Jihad vs. McWorld was written by Rutgers University Political Science professor Benjamin R. Barber. The author is widely regarded one of the nation's foremost scholars on democracy. He has written Strong Democracy, in which he explains that economic liberalism is the basis for and cause of globalization. He uses this theory as a catalyst for his book Jihad vs. McWorld, expanding on this to examine the unique and often paradoxical relationship between parochial fundamentalism and secular consumerist capitalism. Barber sees these two adversary entities as proliferating from opposite ends of the spectrum; it is to say that Barber believes that they are operating at equal force and cultivating at equal velocity. This creates what Barber dubs The New World Disorder or the clash of Jihad and McWorld, as he defines them. The twin assault on democratic citizenship from the fractious forces of Jihad and the spreading markets of McWorld in effect cuts off the legs out from under democratic institutions.(Barber, 219) Here, Barber is not only saying that these two forces work against one another, but essentially that they create a world order where, even in McWorld, democracy is occluded.
[...] McWorld, Barber introduces the reader to the paradox of two opposing entities that define the new world order. He argues that neither capitalist consumerism in contemporary western democracy is indifferent to individual rights, working in essence against democracy. Likewise, Jihad, while it provides and promotes solidarity, traditional identity, community, and provincialism also actively works to strip individuals of private identity and liberty. The inherent bigotry in Jihad and the economic weapons of McWorld have created an ever-increasingly hostile environment moving further and further away [...]
[...] is not so much the free market but the independent market that would secure freedom for the city-state. The problem with this is that because McWorld has universalizing markets written into its economic plan, citizens often become pawns in the larger “theme park” where multinational corporations are as elusive as the markets themselves. The critical argument is that McWorld is indifferent to democracy because it will only support it to an extent which promotes economic growth and multinational, conglomerate corporations' bottom line. [...]
[...] This creates what Barber claims to be the New World Disorder. But, is he justified in his claims? The prognosis in Jihad versus McWorld is, for the most part, dismal. Neither globalism or tribalism supports democracy. However, in a later critique of his work Barber extends his analysis to say that democracy may be the last entity available to reverse the New World Disorder, or at very least, reform it. Barber proposes a model for small, local democratic institutions and civic engagement as an alternative to McWorld and Jihad. [...]
[...] (Friedman, 23) The most blatant opposition to the Jihad vs. McWorld Theorum is Francis Fukuyama's The End of History and the Last Man. In fact, Jihad and McWorld was written in response to this bold statement made in 1992. He states in his thesis that we are approaching the end of ideological evolution with the advent of Western liberal capitalist democracy. Whereas Barber claims that there is only one alternative to McWorld, that being Jihad, Fukuyama discredits it as an intellectual or structural alternative because it has little affect outside of the Islamic heartland. [...]
[...] Along those same lines, if Jihad can exist without Islam, Jihad can exist in other parts of the world and throughout different religions. Barber outlines Jihad as existing in Central Europe and Western Asia, as well as China and the Pacific Rim. Theoretically, Jihad can exist wherever there are provincial fundamentalisms and an anti-western, anti-universalism struggle, but Barber points these countries out as being historically insintric to Jihad. China is one of the more unique cases that Barber points out. [...]
Online readingwith our online reader
Content validatedby our reading committee