T Nation

Islam and Western Values

Huntington’s thesis of civilizational clash

Emerging alignments as predicted by Huntington in 1996. Thicker lines represent more conflictual relationships.
Emerging alignments as predicted by Huntington in 1996. Thicker lines represent more conflictual relationships.

Huntington argues that the trends of global conflict after the end of the Cold War are increasingly appearing at these civilizational divisions. Wars such as those following the break up of Yugoslavia, in Chechnya, and between India and Pakistan were cited as evidence of inter-civilizational conflict. The War on Terror is seen as its largest manifestation.

Huntington also argues that the widespread Western belief in the universality of the West’s values and political systems is naive and that continued insistence on democratization and such “universal” norms will only further antagonize other civilizations. Huntington sees the West as reluctant to accept this because it built the international system, wrote its laws, and gave it substance in the form of the United Nations. Huntington identifies a major shift of economic, military, and political power from the West to the other civilizations of the world, most significantly to what he identifies as the two “challenger civilizations”, Sinic and Islam.

In Huntington’s view, East Asian Sinic civilization is culturally asserting itself and its values relative to the West due to its rapid economic growth. Specifically, he believes that China’s goals are to reassert itself as the regional hegemon, and that other countries in the region will ‘bandwagon’ with China due to the history of hierarchical command structures implicit in the Confucian Sinic civilization, as opposed to the individualism and pluralism valued in the West. In other words, regional powers such as the two Koreas, Vietnam, and Cambodia will acquiesce to Chinese demands and become more supportive of China rather than attempting to oppose it. Huntington therefore believes that the rise of China poses one of the most significant problems and the most powerful long-term threat to the West, as Chinese cultural assertion clashes with the American desire for the lack of a regional hegemony in East Asia.

Huntington argues that the Islamic civilization has experienced a massive population explosion which is fueling instability both on the borders of Islam and in its interior, where fundamentalist movements are becoming increasingly popular. Manifestations of what he terms the “Islamic Resurgence” include the 1979 Iranian revolution, the War on Terror, and extremely widespread Islamic opposition to the United States during both Gulf Wars. Perhaps the most controversial statement Huntington made in the Foreign Affairs article was that “Islam has bloody borders”. Huntington believes this to be a real consequence of several factors, including the previously mentioned Muslim youth bulge and population growth and Islamic proximity to many civilizations including Sinic, Orthodox, Western, and African.

Huntington sees Islamic civilization as a potential ally to China, both having more revisionist goals and sharing common conflicts with other civilizations, especially the West. Specifically, he identifies common Chinese and Islamic interests in the areas of weapons proliferation, human rights, and democracy that conflict with those of the West, and feels that these are areas in which the two civilizations will cooperate. Russia, Japan, and India are what Huntington terms ‘swing civilizations’ and may favor either side. Russia, for example, clashes with the many Muslim ethnic groups on its southern border (such as Chechnya) but cooperates with Iran in order to avoid further Muslim-Orthodox violence in Southern Russia and in an attempt to continue the flow of oil. Huntington argues that a “Sino-Islamic connection” is emerging in which China will cooperate more closely with Iran, Pakistan, and other states to augment its international position.

Huntington also argues that civilizational conflicts are “particularly prevalent between Muslims and non-Muslims”, identifying the “bloody borders” between Islamic and non-Islamic civilizations. He believes that the current global war on terror between the West and Islam is not a modern consequence of a few crazed radicals, but rather reflects a millennium-plus history of conflict between the two civilizations. This conflict dates back as far as the initial thrust of Islam into Europe, its eventual expulsion in the Spanish reconquest, the attacks of the Ottoman Turks on Eastern Europe and Vienna, and the European imperial division of the Islamic nations in the 1800s and 1900s. He believes that some of the factors contributing to this conflict are that both Christianity (upon which Western civilization is based) and Islam are: Missionary religions, seeking conversion by others Universal, “all-or-nothing” religions, in the sense that it is believed by both sides that only their faith is the correct one. Teleological religions, that is, that their values and beliefs represent the goals of existence and purpose in human existence. More recent factors contributing to a Western-Islamic clash, Huntington wrote, are the Islamic Resurgence and demographic explosion in Islam, coupled with the values of Western universalism - that is, the view that all civilizations should adopt Western values - that infuriate Islamic fundamentalists.

All these historical and modern factors combined, Huntington wrote briefly in his Foreign Affairs article and in much more detail in his 1996 book, would lead to a bloody clash between the Islamic and Western civilizations. Along with Sinic-Western conflict, he believed, the Western-Islamic clash would represent the bloodiest conflicts of the early 21st century. Thus, the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and subsequent events including the Afghanistan and Iraq wars have been widely viewed as support for the Clash theory.

wikipedia

Huntington’s thesis of civilizational clash

Emerging alignments as predicted by Huntington in 1996. Thicker lines represent more conflictual relationships.
Emerging alignments as predicted by Huntington in 1996. Thicker lines represent more conflictual relationships.

Huntington argues that the trends of global conflict after the end of the Cold War are increasingly appearing at these civilizational divisions. Wars such as those following the break up of Yugoslavia, in Chechnya, and between India and Pakistan were cited as evidence of inter-civilizational conflict. The War on Terror is seen as its largest manifestation.

Huntington also argues that the widespread Western belief in the universality of the West’s values and political systems is naive and that continued insistence on democratization and such “universal” norms will only further antagonize other civilizations. Huntington sees the West as reluctant to accept this because it built the international system, wrote its laws, and gave it substance in the form of the United Nations. Huntington identifies a major shift of economic, military, and political power from the West to the other civilizations of the world, most significantly to what he identifies as the two “challenger civilizations”, Sinic and Islam.

In Huntington’s view, East Asian Sinic civilization is culturally asserting itself and its values relative to the West due to its rapid economic growth. Specifically, he believes that China’s goals are to reassert itself as the regional hegemon, and that other countries in the region will ‘bandwagon’ with China due to the history of hierarchical command structures implicit in the Confucian Sinic civilization, as opposed to the individualism and pluralism valued in the West. In other words, regional powers such as the two Koreas, Vietnam, and Cambodia will acquiesce to Chinese demands and become more supportive of China rather than attempting to oppose it. Huntington therefore believes that the rise of China poses one of the most significant problems and the most powerful long-term threat to the West, as Chinese cultural assertion clashes with the American desire for the lack of a regional hegemony in East Asia.

Huntington argues that the Islamic civilization has experienced a massive population explosion which is fueling instability both on the borders of Islam and in its interior, where fundamentalist movements are becoming increasingly popular. Manifestations of what he terms the “Islamic Resurgence” include the 1979 Iranian revolution, the War on Terror, and extremely widespread Islamic opposition to the United States during both Gulf Wars. Perhaps the most controversial statement Huntington made in the Foreign Affairs article was that “Islam has bloody borders”. Huntington believes this to be a real consequence of several factors, including the previously mentioned Muslim youth bulge and population growth and Islamic proximity to many civilizations including Sinic, Orthodox, Western, and African.

Huntington sees Islamic civilization as a potential ally to China, both having more revisionist goals and sharing common conflicts with other civilizations, especially the West. Specifically, he identifies common Chinese and Islamic interests in the areas of weapons proliferation, human rights, and democracy that conflict with those of the West, and feels that these are areas in which the two civilizations will cooperate. Russia, Japan, and India are what Huntington terms ‘swing civilizations’ and may favor either side. Russia, for example, clashes with the many Muslim ethnic groups on its southern border (such as Chechnya) but cooperates with Iran in order to avoid further Muslim-Orthodox violence in Southern Russia and in an attempt to continue the flow of oil. Huntington argues that a “Sino-Islamic connection” is emerging in which China will cooperate more closely with Iran, Pakistan, and other states to augment its international position.

Huntington also argues that civilizational conflicts are “particularly prevalent between Muslims and non-Muslims”, identifying the “bloody borders” between Islamic and non-Islamic civilizations. He believes that the current global war on terror between the West and Islam is not a modern consequence of a few crazed radicals, but rather reflects a millennium-plus history of conflict between the two civilizations. This conflict dates back as far as the initial thrust of Islam into Europe, its eventual expulsion in the Spanish reconquest, the attacks of the Ottoman Turks on Eastern Europe and Vienna, and the European imperial division of the Islamic nations in the 1800s and 1900s. He believes that some of the factors contributing to this conflict are that both Christianity (upon which Western civilization is based) and Islam are: Missionary religions, seeking conversion by others Universal, “all-or-nothing” religions, in the sense that it is believed by both sides that only their faith is the correct one. Teleological religions, that is, that their values and beliefs represent the goals of existence and purpose in human existence. More recent factors contributing to a Western-Islamic clash, Huntington wrote, are the Islamic Resurgence and demographic explosion in Islam, coupled with the values of Western universalism - that is, the view that all civilizations should adopt Western values - that infuriate Islamic fundamentalists.

All these historical and modern factors combined, Huntington wrote briefly in his Foreign Affairs article and in much more detail in his 1996 book, would lead to a bloody clash between the Islamic and Western civilizations. Along with Sinic-Western conflict, he believed, the Western-Islamic clash would represent the bloodiest conflicts of the early 21st century. Thus, the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and subsequent events including the Afghanistan and Iraq wars have been widely viewed as support for the Clash theory.

wikipedia

[quote]Hanzo wrote:
Huntington’s thesis of civilizational clash

…[/quote]

Very interesting post.

[quote]Hanzo wrote:
umm, this has more to do with human group dynamics than it necessarily does with the inherent nature of religion.[/quote]

Doesn’t everything have to do with human dynamics?

I understand, at least in my mind, the purpose of religion or any philosophical attempt to answer metaphysical, epistemological, or axiological questions concerning the universe, etc. I do not understand the nature of organizing people based on particular beliefs in any other manner other than for the purposes of control. Can a person believe or not believe without belonging to a particular group? Does one need organization/institution to legitimize beliefs?

The motivation to convert certain groups of people to a particular religion is not to “save” but rather to control. Why would a typical person trouble themselves with the “soul” of some unknown other than that is what the dogma teaches?

With regard to Huntington: when all one has is a hammer, every problem begins to look like a nail.

[quote]thunderbolt23 wrote:
Nonsense - and you really are just a one-trick pony. Muslim societies are backward by their own self-affliction.[/quote]

And I believe Latin America has only itself to blame. Bolivia and Argentina come to mind.

Is Haiti backward because of their own self-affliction? The Viets? Iraq? Cuba?

Because Muslims behaved rather fairly. That climate of religious tolerance is what allowed all the scientific advancements mentionned earlier.

The fact that they didn’t install client regimes when they left might also have helped the country prosper when the Muslim withdrew. A global banking system is also important in the context of economical colonialism, the emergence of which is fairly recent.

I’m sure the agressive bilateral “free-trade” agreements, IMF, WIPO and other racketeers also play a role.

Pure speculation.

Do I sound like I fit that description?

No, they don’t. Fair and transparent elections are alien to Arab countries. They are all ruled by dictators, who nobody voted for in the first place but acquired power thru violence or by striking alliances with the West. The only exceptions to this rule are Lebanon, Palestine and early 90’s Algeria. Every single international observer can attest to that. Guess who came victors of those three elections?

[quote]Was not the West’s demand for control over the Muslim nations a fair response to the overbearing Muslim empire trying to colonize them?
[/quote]

Are you seriously suggesting that the Algerians were planning to invade France in the 19th century? Morocco tried to invade Spain, Portugal and France? Libyans had their eyes set on Rome? Egyptians were about to launch a deadly strike against Britain? And the Saudi bedouins united and gathered their camels to march on Europe? I’m intrigued.

The Islamic empire reached its apogee around the 13th century. From then on, it was pretty much a free fall.

[quote]nephorm wrote:
when all one has is a hammer, every problem begins to look like a nail.[/quote]

That, in a nutshell, is why Bush decided to invade Iraq.

[quote]Headhunter wrote:
Inventions are worthless unless the people within a culture actually do something with the acquired knowledge. Certainly there were sparks of genius, which the culture quickly shut down. Can we say : Ottoman Empire?

Its not enough to invent something, have it languish for hundreds of years, then someone else takes off with it. Big deal…

When I was a kid, I thought of putting spikes on my bicycle tires. Should I now claim studded winter tires as my brainchild? LOL!!![/quote]

I’m lost. What in the hell are you trying to say?

You know our number system, as well as a variety of medical tools and texts were invented by Arabics and were used in Europe for centuries? Haven’t you taken a global history course?

No, but he teaches it though.

[quote]nephorm wrote:
Not McDonald’s, not Nike, not Starbucks; Plato, Hobbes, Locke. Adam Smith. Our present Western values are intimately related to a shared philosophical past, which I do not believe Islam is incompatible with.[/quote]

You are so right.
http://www.jamaat.org/qa/homo.html

[quote]lixy wrote:

And I believe Latin America has only itself to blame. Bolivia and Argentina come to mind.

Is Haiti backward because of their own self-affliction? The Viets? Iraq? Cuba?[/quote]

This is a red herring - what do these have to do with the subject at hand, which is why the sins of imperialism doesn’t apply to your precious Islamic empires?

Wait, wait, wait - you mean to tell me that Western empires were exploitative, evil, and awful, whereas Muslim empires were benign, enlightened, and tolerant?

This is either tragic or comic - I can’t figure out which.

Outside of that position being just irresponsibly false on its face, one other consideration. Even if we take what you said as true - that Muslim empires were all nice and stuff and let other cultures develop via scientfic development - you have just admitted that Muslim empires remain backwards of their own accord.

If what you say is true, Muslim societies permitted progressive societies to grow under their empire while never engaging in any of the progress themselves - that is your thesis. Well then, there is your explanation: even when Muslim societies had all the power of the oppressor,they still did not advance their societies.

So when being either the oppressor or the oppressed, the result was the same - Muslim societies did the same thing with regards to advancing civilization: nothing. You have undercut your own flimsy cause and effect.

Nothing has changed - Muslim societies are the same barbarian societies they were when they were calling the shots and doing the colonizing.

Your theory or mine - same difference. Progress has not been retarded by big meanie oppressors - there has been no progress even when the Muslim societies were the ones doing the oppressin’.

Note to Lixy - they didn’t “leave”, they were beat back.

So don’t sign the trade agreement.

See above - hardly speculation. If Western “oppressors” got out of Muslim societies, what is the catalyst that will catapult them into civlization? What is the engine? Why is there any reason to think they would change?

Are the Western “oppressors” holding the Muslims back from an education that they will jump on when the West leaves? Are there engineering schools and liberal arts institutions existing in Muslim societies that have been locked up by the West?

Don’t waste my time.

Used to be - I’d say no. Now, you haven’t shown much original thinking on the matter and have made some rather outlandish claims.

Wait, it was you who suggested that “they are voting for Islamists” now - you changing your mind?

[quote]Are you seriously suggesting that the Algerians were planning to invade France in the 19th century? Morocco tried to invade Spain, Portugal and France? Libyans had their eyes set on Rome? Egyptians were about to launch a deadly strike against Britain? And the Saudi bedouins united and gathered their camels to march on Europe? I’m intrigued.

The Islamic empire reached its apogee around the 13th century. From then on, it was pretty much a free fall.[/quote]

You’re kidding right? The caliphate being extended into Spain? To the gates of Vienna? And who cares when it ended - were there not consequences to the evil colonial ways?

And do not Muslim societies complicit in the evils of imperialism of their past have to pay the wages of those sins? “Blowback”, and so forth?

If not, why not?

You are going to try and tell me that the history of the caliphate is not one of conquest?

You can’t be taken seriously anymore.

[quote]lixy wrote:
thunderbolt23 wrote:
Is Haiti backward because of their own self-affliction? The Viets? Iraq? Cuba?
[/quote]

Actually, Haiti is backward because of their own self-affliction. Read about the history of Haiti from Toussant L’Overture to “Papa Doc” Douvalier.

Please do not compare the 8th - 12th century Islam to the current political situation.

It bears as much relevance as comparing Harold Godwinson and William the Conqueror with Gordon Brown and David Cameron.

Until the Mongols sacked Baghdad, Islam was superior in terms of cultural, social and scientific achievements.

However, citing the example of Spanish Moors or the Baghdad Caliphate bears little relevance for today, most notably because of a strong shift to a very dogmatic, regressive theological doctrine.

Actually, this pretty interesting detail suggests a possibility of quite the opposite process:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/germany/article/0,,2040982,00.html

[quote]Beowolf wrote:
Headhunter wrote:
Inventions are worthless unless the people within a culture actually do something with the acquired knowledge. Certainly there were sparks of genius, which the culture quickly shut down. Can we say : Ottoman Empire?

Its not enough to invent something, have it languish for hundreds of years, then someone else takes off with it. Big deal…

When I was a kid, I thought of putting spikes on my bicycle tires. Should I now claim studded winter tires as my brainchild? LOL!!!

I’m lost. What in the hell are you trying to say?

You know our number system, as well as a variety of medical tools and texts were invented by Arabics and were used in Europe for centuries? Haven’t you taken a global history course?[/quote]

Certainly. Fibonacci’s translation of Al-Kwarismi’s Algebra led to the modern world. But…why did advancement happen in Europe and not in the Middle East? Culture?

Actually, much of Algebra comes from China. Most of the ideas attributed to the Middle East originate in India and China, esp China.

[quote]Wreckless wrote:
No, but he teaches it though.[/quote]

Do you even know what the Method of Fluxions IS?

[quote]Headhunter wrote:
Wreckless wrote:
No, but he teaches it though.

Do you even know what the Method of Fluxions IS?

[/quote]
I think it’s the method of consuming enough flux seeds in your diet to have the same benefits of fish oil + fibers. Correct me if I’m wrong.

[quote]RatHunter wrote:
Headhunter wrote:
Wreckless wrote:
No, but he teaches it though.

Do you even know what the Method of Fluxions IS?

I think it’s the method of consuming enough flux seeds in your diet to have the same benefits of fish oil + fibers. Correct me if I’m wrong.
[/quote]

Wait…Wreckless has to google it.

Hint: Isaac Newton

Islamic clerics speaking about what it takes to keep the little woman in line?

http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/a_faith_in_wife_bashing/

[quote]Headhunter wrote:
Beowolf wrote:
Headhunter wrote:
Inventions are worthless unless the people within a culture actually do something with the acquired knowledge. Certainly there were sparks of genius, which the culture quickly shut down. Can we say : Ottoman Empire?

Its not enough to invent something, have it languish for hundreds of years, then someone else takes off with it. Big deal…

When I was a kid, I thought of putting spikes on my bicycle tires. Should I now claim studded winter tires as my brainchild? LOL!!!

I’m lost. What in the hell are you trying to say?

You know our number system, as well as a variety of medical tools and texts were invented by Arabics and were used in Europe for centuries? Haven’t you taken a global history course?

Certainly. Fibonacci’s translation of Al-Kwarismi’s Algebra led to the modern world. But…why did advancement happen in Europe and not in the Middle East? Culture?

Actually, much of Algebra comes from China. Most of the ideas attributed to the Middle East originate in India and China, esp China.

[/quote]

And a lot of the MEDICAL tech that is attributed to India is a product of a MUSLIM and Hindu India.

Why do you think Spain fell so hard towards the end of the Imperial Age? Besides the Armadas defeat, banishing their Muslims kicked there ship building capabilities down a couple notches.

And for awhile (read: 500 years) the Muslim world was far beyond and much more civilized than the European Christian one.

[quote]thunderbolt23 wrote:
lixy wrote:

And I believe Latin America has only itself to blame. Bolivia and Argentina come to mind.

Is Haiti backward because of their own self-affliction? The Viets? Iraq? Cuba?

This is a red herring - what do these have to do with the subject at hand, which is why the sins of imperialism doesn’t apply to your precious Islamic empires?

Because Muslims behaved rather fairly. That climate of religious tolerance is what allowed all the scientific advancements mentionned earlier.

Wait, wait, wait - you mean to tell me that Western empires were exploitative, evil, and awful, whereas Muslim empires were benign, enlightened, and tolerant?

This is either tragic or comic - I can’t figure out which.

Outside of that position being just irresponsibly false on its face, one other consideration. Even if we take what you said as true - that Muslim empires were all nice and stuff and let other cultures develop via scientfic development - you have just admitted that Muslim empires remain backwards of their own accord.

If what you say is true, Muslim societies permitted progressive societies to grow under their empire while never engaging in any of the progress themselves - that is your thesis. Well then, there is your explanation: even when Muslim societies had all the power of the oppressor,they still did not advance their societies.

So when being either the oppressor or the oppressed, the result was the same - Muslim societies did the same thing with regards to advancing civilization: nothing. You have undercut your own flimsy cause and effect.

Nothing has changed - Muslim societies are the same barbarian societies they were when they were calling the shots and doing the colonizing.

Your theory or mine - same difference. Progress has not been retarded by big meanie oppressors - there has been no progress even when the Muslim societies were the ones doing the oppressin’.

The fact that they didn’t install client regimes when they left might also have helped the country prosper when the Muslim withdrew. A global banking system is also important in the context of economical colonialism, the emergence of which is fairly recent.

Note to Lixy - they didn’t “leave”, they were beat back.

I’m sure the agressive bilateral “free-trade” agreements, IMF, WIPO and other racketeers also play a role.

So don’t sign the trade agreement.

Pure speculation.

See above - hardly speculation. If Western “oppressors” got out of Muslim societies, what is the catalyst that will catapult them into civlization? What is the engine? Why is there any reason to think they would change?

Are the Western “oppressors” holding the Muslims back from an education that they will jump on when the West leaves? Are there engineering schools and liberal arts institutions existing in Muslim societies that have been locked up by the West?

Don’t waste my time.

Do I sound like I fit that description?

Used to be - I’d say no. Now, you haven’t shown much original thinking on the matter and have made some rather outlandish claims.

No, they don’t. Fair and transparent elections are alien to Arab countries. They are all ruled by dictators, who nobody voted for in the first place but acquired power thru violence or by striking alliances with the West. The only exceptions to this rule are Lebanon, Palestine and early 90’s Algeria. Every single international observer can attest to that. Guess who came victors of those three elections?

Wait, it was you who suggested that “they are voting for Islamists” now - you changing your mind?

Are you seriously suggesting that the Algerians were planning to invade France in the 19th century? Morocco tried to invade Spain, Portugal and France? Libyans had their eyes set on Rome? Egyptians were about to launch a deadly strike against Britain? And the Saudi bedouins united and gathered their camels to march on Europe? I’m intrigued.

The Islamic empire reached its apogee around the 13th century. From then on, it was pretty much a free fall.

You’re kidding right? The caliphate being extended into Spain? To the gates of Vienna? And who cares when it ended - were there not consequences to the evil colonial ways?

And do not Muslim societies complicit in the evils of imperialism of their past have to pay the wages of those sins? “Blowback”, and so forth?

If not, why not?

You are going to try and tell me that the history of the caliphate is not one of conquest?

You can’t be taken seriously anymore.[/quote]

He may need to find someone else in his cell to answer your post T-Bolt.