Guest Author - Rebecca Graf
All too often a person, a community, or a culture wants to eat their cake and have it, too. They want to hold onto tradition while using the advances in technology while not giving up anything. In the end, it is discovered that it is an impossible dream. The desire for advancement will triumph over tradition due to the strength it possesses and the need for openness that tradition will not allow.
In Benjamin R. Barber’s article, “Jihad vs. McWorld”, he dives into the collision of the world of tradition and that of the future of the world. As the world that has been the norm for generations and beyond breaks apart, it finds the world “coming reluctantly together at the very same moment.” The internet is bringing parts of the world together that never had contact in the traditional sense. Where politics and religion have kept worlds apart, technology is bringing them all together.
What once was becomes no more. The Soviet Union was once a large nation that stretched from Europe to Asia. In the matter of weeks and months, it broke apart with nations that had not been independent in a hundred years reclaiming that role. The desire to rule independently calls through politics and religion yet can never be achieved.
Tradition and progress both prevent “practical ways to govern themselves democratically.” Both pull people under a cloak of power to protect and improve a society. Yet each takes away from the people the ability to rule and create their own future. Society finds itself at the whim of the world that drives it.
As the world becomes smaller due to technology, it also finds itself smaller economically. Currency exchanges become cumbersome. Individual economic laws become barriers that society claws at to break down. A world-wide market will not stand for laws closing down markets for religious purposes. A new language develops that rides over all national barriers creating a “common currency and….common behaviors.”
This oneness of the world becomes stronger as technology grows and is yearned for even by those nations that fight the oneness. Science and technology are “inherently universalizing” pulling all nations together willing or not. Neither can exist without open communication. There has to be “an easy and regular flow and exchange of information” or it stagnates and ceases to exist. The world as a whole will not allow this to happen. A nation that does not participate finds itself overcome by those around it or overturned by those within.
Technology does not see borders. Man puts up borders in an attempt to create areas of domination. Technology does not “respect borders; telephone wires penetrate the most closed societies.” All nations are subject to the tentacles of technology no matter how hard they might fight it.
As the world finds itself forced to become one, it finds that it has been one all along but living in a voluntary state of blindness. The farmers in Brazil attribute to the entire planet being “asphyxiated by greenhouse gases” while gas empowered vehicles in Italy destroy forests in Germany. What one culture does dramatically impacts another and ultimately affects the entire plant. As the nations find themselves unavoidably bound, they also find themselves in a forced hierarchy as “modernized nations try to slam the door behind them” refusing to allow the undeveloped nations to make their way to the same level.
The nation that focuses inward gives the people “a vibrant local identity, a sense of community, solidarity among kinsmen, neighbors, and countrymen.” It gives a sense of security and a common trait that makes one feel ‘at home’. The negative effect can be “obedience to a hierarchy in governance, fanaticism in beliefs, and the obliteration of individual selves in the name of the group.” The national solidarity comes at a personal price.
The world that comes together as one gives a promise of “peace, prosperity, and relative unity” as it removes various degrees of “independence, community, and identity.” All become one with few ties to the local community. Disruption of the world connection will not be tolerated. Local disruption is ignored.
The world is dissolving borders at the same time it is constructing borders in an attempt to create an area that can be dominated. A nation wants the use of satellites and the benefits that with it while limiting its full potential. A nation wants the use of technology to improve its military and infrastructure but fights its natural ability to create a more universal commercial system. A nation desires the wealth technology and science can bring to it while refusing to let it be itself and bring nations together to make that same technology and science stronger.
As the world pulls apart and unites in the same breath, it finds itself at a crossroads that takes it to the same destination via paths that each offer advantages and sacrifices. The path chosen is based on the desires of the nation and the strength tradition and greed hold onto it as well as the fear of the future that impacts the decision.
Barber, Benjamin R. “Jihad vs. McWorld.” The Atlantic. March 1992. Accessed April 24, 2012. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1992/03/jihad-vs-mcworld/3882/.