Friday, August 20, 2010

Samuel Huntington - Still an Idiot

Max Boot takes on the resurgence of the "Clash of Civilizations" framing:

The Huntington thesis, I might add, is equally hard to take seriously because it presents such a cartoonish view of the world. Gary Schmitt of the American Enterprise Institute (where Hirsi Ali also works) points out one such problem: “China is not a civilization. It’s a nation governed by one party for 60 years and whose one-time dominant ethical regime was Confucian. But also part of this Confucian world were South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan—each now firmly part of the liberal and democratic West. Our problem with China is not one of civilization but the fact that it’s ruled by an increasingly nationalistic and ambitious despotic elite.”

The same might be said about each of the “civilizations” identified by Huntington and now endorsed by Hirsi Ali: they seem uniform only if viewed from a distance of 20,000 feet

I've long thought Huntington's thesis was overly simplistic and bordering on racist. It's good to see that there are some people willing to take on those who subscribe to it. Boot also gets in a dig at Francis Fukuyama, whose "end of history" is, if anything, even more idiotic than Huntington's "Clash".

This is a trope beloved of college poli-sci classes — to juxtapose Huntington vs. Fukuyama — and it makes for good debate, but the reality is that it’s hard to think of many people who take seriously Fukuyama’s thesis — and certainly not among “neoconservatives,” who since the end of the Cold War have been warning about new threats (such as China, Iran, North Korea, and Islamist terrorism) that are potent challenges to American power.

Interestingly, Fukuyama was involved in the PNAC mess that led the drive for the invasion of Iraq. So there is a link between Fukuyama and the neo-cons. But that doesn't really say much for either theory. Anyway, Boot is dead on about just how wrong and fundamentally unhelpful a "clash of civilizations" view of the world is.

No comments:

Post a Comment