It was in an article in Foreign Affairs (1993) and a subsequent book (The Clash of Civilizations and The Remaking of World Order (1996)) that Samuel P. Huntington, Harvard Professor, caused a massive stir in the world of global politics.
Huntington predicted that global conflicts after the Cold War would no longer focus on ideologies, like communism and capitalism, but rather find energy in cultural differences like old battles rooted in old cultures (look at Kenya right now). He claimed that the West, and first and foremost America – at the time the world’s only super power, was in decline and that Islamic and East Asian civilizations were on the march (look at the Middle East, India and China today).
Is Huntington saying “I told you so!” to the world? We’ll see about that later. In this post I’d like to focus on the criticism that was and is directed towards his thesis, and in Part Three or Four I’ll look at what Huntington himself has to say looking back at his own work.
First, Huntington draws the global map with a very sharp pencil. It’s the West against the rest, where the West is all alone against seven civilizations: Islamic, African, Latin American, Hindu, Buddhist, Orthodox, Sinic and Japanese. By doing this he is defining cultures by power.
But the most important – and the most dangerous – “failure” in Huntington’s thesis is, as I see it, that he fails to see the difference between Islam and radical Islam, and thus fears the conflict between Islam and the West (Christianity) for the very wrong reasons, since radical Islam does not represent the Islamic civilization. Islam is not a coherent civilization. You don’t look at Christianity like that, do you? Of course not, because we know there’s about a million ways to praise the Lord within the Christian community. We should know that about Islam as well, but “the war on terror” and its false media won’t let us.
Radical Islamists are “nowhere men”, meaning they are children of the frontier between Islam and the West, belonging to neither. USA is fighting a war against disparate groups that are independent of nation states! They are not fighting Islam, even if that is what they (and the Western world?) seem to think. Also, they cannot cope with Islam as a state of power. Just look at their current relationship with Iran…
And hey, radical islamists are already here, either knocking at the gates of Europe or living amongst us all at this very moment. Things have changed drastically since Huntington began working on his thesis some fifteen years ago. Back then, Islam was beginning to rise. Now Islam has become a big part of the West, which many see as a negative thing pretty much thanks to “the war on terror” and false media not giving the whole story et cetera and so forth… Many seem to think that every muslim is a radical militant muslim. How sad and tragic of us to think so.
What Huntington should be afraid of though, and where I think he is right, is the fact that the West is rapidly losing its coherence and culture, its will and pride, feasting on materialistic ideologies and unsparing wars (dealing with the Arab world by using military force is one example), while Islam is growing stronger everyday – in spirit and soul.
I believe and hope that spirit and soul will prevail over materialistic interests.
Criticism will continue in Part Three.