The Clash of Civilizations

References: Fox, Jonathon. Ethnic minorities and the clash of civilizations: A quantitative analysis of Huntingtons thesis. British Journal of Political Science.

The Clash of Civilizations


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at they are somehow a part of multiple civilizations, a situation he outlines is characterized by religion as the crucial factor. “A secular Arab immigrant living in an Arab community in England is just one example where this designation is inappropriate. Really, situated in a highly religious country with a considerable number of Christian fundamentalists he states confidently that the world is becoming un-secularised. His data to support this claim is circumstantial” (James Graham, 2004).

The theory of “Clash of Civilizations” has been used to boost the fear in the West World of an Islamic movement alleged as increasingly influential and anti-Western. It is mostly due to this vision that has provided the foundation for attempting to limit and manage the growth of the Islam and Confucian civilizations and its expansion, of which the war on terror is alleged to be the most extreme example. As we see, such policies were supported and promoted by Huntingdon. A rational argument we may conclude that “The Clash of Civilizations” generated a self-fulfilling forecast. Moreover, we should perceive that to make real someone is draws as a theory is rather dangerous if not disastrous.

In the light of latest global developments, it is impossible to dismiss Huntington's theory as nothing more than an effort to upstage another theory that emerged after the collapse of the communist state. A question that is worth asking here is whether Huntington's theory would have ever emerged if Fukuyama had not put up his hand with his theory first. In other words, whether Huntington's thesis is self-consistent separately from the existence of Fukuyama's ideas. Both the "end of history" and the "clash of civilisations" theories were welcomed as contributions to the domain of political philosophy. We may say that the major argument used to authenticate Huntington's theory is that he was the first to foresee that civilisations will ultimately come to clash. Huntington replaced conflict between classes (as we see in Marxist theory) by conflict between civilisations, eventually even between religions. He also argued the fact for the inevitable clash of civilisations from the stance of Western civilisation.

Speaking about the Arab-Muslim aspect within the “clash of civilisations” theory has the ground mostly because of the sharp rise of terrorism and because the perpetrators of terrorist actions often appeal to Islam to justify actions blameworthy in the eyes of the international community. Unsettled conflict in the Middle East gives despair over the powerlessness of the international community to settle the conflict. We have no choice but to recognise that there is a burning necessity for a determined disapproval and condemnation of terrorism.

Consequently, we are bound to say one more time that Huntington's article in Foreign Affairs created more responses than any other work ever published within that journal. It is important to say that there have been many criticisms of his theory from wildly diverse paradigms. Some specialists have argued that his identified civilizations are very split with little unity. For example, Vietnam still keeps a massive army, mostly to guard against China. The Islamic world is rigorously fractured in terms of ethnic lines with Kurds, Arabs, Persians, Turks, Pakistanis, and Indonesians, every of them having very unlike world views.

It has been emphasized that values, in fact, are more freely and easely transmitted and altered than Huntington presents. For example, nations such as India and Japan have become successful democracies, and the West World itself was predominant with despotism and fundamentalism for most of its history. Supporters, though, have pointed out that worries and tensions have often arised between democratic states and that new emerging democracies in civilizations could successfuly remain hostile to states belonging to civilizations which are supposed to be hostile. Furthermore, they outline that the states belonging to different civilizations attach different amount of importance to the nature of the national governments of states with which they trade and support in international issues (e.g. as with India, Russia, and Japan). Few politologists see Huntington's theory as creating a self-fulfilling prediction and reasserting differences between civilizations. However, Huntington's argument may often be caricaturized, creating false assumptions about its content (Wikipedia, n.d.).

It is relevant to say that after the September 11, 2001 attacks, Huntington appeared prescient and well-known attacks by Western states upon Afghanistan and Iraq accelerated the perception that Huntington's “Clash” was well underway.

Some still state that the 1995 and 2004 enlargements of the European Union brought the EU's eastern border up to the boundary between Huntington's Western and Orthodox civilizations. Many of Europe's historically and traditionally Protestant and Roman Catholic countries were now EU members, while a number of Europe's historically Orthodox countries were outside the EU. However, the strong EU candidacies of Bulgaria and Romania, as well as the dominating ascendancy of pro-Western powers in Ukraine's 2004 presidential elections, and the NATO membership of Romania and Bulgaria (since 2004) represent a challenge to some of Huntington's analysis (Wikipedia, n.d).

While Samuel P. Huntington's the “Clash of Civilizations” thesis has directed substantial attention to the questions such as what causes international conflict and war, do either a clash of “national interests” or divergent values, ideas, cultures, identities, and civilizations primarily lead to conflict at both regional and global levels, what is the likely future of Islam-the West relations conflict-like or cooperative and many others, the critics of Huntington have also extended the discussion further. The debate, on the other hand, has returned to the world agenda due to the consequences of September 11 attacks.

The September 11, which is a unique and most remarkable event after the Cold War, has created many expectations about the shifting nature of post-Cold War international system and global politics. Ironically, it has demonstrated how the world's only superpower is not protected from the threats and vulnerability of current international system. On the other hand, the September 11 has seriously endangered patterns of US foreign policy and particularly its policy towards the Middle East region. It is not surprisingly that Samuel P. Huntington's clash of civilizations theory has regularly taken place in post-September 11 debates.

It is relevant to say that Huntington's clash of civilizations thesis primarily attempts to offer a new concept of world politics. We know now that Huntington principally focuses on cultural-religious-civilizational factors. He calls to understand the post-Cold War global politics. He also argues that his “civilizational conflict hypothesis” is superior to any of alternative models, which have been developed after the Cold War.

Huntington has been criticized for his presentation of “new paradigm”. He argues that the prevailing Cold War model of state-centric realist model can no longer be useful to analyse the post-Cold War era. He claims that civilizational dissimilarities will be key source of regional and global conflicts (Huntington 1993, 22). On the other hand critics suggests that Huntington's “civilizational conflict theory” is deterministic since there are manifold causes of conflict, in which civilizational factors do not play considerable role. Others say that in particular “clash of interests” rather than “clash of civilizations” will continue to be real cause of conflict. For example, Shireen T. Hunter opposes Huntington and say that relations between the West and the Islamic World are hardly arise from civilizational discrepancy but from structural-political and also from economic inequalities between the two worlds.(Shireen, 19). In addition, there are critics that Huntington overestimates cultural differences between civilizations and at the same time underestimates the power of the West in the hostile relations with the Muslim World. Many criticise Huntington for paying too much attention to the West's technological and military superiority. Overall, Huntington has received several criticisms because of his “new paradigm”.

Another kind of criticisms is about Huntington's “monolithic” conception of civilizations and disregarding of intra-civilizational differences and home conflict. Some say that the idea of West has undergone a considerable transformation in turn of the 21st century, and the actual clash will happen not between the West and the rest, as Huntington predicted, but it will arise between pro-Western conservatives and post-Western liberal multiculturalists in the US-West World. On the other hand, the critics assert that Huntington take no notice of internal developments and complexities of Muslim World. Critics say that there is no single Islamic culture as Huntington meant, moreover, there are different types of political Islam (Edward W. Said 2001, 20). Furthermore, there are numerous conflicts within civilizations. Overall, second sort of criticisms focuses on diversity and dynamics of each civilization and intra-civilizational differences.

Huntington has met so many criticisms because of the alleged inconsistencies, methodological flaws, and overgeneralizations in his thesis. For example, Robert Marks points that Huntington chiefly uses secondary sources in his book and his research of Islam, China and Japan is rather weak (Reviewed by Marks). He proposes that Huntington's speculation is methodologically flawed because of his frequent overgeneralizations in the examination of civilizations. Many have also criticized the data, which H

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