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    Clash Of Civilizations Essay (4153 words)

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    The Clash of Civilizations suggests that world politics is entering a new phase. It is his hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict in the New Worldwill not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. Huntington believesthat the great divisions amongst humankind and the dominating source of conflictwill be in the cultural form. Nation states will still remain the most powerfulactors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics willoccur between nations and groups of different civilizations.

    Huntington states:”The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault linesbetween civilizations will be the battle lines of the future”. Huntingtonsuggests that the old groupings of the Cold War are no longer relevant (First,Second and Third Worlds). He proposes a new grouping of countries, not in termsof their political or economic systems or in terms of their level of economicdevelopment but rather in terms of their culture and civilization. Huntingtondefines civilizations as a “cultural entity”. Villages, regions,ethnic groups, nationalities, and religious groups, all with distinct culturesat different levels of cultural diversity.

    A civilization is thus the highestcultural grouping of people and the broadest level of cultural identity peoplehave short of that which distinguishes humans from other species. It isidentified both by “common objective elements, such as language, history,religion, customs, institutions, and by the subjective self-identification ofpeople”. However of all the objective elements which define civilizations,the most important he states is religion. The major civilizations in humanhistory have been closely identified with the world’s greatest religions, andpeople who share ethnicity and language but differ in religion may slaughtereach other, as happened in Lebanon, the former Yugoslavia, and the Subcontinent.

    The Clash of Rights categorizes the major contemporary civilizations as follows:Sinic, a distinct Chinese civilization; Japanese, a distinct civilization whichwas the offspring of Chinese civilization; Hindu, the core of Indiancivilization; Islamic, many distinct cultures existing within including Arab,Turkic, Persian, and Malay; Orthodox, centered in Russia and separate fromWestern Christendom; Western, associated with Christianity, Renaissance,Reformation and Enlightenment; Latin America, a separate civilization closelyaffiliated with the West but divided as to where it belongs in the West; andpossibly African; as the North and East coast are associated with Islam but theremainder have developed a sense of distinct identity. See figure 1. 1 includedwithin. Huntington also states civilization’s identity will be increasinglyimportant in the future, and the world will be shaped in large measure by theinteractions among seven or eight major civilizations. In the New World the mostprevalent, important, and dangerous conflicts will not be between socialclasses, rich and poor, or other economically defined groups, but betweenpeoples belonging to different cultural entities.

    Tribal wars and ethnicconflicts will occur within civilizations. An example of this behaviour can beseen in various recent occurrences. In the Yugoslav conflicts, Russia provideddiplomatic support to the Serbs, and Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran and Libyaprovided funds and arms to the Bosnians, not for reasons of ideology or powerpolitics or economic interest but because of cultural kinship. In sum, the keyissues on the international agenda involve differences among civilizations. Power is shifting from the long predominant West to non-Western civilizations. Global politics has become multipolar and multicivilizational and as the Westattempts to assert its values and to protect its interests, non-Westernsocieties confront a choice.

    Huntington states: “Some attempt to emulatethe West and join with the West; while other Confucian and Islamic societiesattempt to expand their own economic and military power to resist and to balanceagainst the West. The central axis of post-Cold War world politics is thus theinteraction of Western power and culture with the power and culture ofnon-Western civilizations”. At the end of the Cold War several”maps” were introduced as to how nation-states of the world wouldexist. The first is of One World.

    This paradigm was based on the assumption thatthe end of the Cold War meant the end of significant conflict in global politicsand the emergence of one harmonious world. The one harmonious world paradigm isclearly far from reality to be a useful guide to the post-Cold War world. Thesecond is of Two Worlds. The “us and them”, but more commonly the rich(modern developed), and the poor (traditional, underdeveloped or developing)countries. However the world is too complex to be envisioned as simply dividedeconomically between North and South or culturally between east and West;perhaps the West and the Rest. The third paradigm is 184 States, More or Less.

    It derives from the Realist concept of international relations and suggests thatstates are the only important actors in world affairs and the relation amongstates is one of anarchy, and hence to insure their survival and security,states invariably attempt to maximize their power. This paradigm is moreaccurate, however it assumes that all states perceive their interests in thesame way and act in the same way. States define their interests in terms ofpower but also in terms of values, culture, and institutions presently influencehow states define their interests. And finally the last paradigm is Sheer Chaos. It stresses: the breakdown of governmental authority, the breakup of states, theintensification of tribal, ethnic, and religious conflict, the emergence ofinternational criminal mafias, refugees multiplying into the tens of millions,the proliferation of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, thespread of terrorism, the prevalence of massacres and ethnic cleansing.

    The worldmay be chaos but it is not totally without order. An image of universal anduniform anarchy provides few clues for understanding the world. Next, the booklooks at V. S.

    Naipaul’s theory of a “universal civilization” which canbe defined as the general cultural coming together of humanity and theincreasing acceptance of common values, beliefs, orientations, practices, andinstitutions by peoples around the world. Naipaul’s theory lies behind threegeneral principles: first, most peoples in most societies have a similar”moral sense”; second, civilized societies have cities and literacy incommon which distinguish them from primitive societies and barbarians; andthird, people generally share beliefs in individualism, market economies, andpolitical democracy, also know as the “Davos Culture effect”. However,Huntington and Ronald Dore put forth a case of their own suggesting that thereare two things, which are not constant throughout the world, but are imperativein global communication and cooperation. These aspects are language and religionas both are central elements of any culture or civilization.

    The world’slanguage is known to be English but Huntington argues this assertion and states:The overall pattern of language use in the world did not change dramatically. Significant declines occurred in the proportion of people speaking English,French, German, Russian, and Japanese, that a smaller decline occurred in theproportion of people speaking Mandarin, and that increases occurred in theproportion of people speaking Hindi, Malay-Indonesian, Arabic, Bengali, Spanish,Portuguese, and other languages. He believes that as the power of the Westgradually declines relative to that of other civilizations, the use of Englishand other Western languages in other societies and for communications betweensocieties will slowly erode. Language is realigned and reconstructed to accordwith the identities and contours of civilizations. A universal religion is alsovery unlikely to emerge.

    A religious resurgence has occurred and it has involvedthe intensification of religious consciousness and the rise of fundamentalistmovements. The data of table 3. 3 on page 65 demonstrates increases in theproportions of the world’s population adhering to the two major religions, Islamand Christianity. In the long run, however, Islam wins out as Christianityspreads primarily by conversion whereas Islam spreads by conversion andreproduction. In the modern world religion is a central, perhaps the central,force that motivates and mobilizes people. The most fundamental divisions ofhumanity are in terms of ethnicity, religion, and civilizations, which remainand spawn new conflicts.

    The book proceeds to discuss why civilizations willclash and in which manner. Huntington discusses six reasons for these conflictsand explains each accordingly. First, the book explains, differences amongcivilizations are not only real; they are basic. History, language, culture,tradition, and most important religion differentiate civilizations from eachother. These differences are far more fundamental than differences amongpolitical ideologies and political regimes. They do not necessarily meanconflict, however over the centuries; differences among civilizations havegenerated the most prolonged and most violent conflicts.

    Second, the world isbecoming a smaller place. The interactions between the peoples of differentcivilizations are increasing; these increasing interactions intensifycivilization consciousness and awareness of differences between civilizationsand commonalties within civilizations. An example of this is seen with NorthAfrican immigrants in France who generate hostility as opposed to Catholic Poleswho are seen as “good” immigrants. Third, the processes of economicmodernization and social change throughout the world are separating people fromlongstanding local identities. They also weaken the nation state as a source ofidentity. In much of the world religion has moved to fill this gap, often in theform of movements that are labeled “fundamentalist”.

    The revival ofreligion, “La Revanche de Dieu,” as Gilles Kepel labeled it, providesa basis for identity and commitment that transcends national boundaries andunites civilizations. Fourth, the growth of civilization-consciousness isenhanced by the dual role of the West. On the one hand, the West is at a peak ofpower. At the same time, however, and perhaps as a result, a return to the rootsphenomenon is occurring among non-Western civilizations. Huntington presumes aWest at the peak of its power confronting non-Wests that increasingly have thedesire, the will and the resources to shape the world in non-Western ways.

    Fifth, cultural characteristics and differences are less mutable and hence lesseasily compromised and resolved than political and economic ones. The keyquestion used to be “Which side are you on?” Today it is “Who areyou?” A person can be half-French and half-Arab and simultaneously even acitizen of two countries. However it is much more difficult to be half-Catholicand half-Muslim. Finally, he proposes, economic regionalism is increasing. Theproportions to total that were intraregional rose between 1980 and 1989 fromfifty one percent to fifty nine percent in Europe, thirty three percent tothirty seven percent in East Asia, and thirty two percent to thirty six percentin North America.

    The importance of regional economic blocs is likely tocontinue to increase in the future. However, Japan faces difficulties increating an economic entity in East Asia because Japan is a society and acivilization, which is unique to itself. However strong the trade and investmentlinks Japan may develop with other east Asian countries, its culturaldifferences with those countries inhabit and perhaps preclude its promotingregional economic integration like that of Europe and North America. If culturalcommonality is a prerequisite for economic integration, the principle East Asianeconomic bloc of the future is likely to centered on China. As Murray Weidenbaumhad observed: “Despite the current Japanese dominance of the region, theChinese-based economy of Asia is rapidly emerging as a new epicenter forindustry, commerce and finance”. As people define their identity in ethnicand religious terms, they are seen as “us” versus “them”relation existing between themselves and people of different ethnicity orreligion.

    Differences in culture and religion create differences over policyissues, ranging from human rights to immigration to trade and commerce to theenvironment. The clash of civilizations thus occurs at two levels. At themicro-level, adjacent groups along the fault lines between civilizationsstruggle, often violently, over the control of territory and each other. At themacro-level, states from different civilizations compete for relative militaryand economic power, struggle over the control of international institutions andthird parties, and competitively promote their particular political andreligious values. Huntington also discusses the effects of modernization andWesternization.

    First, he looks at trade and the likelihood of conflict amongstcountries trading with each other. He rejects the assumption that it reduces theprobability of war between nations, and asserts that evidence actually provesthe contrary. He understands the significant expansion of international tradeduring the 1960s and 1970s, but stresses that this correlation is meaningless asthe world witnessed record highs in international trade in 1913 only to befollowed by a global slaughter in unprecedented numbers few years later in WorldWar I. Economic interdependence fosters peace only “when states expect thathigh trade levels will continue into the foreseeable future. ” If states donot expect high levels of interdependence to continue, war is likely to result.

    Following Huntington identifies Western civilization and concludes that it doesnot represent modern civilization since the West was the West long before it wasactually modern. Western culture is classified with seven characteristics: aclassical legacy, Catholicism and Protestantism, European languages, separationof spiritual and temporary authority, rule of law, social pluralism,representative bodies, and individualism. Individually, almost none of thesefactors were unique to the West, however the combination of them was unique. Huntington also tries to establish the response nations will have to the Westand to modernization. He claims the expansion of the West has promoted both themodernization and the Westernization of non-Western societies. The political andintellectual leaders of these societies have responded to the Western impact inone or more of three ways: rejecting both modernization and Westernization,embracing both, or embracing modernization and rejecting Westernization.

    In thetwentieth century improvements in transportation and communication and globalinterdependence increased tremendously the costs of exclusion. Except for small,isolated, rural, communities willing to exist at a subsistence level, the totalrejection of modernization as well as Westernization is hardly possible in aworld becoming overwhelmingly modern and highly interconnected. Kemalism, whichis the embrace of both concepts, is based on the assumptions that modernizationis desirable and necessary, that the indigenous culture is incompatible withmodernization and must be abandoned or abolished. Society must fully westernizein order to successfully modernization and both reinforce each other and have togo together. Finally, the Reformist approach attempts to combine modernizationwith the preservation of the central values, practices, and institutions of thesociety’s indigenous culture.

    This choice has understandably been the mostpopular one among non-Western elites. As the ideological division of Europe hasdisappeared, the cultural division of Europe between Western Christianity, onthe one hand, and Orthodox Christianity and Islam, on the other, has emerged. Asthe diagram 1. 2 illustrates, the Velvet Curtain of culture has replaced the IronCurtain of ideology as the most significant dividing line in Europe. As theevents in Yugoslavia show, it is not only a line of difference; it is also attimes a line of bloody conflict. The Clash of Rights reviews that thiscentury-old military interaction between the West and Islam is unlikely todecline.

    In fact it could become more violent. The Gulf War left some Arabsfeeling proud that Saddam Hussein had attacked Israel and stood up to the West. It also left many feeling humiliated and resentful of the West’s militarypresence in the Persian Gulf. Those relations, Huntington states, are alsocomplicated by demography. The spectacular population growth in Arab countries,particularly in North Africa, has led to increase migration to Western Europe.

    The movement within Western Europe toward minimizing internal boundaries hassharpened political sensitivities with respect to this development. On bothsides the interaction between Islam and the West is seen as a clash ofcivilizations. M. J. Akbar, a Muslim author states “The next confrontationis definitely going to come from the Muslim world”. The modernization ofAfrica and the spread of Christianity, he concludes, are likely to enhance theprobability of violence along this fault line.

    Examples of this violence areevident in current world affairs such as: the on-going civil war in the Sudanbetween Arabs and blacks, the fighting in Chad between Libyan-supportedinsurgents and the government, the tensions between Orthodox Christians andMuslims in the Horn of Africa, and the political conflicts, recurring riots andcommunal violence between Muslim and Christians in Nigeria. On the northernborder of Islam, conflict has increasingly erupted between Orthodox and Muslimpeoples; including the carnage of Bosnia and Sarajevo, and the violence betweenSerbs and Albanians. The historic clash between Muslims and Hindus manifestsitself now not only in the rivalry between Pakistan and India but also inintensifying religious strife within India between increasingly militant Hindugroups and India’s substantial Muslim minority. Furthermore, with the Cold Warover, the underlying differences between China and the United States havereasserted themselves in areas such as human rights, trade, and weaponsproliferation. The differences are unlikely to be moderated.

    And finally,violence also occurs between Muslims, on the one hand, and Orthodox Serbs in theBalkans, Jews in Israel, Hindus in India, Buddhists in Burma and Catholics inthe Philippines. In every respect, Huntington believes, the Islamic bloc fromthe bulge of Africa to central Asia has bloody borders. Two pictures exist ofthe power of the West in relation to other civilizations. The first is ofoverwhelming, triumphant, almost total Western dominance. The disintegration ofthe Soviet Union removed the only serious challenger to the West and as a resultthe world is and will be shaped by the goals, priorities, and interests of theprincipal Western nations, with perhaps an occasional assist from Japan. Thesecond picture of the West is very different.

    It is of a civilization indecline, its share of world political, economic, and military power going downrelative to that of other civilizations. Further, this view proposes that theWest is now confronted with slow economic growth, stagnating populations,unemployment, huge government deficits, a declining work ethic, low savingsrates, social disintegration, drugs, and crime. In the Clash of Rights,Huntington defends the second theory as the one, which best describes reality. He believes the West’s power is declining and will continue to do so as the mostsignificant increases in power are occurring and will occur in Asiancivilizations, particularly in China. However this decline, he describes, is notso simple. It will occur within three major characteristics.

    First it is a slowprocess; second this decline is highly irregular with pauses, reversals, andsome renewals; and thirdly the West’s power to influence the World is based onnumerous factors such as economic, military, institutional, demographic,political, technological, and social powers; all which are declining. In sum,Huntington concludes the West’s power is a decline in three core elements. Territory and population are first. Westerners constitute a steadily decreasingminority of the world’s population. Furthermore, the balance between the Westand other populations is also changing.

    Non-Western peoples are becominghealthier, more urban, more literate, and better educated. Next is economicproduct, which is been declining since the Second World War for Westerners. Thisrelative decline is; of course, in large part a function of the rapid rise ofEast Asia. And lastly, military capability which as Huntington demonstrates ontable 4. 6, page 88; that the West’s military manpower, spending, forces, andcapabilities are at a significant decline whereas it is in a large rise innon-Western nations.

    Huntington states: We are witnessing the end of theprogressive era dominated by Western ideologies and are moving into an era inwhich multiple and diverse civilizations will interact, compete, coexist, andaccommodate each other. This is the revival of religion occurring in so manyparts of the world and most notably in the cultural resurgence in Asian andIslamic countries generated in large part by their economic and demographicdynamism. The Clash of Civilizations asserts that the West is in a uniquesituation. Countries that for the reason of culture and power do not wish, orcannot, join the West instantly compete with the West by developing their owneconomic, military, and political power. They do this by promoting theirinternal development and by cooperating with other non-Western countries. Themost prominent for of this cooperation is the Confucian-Islamic connection thathas emerged to challenge Western interests, values and power.

    Asianassertiveness is rooted in economic growth; Muslim assertiveness stems inconsiderable measure from social mobilization and population growth. Theeconomic development in China and other Asian societies provides theirgovernments with both the incentives and the resources to become more demandingin their dealing with other countries. Population growth in Muslim countriesprovides recruits for fundamentalism, terrorism, insurgency, and migration. Economic growth strengthens Asian governments; demographic growth threatensMuslim governments and non-Muslim societies. In general, states belonging to onecivilization that become involved in war with people from a differentcivilization naturally try to rally support from other member of their owncivilization. S.

    Greenway has termed the “kin-country” syndrome, isreplacing political ideology and traditional balance of power considerations asthe principal basis for cooperation and coalitions. This was witnessed duringthe Gulf war, as Safar Al-Hawali describes “The West against Islam”. Aworld of clashing civilizations, states Huntington, is however, inevitably aworld of double standards: people apply one standard to their kin-countries anda different standard to others. With respects to the fighting in the formerYugoslavia, Western publics manifested sympathy and support for the BosnianMuslims and the horrors they suffered at the hands of the Serbs.

    Relativelylittle concern was expressed, however, over Croatian attacks on Muslims andparticipation in the dismemberment of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Islamic governmentgroups, on the other hand, castigated the West for not coming to the defense ofthe Bosnians as over two dozen Islamic countries were reported to be fighting inBosnia. Huntington acknowledges that conflicts and violence will also occurbetween states and groups within the same civilizations. Such conflicts,however, are likely to be less intense and less likely to expand than conflictsbetween civilizations.

    Common membership in a civilization reduces theprobability of violence in situations where it might otherwise occur. As theconflicts in the Persian Gulf, and Bosnia continued, the positions of nationsand the cleavages between them increasingly were long civilizational lines. Thenext World War, if there is one, will be a war between civilizations, Huntingtonconcludes. Spurred by modernization, global politics is being reconfigured alongcultural lines.

    Peoples and countries with similar cultures are coming together. Peoples and countries with different cultures are coming apart. Alignmentsdefined by ideology and superpower relations are giving way to alignmentsdefined by culture and civilization. Political boundaries increasingly areredrawn to coincide with cultural ones: ethnic, religious, and civilizational.

    Cultural communities are replacing Cold War blocs, and the fault lines betweencivilizations are becoming the central lines of conflict in global politics. This, Huntington asserts, is the cultural reconfiguration of global politics. Further, he believes these cultural differences do not facilitate cooperationand cohesion but on the contrary, they promote cleavages and conflicts for anumber of reasons. First, everyone has multiple identities, which may competewith or reinforce each other.

    Second, the alienation of cultural identitycreates the need for more meaningful identities as the power of non-Westernsocieties stimulate the revitalization of indigenous identities and culture. Third, identity at any level-personal, tribal, racial, or civilization can onlybe defined in relation to an “other” as opposed to the “likeus”. Fourth, the sources of conflict between states and groups fromdifferent civilizations are, in large measure, those, which have alwaysgenerated conflict between groups. Fifth and finally is the prevalence ofconflict.

    It is human to hate. Just as most nations are aligned with aparticular civilization or grouping there are others which have difficultiesaligning and finding commonalties amongst civilizations. These nationsHuntington categorizes as “torn countries”. The reason for thissyndrome is that these nations usually have one or more places viewed by theirmembers as the principal source or sources of their civilization. These sourcesare often located within the Core State or states of the civilization, that is,its most powerful and culturally central state or states.

    Islam, Latin Americaand Africa all lack core states. This lack of a core state endangers thepotential for these cultures to take a leadership role in global politics. Globally the most important torn country is Russia. The question of whetherRussia is a part of the West or the leader of a distinct Slavic-Orthodoxcivilization has been a recurring one in Russian history.

    In order to redefineits civilization identity, a torn country must meet three requirements. First,its political and economic elite has to be generally supportive of andenthusiastic about this move. Second, its public has to be willing to acquiescein the redefinition. Third, the dominant groups in the recipient civilizationhave to be willing to embrace the convert.

    A similar example of these criteriahas been Mexico. Another syndrome discussed by Huntington is of a “lonecountry”. These countries lack cultural commonality with other societies. Ethiopia, Haiti, and more importantly Japan, are lone countries.

    Finally, thelast syndrome mentioned is “cleft countries”. This occurs when largegroups belong to different civilizations causing the populace to become deeplydivided. Examples of current cleft countries are Sudan, Nigeria, Tanzania, andKenya. Some possible cleft countries, Huntington presumes, are India, Sri Lanka,Malaysia, Singapore, China, Philippines, Indonesia, and maybe even Canada. Basically, having achieved political independence, non-Western societies wish tofree themselves from Western economic, military, and cultural domination.

    EastAsian societies are well on their way to equaling the West economically. Ageneral anti-Western coalition, however, seems unlikely in the immediate future. Islamic and Sinic civilizations differ fundamentally in terms of religion,culture, social structure, traditions, politics, and basic assumptions at theroot of their way of life. Inherently each probably has less in common with theother than it has in common with Western civilization. Yet in politics a commonenemy creates a common interest.

    Islamic, and Sinic societies which see the Westas their antagonist thus have reason to cooperate with each other against theWest. Huntington states: “Trust and friendship will be rare”. Theoverriding lesson of the history of civilizations, however, is that many thingsare probable but nothing is inevitable. Civilizations can and have reformed andrenewed themselves. The central issue for the West is whether, quite apart fromany external challenges, it is capable of stopping and reversing the internalprocesses of decay.

    Can the West renew itself or will sustained internal rotsimply accelerate its end and/or subordination to other economically anddemographically more dynamic civilizations? I feel that in the short term it isclearly in the interest of the West to promote greater cooperation and unitywithin its own civilization, particularly between its European and NorthAmerican components; to incorporate into the West.Politics

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