A Sampler of McLuhan Quotes Related to “Democracy,” From Bill Kuhns’ Forthcoming McLuhan Marshalling Machine: A Dictionary of Quotations

30Aug20

In anticipation of Bill Kuhns’ to-be-published huge compendium of McLuhan quotes in his McLuhan Marshalling Machine: A Dictionary of Quotations, where they will be categorized by the artifact or phenomenon they refer to, I have Bill’s permission to publish samples of original McLuhan quotes from his writings, lectures, and interviews, some of which will have never before been seen in a secondary publication context.

“The political candidate who understands TV – whatever his party, goals or beliefs – can gain power unknown in history”. – Playboy Interview, 1969, in The Essential McLuhan (1995), p. 448 in original (1995) edition, p. 248 in the later Anansi edition.
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“The day of  political  democracy as we know it today is finished. Let me stress again that individual freedom itself will not be submerged in the new tribal society, but it will certainly assume different and more complex dimensions.”
1969, March. Playboy Interview: Marshall McLuhan. Playboy. Pp. 53 – 74, 158.
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“TV is revolutionizing every political system in the Western world. For one thing, it’s creating a totally new type of national leader, a man who is much more of a tribal chieftain than a politician. Castro is a good example of the new tribal chieftain who rules his country by a mass-participational TV dialog and feedback.”
-1969, Playboy Interview.
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“If you have difficulty envisioning something as trivial as the imminent end of elections, you’ll be totally unprepared to cope with the prospect of the forthcoming demise of spoken language and its replacement by a global consciousness.”
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Playboy Interview (1969), in The Essential McLuhan (1995), p 261.
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“One obvious effect of writing and printing is to bind together long tracts of time by making past writers simultaneously available. Associated with this effect is the republicanism of letters. Anybody, no matter what his origin or condition, has access on equal terms to the written messages of “the mighty dead,” so that we can readily link, as most have done, the rise of democratic attitudes to the mechanization of writing.”
Technology & Political Change, International Journal, 1952, p. 190.
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“You certainly could not run a democracy on TV news. In such an instant social situation you have no representatives, you have only participants. Automatically TV wipes out representation in government and puts the public in the position of the direct participatory activist. The student activists are merely a mild fore-taste of direct public participation in politics.”
– 
“The Hardware-Software Mergers: How Successful Have They Been?” Speech at the conference, Reappraisal of the Educational Technology Industry, University of Chicago, November 16-18, 1969.
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“Representation is disappearing very rapidly in favor of image-making. It is an 18th century gimmick based on very slow travel.”
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“The Hardware-Software Mergers: How Successful Have They Been?”
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“Representation is disappearing very rapidly in favor of image-making. It is an 18th century gimmick based on very slow travel.”
The Hardware-Software Mergers: How Successful Have They Been?”
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“You can judge the likelihood of the survival of democracy by the survival of the printed page.” – “Technology Kills Democracy, McLuhan Warns Exchangers” in The Varsity (U of Toronto student newspaper), Vol LXXXII, no 26, November 19, 1962, p. 7.
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“If we knew what we were doing, we wouldn’t do it.”
Technology Kills Democracy, McLuhan Tells Exchangers.” p. 1.
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“In an imploded world there is little room for a democratic way of life”.
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“Technology Kills Democracy, McLuhan Tells Exchangers.” The Varsity (U of Toronto student newspaper), vol LXXXII, No. 26, November 19, 1962, p. 7.
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“If we want to keep our civilization, we have to freeze technology. After all, why shouldn’t the world pull back some of the technology it has pushed out. Irritation has created technology and at the same time created more problems than it solved”.
– 
“Technology Kills Democracy, McLuhan Tells Exchangers.”
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“If you go out and work for General Electric, you are destroying democracy”.
– 
“Technology Kills Democracy, McLuhan Tells Exchangers.”
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In an imploded world there is little room for a democratic way of life.”
“Technology Kills Democracy, McLuhan Tells Exchangers.”
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“TV reaches out for the corporate attributes of office. Potentially, it can transform the Presidency into a monarchic dynasty”.
– Understanding Media,
1964, MIT, p. 336.
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