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Jihad vs. McWorld: Terrorism's Challenge to Democracy Paperback – July 30, 1996

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Editorial Reviews Review

As soon as you hear the conceit of this book--that there are two great opposing forces at work in the world today, border-crossing capitalism and splintering factionalism, and that they are the two biggest threats to democracy--you know it rings true enough to be worth reading. Although capitalism could have only grown to current levels in the soil of democracies, Benjamin Barber argues that global capitalism now tends to work against the very concept of citizenship, of people thinking for themselves and with their neighbors. Too often now, how we think is the product of a transnational corporation (increasingly, a media corporation) with headquarters elsewhere. And although self-determination is one of the most fundamental of democratic principles, unchecked it has lead to a tribalism (think Bosnia, think Rwanda) in which virtually no one besides the local power elite gets a fair shake. The antidote, Barber concludes, is to work everywhere to resuscitate the non-governmental, non-business spaces in life--he calls them "civic spaces" (such as the village green, voluntary associations of every sort, churches, community schools)--where true citizenship thrives. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Political scientist Barber examines the rise of both intolerant tribal identities and international consumerism.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 426 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1st edition (July 30, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345383044
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345383044
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #372,996 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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63 of 72 people found the following review helpful By on May 10, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Well-respected political scientist and prolific writer Benjamin Barber's "Jihad vs. McWorld" illuminates probably the most profound and compelling argument facing us today, tribalism vs. mass consumerism. Jihad vs. McWorld is the pulling of two major socia-political forces upon the citizenry of the world, jettisoning democracy precariously towards extinction.
"Jihad" as articulated in the book represents extremist tribalist nature of fundamentalist cultures. It is the study of self-serving groups, whether they be of religious factions, nation-states, or various political ideologues. Their only goal is to secure the preservation of their culture and to influence those from outside their belief system. The result is warring tribes, i.e. the feuding ideologies of the Serbia-Croat battles, the plight of the Middle East, Northern Ireland's "religious" war, and the bombing of the Oklahoma Federal State building. "Jihad" leaves no room for a free-thinking civil democracy and absolutely abhors influences from outside it's realm, hence it's ardent distrust of Western consumerist ideology - McWorld.
McWorld is the term coined to define the mass consumerist ideology of global marketing. McWorld is not so much a place but is a consumerist behavior. McWorld crosses all cultural boundaries whether they be open free markets or closed sacrilegious cultures. McWorld has not a human face but a bullish influence. McWorld's ultimate goal is to integrate every nation, every country, every person, every thing into a global market, whether they be mass consumers as pompously displayed as the obesity of the "West" or as manufacturers such as in the Nike corporation's child-labour sweatshops in Thailand. Jihad vs.
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Edward Bosnar on June 20, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is something of an alarmist book in many ways, but it is nonetheless valuable, not least because five years after it was first published many of the author's arguments still stand. Barber can probably be additionally criticized for employing two catchy but overly simplified buzzwords to describe the complex problems surrounding globalization and the reaction to it. Also, even though he by no means exclusively or even primarily singles out Islamic fundamentalism as a peril to the world order, just his use of the term `Jihad' as a metaphor for the new, anti-modern nationalisms and religious intolerance seen worldwide nevertheless indicates a measure of Orientalism. Most of the shortcomings derive from that fact that the author is a political scientist who specializes in issues of democracy and civil society rather than fractious nationalism and global economics - the two main topics of the book. Thus, in his discussion of the post-communist states of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, he often resorts to the now tired and superficial platitudes of `tribalism' or `ancient hatreds' to explain the rise of recent ugly incarnations of intolerant nationalism in this region (he even goes so far as to echo the mass media's favorite `Balkans expert' Robert Kaplan by citing Dracula-writer Bram Stoker in a description of modern Romania). Barber makes the additional mistake of assuming that the nationalist movements are driven by simplistic ideologies aimed solely at tearing apart existing nation-states; even if this is often the end result, most if not all of these movements claim as their objective the overthrow of foreign tyranny as they see it and the creation of some form of popular democracy.Read more ›
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By L. Feld on December 3, 2001
Format: Paperback
Benjamin Barber's "Jihad vs. McWorld" is popular political science at its best - an important book first published in 1995, but only now, in the aftermath of September 11, getting the attention it deserved all along. One reason for this attention now is the catchy title, which seems to offer relatively easy-to-comprehend answers to questions on peoples' minds like: "why do they hate us so much" and "is this just an isolated incident or part of a broader phenomenon?" And, to a large extent, Barber succeeds in providing answers (or at least in asking the right questions), in neither a "dumbed-down" fashion nor a too-theoretical-for-anyone-but-political-scientists style. In sum, "Jihad vs. McWorld," is an important, timely, serious book that is also highly readable.
What does "Jihad vs. McWorld" have to say? Well...a LOT, and far too much for any review! So, I'll just try to summarize a few of Barber's main points.
First, let's start with "Jihad." As Barber employs it in his book, "Jihad" is not specific to Islam or even to terrorism, but instead is used as a metaphor for the "anti-Western, anti-universalist" struggle against "McWorld" (I'll get to that one in a minute). Although it's interesting that, at the moment, most of the opposition to "McWorld" appears to be coming from the Muslim world, "Jihad" as Barber uses it is not specific to Islam, but exists everywhere, including the American "heartland." Thus, in Barber's view, Pat Robertson, Pat Buchanan, Aryan Nations, "militias," and Al Qaeda are all manifestations of the same anti-modern, anti-cosmopolitan, anti-democratic phenomenon, and in a way are natural allies (except that - luckily -- they detest each other more than they detest "McWorld").
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