Lecture 6: The McLuhanist Model of Media Freedom

McLuhanist Model of Media Freedom video

McLuhanism = media freedom of the global village.

1945-1975 = ’30 Glorious Years’ of post-war boom in West and East.
‘Affluent society’ of American Fordism = Big Government + Big Business -> warfare/welfare state + consumer goods and suburban living.
1960 election of John F. Kennedy = ‘best and brightest’ in charge of the USA -> universal suffrage + consensus politics + economic growth + imperial expansion.
Robert McNamara = ‘IBM machine on legs’ at Ford motor company -> cost/benefit analysis at Department of Defence.

Michel Aglietta, A Theory of Capitalist Regulation: the US experience.
J.K. Galbraith, The Affluent Society.
Walt Rostow, The Stages of Economic Growth: a non-communist manifesto.
David Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest.

1964 New York World’s Fair = imaginary futures of Cold War America.
Space Park = holidays on the moon; General Electric pavilion = free electricity from nuclear fusion; and IBM = artificial intelligence of The Information Machine multi-media show (Charles and Ray Eames).
1964 American Cybernetics Society meeting = John F. Ford (Georgetown University & CIA) warning of growing ‘cybernetics gap’ between USA and USSR.
1961 Nikita Khrushchev at 22nd CPSU Congress predicted arrival of cybernetic communism in 1970s -> Aksel Berg’s project for Unified Information Network.
1957 Sputnik launch -> 1958 ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency) -> 1962 J.C.R. Licklider’s ARPANET project = technological convergence of media, telecommunications and computing into the Net.
1964 Beatles US tour and Free Speech Movement at UC Berkeley = growing ‘generation gap’ between parents and baby-boomers -> youth counter-culture of hippies -> New Left protests v. 1965 US invasion of Vietnam.

Richard Barbrook, Imaginary Futures.
Slava Gerovitch, From Newspeak to Cyberspeak: a history of Soviet cybernetics.
Kirkpatrick Sale, SDS.
Priscilla Long, The New Left.

Marshall McLuhan at 1964 American Cybernetics Society: social evolution = new media technologies not class struggles.
1934 English student of F.R. Leavis at Cambridge -> 1937 converted to Catholicism -> 1937 English teacher at St Louis University -> 1946 Toronto University -> 1951 Mechanical Bride -> 1953 Explorations magazine -> 1963 Centre for Culture and Technology -> 1964 Understanding Media.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin; Harold Innis; and Ted Carpenter.
‘The medium is the message’: oral culture -> print culture -> audiovisual culture.
Pavlovian psychology: new media = new sense ratios -> new consciousness.
Oral culture = feudalism; Catholic Church; Latin mass and stained glass windows.
Print culture = industrialism; individualism; nationalism; rationality; categorisation; books and newspapers.
Gutenberg Galaxy = hot media -> explosion of the social.
Audiovisual culture = post-industrialism; collectivism; internationalism; intuition; empathy; TV and the Net.
Global Village = cool media -> implosion of the social.
McLuhan’s 1964 prophecy of the Net = ‘electronic tribal drum’ -> ‘universal understanding and unity’.

McLuhan’s Media History diagram
McLuhanist Media Freedom diagram

Marshall McLuhan, Gutenberg Galaxy: the making of typographic man.
Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: the extensions of man.
Philip Marchand, Marshall McLuhan: the medium and the messenger.

1960s generation gap: parents = print culture v. children = audiovisual culture not youth rebellion against American imperialism and consumer conformism.
Protests v. Vietnam invasion = emotional impact of TV coverage of warfare.
Hippies = pioneering the 21st century global village in the 1960s present.
1-way passive consumption -> 2-way interactive communications; top-down discipline -> participatory management; boring work -> paid learning.
University = key institution of new information society.
McLuhan = Catholic trickster -> 1964 celebrity guru of Understanding Media -> 1969 Playboy interview -> 1977 Annie Hall cameo.
McLuhanism = technological optimism of American empire in 1960s.

Tom Wolfe, ‘What If He’s Right?’ in The Pump House Gang.
Marshall McLuhan, The Medium is the Message.
Donald Theall, The Virtual Marshall McLuhan.

1964 Daniel Bell’s Commission on the Year 2000 = elite intellectuals inventing American alternative to Russian prophecy of cybernetic communism.
McLuhanism without McLuhan = provocative ‘thought probes’ -> academic quotations, footnotes and bibliography.
USA anticipating future in the present = technological convergence of media, telecommunications and computing into the Net.
Futurology = academic neologisms to replace McLuhan’s global village.
Daniel Bell: Post-Industrial Society.
Zbigniew Brzezinski: Technetronic Age.
Alvin and Heidi Toffler: Third Wave.
Simon Nora and Alain Minc: Télématique.
Jean-François Lyotard: Post-Modernism.

Daniel Bell, Towards the Year 2000.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technetronic Age.
Boris Frankel, The Post-Industrial Utopians.

Grand narrative of history = new media technologies not human creativity.
29th October 1969 = launch of ARPANET in the USA ->
1970s crisis of Fordism = problems of moving from old industrial society to new information society not inherent contradictions of capitalism.
Post-industrialism = decline in manufacturing jobs; disappearance of Taylorism; and weakening of nation state.
Third Wave = increase in office jobs; more participatory management; and greater international cooperation.
Power shift from politicians and industrialists to knowledge workers and prosumers (producer/consumers).
Representative democracy of presidents and parliaments -> direct democracy of ‘electronic town halls’.
The advent of the Net = 2-way communications, political participation and economic self-management without New Left revolution against American empire and corporate capitalism.
1970s McLuhanism without McLuhan = media technological determinism.

Daniel Bell, The Coming of the Post-Industrial Society.
Alvin Toffler, The Third Wave.
Simon Nora and Alain Minc, The Computerisation of Society.
Frank Webster, Theories of the Information Society.
Christopher May, The Information Society.

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