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A critique of Samuel Huntington
by Louis Proyect
28 February 2002 18:30 UTC
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Counterpunch, February 28, 2002

A Critique of Samuel Huntingon
Peddling Civilizational Wars
By M. Shahid Alam 

Samuel Huntington peddles a culturalist thesis about the sources of
conflicts in The Clash of Civilizations. He builds on the premise that the
"most important distinctions among peoples are not ideological, political,
or economic. They are cultural."

If cultural distinctions possess primacy, it follows that they will drive
the world's conflicts. The Clash asserts that the Cold War, characterized
by the clash of ideologies, was an aberration: the most dangerous conflicts
in the new post-Cold War era will occur along the fault-lines of
civilizations. Although Huntington identifies nine contemporary
civilizations, there are three that monopolize his attention: the West,
Islam and the Sinic civilization. The critical conflicts in the coming
decades will occur because of challenges to the West from Islam and China.

This is social science at its political best-as ideology. The Clash
obfuscates the realities of unequal power: in this case, the deepest, most
enduring, and widening divisions between rich and poor countries. It is
carelessly constructed, ahistorical and contradictory; it is also
contradicted by historical evidence. Nevertheless, Huntington's thesis has
dominated public discourse since it was first launched in 1993. Apparently,
ideologies succeed by appealing to interests, not logic or evidence.

Full: http://www.counterpunch.org/alampeddle.html

Louis Proyect
Marxism mailing list: http://www.marxmail.org

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