Benjamin R. Barber is a leading thinker regarding the subject of democracy. For Barber, as he argues in several of his works, democracy should be both participatory, far beyond the act of voting, and inclusive. In Jihad vs.
McWorld, Barber worries that the very existence of democracy and the nation-state, on which it has primarily depended, are threatened. This threat results from what he describes as the two core tenets of our age: globalism and retribalization. These are the forces of “McWorld” and “Jihad” that he describes as “operating with equal strength in opposite directions, the one driven by parochial hatreds, the other by universalizing markets, the one recreating ancient subnational and ethnic borders from within, the other making national borders porous from without” (Barber 1996, 252).
His title refers to what he sees as the two premier global trends of our day, movements that are, respectively, reducing the world to intractable fragments and giving it an unprecedented unity. The book’s first part concerns McWorld, the ever-expanding service sector of the international economy, especially as it manifests itself in what Barber calls the “infotainment tele sector,” American in substance if not always in ownership.
He sums it up in a litany of brand names and pop icons: Disney and Paramount, Nike and Reebok, Madonna and MTV, Coke and Pepsi, Homer Simpson and Batman, Kentucky Fried Chicken and, needless to say, McDonald’s. Relentlessly promoting its “ideology of fun” at the expense of local institutions and folkways, this “virtual economy” of images and lifestyles promises to become nothing less than a world “monoculture.” For civic life, this is especially bad news, Barber contends. Manipulated by “promotion, spin, packaging, and advertising,” citizens lose all interest in public matters, falling prey to “passive consumption” and devoting themselves exclusively to the satisfaction of their multiplying wants. In the second part of the book, Barber takes up “Jihad.” Moving beyond its strictly Islamic meaning, he understands it as any effort by a parochial community to protect itself from the cosmopolitan, universal standards of the West. It is a metaphor for “opposition to modernity.” Accordingly, Jihad encompasses not only religious extremists like Hamas and Hezbollah but also a range of this-worldly chauvinism’s, from Russia’s Zhirinovsky and the Bosnian Serbs to the promoters of language rights and separatism in places like Quebec, Catalonia, and Occitan France. In its more virulent forms, this too is no help for democracy.
... means of securing democracy that can withstand the forces of McWorld and Jihad. As a political theorist, Barber offers some ... McWorld and Jihad; a form of “decentralized participatory democracy,” that has some elements of parochialism, communitarianism and participatory governance. Barber ... a case for self-identification. For both McWorld and Jihad, Barber paints grim pictures if in case one of ...
Inward-looking and narrow, the rivals of McWorld tend to favor violence, to disdain basic civil liberties, and to have serious reservations about political equality. In the book’s third and final section, Barber suggests how we might yet salvage a democratic future from the “tribalism” of Jihad and the “consumerism” of McWorld, invoking the much-discussed concept of civil society. In seeming agreement with many other observers, he argues that community groups and voluntary associations provide the “attitudinal resources” that make “democratic citizenship possible” and let “democratic institutions function effectively.” It is this fragile social infrastructure that must be bolstered, he insists, but his proposal for doing so – the creation of a “global civil society” whose precise character he leaves to the reader’s imagination – is a disappointing afterthought to the rest of the book. More on that later…
Barber’s main concern is with something that he refers to as “participatory democracy” or “civil society”, a kind of political system in which each individual takes an active role in nearly every decision of government. He sees both Jihad and McWorld as threats to this system, Jihad because it represents a cultural sectarianism “rooted in race” which: … holds out the grim prospect of a retribalization of large swaths of humankind by war and bloodshed: a threatened balkan ization of nation-states in which culture is pitted against culture, people against people, tribe against tribe, a Jihad in the name of a hundred narrowly conceived faiths against every kind of interdependence, every kind of artificial social cooperation and mutuality: against technology, against pop culture, and against integrated markets; against modernity itself as well as the future in which modernity issues. (Barber 1996, 198) McWorld because it represents: … onrushing economic, technological, and ecological forces that demand integration and uniformity and that mesmerize peoples everywhere with fast music, fast computers, and fast food — MTV, Macintosh, and McDonald’s — pressing nations into one homogenous global theme park, one McWorld tied together by communications, information, entertainment, and commerce. (Barber 1996, 201) In essence then, Jihad is a threat because it overemphasizes our differences; McWorld is a threat because it eliminates those differences.
... orders and expects them to be followed. The democratic style asks for input from subordinates then they ... categories of organizational markets are industrial, reseller, and government / institutional markets. Organizational markets differ from consumer markets because they conduct ... then directly related to these psychological contracts because people all have differing levels of satisfaction that ...
Never mind the fact that the U. S. , where McWorld is most advanced, would seem to have ample diversity as it ranges from Anchorage to Honolulu to New Orleans to Miami to New York City to Boston, perhaps the oddest aspect of Barber’s whole analysis is that, while he dislikes both, he actually favors Jihad over McWorld. He does so because he thinks that the peoples of Jihad are at least likely to be actively involved in their cultures (participating in long-role take networks), while the people of McWorld have become nothing more than passive consumers (the opposing short-role take networks).
But, at any rate, Mr. Barber is less concerned with the clash between these two systems than he is with the clash between each of them and the participatory democracy that he thinks we should have.
Barber sees globalization as indifferent to democracy, while retribalization is inhospitable to it. What they have in common, however, is “[n]either Jihad nor McWorld cares a fig about citizens” (Barber 1996, 223).
The Term Paper on Importance Of Language In The Development Of The Nation State Or Cultural Identity
... on a much vaster level of national identity or the nation state, yet it keeps them apart on ... traditional culture. It is instantly recognisable throughout the world as ‘Irish’; the word ‘ ... proud of their native tongue. In the modern world, many countries are concerned that their mother tongue ... language is used by large percentages of the world’s populations, such as English, or ...
Even the attractions of McWorld and Jihad have nothing to do with democracy. McWorld, while it often advocates harmony and affluence, only supports these attractions to the degree necessary to promote proficient economic production and consumption. Barber reminds us that tyrants who massacre their own people pose no problem for McWorld as long as they don’t make war on their neighbors or disrupt the functioning of the market.
Jihad, while it can both promote the diversity of multiculturalism and provide solidarity and community among kinsmen and neighbors, also frequently brings parochialism, bigotry and an absolute submission of the individual to the group and its leaders. As Barber argues, these are hardly the attitudes required for developing democratic perspectives. The drive for ever-expanding markets in the globalizing economy of McWorld requires national economies to press against the borders of nation-states in their continuing struggle to be more and more competitive. This process erodes national sovereignty, giving rise to extra-national entities, such as international banks, transnational lobbies, and multinational corporations that do not respect nationhood as a regulative principle. In addition, Barber finds nothing that looks particularly democratic in the liberalization of globalizing markets.
The free market is not necessarily democratic. The consumer society is not the same as an open society. In Barber’s words, “[M]markets are [not] surrogates for democratic sovereignty because they permit us to ‘vote’ with our dollars or… [Euros]…
or yen.” (Barber 1996, 296) Citizens must also be free to make meaningful political choices: “There is no better refutation of the libertarian argument than the wildly successful controlled capitalist economies of Vietnam, China, Singapore, and Indonesia.” (Barber 1996, 185) These two ideals are what eventually leads to what Barber presents as a world identity. He presents a world in which American styled commercial capitalism has transformed the world into theme parks. The world is also becoming more interdependent due to diminishing resources, and the multinational corporations like GM. Barber also touches on the progression from industrial manufactured goods to more information related goods, and the emergence of a higher role of service workers in the current markets (Barber 1996, 75).
... since hundred years ago. That is why a nation’s identity is different from country to country. . 0 ... their own characters and show theirs to the world. She said that all of students have to ... exchange is climbing year by year in over the world. The increase of the economical, knowledge, and security ... in the world are some of the strongest reasons. The main ...
Jihad, the weaker of the two opposing factors presented by Barber, is the idea of people isolating themselves into “tribes” based on culture. Within sovereign nations people are forming fragmented identities which do not necessarily correspond with that of the national identity.
Barber uses the conflicts in what was Yugoslavia and in Burundi-Rwanda to enlighten the reader about the tribal trends that are found throughout the world. Peoples are forming groups or tribes based on ethnicity and / or religion and then, in some cases, feuding with other tribes within the same national borders (an example of role ascription).
Barber also reflects on the fact that many of the world’s leading oil providers are nations affected by clashing ethnic / religious factions. In a world where nations are dependent upon oil providing nations and oil providing nations are dependent upon those other nations this could cause major economic and political conflicts. McWorld, the more dominant ideal that Barber presents, is the idea working against the fragmenting principles of Jihad. It is the commercial capitalism that is bringing the world together under an identity based on American movies, television, MTV, and products like Coca-Cola and Nike apparel.
The ideal of a globalized economy, so thoroughly explained by Robert Reich, is also apparent in Barber’s definition of McWorld. Resources are scarce and nations must depend on other nations for at least some of those resources. Barber says that nations have lost autarky, or their ability to be self-sufficient. Nations are also becoming intertwined even further by super corporations like General Motors.
While GM is considered an American Corporation, their product is partially produced outside the confines of the United States. GM has shifted labor jobs to nations in which there is cheaper labor costs as well. This causes GM to be more global than American. Barber also offers that a shift in the economy is taking place. The economy is shifting away from hard goods to soft goods or from industrial goods to goods rooted in information and communication. He also talks about an upsurge of service workers in the United States especially.
... would be one step closer to a sovereign nation and world peace. In retrospect, it would seem ... a more stable, more efficient business world. The progress of the nation could be increased two-fold with ... believe. The people of this wonderful nation, this Free nation, should demand the immediate revocation of ... help the "working man," 85% of the nation, by not controlling the corporations that supply them ...
In short these people are the workers that make the global market function. They feed the growing belly of McWorld. Benjamin Barber presents a world where people tend to flow into ethnic and / or religious sub-identities (Jihad).
These sub-identities, though still important in the scheme of things, pale in comparison to the identity formed through McWorld. As nations become more interdependent and intertwined so too do their identities. Recognition is a key factor in forming identities.
Jihad, presented by Barber, is tied very closely to this idea. Many religious / ethnic groups form tribes (Jihad) in order to gain recognition (multiculturalism).
The francophones of Quebec have formed a kind of tribe to gain the recognition they feel they deserve from the Canadian Parliament. The Hut us and Tuts is (Jihad-tribes) have been clashing for recognition in central Africa.
Benjamin Barber’s Jihad vs. McWorld stands as a decent starting point to much of the current anti-consumerist, pro-civic writing of the past several years. As such, its awkward prose, repetitive use of the same illustrative examples, and uneven treatment of aspects of the proposed dialectic may be forgiven by some. Barber stakes out an ambitious goal: to examine the contemporary world in terms of a dialectic between universalizing (American pop culture and consumerist) capitalism and particularism based in nationalism, fundamentalism or resistant non-conformity. In this dialectic, the forces create, sustain and oppose one another, both in ways that can be seen as detrimental to the progress of democratization. His analysis of the McWorld aspect will be familiar to anyone who’s familiar with the current critiques of brand identities, transnational corporatism, and media monopolies.
... ’s play poses a different problem, that of human identity in a world of tangled relationships’ (Contemporary Indian Drama 53). Another ... the ancient story to explore the theme of human identity in a world of tangled relationships and a struggle for perfection. ... quest for fulfilment. Karnad, through the confusion of the identities reveals the ambiguous nature of human personality. Hayavadana, in ...
McWorld thrives in opposition to nation-states, those entities which provide one of the main opportunities to counteract unintended consequences in the tragedy of the commons. McWorld needs new needs, and if they cannot be found they will be made. McWorld seeks to universalize, yet also to create niches for convenient sorting of consumers. On the other hand the force of “Jihad” is based in the particularism of the French, resistant to the onslaught of American cinema, Islamic states utilizing censorship to prevent cultural contamination by Western pop culture, of the Chinese placing national filters on the internet.
Sadly, Barbers analysis of Jihad feels far weaker than his take on McWorld, starting with his choice of the word Jihad. While he explains several times that he doesn’t intend to mix the fundamentalism’s and particularism of his Jihad with Islam, his word choice can do nothing else (and was probably wise from a commercial viewpoint).
This weakness is even more relevant today when it is this particularizing force which we may need to understand more than the thoroughly critiqued corporate thrust. Why does all of this matter? Because the future of the world depends on it, of course. The world, suspended in these forces of formation, must move towards greater democracy. Democracy, however, is far more than voting and laws and a constitution, but rather, is predicated on the existence of a civil society, to which both Jihad and McWorld may be detrimental.
In the long run, Jihad and McWorld are not the threats to democracy that Mr. Barber believes them to be. Instead they are the very democratic forces that will likely lead to a world where freedom is paramount (McWorld) but where cultural uniqueness is still treasured (Jihad).
If we can find ways to balance these competing forces we may well find that we have created a society in which we have both prosperity and the “savour and depth” of a great culture.
It’s a consummation devoutly to be wished — and worked towards.