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No Escape

Bruce Robbins: Culture, 1 November 2001

Culture Matters: How Values Shape Human Progress 
edited by Samuel Huntington and Lawrence Harrison.
Basic Books, 384 pp., £12.99, April 2001, 0 465 03176 5
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by Francis Mulhern.
Routledge, 198 pp., £8.99, March 2000, 0 415 10230 8
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Culture: The Anthropologists’ Account 
by Adam Kuper.
Harvard, 299 pp., £12.50, November 2000, 0 674 00417 5
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... to the 19th century’s self-congratulatory belief in the West’s ‘civilising mission’, Huntington and Harrison have discovered that the West can keep on congratulating itself – not this time on its exportable civilisation, but on its particular culture. The disparity between the misery of others and our relative well-being has nothing to do with ...

In Search of New Enemies

Stephen Holmes, 24 April 1997

The Clash of Civilisations and the Remaking of World Order 
by Samuel Huntington.
Simon and Schuster, 370 pp., £16.99, February 1997, 0 684 81164 2
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... Samuel Huntington, the Harvard professor and self-styled defender of Western civilisation, has been a dominant voice in American political science for thirty years. Roughly contemporary, as a Harvard graduate student in security studies, with Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski, Huntington failed to achieve their spectacular level of success in Washington, although he did rise to a second-tier position in the National Security Council under President Jimmy Carter ...

The Frighteners

Jeremy Harding, 20 March 1997

The Ends of the Earth 
by Robert Kaplan.
Macmillan, 476 pp., £10, January 1997, 0 333 64255 4
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... disease, rivalry, violence. ‘The Clash of Civilisations’, the equally famous article which Samuel Huntington published in Foreign Affairs in 1993, was acknowledged, but Kaplan was more intent on his own woeful findings (Egypt, for example, as the likely site of religious upheaval after a ‘truly biblical fashion’; Ivory Coast as ‘an African ...

The Academy of Lagado

Edward Said: The US Administration’s misguided war, 17 April 2003

... human experience was out: resounding pronouncements about the clash of civilisations were in (Samuel Huntington derived his lucrative concept from one of Lewis’s essays about the ‘return of Islam’). A generalist and an ideologue, Lewis found a new audience within the American Zionist lobby to whom, in journals such as Commentary and later the ...


Colin Kidd: The Invention of Globalisation, 2 September 2004

Birth of the Modern World 1780-1914: Global Connections and Comparisons 
by C.A. Bayly.
Blackwell, 568 pp., £65, January 2004, 0 631 18799 5
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... the future world order initiated by political scientists, most prominently Francis Fukuyama and Samuel Huntington. Unfortunately, both Fukuyama and Huntington grounded their prophecies on a schematic universal history of the sort liable to engender an allergic reaction in most historians. Whereas Fukuyama predicted ...


Jackson Lears: On Chomsky, 4 May 2017

Why Only Us: Language and Evolution 
by Robert Berwick and Noam Chomsky.
MIT, 215 pp., £18.95, February 2016, 978 0 262 03424 1
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Because We Say So 
by Noam Chomsky.
Penguin, 199 pp., £9.99, August 2016, 978 0 241 97248 9
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What Kind of Creatures Are We? 
by Noam Chomsky.
Columbia, 167 pp., £17, January 2016, 978 0 231 17596 8
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Who Rules the World? 
by Noam Chomsky.
Hamish Hamilton, 307 pp., £18.99, May 2016, 978 0 241 18943 6
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Chomsky: Ideas and Ideals 
by Neil Smith and Nicholas Allott.
Cambridge, 461 pp., £18.99, January 2016, 978 1 107 44267 2
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... defenders of freedom. As early as 1999, the US was seen by many as a ‘rogue superpower’, as Samuel Huntington observed in Foreign Affairs. An international poll conducted by the BBC in 2013 confirmed that the US was viewed as the most dangerous nation on earth by a large margin. American policymakers and pundits seem unaware of this global ...

Staying Alive in the Ruins

Richard J. Evans: Plato to Nato, 22 April 2021

Ruin and Renewal: Civilising Europe after World War Two 
by Paul Betts.
Profile, 536 pp., £25, November 2020, 978 1 78816 109 1
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... in the eyes of Christian conservatives, Islam provided a handy substitute. ‘Global politics,’ Samuel Huntington wrote in 1996, ‘is the politics of civilisations,’ a politics in which the ‘rivalry of the superpowers is replaced by the clash of civilisations’. The sense that Christian civilisation was threatened by violent Islamist barbarians ...

The Military and the Mullahs

Owen Bennett-Jones, 3 March 2016

... 50 per cent of people expected to see the appearance of the Mahdi in their lifetime. In​ 1968 Samuel Huntington argued that the weak political institutions of many postcolonial countries would be unable to cope with the pace of social and economic change in the developing world. Trends such as urbanisation and industrialisation carried the risk of ...

Politics and the Prophet

Malise Ruthven, 1 August 1996

Lords of the Lebanese Marches: Violence and Narrative in an Arab Society 
by Michael Gilsenan.
Tauris, 377 pp., £14.95, February 1996, 1 85043 099 3
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The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World 
edited by John L. Esposito.
Oxford, 480 pp., £295, June 1995, 0 19 506613 8
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Unfolding Islam 
by P.J. Stewart.
Garnet, 268 pp., £25, February 1995, 9780863721946
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Islam and the Myth of Confrontation: Religion and Politics in the Middle East 
by Fred Halliday.
Tauris, 256 pp., £35, January 1996, 1 86064 004 4
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... with admirable lucidity, this is one aspect of the myth of confrontation recently popularised by Samuel Huntington of Harvard. Yet for Halliday the idea that Islamic and Western ‘civilisations’ are on a collision course is in reality a reflection of conflicts within the Islamic world. ‘The myth of confrontation,’ Halliday writes, ‘is sustained ...

A Trap of Their Own Making

Anatol Lieven: The consequences of the new imperialism, 8 May 2003

... affairs. While it is true that an element of democratic messianism is built into what Samuel Huntington and others have called ‘the American Creed’, it is also the case that many Americans have a deep scepticism – healthy or chauvinist according to taste – about the ability of other countries to develop their own forms of ...

Capitalism without Capital

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 26 May 1994

The Endangered American Dream: How to Stop the United States from Becoming a Third World Country and Win the Geo-Economic Struggle for Industrial Supremacy 
by Edward Luttwak.
Simon and Schuster, 365 pp., $24, October 1993, 0 671 86963 9
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Japan’s Capitalism: Creative Defeat and Beyond 
by Shigeto Tsuru.
Cambridge, 277 pp., £24.95, June 1993, 0 521 36058 7
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... are desperate men. Not for them a reassertion of the American Way, a call to arms of the kind that Samuel Huntington made in the journal Foreign Affairs last summer, in which he described the new world disorder as ‘a clash of cultures’ and suggested that the West was going to have to go on the offensive to defend its own against the Rest. Unless they ...


Perry Anderson, 28 January 2010

When China Rules the World: The Rise of the Middle Kingdom and the End of the Western World 
by Martin Jacques.
Allen Lane, 550 pp., £30, June 2009, 978 0 7139 9254 0
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Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics: Entrepreneurship and the State 
by Yasheng Huang.
Cambridge, 348 pp., £15.99, November 2008, 978 0 521 89810 2
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Against the Law: Labour Protests in China’s Rustbelt and Sunbelt 
by Ching Kwan Lee.
California, 325 pp., £15.95, June 2007, 978 0 520 25097 0
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... Talk of ‘civilisations’ is notoriously self-serving, and delimitations of them arbitrary: Samuel Huntington arrived, rather desperately, at eight or nine – including an African, Latin American and Eastern Orthodox civilisation. Nothing is gained by affixing this embellishment to the PRC. Like France in the 1930s or 1950s, contemporary China is ...

Why stop at two?

Greg Grandin: Latin America Pulls Away, 22 October 2009

Leftovers: Tales of the Latin American Left 
edited by Jorge Castañeda and Marco Morales.
Routledge, 267 pp., £17.99, February 2008, 978 0 415 95671 0
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... and Latin America was now the laboratory for a more stringent form of modernisation. Samuel Huntington was frank: ‘democracy,’ he wrote in 1989, ‘is clearly compatible with inequality in both wealth and income, and, in some measure, it may be dependent on such inequality.’ By the time the Berlin Wall came down that November, almost ...

What Is Great about Ourselves

Pankaj Mishra: Closing Time, 21 September 2017

The Retreat of Western Liberalism 
by Edward Luce.
Little, Brown, 240 pp., £16.99, May 2017, 978 1 4087 1041 8
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The Fate of the West: Battle to Save the World’s Most Successful Political Idea 
by Bill Emmott.
Economist, 257 pp., £22, May 2017, 978 1 61039 780 3
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The Road to Somewhere: The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics 
by David Goodhart.
Hurst, 256 pp., £20, March 2017, 978 1 84904 799 9
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The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics 
by Mark Lilla.
Harper, 143 pp., £20, August 2017, 978 0 06 269743 1
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The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam 
by Douglas Murray.
Bloomsbury, 343 pp., £18.99, May 2017, 978 1 4729 4224 1
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... as criticism’. Worried that Hispanics were undermining ‘Anglo-Protestant society’, Samuel Huntington, writing in Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity (2004), denounced multiculturalism as an anti-Western ideology. Westerners themselves, others argued, were the most fanatical anti-Westernists. On this view, a ...

What did happen?

David Edgar: Ukraine, 21 January 2016

The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine 
by Serhii Plokhy.
Allen Lane, 381 pp., £25, December 2015, 978 0 241 18808 8
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In Wartime: Stories from Ukraine 
by Tim Judah.
Allen Lane, 256 pp., £20, January 2016, 978 0 241 19882 7
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Ukraine Crisis: What It Means for the West 
by Andrew Wilson.
Yale, 236 pp., £12.99, October 2014, 978 0 300 21159 7
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Frontline Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands 
by Richard Sakwa.
I.B. Tauris, 297 pp., £9.99, January 2015, 978 1 78453 527 8
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... law by Poroshenko. In his 1996 polemic The Clash of Civilisations and the Remaking of World Order, Samuel Huntington drew the frontier between the Western and the Orthodox worlds down the middle of Ukraine. The more than nine thousand deaths in the eastern war have served only to solidify that border. On the western side, there is a currently unfeasible ...

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