Jihad vs. McWorld

Jihad vs. McWorld

Jihad vs. McWorld
Author Benjamin Barber
Country United States
Language English
Genre Political science
Publisher Ballantine Books
Publication date
Media type Paperback
Pages 389
OCLC 37043735
909.82/9 21
LC Class HM201 .B37 1996

Jihad vs. McWorld: How Globalism and Tribalism Are Reshaping the World is a 1995 book by American political scientist Benjamin 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" (Arabic term for "struggle," here modified to mean tradition and traditional values, in the form of extreme nationalism or religious orthodoxy and theocracy). Benjamin Barber similarly questions the impact of economic globalization as well as its problems for democracy.

The book was based on a March 1992 article by Barber 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 neoliberal economic theory — not to be confused with social liberalism — is the force behind globalization, this critique is relevant on a much larger scale. Unregulated market forces encounter parochial (which he calls 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 second edition, he expresses regret at having used that term).

Barber's prognosis in Jihad vs McWorld 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.


  • Problems for democracy 1
    • McWorld 1.1
    • Jihad 1.2
  • See also 2
  • References 3

Problems for democracy

Barber states that neither Jihad nor McWorld needs or promotes democracy.[2]


Barber argues that there are several imperatives that make up the McWorld, or the globalization of politics: a market imperative, a resource imperative, a information-technology imperative, and an ecological imperative. Due to globalization, our market has expanded and is vulnerable to the transnational markets where free trade, easy access to banking and exchange of currency are available. With the emergence of our markets, we have come up with international laws and treaties in order to maintain stability and efficiency in the interconnected economy. Resources are also an imperative aspect in the McWorld, where autarky seems insufficient and inefficient in presence of globalization. The information-technology of globalization has opened up communications to people all over the world, allowing us to exchange information. Also, technology is now systematically integrated into everyone's lives to the point where it "gives every person on earth access to every other person".[3] Globalization of ecology may seem cliche; Barber argues that whatever a nation does to their own ecology, it affects everyone on earth. For instance, cutting down a jungle will upset the overall oxygen balance, which affects our "global lungs". McWorld may promote peace and prosperity, but Barber sees this as being done at the cost of independence and identity, and notes that no more social justice or equality than necessary are needed to promote efficient economic production and consumption.


Barber sees "Jihad" as offering solidarity and protecting identities, but at the potential cost of tolerance and stability. Barber describes the solidarity needed within the concept of Jihad as being secured through exclusion and war against outsiders. As a result, he argues, different forms of anti-democratization can arise through anti-democratic one-party dictatorships, military juntas, or theocratic fundamentalism.

See also



  • Barber, Benjamin R., Jihad vs. McWorld", Hardcover: Crown, 1995, ISBN 0-8129-2350-2; Paperback: Ballantine Books, 1996, ISBN 0-345-38304-4
  • Frank J. Lechner and John Boli., The Globalization Reader: Fourth Edition, Blackwell Publishers Ltd, 2012
  1. ^ Barber, Benjamin (March 1992). "Jihad vs. McWorld".  
  2. ^ Frank J. Lechner and John Boli., The Globalization Reader: Fourth Edition, Blackwell Publishers Ltd, 2012
  3. ^ Frank J. Lechner and John Boli., The Globalization Reader: Fourth Edition, Blackwell Publishers Ltd, 2012 pg.30

Frank J. Lechner and John Boli., The Globalization Reader: Fourth Edition, Blackwell Publishers Ltd, 2012 pg.30