Version 2.0: December 30, 2019
Unless specified otherwise, page numbers and quotations are from Letters of Marshall McLuhan (1987) . Internet references are cited as accessed on or before December 26, 2019. Topics for further research are sometimes underlined.
Continuing with Specifics about Delos and McLuhan’s Fellow Attendees
From another source (https://funnelme.wordpress.com/2012/05/22/from-delos-symposia-to-the-www-conference/) I want to add a few to the list of known Delos participants: architect Sir Robert Matthew, architect Charles Abrams, and microbiologist and environmentalist Rene Dubos.
There is a letter by Marshall McLuhan to Margaret Mead on page 463-465. [To add later: it may have some relevant points about McLuhan’s thoughts on Delos]. Primarily it is a reaction to a Greek political movement (PAK) that was challenging Delos participants, including McLuhan and Mead, about their statements on achieving happy “human settlements” with respect to whatever stance they might have on the Greek military junta. McLuhan’s attitude is interesting in that he insists on avoiding any appearance of moral superiority in confronting human depravity. He feels it is too easy to appear virtuous (“borrow virtue”) by contrasting ourselves with viciousness. I think whatever point he has here is aesthetic and that it’s unfortunate he didn’t spend more time criticizing public figures and their policies. Maybe he would feel hypocritical, but this could also mean that he didn’t want to offend those who provided him with venues. I think my points in part 5 about his mostly off-target criticisms of Bilderberg are consistent with his pattern of pulling his punches with the powers-that-be.
Margaret Mead (December 16, 1901 – November 15, 1978) was an American cultural anthropologist who featured frequently as an author and speaker in the mass media during the 1960s and 1970s. . . . Mead served as President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1975.
. . . Her reports detailing the attitudes towards sex in South Pacific and Southeast Asian traditional cultures influenced the 1960s sexual revolution. She was a proponent of broadening sexual conventions within a context of traditional Western religious life.
. . . she was enrolled by her family at Buckingham Friends School [Quaker school] in Lahaska, Pennsylvania . . . Born into a family of various religious outlooks, she searched for a form of religion that gave an expression of the faith that she had been formally acquainted with, Christianity. In doing so, she found the rituals of the Episcopal Church to fit the expression of religion she was seeking . . .
. . . Mead’s third and longest-lasting marriage (1936–1950) was to the British anthropologist Gregory Bateson . . .
Mead’s pediatrician was Benjamin Spock, whose subsequent writings on child rearing incorporated some of Mead’s own practices and beliefs acquired from her ethnological field observations which she shared with him; in particular, breastfeeding on the baby’s demand rather than a schedule . . .
During World War II, Mead served as executive secretary of the National Research Council’s Committee on Food Habits. She served as curator of ethnology at the American Museum of Natural History from 1946 to 1969. She was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1948. She taught at The New School and Columbia University . . .
Following Ruth Benedict’s example, Mead focused her research on problems of child rearing, personality, and culture. . . . In the mid-1960s, Mead joined forces with communications theorist Rudolf Modley, jointly establishing an organization called Glyphs Inc., whose goal was to create a universal graphic symbol language to be understood by any members of culture, no matter how primitive . . .
Mead was featured on two record albums published by Folkways Records. The first, released in 1959, An Interview With Margaret Mead, explored the topics of morals and anthropology. In 1971, she was included in a compilation of talks by prominent women, But the Women Rose, Vol.2: Voices of Women in American History. . . .
In 1976, Mead was a key participant at UN Habitat I, the first UN forum on human settlements. . . .
One of her publications was: Coming of Age in Samoa (1928)
Mead’s advisor was Franz Boas, who wrote the foreword to her book. Wikipedia quotes him making a very strong, principled statement to John Dewey, and I wonder if this was motivated as a criticism against Dewey:
There are two things to which I am devoted: absolute academic and spiritual freedom, and the subordination of the state to the interests of the individual; expressed in other forms, the furthering of conditions in which the individual can develop to the best of his ability—as far as it is possible with a full understanding of the fetters imposed upon us by tradition; and the fight against all forms of power policy of states or private organizations. This means a devotion to principles of true democracy. I object to the teaching of slogans intended to befog the mind, of whatever kind they may be.
(Also, I wonder, if Boas was all about individual freedom, how he was influenced by Wilhelm Wundt, because Wundt was an influence on him according to Wikipedia).
I agree with the last part of the statement very strongly. In fact that’s relevant to what I try to focus on at this website–that there is a systematic effort by the elites to delude us and weaken us mentally. Some of what he was involved in seems to be very admirable.
However, I think it’s possible that a person can be well-intentioned but at the same time follow a misguided libertarian ideology that blindly attacks all traditions at the expense of legitimate traditions that provide protection to those who need it the most. And I think this is one of the mistakes of classical liberal or libertarian ideologies–and I believe this is built in to these ideologies intentionally by their originators.
I think this was a mistake I made in pursuing libertarianism although I had some points correct in my arguments. It’s very clear from Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World that sex and drugs (and entertainment, etc.) are wielded as weapons to enslave humanity to scientific dictatorship. People are not freer as a result!
What were John Stuart Mill’s doctrines used for? To create a market for opium for imperial purposes? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opium_Wars. To me, I see two sides to this. Do drugs make people free? Did China become freer? No, of course not. There are multiple morally questionable sides to drugs and the drug war. It’s the same system running both sides. There are illegal drugs and there are legal drugs. There is the war against illegal drugs–which is selective–and there is the promotion of legal drugs. Does legality make something good and illegality make something bad? Does the drug war work? Why doesn’t the “drug war” end drugs? It certainly results in loss of liberties and injustice. So we have–drugs flowing–illegal and legal–and we have enforcement–and “war”–and loss of rights–and addiction–and deaths. Notice the term “war”. How apt it is. This is a long discussion but people aren’t seeing things as they really are. They don’t want to. They see things with artificial ideological blinders–either libertarian or anti-libertarian (and there are libertarians on both the “left” and the “right”).
What does forcing “free trade” on people lead to? To the weakening of our defences! To the weakening of cultures and traditions. To subjection and defeat and victimization. Where does mass drug use lead–isn’t it always under someone’s control by the way!? Where does the sexual revolution lead? If it leads to dissolution and sexual enslavement, then it’s just destructive. Is it just moving from one extreme to the other? Yes. To sum up, I believe there are two false sides or opposites. One side presents the rhetoric about “individual freedom” along with the shiny new objects and technology to shatter our families, communities, traditions and identities–and the other side follows up with justifications for the the heavy chains wrapped around our necks. People are entranced by different types of rhetoric–some like the authoritarian rhetoric (left or right) and others are entranced by the libertarian rhetoric (left or right)–it’s like a video game–it’s make believe, which diverts them from seeing the real problem. The end goal is domination.
We need to see the intent of policies, and when we can see that destruction and genocide is part of the intent–which most people refuse to see–then that justifies collective, community actions and laws–in order to protect the innocent–but not to allow injustice and abuses. Many people can understand and expect restrictions on drugs and prostitution and obscenity–and on other practices directly relating to the sacredness of human life–but they are missing the boat completely on what it’s all about. Maybe they should be involved in these types of decisions and not leave them to others or to institutions not under their control! Are the drug laws just there for selective enforcement, or just for show, or just to create prison slaves? Do they end the illegal drug trade or do they just empower and enrich gangsters? So this requires a lot more investigation and thought, but if people take a look at the damage being done in the world because of the illegal drug trade, think about the level of power required to keep that going–and think twice about taking things at face value. (Related discussion about the Vietnam war: https://canadianliberty.com/notes-on-crome-yellow-by-aldous-huxley/).
So I have gone off topic, but I’m sorry to say that drugs and sex are connected via Brave New World and the one topic parallels the other in my opinion. I liked what Boas had to say about not interfering with peoples’ minds and their capacities, and I don’t know what Boas’ attitudes to drugs were, but I do have to respond to this idea that there is something wrong with all traditions. We have a natural sense of trying to protect ourselves and others from victimization, so I believe it is legitimate to have some kind of reasonable restrictions in place in our communities–but I think we have something that’s false instead.
Continuing with Mead’s life:
In 1983, five years after Mead had died, New Zealand anthropologist Derek Freeman published Margaret Mead and Samoa: The Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth, in which he challenged Mead’s major findings about sexuality in Samoan society. . .
In 1999, Freeman published another book, The Fateful Hoaxing of Margaret Mead: A Historical Analysis of Her Samoan Research, including previously unavailable material. . .
Another work was: Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies (1935). “This became a major cornerstone of the feminist movement . . .” However, as explained in the Wikipedia article, Mead’s interpretations about female dominance and lack of distinct gender roles have been contradicted by Deborah Gewertz and Jessie Bernard.
Mead worked for the RAND Corporation, a U.S. Air Force military funded private research organization, from 1948 to 1950 to study Russian culture and attitudes toward authority.
As an Anglican Christian, Mead played a considerable part in the drafting of the 1979 American Episcopal Book of Common Prayer.
Wow. And this point is of special interest to me because I was confirmed in the Anglican Communion (Church of Ireland) as a teenager.
So here we have an obvious case of a “progressive” reformer or subversive agent (depending on your point of view) directly influencing a Christian liturgy concerning who-knows-what–possibly teachings on sexuality and gender roles? We could probably find out more about what changes she made.
After her death, Mead’s Samoan research was criticized by anthropologist Derek Freeman, who published a book that argued against many of Mead’s conclusions. Freeman argued that Mead had misunderstood Samoan culture when she argued that Samoan culture did not place many restrictions on youths’ sexual explorations. Freeman argued instead that Samoan culture prized female chastity and virginity and that Mead had been misled by her female Samoan informants. . . . While Mead was careful to shield the identity of all her subjects for confidentiality Freeman was able to find and interview one of her original participants, and Freeman reported that she admitted to having wilfully misled Mead. She said that she and her friends were having fun with Mead and telling her stories.
I have a couple of observations. Mead was a very powerful and influential figure. Despite the criticisms, she is relentlessly defended even when the arguments don’t sound very convincing. There is a lot of detail in the Wikipedia articles, and you can also listen to this author’s interview here: https://newbooksnetwork.com/peter-hempenstall-truths-fool-derek-freeman-and-the-war-over-cultural-anthropology-u-wisconsin-press-2017/. And we should check out her books and judge for ourselves.
My other comment here is that Mead’s position on sexuality was the same as that of the Fabian socialists I have discussed. See the “eros” section of my post on Crome Yellow by Aldous Huxley (https://canadianliberty.com/notes-on-crome-yellow-by-aldous-huxley/#6). This section includes information about sex researcher Havelock Ellis and Adorno’s The Authoritarian Personality in the context of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.
Highlighting the Real Issue with Margaret Mead and her husband Gregory Bateson
The Macy Cybernetics Conferences were preceded by the Cerebral Inhibition Meeting, organized by Frank Fremont-Smith in May 1942. This was an invitation only meeting attended by:
Lawrence K. Frank
There were two topics:
Hypnotism introduced by Milton Erickson
Conditioned reflex introduced by Howard Liddell
There were ten cybernetics conferences from 1946 to 1953.
Participants: (as members or guests) in at least one of the Cybernetics conferences: Harold Alexander Abramson, Ackerman, Vahe E. Amassian, William Ross Ashby, Yehoshua Bar-Hillel, Gregory Bateson, Alex Bavelas, Julian H. Bigelow, Herbert G. Birch, John R. Bowman, Henry W. Brosin, Yuen Ren Chao (who memorably recited the Lion-Eating Poet in the Stone Den), Jan Droogleever-Fortuyn, M. Ericsson, Fitch, Lawrence K. Frank, Ralph Waldo Gerard, William Grey Walter, Molly Harrower, George Evelyn Hutchinson, Heinrich Klüver, Lawrence S. Kubie, Paul Lazarsfeld, Kurt Lewin, J. C. R. Licklider, Howard S. Liddell, Donald B. Lindsley, W. K. Livingston, David Lloyd, Rafael Lorente de Nó, R. Duncan Luce, Donald M. MacKay, Donald G. Marquis, Warren S. McCulloch, Turner McLardy, Margaret Mead, Frederick A. Mettier, Marcel Monnier, Oskar Morgenstern, F. S. C. Northrop, Walter Pitts, Henry Quastler, Antoine Remond, I. A. Richards, David McKenzie Rioch, Arturo Rosenblueth, Leonard J. Savage, T. C. Schneirla, Claude Shannon, John Stroud, Hans-Lukas Teuber, Mottram Torre, Gerhardt von Bonin, Heinz von Foerster, John von Neumann, Heinz Werner, Norbert Wiener, Jerome B. Wiesner, J. Z. Young.
Wikipedia presents a sampling of the topics presented.
Some of the researchers present at the cybernetics conferences later went on to do extensive government-funded research on the psychological effects of LSD, and its potential as a tool for interrogation and psychological manipulation in such projects as the CIA’s MKULTRA program
The First Neuropharmacological Conference was 26–28 May 1954. A topic was LSD.
The Group Processes Conferences were held between 1954 and 1960. Gregory Bateson and Margaret Mead were again among the participants listed in the article.
Cybernetics is a transdisciplinary approach for exploring regulatory systems—their structures, constraints, and possibilities. Norbert Wiener defined cybernetics in 1948 as “the scientific study of control and communication in the animal and the machine.” In other words, it is the scientific study of how humans, animals and machines control and communicate with each other.
One of the many definitions listed is by Gregory Bateson, who is called a “prominent cybernetician” in this article:
A branch of mathematics dealing with problems of control, recursiveness, and information, focuses on forms and the patterns that connect.
The term cybernetics stems from κυβερνήτης (cybernḗtēs) “steersman, governor, pilot, or rudder”.
There is a New Book Networks podcast series just on the topic of Systems and Cybernetics: https://newbooksnetwork.com/category/science-technology/systems-and-cybernetics/
People can figure out on their own what “control” means. Presentations of this topic soften and obscure what it is all about. It is about control over human beings. How you perceive your role as an individual in this world and what kind of “system” you are going to submit to really is a matter of principles, as in what are your moral and ethical principles? Are you planning on exercising moral and ethical principles any time soon (like the ones in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms for example) by making judgments on what you accept or reject, or are you going to postpone those judgments indefinitely while others impose decisions on you?
A Theme of Marshall McLuhan that could relate to Gregory Bateson
At this point, I am going to speculate on a connection between Marshall McLuhan’s concerns about electric tribalism and Gregory Bateson’s focus on native revivalism. Bateson’s ideas are not something I’ve had time to study, so I am just going to point to his concept as a CIA/OSS anthropologist and speculate that it may be connected. I leave it with readers for now.
Gregory Bateson, (1944) Office of Strategic Services South East Asia Command: Interoffice Memo from Gregory Bateson, To Dillon Ripley, Subject: “Your Memo No. 53” Dated 11/15/44. Released by Central Intelligence Agency, under Freedom of Information Act request August 1994. FOIA Reference F94-I51 1. Found in Prof. David Price’s article: “Gregory Bateson and the OSS: World War II and Bateson’s Assessment of Applied Anthropology”, Sept. 2010, at: http://www.currentconcerns.ch/index.php?id=1110
Quotations from Bateson here also: https://postflaviana.org/gregory-bateson-and-the-counter-culture/
Terence McKenna’s parallel concept is Archaic Revival: https://logosmedia.com/2013/05/manufacturing-the-deadhead-a-product-of-social-engineering-by-joe-atwill-and-jan-irvin/
A related post with other references: https://www.reddit.com/r/zen/comments/2djuel/regulated_alan_watts_gregory_bateson_cybernetics/
So back to Marshall McLuhan. Everyone has heard his term “global village,” and we have discussed this subject in earlier posts. In his Letters, he repeatedly refers to the modern world going back to a more tribal state of mind, away from the private individual, because of the power of modern media technology. He was warning about this constantly. Whether or not its fair to so-called tribal cultures is a different question. He is saying that we have lost something important as we allow ourselves to be subjected to modern media technology.
To clarify what I said about libertarianism above, I should be clear that the individual is important and liberty or freedom is important and necessary, and free agency is part of traditional Christian doctrine by the way. Those are necessary values, but we also need a sense of community and a sense of duty to others–because that is part of our reality in my opinion. All of these things go together. We don’t need to split one value off at the expense of the other or perceive an artificial opposition or a dialectic between the two things. Individuality is a good thing. Privacy is a good thing. That doesn’t mean we adopt an ideology that excludes other values–such as tribalism!
I’m going to paraphrase McLuhan’s thoughts from my notes:
Page 175: Television is a tribal influence. Privacy is weakened.
Page 177: He calls advertising regression.
Page 178: Moral values just dissolve. Legal structures will not hold up.
Page 252: The globe becomes a very small village. He refers to Margaret Mead. We are abandoning the individualist ways of the Western world. This individualism was achieved by reading and writing.
Page 254: We are in retribalization due to electronic technology.
If a plane is shot down in Pakistan, it disturbs everyone’s existence in our global world. The tribal man seeks to reduce all incidents to zero.
(In my series on Brzezinski’s Between Two Ages I mention how he focused on this aspect of our global awareness.)
Intuitive Man takes precedence over the Analytic Man.
Page 264: consequences of the global village is that we become rigid and tribal in our attitudes.
Page 267: the teenager is a tribal person.
Page 335: Books are necessary for the maintenance of civilized values as opposed to tribal values.
Page 338: The individual yields to tribal man.
Page 339: The Golden Bough is a memory theater of corporate rather than private consciousness. We are retribalizing human consciousness
Page 350: He claims that the Orient and Russia are still tribal. However he says that electrical technology is totally tribalizing the United States.
Page 352,353,359: Same topic.
Page 367: The tribal man has no privacy under electric conditions.
Page 393: The loss of the individual identity to tribal and corporate identities.
Page 398: Same topic.
Page 468: I mentioned before this point in an earlier post about civilized=visual vs. tribal=acoustic.
Note: unless specified otherwise, Internet references are cited as accessed on or before December 26, 2019.