Clash of Civilizations

Clash of Civilizations

English Education Essays

Samuel Huntington, in his work˜clash of civilizations argues that current global politics should be understood as the result of deep-seated conflicts between the great cultures and religions of the world. His theory often interpreted to proclaim a fundamental incompatibility between the Christian West and the Muslim world.

Huntington was trying to predict what post-cold war would be like by observing that the world was transforming with the important cultural conflicts. He suggested that the problem would be between civilizations. The most dangerous conflicts will not be the ethnic or cultural problems within civilization but violence between states and groups.

As Ronald Inglehart and Pippa Norris mentioned in their article, Huntington was only half way right. The cultural fault line that divides the West and Muslim world is not about democracy but sex, which includes of divorce, abortion, gender, equality, and gay rights.

When we try to imply his theory on the world at the present, it is not easy to understand if it is useful or otherwise. A comparison data yielded by surveys in Muslim and Non- Muslim societies around the globe confirms the first claim in Huntington thesis.

Culture does matter. However, he is mistaken in assuming that the core clash between the West and Islam is over political values. The real fault line seems to be between the West and Muslim world; concerns gender equality and sexual liberalization. In other words, the values separating the two cultures have much more to do with Eros than demos. However, democracy became virtually the only political model with global appeal, no matter what the culture.

Today, relatively few people express overt hostility towards other classes, races or religions. Although nearly entire world pay slip service to democracy, there is no global consensus on the self-expression values, such as social tolerance, gender equality, freedom of speech, that are crucial to democracy. These divergent values constitute the real clash between Muslim societies and the West.

In conclusion, Samuel Huntingtons thesis is able to give a half way of perception in understanding the world at the present. Additionally, his thesis misses one important point, which civilizations are not only in conflict but also in dialogue as in the example of European Union.


  1. This summary of Huntington’s argument is quoted from an interview done by Amina R. Chaudary, for Islamica magazine.
  2. The True Clash of Civilizations by Ronald Inglehart and Pippa Norris.