Samuel Huntington is a professor of Harvard University and director of the Institute of the Strategic Studies. He is also the author of numerous works, including “The Soldier and the State (1957), “The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century (1991) and “The Clash of Civilizations.” This book is quite topical nowadays, if one takes into account the current situation in Europe and the whole world. The researchers agree that Samuel Huntington’s book “The Clash of Civilizations” is one of the most popular geopolitical treatises of 90s. It arose from an article in the journal Foreign Affairs, which has caused the greatest impact for the entire second half of the XX century; it describes the political reality of the contemporary social and political situation as well as provides a forecast of the global development of the entire Earth’s civilization.
It should be noted that the book “The Clash of Civilizations” is the first test of the practical application of new meaning of the concept of “civilization” that was introduced in the second half of XX century.
The events of 11 September 2001, the occupation of Iraq by coalition forces and many other events have made the problem of civilization widely discussed and made this issue the subject of numerous studies: economics, sociology, history, philosophy, ethnography, religious studies, and others.The specialists in the humanities and social sciences focused on a Huntington’s book.
It is difficult to determine the genre of the book. Indeed, it is not a philosophical text or, as one might think, culturological one. Political science or political history of modernity is probably a more accurate determination of disciplinary affiliation of this work. Although it has some features of the scientific work and all the generic features of journalism, this book should be categorized as the strategy.
The language of the book is simple enough: the author does not introduce any copyright terms and does not overload the reader with the complex structures as well as does not refer to the texts that are not represented in the concept, without the knowledge of which it would be difficult to understand his approach. The style of the book reminds the report from the scene; the reader has the ability to analyze the wars, coups, elections, reforms that have taken place in recent decades in different geographical regions.
The author’s purpose is to comprehend the events, creating a new concept of seeing and understanding of the world process. In this aspect, Huntington’s book claims the status of philosophical inquiry.
The main idea of the book is quite simple - it is polemical in relation to the thesis of Fukuyama’s “end of history”, as well as in relation to the western concepts that support approval of global values, such as democracy and liberalism. Huntington even argues with himself as the author of “Democracy’s Third Wave,” published in 1999.
The idea of the “clash of civilizations” is that the conflicts of the present are not completed and exhausted, but moved in a plane of civilizations.
Primarily, Huntington is interested in Western civilization; he assigns it a major role, both as in opposition to the whole world and the ability to find opportunities in order to overcome the crisis.
Several chapters of the book are devoted to the justification of the basic ideas on the basis of thorough analysis of the current political, economic, and social processes as well as religious theories and demographics data. Such analysis is perhaps the greatest strength of the book that captivates the reader’s awareness. However, this part of the book is the least philosophical one, and is sufficiently homogeneous.
Huntington provides recommendations addressed primarily to the U.S. government or, more broadly, to the leaders of Western countries. In his opinion, it is necessary to claim in the West, especially, in America that Western cultural identity, should confront the “inner” multiculturalism. Indeed, the “inner” multiculturalism has already begun to reverse the West as a unique civilization with its own inherent traits: the rule of law, separation of spiritual and temporal power, social pluralism, individualism, diversity of languages, and heritage of antiquity. However, it should be emphasized that in a foreign policy Huntington favors rejection of any cultural, civilizational and political expansionism towards non-Western civilizations. He points out that the west is now at an extraordinary peak of power.
What, then, can link the civilizations in such a world? According to the author, civilizations should “stick together”; otherwise there is a possibility to fall in a struggle against barbarism represented by mafia, criminalization and drug industry.
Huntington considers the main features of civilization as following: language, history, religion and customs. The critics of this theory may disagree that according to this approach, it is absolutely impossible to explain why Spain and Ireland have the “cultural community”, while Russia and Poland do not. In order to protect against such objections, the author claims that every man knows what civilization he belongs to. In other words, spectroscopy of civilizations stems from the scope of identity.
In advancing his thesis, Huntington is going to answer, first of all, the question of which identities form the civilization, and which do not form civilizations (according to Huntington, there are only eight civilizations: Western, African, Islamic, Latin American, Japanese, Sinic, Hindu and Orthodox) and, secondly, to prove that the identities never mix.
Huntington drew the attention of readers (policymakers, researchers, journalists and the public) to the problem of cultures and civilizations as participants in the world historical process. Until recently, the culture interested only ethnographers and anthropologists, structuralists and multiculturalists, but it remained in the shadow of the attention of politicians and political philosophers. Interest caused by the Huntington’s book, marks a definite stage in the history of political thought. Recently, these ideas were not entirely relevant, not only in politics but also in other areas of the humanities.
Huntington collected material and put historiosophy questions, but now these issues are no longer just a matter of philosophers. Now the politicians have to respond to them. The time will show whether they can be responsible, and this book will be a good landmark for them.
Huntington relates that the aim of those who do not want to escalate confrontations in a global collapse is to clarify the various forms of identities; one should transfer these “stresses” in the forms of interaction, in which energy could be sublimated into socially positive processes.
Huntington gives the definition of the modern multi-polar world, where he studied the origins of the modern phenomenon, defined as the “Western universalism”. What is more, he examines the history of conflict between civilizations, predicting the coexistence of Western and Islamic worlds.
In the new world, the main differences between people are not ideological, political or economic ones, but cultural in nature, thus these differences will lead to conflicts between the major civilizations. Civilization is defined as the human race in its highest form, and the clash of civilizations can be considered as an international conflict on a global scale.Huntington distinguishes between two forms of conflict:
The clash of civilizations thus occurs at two levels. At the micro-level, adjacent groups along the fault lines between civilizations struggle, often violently, over the control of territory and each other. At the macro-level, states from different civilizations compete for relative military and economic power, struggle over the control of international institutions and third parties, and competitively promote their particular political and religious values.
At the micro level, conflicts will arise between different civilizations within different states and within one state. At the macro level conflicts often arise between the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds. The core reasons of these conflicts are:
- The impact on the formation of global politics;
- The problem of military and economic power;
- Discrimination of akin to people within a civilization;
- The problem of culture.
Such conflicts arise over the demarcation line - conventional boundaries between civilizations. Culture, which is the source of international economic and political contradictions, is twofold.
The author believes that the main problem in relations between the Western civilization and the world lies in an imposition of universal Western culture and values, despite the fact that the rest of the world increasingly resists such attempts, trying to get back to their roots. The author gives a prediction that in the current course of affairs, anti-Western coalition may form; even Chinese and Islamic civilizations though they are quite different by their culture may cooperate because the common enemy unites.
The history of relations between the West and the Muslim community has always been tense. On both sides, the interaction between Islam and the West is seen as a clash of civilizations. Half of all wars from 1820 to 1929 were conducted just between Muslims and Christians. On the one hand the conflict between them is a result of differences between Islam as a way of life and Christianity. However, the conflict is also caused by their common features:
- Monotheistic religion (there is no other God);
- Claim to be the universal, the same faith religion for the world;
- Expansion by the conquest (“jihad” and “crusade”).
Those factors that exacerbated the conflict for centuries were deteriorated again in the late twentieth century. These are:
- The growth of the Muslim population, which has increased unemployment and caused discontent of the Islamic youth movements;
- The revival of the idea of the special mission of Islamic civilization and its values;
- Dissatisfaction with the political, economic and cultural expansion of the West;
- The issue of national minorities in other civilizations;
This conflict includes major issues as proliferation, human rights and democracy, control over oil production, migration, Islamist terrorism and the Western intervention.
The new Huntington’s model is a major phenomenon in the world of political science, which influenced many well-established views on international interactions of politicians and scientists.
As a brief conclusion, which is the result of an analysis of the issues raised in the Huntington’s book, the following can be formulated. The origins of contemporary problems lie not in the confrontation of civilizations or democracies and autocracies, but in the conflict. Conflict situation is problematic itself. Conflicts can be deployed between the different “identities”, as it has been throughout the whole history. It is true that the research done by Huntington is an invaluable material for understanding the political processes of modernity.
In conclusion, it should be noted that many of the Huntington’s ideas, particularly set forth in the “Clash of Civilizations”, seem to be very deep and the recommendations given by the scientist are worthy of attention and discussion.
With his concept of the “clash of civilizations” Huntington challenged many long-held beliefs about the nature of ongoing and potential global and regional rivalries, as well as offers a new paradigm for the theoretical research and forecasting of the world order at the turn of XX- XXI centuries. With solid certainty, one can say that this work is probably the most profound one of the presented over the past decade - it provides a meaningful image of the world. Not surprisingly, the innovative geopolitical ideas of Samuel Huntington immediately aroused strong wave of scientific debate.