The Issue of Asserting Particular Interests

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It is not one dimension – that of the idyllically uniting world (there is no idyll in the union at any rate) - which is interesting in the globalisation process, but how the two dimensions – the tribalising and the universalising one – connect and meet. The paragon of an idyllically globalising world is a situation once described to me by the Czech historian and archaeologist Zdeněk Vašíček: I, a Czech, am standing, in the garden of my French house, and converse with my Japanese friend about Russian literature, in English. The metaphor of the other scenario is an Islamist fundamentalist armed with a Kalashnikov gun, listening with one ear to a mullah calling for a holy war, and pricking up his other ear for a soap opera or talk show aired via satellite by a TV corporation owned by an American mega-capitalist.

However, Barber judges both the scenarios with the same lack of mercy: ‘Neither global markets, nor blood-related communities serve the public good, and they do not aim for equality and justice… Jihad exercises a bloody policy of independence and identity; the McWorld’s bloodless policy is profit. Everyone who belongs to the McWorld automatically becomes a consumer; everyone who searches for identity becomes member of a tribe. Neither is a citizen. But, is democracy thinkable without citizens? … Jihad and the McWorld share one quality: they declare war on the sovereign state, thus undermining its institutions. They both defy civil society and degrade the importance of civil and democratic virtues without caring to seek reasonable institutional alternatives.’ We might end up like Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Cold War, ‘not united by an abstract ideal of love of freedom and social justice. The newly liberated lunged for videocassettes, porn, American-style cosmetics, and sportswear with English lettering; not for reading Tocqueville, Mill, or Solzhenitsyn… If democratic institutions and constitutions as well as civil rights acts once stood guard to freedom, the new sanctuaries to freedom will probably be McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets.’ Barber: ibid)