Marshall McLuhan

After watching both Farenheit 9/11 (again) and Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism, a quote from Marshall McLuhan on violence and identity came to the top of my mind…


“It’s why they have to kill in order to find out whether they’re real. This is where the violence comes from. This meaningless slaying around our streets is the work of people who have lost all identity and who have to kill in order to know if they’re real or if the other guy’s real. I suppose that one could even produce a theory of war to say that when a certain amount of technological change happens very quickly to a whole community, they are so lost about who they are that they want a basic war to find out. It’s another way of crashing through to find one’s identity. Violence as a form of quest for identity is one thing the people who have been ripped off feel the need of. He’s going to show who he is, what his credentials are, that he’s tough. So anybody on a psychic frontier tends to get tough or violent, and it’s happening to us on a mass scale today. It might even be said that at the speed of light, man has neither goals, objectives, nor private identity. He is an item in a data bank – software only, easily forgotten – and deeply resentful.” – Marshall McLuhan


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