. So you become very violent. Identity is always accompanied by violence. This seems paradoxical to you? Ordinary people find the need for violence as they lose their identities. It is only the threat to people’s identity that makes them violent. Terrorists, hijackers - these are people minus identity. They are determined to make it somehow, to get coverage, to get noticed....


Posted by gerardvanderleun at June 16, 2016 11:25 AM
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Yup

Posted by: pbird at June 16, 2016 12:14 PM

McLuhan was no dummy. A scholar of the classics, he understood history intimately. To boot, despite the attempt by leftist liberals to coopt him, he was a staunch Roman Catholic and conservative and very very pro-life.

Posted by: Doug at June 16, 2016 2:41 PM