Friday, November 25, 2005

Old but perhaps classic?

The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order
Huntington, Samuel P.

Old but perhaps classic?

Huntington takes the reader on a review of a simplified social theory of cultural interconnectedness to define the issues of political and economic tides in our times. It is an old but critical assessment of our global societies. His most illuminating contribution on the uniqueness of democractics and welfare states of the western nations, as well as the defined rights of individuals is probably one of the best explanations I have read of how clearly the US and others are not prepared for a more realistically aligned international sphere of influence.

His discussion of the movement towards more multicultural stratifications in western policies is also interesting, it is a good description of what a gap exists between pluralistic, tolerant societies and the needs and goals of special-interests. However, critics believe Huntington has over simplified the debates at hand, for example, his insistence that Islam and Muslim tribal conflicts coincide with greater ferocity than many practitioners of the faith would agree.

His thesis for such unrest, however, is based on sound judgement. Basically it is that since the fall of the Ottoman Empire, most well depicted in Lord Kinross's "The Rise and Fall of the Ottoman Empire", the Islamic civilizations of the Middle East have lost the civilizational key stone or pyramid, or the capital of conscensus, or the leader of growth and development among their interested parties.

For example, with the fall of Rome came the great fragmentation of a diverse and deriviative empire. So too, Huntington posits that the old Ottoman Turks might again be the leaders of the Muslim world in the future. But their fall has barely been a century past and their rise would paradoxically perhaps also take centuries.

Pan-Arabism as a political undercurrent has almost no discussion in Huntington's book, and it would be useful to illustrate that plenty of inter-Arab alliances have come and gone since colonization and a full review of some of the reasons behind this could be explored by highly defined tribalism which predates Islam and maintains its principles of association and familiarity throughout the region.

However, Huntington believes through his models that border areas of cultural clashes represent the coordinates of strife and civilizational goal keepers at the centre of their societies are the bridge menders. He does not seem to advocate trickle down of power in such a theory. Localized issues are hard to universalize and when we do we tend to lose the arguments. Maybe Huntington lost credit in his attempt to bring the issues of cultural ethnocentrism, in its highest forms, to the masses.

Certainly it is not his theory that it is natural to consider our own cultures superior to others. That belongs to Clyde Kluckhohn. However Huntington does not dive deeply into it, by all appearances cultural clashes appear innately connected to essential flaws of human nature.

However, this book is not overly flawed, it is well worth reading.

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