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Clash of Civilizations without Civilizational Groups: Revisiting Samuel P. Huntington´s Clash of Civilizations Theory

Authors: Jamal Abdi


This paper is largely a response/critique of Samuel P. Huntington´s Clash of Civilizations thesis. The overriding argument is that Huntington´s thesis is characterized by failure to distinguish between ´groups´ and ´categories´. Multinational civilizations overcoming their internal collective action problems, which would enable them to pursue a unified strategy vis-à-vis the West, is a rather foundational assumption in his theory. Without assigning sufficient intellectual attention to the processes through which multinational civilizations may gain capacity for concerted action i.e. become a group, he contended that the post-cold-war world would be shaped in large measure by interactions among seven or eight major civilizations. Thus, failure in providing a convincing analysis of multi-national civilizations´ transition from categories to groups is a significant weakness in Huntington´s clash theory. It is also suggested that so-called Islamic terrorism and the war on terror is not to be taken as an expression of presence of clash between a Western and an Islamic civilization, as terrorist organizations would be superfluous in a world characterized by clash of civilizations. Consequences of multinational civilizations becoming a group are discussed in relation to contemporary Western superiority.

Keywords: Clash of civilizations, groups, categories, groupism.

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