Sunday, July 14, 2024

The Clash of Civilizations: The Remaking of World Order

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A review of the book- The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order by Samuel P Huntington and the analysis

There are some books that tend to take the world by storm.

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They end up affecting societal and global discourse so much that they become a magnum opus.

One such book is the Harvard University academic Samuel P Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order.

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The book was originally written in the form of a long essay.

He wrote that essay for the acclaimed American magazine- Foreign Affairs in 1993.

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The essay stirred massive controversy and discussion in the field of politics, religion, culture, academia globally.

Keeping that in mind, Huntington decided to write a full fledged book on the topic and thus came out his magnum opus.

Culture-The Defining Trait of Future Conflicts

The book asserts that in the post cold war world order will no longer be influenced by ideology.

He stated that the heydays of the ideological contestation between the world powers was over.

It is a thing of the past.

He argued that it is culture and religion that will be the major factors in affecting societies and institutions globally.

In the book Huntington stated that future conflicts will be driven by culture which in turn will influence nationalism.

His observation was prescient as the various constituents of Yugoslavia rose in revolt against each other thanks to cultural and religious nationalism.

Further, the writer states that these conflicts will take place at the macro and micro levels.

He argued that it will be the conflicts at the micro levels that will condition the macro.

He called the fissures and the ensuing conflict at the micro level-fault line conflicts.

Principal Factors in the Conflicts

In the book Huntington highlighted that there are three principal factors in the conflicts- Western arrogance, Islamic revivalism and Sinic assertiveness.

In the book Huntington called out the so called moral claim of superiority of the Western world.

He said, “The West won the world not because its civilization was great but it was expert at the use of violence”.

He highlighted that Islamism and Islamic revivalism was the greatest threat that posed itself to the free world.

The author traced the history of the Islam since the early days of the conflict and attributed the intolerant nature of Islam to its imperial history.

Swing and Core States

The author classified states into various categories, out of which two are-swing and core states.

He defined swing states as those who are developing but lack a clear cut identity and hence swing keeping in mind their national interests.

The core state, according to Huntington were those states that not only dominated the world order for many centuries but also set the template for other states to emulate.

In the Judeo-Christian world, Huntington identified USA and Britain as core states.

In the Oriental world, China(mind you that despite India having a long heritage, it was economically developing).

He didn’t identify any state as a core state from the Islamic world owing to differential parameters for them.

Saudi Arabia, according to Huntington could have been a core state but was dependent on American security.

Turkey lacked the economic profile but had a strong defense.

Pakistan was also a possible contender, but it too, was dependent on western aid and security.

Islam- the linchpin of conflict

Since he identified culture as the future fountain head of conflict, he warned that Islamist terrorism will soon pose the greatest threat to civilized states.

He argued that a showdown between radical Islam and other civilizations, principally Christendom and Hinduism was inevitable.

He warned states to beef up security and strengthen societies to deal with this threat.


Despite being controversy’s poster boy, Clash of Civilizations turned out to be true in every sense of the word.

It was, first proved right in the 9/11 attacks.

Today, when France, Sweden and other Euro-American states are burning the warning has come true.

The clash of civilizations is here to stay.

The sooner the world realises this and the threat from radical Islam the better.

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