# 392: BOOK OF THE WEEK — “War and Peace in the Global Village”

McLuhan, Marshall, and Quentin Fiore (1968): War and Peace in the Global Village.

Story behind the Book Choice

Today, I wrote an essay. And in that essay, I mentioned McLuhan’s Understanding Media. And when I checked the source, I found out that McLuhan and Fiore also wrote this one abot War and Peace. Given the sad circumstances which we are facing now, I just had to read it. But my discussion needs to remain short today. There is only one thing I can recommend: If people want to learn about the connection between technology and war and between war and the media, check out McLuhan. This book, like the Medium is the Massage is fast-paced, full of imagery and references to other wonderful books of world literature. McLuhan always practices what he writes about. You do not forget his and Fiore’s books. This is because the images and the texts stick. They do not leave you after turning the last page.

Unfortunately, the same holds true for images of war.

1. Artists

McLuhan and Fiore 12

Whenever I experience moments of advancement these days, I feel the artistic side is getting stronger. And being an artist, to me, above all means seeing too many things at the same time. I say “too many” because the images forming in your mind can quickly overwhelm you. But this is also necessary for creativity. McLuhan sees this when he describes how the artist is possibly the only one who is eager to embrace confusion in order to invent new identities.

2. Decentralization and the media

McLuhan and Fiore 95

When McLuhan and Fiore were writing this book, the computer was new. In fact, the computer was not even a computer if you compare its functionality to today’s standards. Nobody imagined such a rapid speed of decentralization when it comes to knowledge distribution via new media. Of course, there are many positive side effects of this. You can call it democratization. You can call it liberation. But now, as we keep seeing th images of war and bombings the Ukraine, we keep asking ourselves whether these images are “true,” if they can be confirmed. In other words, we are longing for central media institutions to check and filter what we see in order to not lose touch with “reality.” I have to say, this indeed is frightening. Not that I think the official media cannot do the job. They do. But they hardly have any time left to take care of good journalism. And that should be their ultimate goal and function.

3. Education as environment

McLuhan and Fiore 151

There is not much more to say about this: I totally agree. I do not understand how our modern education system could enter into war with our natural approach and predisposition to learning. We are all children to a certain extent when it comes to our capacity to learn. And being surrounded by the things we want to or should learn about is the easiest way. Languages are the perfect example. But there is also a flipside again: If you grow up in war, you learn what war is, and you never forget. We hoped this would never happen anymore but now it does. Maybe we should all read McLuhan again and be surprised by the wisdom he shared so many decades ago. Yes, we live in a global village and that is why war is right in front of our door, no matter how far away it seems to happen.

Reflection Questions

1) Do you think artists see the world differently or do they “just” express what they see differently?

2) Which role can state media in the “free world” play for a war such as the one in the Ukraine right now?

3) How do you think about the thesis of learning best if what you learn is part of your environment?



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