Clash Of Civilizations Or Dialogue Of Civilizations Critical Thinking Sample
Conflict is and has always been human nature and people will always resolve to violence in order to pass their contentions. Deaths and injuries go hand in hand with conflict in that where one goes, the other follows suit. The world war, both of them, was all about a struggle to secure resources and expand borders. From history lessons, the numbers of those who died as a result of this conflict were plenty. The assertions of Samuel P. Huntington in his book, the clash of civilizations, suggested that the war in our world today will no longer be a struggle for resources but rather conflict along religious and cultural lines. We can see all this on the relationship forged between the Islam and the west. The essence of this essay is to contrast the works of Samuel p. Huntington, the Clash of Civilization and that of two others, Islam and the West: Muslim Voices of Dialogue by Esposito John and John Voll.
Huntington in his work posits a thesis which defines the clash of civilization. He termed India and Russia as the ‘swing civilizations’ which means that these civilizations are those which may or may not favor either side of the conflicting civilizations. A good instance is where Russia clashes with several ethnic groups along its borders in the South such as the Chechnya. However, according to Huntington, Russia will cooperate with Iran so as to avoid violence in the South and in turn encourage the flow of oil into the country. This is a form of coexistence that Huntington described as a ‘Sino-Islamic connection.’ It is also emerging in China where the Chinese are cooperating much more closely with Iran so as to cement their international position. The conflict, according to Huntington, is as a result of the clash between Muslims and non-Muslims. The main cause for conflict is that the Christian and Islamic religions are missionary religions which seek to convert others, technological religions, and universal religions.
According to Huntington, civilizations will clash because of the differences among the existing civilizations which are too basic. Difference between them comes in terms of language, history, language, tradition, culture, and religion. In addition, the world is also continually becoming smaller in terms of space. Therefore, interactions between civilizations are becoming more and more. Social change and economic modernization also have their part to play in the clash. People have lost their local identities because of these two aspects and religion has stepped in as a provider of identity by providing a base for commitment and identity which unites civilizations and goes beyond boundaries.
Civilization consciousness is growing as well and is enhanced by the dual role played by the West. The West is at the peak of its power and ends up confronting the non-western countries which seek to shape the world in ways which are non-western. Huntington claims also that cultural traits are not easily changed thereby making them much more difficult to compromise and resolve conflicts that arise along these lines. A final reason that Huntington suggests is that regionalism based on economy is growing. As it progresses further, it enhances civilization-consciousness providing ample ground for the clash of civilizations.
On the other hand, Esposito and Voll believe that indeed secularization played an important role in understanding the relations between states by the seventeenth century. Secularization involves personalization of religion and consequently, seclusion of religious activities from politics. However, by the eighteenth century, religion became privatized giving prominence to religion in that de- secularization became the new context for international relations. The Islamic religion resurged towards the end of the twentieth century and became a center of attention in the political arena. It became a challenge to socio-economic institutions, political systems including their intellectual and moral foundations. The Muslim were against the modern and secular world that was a consequence of the modernization caused by modernizing reform programs that were put in place in the nineteenth century. Therefore, what Huntington viewed as a clash of civilizations, these two view it as de-secularization or rather “re-Islamization” of politics.
In line with Huntington’s theory, Esposito and Voll provide an example of the Jihadists who visualized the future the same way Huntington does. The Jihadist divide the world into two clearly defined groups where one side is that of the true followers of Islam and the other side is for the non-followers. The latter group is defined as the Jahili, which is according to Sayyid Qutb who was an Egyptian Islamist. According to this perspective, the battle is everlasting for those who are ignorant of the Islamic ways and will go on till judgment day. Qutb identified Islam as the only civilized society in the world but only furthers to support the ideology of Huntington shortly before he was executed in 1966. What brings about the clash in this case is the fact that people have secularized religion and therefore, the world needs cleansing from this. However, according to Esposito and Voll, this is not the only way as the world cannot be doomed to endless conflict but rather, a line between the two conflicting sides can be drawn.
Esposito posits an assumption that the Islam and the West can live together. He claims that the West only has issues with the Islamic extremists who resort to violence as a means for settling issues. Basing their argument on the assumptions of divine order as opposed to temporary legitimacy of politics, they also believe that the two conflicting parties may peacefully coexist. Islamic democracy is very different from the other communities. They believe that they cannot copy what the non-Muslims have done so as to fabricate democratic systems. There are many forms in which legitimate democracy may take. The President of Iran, Mohammad Khatami, during an interview spoke of the different forms of democracy. He spoke of democracy which leads to a liberal system, one that could lead to a socialist system of governance but the preference of his Islamic country was that which included religious norms in governance. Therefore, to avoid the clash among civilizations, democracy plays a central role.
A major assumption of Huntington was the one concerning the ‘new phase’ of politics in the world. He bases his arguments on subjective and anecdotal evidence of the evidence he provides inviting criticism. Something else that Huntington claimed was based on the fact that he claims that the clash would be between monolithic civilizations that share a border. However, contrary to this, there have been little or no clashes based on cultural differences between monolithic civilizations.
Both arguments are strong based on my review of their texts. Huntington projects his ideas by providing subjective evidence such as that of core state conflicts which he claims to result when one civilization imposes its values on another civilization. The two religions in conflict happen to be missionary religions in that they endeavor to convert others to join their religions. This has generally resulted in conflict. In Africa, during the scramble and partition, it is believed it was all about the resources in Africa which promised a better future for the western countries. This is true, but the real cause of the scramble and partition of the African continent was the missionary action of Christianity. They visited Africa and tried to impose their culture on the Africans. Upon inviting the rest of the west, it resulted in colonization of these lands.
Esposito and Voll also do a great job of disapproving the works of Huntington by providing a solution to the crisis they predict. These two personalities believe that the world is not doomed to endless savagery and conflicts but rather, call for a better understanding of the Islamic religion to find a way out. The way out the find is democracy which they identify is already in existence within the Islam as they provide an instance of the interview with the president of Iran. Esposito and Voll conclude that in each and every custom, there is, in existence, ideological and intellectual resources which end up providing justification for democracy or absolute monarchy. What is in controversy is how well these concepts are implemented and comprehended in various societies. In a nutshell, they claim that there is indeed hope to avert the impending crisis. This also shows that they are not in total disagreement with the ideology of Huntington but rather seek to provide a way out in case it comes to pass.
The case Huntington poses is a compelling one owing to the uprisings that have been seen in the Middle East supplemented by a street vendor in Tunisia protested by ending his life in 2010. He did this by burning himself up. Islamic religion members are extremists giving weight to Huntington’s theory. Perhaps, what he predicted has not yet come to pass. Perhaps it is on the way. Being extremists, the Muslim are capable of going to great lengths to succeed in their mission. Esposito and Voll claim that the Jihadists could be the main perpetrators of the clash because of their view of other religions as impure and in need of cleansing by killing them. On the same line, Esposito and Voll propose that worldwide conflict should not be the fate of the world. If the Muslim poses a potential threat to the world, then a solution should be found and the solution they found was democracy. They claim that it has various forms and the Muslim also have their own form of democracy.
The theory that Huntington poses may sound completely invalid because most if not everything in the theory has not happened accordingly. However, it is my plea that not everything there is useless. It is important that religions and governments form alliances so that the world does not go into dismay because of religion. For the world to reach where it is now, many lives were claimed. The world war and the cold war were all stages of development that the world went through and it will be terrible if we can resolve to such in the future. Esposito and Voll have tried to prove that the Islamic religion is not inherently incompatible with democracy. Therefore, governments should use this opportunity to try and reach out to their leaders to avoid bloodshed in the near future.
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