Sunday, December 4, 2011

Clash of Civilizations

Did Nostradamus predict 9/11?

No, but Samuel P. Huntington did. Dr. Huntington of "Clash of Civilizations" fame, died back in December of 2008, but his work lives on. As Mark Steyn points out, this Harvard professor of Political Science championed the idea that culture trumps all. Steyn gives us an example of his own:
in Bradford, 75 per cent of Pakistani Britons are married to their first cousins. As to the seductive assimilatory charms of time, 30 years ago the percentage was half that. A victory for culture over economics. (Mark Steyn)
The Australian has an interesting article on this great man who foresaw this current age of terrorism back in 1993:
The Clash of Civilizations was a hard-headed look at what political scientists had traditionally dismissed as a soft subject: culture. Originating as a 1993 article in the policy journal Foreign Affairs, and published three years later as a book, it argued that the key sources of post-Cold War conflicts would not be national or ideological but cultural. It was Huntington's riposte to those who thought the fall of communism meant the universal triumph of Western values. The West's arrogance about the universality of its own culture would blind it to the ascent of "challenger civilisations", particularly Islam and China.
Shot through with cautions about Western decline, the book counsels Europe and the US to unite: "The prudent course of the West is not to attempt to stop the shift in power, but to learn to navigate the shallows, to endure the miseries, moderate its ventures, and safeguard its culture." Exporting American pop culture and trainers was easy; exporting values of freedom and democracy far harder.
"Somewhere in the Middle East," Huntington wrote, "a half-dozen young men could well be dressed in jeans, drinking Coke, listening to rap, and between their bows to Mecca, putting together a bomb to blow up an American airliner." (The Australian)

"Brilliant" minds and miscellaneous critics poo-pooed his thesis at the time, but 9/11 and its aftermath brought a sad vindication.

We really are undergoing a clash of civilizations.

To understand Samuel Huntington's Clash of Civilizations, follow these three easy steps. If you care about the future of Western society and culture, it's worth it:

1) Read Huntington's famous essay. It is a scholarly work yet easily readable by ordinary folks. It  puts the current global struggle into focus. Unfortunately, it is locked up tight, inaccessible unless you pay a fee to Foreign Affairs Magazine. They should be ashamed of themselves for sequestering such a seminal work. Some Googling can usually find it clandestinely posted somewhere. Even better, go get the book.

2) Scholars and other thinkers often pitted Huntington's thesis against Francis Fukuyama's "End of History." You can read Stanley Kurtz's commentary on the subject at Policy Review.

3) Finally, Professor Fouad Ajami, himself an imminent scholar and brilliant writer, wrote an insightful piece on Huntinton's essay the January after Huntington's death.
Huntington had the integrity and the foresight to see the falseness of a borderless world, a world without differences. (He is one of two great intellectual figures who peered into the heart of things and were not taken in by globalism’s conceit, Bernard Lewis being the other.)
I still harbor doubts about whether the radical Islamists knocking at the gates of Europe, or assaulting it from within, are the bearers of a whole civilization. They flee the burning grounds of Islam, but carry the fire with them. They are “nowhere men,” children of the frontier between Islam and the West, belonging to neither. If anything, they are a testament to the failure of modern Islam to provide for its own and to hold the fidelities of the young.
More ominously perhaps, there ran through Huntington’s pages an anxiety about the will and the coherence of the West — openly stated at times, made by allusions throughout. The ramparts of the West are not carefully monitored and defended, Huntington feared. Islam will remain Islam, he worried, but it is “dubious” whether the West will remain true to itself and its mission. Clearly, commerce has not delivered us out of history’s passions, the World Wide Web has not cast aside blood and kin and faith. It is no fault of Samuel Huntington’s that we have not heeded his darker, and possibly truer, vision. (Fouad Ajami - The Clash)
I pray we at least pause to contemplate Dr. Huntington's thesis. A self-ashamed society that stands for nothing will fall for anything; and angry fire-bearers from the East really could burn it all down.


Always On Watch said...

I read Huntington's book several years ago.

I think I'll re-read it.

Ducky's here said...

Funny, I don't see it. What Huntington might have said is the fundamentalism is a great divider and the cause of strife.

Or he may have pointed out that barbarism can take many forms. Mexican drug gangs for example.

One thing we do know is that the cultural having the most difficulty integrating in America is the fundamentalist/evangelical Protestant sect. They are in far more conflict with the wider culture than Muslim Americans. To the point that they don't understand they ain't the culture.

So we may continue to blindly invade Muslim countries, withhold support fr democratic movements in Muslim nations and generally screw things up. But that's America and America is NOT the totality of Western culture, thankfully.

This election, if we wise up (doubtful) and look at the Hobson's choice that will be presented we may gain insight. But in a country where an utter moron such as Herman Cain is taken seriously I see little hope.

LOOK OVER THERE scary Muslims.

Ducky's here said...

... and what is the fundamental Western characteristic that fundamentalists of all religious variety lack? Self criticism.

The same lack that has prevented many Muslim states from developing is here in the American religious right in spades.

Physician heal thyself.

Silverfiddle said...

Ducky: Your points, while snidely presented, have some validity.

We do not, Thank God, have a "Muslim problem" here in the US they way they do in Europe.

I disagree with your fundamentalist statement, though. Your view of them and what you call the "wider culture" is no doubt skewed by your own extreme position.

Silverfiddle said...

Tired platitudes, Ducky... You're boring.

Ducky's here said...

Snide? Maybe, but when you trot out Mark Steyn you aren't asking for much else.

My point on self criticism stands. It is an essential factor for progress and all fundamentalists offer is Sole Scripturum and founding patriarchs worship. Br circumspect when you speak of tired platitudes.

Silverfiddle said...

What people believe in their personal lives and how they worship only concerns us all when it manifests itself negatively in society.

How have these horrible fundamentalists you speak up negatively affected our society?

Ducky's here said...

Gee, where to start, laissez-faire Calvinism, climate change denial, American exceptionalism, bigotry, creationism ... it's an extensive list.

Always On Watch said...

Calvinism = laissez faire?

Is that so?

Well, if you're going to maintain that Calvinism is laissez faire, then what is Islam, with its constant search for the will of Allah.

I recall the grand imam of Mecca saying that there was nothing that could have been done to prevent the tramplings at the hajj. "There was nothing we could have done to prevent this. It was THE WILL OF ALLAH!"

Silverfiddle said...

Weak tea, Ducky.

I was looking for something more substantial, like attacking a Mormon Church, as gay activists did, or embittering the lives of city dwellers and ruing their businesses as the OWS rabble did. Maybe blowing up ski resorts and starting fires, as the Gaia worshipers have done here out west. Examples like that.

Jersey McJones said...

Huntington's predictions were not new or always correct. Terrorism is much the same today as it always was. It has always been predictable to anyone who pays attention to our foreign involvements: Foreign terrorism - that is international terrorism rather than domestic terrorism anywhere - is most always conditioned by the target nation's government support for the governments of the nations of the terrorists.

This has nothing to do with culture whatsoever.

Most every people of the world have among the potential to produce terrorism. Most every peoples have generated terrorists at one point or another, and most over just the past 6 generations. It seems only a half dozen or so generations of people's, regardless of culture, race, or religion, separate the capacity for terrorism. At any given time, most every nation has some number domestic terrorists.

Culture is not a predictor of international terrorism.

We are not at a clash of cultures in the world. That is just xenophobic propaganda. Foreign people's don't care about our "freedoms" and "liberties," our "values" and "culture." They don't care. What they don't like is our meddling in their affairs.

They care about their own lives, their own countries, their own cultures. We mean nothing to them unless we impose on their attentions.

So, I find the theory, again, to be xenophobic propaganda - really just itching for another protracted "Cold War" for the profit of the military sector, and to keep the people's attention away from their issues with the state. You don't have to be a genius to see right wing, Republican, rhetoric for what it is, corporate colonialism masquerading as patriotic nationalism.

There's one sure way to end our foreign terrorism: We must get out of the Middle East.


Silverfiddle said...

Wow, Jersey. The man publishes a well-documented, scholarly work and you dismiss it in a blog thread.

I think he has a little more credibility than you.

Having said that, I can tell you did not read the works I cited, because he did not say that culture, per se, was responsible for anything. His work examined how cultures interact with one another.

I like how you summed it up by putting the United States on the same moral plane with terrorists. Nice touch. This is why liberalism's numbers are dwindling.

Normal people can defend Muslims and their faith without making apologies for ghastly behavior. Liberals cannot.

Ordinary people can be anti-war without equating our military with terrorists. Liberals cannot.

There is nothing more doctrinaire, dogmatic, self-loathing, hateful and illiberal than a modern-day self-described "liberal."

Anonymous said...

’... [I]n his last book, Who Are We? (2004), he cautioned against the enemy within. The US's national identity, he argued, was in danger of being eroded in the face of sub-national, dual-national and transnational loyalties. ... Huntington argued that some Americans, most notably liberal elites and Hispanics, were undermining America's fundamentally Anglo-Protestant culture.

Built on Christianity, the English language and British legacies of justice and government, and mixed with the "American Creed" and its principles of liberty, equality and individualism
, this was a culture [to which] every immigrant group had assimilated - until recently.

But globalization meant a growing chasm between "the cosmopolitan and transnational commitments" of elites, and the "still highly nationalist and patriotic values of the American public".’

I would change only one thing about that statement: I think the last sentence would be more accurate if it read read, “a growing chasm between ‘the MULTICULTURALISM and INTERNATIONAL commitments’ of the ILLUMINATI and the nationalistic, patriotic values of the majority of American citizens.”

~ FreeThinke

Ducky's here said...

If you woluld know a culture

.... know its art

Ducky's here said...

I was looking for something more substantial, like attacking a Mormon Church, as gay activists did, or embittering the lives of city dwellers and ruing their businesses as the OWS rabble did. Maybe blowing up ski resorts and starting fires, as the Gaia worshipers have done here out west. Examples like that.


Proving my point. You like things nice and quiet. Dissent is anathema.Your objective is to maintain the conservative status quo at all cost.

Would you have been an apartheid supporter like the crap pile Huntington who you seem to admire?

Silverfiddle said...

Ducky: You're wandering around out where the buses don't run...

I asked you how christian fundamentalists had disrupted our society.

Anonymous said...


Good Art tends to be predictive and subtly prescriptive more than it is reactive.

As I keep on insisting, we have much truth to learn from poetry as a thoughtful examination of the following should clearly indicate:

The Gods of the Copybook Headings (1919)

As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its ice field, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."


Ducky's here said...

... and I gave you some of their negative influence.

For instance it leads you to claim a cold warrior Trotskyite like Huntington as gospel.

As Jersey said, Huntington makes this so called "culture war" a self fulfilling prophecy.

Fundamentalists are anti progress. Now it is good to be cautious but the American religious right is reactionary.

Anonymous said...


On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

~ Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

Questions we need to answer:

1. Who or what are "The Gods of the Copybook Headings?"

2. Who or what are "The Gods of the Marketplace?"

[HINT: Kipling is not referring to the Stock Market or the money that can be made and lost there much as liberals would love to have us believe, so what ELSE could he mean?]

3. What do you think might be the broad implications of the poem? Is there a "lesson" Kipling would like to teach us?

4. How does this poem relate to the conflicting concepts of Western Hegemony via Western Cultural Universality, Multiculturalism, Diversity, Nativism, Nationalism, Racism, Collectivism, Individualism, etc.?

5. There is one sentence in the poem that spells out the point of it all. Could you tell us what it might be?

~ FreeThinke

Anonymous said...

I can tell you one thing. Letting the likes of Ducky steal the show by answering his sneering, doctrinaire anti-American taunts and jibes is NOT going to lead us to Truth, Justice, and The American Way otherwise known as Enlightenment.

He is not here to learn or be persuaded, nor is he here to preach. He's here simply to DAUMNT, DERAIL, DISCOURAGE, DEBILITATE and DESTROY.

When you continually permit HIM to become Topic A, he WINS HANDS DOWN.

"Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."

Entertain him in your parlor and he will take everything you have, and burn it out from under you.

" ... Cast not your pearls before swine lest they rend you ..."

Don't play with matches."

Rattlesnakes make lousy pets.

~ FreeThinke

Jersey McJones said...

Silver, I never said or meant anything you just put in my mouth. You in no way refuted my point, and then you went on to admit you didn't even know what this guy espouses.

I read a piece on arguments with his theory, and found them far more compelling. Oh, and only a moron gives credibility out willy nilly just because some patronizing xenophobic pseudo-nationalist shmuck publishes a paper.


Silverfiddle said...

I don't think anyone here took it as Gospel. It's a theory. And you've still provided no examples...

Silverfiddle said...

Oh, and only a moron gives credibility out willy nilly just because some patronizing xenophobic pseudo-nationalist shmuck publishes a paper.

But a blowhard with a cigarette in his mouth posting in a blog thread does have credibility?

As for refuting your point, I don't even know what your point is.

I have read the essay and his book, and it is obvious you have not. He does not attribute terrorism to cultural factors. He discusses how cultures clash with one another.

It's understandable you can't comprehend anything to the right of Howard Zinn.

Anonymous said...


1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.

2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.

3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.

4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it!

5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.

Those doing things in this country are doing more and more. Those doing nothing and receiving a subsistence simply because they exist will continue to do nothing but will demand and get more and more.

Once "the rich" have been picked clean and sucked dry, an their bones burnt to keep the masses warm, society, itself, will die.

~ FreeThinke

Anonymous said...

The incompatibility of disparate cultures and religions that regard each other as anathema is not theory, SF, it is proven fact.

Oil and water do not mix.

Garlic does not taste good in chocolate fudge or lemon meringue pie.

Tomato sauce on coconut layer cake would be a culinary abomination.

A live rhinoceros will not live happily in anyone's rumpus room.

Fish cannot live out of water.

You wouldn't want your daughter to become part of an Oil Sheik's Harem -- and she wouldn't like it once she got there.

And the old standby: A turd could never be welcome in a punchbowl anymore than a shot of tiger piss could enhance the quality of a shakerful of martinis.

Liberals do not want to believe these an other similar self-evident truths, and are prepared to destroy historic cultures, let millions be killed, and lay waste to entire nations trying to prove they are right.

~ FreeThinke

Jersey McJones said...

Silver, here's Huntington is his own words;

"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 future."

He full well understands the world more like me than you, I can tell you that. But his insistence that Islam is an impregnable barrier to peace with the Middle East seems moot to me. Why are we there in the first place? And why did he take such a hard line position for interposition than he took for avoiding these sorts of conflicts in the first place?

Interesting guy.


Silverfiddle said...

Jersey: A closer reading will reveal he surveys a thousand years of history to draw his conclusions.

I am not saying you are wrong. We are discussing theory, which is what such works are supposed to do.

I don't think he's saying one culture is superior to another, but on the other hand, his primary concern is preserving our western culture and its liberal traditions, and I can't fault him for that.

Muslim countries have blasphemy laws, we do not. That says alot.

Z said...

I'm so sorry the usual mess of steering away from your excellent point about self-ashamed societies has happened. I've never known an America more self-ashamed and I'm bored with the protestations of America not being definition of the word, I keep asking "then what country is?" but get no response.

Clash of Civilization? You don't have to leave America to see that anymore. Heck, you don't have to leave your comments page here to see that.

Anonymous said...


Why don't you take a good close look at The Gods of the Copybook Headings, and then try to answer some of the questions I posed at the end?

It might start a more worthwhile discussion.

Believe me that poem is entirely germane to Kurt's post -- and to the fractious discussion that has ensued in its wake.

I have long thought how good it could be if we talked about implications, parallels, nuances and ramifications of a given topic -- anything above and beyond letting ourselves get caught in the trap of thinking we have to waste time trying to refute the impertinent, often disingenuous assertions made by Ducky and his kind.

THINKING may be HARD, but it beats REACTION and COMPLAINT by miles.

~ FreeThinke

Anonymous said...

… and speaking of self-fulfilling prophesy, what is the result of the left proclaiming America unexceptional at every turn? We may suppose that when leftist educators brainwash their students every day for the past 100 years, it is possible to convince people that progressivism is really a good thing, even in spite of the empirical evidence to the contrary.


Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, the relentless march of LIBIDIOCY and MALFEASANCE continues unabated.

To wit:

7-Year-Old Accused Of Possible Sexual Harassment For Kicking Boy In Groin

December 2, 2011 11:12 PM

Boston Public Schools sent home a letter detailing the accusations

BOSTON (CBS) – A 7-year-old boy is being investigated by his South Boston elementary school for possible sexual harassment after kicking another boy in the crotch.
The first grader’s mother, Tasha Lynch, says she was shocked by the school’s decision.
“He’s 7 years old. He doesn’t know anything about sexual harassment,” she said.
Lynch’s son, Mark Curran, said the boy that he kicked had been bullying him on the school bus ride home from Tynan Elementary last week.
“He just all of a sudden came up to him, choked him. He wanted to take his gloves, and my son said, ‘I couldn’t breathe, so I kicked him in the testicles,’” said his mother.

Lynch described a phone call she received from the school explaining that the case will be treated like sexual harassment, due to what it considers inappropriate touching.
“‘Your son kicked a little boy in the testicles. We call that sexual harassment,’” Lynch said the school told her.
She said she’s been asked to attend a disciplinary hearing at the school Monday.
A Boston Public Schools spokesperson said officials are investigating, but won’t comment further, since it’s a private matter.
Lynch wants an apology and better supervision on the school bus to prevent such fights among students.
“He couldn’t breathe. He was trying to defend himself,” she said. “I don’t find that sexual harassment. I find that defending himself.”

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Anonymous said...

Events like the above quasi-comical episode with tragic implications for society would never have occurred -- would in fact have been inconceivable-- when I was 7-years-old.

Every bit of the insanity that now grips the Western World has developed because of the virulent ascent of Cultural Marxism aka Liberalism or Progressivism.

Now that the oh-so enlightened Social Engineers have foisted forced Integration and the divisiveness and infuriating phenomenon called Multiculturalism on us perpetual Civil War on every conceivable level will be our lot.

~ FreeThinke

Finntann said...


Would you say that Huntington's theory accurately describes the current state of conflict in the world?

And if not, what theory would you espouse as more accurate?

I find it curious that Huntington assigns Latin America as its own civilization as I would have categorized it as part of Western Civ as much as Spain, Portugal, and the Netherlands are. We have far more in common with Latin America than we do with Russia, although I would assign Russia as part of the West as well.

I also don't quite buy into his analysis of the Nato-Bosnian-Serb-Croat situation, thinking it a gross oversimplification.


Always On Watch said...

I just borrowed those truisms you listed for my post on December 8.

Silverfiddle said...

@Finn: thinking it a gross oversimplification.

That was the most common criticism at the time, and I agree with you.

The Muslim issue was only a small piece of his book, but I threw that out there as bait, and the usual fish bit.

Anonymous said...

Thanks AOW. I'll have to look in at your place very soon.

There's nothing better than a dose of good, old-fashioned common sense. Too bad liberals don't believe in common sense. Everything they want to do flies in the face of it.

In a very real sense liberalism is an elaborate strategy to legalize theft.

I always enjoyed the stories of Robin Hood, but I suspect the whole thing may have started there -- what say you?

Funny! I live right down the street from a development called Sherwood Forest.

~ FT

Mizz. Anonymous said...

Obama: I Need another Term to Finish Us Off.

And make no mistake about it, he will.

Silverfiddle said...

Mizz: What do you think of Ron Paul?

And thanks for stopping by

Always On Watch said...

Back when I was in school, one of my teachers said something like this: "Enjoy those stories about Robin Hood. But remember that the stories are about taking from the rich and giving to the poor. Not something to brag about. Injustice doesn't justify injustice."

Teresa said...

That figures... a progressive whose against American exceptionalism. Ducky wants countries to be equal and alike. That can't happen. Each country has different resources.

Clash of Civilizations sounds like a good book. I'll have to purchase it soon.