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The Clash of Civilization (Samuel Huntington Article Review)

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    The article titled the Clash of Civilization written by Samuel Huntington tries to analyze the world after the cold war. Huntington in his thesis clearly states that the new era of world politics will not be based on conflicts occurring due to ideological or economic clashes amongst states, but rather the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Huntington proposes that instead of classifying countries into first, second or third worlds, one should classify countries in terms of their civilization.

    He defines one as the highest cultural grouping of people and the broadest level of cultural identity people have. Characterization of civilization can be seen through language and religion, but the issue arises that people ultimately have to decide to which one they belong to. He notes that civilizations can include nations or people of varying numbers. Huntington points outs specifically eight civilizations who are potentially at the risk of clashing.

    He states them to be the Western, Slavic-Orthodox, Latin America, Islamic, African, Hindus, Buddhist, Confucians and Japanese civilizations. He claims that conflicts will occur along the cultural fault lines separating these civilizations from one another. He points out six fundamental reasons for the rise of conflicts between these civilizations * 1. there are fundamental differences amongst civilizations due to history, language, culture, tradition and religion, which he points out has led to violence in the past and potentially will occur in the future as well. . People from other civilizations are regularly coming into contact with one another; he gives an example of North African people migrating to France that causes hostility amongst the Frenchmen. Which means that he is imposing the fact that increases in migration of people to other civilizations have increased the consciousness and awareness of differences within civilizations. 3. Economic and social development has demoted nationalism in favor of religion as the dominant place of identity.

    He proposes that this notion has been filling the gap through fundamentalist movements, which are found in Western Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam. 4. Even though the west have never been more powerful in both cultural and economic influence, non-western civilizations have been promoting indigenization. 5. It is easier to change economic and political differences then to change cultural ones, because religion makes a sharp distinction between who you are? 6. regional trade has increased among similar cultures and floundered among dissimilar ones.

    A classic example of this notion is how Japan has not been able to be very successful in bringing together other east Asian countries due to its different culture, while the common culture between China and other East Asian countries has managed to expand regional trade amongst them. Hence, Huntington proclaims that the clash of civilization will occur at two levels, at the micro level conflicts will occur along civilizational borders, while at the macro level conflicts will happen where power and ideology will be in question.

    Huntington notes that the dominance of the west through its power and influence will be predominantly to preserve their status and to be able to confront non-western civilizations when their position is threatened. He then predicts that conflicts between the west and the rest is primarily going to be on the cultural or power differences. He believes that non-western civilizations have three choices, either to isolate and protect themselves from the influence of the west (e. g.

    North Korea), or band wagon with the west, or thirdly to modernize while increasing their military and economic power while being cooperative towards western and non-western civilization (e. g Japan). Critical Analysis I feel that although Huntington does a good job throughout his article to project his ideologies and thoughts about the clash of civilizations, I feel that his definition of civilization is vague and does not give an absolute definition of it as he does not provide any remarks on the political, or religious diversions within the civilizations that he mentions in the article.

    His ideology stating that Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism will clash within civilizations, especially Islam with the west cannot be used to characterize the 9/11 attacks, nor the international reactions that followed as the clash of civilizations. I also feel on the other hand, that Huntington’s framework of the article has been accurate with the other aspects of the global politics today, such as the global dominance of the west over the non-western countries by power and influence, through economic trades, foreign policies and many other notions that bind the two together avoiding the clash of civilizations.

    Therefore, I believe that although some of Huntington’s ideologies are flawed, but there are many things that he has predicted to be accurate in today’s time. Q1. How do we consider the question of “What are you” in today’s civilization? Are there certain implications of being from a certain sect or religion? How does one’s cultural identity evolve in today’s Civilization according to Huntington’s hypothesis? Q2. Have the 9/11 attacks changed the perception of Huntington’s concept of the clash of civilizations?

    Is the idea that we are experiencing a clash of civilizations between Islam and the Christian West a myth, or does it have a basis in today’s world? Q3. According to you do you think that Huntington with his article wanted to provide political leaders with a simple and reliable conceptual framework for analyzing world politics or did he want to pave the way for the U. S administration to prepare the public for an interventionist American foreign policy at the dawn of the twenty first century? Q4. What could be the different aspects of Huntington’s hypothesis about the new phase of global politics?

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