It’s clear that we live in a world of conflict. From the small scale, and tame, to the world wars, it’s no surprise that conflict is real. It seems that a conflict can come from any time, and anywhere, for no particular reason. However, in Samuel P Huntington’s seminal work “Clash of Civilizations”, He specially highlights how, in essence, human conflicts exist for usually one, two, or some other combination of six basic reasons. This is interesting and newsworthy since, if we can track down the causes of conflicts, perhaps we as a society can come around to solving some of the major ones. The following are six of the most common reasons for which clashes occur between civilizations, as mentioned by Huntington.
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Differences among civilizations can spark conflict. There are, and have been numerous civilizations in human history, differentiated from each other by various factors, these include: history, language, culture, tradition, and perhaps the most conflicted and tense differentiation, religion. As these constituents are formed over decades and decades, rarely are civilizations happy to let them go without putting up a fight, and with the greed all civilizations possess to expand, a perfect storm of conflict is formed.
As time goes on, the world becomes smaller and smaller, not literally, but figuratively. It can be said that interactions between civilizations increase over time as technological advances occur. The increased scope for communication makes it so clashes between civilizations occur more and more often as they communicate regarding ideologies and viewpoints more frequently and openly.
Due to economic, social, and technological change that occurs at a rapid rate, people are consistently separated from their local, cultural identities. Instead, religion has replaced, and filled this gap, which provides people who are culturally lost with a basis for identity and commitment that transcends national boundaries, and tends to unite civilizations. As mentioned above, religious conflicts are some of the most prominent and destructive and history, so this is a point of note.
The west is a large point of contention, and has been for the past half-decade. The whole world seems to be amalgamating into a “global culture” which mostly seems influenced by the trends and idiosyncrasies of the western world, namely the United States. Furthermore, it seems the west plays a dual role in today’s world. On the one hand, the West is at a peak of power. At the same time, a return-to-the-roots phenomenon is occurring among non-Western civilizations. A West at the peak of its power confronts non-Western countries that increasingly have the desire, the will and the resources to shape the world in non-Western ways.
Cultural characteristics and differences have become less and less mutable over time. This creates a conflict of interest amongst nations as while political and economic conflicts may be resolved with relative ease and consistency, cultural ones are treated with stubbornness and a “never say die” attitude. This leads to a majority of clashes amongst civilizations coming from cultural discrepancies.
Lastly, the concept of ‘economic regionalism’ is increasing. Successful economic zoning reinforces consciousness of one’s civilization or economic identity. This idea of economic disparity amongst nations leads to conflicts, as nations strive to increase their economic standings and stabilities.