Clash of Civilizations By Huntington
In the “Clash of Civilizations” Huntington (1993) discusses world civilization transition from what was known in the past to something new and different. Initially, world civilization was based on economic and political systems or the degree of economic development. During the Cold War, the world was divided into first, second, and third worlds. Huntington claims that this kind of grouping is no longer relevant as the modern civilization is culturally based. To him, civilization can be measured based on ethnic groups, villages, religious groups, regions, and nationalities, among other varying levels of cultural heterogeneity. Although the cultural boundaries are not as clear as political and economic boundaries, Huntington claims that they are basic and real. In his perspective, civilization identity will be highly significant in the future, as the world will be highly measured by the associations among eight or seven civilizations. They will include Latin American, Western, Slavic-Orthodox, Confucian, African, Japanese, Hindu, and Islamic civilizations. Consequently, the most essential future conflicts will happen along the cultural fault line, dividing these civilizations. Civilization will be distinguished from each other by traditions, history, culture, religion, and language, that are centuries old (Huntington, 1993).
Huntington expects future civilization clash for several reasons some being increase in economic regionalism, difficulty in resolving and compromising cultural differences and characteristics as they are less mutable, the civilization-consciousness growth, people separation from longstanding local identities by the processes of social change, and economic modernization in the world, and increase in interaction among individuals of various civilization making the world smaller and increasing civilization awareness and consciousness. As a result, each civilization group will focus on developing its own identity to distinguish itself from others. This according to Huntington will create civilization conflict among various civilization groups, making it hard for any civilization to gain enough power to control the world (Huntington, 1993).
Huntington’s Argument’s Plausibility or Rational Defensibility
According to Huntington, the future clash of civilizations will be along the cultural ground, as each group tries to maintain its history, religion, language, and other cultural aspects. However, this claim has been discredited by various phenomena that happened before and after his publication. According to the data, civilization conflict was initiated by the Cold War, implying that civilization is not a novel phenomenon as Huntington proposes. Also, the statistics demonstrate that there have been more conflicts within civilizations in the past, than between them. Critics have agreed that in the recent past, conflicts have happened in states, usually between rival ethnic or communal groups for various reasons (Osborn, 2006). Internal conflicts have been facilitated by various factors including political objectives like in Liberia, Somalia, and among various Islamic countries during Arab Appraisal (Keshefi, 2013). Huntington also ignored other external factors that can initiate conflict within and outside a civilization. According to Osborn (2006), natural resources scarcity can easily result in conflict. This is probable to be witnessed in the near future with the increase of the world population. Competition of scarce resources has been the main cause of conflicts, and the subsequent polarization of competing parties along the ethnic or religious line is only a product of the significance of those social separations in society. This implies that there could be a conflict between cultural-based civilizations in the future as Huntington stated, though not due to cultural differences by due to other factors such as economic, social, or geopolitical interests.
Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations” Article Critique
Huntington analyzes international relationships in the post-Cold War period. His theory seems to be highly supported by events that happened in the early 2000s and late 1990s when the U.S. and other western nations were focused on fighting terrorism. During this period, there was what seems like a clear cultural-based conflict between the U.S. and Islamic radicals. This was a new world conflict that seems to support cultural civilization-based conflict (Fox, 2005). Nevertheless, it was shortly discredited by the episode of Arab Appraisal and civil war in Sudan, Syria, and Iraq among other Arabic (Islamic) countries. Huntington failed to identify the possibility of internal conflict within people of the same culture, the possibility of external conflict due to global warming and natural resources scarcity, and issues like organized crimes that seem to impact different civilizations concurrently.
Huntington also failed to recognize that there are other factors that can unit different civilizations despite what separates them such as hunger, diseases (especially communicable diseases), terrorism, and organized crimes. Such incidences have helped in the creation of alliances between developed countries and developing nations, especially between the U.S., and Africa to fight challenges despite having different cultures (Tyushka & Czechowska, 2019).
This demonstrates how hard it is to draw a clear line between humans despite their similarities or differences. The analysis shows a possibility of conflict among people of the same culture, and collaboration between people of different cultures. This challenges Huntington’s theory of clashing of civilization based on the cultural ground. Though it can happen, it is not an all-time phenomenon that can only be witnessed in the future. It is just an occurrence that can fade as other occurrences dominate the world based on the time, situation, and other factors that determine people’s behavior or reaction.