POLI 100 - F10N01 Gabrielle Bishop The Clash of Civilizations: A Summary of Samuel Huntington’s controversial Political Analysis and its Critics “Culture and cultural identities, which at the broadest level are civilizational identities, are shaping patterns of cohesion, disintegration, and conflict in the post-Cold War World” - Samuel Huntington POLI 100 - F10N01! Gabrielle Bishop In a 1993 article published in Foreign Affairs, Harvard Professor of Government and Political Scientist Samuel Huntington made a prediction for the 21st century that would go on to be both disputed and supported by experts around the globe.
As the Iron Curtain of ideology of the Cold War had fallen, Huntington theorized that a new “Velvet Curtain” of culture would rise1. While the Cold War divided the world up into “communist and democratic” societies, the 21st century would feature con? icts between “clashing civilizations”, whose disputes would be rooted in various ethnic, cultural, and/or religious differences 2. In 1996, Huntington wrote a book titled: “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order”, which expanded upon these points. Some were intrigued, others, extremely offended.
But, few could ignore the controversial predictions Huntington made about the future of global politics. Huntington divides “The Clash of Civilizations” into ? ve parts, the ? rst of which is titled as: “Part One: A World of Civilizations”. In this chapter, he identi? es the six principal civilizations that make up the world, as well as two other “possible” civilizations3: 1. Sinic4: Includes China and the Chinese communities in South-East Asia. Vietnam and Korea are also in this group. 2. Japanese: Huntington stresses that Japanese civilization is very distinct, and does not necessarily ? in with other “Far Eastern” nations; having split off from China between 100 and 400 AD. 3. Hindu (Also referred to as “Indian” or “Indic”): Huntington notes that while there are Muslim communities within India, Hinduism has been essential to the culture of the subcontinent since for almost 4,000 years. 4. Islamic: This civilization emerged around 700AD in the Arabian peninsula, and quickly spread across North Africa, the Iberian peninsula, central Asia, the Subcontinent, and Southeast Asia. Many unique Islamic “sub-cultures” exist because of this (ex: Malay, Turkic, Persian, etc. 5 5. Western (formerly known as “Western Christendom”): This civilization is widely viewed as having emerged at around 700AD, Huntington states, and comprises many states in Europe, and North & Latin America, as well as many European settler countries (such as Australia and New Zealand) 6. Latin American: While this civilization has its roots in European civilization, Huntington states that its corporatist & authoritarian culture is what truly sets it apart from Europe and North America. 7. Orthodox (possibly): Huntington mentions brie? that some other academics consider the Orthodox Russian civilization to be separate from Byzantine and Western Christian civilization. 8. African (possibly): Huntington also mentions that most scholars do not consider there to be an African civilization, with the exception of French Historian Fernand Braudel6 . He notes that North Africa is part of the Islamic civilization, and that Ethiopia has been known to constitute a civilization of its own7 . He theorizes that because of their rapid growth of identity, Sub-Saharan Africa could indeed become its own civilization, with a chance of South Africa being its “core state”8.
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In choosing to identify civilizations in this way, Huntington received a number of rebuttals; such as the one from Fethi Keles (who teaches in the Anthropology department at Syracuse University)9. In “The The Antinomies of Samuel P. Huntington: Some Anthropological Reflections on the American Pundit”, Keles criticizes Huntington for being “Eurocentric”, and too general; for not recognizing that cultures are not so simple that they can be categorized into six (or, eight) different civilizations 10.
Keles also notes that Huntington never once cited a foreign-language reference (a detail first noticed by anthropologist Hugh Gusterson)11. Feles instead proposes that he “[pay] more attention to detail, of the sort provided by anthropology” 12. Only then, she states, will his predictions improve from a “constantly risk-running sort to a relatively risk-averse one”13. Huntington begins the next section, “Part 2: The Shifting Balance of Civilizations”, by stating that the power and influence the West once held is now dying14.
Although the civilization did experience success with the collapse of the Soviet Union, Huntington argues that the West has become “exhausted”15. He brings to light two opposing arguments: (A): That the West still holds a monopoly over economic consumption, military strength, and technology;16 and, (B): That the West is losing its influence and power. 17 Huntington takes the side of Argument B, and expands on it further. He notes that while the West’s power and influence may indeed be declining, it will be a very slow process and is therefore not an immediate threat presently to global forces 18.
Huntington stresses the growing role religion is now playing in global politics. He notes that religion often gains popularity in response to a society’s changing needs. He mentions, for example, how many South Koreans have abandoned their traditional Buddhist beliefs in exchange for Christianity as their nation has become increasingly urban and economicallybased. Kang Jun In criticizes Huntington in his article: “Confucianism and Democracy in East Asia: A Critique of Samuel P. Huntington’s Third Wave”, published in Korea Journal in the Autumn of 1999.
In states that Huntington is guilty of arguing that “East Asian countries which have Confucian tradition can attain the ‘salvation of democracy’ only by self-denial - the denial of their own tradition - and ‘assimilation’ of modern Western culture. ”19 , quoting him saying “Confucian democracy may be a contradiction in terms, but democracy in a Confucian society”20. Ultimately, people “need new sources of identity, new forms of stable community, and new sets of moral precepts to provide them with a sense of meaning and purpose”21, Huntington argues.
Huntington also notes that Muslim societies, contrary to their Asian counterparts, have expressed their culture through the resurgence of religion, noting that Islam “embodies the acceptance of modernity, rejection of Western culture, and the recommitment to Islam as the guide to life in the modern world”22. This is largely because of the emergence of a large, devout and young generation of Muslims has been paired with an authoritarian style of government. In “Part 3: the Emerging Order of Civilizations”, Huntington notes that during the Cold War, countries were either labelled as “communist” or “non-communist”.
Now, countries who cannot easily identify themselves have entered into an identity crisis 23. Because of this, many new international organizations (Ex: the European Union, the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, etc). came together; uniting nationstates under common “ancestry, religion, language, values, and institutions”, and in doing so, distanced themselves from different nations who did not share these characteristics 24. However, not all nations have been successful in identifying with one particular culture, Huntington states, referring to Mexico, Turkey, Russia, and Australia 25.
These states, he says, could be described as “torn countries”26; countries which are torn between multiple cultural identities - the tradition cultural identity they’ve held, and the new cultural identity they wish to adopt. “A torn country... has a single predominant culture which places it in one civilization, but its leaders want to shift it to another civilization. They say, in effect, ‘We are different peoples and belong in different places’”27. In “Chapter 7: Core States, Concentric States, and Civilized Order”, Huntington states that a small, powerful number of core states will be the centre of a new structure of civilizations.
France and Germany are examples of these states in the European Union. He goes on to describe “core states”, the divide between Western Europe (Protestantism & Catholicism) and Eastern Europe (Orthodox Christianity & Islam), and the lack of a core state in Islam. In “Part 4: Clashes of Civilizations” (arguably the most important section of the book), Samuel Huntington predicts that “In the emerging world, the relations between states and groups from different civilizations will not be close, and will often be antagonistic. 28 He hypothesizes that the three principal roots of conflict will be arise from the interaction of the following: 1. The arrogance of the West; 2. Islamic intolerance; and 3. Sinic assertiveness 29. As the chapter progresses, Huntington states that Islam and Christianity have almost always been at odds with each other, and that the Islamic and Western civilizations will inevitably clash in the 21st century. There are a number of reasons for this, from the Muslim population growth placing large numbers of unemployed and dissatis? ed youth in the hands of Islamic extremists; to the West? attempt to “universalize” its values, culture, and military (thus generating intense resentment from Muslim communities), to an exaggerated view of differences between the two civilizations as a result of increased communication and interaction between them30 . ! Huntington notes that with the emergence of Asia and China? s growing economies has come an antagonistic relationship with the United States31. He predicts that the combination of China? s growing military with Asia? s growing economy could indeed result in an international con? ict. He also notes that the con? cts of the 21st century will be fought along “fault lines” (such as Islam vs. Christianity). He goes on to provide a list of fault line characteristics: • • • • • “Communal conflicts between states or groups from different civilizations Almost always between people of different religions Prolonged duration Violent in nature Identity wars (us vs. them), eventually breaks down to religious identity Encouraged and financed by Diaspora communities Violence rarely ends permanently Propensity for peace is increased with third party intervention”32 In the final Chapter of the book, “Part 5: the Future of Civilizations”, Huntington oncludes that the West needs to be prepared to accept the growing influence of rival civilizations, if it wants to remain a global political power. As previously cited, Anthropologist Fethi Keeles was very critical of Huntington’s approach, in her piece published in the Journal of Third World Studies. Quoting Edward Said, a prominent critic of Samuel Huntington, she noted: "What culture today - whether Japanese, Arab, European, Korean, Chinese, or Indian - has not had long, intimate, and extraordinarily rich contacts with other cultures? 33 She then accuses him of being “indifferent to the complex nature of the multicultural world”, and argues that in his analysis he failed to address intra-cultural or civilizational variation34. ! However, Somali-born human rights activist and former Dutch MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali begs to differ. She argues that the greatest advantage of Huntington’s civilizational model of international relations is that “it reflects the world as it is - not as one wishes it would be” 35. “The Clash of Civilizations”, she states, “is a classic that should be taught in every international relations and history class -- until a new world emerges. 36 No matter what the reader’s background is, it is difficult to argue that the nations of the world are not facing any forms of international conflict in the early 21st century. Where many critics choose to differ is on the grounds of the origins of said international conflict, asking: are the growing international conflicts truly due to opposing civilizations, or are the issues simply ideological? Samuel Huntington says these conflicts are predominantly rooted in culture and religion, and that the 21st century will inevitably be a period characterized by “the Clash of Civilizations”.
Bibliography: Huntington, Samuel P. The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996. Print. Charron, Nicholas. "Deja Vu All Over Again: A Post-Cold War Empirical Analysis of Samuel Huntington's 'Clash of Civilizations' Theory. " Cooperation & Conflict 45. 1 (2010): 107-27. EBSCO Host. Web. Ali, Ayaan Hirsi. "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. " Foreign Affairs 89. 6 (2010): 198-99. EBSCO Host. Web. Perry, Glenn E. "Huntington and His Critics: the West and Islam. " Arab Studies Quarterly 24. 1 (2001): 18. EBSCO Host.
Web. In, Kang Jung. "Confucianism and Democracy in East Asia: A Critique of Samuel P. Huntington’s Third Wave. " Korea Journal 39. 3 (1999): 315-37. Print. Hendrickson, Holly. "Book Summary of The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order by Samuel P. Huntington. " Beyond Intractability - More Constructive Approaches to Destructive Conflict. Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado. Web. Keeles, Fethi. "The Antinomies of Samuel P. Huntington: Some Anthropological Reflections on the American Pundit. " Journal of Third World Studies. 14. 2 (2007): 131-43. Print.
Sullivan, Anthony T. "Has Samuel Huntington’s Prediction Come to Pass? " Journal of the Historical Society 2. 2 (2002): 169-78. Print. Endnotes: Huntington, Samuel P. The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996. Print. 1 2 3 4 Huntington 28. Huntington 45-46. Huntington had previously labelled this civilization as “Confucian”, in his 1993 Foreign Affairs article. He decided to use “Sinic”, as he felt Confucian teachings were not at the core of the civilization he was describing. (Huntington 1996:45) 5 6 7 8 9 Huntington 45. Huntington 47.
Huntington 47. Huntington 47. Keeles, Fethi. "The Antinomies of Samuel P. Huntington: Some Anthropological Reflections on the American Pundit. " Journal of Third World Studies. 14. 2 (2007): 131-43. Print. 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 Fethi 131. Fethi 142. Fethi 142. Fethi 142. Huntington 82-83. Huntington 82. Huntington 83-90. Huntington 90-91 Huntington 91. In, Kang Jung. "Confucianism and Democracy in East Asia: A Critique of Samuel P. Huntington’s Third Wave. " Korea Journal 39. 3 (1999): 319. Print. 20 21 22 23 Huntington 308; 308-310. Huntington 97. Huntington 110. Hendrickson, Holly. Book Summary of The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order by Samuel P. Huntington. " Beyond Intractability - More Constructive Approaches to Destructive Conflict. Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado. Web. 24 Huntington 126. 10 POLI 100 - F10N01! Gabrielle Bishop 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 Huntington 139. Huntington 138. Huntington 138. Huntington 183. Huntington 183. Huntington 211. Huntington 218. Hendrickson web. Keeles 143. Keeles 143. Ali, Ayaan Hirsi. "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. " Foreign Affairs 89. 6 (2010): 198-99. EBSCO Host. Web. 36 Ali 99. 11
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