Huntington in his Clash of Civilizations presented a very believable hypothesis. He suggested that future clashes or divisions of world power would be cultural rather than ideological and political in basis. He suggested that the differences between civilizations would be basic in the future, they would be drawn from the groups history, culture, beliefs, and most important ‘religion’.
He wrote, ‘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. ” When we view the current events in lieu of what Huntington wrote we realize that his beliefs were quite right. The world today is being divided in terms of religion and cultures rather than politics.
We had the cold war in the past which was a conflict of political beliefs. Today with the dominance of terrorism and the concept of the East and West we are seeing a division in terms of culture. The Muslim world and the West are at odds as the different groups of people struggle to retain their religious and cultural identities in face of secular modernity. This clash of civilizations in terms of culture is emerging from the world becoming a smaller place and also the economic disparities. The people of the developing and under developed nations are struggling to find sense in dying for a slice of bread.
They do not have even the basic necessities and they see the West in throes of economic success. The media is further advancing this gap as the economic disparity is brought home to people looking at advertisements of dog food while they themselves cannot afford to eat days at a time. To fill this void and come to an understanding of their despair people are turning to religion. Religious fundamentalists are thus, gaining control of the parts of the world where economic instability is common and thus, Huntington’s notion of the clash of civilizations seems to be more real and at the same time surreal.
The West has become the target of violence due to this economic disparity and we see terrorists groups like Al Qaeda using religion as the base of the violence. The West has to begin to understand the nature of this new state of affairs and target the cause rather than the symptoms. The ‘us’ versus ‘them’ syndrome has to be clarified and we must come to understand that we cannot live aloof from the rest of the world. Our society is a cauldron of cultures and if we can help the people here live in relative peace, we can put the same rules to work in a broader manner and accept that different cultures work in different ways.
Accepting the differences is how the world can come together in a better manner. Violence begets violence, at the moment the world is against the US because it is felt that the US is imposing its views to eradicate individual cultures. This must be understood and refuted, individual cultures must remain they cannot be eradicated and if the US works to accept the different cultures abroad as it has done within its own borders there may be a way to better work with the violence we are facing in the world today.