Jihad vs. McWorld is a groundbreaking work, an elegant and illuminating analysis of the central conflict of our times: consumerist capitalism versus religious and. Jihad vs. McWorld is a groundbreaking work, an elegant and illuminating analysis of the central conflict of our times: consumerist capitalism versus religious. Jihad vs. McWorld: How the World Is Both Falling Apart and Coming McWorld, based on a article in the Atlantic Monthly, Barber turns from the intellectual .
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If ever a commentator on the world scene was to be allowed the dubious privilege of saying “I told you so” on September 11it was Professor Barber. The commentator with the eggiest face is Francis “End of History” Fukuyama.
Barber’s jihadd, which is a kind of riposte to Fukuyama’s and similarly began life as an article in this case, in the March mcworod of Atlantic Monthlywas published in America in Afticle the title, from which it isn’t hard to get an idea of the contents, is rather chillingly apt – even more so than it was a decade ago.
Recent events have not exactly conspired to overturn its thesis, although one might for the moment feel like reversing the word order, given who has been most visibly on the offensive lately.
Surprisingly, this is its first publication in the UK. Barber is anxious to make sure we understand that by “jihad” he means blinkered, intolerant and essentially tribal fundamentalism, which has nothing to do with mainstream Islam.
It means, vx, the Oklahoma bombing, the demented Protestantism of Jerry Falwell and his kind, which, he says, “no more defines Protestantism than the Taliban defines Islam”. McWorld, which he seems rather better mcworlld defining and attacking, is the “sterile cultural monism” we are all now very familiar with; the world of “shallow but uniform” consumer culture seen in shopping malls across the developed world, and encroaching on the developing world fast. One may expect Guardian readers in particular to raise a cheer about this.
And there is much to cheer in Barber’s analysis. The things that especially bother him are the erosion of the state’s responsibilities, the maniacal rush towards market solutions, the bogus ethical concerns of corporations and the potentially catastrophic competing demands of multiculturalism, as opposed to the mutually beneficial interdependence of pluralism.
All these, and the absolute power of money over everything, even over utilities that used to be seen as the state’s responsibility, conspire to make “democracy” an almost meaningless concept these days.
He points out that Islam has no word for “democracy” and has to use the Greek term.
Jihad vs. McWorld
Against this is the argument of those like Hasan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, railing against the “wave of atheism and lewdness” rolling over Egypt in the s. Among his targets were half-naked women, liquor, theatres, dance halls, newspapers, novels, “whims, silly games” and “vices”.
The list, Barber points out, is very similar to that of William Prynne’s 17th-century tirade, Histriomastix ; but it is at this point that Barber seems most to sigh for the moral purity that we have lost while playing Nintendo and eating cheeseburgers. At which point you might think that putting “Mc” in front of anything you find meretricious or glib is.
Any book as ambitious and wide-ranging as this is going to have at least a few flaws. Those I’ve noticed are minor. He may remind you at times of Daniel Bell, whose Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism more or less blamed Playboy for the unravelling of the work ethic, but like Bell he’s no fool.
Jihad vs. McWorld
You might take issue with the two-page preface to the British articl. This is a wholly generous tribute: I continue adticle believe that Britain has discovered at least one part of the secret of how to elude both Jihad and McWorld, and recreate in the global arena the tradition of rebellion and liberty, of democracy and the limits on democracy, that has fashioned its own liberal tradition.
But has the author been to a PFI hospital lately, listened to a speech by Tony Blair, or stood on a British rail platform and found himself addressed as a “customer”? The index, incidentally, could do with some improvement.