View Full Version : Clash of Civilizations

23-07-05, 18:45
I found this to be a very intersting article: http://www.alamut.com/subj/economics/misc/clash.html

Civilizations may involve a large number of people, as with China ("a civilization pretending to be a state," as Lucian Pye put it), or a very small number of people, such as the Anglophone Caribbean. A civilization may include several nation states, as is the case with Western, Latin American and Arab civilizations, or only one, as is the case with Japanese civilization. Civilizations obviously blend and overlap, and may include subcivilizations. Western civilization has two major variants, European and North American, and Islam has its Arab, Turkic and Malay subdivisions. Civilizations are nonetheless meaningful entities, and while the lines between them are seldom sharp, they are real. Civilizations are dynamic; they rise and fall; they divide and merge. And, as any student of history knows, civilizations disappear and are buried in the sands of time.

Westerners tend to think of nation states as the principal actors in global affairs. They have been that, however, for only a few centuries. The broader reaches of human history have been the history of civilizations. In A Study of History, Arnold Toynbee identified 21 major civilizations; only six of them exist in the contemporary world.


Civilization identity will be increasingly important in the future, and the world will be shaped in large measure by the interactions among seven or eight major civilizations. These include Western, Confucian, Japanese, Islamic, Hindu, Slavic-Orthodox, Latin American and possibly African civilization. The most important conflicts of the future will occur along the cultural fault lines separating these civilizations from one another.
Why will this be the case?

First, differences among civilizations are not only real; they are basic. Civilizations are differentiated from each other by history, language, culture, tradition and, most important, religion. 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. They are far more fundamental than differences among political ideologies and political regimes. Differences do not necessarily mean conflict, and conflict does not necessarily, mean violence. Over the centuries, however, differences among civilizations have generated the most prolonged and the most violent conflicts.

This seems to be his main thesis. That we are growing beyond nation states, and are clashing by "civilizations". It is our task, I think, of today, to help bridge these gaps. I think that forums such as this could help to do just that. But I wonder what those fundamental differences are?

He refers to eight different civilizations.
These include Western, Confucian, Japanese, Islamic, Hindu, Slavic-Orthodox, Latin American and possibly African civilization

23-07-05, 19:46
but if to look closer, maybe cause of many clashes was of rather political and economical nature.

Not the difference what should bother us more, but the lack of tolerance and mutual respect

24-07-05, 00:07
What an insightful article; though I haven't finished reading the whole of it, and notwithstanding the abstract, simplifying tendency, it is a very fresh and interesting way of looking at history macroscopically.

Although the aquisition of material wealth and winning a power struggle to make that possible might appear to be the primary goal, the symbolic struggle to enforce one's will over others is not to be slighted over.

Call it ego-centicism, ethno-centricism, arrogance, or self-righteousness. But the stongest human passion is to take away the freedom of the other and to enslave, subjugate the opponent under one's will. Robin Williams satirized this evil human tendency at Night at the Mets,

"Nuclear arms is a way of saying, 'if I can't have it my way, I'd rather blow it up !'" All the humor he is so good at conveying cannot make the ugly human tendency to push it unto death any less, and the death shall be yours, not mine. India will be given "peaceful" nuclear technology contrary to the IAEA principle of non-proliferation for the sole purpose of broadening US sphere of influence to the effect that China will become relatively smaller. Pax Americana ! :(

24-07-05, 02:44
The Clash of Civilizations is a very interesting article, it and two other articles were seen to be harbingers of the post cold war world in the early 1990s. The other two was John Mearshimer's prediction that the international system would collapse and nation states would reemerge as the prime organizational feature of the international system (this one has been forgotten) and Francis Fukayama's "End of History." The end of history is interesting, because it and the Clash of Civilizations seem to have become diametrically opposed to each other. The end of history predicted that the victory of liberal democracy and capitalism over totalitarian communism in 1989 would bring a new era of peace among human cultures, an era where wars, conflict and strife would be eliminated. What has essentially happened is that both have been affirmed at the same time. In Europe, North America, South America, Africa, and parts of South East Asia, The end of history has somewhat occured. Globalization and de militerization has occurred wholescale. A surface reading would seem that the clash of civilizations has somewhat come true in the middle east, and parts of Africa, and Asia. However I hesitate to agree with huntington's thesis wholescale. First off, Militant Islamic culture is a limited phenomenon, it cannot be used synonymously with "civilization" as huntington has put it. Although the US is very unpopular, most arabic states still participate in the many of the different aspects of the international system, and most of the populations do not support a massive war against the west. Really support for this sort of war probably ranges from 5 to 30% in different countries.

I would attribute the current state of the international system as being one somewhat closer to Fukayama's view, but that culture has altered the application of the concepts of democracy and capitalism. Also we have not seen the triumph of liberal democracy at all. First off I think the concept of a single type of Liberal democracy is a flawed concept. There is no single type, and there is varying degrees of "freedom." Technically Ukraine and Georgia were seen as "democracies" but then they had their recent revolutions and became more democratic. India claims to be the world's largest democracy, but nobody would say that it close to the upper echelons of democratic rights. However even with these differences in culture, many countries have chosen to remain peaceful. I will say that the current method of globalization has created some inequalities, and this has created sources of conflict, but overall, the international system has remained quite peaceful compared to what has gone before. Even with different cultures democratic capitalist states have remained overly peaceful.

Furthermore The middle east, has not become democratic at all in the least, and this is also a major source of conflict.

Also, I should say that Huntington's views have been questioned as a result of his recent book on how mexican immigration is ruining US values. It has cast a very bad light on his previous work the clash of civilizations.

well there are my thoughts on it.

25-07-05, 17:52
In a book by Chernavskiyi "Sinergetics and information" i`ve found a mathematical model, which describes the emergence of useful(valuable) information in nature. The concept of value appears only in live systems, which have their goals, and have to find answer not only on "Why?" but also "What for?" Information there goes as a choice of 1 among N (N>1) elements and its memorization. Every smallest particle of life can choose and memorize, according to its goal, besides it can generate information.

First question was: how can the objective emerge spontaneously within the system? What are the conditions
Second: how do this objectives merge, overlap, destroy each other? How do clusters of similar goals evolve?

They came up with few differental equations. General model can be used in different fields: biology, linguistics, sociology, history. Book brings the example of several iterations for historical model (Europe from Medieval till nowdays). Emergence of new states was considered as historical event, which has to be somehow represented by the model. Model takes into account irregularity of territory (map of Europe), obstacles for migration (mountains, rivers, ...), different coefficients of migration in various areas, big cities as the the centers of gravitation...
Initial conditions - random distribution of information carriers over the land-mass of Europe. Number of different types of information was n=600 (almost equals to number of various states, princedoms and polises).
There were some constants and indexes, describing power and direction if antagonism or attraction of types of information.
After 300 iterations few states appeared, reminding the medieval map. But for a long time there were no Germany. Therefore some coefficients describing antagonism toward other pieces were increased and antagonism witin similar entities decreased. As a resultin a while Germany appeared united from various provinces and started to grow.

And so on, changing those coefficient they could have Russia to grow and sweep Germany away.

That`s the model, simplified but yet working (when i`ll get access to scaner i`ll put pics of this modelled Europe).

In a way ethnopolitical model quite similar to the interaction of various species in natue. Fight for space and resources. But R.Dowkins once proposed interesting idea about mems (or memes?) As analogy for genes.
Smallest pieces of ideas (like idea of God, for example) which try to preserve themselve and not only to preserve but to spread. If genes 'live' in human body, memes occupy his mind. They also evolve and mutate.

As for article. Quite questionable, i`d say. I put 17 for myself which are subject of further division :D But one thing about fault lines. Almost always they were found at geographically significant (and thus, economically and politically as well) areas. Balcans, Silk Road, fertile crescent, seashore of North Africa, Bosfor, and so on... And again this article though it tries to rise above for a better scope still permeated with very western scent...