A Clash of Civilizations - An Idée Fixe?

Non-refereed Journal Article

Senghaas, Dieter (1998) A Clash of Civilizations - An Idée Fixe?, Journal of Peace Research 35(1): 127–132.

Huntington's thesis on the prospective clash of civilizations is criticized in two directions: neither the original article or the book gives any systematic analysis of the inherent link between the cultural characteristics of civilizations and the actual behavior of core representatives of such civilizations. Although Huntington's thesis is more plausible at the micro-level, his argument is deficient here as well: most ethnopolitical conflicts in the modern world result from protracted socio-economic discrimination rather than from cultural roots. The culturalization of such conflicts is, as a rule, a relatively late phenomenon in an escalation process, turning socio-economic conflicts into identity conflicts once the level of collective frustration becomes high. In contrast to his empirical analysis, Huntington's political recipe of non-intervention, joint mediation and finding commonalities among key representatives of different civilizations can be applauded, but they are in strange contradiction to the book-length analysis presented by the author.