confirm or refute Huntington's clash of civilizations thesis
Huntington's clash of civilization
Scholars, journalists, and policy makers have adopted and popularized the ideas of Samuel P. Huntington, who was a professor of government at Harvard University, to explain the emerging post-cold war world. According to Huntington, the world is divided into a number of distinct civilizations that are irreconcilable because they hold to entirely different value systems (Huntington, 1993, 22-49).
This essay in tends to refute the Huntington's clash of civilizations thesis by first of all looking at the summation of this thesis, before the researcher gives his own perspective of Huntington's theory. In the third section of this study, supporting evidence that draws from the readings from this essay and other accredited outside sources are discussed before the essay concludes.
Summation of Huntington's clash of civilization thesis
Born Samuel P. Huntington in 1927; a political scientist who came into the lime light in 1993 after publishing an article in the popular foreign affairs journal, the published theory was Huntington's response to Fukuyama's 1992 studies that were published in his book " The end of history and the last man." "The clash of civilization" initially formulated in 1992 at a lecture at the American Enterprise Institute received wide attention for its' rather controversial assumption that post-cold war conflicts in the World would be caused by individuals' different religious and cultural identities.
Studies conducted by Fukuyama suggested that the World had only three alternatives ideologies left after the post-cold war which were the capitalist free market economy, liberal democracy and human rights. This assumption by Fukuyama catapulted Huntington to claim the age of ideologies had come to an end and that the World would now reverse back to its' normal status that is characterized by conflicts attributed to cultural differences. This assumption conceived the clash of civilization thesis, which argued that post-cold war conflicts in the world would be mainly triggered by religious or cultural reasons.
Referring to his 1993 article Huntington is quoted saying that "he makes the assumption that sources of conflict in the post-cold war World would not be based on economic factors or difference in ideologies, but culture or religion will be the main causes of conflict," he further ads on that conflict will occur between different groups of civilization and also between different countries. He further divided conflict into two groups namely the core state conflicts that represent conflicts between major countries with different civilization, and the fault line conflict that represents conflict on a local level that occurs between countries that are adjacent to each other but belong to divergent civilization or within countries that have different civilization in their midlist (Huntington, 1993, 22-49).
While referring to the term 'civilization', Huntington meant social groups and countries that are classified predominately by their religion, however the criterion of classification also considers similarity in language and geographical proximity of countries. In his studies he came up with seven current civilization that purportedly existed in the current World's culture this included; Latin America, Western, Japanese, Islamic, Hindu, Confucian and Slavic-orthodox. Important to note is that Huntington's studies classified both Haiti and Ethiopia as "lone" states i.e. without civilization and Israel apparently has its own unique civilization.
"The clash of civilization" thesis drew it supports from trends that were observed in global conflicts in the post cold war era, which were apparently between different civilizations; this is according to Harrison and Huntington (2001, 21-34). Examples of wars cited as proof of inter-civilization conflict were the war between Pakistan and India and the conflict that erupted in Chechnya, following the breakup of Yugoslavia.
Huntington predicts that Western civilization will trigger future conflicts because it tries to antagonize other distinct civilization by spreading the Western culture and the continued calls by the Western World for democracy in other countries, adoption of western political system and values is viewed as an attempt to make western civilization universal, this strategy according to Huntington is likely to trigger conflicts between other civilizations who feel they are being dictated upon by the western World.
The other area where civilization will clash and hence cause a conflict to arise is in the shift of political, economic and military power from the western civilization to other civilization most notably the Islam and Sinic civilization. Sinic civilization has been characterized by increase in economic power with China leading on this path. Huntington believes that the rise of China poses a big threat to the Western civilization because of their disinterest in a regional hegemony in the East Asia region and as such inter-civilization conflict is most likely to occur.
The other predictable future conflict between different civilizations according to Huntington's thesis is that of Christians and Muslims civilizations, thou these two civilizations have a history in conflict dating back to the introduction of Islam in Europe and the Ottoman Turks conflicts, there are still factors that could trigger this conflict again in the near future that include; Muslim and Christian each seeking conversion of faith of one another and battle of which religion is superior than the other.
Thesis of the essay
The clash of civilization theory was somehow proven or vindicated by the terrorist attack on September 11th in the United States of America as terrorist launched attacks on the World trade centre and the Pentagon. It is what followed that seemed to be in line with Huntington's thesis, as leaders mostly drawn from the Western world attributed the terrorist attack to the Islamic religion. Thou not directly said the leaders openly blamed a particular religion or state that is dominated by a particular religion for harboring terrorist, this in a sense somehow proved Huntington's assumption that conflict will arise between different civilizations that have being classified mainly by religion and cultural factors. Former British Prime Minister Mr. Blair made remarks that were also seen to confirm that indeed Western civilization was aiming to be wide spread and be universal as he said "terrorism is war against democracy, our way of living and civilization" all of which are Western values.
There is no substantial evidence to assert that the clash of civilization theory had been vindicated by the September 11th terrorist attack and this is particular study is aimed at refuting the clash of civilization theory.
First and foremost the classification of civilization across the global was predominantly done on the basis of religion and cultural background, ignoring globalization, in which the World is perceived to become one i.e. there is no distinction or different grouping not even on the basis of civilization. Secondly to classify different civilization using religion and culture is wrong because people with different cultures and religion have been reported to be living in different parts of the World for example there are Muslims living in the United States as there are also Christians living in Islamic states.
Harris, (2004, 47) in his studies has criticized the clash of civilization by Mr. Huntington arguing that violence can be attributed to fact that people perceive themselves to belong to a single affiliate group for example Muslim or Hindu and not to a multiple affiliate groups. This argument refutes the hypothesis used by Huntington in his thesis in which he assumed that people perceive themselves to belong to one affiliate civilization but rather they belong to different affiliate groups that include religion, culture, ethnicity, gender, age, socio-economic class among others. In addition Ankerl (2008, 74-89) attributes the cause of conflict to be philosophical belief between groups, regardless of religious or cultural background.
Referring to the book written by Blankley (2005, 56-88) he laments that there is no boundaries that has been created by civilization which can proof a clash in civilization, this is because countries like the Britain that is presented as being in the western civilization have sound and stable relationship with countries such as Saudi Arabia which Huntington classified as belong to the Islamic civilization. He further substantiate his argument by citing the fact that reports show that most of the Islamic terrorist are individuals who lived part of their lives in the Western world thus they do not entirely belong to the Islamic civilization.
An essay by Edward Said termed the clash of ignorance refuted the clash of civilization terming it as a clash of ignorance because it overlooked the interaction of different cultures and religion, and also the dynamic interdependency of different countries regardless of their civilization. Consequently there is no "fixed" civilization like the one portrayed by Huntington in his thesis. Pope John Paul II was once quoted saying that "conflicts arises when either Christians or Muslims are manipulated or misconstrued by their leaders for ideological or political reasons" and hence not religion or cultural reasons.
Fox (1994, 415-435) in his studies lamented that Israel which Huntington apparently gave its own civilization is intertwined with Buddhist states and the west while the religion factor was completely ignored. Huntington concept of classification according to civilization…