Give Duggan a Chance

Joseph P. Duggan. 2011. Give Paz a Chance. Pennylesse, $1.12 on Kindle

By Peter Hulm

What a surprise to find myself reading and enjoying warm, laudatory essays about Jeane Kirkpatrick ("moral" supporter of the Chilean dictators), Robert Novak (the outer of Valerie Plame) and William F. Buckley (spiritual father of Fox's New Right intellectuals), not to mention pleasant stories about George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan.

So much for the idea that the Internet reinforces your prejudices and locks out all ideas opposed to your own. It's worth the $1 just to find this out.

From the bad pun you will have gathered that Duggan is a former newspaper journalist. But you will also discover that he is one of the most assiduous media specialists seeking to rehabilitate and apply the ideas of Marshall McLuhan in the 21st century.

He does better than anyone else I have read at incorporating McLuhan's doctoral dissertation, finally published in 2005, into the media guru's general philosophy.

The 78-page collection of occasional pieces also has several on Mexico, his adopted second home, where he has been a visiting professor.

The McLuhan pieces are the jewels here. He makes a persuasive case that this Catholic, conservative Canadian was a better visionary about the direction of our electronic democracies than anyone before or since. And it was largely due to McLuhan's classical education and study of Medieval philosophers.

Despite Duggan's avowed commitment to political "realism", he nevertheless gets it completely wrong about Jimmy Carter.

Outside the U.S., and for many inside, as I can attest, Carter was the most realistic president since...when, FDR? Suddenly, human rights, non-imperialism (forgive the word), cooperation and real development were on the international agenda again, and had the support of the U.S..

Carter spoke the truth to Americans about their risky future if they remained dependent on oil. In this he was unmatched by any politician since. Internationally, he did more to raise the U.S. administration's reputation than anything we heard from Jeane Kirkpatrick.

Too bad Duggan remains blinkered by the view from the oil derricks where he now works.

28 December 2012