The Clash of Civilizations: a Summary of Samuel Huntington’s Controversial Political Analysis and Its Critics

2358 words 10 pages
POLI 100 - F10N01

Gabrielle Bishop

The Clash of Civilizations:
A Summary of Samuel Huntington’s controversial Political Analysis and its Critics

“Culture and cultural identities, which at the broadest level are civilizational identities, are shaping patterns of cohesion, disintegration, and conflict in the post-Cold War World” - Samuel Huntington

POLI 100 - F10N01!

Gabrielle Bishop

In a 1993 article published in Foreign Affairs, Harvard Professor of Government and Political Scientist Samuel Huntington made a prediction for the 21st century that would go on to be both disputed and supported by experts around the globe. As the Iron Curtain of ideology of the Cold War had fallen, Huntington theorized that a new “Velvet Curtain” of
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In states that Huntington is guilty of arguing that “East Asian countries which have Confucian tradition can attain the ‘salvation of democracy’ only by self-denial - the denial of their own tradition - and ‘assimilation’ of modern Western culture.”19 , quoting him saying “Confucian democracy may be a contradiction in terms, but democracy in a Confucian society”20. Ultimately, people “need new sources of identity, new forms of stable community, and new sets of moral precepts to provide them with a sense of meaning and purpose”21, Huntington argues. Huntington also notes that Muslim societies, contrary to their Asian counterparts, have expressed their culture through the resurgence of religion, noting that Islam “embodies the acceptance of modernity, rejection of Western culture, and the recommitment to Islam as the guide to life in the modern world”22. This is largely because of the emergence of a large, devout and young generation of Muslims has been paired with an authoritarian style of government.

In “Part 3: the Emerging Order of Civilizations”, Huntington notes that during the Cold War, countries were either labelled as “communist” or “non-communist”. Now, countries who cannot easily identify themselves have entered into an identity crisis 23. Because of this, many new international organizations (Ex: the European Union, the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Association of Southeast Asian