Jihad vs. McWorld
Benjamin Barber diligently and thoroughly examines a crucial paradox that has been noted by many: the planet is being torn apart by the vestiges of race and ideology which are reasserting themselves in areas such as Bosnia and Rwanda, while at the same time it is becoming unified by economic, technological, and ecological forces that mesmerize and homogenize: MTV, McDonald’s, and movies.
Barber gives this tendency toward balkanization of nation-states the name “Jihad,” a retribalization that attacks interdependence, social cooperation, and mutuality. He names “McWorld” the homogenous, global theme park being created by the mass media and mass culture fostered by worldwide communications, information, entertainment, and commerce.
Ironically, both tendencies of this paradox, the simultaneous fragmentation and unification, are often at work in the same country at the same time, such as in Iran, where “Iranian zealots keep one ear tuned to the mullahs urging holy war and the other to Rupert Murdoch’s Star television beaming in DYNASTY, DONAHUE, and THE SIMPSONS from hovering satellites.”
Barber focuses on the relationship between Jihad and McWorld, and suggests that the world, as it is being squeezed between these opposing forces, is moving away from conscious and collective human control and toward anarchy. Jihad is driven by parochial hatreds and aims to re-create subnational and ethnic borders from within the...
(The entire section is 313 words.)
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