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Samuel Phillips Huntington

Huntington_Samuel

 

Samuel Phillips Huntington

(April 18, 1927–December 24, 2008) was an American political scientist who gained prominence through his Clash of Civilizations (1993, 1996) thesis of a post-Cold War new world order. Previously, his academic reputation had rested on his analysis of the relationship between the military and the civil government, his investigation of coups d’état, and his more recent analysis of threats posed to the U.S. by contemporary immigration.

Biography

Huntington was born on April 18, 1927, in New York City.[1] He graduated with distinction from Yale University at age 18, served in the U.S. Army, earned his Master’s degree from the University of Chicago, and completed his Ph.D. at Harvard University where he began teaching at age 23.[2] He was a member of Harvard’s department of government from 1950 until his death.From 1959 to 1962 he was an associate professor of government at Columbia University where he was also Deputy Director of The Institute for War and Peace Studies.

His first major book was The Soldier and the State: The Theory and Politics of Civil-Military Relations, (1957) which was highly controversial when it was published but today is regarded as the most influential book on American civil-military relations.[citation needed] He became prominent with his Political Order in Changing Societies (1968), a work that challenged the conventional view of modernization theorists, that economic and social progress would produce stable democracies in recently decolonized countries. As a consultant to the U.S. Department of State, and in an influential 1968 article in Foreign Affairs, he advocated the concentration of the rural population of South Vietnam as a means of isolating the Viet Cong. He also was co-author of The Crisis of Democracy: On the Governability of Democracies, a report issued by the Trilateral Commission in 1976. During 1977 and 1978, in the administration of Jimmy Carter, he was the White House Coordinator of Security Planning for the National Security Council.

Huntington died on December 24, 2008 at age 81 on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.[1]

Political Order in Changing Societies

Main article: Political Order in Changing Societies

In 1968, just as the United States’ war in Vietnam was reaching its apex, Huntington published Political Order in Changing Societies, which was a well thought-out critique of the modernization theory which had driven much US policy in the developing world in the prior decade.

Huntington argues that, as societies modernize, they become more complex and disordered. If the process of social modernization that produces this disorder is not matched by a process of political and institutional modernization–a process which produces political institutions capable of managing the stress of modernization–the result may be violence.

In the 1970s, Huntington applied his theoretical insights as an advisor to governments, both democratic and dictatorial. In 1972, he met with Medici government representatives in Brazil; a year later he published the report “Approaches to Political Decompression”, warning against the risks of a too-rapid political liberalization, proposing graduated liberalization, and a strong party state modeled upon the image of the Mexican Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). After a prolonged transition, Brazil became democratic in 1985.

Huntington frequently cited Brazil as a success, alluding to his role in his 1988 presidential address to the American Political Science Association, commenting that political science played a modest role in this process. Critics, such as British political scientist Alan Hooper, note that contemporary Brazil has an especially unstable party system, wherein the best institutionalized party, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s Workers’ Party emerged in opposition to controlled-transition. Moreover, Hooper claims that the lack of civil participation in contemporary Brazil stems from that top-down process of political participation transition.

 

Main Arguments

The Clash of Civilizations

For more details on this topic, see Clash of Civilizations.

 

A map of civilizations, based on Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations”. Bright red = Japanese, dark red = Sinic, orange = Hindu, green = Islamic, medium-light blue = Orthodox, dark blue = Western, purple = Latin American, brown = African. Other colors (light green, yellow, turquoise) indicate mixed civilizations or perhaps attempts to found civilizations.

In 1993, Professor Huntington provoked great debate among international relations theorists with the interrogatively-titled “The Clash of Civilizations?”, an extremely influential, oft-cited article published in Foreign Affairs magazine. Its description of post–Cold War geopolitics contrasted with the influential End of History thesis advocated by Francis Fukuyama.

Huntington expanded “The Clash of Civilizations?” to book length and published it as The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order in 1996. The article and the book posit that post–Cold War conflict would most frequently and violently occur because of cultural rather than ideological differences. That, whilst in the Cold War, conflict likely occurred between the Capitalist West and the Communist Bloc East, it now was most likely to occur between the world’s major civilizations — identifying seven, and a possible eighth: (i) Western, (ii) Latin American, (iii) Islamic, (iv) Sinic (Chinese), (v) Hindu, (vi) Orthodox, (vii) Japanese, and (viii) the African. This cultural organization contrasts the contemporary world with the classical notion of sovereign states. To understand current and future conflict, cultural rifts must be understood, and culture — rather than the State — must be accepted as the locus of war. Thus, Western nations will lose predominance if they fail to recognize the irreconcilable nature of cultural tensions.

Critics (for example articles in Le Monde Diplomatique) call The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order the theoretical legitimization of American-led Western aggression against China and the world’s Islamic cultures. Nevertheless, this post–Cold War shift in geopolitical organization and structure requires that the West internally strengthen itself culturally, by abandoning the imposition of its ideal of democratic universalism and its incessant military interventionism. Other critics argue that Prof. Huntington’s taxonomy is simplistic and arbitrary, and does not take account of the internal dynamics and partisan tensions within civilizations. Huntington’s influence upon U.S. policy has been likened to that of British historian A.J. Toynbee‘s controversial religious theories about Asian leaders in the early twentieth century.

The New York Times obituary on Samuel Huntington notes, however, that his “emphasis on ancient religious empires, as opposed to states or ethnicities, [as sources of global conflict] gained…more cachet after the Sept. 11 attacks.”[3] The LA Times columnist Jonah Goldberg observes that Professor Huntington, whom he called “one of the lions of 20th century social science,” was not shy at spotting trends and making predictions but he did so based on a solid grasp of the facts.[4] Goldberg reports that Huntington’s 1996 “The Clash of Civilizations” work:

“was deeply, and often willfully, misunderstood and mischaracterized by those who didn’t want it to be true. But after 9/11, it largely set the terms for how we look at the world. In it, he argued that culture, religion and tradition are not background noise, as materialists of the left and the right often argue. Rather, they constitute the drumbeat to which whole civilizations march. This view ran counter to important constituencies. The idea that man can be reduced to homo economicus has adherents among some free-market economists, most Marxists and others. But it’s nonsense on stilts. Most of the globe’s intractable conflicts are more clearly viewed through the prisms of culture and history than that of the green eyeshade. Tensions between India and Pakistan or Israel and the Arab world have little to do with GDP.”[4]


Who Are We and immigration

Professor Huntington’s latest book, Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity, was published in May 2004. Its subject is the meaning of American national identity and the possible cultural threat posed to it by large-scale Latino immigration, which Huntington warns could “divide the United States into two peoples, two cultures, and two languages“.

There is some criticism about this book. For details see Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity.


Others

Huntington is credited with coining the phrase Davos Man, referring to global elites who “have little need for national loyalty, view national boundaries as obstacles that thankfully are vanishing, and see national governments as residues from the past whose only useful function is to facilitate the elite’s global operations”. The phrase refers to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where leaders of the global economy meet.[5]

Selected Publications

 

HuntingtonClash

Courtesy : Wilkipedia

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