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The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order

The classic study of post-Cold War international relations

By Samuel P. Huntington
12-minute read
Audio available
The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order by Samuel P. Huntington

Since the end of the Cold War, the global order has been in a state of constant flux. Huntington’s incredibly influential The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (1996) is both an analysis of the situation and a harbinger of things to come. The book dives deep into geopolitical tensions, and suggests what should be done to ensure the dominance of Western civilization.

  • Students of international relations and geopolitics
  • People interested in the future of global conflict
  • Anyone trying to understand the presumptuousness of much American foreign policy

Samuel P. Huntington was a political scientist whose books played a highly influential role in forming modern American foreign policy. He spent over 50 years at Harvard University, where he was Director of the Center for International Affairs. He also wrote Who Are We? The Challenges to America's National Identity and Political Order in Changing Societies.

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The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order

By Samuel P. Huntington
  • Read in 12 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 7 key ideas
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The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order by Samuel P. Huntington
Synopsis

Since the end of the Cold War, the global order has been in a state of constant flux. Huntington’s incredibly influential The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (1996) is both an analysis of the situation and a harbinger of things to come. The book dives deep into geopolitical tensions, and suggests what should be done to ensure the dominance of Western civilization.

Key idea 1 of 7

The West has dominated all other world civilizations for the last 500 years.

Civilizations have existed for millennia. Civilizations developed when people with common cultures and ways of life began living together, and particular customs, languages and worldviews emerged.

At the end of the twentieth century, the author reckoned there were eight civilizations in total: Western, Orthodox, Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu, African, Latin American, Chinese, and Japanese.

But it wasn’t always this way. In fact, before 1500, Chinese and Islamic civilizations were more advanced militarily, economically and culturally than Christian Western Europe.

But the European Renaissance changed this balance. By 1500, the West had begun ascending to a position of global dominance due to technological progress, accelerating economic growth and increased social pluralism.

There are two specific reasons for this.

First, the West formed a multipolar international system. In other words, nations that were close to each other, such as Britain, France and Germany, though they were often fighting each other, cooperated politically and economically. This cooperation enabled these nations to grow closer and stronger, which, in turn, enabled Renaissance ideas to spread quickly. This resulted in a technological boom, and seemingly impossible feats – such as transatlantic ocean travel – soon became commonplace.

In contrast, the Andean and Mesoamerican civilizations behaved quite differently. They had almost no contact with each other until Europeans arrived. They lived huge distances apart and simply lacked the technology to make such journeys.

Second, after 1500, the West began conquering and colonizing. They had all the firepower and advanced navigation technologies they needed to expand their commercial empires. Before long, the influence of Western ideas, politics and religion could be felt the world over. And the West still dominates to this day.

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