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Jihad vs. McWorld

3.49 of 5 stars 3.49  ·  rating details  ·  995 ratings  ·  70 reviews
Jihad vs. McWorld is a groundbreaking work, an elegant and illuminating analysis of the central conflict of our times: consumerist capitalism versus religious and tribal fundamentalism. These diametrically opposed but strangely intertwined forces are tearing apart--and bringing together--the world as we know it, undermining democracy and the nation-state on which it depend ...more
Kindle Edition, 432 pages
Published (first published 1995)
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Carol Storm
This book is a must read, not only for the analysis of Islamic fundamentalism and global Jihad, but for the way it skewers the emptiness of American popular culture as well. I literally could not put it down!
Amanda DeNardo
Nov 12, 2012 Amanda DeNardo rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Amanda by: Dr. Hughs
Shelves: international
The ideas discussed within this book are extremely interesting, however at times they are terribly dated or geared at a very specific group of international theorists. Being a student who is just starting to study politics with a limited background on world issues and western geography, some of the examples mentioned within the book go completely over my head. In chapter 14 he incessantly talks about various countries and their past conflicts without introducing his readers to even the slightest ...more
Catherine
Surprisingly, given the title, this book is over ten years old although this British edition has a foreword post - but not much post - 9/11. The Jihad of which it speaks is more to do with the impulse towards fragmentation of states, petty nationalism and tribalism than specifically religious movements, while its McWorld is the forces of globalisation - almost entirely commercial. The key point seems to be that the relationship between the two is one of mutual dependence as much as, or probably ...more
Morgan Bradham
In Jihad vs. McWorld, Benjamin Barber explores two possible fates for the political future of mankind – both with damaging results. The first is the complete re-tribalization of the human race, and the second is a one-world nation that is bound together by communications, commerce, technology, and ecology. Barber argues that “the planet is falling precipitately apart and coming reluctantly together at the very same moment.” Both, he argues, will be non-democratic. The first section of his essay ...more
Ilana
A little too dramatic and pessimistic for my taste... and poor choice of of a high content word like jihad, to which the author explains in his book, and-- understandably so-- now days regrets his use of it.
Michael
The author of this book condemns America almost as much as he criticizes the jihadist terrorists who attacked America on September 11. This book suffers from unreadable prose, moral equivalence, and lame liberal theories on how to save the world from Islamic fundamentalism (basically, disarming America and giving our sovereignty to other countries! Wow, now that is a great idea! Not). Essentially, my main problem with this book is that it is childish and the writing style is the type that you wo ...more
Gerald
At the time I read this book (soon after it was published in 1995) Barber's concepts were new to me, His main premise in the book is that the opposing forces of tribalism and consumerism are creating a tension in the world that leads to interesting and often volatile consequences. The last twenty years have seen this concept play out countless times and although I haven't read the book in this century, I feel that it will remain insightful for those looking to gain greater understanding of our c ...more
Erik Graff
Dec 14, 2010 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Barber's analysis of the current world situation seems sad but basically true. The engine for the contrapetalism tearing peoples apart, both as groups and as individuals, is global capitalism. The corporations substantially regulate the regulators, their resources allowing them to control politicians, "public" institutions and political processes, even in the "democracies" wherein media control promotes mind control. People resist, again, both as groups and as individuals, or, often out of fear, ...more
Patrick
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Daniel
What a phenomenal book, takes on the unforeseen results of globalization that have brought about such significant change in the world for the past 20 years and while it was written in 1995, turns out to be spot on for the current foreign policy moves our country has made recently.

I wish that I had read this book when it came out and had 6 years to mull over it's arguments before the attacks of September 11th. I think that it grounds the reasons for the attack very clearly in the shifting attitu
...more
Brett
Jihad Vs. McWorld is an astonishing and insightful book--the best non-fiction I have read all year. I only wish I had read it sooner. It was first published in 1995, though there is a new introduction from the author post-September 11. This is a thouroughly engaging exegesis of the conflict between ethnic tribal nationalism and globalization.

If we usually think of the major ideological forces of the 20th century as communism and fascism, then Barber may have found what the major forces shaping t
...more
Andy
I really had high hopes for this one. Wow, did it disappoint. First of all, the new introduction to the paperback version, chock full of that immediate, post-9/11 guilt tripping/hand wringing, almost made me throw the book across the room and pass on the whole endeavor, but once the actual substance of the book started, it was a lot easier to take. Much of his take on globalism is acceptable, though he contradicts himself (especially in the crappy intro) by alternately pointing out its transnati ...more
Danny
Prescient and incisive cultural analysis. How the American media, Hollywood, telecommunications created a new world economy. How extremes have been made more extreme leaving little ground between McWorld, and bitter radical opposition to it, mostly among the have nots, in Jihad.
Stacy
Extremely thought provoking. Compares and contrasts societies based on consumerism and societies based on a fundamentalist religious worldview. Which is better?
Robyn
There's probably a reason why one should read "current affairs" books when they are current. While the title of this one is clearly still topical, it was written in the mid-1990s, prior to the start of our current war on terror. While the overall thesis is still relevant, the whole book was really dragged out much longer than it needed to be (in fact, the thesis was first presented in a lengthy magazine piece and then adapted into a book). Nevertheless, the citations are excellent and provided f ...more
Dean Wells
I re-read Jihad vs McWorld to see if was still relevant after so many years and I found that it is, in fact, more relevant than ever. Barber's call for civil societies, for citizenship, to counter both transnational corporatism and parochial nationalism hasn't lost any of its power. We have only really moved on much further down the road he describes. I do think that the title is problematic, not just because Jihad seems to point only to Islam as the model for nationalism and identity politics, ...more
Maryanne Mcgrath
Loved it, but I'm biased, as I adore Barber's works.
Stephanie
Provocative, but not incendiary. Barber makes some very valid assertions yet fails to effectively argue for his thesis (which we are left to unearth ourselves as he doesn't detail it too clearly). Rather than inciting action through his writing, the author enumerates everything he dislikes about Western civilization (indeed, Earth as a whole) as an attempt at elucidating the dichotomy that is Jihad vs. McWorld. There is value in this book, but it is not necessarily found in the disappointingly s ...more
Melanie Doyle
When I bought it, it seemed quite prescient, and having studied some anthropology, I thought his thesis was really important. However, his writing was very repetitive and a little sloppy. Also, reviews since the original printing have pointed out that he got significant facts about the muslim world wrong, so very flawed, but an interesting and relevant theory at one time regarding globalism, monoculture versus tribal culture/fundamentalism. Wish it wasn't so sloppy and repetitive in its presenta ...more
Mike
I read this in college and thought it was really good. It was also challenging to me because I had never thought about globalism before, so I had a hard time wrapping my head around how it was butting heads with tribalism. After a second read, I came to appreciate it even more. I remember that this book caught some flak from some other scholars in the field. I think a few even referred to it as racist, which is utter nonsense. After 9/11, this book can only be described as prescient.
sologdin
somewhat schematic eponymous opposition. could've adopted a more rigorous leftwing perspective that notes the jihad component is a reaction to all that is solid melting into air of global capitalism, which is opposable not for any of the reasons listed by"jihad," but rather for progressive reasons. "jihad" likely doesn't deserve any space in the analysis beyond my quick summary, much a spot in the title fight.
Jeff kroll
Couldn't finish this one. Just too boring. After reading pages and pages about how Coca-cola is more about marketing & image than it is about a great-tasting drink, I just couldn't pick it up again. You had me convinced in a paragraph, it didn't take a whole chapter to make such a simple point. The author has some intersting ideas, but I just couldn't force myslef to get through it.
Zachary Jones
Sep 28, 2011 Zachary Jones added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who need to know the development of Eastern-Euro nations
A worthwhile introduction of thoughts on the relationship between personal identity, sovereignty, and nationality. For anyone who understands the historical development of European nations, this book will be tired. Well-read people will find the chapter and section heading adequate to guide skimming, which will yield useful results. Relevant even 10 years after publication.
Cooperette
I had to read this for school, and it's the only way that i would have read beyond the first page. it's an interesting concept, and he has some good points, but the diction and syntax make for thick reading, and it comes off as a sarcastic, 300 page rant on how the United States is destroying the world. can't say that i'd recommend it very highly to anyone.
Soaps1
Interesting book overall, though a bit tedious to read at times. Language level is pretty high. I probably knew 90% of the words used. After page 200 it really gets going. I wonder what the author would think now given the recent economic tumble, EU crisis and expanding Jihad in the traditional sense of the word.
Mike
Read a couple pages....didn't care for his use of nonsense words. My eyes glazed over in the first paragraph. I read a couple paragraphs out loud to other people to make sure it wasn't just me - it wasn't. I couldn't read any more. I'm sure his point is well made, but it's buried under pages of verbose ramblings.
Mark Sequeira
This is another great book. Kinda like clash of civilizations without the offense of that book (which I am not a fan of!) A very interesting read with a discouraging conclusion. Kinda like Michael Scheuer in the same way without advocating violence to solve the problems of radical Islam.
Holly
Why do they hate us? This book offers a scholarly look at mind sets of the West, particularly america and the Middle East. This book is not for anyone who does not want to slog through a lot of academic mumbo jumbo but the facts are fascinating.
Michael
A good read. Most Americans don't fully understand why the Middle East is how it is and doesn't just "love" democracy like we do. This helps explain a little of our differing histories and why we clash like we do.
Angelo
Feb 02, 2011 Angelo is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
This falls into the category of post-9/11 literature, but even a decade later, the friction points and the uncomfortable cohabitation of religion, cultural expression, marketing and digital media are very relevant.
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American political theorist perhaps best known for his 1996 bestseller, Jihad vs. McWorld.
More about Benjamin R. Barber...
Consumed - How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults & Swallow Citizens Whole If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities Strong Democracy: Participatory Politics for a New Age, Twentieth-Anniversary Edition, With a New Preface Fear's Empire: War, Terrorism, and Democracy A Passion for Democracy: American Essays

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“After September 11, some critics even tried to lump the antiglobalization protesters in with the terrorists, casting them as irresponsible destabilizers of the world order. But the protesters are the children of McWorld, and their objections are not Jihadic but merely democratic. Their grievances concern not world order but world disorder, and if the young demonstrators are a little foolish in their politics, a little naive in their analysis, and a little short on viable solutions, they understand with a sophistication their leaderes apparently lack that globalization's current architecture breeds anarchy, nihilism, and violence.” 4 likes
“Hollywood is McWorld's storyteller, and it inculcates secularism, passivity, consumerism, vicariousness, impulse buying, and an accelerated pace of life, not as a result of its overt themes and explicit story lines but by virtue of what Hollywood is and how its products are consumed.” 0 likes
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