Discuss what Huntington meant by the Clash of Civilizations. Does Huntington have valid arguments? In your opinion, can it ever be overcome? Support your answers.
Huntington’s basic argument is simple: “the conflicts of the future will occur along cultural fault lines separating civilizations”. It is his use of broad concepts language, history, religion, customs and institutions that define and categorize these civilizations and especially religion as the most important differentiator between civilizations that is problematic. Thus, although Huntington would disagree, theoretically simple, naturally subjective and inherently problematic are arguably the best descriptions of his article. While cultural explanations of world politics and global interaction do have obvious merit; its normative underpinnings combined with the wholesale labels Huntington attaches to different “civilizations” makes it difficult to “test” his analysis empirically. Moreover, Huntington’s generalizations and assumptions about the “new phase” of world politics that are based largely on anecdotal evidence and subjective interpretation of that evidence invites criticism.
Thus, perhaps because of its theoretical parsimony, its provocative rhetoric, or its normative foundations, since its publication in 1993 Samuel Huntington’s article (and subsequent 1996 book) The Clash of Civilizations has been both widely criticized and extensively cited. The significant number of responses, and the wide-ranging nature of those responses, “from laudatory to scathing” illustrates its considerable impact in a way that suggests that, despite its many and obvious flaws and assumptions, academics and policymakers have found relevance in Huntington’s sweeping generalizations and macro-level analysis. Yet, the policymaking relevance of the article is also not without critique. Specifically, Sato notes,