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Huntington's Clash of Civilizations

I'm presently half-way through a reading of Sam Huntington's Clash of Civilizations (the book, not the original paper). While interesting at some points, I have to admit that it would be a lot better if the authour actually understood the nature of the phenomena upon which he pontificates. For the most part though, the book consists of stats, historical facts, & quotations which have been gathered for the rhetorical purposes of buttressing arguments whose implications Huntington doesn't seem to comprehend.

By way of example: he consistently lumps ideology, culture, and religion together under the category of "values" -- thus implicitly drawing upon the rhetoric of Frederich Nietzsche. However, his thesis is that the age of ideology is over, and that peoples are reverting back to traditional religions and culture as their source of core "values". If one actually follows Nietzsche's argument, and thus understands both what "values" are and where they come from, then this thesis doesn't make any sense: for the old "values" of traditional religions have supposedly been irreparably "devalued" as a consequence of the working-out of their own internal logic, which is why they were replaced by ideologies in the first place. This likely demonstrates that Huntington is borrowing ideas from Neitzsche without ever having actually read him properly. In all likelihood, it also means that he only inherited his thoughts through the neo-positivist schools of North American political science, which long ago glommed-onto Max Weber (a Nietzschean) for inspiration regarding a distinction between "facts" and "values" without ever thinking the implications through.

The problems which this lack of self-consciousness cause Huntington's work are pretty enormous, given that -- being ignorant of what a "value" is -- he cannot really explain why a group of states would coalesce around one set of civilizational "values" rather than another. Why should "the West", Latin America, and Orthodox states constitute separate "civilizations"? The only forthcoming answer seems to be vague references to historical circumstance and a certain habituation to familiar customs, which amounts to an argument that civilizations stick together out of nothing more than a type of lazy inertia and fear of "the other". Thus, Ancient Egypt must have held together for thousands of year out of a lazy contentedness with their "values". Hellenic Greece both fought-off two massive invasions by the Persian Empire and then tore itself apart in the Peloponnesian War out of some sense of obscuranitism. Western European states come together to form the E.U. because of their homogeneous "values" derived from Western Christianity, but exclude Orthodox states because Orthodox Christian "values" are too different (but Protestant "values" aren't too different Catholic "values"?)...

The argument is a complete mess, and doesn't actually make sense as a theory (from the Greek theoria, "beholding of what is"), but only as a paradigm -- a willful abstraction which is imposed upon the real by a human subject. Unfortunately, Huntington doesn't seem to understand the difference between the two, for he credits his understanding of what a "theory" is (a synonym of "paradigm") to Thomas Kuhn (authour of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions), and doesn't seem to realize that Kuhn is a radical relativist! Thus, Huntington doesn't apprehend that, for his paradigm to be correct and thereby have the descriptive and predictive powers which he posits, he would need to impose it upon the world in order to make it correct.

In other words, the whole bloody thing is an intellectual abortion.

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