Conducting an assessment of instructional materials is fundamental to achieving high standards of academic achievement. Reading followed by analysis allows one to summarize the knowledge gained and compare different sections of a book together and examine the literature critically. These statements are especially true of seminal works that have had a significant impact on the relevant branch of knowledge relevant to the present work. In particular, it refers to the philosophical-historical treatise Clash of civilizations and the remaking of world order by the American sociologist Samuel Huntington. The book’s central focus is to explore the phenomenology of the deep crisis socioeconomic and political agenda of the world as a legacy of the Cold War era. A reading of this study material leads one to the unequivocal conclusion that the book has a predictive function. Thus, Huntington assessed trends toward the essence of future wars and described the most hostile, threatening religion of the future, which is modernity for current residents. This paper aims to provide a critical review of this book.
It is paramount to emphasize that the book Clash of civilizations and the remaking of world order should be seen as a natural summary of the urgent trend of the entire world toward unification and integration, as realized on the cultural, socioeconomic, and political levels. In other words, Huntington (1996) describes a commitment to a globalization strategy in which there is a convergence between the open countries of the world. Thus, all the inferences and intermediate conclusions drawn by the sociologist must be viewed through the prism of globalization processes.
As an American, Huntington expresses rather radical ideas in the book, which can be seen as a counter-argument to Western values. In more detail, the author describes that the West (meaning the United States) has effectively created a world order in which countries find themselves dependent on US policies to a certain extent. Such an international system of dependencies has its own rules, written by the West, and a controlling body that may seem international and independent at first glance. In reality, Huntington writes of the UN, calling it a manifestation of American will. However, the existence of such an order is rapidly being replaced by a shift in focus to the East World, in which the countries of Central and East Asia (China, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Singapore) are showing rapid economic growth. Along with this growth, the regions are becoming more independent from the influence of Western values.
When discussing the prosperity of the Eastern states, Huntington paid particular attention to the Islamic regions and China. In general, it should be said that China, according to the sociologist, should become the greatest enemy and threat to the West for cultural, social, and moral reasons. At the same time, the Islamic Renaissance described by the author also represents the emergence of an essential threat to the entire capitalist world and the United States in particular. In this regard, it is impossible not to note the connection between Islamism and a bloody religious regime: “Islam’s borders are bloody” (Huntington, 1996, p. 256). Huntington makes a very radical statement underlining this connection but justifies it because of high pressure (religious, geopolitical, and cultural) on the regions practicing Islam.
In general, it should be recognized that the whole book is a collection of separate micro-themes, each of which assesses the significance of a particular civilization or culture for the geopolitical agenda. However, there is no need to delve into a discussion of such sections; instead, one should summarize the key ideas of the entire treatise. Thus, a fundamental thought was the recognition of the idea that all future conflicts “will be cultural” (p. ). Consequently, the clash of civilizations (which is reflected in the title) will become the central dominant factor in world politics. However, Huntington backed up these predictions in the form of historical analysis: the man showed that global conflicts had overcome several phases of evolution, among them the Imperial Wars, World War I/II, the Revolution, and, eventually, the Cold War.
The center of the new international politics, which replaced the bipolar Cold War era, is searching for the interaction between Western and non-Western civilizations. Civilizations, in Huntington’s sense, should not be understood in terms of first, second, and third worlds, as they used to be, but should be evaluated “…in terms of ancestry, religion, language, history, values, customs, and institutions…” (p. 21). Ultimately, conflicts will intensify between civilizations, proving the most active on fault lines: the abstract boundaries that enable cultures to be distinguished. The very tendency toward conflict will prove palpable because, in the post-war era, civilizational identity will prove most relevant to countries.
Critical analysis of the treatise read leads to mixed results, which is only natural for material covering such a vast and pressing problem of world development. In the treatise, the author describes his views, predictions, and statements based on historical and retrospective analyses of the world agenda. Consequently, Huntington does not necessarily have to be correct, and therefore criticism of his work is appropriate.
Thus, a one-sided view of cultural diversity, which should lead to conflicts, may seem very radical. It is admissible to add that Huntington pointed to the possibility of fraternal state associations — for example, the CIS or the European Union — however, it should be understood that such associations are built around a strong power, one of the central players in the political arena. On the contrary, there is undoubtedly a tendency to strengthen cultural sovereignty in the modern world, but globalization processes are more intense. Huntington did not foresee a widespread expansion of the Internet and the creation of social networks, and this seems to be one of his major mistakes. The emergence of the platforms described above (American and Chinese) has brought different, even contradictory, cultures much closer together, and the daily communicative exchange of experience and knowledge is distancing the world from states of civilizational conflict.
At a certain point in the reading, it might have seemed that the essence of the entire treatise was a discussion of a system of relationships in which the United States confronts the rest of the world. Huntington discussed tensions between the US and Saudi Arabia, China, and Russia (USSR), so it is appropriate to assert some egocentricity of the entire treatise around the system of Western values. Ultimately, “every civilization sees itself as the center of the world…” (p. 54). This seems to go against the original orientation of the book, which assesses the world order. It could be seen as yet another justification for American brutality and a desire to dominate (culturally and politically) other countries at a time when this was not necessary: the Iraq War, for example.
These criticisms, however, do not diminish the fundamental importance of Huntington’s book. First and foremost, the significance of a comprehensive (or almost) summary of global political trends that would not previously have been collected in a book that has received such wide distribution should be emphasized. In other words, Huntington can be seen as a popularizer of liberal thought and the ideology of inevitable conflict. The book then becomes a kind of vision or prognostic instruction for how the world will develop after the end of the Cold War: the collapse of the communist value system of the USSR and the emergence of a new center of European political power. This gives the work a certain edge and shows it to be something more profound than a superficial discussion of the idea of conflict.
At the same time, the relevance and the kind of truthfulness described in the treatise pages are remarkable. If one critically assesses the current agenda, radical Islamism (“ISIS”) can indeed be regarded as one of the main threats to the developed world. On the other hand, it is impossible not to notice the emerging conflicts between countries that systematically occur between seemingly close countries of Central Asia, the Persian Gulf, and the Black Sea: between Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan; between Georgia and Abkhazia. The nature of such conflicts is not so much political as it is religious and ideological, and thus Huntington’s ideological basis is confirmed.
While reading this book, it was impossible to keep one’s mind off the ambiguity and categorical nature of many of the statements. Thus, the personal opinion of the author of this review did not always coincide with Huntington’s radical beliefs, although this did not mean that anyone was suitable. At the same time, many of the author’s colleagues and acquaintances ridiculed the book and were very skeptical, which created a specific pattern of prior expectations of what they read. The ambivalence of the personal response also meant that it was difficult to ignore the fundamental nature of this treatise while reading it. To put it another way, a relatively large number of statements and statements were taken on faith since the academic’s authority cannot be denied.
It is impossible not to note that reading the book was associated with the emergence of different associations and examples from other sources. In more detail, the information on conflicts at the international level resembled Marx’s theory of micro-level conflicts within communities. At the same time, Huntington’s belief in forming a system of multicivilizational centers gave rise to ideas about the cyclical existence of all human civilizations. Consequently, there are expectations that in a few decades, the world will return to a system of bipolar relations.
Thus, this work made a very vague impression on the author of the review. On the one hand, the treatise should be preserved as a cultural legacy of the evolution of thought in the postwar era and should continue to be taught to future generations. On the other hand, because of its eccentricity and seeming bias around a system of non-Western values, reading the material can destructively distort perceptions of the globalizing order of the world. One could say that the book forms an attractive picture of the triumph of conflict, in which the reader is gradually convinced of the impossibility of alternative scenarios: “increases in hard economic and military power produce enhanced self-confidence…” (p. 92). Therefore, this book should be recommended only to adults who have already formed their philosophy of the geopolitical picture.
In conclusion, one should emphasize the importance of conducting a critical evaluation of educational materials, which allows forming own professional view of the issue under discussion. This paper reviewed the book Clash of civilizations and the remaking of world order by Samuel Huntington. The central motifs of the entire treatise were discussed, which boil down to the idea that global conflicts are inevitable. Such conflicts, it was shown, would be built around the cultural differences of civilizations. Criticism and praise have also been cited in this work and generally continued in the personal reading impressions section. The book is not a must-read but is recommended as a tool for developing critical thinking. In addition, the book should be read, according to the author, only by people with a stable philosophy; otherwise, it can have a destructive effect.
Huntington, S. P. (1996). Clash of civilizations and the remaking of world order. Simon & Schuster Paperbacks.