Jihad vs. McWorld: Apart and Coming Together - And What This Means for Democracy

Overview

Jihad vs. McWorld is an analysis of the fundamental conflict of our times: consumerist capitalism versus religious and tribal fundamentalism. Jihad vs. McWorld offers a lens through which to understand the chaotic events of the post-Cold War world. Benjamin R. Barber argues that if you look only at the business section of the daily newspaper, you would be convinced that the world was increasingly united, that borders were increasingly porous, that corporate mergers were steadily knitting the globe into a single ...
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Overview

Jihad vs. McWorld is an analysis of the fundamental conflict of our times: consumerist capitalism versus religious and tribal fundamentalism. Jihad vs. McWorld offers a lens through which to understand the chaotic events of the post-Cold War world. Benjamin R. Barber argues that if you look only at the business section of the daily newspaper, you would be convinced that the world was increasingly united, that borders were increasingly porous, that corporate mergers were steadily knitting the globe into a single international market. But if you focus only on the front page, you would be convinced of just the opposite: that the world was increasingly riven by fratricide, civil war, and the breakup of nations. Barber provides a single map that unites these two sides of the same coin, and convincingly demonstrates that what capitalism and fundamentalism have in common is a distaste for democracy. For both, in different ways, lay siege to the nation-state itself - heretofore the only guarantor of conditions that have permitted democracy to flourish. Democracy, Barber suggests, may well fall victim to a twin-pronged attack: by a global capitalism run rampant whose essential driving force is nihilistic, at its root destructive of traditional values as it seeks to maximize profit-taking at virtually any moral or religious or spiritual cost; and by religious, tribal, and ethnic fanatics whose various creeds are stamped by intolerance and a rage against the "other." The paradox at the core of this bold book is that the tendencies of both Jihad and McWorld are at work, both visible sometimes in the same country at the same instant. Jihad pursues a bloody politics of identity, while McWorld seeks a bloodless economics of profit. Belonging by default to McWorld, everyone is compelled to enroll in Jihad. But no one is any longer a citizen. And, asks Barber, without citizens, how can there be democracy?
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Expanding on a 1993 article in the Atlantic, Rutgers University political scientist Barber offers a stimulating, tartly written survey of two paradoxical world trends: the looming balkanization of nation-states (Jihad) and the inexorable force of integration by technology (McWorld). The trends are in dialectic, not opposition. In McWorld, Barber notes, national boundaries become less significant in the face of multinational corporations and resource interdependence. World culture, he observes, is driven by the ``infotainment telesector,'' characterized by American advertising, film and MTV. Noting that McWorld can serve Jihad, Barber sketches the rise of nationalism in European democracies, in central Europe's emerging democracies, in Islam and, intriguingly, in the American Christian right. McWorld, he writes, threatens democracy by deadening debate and accepting inequalities, while Jihad threatens democracy by sacrificing tolerance and deliberation. ``[T]hey both make war on the sovereign nation-state and thus undermine the nation-state's democratic institutions.'' Barber believes each culture must build its own institutions of civil society. More wishfully, he suggests that a form of confederalism-not that of the European Union but of pre-1800 Switzerland-might serve to knit both regions and states. (Aug.)
Library Journal
In a highly serious book with a catchy title, Barber, director of the Walt Whitman Center for the Culture and Politics of Democracy at Rutgers University and an exponent of direct democracy, offers an extensive analysis of the state of the world, written for a general lay audience. Combining over 50 pages of reference notes with a barrage of examples from popular culture, this analysis explores the contemporary paradox between widespread political disintegration (Jihad) and global economic homogenization (McWorld). In colorful prose, he concludes that both trends pose major threats to democracy and personal liberty. More than anything else, what has been lost in the clash between Jihad and McWorld has been the idea of the public as something more than a random collection of people. Thus, Barber calls for a "reconstruction of civil society," a middle ground between government and the private sector. "It is not where we vote and not where we buy and sell; it is where we talk with neighbors about the commonweal." This book starts that conversation effectively and in an entertaining fashion. For all academic and public libraries.-James Rhodes, Luther Coll., Decorah, Ia.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812923506
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/1/1995
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 6.64 (w) x 9.56 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 3
Pt. I The New World of McWorld
1 The Old Economy and the Birth of a New McWorld 23
2 The Resource Imperative: The Passing of Autarky and the Fall of the West 33
3 The Industrial Sector and the Rise of the East 50
4 From Hard Goods to Soft Goods 59
5 From Soft Goods to Service 73
6 Hollyworld: McWorld's Videology 88
7 Television and MTV: McWorld's Noisy Soul 100
8 Teleliterature and the Theme Parking of McWorld 118
9 Who Owns McWorld? The Media Merger Frenzy 137
Pt. II The Old World of Jihad
10 Jihad vs. McWorld or Jihad via McWorld? 155
11 Jihad Within McWorld: The "Democracies" 169
12 China and the Not Necessarily Democratic Pacific Rim 184
13 Jihad Within McWorld: "Transitional Democracies" 195
14 Essential Jihad: Islam and Fundamentalism 205
Pt. III Jihad Vs. McWorld
15 Jihad and McWorld in the New World Disorder 219
16 Wild Capitalism vs. Democracy 236
17 Capitalism vs. Democracy in Russia 247
18 The Colonization of East Germany by McWorld 260
19 Securing Global Democracy in the World of McWorld 268
Appendix A. Justice-of-Energy-Distribution Index 293
Appendix B. Twenty-two Countries' Top Ten Grossing Films, 1991 299
Notes 302
Index 363
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