Delusions of Difference

  • Fred Halliday


There is no global survey of world culture, akin to Fortune 500, the Strategy Survey of the International Institute of Strategic Studies or the UNDP’s World Development Report. Yet a brief look at the state of world culture today would, at first sight, suggest great vitality and change: a world of over 10,000 spoken languages; a boom of both traditional forms of publication, such as books and newspapers, and new electronic forms of communication; an explosion of creativity in music, architecture, design. The means of communication — global media and everything associated with them — are growing in reach as new technologies come to the fore, even if, as with so much of the contemporary world economy, within an oligarchic form. For those inclined to see religion as an important component of culture, it too appears to be on the rebound — in the USA above all, and in the Muslim world, the link between secularization and modernity seems to be more and more attenuated. We have no global secularization index, but it would appear in some countries to be falling, or at least not continuing to rise. As for identity, community, ethnicity, there is no limit to their moral, and financial, claims. The global and the particular seem to prosper in counterpoint.


International Relation Jewish Identity Contemporary World Muslim World Collective Entity 
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    Samuel Huntington, The Clash of Civilisations and the Remaking of World Order (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996, p. 108).Google Scholar
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    Barrington Moore, The Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy (London: Allen Lane, 1967, p. 486).Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger (eds) The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983).Google Scholar

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© Fred Halliday 2001

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  • Fred Halliday

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