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Jihad vs. McWorld: Terrorism's Challenge to Democracy Paperback – July 30, 1996
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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.
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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He talks about Jerry Fallwell and Pat Robertson as forces of "internal jihad" in America. I think Mr. Barber shares with them some of that conservative lust for a bygone era when times were simpler and life was easier. I still plan on reading Consumed. Hopefully the intervening ten years have given him a better perspective.
"...Jihad stands not so much in stark opposition as in subtle counterpoint to McWorld and is itself a dialectical response to modernity whose features both reflect and reinforce the modern world's virtues and vices --Jihad via McWorld rather than Jihad vs. McWorld."
Barber also reveals that Jihad is very much active in modern Western democracies. In America, for example, armed militias and groups such as Aryan Nations are attempts to overthrow the moral corruption of modern capitalism. Less extreme but in the same vein are fundamentalist Christians who believe Judgment Day is imminent, and perhaps welcome it. Many will recall the reaction of Pat Robertson and other fundamentalists after the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attack --it was, they said, God punishing an immoral, Godless society. Overall, Jihad vs. McWorld is an important book because it puts the chaotic world situation into meaningful perspective. His analysis shows the dangers of oversimplifying things and invites us to look at the complexities of this rather tragic modern dialectic. As Barber tells us, if either Jihad or McWorld is allowed to triumph, the world of the future will not be very free, sane or pleasant.