Monday, January 5, 2009

Clash of Civilizations

Samuel Huntington, renowned and controversial political scientist, died on December 24th. Here is an excerpted outline (obviously incomplete) from his seminal 1993 Foreign Affairs article "The Clash of Civilizations?", on why civilizations will clash:
...First, differences among civilizations are not only real; they are basic. Civilizations are differentiated from each other by history, language, culture, tradition and, most important, religion.

...Second, the world is becoming a smaller place. The interactions between peoples of different civilizations are increasing; these increasing interactions intensify civilization consciousness and awareness of differences between civilizations and commonalities within civilizations.

...Third, the processes of economic modernization and social change throughout the world are separating people from longstanding local identities. They also weaken the nation state as a source of identity.

...Fourth, the growth of civilization-consciousness is enhanced by the dual role of the West. On the one hand, the West is at a peak of power. At the same time, however, and perhaps as a result, a return to the roots phenomenon is occurring among non-Western civilizations.

...Fifth, cultural characteristics and differences are less mutable and hence less easily compromised and resolved than political and economic ones.

...Finally, economic regionalism is increasing.
More from NY Times and The Economist. And, unfortunately, perhaps the greatest insult to a thoughtful man - a defense from Jonah Goldberg.

(image credit: Samuel Huntington, World Economic Forum)