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Samuel Huntingtons' The "Clash Of Civilizations"

1270 words - 6 pages

People identify themselves as members of many different groups but there are certain identifications that cannot be made by choice. The most basic identifications one makes are based on indisputable fact. One's cultural identity the answer to "What civilization are you from?" "Who are you?", is the broadest and most indisputable way one can identify themselves. Civilizations and membership in one is a matter of history (did your ancestors experience the Renaissance? On which side of the great schism would you have fallen?) and religion (including religious history, i.e. Jewish history). Huntington claims that "after the iron curtain (that divides nations) falls, the velvet curtain will ...view middle of the document...

As I previously mentioned, Samuel Huntington, has taken it upon himself to define for his readers which are the modern day civilizations he lists them as: Western, Confucian, Japanese, Islamic, Hindu, Slavic-Orthodox, Latin American and possibly African civilization (although I do not doubt an African or conglomeration of African civilizations). He claims that because people within the same civilization have grown so dependant upon one and other (Inter-state/international trade) that inter-cultural war will become obsolete and the larger divisions will become more prominent because they are more important in an ever shrinking world. His theory that violent conflict will take place at the physical boundaries between civilizations (fault lines as he calls them) is supported by post-publication wars in the former Yugoslavia where 3 fault lines meet and in Chechnya (meeting of Slavic Orthodox, Islam, and Confucian or central-Asian). These were wars that did not involve politics or economics (as Huntington predicted) but rather the dislike of who or what another person or group of people is. Although Huntington's claim is validated by those occurrences can he explain the war in the Congo or the current conflict in Iraq? He would be unable to explain them.Edward Said, however, can explain those situations. He understands that the war in the Congo is a civil war and that until people can clearly define themselves they will battle others in search of themselves. For if a man does not know who he is he must ask another and if he does not understand the other, then he must be shown who he is. He explains that the reason that Huntington's argument is infrequently legitimate is because he ignored history completely (things like colonialism are a great cause for intercultural conflict). It is understandable that conflicts will occur at fault-lines but there will also be divisions within civilizations that will cause physical conflict. For Said the conflict will be within civilizations and it will be about power, and identity not colonization and world domination.Although I agree more with the writings of Said, I cannot ignore the relevance of Huntington's argument. Said himself agrees with part of what Huntington says and in a supplementary sense its necessary. In regards to the war on terror, Said's article is more relevant. Although it can be interpreted that the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center was a culture clash; radical Islam vs. Western Superpower the United States; Those attacks, were...

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