Clash of Civilization in the New World Order

Posted by Basanta Nirola
October 17, 2017


(Special reference with Samuel Huntington’s “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order”)

         The New World Order, this term was coined by former US President George Bush (senior). In early 1990’s, after the fall of USSR he declared that Cold War was ended & here is New World Order refers the world has changed where is one sole super power exist & this is USA. Basically, the New World War shows the scenario of the world after the Cold War period, where world order changed into the Uni-polarity from the Bi-polarity.

       After facing the two World Wars the world order was diverted into the bi-polar system from multi-polarity. This one was also the major consequence of World Wars among the others. By this, the world faced a serious crisis or the problem which we all best known as the Cold War. Cold War was not referred as a war but it was also not meant the peaceful time frame.  The Cold War was actually the clash, conflict and ideological debate between two major super powers of that time- USA vs. USSR.  Both the nations were ideologically different from each other & they were turning against of themselves. The Cold War was started just after the Second World War & lasted till the time of the breakdown of USSR. During this period the world faced lots of challenges & crisis which took place as the result of Cold War. USA and USSR never comes face to face but there were several wars or crisis took place which was indirectly fought by both the nations. The Cuba Missile Crisis, Korean War, Vietnam War,  Afghan War etc are the few examples of tensions occurred by the Cold War. It’s also important to mention here that there is also the major development came out in the world order in the name of Non Alignment Movement (NAM) during the Cold War period to maintain the peace in the world & reduce the war threat among the nations. Meanwhile, we came to know that during the Cold War period the world faced a serious threat of Third World War and the civilization was also threaten.

        After the breakdown of USSR in early 1990’s the one major super power was collapsed. The Cold War was also ended & it was declared by many political thinkers & authors on that time. By the end of Cold War or the war of ideology the major shift was also seen in the world war and once again word order was also turning from bio-polarity to uni-polarity and the still continues. At present day world order there is only a major super power axis i.e. USA, is also the lone-hegemonic power.

      By the end of the Cold War, several hopes are stacked into the one point that world will move around the peace zone.  Unfortunately, this hope still does not seen in the reality. There are lots of problems or the crisis that the world is facing & that could also be the major challenges for the human civilization. The rising numbers of nuclear weapons or the threat of nuclear war among the nations, rapidly growth of population, neo-imperialism, global terrorism, environmental issues & challenges, rise of economic crisis, border disputes among or between the nations, political & military disputes among the nations etc are the few examples of raising threats for this world. The crisis of Middle East Nations, Issues of Rohingya Muslims or other refugee crisis, political instability of third world nations, raising numbers of terrorist attacks etc are the few examples of crisis mostly led by the previous causes.

       By celebrating the victory of Liberalization and fall of USSR, Francis Fukayama wrote on his work, “The End of the History and the Last Man” (1992) that there is no alternative to liberal democracy. Some other theorists and writers also argued that human rights, liberal democracy, and the capitalist free market economy had become the only remaining ideological alternative for nations in the post-Cold War world. Specifically, Francis Fukuyama argued that the world had reached the ‘end of history’. On other hand, the end of Cold War does not bring the peace or able to abolished the crisis of this world as predicted earlier. On the post Cold War era, there are still lots of crisis exiting and globalized or the prescribed liberal economy brings also the major challenges.

     The Clash of Civilizations is a set of ideas where Samuel Huntington believed that people’s cultural & religious identities will be the primary source of conflict in the post-Cold War world. This book was also written in response to his student Francis Fukuyama’s 1992 book, The End of History and the Last Man. Huntington later expanded his thesis in a 1996 book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. Huntington began his thinking by surveying the diverse theories about the nature of global politics in the post-Cold War period.

    The Clash of Civilization is a historical development. In the past, world history was mainly about the struggles between monarchs, nations & ideologies, such as seen within Western civilization. But after the end of the Cold War, world politics moved into a new phase, in which non-Western civilizations are no longer the exploited recipients of Western civilization but have become additional important actors joining the West to shape and move world history.  According to Huntington, there will be a new paradigm or change of world politics of which is the primary patterns of conflict & co-operation will be shaft by the culture & ultimately civilization. He believed that while the age of ideology had ended, the world had only reverted to a normal state of affairs characterized by cultural conflict. Huntington suggested that the civilizations will be the prime determinate of world politics in the near future.

    To Huntington difference in civilization are not only real but basic. Every civilization is guided by difference in the line of history, custom, culture, tradition & most importantly religion. The world has become smaller, it has increased interaction among the people of different civilizations & inversely it has increased Civilizational consciousness among the people. He also added that economic modernization & social change has isolated people from their local identities or simple words. It has created gap in between the people & their ancestral identity & this very gap is being occupied by the religion. Civilizational consciousness has bread about two terms in relation to west- (a) Striking or turning to become more powerful than ever of the western states & other one is – (b) returning to the roots. Cultural characteristics are less mutable or changeable & hence less easily compromise or it cannot be compromised. Economic regionalism is increasing. Successful economic regionalism will reinforce civilization-consciousness. Economic regionalism may succeed only when it is rooted in a common civilization. These are the some finding explanations which are deliberately used by Huntington as the causes of clash of civilization.

        In an addition, we may say that Huntington was very pure on his theory about the clash of civilizations.  At present day world scenario the world suffers from those causes of conflicts which are very similar with the Huntington’s views. In the long run of the world politics the various causes by which the conflict might be occurred in the near future.

     Earlier Huntington suggested that in the future the central axis of world politics tends to be the conflict between Western & non-Western civilizations. The conflict will be in between “the West and the Rest”. A Non-Western country is making an effort to balance Western power through modernization. They can develop economic, military power & cooperate with other non-Western countries against the West while still preserving their own values & institutions. Huntington believes that the increasing power of non-Western civilizations in international society will make the West begin to develop a better understanding of the cultural fundamentals underlying other civilizations. Therefore, Western civilization will cease to be regarded as “universal” but different civilizations will learn to coexist and join to shape the future world.

      Huntington purely predicted that growing Asian will be the cause for the conflict of West vs. East of the world. Meanwhile, we have seen that raise of Asian economy that might be the challenges for the US hegemony in future. The Middle East states are oil rich countries, South Asia is so nice on agricultural growth, infrastructure & also known for its man power & South East Asian nations are economically strengthen for their business models. So it is clearly indicated that if any region will compete with US then that would be the collaborate Asian Economy. Economic development in Asia & China has resulted in an antagonistic relationship with America. As discussed in previous sections, economic success in Asia and China has created an increased sense of cultural relevancy. Huntington predicts that the combination of economic success of the Asian countries and the heightened military power of China could result in a major world conflict.

     Huntington predicts and describes the great clashes that will occur among civilizations. Three issues that separate the West from the rest are identified by Huntington as:

  • The West’s ability to maintain military superiority through the nonproliferation of emerging powers.
  • The promotion of Western political values such as human rights and democracy.
  • The Restriction of non-Western immigrants and refugees into Western societies.

 Non-Western countries see all three aspects as the Western countries attempt to enforce and maintain their status as the cultural hegemony.

       The present world is more suffers from the conflict that arises in the Middle East countries & other parts of the world. The core reason for these conflicts is religion along with the political & other causes.  Today the world is more suffered by the misguidance & misconception of religious view. The meaning of every religion is the peace & purity. No any religion of this world support violence or any that type threat for the human civilization.  But the more or less crisis that occurred in the name of re-awaking of religious thoughts or the new conception of religious attributes among the different religions is not good enough for healthy world. Now, this is leading as a serious threat for the clash of civilizations.

      The impact of globalization & impose of neo-imperialism is also managed to create the clash between or among the nations in this world. The Cold War is ended but there are still existing the two blocs, earlier blocs were categorized Western & Eastern as of political view but now the view is shifting but differentiation among the nation still exist as First World & Third world as of the economic view. The first world nations are the elite nations & economically very strong & developed but the third world nations are developing & these are the poor countries. The gap between the first world & third world nations is increasing day by day & economic deprivation among the third world nations is also predicted as the clash for this civilization.

     By summing up this article we can recall that Huntington discusses the challengers of the West, & whether or not external and internal challenges will erode the West’s power. This is an essential book for understanding the world & makes for illuminating reading. Many political analysist thought that with the end of the Cold War the world had become a safer & more humane planet – & we were all off to a better and greater way of living. The world has now become more complex with several competing powers, instead of two superpowers. With religion back in the equation, this adds an unstable emotional level when a conflict begins, or in most cases, when the conflict reasserts itself after a dormant period. Huntington in the book defines identity brilliantly in the book, emphasized the role of religion that shape most of peoples identity & direction in life. In regard of the westernization and modernization, I find a rather fair argument. In fine, I would just like to add that it is very interesting to read about Huntington’s point of view regarding to understand the world politics of post cold era.



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