Saturday, September 9, 2017

Jihad vs. McWorld / Barber - summary

"Jihad vs. McWorld: How Globalism and Tribalism Are Reshaping the World" by Benjamin Barber (1995) describes two mutually opposing historical forces that together threaten modern democracy. Both Jihad and "McWorld" are the result of neoliberal economy which creates pressure of identity and community. In "Jihad vs. McWorld" Berber holds that these forces cannot be avoided. He therefore proposes a way (he calls the confederal option) to satisfy them both while still keeping the freedom democracy has to offer.  

On the one hand of Barber's "Jihad vs. McWorld " stands the Islamic Jihad (literally: struggle) which offers strong social connections and a sense of identity at the cost of a closed off and intolerant society. Jihad according to Barber relies on a holy war waged against and external threat (modern democracy and globalization). This type of fundamentalism can lead to various types of non-democratic forms of government. Jihad, according to Barber, seeks to retribalize the world into mutually exclusive sects.

On the other hand of the equation we have "McWorld" which is a form of non-democratic corporate globalization. "McWorld" is a force that breaks down any form of boarder between cultures and regions. Its ideology is opposed to the tribalizing Jihad, Open markets and modern communication technology play and important part in "McWorld". This is a much safer and economically rewarding option compared to what Jihad has to offer, but "McWorld" also has its costs such as limiting people's freedom.

Barber does not think that democracy can fend off Jihad of McWorld completely. Barber argues that it (democracy) can save itself by satisfying some of its adversaries' needs., this is what he calls the "confederal option". The idea is to withdraw from the idea of the large nation state into smaller communities that maintain a market that extends the size of that of the nation state (that is, a global market between local communities). 

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