Clash Of Civilizations

.. ed to the Western impact in one or more of three ways: rejecting both modernization and Westernization, embracing both, or embracing modernization and rejecting Westernization. In the twentieth century improvements in transportation and communication and global interdependence increased tremendously the costs of exclusion. Except for small, isolated, rural, communities willing to exist at a subsistence level, the total rejection of modernization as well as Westernization is hardly possible in a world becoming overwhelmingly modern and highly interconnected. Kemalism, which is the embrace of both concepts, is based on the assumptions that modernization is desirable and necessary, that the indigenous culture is incompatible with modernization and must be abandoned or abolished. Society must fully westernize in order to successfully modernization and both reinforce each other and have to go together. Finally, the Reformist approach attempts to combine modernization with the preservation of the central values, practices, and institutions of the society’s indigenous culture.

This choice has understandably been the most popular one among non-Western elites. As the ideological division of Europe has disappeared, the cultural division of Europe between Western Christianity, on the one hand, and Orthodox Christianity and Islam, on the other, has emerged. As the diagram 1.2 illustrates, the Velvet Curtain of culture has replaced the Iron Curtain of ideology as the most significant dividing line in Europe. As the events in Yugoslavia show, it is not only a line of difference; it is also at times a line of bloody conflict. The Clash of Rights reviews that this century-old military interaction between the West and Islam is unlikely to decline.

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In fact it could become more violent. The Gulf War left some Arabs feeling proud that Saddam Hussein had attacked Israel and stood up to the West. It also left many feeling humiliated and resentful of the West’s military presence in the Persian Gulf. Those relations, Huntington states, are also complicated by demography. The spectacular population growth in Arab countries, particularly in North Africa, has led to increase migration to Western Europe. The movement within Western Europe toward minimizing internal boundaries has sharpened political sensitivities with respect to this development.

On both sides the interaction between Islam and the West is seen as a clash of civilizations. M.J. Akbar, a Muslim author states “The next confrontation is definitely going to come from the Muslim world”. The modernization of Africa and the spread of Christianity, he concludes, are likely to enhance the probability of violence along this fault line. Examples of this violence are evident in current world affairs such as: the on-going civil war in the Sudan between Arabs and blacks, the fighting in Chad between Libyan-supported insurgents and the government, the tensions between Orthodox Christians and Muslims in the Horn of Africa, and the political conflicts, recurring riots and communal violence between Muslim and Christians in Nigeria.

On the northern border of Islam, conflict has increasingly erupted between Orthodox and Muslim peoples; including the carnage of Bosnia and Sarajevo, and the violence between Serbs and Albanians. The historic clash between Muslims and Hindus manifests itself now not only in the rivalry between Pakistan and India but also in intensifying religious strife within India between increasingly militant Hindu groups and India’s substantial Muslim minority. Furthermore, with the Cold War over, the underlying differences between China and the United States have reasserted themselves in areas such as human rights, trade, and weapons proliferation. The differences are unlikely to be moderated. And finally, violence also occurs between Muslims, on the one hand, and Orthodox Serbs in the Balkans, Jews in Israel, Hindus in India, Buddhists in Burma and Catholics in the Philippines.

In every respect, Huntington believes, the Islamic bloc from the bulge of Africa to central Asia has bloody borders. Two pictures exist of the power of the West in relation to other civilizations. The first is of overwhelming, triumphant, almost total Western dominance. The disintegration of the Soviet Union removed the only serious challenger to the West and as a result the world is and will be shaped by the goals, priorities, and interests of the principal Western nations, with perhaps an occasional assist from Japan. The second picture of the West is very different.

It is of a civilization in decline, its share of world political, economic, and military power going down relative to that of other civilizations. Further, this view proposes that the West is now confronted with slow economic growth, stagnating populations, unemployment, huge government deficits, a declining work ethic, low savings rates, social disintegration, drugs, and crime. In the Clash of Rights, Huntington defends the second theory as the one, which best describes reality. He believes the West’s power is declining and will continue to do so as the most significant increases in power are occurring and will occur in Asian civilizations, particularly in China. However this decline, he describes, is not so simple.

It will occur within three major characteristics. First it is a slow process; second this decline is highly irregular with pauses, reversals, and some renewals; and thirdly the West’s power to influence the World is based on numerous factors such as economic, military, institutional, demographic, political, technological, and social powers; all which are declining. In sum, Huntington concludes the West’s power is a decline in three core elements. Territory and population are first. Westerners constitute a steadily decreasing minority of the world’s population. Furthermore, the balance between the West and other populations is also changing.

Non-Western peoples are becoming healthier, more urban, more literate, and better educated. Next is economic product, which is been declining since the Second World War for Westerners. This relative decline is; of course, in large part a function of the rapid rise of East Asia. And lastly, military capability which as Huntington demonstrates on table 4.6, page 88; that the West’s military manpower, spending, forces, and capabilities are at a significant decline whereas it is in a large rise in non-Western nations. Huntington states: We are witnessing the end of the progressive era dominated by Western ideologies and are moving into an era in which multiple and diverse civilizations will interact, compete, coexist, and accommodate each other.

This is the revival of religion occurring in so many parts of the world and most notably in the cultural resurgence in Asian and Islamic countries generated in large part by their economic and demographic dynamism. The Clash of Civilizations asserts that the West is in a unique situation. Countries that for the reason of culture and power do not wish, or cannot, join the West instantly compete with the West by developing their own economic, military, and political power. They do this by promoting their internal development and by cooperating with other non-Western countries. The most prominent for of this cooperation is the Confucian-Islamic connection that has emerged to challenge Western interests, values and power. Asian assertiveness is rooted in economic growth; Muslim assertiveness stems in considerable measure from social mobilization and population growth.

The economic development in China and other Asian societies provides their governments with both the incentives and the resources to become more demanding in their dealing with other countries. Population growth in Muslim countries provides recruits for fundamentalism, terrorism, insurgency, and migration. Economic growth strengthens Asian governments; demographic growth threatens Muslim governments and non-Muslim societies. In general, states belonging to one civilization that become involved in war with people from a different civilization naturally try to rally support from other member of their own civilization. S. Greenway has termed the “kin-country” syndrome, is replacing political ideology and traditional balance of power considerations as the principal basis for cooperation and coalitions.

This was witnessed during the Gulf war, as Safar Al-Hawali describes “The West against Islam”. A world of clashing civilizations, states Huntington, is however, inevitably a world of double standards: people apply one standard to their kin-countries and a different standard to others. With respects to the fighting in the former Yugoslavia, Western publics manifested sympathy and support for the Bosnian Muslims and the horrors they suffered at the hands of the Serbs. Relatively little concern was expressed, however, over Croatian attacks on Muslims and participation in the dismemberment of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Islamic government groups, on the other hand, castigated the West for not coming to the defense of the Bosnians as over two dozen Islamic countries were reported to be fighting in Bosnia.

Huntington acknowledges that conflicts and violence will also occur between states and groups within the same civilizations. Such conflicts, however, are likely to be less intense and less likely to expand than conflicts between civilizations. Common membership in a civilization reduces the probability of violence in situations where it might otherwise occur. As the conflicts in the Persian Gulf, and Bosnia continued, the positions of nations and the cleavages between them increasingly were long civilizational lines. The next World War, if there is one, will be a war between civilizations, Huntington concludes. Spurred by modernization, global politics is being reconfigured along cultural lines. Peoples and countries with similar cultures are coming together.

Peoples and countries with different cultures are coming apart. Alignments defined by ideology and superpower relations are giving way to alignments defined by culture and civilization. Political boundaries increasingly are redrawn to coincide with cultural ones: ethnic, religious, and civilizational. Cultural communities are replacing Cold War blocs, and the fault lines between civilizations are becoming the central lines of conflict in global politics. This, Huntington asserts, is the cultural reconfiguration of global politics. Further, he believes these cultural differences do not facilitate cooperation and cohesion but on the contrary, they promote cleavages and conflicts for a number of reasons.

First, everyone has multiple identities, which may compete with or reinforce each other. Second, the alienation of cultural identity creates the need for more meaningful identities as the power of non-Western societies stimulate the revitalization of indigenous identities and culture. Third, identity at any level-personal, tribal, racial, or civilization can only be defined in relation to an “other” as opposed to the “like us”. Fourth, the sources of conflict between states and groups from different civilizations are, in large measure, those, which have always generated conflict between groups. Fifth and finally is the prevalence of conflict. It is human to hate. Just as most nations are aligned with a particular civilization or grouping there are others which have difficulties aligning and finding commonalties amongst civilizations. These nations Huntington categorizes as “torn countries”.

The reason for this syndrome is that these nations usually have one or more places viewed by their members as the principal source or sources of their civilization. These sources are often located within the Core State or states of the civilization, that is, its most powerful and culturally central state or states. Islam, Latin America and Africa all lack core states. This lack of a core state endangers the potential for these cultures to take a leadership role in global politics. Globally the most important torn country is Russia.

The question of whether Russia is a part of the West or the leader of a distinct Slavic-Orthodox civilization has been a recurring one in Russian history. In order to redefine its civilization identity, a torn country must meet three requirements. First, its political and economic elite has to be generally supportive of and enthusiastic about this move. Second, its public has to be willing to acquiesce in the redefinition. Third, the dominant groups in the recipient civilization have to be willing to embrace the convert.

A similar example of these criteria has been Mexico. Another syndrome discussed by Huntington is of a “lone country”. These countries lack cultural commonality with other societies. Ethiopia, Haiti, and more importantly Japan, are lone countries. Finally, the last syndrome mentioned is “cleft countries”. This occurs when large groups belong to different civilizations causing the populace to become deeply divided. Examples of current cleft countries are Sudan, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Kenya. Some possible cleft countries, Huntington presumes, are India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, China, Philippines, Indonesia, and maybe even Canada.

Basically, having achieved political independence, non-Western societies wish to free themselves from Western economic, military, and cultural domination. East Asian societies are well on their way to equaling the West economically. A general anti-Western coalition, however, seems unlikely in the immediate future. Islamic and Sinic civilizations differ fundamentally in terms of religion, culture, social structure, traditions, politics, and basic assumptions at the root of their way of life. Inherently each probably has less in common with the other than it has in common with Western civilization.

Yet in politics a common enemy creates a common interest. Islamic, and Sinic societies which see the West as their antagonist thus have reason to cooperate with each other against the West. Huntington states: “Trust and friendship will be rare”. The overriding lesson of the history of civilizations, however, is that many things are probable but nothing is inevitable. Civilizations can and have reformed and renewed themselves.

The central issue for the West is whether, quite apart from any external challenges, it is capable of stopping and reversing the internal processes of decay. Can the West renew itself or will sustained internal rot simply accelerate its end and/or subordination to other economically and demographically more dynamic civilizations? I feel that in the short term it is clearly in the interest of the West to promote greater cooperation and unity within its own civilization, particularly between its European and North American components; to incorporate into the West.