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Clash Of Civilisations Theory Notes

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Clash of Civilisations Theory--

Hypothesis: primary axis of conflict will be along cultural and religious lines - conflict will either occur on fault lines or cleft countries eg. Ukraine, Turkey
Trajectory of conflict: He adopts a neo-Hegelian view of conflict, history seen as unfolding through conflict

Westphalia - French Revolution: War of Princes

French Revolution - Russian Revolution: war of nation-states (WWI)
o Russian revolution - Cold War: war of ideologies, Nazism vs. Communism

Cold War - Present: war of culture.
Views Islam as a big threat, due to demographic explosion, a cultural resurgence and the absence of a strong core state combine to create high propensity for conflict
Huntington's arguments possess powerful prima facie plausibility - we know cultural differences can foster misunderstanding and suspicion
How he fits into literature:
o He refutes realism - civilization concerns are replacing a concern with balancing power in determining war and peace. He argues that if all states did was balance power, Europe would have bandwagons with the USSR, which demonstrates the importance of culture

Draws some elements from realism:
 Civilisations bandwagon with or balance against other civilisations (or go it alone eg. NK).
 Acknowledges states are main actor, but foreign policies motivated by civilisation concerns

Huntington probably more constructivist: civilisations socially constructed, but most enduring of social constructs

Sceptical about importance of institutions - likely to only succeed within civilisations eg. EU
o Is sceptical about DPT: democracy encourages nativist and anti-Western political movements eg. Democracy in Sri Lanka enabled Sri Lankan freedom party to throw out Western oriented United National Party

Scepitcal about trade liberal peace theory and globalisation creating common culture: trade didn't prevent WWI, and 'in an increasingly globalised world…there is an exacerbation of civilizational, societal and ethnic self-consciousness
What is civilisation"
o Civilization = cultural entity, highest cultural grouping of people. Defined by both common objective elements eg. Language, history, religion, customs, institutions;
and subjective self-identification (us v. them)
o Dynamic: rise and fall, divide and merge

Often based mainly on religion

7/8 major in contemporary world:
 western, Confucian, Japanese, Islamic, Hindu, Slavic-Orthodoc, Latin
American and maybe African
 5 have dominant core state: India, Japan, Russia, China and US. But
African, Islamic and Latin American do not
 conflicts will occur along fault lines of these cultures
Arguments for Huntington:
o Compelling argument why cultural differences becoming more important:
 More interactions among people intensity civilizational consciousness Economic modernisation = atomisation of the individual, they are disconnected from roots so people need new sources of identity to provide their life with meaning and purpose
 Cultures can't be compromised, cannot be half Catholic, half Muslim
 Collapse of communism = ideology vacuum in which religion has taken over
 Economic regionalism growing, and where successful it will reinforce civilization-consciousness (refutes Fukuyama's views)
o Empirical evidence to support fragmentation of culture
 Religion on the rise: in 89, 160 functioning Mosques in Central Asia, i. 93,
10,000. Number of protestants in Latin American increased from 7 million in 1960 to 50 million in 1990
 Language becoming more separated rather than unified: % of population that are English speakers has declined

Examples vindicating his thesis:

1. Cleft countries had experienced lots of conflict
 Since Cold War, Yugoslavia broke down over cultural lines (according to
Huntington)
 Breakdown of Bosnia and Sudan on Muslim and Christian cultural lines
 Lots of strain in Nigria and Sri Lanka

2. Cultural fault lines have experienced conflict
 India and Pakistan in dispute over Kashmir
 Tensions between Orthodox Christians and Muslims in Horn of Africa

3. Common civilisations have banded together in conflict
 Iran supplied weapons and men for Bosnians = Muslims
 Russians lent diplomatic support for Serbs
 Muslims globally have joined ISIS

4. Conflict generally driven by culture
 General, overarching claim that conflict driven by culture
 9/11, ISIS - something to do with culture, blowing up monuments,
renouncing Western culture
 some of the world's most dangerous terrorist organizations eg. ISIS,
ideologically fuelled by fundamentalism. ISIS is best evidence of
Huntington's thesis
Arguments against Huntington:
o Note: need to be charitable, he accepts ethnic conflicts will continue to occur in civilisations, not sayng that all conflicts are between different civilisations, so examples of civilisations cooperating or conflict within civilisations doesn't invalidate his theory. But we don't need examples of cultures that clash, but whether clashes between cultures are more common. He accepts his theory is simplified, and this is right, theories need to be simply! Never claims it is perfectly predictive, but just beter than competing theories. Therefore, to prove him wrong we need a better theory.
To criticise him, can't just say 'trade', need to assess whether conflicts on the whole more likely over culture and provide alternative framework for explaining conflict in post-Cold War world

1. Fails in over-simplistic definition of civilisations
 If he can't adequately define what counts as a civilisation, fails at first hurdle
 Said: argues Huntington culturally reductionist, so looks at past nuances and complexities by assuming he can categorise them into distinct groups. So he would say differences between Sunni and Shia eclipsed because both are
Muslim.

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