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Nombre de messages : 654
Localisation : Washington D.C.
Date d'inscription : 14/06/2005



Samuel P. Huntington
Foreign Affairs. Summer 1993, v72, n3, p22(28)
from the Academic Index (database on UTCAT

COPYRIGHT Council on Foreign Relations Inc. 1993


World politics is entering a new phase, and
intellectuals have not hesitated to proliferate
visions of what it will be--the end of history, the
return of traditional rivalries between nation
states, and the decline of the nation state from the
conflicting pulls of tribalism and globalism,
among others. Each of these visions catches aspects
of the emerging reality. Yet they all miss a
crucial, indeed a central, aspect of what global
politics is likely to be in the coming years.

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
dominate global politics. The fault lines between
civilizations will be the battle lines of the

Conflict between civilizations will be the latest
phase in the evolution of conflict in the modern
world. For a century and a half after the
emergence of the modern international system with the
Peace of Westphalia, the conflicts of the Western
world were largely among princes--emperors,
absolute monarchs and constitutional monarchs
attempting to expand their bureaucracies, their armies,
their mercantilist economic strength and, most
important, the territory they ruled. In the process
they created nation states, and beginning with the
French Revolution the principal lines of conflict
were between nations rather than princes. In
1793, as R. R. Palmer put it, "The wars of kings were
over; the wars of peoples had begun." This
nineteenth- century pattern lasted until the end of
World War 1. Then, as a result of the Russian
Revolution and the reaction against it, the conflict of
nations yielded to the conflict of ideologies,
first among communism, fascism-Nazism and liberal
democracy, and then between communism and liberal
democracy. During the Cold War, this latter
conflict became embodied in the struggle between the
two superpowers, neither of which was a nation
state in the classical European sense and each of
which defined its identity in terms of its

These conflicts between princes, nation states
and ideologies were primarily conflicts within
Western civilization, "Western civil wars," as
William Lind has labeled them. This was as true of the
Cold War as it was of the world wars and the
earlier wars of the seventeenth, eighteenth and
nineteenth centuries. With the end of the Cold War,
international politics moves out of its Western
phase, and its center- piece becomes the interaction
between the West and non-Western civilizations
and among non-Western civilizations. In the
politics of civilizations, the peoples and governments
of non-Western civilizations no longer remain the
objects of history as targets of Western
colonialism but join the West as movers and shapers of


During the cold war the world was divided into
the First, Second and Third Worlds. Those divisions
are no longer relevant. It is far more meaningful
now to group countries not in terms of their
political or economic systems or in terms of their
level of economic development but rather in terms
of their culture and civilization.

What do we mean when we talk of a civilization? A
civilization is a cultural entity. Villages,
regions, ethnic groups, nationalities, religious
groups, all have distinct cultures at different
levels of cultural heterogeneity. The culture of a
village in southern Italy may be different from that
of a village in northern Italy, but both will
share in a common Italian culture that distinguishes
them from German villages. European communities,
in turn, will share cultural features that
distinguish them from Arab or Chinese communities.
Arabs, Chinese and Westerners, however, are not part
of any broader cultural entity. They constitute
civilizations. A civilization is thus the highest
cultural grouping of people and the broadest
level of cultural identity people have short of that
which distinguishes humans from other species. It
is defined both by common objective elements,
such as language, history, religion, customs,
institutions, and by the subjective self-identification
of people. People have levels of identity: a
resident of Rome may define himself with varying
degrees of intensity as a Roman, an Italian, a
Catholic, a Christian, a European, a Westerner. The
civilization to which he belongs is the broadest
level of identification with which he intensely
identifies. People can and do redefine their
identities and, as a result, the composition and
boundaries of civilizations change.

Civilizations may involve a large number of
people, as with China ("a civilization pretending to
be a state," as Lucian Pye put it), or a very
small number of people, such as the Anglophone
Caribbean. A civilization may include several nation
states, as is the case with Western, Latin American
and Arab civilizations, or only one, as is the
case with Japanese civilization. Civilizations
obviously blend and overlap, and may include
subcivilizations. Western civilization has two major
variants, European and North American, and Islam has
its Arab, Turkic and Malay subdivisions.
Civilizations are nonetheless meaningful entities, and
while the lines between them are seldom sharp, they
are real. Civilizations are dynamic; they rise
and fall; they divide and merge. And, as any
student of history knows, civilizations disappear and
are buried in the sands of time.

Westerners tend to think of nation states as the
principal actors in global affairs. They have
been that, however, for only a few centuries. The
broader reaches of human history have been the
history of civilizations. In A Study of History,
Arnold Toynbee identified 21 major civilizations;
only six of them exist in the contemporary world.


Civilization identity will be increasingly
important in the future, and the world will be shaped
in large measure by the interactions among seven
or eight major civilizations. These include
Western, Confucian, Japanese, Islamic, Hindu,
Slavic-Orthodox, Latin American and possibly African
civilization. The most important conflicts of the
future will occur along the cultural fault lines
separating these civilizations from one another.

Why will this be the case?

First, differences among civilizations are not
only real; they are basic. Civilizations are
differentiated from each other by history, language,
culture, tradition and, most important, religion.
The people of different civilizations have
different views on the relations between God and man,
the individual and the group, the citizen and the
state, parents and children, husband and wife, as
well as differing views of the relative
importance of rights and responsibilities, liberty and
authority, equality and hierarchy. These differences
are the product of centuries. They will not soon
disappear. They are far more fundamental than
differences among political ideologies and political
regimes. Differences do not necessarily mean
conflict, and conflict does not necessarily, mean
violence. Over the centuries, however, differences
among civilizations have generated the most
prolonged and the most violent conflicts.

Second, the world is becoming a smaller place.
The interactions between peoples of different
civilizations are increasing; these increasing
interactions intensify civilization consciousness and
awareness of differences between civilizations and
commonalities within civilizations. North African
immigration to France generates hostility among
Frenchmen and at the same time increased
receptivity to immigration by "good" European Catholic
Poles. Americans react far more negatively to
Japanese investment than to larger investments from
Canada and European countries. Similarly, as Donald
Horowitz has pointed out, "An Ibo may be ... an
Owerri Ibo or an Onitsha Ibo in what was the
Eastern region of Nigeria. In Lagos, he is simply an
Ibo. In London, he is a Nigerian. In New York, he
is an African." The interactions among peoples of
different civilizations enhance the
civilization-consciousness of people that, in turn,
invigorates differences and animosities stretching or
thought to stretch back deep into history.

Third, the processes of economic modernization
and social change throughout the world are
separating people from longstanding local identities.
They also weaken the nation state as a source of
identity. In much of the world religion has moved in
to fill this gap, often in the form of movements
that are labeled "fundamentalist." Such movements
are found in Western Christianity, Judaism,
Buddhism and Hinduism, as well as in Islam. In most
countries and most religions the people active in
fundamentalist movements are young,
college-educated, middle- class technicians, professionals and
business persons. The "unsecularization of the
world," George Weigel has remarked, "is one of the
dominant social facts of life in the late
twentieth century." The revival of religion, "la
revanche de Dieu," as Gilles Kepel labeled it, provides
a basis for identity and commitment that
transcends national boundaries and unites civilizations.

Fourth, the growth of civilization-consciousness
is enhanced by the dual role of the West. On the
one hand, the West is at a peak of power. At the
same time, however, and perhaps as a result, a
return to the roots phenomenon is occurring among
non-Western civilizations. Increasingly one hears
references to trends toward a turning inward and
"Asianization" in Japan, the end of the Nehru
legacy and the "Hinduization" of India, the failure
of Western ideas of socialism and nationalism and
hence "re-Islamization" of the Middle East, and
now a debate over Westernization versus
Russianization in Boris Yeltsin's country. A West at the
peak of its power confronts non-Wests that
increasingly have the desire, the will and the resources
to shape the world in non-Western ways.

In the past, the elites of non-Western societies
were usually the people who were most involved
with the West, had been educated at Oxford, the
Sorbonne or Sandhurst, and had absorbed Western
attitudes and values. At the same time, the populace
in non-Western countries often remained deeply
imbued with the indigenous culture. Now, however,
these relationships are being reversed. A
de-Westernization and indigenization of elites is
occurring in many non-Western countries at the same time
that Western, usually American, cultures, styles
and habits become more popular among the mass of
the people.

Fifth, cultural characteristics and differences
are less mutable and hence less easily compromised
and resolved than political and economic ones. In
the former Soviet Union, communists can become
democrats, the rich can become poor and the poor
rich, but Russians cannot become Estonians and
Azeris cannot become Armenians. In class and
ideological conflicts, the key question was "Which side
are you on?" and people could and did choose sides
and change sides. In conflicts between
civilizations, the question is "What are you?" That is a
given that cannot be changed. And as we know, from
Bosnia to the Caucasus to the Sudan, the wrong
answer to that question can mean a bullet in the
head. Even more than ethnicity, religion
discriminates sharply and exclusively among people. A
person can be half-French and half-Arab and
simultaneously even a citizen of two countries. It is more
difficult to be half-Catholic and half-Muslim.
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