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Pooppoop Essay

2228 words - 9 pages

October 22, 2001 The Nation. 11
S amuel Huntington's article "The Clash of Civilizations?"
appeared in the Summer 1993 issue of Foreign Affairs, where
it immediately attracted a surprising amount of attention and
reaction. Because the article was intended to supply Americans
with an original thesis about "a new phase" in world politics
after the end of the cold war, Huntington's terms of argument
seemed compellingly large, bold, even visionary. He very clearly
had his eye on rivals in the policy-making ranks, theorists such
as Francis Fukuyama and his "end of history" ideas, as well as
the legions who had celebrated the onset of globalism, tribalism
and the dissipation of the state. But they, he allowed, had under-
stood only some aspects of this new period. He was about to
announce the "crucial, indeed a central, aspect" of what "global
politics is likely to be in the coming years." Unhesitatingly he
pressed on:
"It is my hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict
in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily
economic. The great divisions among humankind and the domi-
nating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation states will
remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the prin-
cipal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and
groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will
dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations
will be the battle lines of the future."
THE CLASH OF IGNORANCE EDWARD W. SAID
A R T I C L E S

12 The Nation. October 22, 2001
Most of the argument in the pages that followed relied on a
vague notion of something Huntington called "civilization iden-
tity" and "the interactions among seven or eight [sic] major civi-
lizations," of which the conflict between two of them, Islam and
the West, gets the lion's share of his attention. In this belligerent
kind of thought, he relies heavily on a 1990 article by the veteran
Orientalist Bernard Lewis, whose ideological colors are manifest
in its title, "The Roots of Muslim Rage." In both articles, the per-
sonification of enormous entities called "the West" and "Islam" is
recklessly affirmed, as if hugely complicated matters like identity
and culture existed in a cartoonlike world where Popeye and
Bluto bash each other mercilessly, with one always more virtuous
pugilist getting the upper hand over his adversary. Certainly
neither Huntington nor Lewis
has much time to spare for the
internal dynamics and plural-
ity of every civilization, or for
the fact that the major contest
in most modern cultures con-
cerns the definition or interpretation of each culture, or for the
unattractive possibility that a great deal of demagogy and down-
right ignorance is involved in presuming to speak for a whole
religion or civilization. No, the West is the West, and Islam Islam.
The challenge for Western policy-makers, says Huntington,
is to make sure that the West gets stronger and fends off all the
others,...

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