GOVT 331 Inglehart - True Clash of Civilizations

GOVT 331 Inglehart - True Clash of Civilizations -...

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Samuel Huntington was only half-right. The cultural fault line that divides the West and the Islamic world is not about democracy, but sex. According to a new survey, Muslims and their Western counterparts are still worlds apart when it comes to attitudes toward divorce, abortion, gender equality, and gay rights – which does not bode well for democracy's future in the Middle East. | By Ronald Inglehart and Pippa Norris D emocracy promotion in Islamic countries is now one of the Bush administration’s most popular talk- ing points. “We reject the conde- scending notion that freedom will not grow in the Mid- dle East,” Secretary of State Colin Powell declared last December as he unveiled the White House’s new Mid- dle East Partnership Initiative to encourage political and economic reform in Arab countries. Likewise, Condoleezza Rice, President George W. Bush’s nation- al security advisor, promised last September that the United States is committed to “the march of freedom in the Muslim world.” But does the Muslim world march to the beat of a different drummer? Despite Bush’s optimistic pro- nouncement that there is “no clash of civilizations” when it comes to “the common rights and needs of March | April 2003 67 Ronald Inglehart is program director at the Center for Polit- ical Studies at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research and directs the World Values Survey. Pippa Norris is the McGuire lecturer in comparative politics at Har- vard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. They are the authors of Rising Tide: Gender Equality and Cul- tural Change Around the World (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003). men and women,” others are not so sure. Samuel Huntington’s controversial 1993 thesis—that the cul- tural division between “Western Christianity” and “Orthodox Christianity and Islam” is the new fault line for conflict—resonates more loudly than ever since Sep- tember 11. Echoing Huntington, columnist Polly Toyn- bee argued in the British Guardian last November, “What binds together a globalized force of some extremists from many continents is a united hatred of Western values that seems to them to spring from Judeo-Christianity.” Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, Congressman Christopher Shays, after sit- ting through hours of testimony on U.S.-Islamic rela- tions on Capitol Hill last October, testily blurted, “Why doesn’t democracy grab hold in the Middle East? What is there about the culture and the people and so on where democracy just doesn’t seem to be something they strive for and work for?” Huntington’s response would be that the Islamic world lacks the core political values that gave birth to representative democracy in Western civilization: sep- aration of religious and secular authority, rule of law and social pluralism, parliamentary institutions of representative government, and protection of indi- vidual rights and civil liberties as the buffer between citizens and the power of the state. This claim seems
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This note was uploaded on 02/25/2008 for the course GOVT 3313 taught by Professor Patel,david during the Spring '08 term at Cornell.

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GOVT 331 Inglehart - True Clash of Civilizations -...

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