Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Jihad and Critical Theory

When I first began the readings on Critical Theory, I did not see a connection with terrorism or terror groups, my area of focus. As I continued to read, however, I remembered a book by Benjamin R. Barber, Jihad vs. McWorld (1995). While Barber uses McWorld to describe globalization more than the general aspects found in Critical Theory, it applies because it speaks to the global spread of consumerism and, as Critical Theory might describe, the dehumanization of the individual on a global scale. Barber describes McWorld thusly, “I have identified McWorld with crucial developments made possible by innovations in technology and communications… In a way, however, McWorld is merely the natural culmination of a modernization process – some would call it Westernization – that has gone on since the Renaissance birth of modern science and the accompanying paradigm of knowledge constructed as power,” (Barber, 1995). He goes on to argue that Jihad is an “attempt to recapture a world that existed prior to cosmopolitan capitalism,” (Barber, 1995). In this way, I feel I can apply Critical Theory to argue that the Islamic Jihad against the Western world is one way in which human beings rebel against the social systems which seeks to repress individuality. However, there is a complication in this assumption. The social systems which exist within the world of Islamic fundamentalists are also repressive of the individual.
In what other ways has the global spread of capitalism catered to Critical Theory?
Barber, Benjamin R. (1995). Jihad vs. McWorld: Terrorism’s Challenge to Democracy. Random
House Inc. New York, NY.

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