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Clash of Civilization - Article for Foreign Affairs

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In his 1993 article for Foreign Affairs, The Clash of Civilization?, Samuel P. Huntington presents a daring and provocative theory in which he predicts that the source of future conflicts will be cultural instead of being based on political or economic ideology. This view is a very limited and basic view of conflict in the existing world. This theory attempts to relate conflicts straight and simply to cultural differences between peoples. Huntington's theory is flawed in several ways and is an inaccurate prediction of future events. Huntington's view of why civilization will clash can be disputed, his assessment of the nation state is inadequate and he inaccurately defines actual civilizations into seven or eight major civilizations.

First of all, Huntington's analysis in his third section of the article, why civilization will clash, can be disputed when looked at from a contrasting perspective. Huntington believes civilizations will clash because of the differences between them (i.e. history, language, and religion) and due to increased interaction between civilizations. I agree with his statement that there is more interaction between civilizations; however, I do not agree with his assumption that this will cause a clash. To the contrary, this increased interaction enables civilization to learn more about each other and be more understanding of other civilizations. Globalization has also advanced our interactions by giving people the ability to communicate and travel anywhere in the world today. As a result, people have been able to experience different cultures on a personal level which has increased peoples knowledge and respect of different civilization. I can attest to this from personal experience, I had presumptions concerning how China would be (i.e. how would it look, how were the people, etc.). But after visiting the China, my view changed to some extent and I'm glad I had that experience and plan to re-visit. When looking at civilizations from Huntington's perspective, it infers that all civilizations are entirely different from one another and they don't have any shared beliefs or behaviors. Additionally, it suggests that the all societies of the world are naive, and insensitive to those outside their own civilization. Increased technological advances will provide people with more opportunities to engage other cultures which will facilitate people becoming more tolerant, and accepting, of other cultures. These advances will drive the world in a positive direction, not a negative one as Huntington suggests.

Huntington's assessment of the power held by nation states is inadequate as well. With all of the advances nation states have provided to the world community, it is hard to believe how Huntington can reduce their role to almost nothing. With continuing social changes around the world, I do not believe these changes would have occurred without the strength of nation states.



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