Culture, National Interest and Politics: Thinking on Huntington’s Clash of Civilization

Topics: Western world, Culture, Western culture Pages: 6 (2091 words) Published: May 2, 2013
War is a continuation of policy by other means. Policy is shaped by the ‘interest’ each member of the international system seeks to pursue. Whatever the composition of internal structure, the states will always pursue their vital interest and historically nation states have got themselves involved in conflict for the preservation of their interest. Within the domain of modern world, the interest was perceived to be fueled by ideological or economic factor. The demise of cold war has brought about a new vista about the security dynamics of the international system and it is perceived that “the great division among human kind and dominating source of conflict will be cultural”. In order to assess such theory, the central question is how the contextual factors of culture influence the interest which, in turn, defines the politics. It is imperative to understand that the nation state will remain as principle actors in the global affairs and hence the international system in the new world is not governed by ‘civilization’. That said, every nation state belongs to a corresponding civilization and their cultural entity plays a critical role to shape their political values.

Historically, establishing the superiority of identity has been a crucial factor for conflict between the parties involved. Each party to any conflict composes a group of people who are willing to fight for their entity and they share a common sense of belongingness to each other. “Civilizations are meaningful entities’’ and prior to the rise of nation-state, civilization carried the identity of human kind as Huntington argued that ‘the broader reaches of human history have been the history of civilizations’. Therefore, conflicts of that era were the result of clash of civilization. The rise of nation state provided more meaningful and closed integration of similar values to create identity among the people to which they belong. It is human tendency that they would always seek for similarities among them to create a feeling of belongingness to each other and a central issue to which they all belong. Civilization is so ‘macro’ in nature that it is not as effective a tool to create a sense of belongingness among the people. If Islam is assumed to be a civilization then all the Muslim around the world would have felt the same attachment to each other. However, a Bangladeshi Muslim feels more of attachment to a Bangladeshi Hindu then a Muslim from a Bahrain per se. The counter argument to such premise is that civilization also involves small number of people, such as the Anglophone Caribbean and perhaps any conflict involving Anglophone Caribbean with their rival will center round the issue of establishing the supremacy of Caribbean values by its people. Drawing any deduction on the basis of such hypothesis will be a stereotype and history provides very little clue to trace such conclusion. Historically it is perceived that the conflict between Islam and western civilization is going on for 1300 years, yet all Muslim countries have rendered their moral support towards the western world in the ‘War against Terrorism”. Therefore, in the context of new world the religion, particularly Islam as a source of conflict is a fallacy.

It is interesting to note that most nation states include groups of people who do not belong to its core culture or feel themselves to be a part of nations so defined .Yet a nation state provides a unique arrangement to its people with a bonded society. The nationalism is the driving factor for creating such bonded society. Nationalism has also created civilization to make a ground for clash of civilization. Japanese civilization or Slavic-Orthodox civilization which emanate from their nationalistic feelings are prime example to such assertion. However, the experience of Second World War for Japan has sealed the scope for any conflict from the clash...
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