Monday, July 22, 2024

Clash of Civilizations – A Theory Ahead of its Time

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The Clash of Civilizations-a theory ahead of its time influenced the global cultural-political discourse in a prescient manner

In the realm of political theory there are some theories that alter the socio-cultural foundations of humanity.

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One such theory is the Clash of Civilizations.

This theory was propounded by the late Harvard University academic and political scientist Samuel P Huntington.

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The theory was originally floated in the form of an essay of the same name in The Foreign Affairs magazine of USA in 1993.

It generated tremendous reception and controversy.

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To take the discussion forward, the dynamic academic decided to take this debate forward.

He did by writing the book Clash of Civilizations & The Remaking of World Order in 1993 (later that year).

The book became an instant bestseller.

It has been regarded by experts across academia and politics as one of the most important books of the 20th century.

The Theory

Given the popularity and criticism the book has been subjected to, it becomes necessary to decode what the thesis is all about.

To begin with clash of civilizations thesis articulates that with the end of Cold War ideology will matter no longer.

What will matter is this-culture and religion.

For Huntington, three factors will result in the emergence of fissures among civilizations-

  • Western arrogance
  • Islamic revivalism
  • Sinic assertiveness

In the book Huntington argued that conflict among civilizations will primarily be of two types-

  • Faultline conflicts
  • Clash among cultures.

In several chapters of the book he delved deep into the history of civilizations particularly the Western and Islamic civilizations and highlighted their fundamental incongruence vis-a-vis each other.

Huntington was not really optimistic about human nature, like Niccolo Machiavelli, he regarded human nature as essential egoistic, cunning and materialistic.

His thesis depicted an essentially self-preservation minded human race.

The political scientist classified human civilizations into the following-

  • Western (Judeo-Christian) civilization
  • Hindu civilization
  • Sinic civilization
  • Buddhist civilization
  • African civilization
  • Islamic civilization

Core States

A very interesting point in the thesis is the classification of states. For Huntington every civilization had some states which formed the bulwark of defence and pinnacle of glory.

For the West, it was the US and Britain, for the Oriental world it was India in the ancient times and in the 1990s China.

However, among Islamic countries, Huntington interestingly argued that Islam’s borders were red with blood given its extremely controversial history.

Hence among Islamic countries there wasn’t any core state. He also gave some description of states which were swing states, at the time of writing that thesis, for Huntington it was India, Brazil, South Korea etc.

Ahead of its Time

Clash of Civilizations-a theory ahead of its time is something that the world needs to understand.

Today it is even playing out in almost every region in the world, especially in India.

The current dispensation in New Delhi needs to teach this theory in higher educational institutions across the country to sensitize students about the current socio-cultural milieu adherents of Sanatan Dharma are existing.

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