Jihad vs McWorld

Jihad vs. McWorld is the title of a 1995 book by political scientist Benjamin R. Barber, in which he puts forth a theory that describes the struggle between “McWorld” (globalization and the corporate control of the political process) and “Jihad” (tradition and traditional values, often in the form of extreme nationalism or religious orthodoxy and theocracy).

The book was based on a March 1992 article first published in the Atlantic Monthly.[1] The book employs the basic critique of neoliberalism seen in Barber’s earlier, seminal work Strong Democracy. As economic liberalism — not to be confused with political liberalism as it is defined in the United States — is the force behind globalization, this critique is relevant on a much larger scale. Unregulated market forces encounter parochial (tribal) forces. These tribal forces come in many varieties: religious, cultural, ethnic, regional, local, etc. As globalization imposes a culture of its own on a population, the tribal forces feel threatened and react. More than just economic, the crises that arise from these confrontations often take on a sacred quality to the tribal elements; thus Barber’s use of the term “Jihad” (although in the 2nd edition, he expresses regret at having used this term).

Barber’s prognosis in his 1995 book, Jihad vs McWorld: How Globalism and Tribalism Are Reshaping the World, is generally negative — he concludes that neither global corporations nor traditional cultures are supportive of democracy. He further posits that “McWorld” could ultimately win the “struggle.” He also proposes a model for small, local democratic institutions and civic engagement as the hope for an alternative to these two forces.
The term “McWorld” is a neologism related to George Ritzer‘s analysis of corporate culture in The McDonaldization of Society.

– just mentioned by Kenneth in class in relation to Singapore Society in between globalization and traditional heartlanders


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