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

Samuel P. Huntington

Download a PDF to print or study offline.

Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order Study Guide." Course Hero. 13 Feb. 2018. Web. 3 Oct. 2023. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2018, February 13). The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved October 3, 2023, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2018)



Course Hero. "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order Study Guide." February 13, 2018. Accessed October 3, 2023.


Course Hero, "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order Study Guide," February 13, 2018, accessed October 3, 2023,

The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order | Part 3, Chapter 7 : The Emerging Order of Civilizations (Core States, Concentric Circles, and Civilizational Order) | Summary



Civilizations and Order

The two superpowers that existed until the Cold War have given way to core states that serve as the epicenters of attraction or rejection by other countries. Countries with similar cultures tend to band together in order to balance against countries that lack the same culture. After the Cold War, global power and the concept of a global community have become obsolete. Instead, the world is being ordered on the basis of its civilizations, with their core states as the source of order within each civilization. This creates "spheres of influence." Yet when core states are absent, creating order and negotiating order between civilizations becomes difficult.

Bounding the West

With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the multicivilizational grouping of the West is being reconfigured into a new grouping. The core states of the European Union—France and Germany—are at the center. Yet establishing these spheres of influence in Europe has been challenging, since during the Cold War, Europe as a whole didn't exist. Establishing a new order meant being able to define the boundaries of Europe and which countries could be considered "European." The cultural border of Europe is a line that has existed for centuries—the one that separates Western Christian people from Muslim and Orthodox people. This historical cultural border has become the political and economic border as well. In the expansion of European Union membership, preference is clearly given to states that are culturally Western and more economically developed.

Russia and Its Near Abroad

Russia can be considered the core state equivalent of France and Germany. In many ways, its civilizational bloc parallels that of the West in Europe. Russia is creating a bloc that is largely Orthodox in its cultural makeup but with a surrounding buffer of Islamic states. The people in these countries look to Russia for support and protection. Yet a country like Ukraine highlights an east-west cultural divide. The western Slavs are "Europeanized," and the eastern Slavs identify culturally as Russian. It's possible that Ukraine could split along its fault lines into two separate states, with the eastern half merging with Russia.

Greater China and Its Co-Prosperity Sphere

China sees itself as a "Sinic Zone" that encompasses Korea, Vietnam, Tibet, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and North and South Korea. After the Cold War—during which China tried to emerge as a third superpower—it has had to redefine its role in world affairs. Its goal is to become the core state of its civilization and to become the power driving East Asia. The Chinese government believes that anyone of Chinese descent is a member of its community and therefore subject to its authority, even as a citizen of a different country. The cultural commonality also promotes economic engagement and trust and has resulted in a dramatic expansion of economic ties among Chinese communities. Even the tensions that once existed between Taiwan and mainland China gave way to an economic relationship. This was because of an increasing sense of mutual trust based on their "shared Chineseness." Yet some issues still exist between them in regard to the possibility that Taiwan may still redefine itself as an independent state. This brings up the question of whether Taiwan can remain democratic without formal independence.

Islam: Consciousness Without Cohesion

Political loyalty among Arabs and Muslims is the opposite of the structure in the West. The two fundamental structures in the Islamic world are family and religion. These structures play the largest role in shaping the social, economic, cultural, and political developments of their society. Historically, in Central Asia, national identities did not exist, and loyalty lay along the lines of tribes, clans, and families rather than the state. Islamist fundamentalism chooses the unity of Islam over the order of a nation-state. Yet although there is Islamic consciousness, political cohesion remains an obstacle since Islam is divided among competing power centers. No Muslim country has had both sufficient power and cultural legitimacy to assume a leading role and be followed by other Islamic states.


Power and civilizations shift in emerging global politics. The core states of major civilizations have taken the place of Cold War polarity between the Soviet Union and the West. Since countries no longer need to take a side in this polarity, a struggle emerges between civilizations competing for power, resources, and influence. And since civilizations have no hard boundaries, they look to their core states for guidance and leadership. Those core states naturally attract countries with similar cultures and repel those that are different. This creates unique fault lines that don't necessarily line up with territory or state boundaries. More so than ever, when two different civilizations find themselves thrown together because of state or territory boundaries, conflict brews and sharpens. Each civilization rejects the other's dominance. There is no such thing as a global power to align with, and therefore the concept of a truly global community cannot exist either. New lines have been drawn in the sand between civilizations. The Islamic civilization presents its own unique issue: it has no core state around which to rally or consider a "homeland."

In "Bounding the West," Huntington raises the question of what, exactly, constitutes Europe after the collapse of communism. This concern focuses particularly on Eastern Europe, which at various points has identified itself with Russia. In fact, Europe's civilizational boundaries lie more along the fault lines of Western Christian civilization (European) and Muslim or Orthodox civilizations (Arab or Russian). He claims, then, that "Europe ends where Western Christianity ends and Islam and Orthodoxy begin." This statement aligns with his larger point that religion may be the most dominant factor in a civilization's identity. In "Russia and Its Near Abroad," Huntington calls it a "civilizational bloc" that in many ways parallels that of the West in Europe. He highlights this fact to point out that civilizations now tend to group in a concentric circle around a core state. Russia, here, is the core state, and its inner circle includes the Slavic Orthodox republics of Belarus, Moldova, Kazakhstan, and Armenia. Their relationship and kinship can be seen in their pro-Russian governments. Yet the closer Eastern European countries are to Western Europe, the more independent they are from Russia (Ukraine). They are often a cleft or torn country divided between the two civilizations.

Huntington provides a different example of core states and their concentric power in "Greater China and Its Co-Prosperity Sphere." China sees itself as the core state of Asia. It has civilizational power and influence over Korea, Vietnam, the Liu Chiu Islands, and at times Japan. According to Huntington, this is one way core states can successfully wield power over a civilization: along racial lines. Yet the farther out a state is from its core state—geographically and civilizationally—the more independent it tends to see itself. One such example Huntington provides is that of Taiwan, which sees itself as different from China both in its embrace of democracy and its independence. China and Taiwan have come to an uneasy truce in which each pretends to let the other believe what it wants in order to maintain a relationship. In a way, this leaves Taiwan in limbo as neither completely Chinese nor completely independent.

In "Islam: Consciousness Without Cohesion," Huntington shows how the structure of Islam provides yet another way to view a civilization that lacks a territorial core state. The rejection of a core state is intrinsic to the beliefs of Islam itself, which believes in the supremacy of their God above all else. It sees itself united in its belief rather than in any particular identity as a country or territory. Therefore Islam-heavy countries such as Pakistan have had a difficult time claiming to be Islam's core state. One consequence of this also shows itself in that as a civilization, Islam is least likely to be represented in global security councils. It has no one core state leader to represent its interests. This "consciousness without cohesion" is one of Islam's biggest threats to the survival of its civilization. It can also be considered a threat to other civilizations since there is no defined "leader" for other civilizational leaders to negotiate with. Huntington compares and contrasts the civilizational orders of the West, Russia, Asia, and Islam. He shows how the shape of each one informs the reverberations of its cultural edicts throughout the globe. This may be to nearby states or from a religion such as Islam.

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!