The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order | Study Guide

Samuel P. Huntington

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Course Hero, "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order Study Guide," February 13, 2018, accessed December 15, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Clash-of-Civilizations-and-the-Remaking-of-World-Order/.

The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order | Main Ideas

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The West versus the Rest

Huntington sets out to distinguish Western civilizations from non-Western civilizations, particularly because the West was a dominant global power for much of history. Yet the ending of the Cold War brought about the diffusion of global power. Western influence began to decline in proportion to the rise of other civilizations. Once the West wielded economic, cultural, and military influence over the rest of the world. Civilizations began to reject Western influence in favor of asserting their own cultural identities. Huntington claims that the two biggest non-Western threats to Western civilization are East Asian and Islamic civilizations. East Asia is a threat for economic reasons. Islam is a threat for religious reasons. The West grapples with its own lack of confidence as its power declines. Huntington posits that in order to repair itself the West will need to turn inward to preserve its culture and civilization. The West needs to do this rather than attempt to dominate other civilizations through influence and power. Huntington warns that multiculturalism is the biggest internal threat to the West, since it would effectively mean the end of Western civilization.

Fault Line Conflicts and Torn Countries

Throughout the Cold War, conflicts typically generated between civilizations at the highest level of power. Then the conflicts trickled down to the local level in support of the representative powers. Since the Cold War, the emergence of fault line wars shows a trend in which conflicts begin at the local or community level—typically along civilizational lines. These wars escalate to draw in core states, kin countries (based on religious or cultural identities), and diaspora populations (people displaced from their homelands). Huntington highlights the fact that fault line conflicts are exceedingly difficult to resolve. They take place over issues of identity rather than territory or class issues. Fault line conflicts may halt because of the exhaustion of both sides. But they usually must be resolved by the highest powers possible, with no clear winner. Fault line conflicts can occur in torn countries. These countries tend to house two or more civilizations inside their boundaries, drawing conflict because of close proximity of clashing identities. Torn countries attempt to redefine their civilizational identities with little success.

Modernization

Huntington points to modernization as one of the key factors in ushering in the emerging clash of civilizations. He posits that Westernization and modernization are closely linked. The West was the first to introduce modernization in the form of education, urbanization, and technology. As other civilizations follow suit, they are forced to confront the issue of whether they will embrace the Western cultural influences that come with modernization. They must consider whether they will adopt modernization as a way to define themselves in opposition to the West. Huntington provides many examples of civilizations that have embraced modernism only to reject Westernization. An unforeseen consequence of the introduction of democracy to non-Western civilizations was the promotion of anti-Western leaders. These modern developments heighten tensions between the West and other civilizations.

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