The (Black) Elephant in the Room: McLuhan and the Racial.
Background This article combines Marshall McLuhan’s media theory with the “racial contract” theory of political philosopher Charles Mills.
Analysis Mills critiques the older, Western “social contract,” which holds that “Western man” moves from a “state of nature” (or McLuhan’s tribal man) into “civilization” (McLuhan’s detribal man and retribal man) via organizing with similar humans to establish the rules, laws, codes, guidelines, and, as is argued here, technologies necessary for human cohabitation. Mills argues that there are racial assumptions of the social contract, meaning only some are consenting signatories, particularly White men; thus, the social contract is actually a racial contract.
Conclusion and implications McLuhan’s media theory is consistent with Mills’ racial contract: tribal man resides in a state of nature, awaiting man’s detribal or retribal benevolence.
Copyright © 2019, Canadian Journal of Communication (CJC).