The globalization of modernity obviously exceeds in its profundity the signifiers
of open pathways and commodity circulation—clothing, music, food,
and so on—tend to capture much of our immediate attention. In the first
place, among tales of cultural dissemination modernity has the unique feature
that it made its epoch without a heroic duel with any opposing force.
The effort expended today to magnify the scale of supposedly ‘anti-modern’
fanaticism, or to force the world into the logic of a clash of ‘civilizations’
notwithstanding, the globalization of modernity owes much to the fact that,
in its broadest outlines, it has never been truly rejected by any significant
force in any society. Hardly any commentator on modernity, after all,
defines the term in ways, which, upon closer inspection, reveal anything in
modernity that should be anathema to social processes and longings everywhere.
If we define modernity in terms of material outcomes—prosperity,
longevity, lack of scarcity, leisure time, better communication systems, better
housing, education, a wider range of consumer commodities—it is hard
to see how any of this could be opposed by anybody, although these outcomes
may be rejected by ascetic monks in any society, modern or not. If
we define modernity in terms of social structure, such as predominantly
urban life and within it a strong bourgeois class, it is easy to see that this
outcome has been the conscious goal of policies in most of the world even
before the termination of the alternative path of East bloc socialism.