The Clash of Civilizations (and the Passing of its Author)

When the twin towers were taken down in September 2001, America looked to make sense of what happened. And it wasn’t long before many started turning to The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, a book written by Samuel Huntington, the Harvard poli sci professor who passed on last week.

The book itself was an elaboration upon a controversial article that Huntington published in Foreign Affairs in 1993. In the opening lines, he wrote: “World politics is entering a new phase… 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 dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.” Particularly he suggested, it would be the “West versus the Rest,” and within the latter category, he lumped in Islam.

Below, we have posted Huntington’s 1997 appearance on the Charlie Rose show, where he expanded on his world view. You can also get Edward Said’s general retort, The Myth of the Clash of Civilizations, here and Noam Chomsky’s thoughts on the concept here.

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