Foreign Affairs magazine released a new ebook, The Clash at 20, to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of Samuel Huntington’s seminal essay “The Clash of Civilizations?” Two decades ago, Huntington boldly argued that culture, rather than ideology or geopolitics, would be the driving force of future international conflict, kicking off a debate that continues to this day.
This ebook includes the original article, responses from prominent authors, Huntington’s reply, and recent material on the debate and Huntington. It also features a new introduction by Foreign Affairs Editor Gideon Rose.
In his introduction, Rose discusses Huntington’s argument twenty years after its publication: “There are some things Huntington clearly got right. Cultural variables are very important, even in the modern world. Rather than diminishing them, modernization and development have allowed new opportunities for culture to flourish.” Rose also notes how the essay has been misinterpreted over the years. “Many thought that Huntington believed that civilizational clash was inevitable. In fact, his article was a call to think about the ways in which cultural issues would come back into politics and geopolitics. He actually wanted to avoid clashes where possible.”
The ebook also includes eleven other articles that span the twenty years since the publication of “Clash.” One of the earliest is a response essay by Middle East scholar Fouad Ajami. Ajami retorts that Huntington gives short shrift to the power of modernity and how it will prevent a civilizational conflict: “He has underestimated the tenacity of modernity and secularism in places that acquired these ways against great odds, always perilously close to the abyss, the darkness never far.”
In another essay, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Jeane J. Kirkpatrick acknowledges that Huntington accurately identified the tension between embracing cultural tradition and seeking modernity. “To the extent that they and we are successful in preserving our traditions while accepting the endless changes of modernization, our differences from one another will be preserved, and the need for not just a pluralistic society but a pluralistic world will grow ever more acute.”
Other contributors include Zbigniew Brzezinski, Richard K. Betts, Eliot A. Cohen, Robert L. Bartley, Kishore Mahbubani, Liu Binyan, Albert L. Weeks, Gerald Piek, Stephen Peter Rosen, and Henry Rosovsky.
“Whether you agree or disagree with Huntington, he was a man of enormous influence. This collection is a way to understand how his ideas sparked an ongoing debate that is a cornerstone of contemporary intellectual history,” says Foreign Affairs Publisher Lynda Hammes.
This ebook is available for purchase on Kindle, iTunes, and other ereader platforms. It will soon be available for print on demand. The iPad edition is the latest in the magazine’s special iPad Extras series; it features bonus material such as a video introduction and a panel discussion on the legacy of Huntington with Fareed Zakaria, Francis Fukuyama, Eliot A. Cohen, and Rose. This is the third iPad Extra following “Foreign Affairs on Television” and “Foreign Affairs Summer Reading.”
For more information, please visit www.foreignaffairs.com/clashat20.