Author speaks on culture war

    An overflowing crowd comprised of community members, faculty and a small number of students witnessed prominent political scientist Benjamin Barber Monday night when he delivered a free lecture that posed the question, “”Can Democracy Survive the War Between Jihad and McWorld?””

    Tyler Huff

    “”McWorld”” is not McDonald’s latest attempt to capture the ethnic food market, but rather Barber’s encapsulation of the spread of American commercialism-based culture to a world that does not want it.

    “”McWorld is a colonizing force, just by its capitalistic nature,”” Barber said. “”I know the globalization of the good old commercial lifestyle of America feels natural, but think about it.””

    Calling his lecture especially “”timely and appropriate,”” Barber did not shy away from controversial material even though his lecture fell on the six-month anniversary of Sept. 11.

    In fact, playing on President George W. Bush’s “”axis of evil”” classification, Barber said, “”global capitalism [in its current state] is an engine of exploitation that … establishes an axis of inequality, despair and rage.””

    Barber especially criticized the U.S. government for spreading a “”myth of independence”” while its companies exploit citizens of other countries.

    He also discussed what he calls the “”pervasive ignorance”” of global issues in the United States. He referred to U.S. foreign policy as being the “”Lone Ranger of the World,”” which is as problematic as “”ignoring a fire in the basement if you live on the fifth floor.””

    Barber frequently referred to his hope that Sept. 11 will serve as a wake-up call to the world’s problems for U.S. citizens, who he hopes will then vote based on a new, globalized belief system.

    “”The global capitalist market and terrorists both share the benefits of the global anarchy,”” Barber said. “”I am not a critic of capitalism. I am a critic of capitalism outside of its democratic envelope.””

    Two students in attendance, Katie Dalton and Kelly Davis, were intrigued by Barber’s arguments.

    “”I thought it was actually interesting,”” said Dalton, who had previously expressed her purpose for being in attendance as simply “”grades.””

    Making of the Modern World 5 professor Patrick Robertson offered extra credit to his students who attended the lecture. He explained his reason for connecting Barber’s lecture to performance in his class:

    “”This lecture underscores why the MMW course series has such pressing relevance,”” he said. “”The bottom line is that he is making an argument about the present day and [should elicit] critical thinking skills.””

    Dalton and Davis agreed with their professor.

    “”I think it’s interesting,”” Dalton said.

    Davis added, “”It kind of relates to today.””

    Barber said he was very impressed with the few students who did display interest and took the time to ask questions once the lecture was over.

    “”They had a thoughtfulness, a sense of seriousness of the world we live in,”” he said.

    As for students not being overtly involved in politics, Barber said he understands what they are going through.

    “”Young people are understandably cynical in the political process,”” he said, “”but at the same time staying out of [politics] doesn’t help any.””

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