Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Samuel P. Huntington

Clash of Civilizations?

Moscow, summer 2004 Posted by Picasa

In the current times it's difficult to poke intellectual fun and throw verbal projectiles (as I used to do) at Professor Samuel Huntington's much derided article in "Foreign Affairs" in 1963. Our only hope is there's still some tolerance and sense of humour out there. Last year I went to a magazine annual party in Moscow where one of the rock bands (with partially Central Asian roots) had the guitar-player depicted in the photo as their lead singer. Can't remember her name but she was good.

ps. In case you want to refresh your memory about Uncle Samuel's near apocalyptic scenario:

The Clash of Civilizations?
Samuel P. Huntington
From Foreign Affairs, Summer 1993
Article preview: first 500 of 9,176 words total.

Summary: World politics is entering a new phase, in which the great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of international conflict will be cultural. Civilizations-the highest cultural groupings of people-are differentiated from each other by religion, history, language and tradition. These divisions are deep and increasing in importance. From Yugoslavia to the Middle East to Central Asia, the fault lines of civilizations are the battle lines of the future. In this emerging era of cultural conflict the United States must forge alliances with similar cultures and spread its values wherever possible. With alien civilizations the West must be accommodating if possible, but confrontational if necessary. In the final analysis, however, all civilizations will have to learn to tolerate each other.


World politics is entering a new phase, and intellectuals have not hesitated to proliferate visions of what it will be-the end of history, the return of traditional rivalries between nation states, and the decline of the nation state from the conflicting pulls of tribalism and globalism, among others. Each of these visions catches aspects of the emerging reality. Yet they all miss a crucial, indeed a central, aspect of what global politics is likely to be in the coming years.
It is my hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future. (...)

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