Clash of civilisations

All the liberal ideals, globalisation have been unable to erase factors of ethnicities, races, language and religion

Aneela Shahzad March 05, 2021
The writer is a geopolitical analyst. She also writes at and tweets @AneelaShahzad

In his famous essay, The Lonely Superpower, published 1999, Samuel Huntington predicted the near end of the United States as a superpower. He wrote, “Global politics has thus moved from the bipolar system of the Cold War through a unipolar moment — highlighted by the Gulf War — and is now passing through one or two uni-multipolar decades before it enters a truly multipolar 21st century.” Huntington predicted that cultural and religious identities will be the primary source of conflict in the post-Cold War world.

When the phenomenon of Islamic terrorism rose post-9/11, the West portrayed Al Qaeda as a civilisational confrontation between a modern, progressive Western society and an extremist, murderous entity that had emerged as an essential by-product of Islam, and Huntington’s prediction seemed to be coming true. Even though it is true that Islam, Christianity and all other religions have had civilisational clashes, it has been an age-long phenomenon, not one that came out just after 9/11. And it took two decades for the affected nation to comprehend the Third Generation Warfare factors behind Islamic terrorism, and how they could be curbed.

Later, carrying on from Al Qaeda and Daesh, flowered a new phenomenon, that of the Arab Spring. The Spring that seemed to be a people’s rise against dictatorships was actually, in retrospect, a series of Colour Revolutions that the Nato allies tried to cash especially in Libya and Syria. Again, if that was indeed the case, it was a clash between the White Christian civilisation and the Arab Muslim civilisation, that wholly played out on Middle Eastern soil.

Is this clash between the Muslims and the West the only one? Or are there other civilisations bound in factors like history, language, culture, tradition and religion that are at odds with each other? In fact, Huntington described the Orthodox world of the former Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece and Romania as a separate civilisation as opposed to the Protestant world that we call the Western civilisation. The Orthodox churches separated from the Roman Catholic in 1054 AD, and it was always championed by the Russian tsars, and later Communism further isolated the Orthodox countries from the West.

The East European countries are populated by the Indo-European race while Western Europe was of the White Europid race. With Protestantism the West became more open to liberal ideas, the family unit contracted, artisanship and competitiveness increased and industrial economy boomed. But in Eastern Europe, large family systems and pastoral farming was replaced only by government-owned collective farms and industries, thus making the societies non-competitive and unable to keep pace with their western neighbours. Economic disparity is so vast between Eastern and Western Europe that if the GDP of Germany, France and Italy are in the $3,000, 2,000 and 1,000 billion range, those of Belarus, Albania and Moldova are in the $40, 10 and 6 billion range. After the Cold War, Russia started reasserting its influence in the “post-Soviet space” and it seems that this clash has reignited and Russia has increasingly made Nato’s penetration into Eastern Europe difficult.

The Latin American civilisation, whose indigenous Amerindians were beaten back by Spanish and Portuguese colonisation, is another example. In the 1990s Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, Lula da Silva of Brazil and Evo Morales of Bolivia decided to move to the socialist ideal and break away from open markets and privatisation, eventually breaking South America from the clout of the “Washington consensus”. Though their movement, the Pink Tide, has suffered a lot, yet it remains a living strength threatening the interests and security of the White race in the north that had come to rule them centuries ago.

Then there is the African Black civilisation, which was hunted down in the horrifying slave-era, since the early 1500s; and later, from 1870 onwards, their whole countries were colonised. Post-WWII, when nations started struggling for their independences, the Western masters formulated neocolonial tactics to keep them under their control even after they had left. Today, struck by a “resource-curse”, Africa is teeming with rebel movements that are funded and armed from foreign sources, most state borders are homes to millions of refugees, most states have experienced the horrors of genocide, most have vast populations of internally displaced people and most are strife with hunger and disease. If one had a vision, one would see Africa as a huge cauldron of semi-excited lava, bubbling up here and there all the while — and would describe Africa as extremely unstable and volatile — waiting for an awareness leading to real freedom.

The Sinic, the Indian and the Japanese are single-state civilisations, of which China and India have the largest populations. This gives them a potential clout for political and economic manoeuvring, which China is already using to the fullest. The US-China trade war is thus a civilisational war between the Han Chinese and the White (European) Americans, wherein the latter is trying to pitch the Indo-Aryan Hindus against the Hans — which hopefully will not end in the devastation of war.

It seems that all the liberal ideals and globalisation have been unable to erase the identity factors of ethnicities, races, language and religion. In fact, race, language and religion have been cross-border uniting factors, yet they tend to insulate their own kind from the “others”. Indeed, humanity would be far better off if it would be a one-humanity, but as long as there are powerful entities that feed on cleavages to satisfy their interests — opposing interests will always be there, and humanity will remain fractured.

The only way for a global harmony is unity in diversity, acceptance of differences, mutual respect for everyone’s sovereignty and sovereign rights upon their own resources. A real clash between civilisations will potentially cost humanity a price it won’t be able to pay!

Published in The Express Tribune, March 5th, 2021.

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