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A Clash of Thoughts?

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Samuel Huntington in his article “The Clash of Civilizations?” (1993) gives his overlook about how the future will come referring to the relations between countries. He supports the idea that the cultural differences, clearly distinguishable from each civilization, are going to be the main reason of conflict. The essay points out some aspects that interfere in the inter-world, as the economic, politic, time, religion, population, land, armament, history, etc., applied in the concept of civilization.

Huntington argues that after the Cold War, the world was divided in Western and non-Western civilizations according to their politic and ideological differences. When he defines civilization, a contradiction is expressed, because on one hand he says that it is important to identify group of countries due to their “culture and civilization” (page 23), and on the other hand he defines civilization as “the highest cultural grouping of people” (page 24), including elements of the culture and religion.  Thus, first he separates culture from civilization, but then he says that the differences in culture identify the civilizations.

Nevertheless, the author supports the idea that divergences in culture and religion will be the most powerful reasons why the conflicts will take place. Respect this, Huntington points out six main justifications why would denote the conflicts: the strong power of the differences between civilizations, especially related to religion; the increased relations among civilizations, awaking their differences; the amplified importance of the religion due to the social change resulted from the neoliberalism; the bigger conscience in each civilization of their own culture as answer of the “westernization”; the power that the cultural and religion characteristics have; and finally, the rise of business in more local areas.

The focus of seeing the conflicts that could happen due to the civilizations does not look too much clear or probable to me. First, the differentiation between civilizations is not as easy as Huntington points out. Some subjects as language and customs are shared for people from different civilizations, as the Spanish and Portuguese in Latin-America with them colonizers in Europe, or the European Union with its 23 official languages (European Commission Multilingualism, 2010), whereas all of them constitute one singular civilization. Or even the religions are shared in different areas of the world. For example China, big country of the Confucian civilization, have followers from many religions, like Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism (Reviere, 2011). Likewise, civilization could be understood as “a mass of practical, technical knowledge, a series of ways of dealing with the nature” in case of been separated from the culture (Tönnies, 1992, and Weber, 1935, cited in Braudel, 1994:18). In other words, not even the concept is clear.

Second, in this globalized world, the particular or the smallest concepts take more importance. That is what Ulrich Beck (1999, cited in Catalá, 2000) says, and Huntington too, arguing that this phenomenon tends to join more the local cultures. With this, the country takes more importance that the group of countries. Nowadays that is what we see, there are many big conflicts in countries where nothing used to happen, more than between civilizations, and that is probably the course that will be followed. Maybe at the time to defend or support it is possible to see a “civilinizationation” of the countries supporting the one that need it, but like a second step. However, even there exist examples of support of countries from different civilizations, as the president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, supporting Gadaffi of Libya.

Respect the point that the clash of civilizations (in case that it occurs) will be result of differences in culture and religion, my view is that the economic issues are and will be the main point of clash. Especially in a world where the vision is put in the market and the perspectives are related with that. Even now, for example, there are people who think that all the intervention of United Estates in Arabic countries is because a subject behind of what they show: the oil. Independent, Braudel(1994) says that “material and biological conditions always help determine the destiny of civilizations” (pag 18), a field money-depended.

Maybe the conflicts can be stronger between civilizations due to the differences in values, ideas, etc., but it will not be because of cultural or religion dissimilarities between two groups of countries that a war will begin.

The Clash of civilizations?  is valuable in its different point of view about the world, the past, the future relations between countries, and the importance of the culture and religion, giving some clues that are already happening, as the revitalization of the local cultures, seen in the increase of enforce in teaching original languages, activities and recognition of remarkable individuals . However it has some unclear subjects and some others that are at least questionable.



Braudel, F.

1994    A History of Civilizations. 600 p. new York: A. Lane.


Catalá, M.  

2000    La participación y comunicación: discurso publicitario actual., Sociología [on-line]. Available from:


European Commission Multilingualism.

2010    EU Languages and Language Policy [on-line]. Available from:



Huntington, S.

1993    The Clash of Civilizations? Foreign Affairs. pp.22-39          


Riviere, R.

2011    Asia VI. Religiones No Cristianas. Enciclopedia GER [on-line]. Available from:          

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