Describe major arguments of Huntington’s Clash of Civilization. Is cultural difference the prominent cause of conflicts in the twenty-first century? Examine in the light of past historical conflicts, especially those after the end of the Cold War.
The Clash of Civilizations is a theory proposed by Samuel P. Huntington that claims the prominent causes of conflicts in the twenty-first century are cultural differences. The major arguments behind his theory are that in this globalized world, conflicts will be instigated not on the grounds of political ideologies or economic status, but on the fault lines of civilizations. After thorough study of his theory, I have come to the conclusion that culture is not the defining factor in today’s conflicts. To support my thesis I will explain the weaknesses of his theory and further elaborate by what I consider to be the true cause of today’s conflicts, which are clashes in political ideologies. Both rationalizations will be supported with examples of past historical conflicts.
To begin with, Samuel P. Huntington’s theory contains many flaws. Borrowing the words of scholar Edward Said, who stated in this article the Clash of Ignorance (the Nation, October, 2001), “Most of the arguments [in Huntington’s theory] are relied on a vague notion of something Huntington called ‘civilization identity’ and the ‘interaction among 7 or 8 major civilizations.” In other words, Huntington’s categorization of civilizations is not only inaccurate and portrays no internal unity (for example, grouping China and Vietnam while separating Japan as a single civilization), but it also overlooks the dynamic cultural interdependency in today’s world.
To illustrate, Huntington views the September 11th terrorist attacks as a conflict between the West versus Islam, and civilization versus non-civilization. This is a dangerous fallacy of overgeneralization, and a grave dichotomy in world perspective. A more accurate way to explain the 9.11 would be to...