How does Barber's "Jihad vs. McWorld" fit into our model of civilization?  If we are one, where do we go from here as a world civilization? 

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In many respects, the paradigm that Barber lays out follows the model of civilization that has been around for some time.  This paradigm seeks to position society between two ends and force a choice to be made. Slave or free, Communist or capitalist, democratic or fascist, both opposing forces present themselves as incompatible with the other.  Factions in society passionately embrace one at the cost of another.  Consistent with the mode of civilization already seen, advocates of one side stress the other is the cause of social fragmentation and breakdown.  The "Jihadists" who claim to possess the answer believe that the breakdown of cultural identity perpetrated by the "McWorld" forces must be met directly.  The voices of those who stress "It's a Small World After All," do so to repudiate the claims of heterogeneity in cultural identity.  Barber sees both colliding within one another, making a "choice" that much more difficult.  Barber speaks to the idea that "the tendencies of both Jihad and McWorld are at work, both visible sometimes in the same country at the very same instant." They feed off of one another, but are depicted as realities in which choices must be made.  This fits the model of civilization in which social forces present themselves as forcing individuals to make a choice.

Where progress lies might be in recognizing that a formal and sanctioned "choice" might not be entirely needed or is entirely accurate. Barber depicts a reality that has emerged because of social, technological, and political change. The dual realities of cultural realization and integrated globalization are not realities in which people can "choose" one over the other.  While the ending to Barber's article strikes a very melancholy note, it does affirm the idea that a synthetic reality consisting of both realities:  

Yet McWorld and Jihad do not really force a choice between such polarized scenarios. Together, they are likely to produce some stifling amalgam of the two suspended in chaos. Antithetical in every detail, Jihad and McWorld nonetheless conspire to undermine our hard‑won (if only half‑won) civil liberties and the possibility of a global democratic future. 

It is this "possibility of a global democratic future" and the need to preserve civil liberties which will prompt some type of synthetic solution.  This reality is one where social advancement is still present and one in which individuals affirm the need to make better than which is.  This also fits the model of civilization and marks the path of progress from the polarities of "McWorld and Jihad."