Book review: Samuel P Huntington's 'The Clash of Civilization and the Remaking of World Order'
The term 'The New World Order', was coined by former US President George Bush (senior). In early 1990's, after the fall of the USSR, Bush declared that the Cold War had ended and here is 'New World Order' referred the world where one sole super power existed, namely the United States of America.
After facing the two world wars, the world order was diverted into the bi-polar system from multi-polar. This one was also the major consequence of World Wars among the others. By this, the world faced a serious crisis or the problem which we all best known as the Cold War.
Cold War was not referred to as a war but at the same it was also not an era where peace prevailed. The Cold War was actually the clash, conflict and ideological debate between two major super powers of that time- USA vs USSR. Both the nations were ideologically different from each other. The Cold War started just after the Second World War and lasted till the time of the breakdown of the USSR. During this period the world faced lots of challenges and crisis which took place as the result of Cold War.
Although USA and USSR never came face to face but there were several wars or crisis which were indirectly fought by both the nations. The Cuba Missile Crisis, Korean War, Vietnam War, Afghan War etc are a few such examples of tensions occurring during the Cold War. It's also important to mention here that a major development that happened in this era was the emergence of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) which was instrumental in restoring peace in the world by reducing hostility among the nations. Meanwhile, we came to know that during the Cold War period the world faced a serious threat of Third World War.
After the breakup of the USSR in early 1990's, a major super power collapsed. The Cold War also ended along with it. By the end of the Cold War a major shift was seen with once again the world order shifting from bio-polar to uni-polar that still continues. In the present day world order there is only one major super power axis i.e. the USA.
After the end of the Cold War, several hopes were stacked that the world will move into the peace zone. Unfortunately, such hopes still do not seem a reality. There are lots of problems that the world is facing and that could also be the major challenge for the human civilization. The rising numbers of nuclear weapons or the threat of nuclear war among the nations, rapid growth of population, neo-imperialism, global terrorism, environmental issues & challenges, rise of economic crisis, border disputes among or between the nations, political & military disputes among the nations etc are the few examples of raising threats for this world. The crisis of Middle East nations, issues of Rohingya Muslims or other refugee crisis, political instability of third world nations, raising numbers of terrorist attacks etc are the few examples of crisis mostly led by the previous causes.
By celebrating the victory of liberalization and the fall of the Soviet Union, Francis Fukayama wrote in his book, "The End of the History and the Last Man" (1992) that there is no alternative to liberal democracy. Some other theorists and writers also argued that human rights, liberal democracy, and the capitalist free market economy had become the only remaining ideological alternatives for nations in the post-Cold War world. Specifically, Francis Fukuyama argued that the world had reached the 'end of history'.
On other hand, the end of Cold War does not bring the peace or is able to abolish the crisis of this world as predicted earlier. On the post Cold War era, there are still lots of crisis exiting and globalised or the prescribed liberal economy brings also the major challenges.
The Clash of Civilizations is a set of ideas where Samuel Huntington believes that people's cultural & religious identities will be the primary source of conflict in the post-Cold War world. This book is also written in response to his student Francis Fukuyama's 1992 book, The End of History and the Last Man.
Huntington later expanded his thesis in a 1996 book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. Huntington began his thinking by surveying the diverse theories about the nature of global politics in the post-Cold War period.
The Clash of Civilization is a historical development. In the past, world history was mainly about the struggles between monarchs, nations & ideologies, such as seen within Western civilization. But after the end of the Cold War, world politics moved into a new phase, in which non-Western civilizations are no longer the exploited recipients of Western civilization but have become additional important actors joining the West to shape and move world history.
According to Huntington, there will be a new paradigm or change of world politics of which is the primary patterns of conflict & co-operation will be shaft by the culture & ultimately civilization. He believed that while the age of ideology had ended, the world had only reverted to a normal state of affairs characterized by cultural conflict. Huntington suggested that the civilizations will be the prime determinate of world politics in the near future.
To Huntington difference in civilization are not only real but basic. Every civilization is guided by difference in the line of history, custom, culture, tradition & most importantly religion. The world has become smaller, it has increased interaction among the people of different civilizations & inversely it has increased civilizational consciousness among the people. He also added that economic modernization and social change has isolated people from their local identities or simple words. It has created gap in between the people & their ancestral identity & this very gap is being occupied by the religion.
Civilizational consciousness has bread about two terms in relation to West- (a) Striking or turning to become more powerful than ever of the Western states & other one is – (b) Returning to the roots. Cultural characteristics are less mutable or changeable & hence less easily compromise or it cannot be compromised. Economic regionalism is increasing. Successful economic regionalism will reinforce civilization-consciousness. Economic regionalism may succeed only when it is rooted in a common civilization. These are the some finding explanations which are deliberately used by Huntington as the causes of clash of civilization.
In addition, we may say that Huntington was very pure on his theory about the clash of civilizations. At present day world scenario the world suffers from those causes of conflicts which are very similar with the Huntington's views. In the long run of the world politics the various causes by which the conflict might occur in the near future.
Earlier Huntington suggested that in the future the central axis of world politics will be the conflict between Western & non-Western civilizations. The conflict will be in between "the West and the Rest". A non-Western country is making an effort to balance Western powers through modernization. They can develop economic, military power and cooperate with other non-Western countries against the West while still preserving their own values & institutions.
Huntington believes that the increasing power of non-Western civilizations in international society will make the West begin to develop a better understanding of the cultural fundamentals underlying other civilizations. Therefore, Western civilization will cease to be regarded as "universal" but different civilizations will learn to coexist and join to shape the future world.
Huntington purely predicts that the growing of Asia will be the cause for the conflict of West vs East. Meanwhile, we have seen that the rise of Asian economy might be a challenge for the US hegemony in future. The Middle East states are oil rich countries, South Asia is good in agricultural growth, infrastructure and also known for its man power. South East Asian nations are economically strong for their business models. So it is clearly indicated that if any region will compete with US then that would be the collaborate Asian economy. Economic development in Asia & China has resulted in an antagonistic relationship with America. As discussed in previous sections, economic success in Asia and China has created an increased sense of cultural relevancy. Huntington predicts that the combination of economic success of the Asian countries and the heightened military power of China could result in a major world conflict.
Huntington predicts and describes the great clashes that will occur among civilizations. Three issues that separate the West from the rest are identified by Huntington as:
1) The West's ability to maintain military superiority through the non-proliferation of emerging powers.
2) The promotion of Western political values such as human rights and democracy.
3) The Restriction of non-Western immigrants and refugees into Western societies.
Non-Western countries see all three aspects as the Western countries attempt to enforce and maintain their status as the cultural hegemony.
The present world more suffers from the conflict that arises in the Middle East countries and other parts of the world. The core reason for these conflicts is religion along with the political and other causes. Today the world more suffered by the misguidance and misconception of religious view. The meaning of every religion is peace and purity. No religion of this world supports violence or any kind that threatens human civilization. But more or less, the crisis that occurred in the name of re-awaking of religious thoughts or the new conception of religious attributes among the different religions is not good for a healthy world. Now, this is leading to a serious threat for the clash of civilizations.
The impact of globalization and imposing of neo-imperialism has also managed to create the clash between or among the nations in this world. The Cold War has ended but there are still existing the two blocs, earlier categorized as Western & Eastern but now shifting but differentiation among the nations as First World & Third World as of the economic view. The First World nations are the elite nations and economically very strong and developed but the Third World nations are developing and these are the poor countries. The gap between the First World and the Third World nations is increasing day-by-day and economic deprivation among the Third World nations is also predicted as the clash of the civilizations.
By summing up this article we can recall that Huntington discusses the challengers of the West, & whether or not external and internal challenges will erode the West's power. This is an essential book for understanding the world and makes for illuminating reading. Many political analysts thought that with the end of the Cold War the world had become a safer & more humane planet – and we were all off to a better and greater way of living.
The world has now become more complex with several competing powers, instead of two superpowers. With religion back in the equation, this adds an unstable emotional level when a conflict begins, or in most cases, when the conflict reasserts itself after a dormant period.
Huntington in the book defines identity brilliantly, emphasizing the role of religion that shapes most of peoples' identity and direction in life. With regards to Westernization and modernization, I find a rather fair argument. In the end, I would just like to add that it is very interesting to read about Huntington's point of view for understanding the world politics of the post-Cold War era.