This essay appears in the Winter 2019 issue of Modern Age. To subscribe now, go here.

It has never been obvious why conservatives should pay any serious attention to Hegel, who is regarded by many as the great philosopher of progress. How can one preserve tradition while history marches forward? This conception of history seems anathema to conservatism as it is usually understood in the United States.

To be sure, some conservatives have admired Hegel. Especially in the German-speaking world, there has always been a division between “Right-Hegelians” and “Left-Hegelians.” On the right, Hegelians defended the Prussian monarchy, Lutheran Christianity, and private property. On the left, Hegelians defended democracy, atheism, and socialism. In retrospect, one of these camps has been far more successful than the other in defining Hegel’s legacy. Left-Hegelians, who famously include Karl Marx, Ludwig Feuerbach, and Bruno Bauer, have been amazingly effective in portraying Hegel’s thought as anti-conservative. Even though the left was willing to recognize Hegel’s own reactionary tendencies, it was determined to present his philosophy as the grand prophecy of a more egalitarian future for humanity.

By contrast, the Right-Hegelians, who include now-forgotten names such as Karl Daub, Heinrich Leo, and Georg Andreas Gabler, were thrown into the dustbin of history owing to their sympathies with the Prussian state. In the aftermath of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars, it was hard to believe that the future lay with the Junkers.

The political legacy of Hegelianism in Europe explains why the American reception of Hegel has largely identified Hegel as a philosopher of the left. With exceptions such as Robert Nisbet, the vast majority of the American right in the era after World War II dismissed Hegel as an apologist for statism. As Roger Scruton has observed, Hegel, in The Philosophy of Right, “advocated the creation of a welfare state” based on his paternalistic view that the state “cannot stand in a personal relation to its citizens and at the same time remain indifferent to their needs.”[1] The fact that Hegel rejected “natural rights” as an abstract and ahistorical category that ignores the historical (that is, unnatural) origins of rights has not endeared him to America’s Lockean conservatives either. Even though he took pains to show that civil society, the realm of free thought and association, must be protected from the arbitrary power of government, his famous description of the state as the “march of God in the world” is not bound to win over libertarians any time soon.

The centrality of the state was not the only issue on which the American right objected to Hegel. Leo Strauss and his students accepted the Left-Hegelian interpretation of Alexandre Kojève, according to which History ended with the triumph of the “universal homogeneous state” that provided full recognition of liberty and equality for all human beings. In the process, all the hierarchical differences and religious practices celebrated by the nineteenth-century Right-Hegelians would go by the wayside. Additionally, notions of truth and morality would, in historicist fashion, disappear with the passing of the historical era whence they sprang. On this view, History, not nature, is the arbiter of truth. Some conservative analysts who lament the demographic decline of church attendance and affiliation in America have resigned themselves to the same phenomenon that Left-Hegelians welcome: the inevitable triumph of secularization in politics and culture.

Under these conditions, it seems unlikely that Right-Hegelianism could ever make a comeback. Yet even Kojève left open the possibility that it may enjoy a resurgence when he remarked: “The most one can assert is that it [History] has not decided between the ‘leftist’ and the ‘rightist’ interpretations of Hegelian philosophy. For today the discussion still continues.”[2] I venture to claim that this discussion must continue precisely because conservatives, whether they know it or not, have never transcended the religious dimension of Hegel’s philosophy. Surprisingly, American conservatives can find a model in their neighbors to the north.

* * *

What counts as Right-Hegelianism in the Canadian context? One pertinent fact is that some Canadian conservatives used to call themselves “progressives.” From 1942 until 2003, something called the “Progressive Conservative Party of Canada” existed at the federal level and still officially exists in several provinces. This synthesis of two apparent opposites rested on the belief that conservatism must accept an interventionist state that cares for the public welfare while preserving traditional Christian mores and private property.

A synonym for progressive conservatism is “Red Toryism,” a term coined by the political scientist Gad Horowitz in the 1960s. In Horowitz’s view, Canadian conservatism was not nearly as Lockean as its American counterpart. Even before the Progressive Conservative Party was formed, Canadian conservatives from John A. Macdonald (Canada’s first prime minister) onward had shown little reluctance to expand the power of the state to protect national sovereignty, secure welfare for the poorest classes, and shore up industry through economic protectionism. If any Canadian party was Lockean in orientation, it was the Liberal Party, which supported free trade with the United States for most of its history.

Although the conservative political philosopher George Grant disliked the “Red Tory” label, he described Canadian conservatism in his classic work Lament for a Nation: The Defeat of Canadian Nationalism (1965) as a decisive rejection of the Lockean liberalism to the south. Admittedly, this narrative, which has strong roots in the historic memory of the descendants of Loyalists who fled the American colonies during the Revolutionary era, is controversial. Not everyone in Canada believes that Toryism should trump Lockeanism. Still, this classic Tory tradition is remarkably similar to Right-Hegelianism.

* * *

If any scholar in Canada made sense of Right-Hegelianism in a systematic way, it was H. S. Harris, a philosophy professor at York University who died in 2007. Harris is unique for two reasons. First, he was an English gentleman schooled in the Oxfordian tradition of philosophy who was determined to make Hegel intelligible to a skeptical Anglo-Saxon readership.[3] Second, he treated Right-Hegelianism with respect and even tried to make the conservative and religious side of Hegel relevant to the modern reader.

According to Harris, the Right-Hegelians always emphasized that Hegel was a speculative theologian. In simple terms, what distinguished the right from the left on the meaning of Hegel was a profound disagreement over the meaning of “God.” Hegelian conservatives assert that a decent and humane society must retain its belief in a Christian God.

In contrast, Left-Hegelians famously argue that Christianity, while historically important in being the first religion to preach the equality of all human beings, has now been rendered obsolete by the irreversible progress of secular reason. As Kojève recognized, the Christian faith was the first religion to recognize the spirituality of man as free, individual, and historical. But once that truth had been disseminated, Christianity served no further historical purpose.[4]

Harris acknowledged the power of Kojève’s argument. Hegel himself admitted at times that philosophy would eventually displace Christianity in fully revealing the equality of human beings. Harris also took aim at the Hegelian right for emphasizing the metaphysical nature of Hegel’s theology without sufficient attention to its historical character.[5] To ignore what was genuinely historical in Hegel risked turning his God into a purely abstract idea that sounded more Platonic than Hegelian.

Ultimately, however, Harris rejected the view that Hegel’s concept of God was rendered obsolete by his own system. In his words, God “is the one fount from which all separate lives, all spontaneous impulses, and all free actions spring.”[6] Given the importance that Hegel attaches to God, particularly in The Phenomenology of Spirit, Harris asked whether Man can overcome or transcend God—whether we can overleap God in history. The Left-Hegelian answer to these questions is an emphatic “yes.” If Harris’s interpretation is correct, however, God in the Christian sense already reveals the truth in its entirety: it is the “fount” for all human beings.

The later writings of Hegel vindicate this Right-Hegelian hermeneutic. In 1831, the year of his death, Hegel composed a lecture on the ontological proof of God’s existence. In the lecture, he declares: “Religion must be for all of humanity.”[7] Far from claiming that religion is irrational superstition, Hegel’s argument utterly rejects the typically modern dualism between faith and reason. He writes, “Only what thinks can have religion, and thinking includes representing; but it is only thinking that is the free form of truth.”[8] In other words, without thinking (philosophy), there cannot be religion in the truest sense.

The fact that Hegel declares that religion is for all human beings, moreover, refutes the leftist view that Hegel’s religion is comparable to Plato’s “noble lie” from the Republic. The conservative Hegel, as Harris presents him, insists on the necessity of Christianity because he rejects any “End of History” narrative that makes religion unnecessary. If Harris is correct, Hegel’s interpretation of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ warns against the temptation to expect any conclusion to the movement of history. The truth of the Resurrection, which reveals the message of forgiveness, becomes “the universal experience of every day.”[9] This message is both religious and secular, intelligible to the philosopher and the believer alike.

The Canadian Left-Hegelian Charles Taylor’s assertion that a philosopher could never pray to Hegel’s God because this deity is not a supernatural being misses the subtlety of the argument here.[10] For Hegel, prayer is a way of acting out the spirit of the Resurrection through the recognition that there is life after the “death” of sin. This understanding of the Resurrection contradicts the very idea of a finite end to history. Rather than reaching some final destination, human beings must constantly struggle with sin and suffering, only to experience resurrection over and over again. The argument that human sinfulness is so intractable that the need for reconciliation never ends is truly conservative.

* * *

It should be clear by now that it is not true to Hegel to scrap his philosophical theology. In Canadian political history, it also has not been so easy to push God aside. In 1982, when the British Parliament relinquished its authority to amend the Canadian Constitution, many Canadian Christians wanted a reference to God to be included in the document’s new Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The ensuing debate pitted Right-Hegelians against Left-Hegelians. On the left, Prime Minister Trudeau remarked that it was “strange, so long after the Middle Ages, that some politicians felt obliged to mention God in a constitution which is, after all, a secular and not a spiritual document.”[11] On the right, evangelicals and some prominent Red Tories called for acknowledgment of God’s authority. This was important, as the historian George Egerton explains, because “reference to God, the dignity inherent to the human person, and the moral and spiritual basis of law would make it clear that rights that derived from God, tradition, and history were merely ‘affirmed’ and maintained by governments—not ‘given.’ ”[12] The end result of the process was the Preamble to the Charter, which refers to the “supremacy of God and the rule of law.”

But is there anything specifically Hegelian about the Canadian Charter? Brayton Polka, another Canadian interpreter of Hegel, provides a provocative answer. According to Polka, the Charter conveys the meaning of the master-slave dialectic in Hegel’s Phenomenology. The slave ultimately rebels against the master because he distinguishes between factual certainty and moral truth. The slave is as certain as the master that he is a slave. Slavery is a brute fact for him. Yet the slave, who is awakened by God’s truth (as in the story of Exodus), throws off this certainty because his equality with the master is revealed to him by a God who loves all human beings.[13] The truth that all human life has infinite value shatters the empirical certainty of the master, who cannot recognize the humanity of the slave so long as he remains a master.

God is the ultimate authority that restrains or checks the all-too-human temptation to conflate the power of the state with the absolute power of a master. According to Polka, the Charter rejects the morally false “certainty” that government rules simply because it can. Rather, the Charter recognizes the obligation of Canadians to “subject all that we do” to a truth that is both political and theological. Those who rule in accord with the supremacy of God cannot legitimately use authority as a pretext for absolutism or tyranny.

* * *

For Hegel, the human being who is most capable of embracing a state that asserts the equality of human beings while affirming Christianity as the faith that first revealed this truth is likely to be a Protestant. The Canadian Hegel scholar Emil Fackenheim writes in The Religious Dimension in Hegel’s Thought (1967): “If man, though human, can rise in the final thought to the absolute divine self-activity, it is in the last analysis because the man who is an infinitely self-confident, modern, secular agent and the man who is a free, modern Protestant worshiper are one man.” Fackenheim’s observation raises an unsettling question: Does Hegel’s philosophy, which asserts the universal nature of truth, appeal to a historically specific faith tradition?

George Grant, the preeminent defender of High Toryism in Canada, struggled with these questions. Grant was concerned that Hegelianism transformed Christianity into the vacuous and superficial liberal Protestantism in which he had been raised. In Grant’s view, Protestants were particularly susceptible to the extinction of their faith through reduction of divine Providence to the movement of History. Protestantism, which had once defined English Canada, seemed doomed to disappear amid the triumph of secular progressivism vividly on display to the south, destroying along with it the possibility of an independent Canadian culture.

Given these anxieties, it is no surprise that Grant turned to the philosophy of Leo Strauss. Although Strauss, in Grant’s words, freed him from the “grip of Hegel,”[14] he never revised his view that Hegel was the greatest modern thinker precisely because no one else had reflected so deeply on the implications of Western Christianity. The careful reader can spy traces of an unconscious Hegelianism in Grant’s mature thinking. According to Grant, Christianity (drawing on Judaism) revealed “time as history,” engendering the idea of progress or “redemption in time.”[15] In short, biblical religion taught that history mattered. History was providential and liberating, an idea that was in sharp contrast to the cycles of fortune and misfortune that defined history for the ancient Greek mind.

Grant also recognized that belief in human equality was largely an inheritance from the biblical tradition. In his 1961 essay “An Ethic of Community,” he wrote:

It must be insisted, however, that the idea of equality arose in the West within a particular set of religious and philosophical ideas. I cannot see why men should go on believing in the principle without some sharing in those ideas. The religious tradition was the biblical, in which each individual was counted as of absolute significance before God. . . . To state this historical fact is not to deny that many men have believed in equality outside this religious tradition. The question is rather whether they have been thinking clearly when they have so believed. This religious basis for equality seems to me the only adequate one, because I cannot see why one should embark on the immensely difficult social practice of treating each person as important unless there is something intrinsically valuable about personality.

Whether Grant knew it or not, his argument is Hegelian to the core. As Hegel contends in his Lectures on the Philosophy of History, Christianity, in sharp contrast to the pagan religions, taught that all human beings are equal and valuable before God. Contrary to defenders of natural rights or natural law, our moral beliefs do not rest on natural foundations. And modern natural science, which has taught that “individuals are only accidental agglomerations of atoms,” provides no basis for understanding human beings as “intrinsically valuable.” The only reason that Western civilization includes belief in equality is Christianity, which created an ethic of universal love that defies the natural inclination of human beings to devalue each other.

Left-Hegelians argue that the fact that Christianity once provided useful moral beliefs does not mean that this religion is permanently necessary. Once reason has exposed Christianity as a myth, the jig is up. As Kojève wrote, “The misfortune is that a myth which knows itself to be a myth is no longer a ‘myth,’ but more or less a ‘fable,’ conventional or not.”[16] The good news is that the secularization of Christian myth is complete: the triumph of equality is final in the age of the universal homogeneous state. We moderns no longer need Christianity, even though purely philosophical arguments in favor of equality may be hard to come by.

Kojève’s anti-theological thinking is still echoed by conventional liberals today. Figures as diverse as Francis Fukuyama and Michael Ignatieff have confidently claimed that the world is no longer in need of Christian myth. In their view, liberal democracies can rely on the force of reason, custom, or just plain intuition in promoting the equality of human beings and the sanctity of human life. But perhaps it is not so easy to escape myth. Perhaps the belief that Man has transcended God is itself mythical—and open to scrutiny.

* * *

Canada’s encounter with Hegel reveals how his thought can be conservative. The Canadian media guru Marshall McLuhan shows how a Hegelian conservatism can be universal. Like Grant, McLuhan was raised in a liberal Protestant tradition, which he later abandoned when he converted to Catholicism in his twenties. Unlike Grant, McLuhan never openly praises Hegel. Never­theless, there are some subtle connections between McLuhan and Right-Hegelianism, at least on the topics of myth and the universal nature of Christianity.

According to McLuhan, myth never really disappears. In fact, the electric age of media, which was in his time most vividly illustrated by the power of television, restored the power of myth after it was dismissed as mere fiction in the age of the Enlightenment. The speed with which information travels in the age of electric media actually contributed to the spread of myth. As McLuhan remarked in 1970:

The word “myth,” in this connection, of course, is properly used because it is the Greek word for “word”; the mythos is word, logos. Myth is anything seen at very high speeds; any process seen at a very high speed is a myth. I see myth as the super-real. The Christian myth is not fiction but something more than ordinarily real.[17]

It is clear that McLuhan rejects the typically modern view that myth and reality are opposed to each other. Still, it may be a tall order to argue that McLuhan is a Right-Hegelian simply because he acknowledges the persistence of myth. Late in life, McLuhan even dismissed Hegel as a purveyor of “jargon.” It would certainly be unwise to claim that Hegel was the primary influence on his thinking with respect to myth. Yet it would be just as unwise to deny the presence of Hegelian traces in McLuhan’s work. There is even some evidence that McLuhan received some version of Hegelian philosophy as a doctoral student at Cambridge in the late 1930s under the influence of the literary critic I. A. Richards, or in his later reading of works by the Catholic mystic Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and the Canadian economic historian Harold Innis.[18]

Perhaps the most obvious parallel between Hegel and McLuhan is their shared determination to think in historical terms. For McLuhan, an awareness of history as a process by which the truth or falsehood of ideas comes to light generated a new appreciation for technological change. In almost progressivist terms, McLuhan credited modern consciousness with a superior understanding of technology. Whereas the ancient Greeks erroneously believed that “Nature” was a force that existed independently of human agency, moderns in the age of electric media grasped that nature itself was an idea that the media constructed. “In today’s electric world,” McLuhan wrote, man becomes aware that this artificial ‘Nature’ of the Greeks is an extension of himself, just as he is an extension of nature—all that exists.”[19]

McLuhan was not suggesting that the modern mind understood the effects of technological change with utter clarity and accuracy. Yet even in emphasizing the limits of this modern comprehension, he sounded a Hegelian note. In an interview with Playboy in 1969, McLuhan appeared to recycle Hegel’s famous observation that “the owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk.” Discussing the process of historical reflection, McLuhan described “rearview mirror thinking,” in which “because of the invisibility of the environment during the period of its innovation, man is only consciously aware of the environment that has preceded it; in other words, an environment becomes fully visible only when it has been superseded by a new environment; thus we are always one step behind in our view of the world.”[20] Like Hegel, McLuhan recognized that human wisdom understands the significance of an event or process only after the fact.

These traces of unconscious Hegelianism do not by themselves demonstrate a serious debt to Hegel. Despite the progressivist bent evident in his attitude toward the ancient Greeks, McLuhan often appropriated for his own use the Aristotelian idea of “reversals” in history, in which one technology or medium replaces another, which then ends up restoring an obsolete medium. According to McLuhan, the ancient world primarily employed the medium of oral communication until at least 3200 BC, when the Sumerians developed pictographs. This age of orality had fostered tribal modes of communication and governance owing to the fact that a select group of elders or poets was charged with preserving the myths. The age of the alphabet and writing, which took hold around 1200 BC, enabled civilizations to disseminate information across great distances and tribal boundaries. Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press around 1440 AD deepened the influence of writing by enabling the translation of books into different languages on a mass scale. This new age of print produced the titanic forces of nationalism, capitalism, mass education, and bourgeois individualism. The premodern age of oral communication and tribalism appeared to be banished forever.

Yet the electric age of media, which dramatically emerged with the invention of the telegraph in 1844, reversed history by displacing the printed word in favor of instantaneous communication. As McLuhan explained in Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (1964), the world has become a “global village” that wears mankind as its “skin.” In explicating this grand narrative, McLuhan generally refrained from praising or condemning these changes. In his view, we had no choice but to go along with them.

Even so, McLuhan could not refrain from making political judgements that sound uncannily like Right-Hegelianism. Although some of his positions sound similar to the pre–Vatican II Catholicism that he embraced as a convert in the 1930s, McLuhan typically presented his conservatism in historical terms, eschewing the metaphysical abstractions of Thomism. He even predicted that the new electric age would bring about a new era of conservatism, encouraged by the tendency of human beings to react with anxiety to rapid technological change. In his interview with Playboy, McLuhan predicted that “as we begin to react in depth to the challenges of the global village, we all become reactionaries.”

On a more theological note, McLuhan believed that one faith would triumph over all others in the new technological age. Even though it was mythically loaded, Christianity would render obsolete all other religions in the new global village. In a 1970 interview, McLuhan even claimed that non-Christian traditions were “religious” only in “an anthropological sense,” since they “were rendered obsolete at the moment of the Incarnation and they remain so.”[21] McLuhan was certain that Christianity surpassed all rivals because it was the only faith that preached the universal unity of humanity. The body of Christ would be made manifest through the global village.

Was McLuhan offering a Right-Hegelian version of the end of history, a reactionary alternative to the universal homogeneous state? Not necessarily. For McLuhan, history consisted of possibilities, not inevitabilities. Modernity could indeed fulfill messianic hopes. But it could also deliver the Anti-Christ, as he warned in the Playboy interview. In invoking themes from the Book of Revelation, McLuhan probably had in mind the most unsettling effects of globalizing technology, in which peoples rediscover their tribalist pasts or create new tribal identities that violently challenge the vestiges of privacy and individualism that remain from the print age. Even Western Christianity, with its historic focus on the individual, might have to yield to a tribalist version of the faith. In Hegelian fashion, McLuhan thought that we might just have to go through a dark night of the soul to recover the possibility of a restored Christian unity. Although he doesn’t assert that they are destined to triumph, McLuhan strongly believed that conservatives would ultimately benefit the most from this process.

But which conservatism did McLuhan have in mind? As a conservative Catholic, he did not favor the old bourgeois Protestantism that, in his view, destroyed the Middle Ages and encouraged the fragmentation of humanity. On this score, McLuhan seems to part company with Hegel, who maintained deep Protestant sympathies. What is still vaguely Hegelian about McLuhan is his belief that only the Christian framework prophesied a greater unity that would eventually arise from the tribalist conflicts of the electric age. McLuhan’s ecclesiastical dispute with Hegel is less important than their shared belief that the truth of Christianity, thanks to globalization, is now revealed to all human beings.

The so-called “Death of God” debate had no effect on McLuhan. In his view, God died only if Christianity became a matter of abstract doctrine or concepts disconnected from historical and technological change. This perspective is hard to square with the Thomistic belief in a supernatural God transcending history. It fits quite well, however, into Hegel’s idea of God, which never separates the existence of God from the actual belief in God. As McLuhan once put it, “The words are not the message; the message is the effect on us, and that is conversion.”[22] The medium of Christ is no different from the message.

Contrary to what Left-Hegelians have claimed, electric media have not rendered God obsolete. If McLuhan is right, the presence of God is stronger than ever in the global village.

Right-Hegelians at times commit the sin of triumphalism in privileging Christianity’s truth over other faiths. Still, they may have the last laugh over the stubborn persistence of religion in our age, including the recurrent role that faith plays in shaping moral beliefs. In contrast, the Left-Hegelian faith in secular rationalism is showing signs of morbidity in a global village that at present nervously hears the beating of tribal drums. As a twentieth-century admirer of Hegel famously put it, only a god can save us. Let us hope it is the right God. ♦

Grant Havers is chair of the Department of Philosophy at Trinity Western University (Canada). He is the author of Leo Strauss and Anglo-American Democracy: A Conservative Critique.


[1]          Roger Scruton, “Hegel as a Conservative Thinker,” in The Philosopher on Dover Beach (Manchester: Carcanet, 1990), 54.

[2]          Alexandre Kojève, “Hegel, Marx, and Christianity,” Interpretation: A Journal of Political Philosophy 1 (Summer 1970), 41.

[3]          H. S. Harris, Hegel’s Development: Toward the Sunlight 1770–1801 (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1972); Hegel’s Development: Night Thoughts (Jena 1801–1806) (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983); Hegel’s Ladder, 2 vols. (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1997). I attended Harris’s seminar on The Phenomenology of Spirit in the late 1980s.

[4]          Alexandre Kojève, Introduction à la lecture de Hegel (Paris: Gallimard, 1947), 284–85.

[5]          H. S. Harris, “Hegelianism of the ‘Right’ and ‘Left,’ ” Review of Metaphysics 11, no. 4 (1958), 606.

[6]          Harris, Hegel’s Development: Toward the Sunlight, 357.

[7]          G. W. F. Hegel, “The Ontological Proof,” in Lectures on the Proofs of the Existence of God, ed. and trans. Peter C. Hodgson (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2007), 192.

[8]          Ibid.

[9]          H. S. Harris, Hegel: Phenomenology and System (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1995), 91.

[10]       Charles Taylor, Hegel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975), 494.

[11]       Quoted in George Egerton, “Trudeau, God, and the Canadian Constitution: Religion, Human Rights, and Government Authority in the Making of the 1982 Constitution,” in Rethinking Church, State, and Modernity: Canada between Europe and America, ed. David Lyon and Marguerite Van Die (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000), 91.

[12]       Ibid., 103.

[13]       Brayton Polka, “The Supremacy of God and the Rule of Law in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms: A Theologico-Political Analysis,” McGill Law Journal 32 (1987), 860.

[14]       George Grant, Selected Letters, ed. with an introduction by William Christian (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996), 369.

[15]       George Grant, Time as History, ed. William Christian (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1995), 29.

[16]       Alexandre Kojève, “Review of Two Books by G. Fessard,” Interpretation: A Journal of Political Philosophy 19, no. 2 (Winter 1991–92): 191 (author’s italics).

[17]       Marshall McLuhan, “Electric Consciousness and the Church,” in The Medium and the Light: Reflections on Religion, ed. Eric McLuhan and Jacek Szklarek (Toronto: Stoddart, 1999), 86. See also his “Myth and Mass Media,” Daedalus 88, no. 2 (Spring 1959), 339–48.

[18]       For a comprehensive discussion of the many influences on McLuhan’s thought, see Alice Rae, McLuhan’s Unconscious (PhD diss., School of History and Politics, University of Adelaide, May 2008). See in particular pages 5 and 120. It can be accessed here:

[19]       Marshall McLuhan, “Pro-log to Exploration,” in Essential McLuhan, ed. Eric McLuhan and Frank Zingrone (Toronto: House of Anansi Press, 1995), 360. (author’s italics)

[20]       McLuhan, “Playboy Interview,” in Essential McLuhan, 238 (author’s italics).

[21]       McLuhan, “Electric Consciousness and the Church,” in The Medium and the Light, 87.

[22]       McLuhan, “Religion and Youth: Second Conversation with Pierre Babin,” in The Medium and the Light, 104.

Founded in 1957 by the great Russell Kirk, Modern Age is the forum for stimulating debate and discussion of the most important ideas of concern to conservatives of all stripes. It plays a vital role in these contentious, confusing times by applying timeless principles to the specific conditions and crises of our age—to what Kirk, in the inaugural issue, called “the great moral and social and political and economic and literary questions of the hour.”

Subscribe to Modern Age »