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Samuel P. Huntington

HuntingtonHuntington  was one of the most controversial of American political theorists. Where his friends and contemporaries Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski, while authors of substantial works, were best remembered for holding high office, Huntington was essentially an academic,

a Harvard professor who worked incidentally as a consultant for the State Department, the National Security Council and the CIA under the Johnson and Carter administrations.
A cold war liberal with a conservative cast of mind, he tossed highly personal ideas around like confetti. Some were wild and, for many, pernicious; others have come to be seen as wise and prescient. The Nuremberg war crimes trials prosecutor Telford Taylor summed him up as a man whose "store of iconoclasm" was "virtually inexhaustible".
His most famous book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (1996), started life as an article in the establishment journal, Foreign Affairs. In it he argued that the conflicts of the future would not be between ideologies but between "civilisations" defined by culture. He enumerated seven or eight of these, in the manner of an Arnold Toynbee: the west, Islam, orthodox Christianity, Latin America, the "Sinic" (Chinese) civilisation, the Hindu world, Japan, and perhaps Africa. He predicted that the most likely conflicts would be between the west and Islam or China. Departing from his (critical) support for the US in the Vietnam war, he said: "Western intervention in the affairs of other civilisations is probably the single most dangerous source of instability and potential global conflict in a multi-civilisational world."
The book set off a thunderous debate in American academic and intellectual circles between Huntington's supporters and those of his former pupil, Francis Fukuyama. Where Huntington predicted divisions in which the west would be only one of several competing civilisations, Fukuyama (who has changed his mind since) saw the collapse of communism as marking the triumph of western and especially American ideas, "the end of history".
Huntington's last book was perhaps the most controversial and certainly the least well received. In Who Are We? The Challenges to America's National Identity (2004), he predicted dire consequences from Hispanic immigration. The US, he argued, is defined '"in large part by its Anglo-Protestant culture and its religiosity". Spanish-speaking immigrants would transform America into "a country of two languages, two cultures, and two peoples".(Source:  theguardian.com)

Category: Humanities
Known for:  Clash of Civilizations
History:  1927 – 2008

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