The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order
The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order is an influential and controversial book on grand strategy, international relations and world futures, by the late political scientist Samuel Huntington. He does not rigorously define an abstraction of a civilization, but uses examples, although in a Foreign Affairs article he called a civilization "the highest cultural grouping and the broadest level of cultural identity short of that which distinguishes humans from other species."
In the book, the chief premise is
It takes a darker view than some alternative models, such as that of Thomas P.M. Barnett in The Pentagon's New Map, suggesting that major conflict is likely; "avoidance of a global war of civilization depends on world leaders accepting and cooperating to maintain the multicivilizational character of global politics." He bases this on five corollaries to the central theme:
- Global politics is multipolar and multicivilizational; modernization is distinct from Westernization
- "The balance of power among civilizations is shifting; the West is declining in relative influence"
- "A civilization-based world order is emerging; societies sharing cultural affinities cooperate with each other; efforts to shift societies from one civilization to another are unsuccessful
- "The West's universalist pretentions increasingly bring it into conflict with other civilizations, most seriously with Islam and China"
- "The survival of the West depends on Americans reaffirming their Western identity and Westerners accepting their civilization as unique not universal"
we may be witnessing..the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.
Note that Fukuyama has sometimes been strongly identified with neoconservatism, which has this ideal of liberal democracy, although his position keeps evolving.
He cites several paradigms that came from the Cold War, none of which he finds accurate although the latter two are closest.
- One world: euphoria and harmony: This is most often expressed in Francis Fukuyama's "end of history" thesis
- Two worlds: Us and Them: There are, however, several binary systems. From the Islamic perspective, there is the Dar al-Islam and the Dar al-Hab. Thomas P. M. Barnett speaks of the "connected core" and everyone else. Orient versus Occident is a classic, if not terribly useful division
- 184 States, More or Less: He sees this as the "realist" model, based on state interest. Perhaps not for 184 states, but there is some of this in Henry Kissinger's balance of power models
- Sheer chaos: The advent of weakened and failed states supports this model, for which he cites Zbigniew Brzezinski and Daniel Patrick Moynihan
Instead, he proposes that a workable model groups into seven or eight civilizations takes the best of the models and builds from them. Its assumptions are:
- "The forces of integration in the world are real and are precisely what are generating counterforces of cultural assertion and civilizational consciousness
- "The world is in some sense two, but the central distinction is between the West as the hitherto dominant civilization and all the others, which, however, have little if anything in common among them. The world, in short, is divided between a Western one and a non-Western many.
- "Nation states are and will remain the most important actors in world affairs, but their interests, associations, and conflicts are increasingly shaped by cultural and civilizational factors.
- "The world is indeed anarchical, rife with tribal and nationality conflicts, but the conflicts that pose the greatest danger for stability are those between states or groups from different civilizations."
The test of a model is that it:
- Generalizes, rationally, about reality
- Helps understand causality
- Anticipates, and sometimes predicts
- Separates the important from the unimportant
- Shows the roads to be taken to goals
Not all models are useful for all purposes, as he points out the differences between a road map for driving and a chart for air navigation.
Cultures and civilizations
Huntington's basic premise is that a number of great cultures are in unavoidable conflict:
- Western: Beginning in AD 700, Huntington says it still has three subcomponents: European, North American, and Latin American. It also includes European-settled countries such as Australia and New Zealand
- Latin American: While the civilization has European and North American roots, it has a distinct identity. Huntington's rationale for separating it is its political interactions more than its cultural ones
- Islamic: Clearly beginning in the seventh century, while it has an inherent concept of unity (i.e., Dar al Hab and Dar al Islam), there is still strong factionalization into Arab, Turkic, Persian, Malay and other subcivilizations
- Sinic (or Confucian): dating back at least to 1500 BC and perhaps a millennium earlier, Huntington referred to this as Confucian in earlier works but considers Sinic more accurate, to include Vietnamese and Korean civilizations — although Vietnamese and Koreans might have hearty objections
- Japanese: an offshoot of Sinic, which was recognizable somewhere between 100 and 400 AD.
While it no longer exists, the Soviet Union clearly qualified as a civilization, in conflict with many others, especially Western, as well as exercising proxy conflict through other civilizations.
Huntington observes that a pan-African civilization does not now exist, but may form.
Some of his lists include a Buddhist civilization, but he argues that it is largely extinct in India and has been absorbed in China and Japan. The places where the strongest arguments can be made are Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka and Thailand (Therevada Buddhist subcivilization); Bhutan, Mongolia and Tibet (Lamaist Mahayana Buddhist).He does not include Vietnamese culture as Buddhist.
He observes that there can be common enemies from a third civilization, exemplified, in older civilization, with the Western Allies and Soviet Union versus the mixed-model Axis. The Iran-Iraq War is a conflict within Islamic civilization. Fault line wars within a mixed geographic area such as the former Yugoslavia are yet another model for conflict, with the variant of how radicals tend to displace moderates.
The structure of civilizations
Most major civilizations have one or more places that is its cultural center, or core state(s). The number and location may change over time; it has been stable for Japan. The West usually has several cores, which he sees as the United States, a European Franco-German one, and Britain. The civilization may also have a number of member states.
Islam, Latin America and Africa lack core states; this is especially problematic for Islam both in terms of Muslim and non-Muslim societies, as well as conflicts such as Sunni-Shi'a. Africa has the problem of English-speaking and French-speaking backgrounds.
Lone countries are isolated by language, religion, or other factors. He cites Ethiopia as isolated by Amharic language and Coptic orthodoxy. Haiti does not fit with Latin America; although it does have French ties, its Voodoo religion is African. The most important lone country is Japan.
Cleft countries have sufficiently large and distinct groupings as to have separated (e.g., Czechoslovakia or Yugoslavia), semi-separated (e.g., Sudan, Tanzania), or have a threat of separatism (e.g., Canada).
Torn countries, have a predominant culture with leaders that want to shift it into a different one, such as Peter the Great in Russia or Kemal Ataturk in Turkey. "Their leaders refer to them as a 'bridge' between two cultures, and observers describe them as Janus-faced."
Huntington mentions, somewhat dubiously, the modern idea that universal civilization is emerging, citing the novelist V. S. Naipaul. Others make similar arguments, such as his student, Francis Fukuyama, and theorists of modernization, such as Thomas P. M. Barnett.
He describes the assumptions of universal civilization as:
- A "thin" minimal morality of things that are right or wrong — which, he says, if true, are not new
- The eighteenth century meaning refers to those things that distinguish "civilized" society, such as cities and literacies
- It may describe what he calls the Davos culture, or those values held by key influencers of Western society, shared, outside the west, by 0.1 to 1 percent of the world's population
- The spread of Western consumption patters, which he describes as irrelevant: "Somewhere in the Middle East, a half-dozen young men could well be dressed in jeans, listening to rap, and, between their bows to Mecca, putting together a bomb to blow up an American airliner." This universal assumption is also challenged in Jihad vs. McWorld: How Globalism and Tribalism are Reshaping the World.
The last point is said to have more merit if applied to global communications than to consumption. While CNN argues it is a world influencer, it reaches 2-4% of the world population. Regional alternatives such as al-Jazeera may well counterbalance it.
Western civilization as modernization
Economic globalization is not strictly equivalent to universal civilization, since one or more civilizations may still be the economic hegemons. Perhaps the strongest argument for the emergence of universal civilization is the emergence, since the eighteenth century, of a modernizing Western civilization, a "third-generation" civilizations with core characteristics:
- Classical legacy
- European languages
- Catholicism and Protestantism
- Separation of spiritual and temporal authority
- Rule of law
- Social pluralism
- Representative bodies
Further, if there is an emerging universal civilization, it should be moving toward universal language and universal religion. Considerable arguments are made that English is the world's language, but he cites studies showing that there is little evidence that its use as a first language is increasing. He argues, however, that it can be called the worldwide Language of Wider Communication, the means of communications among cultures and civilizations.
In some cases, the use of English in a multilingual country, such as India, is evidence to the desire to maintain identities of multiple civilizations within the nation. The example here is the insistence by non-Hindi speaking peoples to resist the Hinduization pushed by Nehru.
English continues to grow at the university level, but is being displaced on a daily level in a broader pattern of the growth of indigenous language, such as Arabic over French in North Africa, and Urdu over English in Pakistan.
Is there a trend to universal religion? At one extreme, celibate religions do not grow at all. Of the world's major religions, only Christianity and Islam are proselytizing, a requirement for major growth. There is a much higher birth rate among Muslims, so Islam has the edge in growth factors.
Responses to western modernization
Non-western societies have responded to the Western impact by adopting or rejecting, selectively or jointly, modernization and westernization.
- Rejectionism: accept neither Westernization nor modernization, such as Japan before the Meiji restoraion. He cites Daniel Pipes as saying that "only the very most extreme [Moslem] fundamentalists rejected modernization as well as Westernization"—yet that is a core of Salafism, clearly driving the Taliban among others. Rejectionists reject both modernization and Westernization.
- Kemalism: Embrace both in the context of local culture. Obviously, Harrington uses the model of Kemal Ataturk forcing a new society onto Turkey, but there are other analogies, such as Peter the Great of Russia. Kemalists regard both Westernization and modernization as desirable.
- Reformism: isolating the society but adapting the desirable parts, such as the Ch'ing Dynasty motto of "Chinese learning for the fundamental principles, Western learning for practical use." Reformism regards modernization as desirable but Westernization as not.
Fukuyama disputes that Westernization and modernization are distinct.
The nature of dominance
Huntington cites a list from Jeffery Barnett, writing in the U.S. Army War College journal, as explaining how the West establishes its dominance. Barnett described a policy of "exclusion" as replacing containment: when the West wants to influence, it excludes the offending actor from exclude the challenger from "sources of trade, capital, and aid". This is usually in the form of sanctions but could include armed intervention, or sanctions with armed backup.
According to Harrington, the West can do this through:
- Control of international economics
- World's largest buyer
- Control hard currencies
- Provide the bulk of manufactured goods
- Have massive military capability, including power projection and sea control
- Conduct advanced research and education
- Exert moral influence in certain civilizations and cultures
- Control space and international communications
Obviously, countries such as China are developing some of these capabilities; Japan is important and part of multiple civilizations.
The Challenger Civilizations
In the realignment of civilizations, there are several ways in which civilizations are challenging dominance. Economic development is the most evident. Religion, especially the Islamic resurgence, is another.
Huntington speaks of "The Asian Affirmation", where Japan was first thought an anomaly, perhaps a case of Western economics in a non-Western society, the Four Tigers of Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore demonstrated it was not unique. A third wave of economic growth took place in China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, followed by a fourth wave in India, the Philippines, and Vietnam. China and Vietnam produced unique mixtures of market economies under Communist governments.
Development was accelerated. While it took the US and UK 58 and 47 years, respectively, to double their per capita output, Japan did so in 33, Korea in 11, and China in 10.
Within the overall formation of broader civilization groups, economic integration is fastest when there is some cultural commonality, the European Union being most dramatic, but also Latin American groupings such as MERCOSUR and the Central American Common Market.
There are four levels of such integration:
- Free trade area (e.g., NAFTA, ASEAN)
- Customs union (e.g., MERCOSUR, Andean Pact)
- Common market (e.g., early European Union)
- Economic union (e.g., European Union in part)
While, in the past, trade patterns follow national boundaries, Huntington says they will follow cultural lines in the future; "businessmen make deals with people they can understand and trust." Bookstores are filled with "doing business with the Japanese" guides, as well as more general guides to intercultural communications in trade.
While Asian resurgence was economic, he writes Islamic Resurgence in initial capitals, arguing that it is as significant as social changes suchas the Protestant Reformation or American or Russian Revolutions. It is by no means monolithic, as shown by the contrast between fundamentalist Shiism in the 1979 Iranian Revolution versus the Salafist trends under the Taliban.
Some Muslim societies, such as Saudi Arabia, did not have a significant middle class. As the middle classes have developed, however, they often became the core of the political activists.
At least the realist model encourages proliferation. He cites the Sinic-Islamic spread of weapons as especially significant. Conflicts such as India-Pakistan and Iran-Israel have produced WMD arms races.
It has been immensely easier to manage military proliferation, as with the general adoption of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, than Western human rights concepts. While the still-fluid agreements on nuclear arms between the US and North Korea might be considered "negotiated surrender", "the capitulation of the United States on human rights issues with China and other Asian power is unconditional surrender."
While more than 30 countries, in the 1970s and 1980s, became more democratic and less authoritarian, the most common reason was economic development rather than democracy promotion.
Democracy was also most likely to take place where there were Western, Christian, or both influences, such as Spain and Portugal, the Philippines and Eastern Europe. Orthodox countries, while certainly having a Christian influence, are less likely to democratize, perhaps since many are from the Soviet ex-civilization.
Anticolonialist sentiment often leads to failure of human rights resolution in the UN, some being regarded as "human rights imperialism".
Core state and fault line conflicts
Conflict among civilizations take place at multiple levels. Fault line conflicts are micro-level clashes between groups from different civilizations within the same state, such as the former Yugoslavia. Core state conflicts are between the major states of different civilizations, such as the Cold War.
As opposed to the Gulf War, the Afghanistan War (1978-92) started as an invasion, but became ethnic and fault line war. Afghanistan was a very special case, the first successful resistance to a foreign power that was based neither on nationalism or socialism, but Islam. At the same time, the Soviets were faced with opposition from groups or civilizations:
- American technology
- Saudi money
- Muslim demographics and zeal
While many argue the "blowback" of that conflict in Afghanistan, it certainly contributed to the establishment of jihadist groups targeting both the "far enemy" of the West, as well as what were seen as corrupt Islamic states, the "near enemy." Ironically, Saddam may well have been more liberal than the House of Saud, and there was much thinking that he might be a bloody tyrant, but he's our bloody tyrant.
The Gulf War, starting with the invasion of Kuwait, did pit Muslim against Muslim, but not in the framework of jihad. Supporting Huntington's arguments, many analyses of ongoing insurgencies in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and to a lesser extent the 1978-1992 war, failed to recognize that the political geography is not based on the Durand Line official boundary between Pakistan and Afghanistan, but on the distribution of the Pashtun people.
Fault line wars
Fault line wars tend to intensify, and moderates, who perhaps would be satisfied with autonomy, are supplanted by radicals for whom nothing short of total independence is enough. In Palestine, Hamas challenged the Palestinian Authority, but in Israel, Kach challenged Likud. In Tajikistan, groups that were initially nationalist-democratic were replaced by jihadists.
It is often the more extreme factions that receive support from the worldwide diaspora. Armenian communities in the United States are politically influential, leading to prohibition of aid to Azerbaijan; Cuban-Americans have blocked any lessening of tension with Castro.
How does such a war stop? The first is exhaustion, when the radicals can no longer generate enough fury. This is apt to lead to a truce, not peace. To get additional stability, third parties are almost always needed.
Safeguarding against war
Huntington thinks that the great civilizations will hang together or hang separately, and embracing multicivilizational society is the best safeguard against the "new barbarism". He sees that barbarism as including transnational mafias, drug cartels, terrorist gangs, and, in some cases, unwise transnational corporations. He warns, however, that the culture of the U.S. and other Western countries involves share princiles of liberty, democracy, individualism, constitutionalism and private property. Some advocates of multiculturalism are separatists who would destroy the shared culture. He asks if Americans are Western or "something else?"
Three rules govern a productive future. Cultural diversity has to be recognized and fundamental divides respected. The West must recognize the Cold War and its bipolarity is gone. New multipolar groupings are needed, such as accepting the Central European states into the Wet, to recognize the uniqueness of Latin American culture and align it with the West so far as is reasonable, to slow the drift of Japan to China, to accept Russia as a core state with legitimate security needs on its southern border, and to recognize that Western intervention is "probably the single most dangerous source of instability and potential global conflict in a multicivilizational world.:"
The principal international organizations need to change from the Cold War organization. For example, the United Nations Security Council should probably have a seat for each major civilization, possibly rotating from the representatives of civilizations, such as the African Union and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. The British and French seats should, in his view, become a European seat.
- Publishers Weekly "...he makes several vital points: modernization does not mean Westernization; economic progress has come with a revival of religion; post-Cold War politics emphasize ethnic nationalism over ideology; the lack of leading "core states" hampers the growth of Latin America and the world of Islam. Most controversial will be Huntington's tough-minded view of Islam. Not only does he point out that Muslim countries are involved in far more intergroup violence than others, he argues that the West should worry not about Islamic fundamentalism but about Islam itself, 'a different civilization whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture and are obsessed with the inferiority of their power.' While Huntington notes that the war in Bosnia hardened into an ethno-religious clash, he downplays the possibility that such splintering could have been avoided. Also, his fear of multiculturalism as a source of American weakness seems unconvincing and alarmist."
- Fred Halliday, New Statesman (UK): "Of all the broad-sweep books on the post-cold war world Huntington's is without doubt the worst and the most pernicious. It is the worst because it is careless with facts, ignorant of history and indifferent to the whole range of social theory that has, with due care, looked at such issues as culture, socialisation and tradition. . . . For a book that claims to be about different civilisations, it is striking that all the references are to books in English. Huntington is pernicious because he fuels myths about cultural conflict, and reinforces those who seek to consolidate relativist, community-based authority."
- William McNeill, New York Review of Books: I agree with Huntington when he argues that the commitments to particular patterns of civilization and particular religious identities are rapidly gaining importance in international affairs. But I disagree with the conclusions he draws; for it seems to me that increasing connections among civilizations simultaneously sustain a contrary trend toward global cosmopolitanism. This trend, in my view, offers by far the best hope for the future, and is therefore very much worth fostering, as the universalist strand in American foreign policy, perhaps naively, tends to do.
- Richard Bernstein, New York Times: "...one of those books so sweeping in its effort to incorporate a vast panorama into a single concept that it almost challenges you to poke holes in it...'The rivalry of the superpowers is replaced by the clash of civilizations.'...The rest, as they say, is commentary: in Mr. Huntington's case, commentary of an erudite and closely reasoned sort. This does not mean that he is always convincing...he seems to be taking aim at Francis Fukuyama, whose notion about the end of history was a provocative attempt to make general sense of the confusing plethora of events. Mr. Fukuyama posited that the Western liberal-democratic idea had triumphed globally, and there was no place else for humankind to go."
- Francis Fukuyama, American Interest: "Sam, in my view, underrated the universalism of the appeal of living in modern, free societies with accountable governments. His argument rests heavily on the view that modernization and Westernization are two completely separate processes, something which I rather doubt. The gloomy picture he paints of a world riven by cultural conflict is one favored by the Islamists and Russian nationalists, but is less helpful in explaining contemporary China or India, or indeed in explaining the motives of people in the Muslim world or Russia who are not Islamists or nationalists. Nation-states and not civilizations remain the primary actors in world politics, and they are motivated by a host of interests and incentives that often override inherited cultural predispositions."
- Michael Ignatieff, The New York Times Book Review: "Mr. Huntington never clearly specifies when the right to cultural difference -- which is what the United States is surely all about -- shades into moral decline. He is deeply unclear about what conditions of cultural coherence and consensus are actually compatible with the convulsive changes that accompany modern life. His ruling assumptions are profoundly conservative and static...The Huntington argument that the West should stop intervening in civilizational conflicts it doesn't understand makes a powerful claim that internationalists cannot easily ignore. The question is whether there remain certain human interests that all civilizations had better endorse for our common survival. Genocide is genocide, famine is famine, and a world where civilizations no longer intervene to save strangers from these universal threats is one that not even Samuel P. Huntington would feel safe in."
- Wang Gungwu, National Interest: "The book rests on two very solid pillars. The first - hardly a revelation but well worth the emphasis it is given - is that the balance of power is shifting from the West to Asia, and that China's economic power and the demographic growth of Muslim peoples together create a formidable challenge to the existing international system. The second is that, today, identity and community are on the rise as mobilizing themes in comparison to political and economic ideologies; that ascriptive, particularly ethnic, affiliations are on the rise compared to functional ones; and that religion and nostalgia for the past seem to prevail over belief in science, progress, or utopian revolution...Where he seems to me to go deeply wrong is in fixing these phenomena on the primacy of one permanent factor, namely civilizations, interpreted essentially in terms of religion. Worse perhaps, Huntington assumes the closed and conflictual character of these entities as he tries to fit every conflict in the world into his scheme. And last but not least, he bases his prescriptions for Western policies on what amounts to a global segregationist scheme that negates the West's basic concepts and aspirations, and that ignores several of the imposing realities of modern society."
- Glenn Perry, Arab Studies Quarterly: "Drawing fire particularly from many who--incorrectly, as I argue--interpret him as inciting intercivilizational conflict, particularly between the West and Islam, Huntington's thesis has inspired a clash among wielders of pens, if not swords." Some reviewers suggest he is replacing the Cold War fear of the Red Menace with a new fear of an Islamic Green Menace. "There has been a tendency for enlightened scholars to strike back at his thesis as the main incarnation of such bias."
- Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad (quoted by Perry): " ...a rehash of a century-old myth that under girded European hegemonic policies justifying wars of colonial expansion and missionary crusades during the nineteenth century under the rubric of 'civilizational mission,' 'white man's burden,' or Manifest Destiny. It posited the superiority of European man, the acme of human civilization, who willingly assumes the burden of sharing his values and achievements with the rest of the backward world. In the process, this myth justified the ransacking of the cultures of the conquered people and confining Muslim achievements to ethnological museums or the dustbin of history."
- Samuel P. Huntington (Summer 1993), "The Clash of Civilizations?", Foreign Affairs
- Samuel P. Huntington (1996). The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. Simon & Schuster. ,p. 20
- Barnett, Thomas P.M. (2005). The Pentagon's New Map: The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-first Century. Berkley Trade.
- Francis Fukuyama (Summer 1989), "The End of History", The National Interest 16 (4), p. 18
- Henry Kissinger, A World Restored
- Zbigniew Brzezinski, 1993: Out of Control
- Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Pandemonium
- p. 36
- p. 30
- pp. 47-48
- pp. 138-139
- V. S. Naipaul (30 October 1990), Wriston Lecture: Our Universal Civilization, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research
- Joshua A. Fishman, "The Spread of English as a New Perspective for the Study of Language Maintenance and Language Shift," in Fishman, Cooper & Conrad: The Spread of English: The Sociology of English as an Additional Language, Newbury House, 1977, p. 108ff, quoted on p. 60
- Daniel Pipes, Path of God, pp. 197-197, quoted on p. 74
- Francis Fukuyama (29 December 2008), "Samuel Huntington, 1927-2008", American Interest
- Jeffery R. Barnett (Spring 1994), "Exclusion as National Security Policy", Parameters: 51-65
- pp. 81-82
- p. 131
- Gowa, Joanne; Edward Mansfield (1993), "Power politics and international trade. (prisoner's dilemma representation)", American Political Science Review. Retrieved on August 13, 2009
- p. 135
- Hassan al-Turabi (Winter 2002), Summer 1994 interview by Nathan Gardels, ed., "The Islamic Awakening's Second Wave", New Perspectives Quarterly
- p. 113
- p. 194
- David C. Rapoport, "Comparing Militant Fundamentalist Groups, in Martin E. Marty & R. Scott Appleby (eds.), Fundamentalisms and the State: Remaking Polities, Economies and Militance, University of Chicago Press, 1998, p. 445, quoted on p. 247
- Editorial Reviews, The Clash Of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, Amazon.com
- Book Summary and Media Reviews, The Clash Of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, Bookbrowse.com
- Richard Bernstein (6 November 1996), "A Scholar's Prophecy: Global Cultural Conflict", New York Times
- Michael Ignatieff (1 December 1996), "Fault Lines", New York Times
- Wang Gungwu (Winter, 1996), "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order", National Interest
- Glenn E. Perry (Winter 2002), "Huntington and his critics: the West and Islam", Arab Studies Quarterly (ASQ)