The term geopolitics is of a Swedish origin. It was coined in 1899, by Rudolf Kjellen. For him, in order to perceive a state better and look into its core, what matters is: demo-politics along with ethno-politics, pleto-politics, psycho-politics on one side and on another is: ecopolitics with emperopolitics, autarchopolitics and economopolitics. To these two, two more are added and they include: sociopolitics with included philopolitics and biopolitics. And the last part includes cratopolitics with nomopolitics, praxi-politics and archo-politics added to it.
This concept marks, usually, phenomena of a twentieth century together with all history-changing events that had occurred and left its consequences. For Kjellen as well, this was the concept that was closely connected to the happenings of that time. The concept was later on taken by German’s General Karl Haushofer, that shifted its doctrine when he had formed Zeitschrift fur Geopolitik (Journal for Geopolitics), with an aim of propagating nationalist thinking, that culminated during the reign of Adolf Hitler and horrors of World War II.
Back then this branch or this way of thinking was not used very much and very often. What was followed by these events is the new way of thinking in the domain of international relations and that is- that political geography and geographical factors can be extremely important when conducting foreign policy, political thinking and international relations in general.
However, geopolitics has never ceased to lose its importance and contribution, not only to international relations, but also to the world’s governance. What was marked the most by geopolitics, was the era of the Cold War, lebensraum and Kissinger’s doctrine, besides the first ones who practiced or examined it and who were previously mentioned.
Today, geopolitics has a widespread usage and cannot be neglected. It is not only used by politicians, but also by policy makers, journalists and similar analysts. This challenging discourse is dealing with questions of power and that includes danger, within the scope of international affairs. Another important aspect of this discourse is the comparative framework. Whatever happens on a micro level, such as one city and one place, can be compared to the event that happened in another place and that micro level is put into the macro one and thus a deeper insight is being offered in order to be checked how related the things are.
This is the field where things do not happen coincidentally. They happen because those who hold the power make them happen in the way it suits them, their governance and their interests. As Joseph Nye defined it: „Power is the ability to influence the behavior of others to get the outcomes one wants.“ There are three possible ways to conduct it and that is either through coercion with threats, payments in order to induce behavioral change or to attract and co-opt. It is all about formulating, mobilizing the values, rituals and norms in one social setting.
Another aspect of this field is its sensitivity, but the sensitivity in the sense of cooperation or the lack of it. This might be just another case of Prisioners dilemma.
Political will is another crucial factor, driving force and sustainable mean to overcome polarization between different countries, regions and ways of political thinking. Cooperation should always be above everything, especially in the field of politics, international relations and once this maxim is completed, everything else will simply follow. The importance to foster it is not only because of the development, but because of diminishing the threat of imperialism, competition between states and state-centric reasoning.
As it was mentioned, this discipline is a twentieth century field, but even the events and foreign policies could be viewed through the eyes of geopolitics and seen as a geopower. Some main examples can include: Monroe Doctrine, Manifest Destiny or French missions in Africa. Certainly, all these missions were not only political and only interest driven, but rather were the competition of geopower and were a struggle for the world’s dominance in capturing as many territories as possible. It all leads to a conclusion that human geography and geographical factors cannot be separated from governance and power whatsoever. In the ideologically divided world, any attempt to seize the territory geographically is to seize it ideologically as well.
Vast territories do not have to represent always a supreme power in practice. However, that is the case more often than it is not. And the maps are important interpretations of it. One of those representations or interpretatons of the world is Mercator projection map. Thia map is showing a disproportion of the world and distorts the size of the northern latitudes, mainly shrinking African, South American and Australian continents while is, at the same time, enlarging Russia and Greenland.
Cartography was developing in the era of colonialism, precisely in the stages of it and there are three. The first one is Asiatic invasions of Europe, known as Pre-Columbian. The second one is European overseas invasions and expansion, knows as a Columbian epoch. And the third is Closed space and the struggle for dominance, known as a Post-Columbian era. In the circles of researches and academics, interested in this area, there are claims that Mercator projection is a view of the Western world, that is, in this way showing its dominance over the others. Although, is not that unprecise, its drawback as well is that it is putting Europe in the center of the map and it is pushing equator below.
Mercator projection- Cylindrical map that distorts the size
As a critic on this map, there appeared a Gall-Peters projection. It represents the world more realistically and it is an equal area projection, thus the regions are presented accurately. Back then, all maps had some political implications when were created, due to geopower of the countries that had it.
However, this map also has a drawback which is to distort the shape of the continents due to two dimensional visualizations of three dimensional landmasses. Yet, the usage of the map is widely used and it is recognized as a more accurate version of the Earth, although any map cannot fully depict the Earth and the latitudes on the flat paper due to Earth’s round shape.
Gall-Peters map projection of an equal size area.
Flourishing the period of expansion and realization of geopower, this mapping served as a starting point to British geographer Halford Mackinder and his Heartland theory, also knows as „The Geographical Pivot of History.“
The natural seats of power according to Mackinder.
“Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland; who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island; who rules the World-Island controls the world.” (Mackinder, Democratic ideals and reality, p. 106)
The main ideas behind the theory, except for the world order and geopower distributions are:
The Heartland has been so far protected from the sea power by ice to the north and mountains and deserts to the south and invasions from the west to the east and from the east to the west were not successful, because of the inefficient transportation system. The Heartland has primarily been Eurasia, Central Asia and high seas. That is why the Heartland could not be held in the past only by a single power. Some possibilities of dominating the Heartland are either by a continental power, like Germany, by a Russo-German alliance or by as Asian power from the East. Any power that would be able to control the World’s island, would immediately control the fifteen percent of the world’s resources. The key in controlling a World’s island is the Heartland’s central position and its size. While the main struggle was between sea and land powers, such as the clash between the Great Britain and later the US who wanted to dominate the pivotal area, and Russian and German struggle to dominate Eur’asia, which should be avoided at any price, according to the foreign policies of the US and Great Britain.
The Nazi party was in favor of this thought and wanted to spread their ideology by capturing the territories of the main importance, during the World War II. This school of thought and German Geopolitik was formed by Karl Haushofer after World War I. After the end of the WWI, Germany had lost its colonies and that loss was a humiliation for the German side, especially for Haushofer, Hess and Hitler that thought how the peace treaty and the Treaty of Versailles took their national pride away. The anger was more intense when the Germans realized that are, actually, in the battle with no avail. US, France, Great Britain and the Soviet Union still had their colonies, for the Germany that was not the case anymore. Out of that situation and their ideology, the practitioners of the Geopolitik realized that is the time that Germany had its living space greater than ever before, what is called Lebensraum in German. In was all about space or race, but sometimes even both.
Nazis thought that the Treaty of Versailles produced only „geographical error“ and not peace at all. Distribution of the territories by the treaty was not in favor of Nazis. Their idea to „fix it“ was by using military powers to expand their Lebensraum at the expense of nearer and further neighbors and to make Germany a world power, possessing the biggest areas of territories. The only way Germany could survive is to assure Lebensraum and make sure it is enough for the German nation. How is this possible there were two ways: one is by Mackinder who claimed that the best way is to align with the Soviet Union, because is the heartland power and who rules it, rules the world. Certainly, the idea is to rule the world, but that comes at the great price. Another thing Mackinder embraced was the formation of the maritime belt with Japan from Germany through the Soviet Union to Japan. Mackinder’s idea was to be vast in territory and fast in movement. What he undermined is the role of the Nazis. The Soviet Union was still a power and had its colonies, while Germany did not. The Soviet Union probably would not trade it that easily by becoming a partner with Germany, but more likely had some hidden plans. Soviets would rather try to captivate the Germany, but Barbarossa plan initiated faster. The Soviet Union believed that Germany would not invade, but trust is a sword with two blades in the rivalry.
For Hitler and his understanding of geopolitics and Lebensraum, race is coming before the space. He was pursuing racist geopolitics. Hitler believed in the crude theory of Darwin. It was a struggle between „us“ and „them,“ pure and the impure, what was described in „Mein Kampf“ the autobiographical book of Hitler, which was reflecting his political ideology and future ideas and plans for his country. Those plans were to have a racially pure climate inside the state, where only pure Aryans would be allowed. Secondly, it should free it from Jewish people, and from ultra- leftist organizations and political parties that are more capitalistic and the third thing is to revive the Germany, which is lagging behind as it does not own territorial networks big enough to satisfy his appetites. He strongly believed that the great power is the one that is controlling or possessing big swaths of territories. And the one who can pursue this is him along with his National Socialist Movement, knows as Nazi party. The first step towards that is to seize the Eastern Europe and create a bigger Lebensraum. Slavs and Jews are inferior to Aryans, according to Hitler and it was important to let them know that in genocide in 1941. He saw a Great Britain as his ally and a country worth admiration, while Haushofer thought it is better for Germany to ally with Soviet union. It is often characterized that for Haushofer space is more important, and for Hitler race was more important than space, but in reality it is in both cases about the space. The only thing is about priorities: whether space will be first or the race.
Another figure inspired by Lebensraum is an American geographer Isaiah Bowman. In his understanding, America was a home of freedom, American values are more universal and European are only nationalistic and it is an advanced country only possessing territories in Central America and the Caribbean and was already open to trade, investments and capitalism in general. His idea was to pursue national interests of the USA, through democracy and freedom. He was aware of the cost of bad ideology, that could cause bad practicality and that is the omission the US could not afford to pay.
When it comes to another source for practicing geopolitics, it is in the theory of Nicholas Spyman. It countered Mackinder’s Heartland theory. Spyman stated that Eurasia is the key to controlling the world, but the key is in the coastal zones or Eurasian Rimland.
The geostrategic locations according to Rimland theory
According to Spyman, Rimland contains the Heartland. Thus, it follows that whoever has a power over Rimland, has a power over the World’s island. Whoever gains the power over the world’s island will soon start to control the whole world. His main emphasis is on the sea powers, while criticizing Mackinder’s supremacy of land powers. According to Spy, the Heartland is made of Central Europe, Ukraine and Western Russia. World Island or Core was comprised of Heartland, Eurasia and Africa. Periphery islands are Americas, British islands and Oceania. Clearly, typological distance is very present here. Ukraine is a part of the Heartland and it is so because of its strategic location. On the Western side is closer to Europe and one ideology and on the eastern side is closer to Russia and communist ideology. This theory was influential in the period of the Cold War.
Cold War was the conflict of geopolitics more than just the war of ideologies. It was the stuggle for the world’s dominance and the rivalry of the West versus East, between the „us“ and „them“ and a struggle between the thalassocracy and tellurocracy, where thalassocracy is naval, sea power state and tellurocracy is land-based power. Soviet Union was a tellurocratic hegemon while the US was talassocratic center. While the Soviets fought to capture the vast swaths of the land masses and subordinated the economy to politics and were more closed society, the US, on the other hand was a democratic society, very open, having the control over the oceans, embracing trade, investments and capitalistic way of functioning. However, this example of a rivalry was not the first one. Just like centuries ago, in the ancient period, it happened between the Roman Empire which was tellulocratic center and Carthage that was thalassocratic. Or another example may be the fight between Russia and Great Britain to control the Middle East and Central Asia. The nature of this conflict is what it makes different from the previous ones. The confrontational was on a global scale and all countries were included directly on or, it was a nuclear confrontation that would cease the existence of the mankind very quickly. The American desire to rule the world exceeded all expectations, with its idea to create a unipolar world and become a hegemonic power. It was about the geopower and strategic locations. While the US was thalassocratic center and had its power over the oceans where it had their nuclear missiles on submarines. The Soviet Union, as a tellurocratic center had them on the land. The World War II had changed the political and geopolitical discourse, but the Cold War even more.
The main highlight of the Cold war is the European’s loss of power on the global stage. That outcome was influenced by the Soviet Union and the US. Instead of acting independently, as one geopolitical power, Europe, instead was in between: it was either part of the Eurasian USSR power or the Western power of the USA. As it was the period of the colonization and a struggle for the world’s dominance, once European’s colonial empires fell, it gave an opportunity to other powers to free those states. That was how the third world countries were named and came onto the stage. The direction of the Cold War gave them more importance and publicity. What the US did to clarify its interventions around the globe the practice of the Domino theory.
The theory was a foreign policy from the 50s to the 80s. Domino theory says that any change, even if minor will produce a similar change nearby. If one state is practicing communism the others will follow in that domino effect. The action of one will cause the reaction of another. The major evidence lies in the South East Asia in 1975, when the communist takeover happened in Southern Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.On the other hand, the US, as a global hegemon had a duty to save those states from the communism and help them change the polity and switch to democracy. That was usually through war, so the prices of democratic regimes or at least transitional periods were high. The world labeling was not only about First World capitalist countries and Second World communist countries. It was about imperialistic and anti-democratic states, mainly led by the United States and British Empire against the anti-democratic and anti-imperialist rivalry- the Soviet Union and the newly formed democracies in the Eastern Europe. For the west, these new democratic states were inspired by the Soviets who had repressive political structure. Yet, there were those who lost and who gained between geopolitical orders of the globe. The Soviet Union wage war against the uprisings in the states such as: Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and in Afghanistan. On the contrary, the USA was completely against radical movements and against any radical social change in the countries of the Third World- from Vietnam to Afghanistan.
The fact that goes in favor to this picture of the divided world is also a Wallerstein’s World Systems theory. In this theory, proposed by Immanuel Wallerstein, is the view of the core countries of the recent world’s history along with sociological and historical features. He saw the world system as a set of mechanisms that distribute their resources from the periphery to the core.
According to his theory, the core is more developed and it is an industrial part of the globe, while the periphery is usually the poor part of the world which is exporting raw materials. Since the market is driven by the core states and those states are market-oriented countries they exploit the periphery. A system represents a unit with one division of the labor but multiple cultural systems. One example of the key core states is the United States of America in the current setting of the world.
„The Clash of civilizations“ in other works
However, it has never been about the polity when it comes to the rivalry, but much more than that. It is also about the resources, world’s dominance, ideology, a way of thinking, conducting and practicing politics at home and abroad, and moreover, it was about the broader concept, like civilization. Civilizations as a notion are generally associated with statehood. What is a civilization? The word itself has been derived from Latin “civitas”- the city the “public sphere.” Although its meaning has been changing over the time, it usually describes societies that have a certain level of cultural and technological development. Civilization was believed to be the last stop of the long journey and evolution of the society. However, as every term is politicized nowadays, even for the term of civilization, in the political media discourse, it is often mentioned that this term means polity, as an organized, permanent gathering of people with clearly defined powers. Carroll Quigley defines civilization as: „Civilization is a producing society with an instrument of expansion.” From its beginnings, it was evolving and changing and since its beginning, there is a multicivilizational paradigm, developed in the theories of Nikolai Danilevsky and Heinrich Rückert.
Nikolai Danilevsky presented the theory of historical-cultural types in the book „Russia and Europe.“ The theory is about cultural and political affairs of the Slavic world to the Romano-German world. Danilevsky compared cultures and nations to biological species, refused their commonality and argued that each nation or civilization is united by its language and culture, which cannot be passed on to any other nation later on. Danilevsky distinguished four types of historical-cultural activity and they are:
These types were a fundament for ten different historical-cultural types. Which are: Chaldean, Hebrew, Arab, Indian, Persian, Greek, Roman, Germanic, Egyptian and Chinese.
The laws of the development of cultural-historical types are:
1. A tribe or a group of tribes which use the same language, or a group of related languages (so that their common roots are easily recognizable without a philological analysis) form a cultural-historical type. The ethnic groups that comprise the type are like races within a species.
2. A cultural-historical type can actualize its civilization on the condition that the nations of the type enjoy political independence.
3. Cultural-historical types cannot convey its essential characteristics to another cultural-historical type.
4. The cultural-historical type’s richness is proportional to the diversity of the ethnographic material which lies behind the type.
5. The development of cultural-historical type is cyclic. The era of its primitive, ethnographic existence takes a long time whereas the period of the civilizational peak is like a flash in world history.
The notion of the theory claims that negative factor of humanity are so called, the nations-destroyers. While the false, erratic transfer of civilization includes colonization, graft and fertilization.
There are few stages in thdevelopment of cultural-historical types, which are:
1. The ethnographic stage. 2. Building a state. 3. The period of civilization 4. The time of decline: a. in the shape of the apathy of self-satisfaction, b. in the shape of the apathy of despair.
On the other hand, Heinrich Rückert in this theory held Hegelian optimism that the whole world progresses toward perfect form and a nation is only a glimpse of world history. He was influenced by Hegel, who had the idea of the linear progress of humanity while Danilovsky saw it as a circular.
According to this thinking, there is only one humanity and our history is the history of the whole world.
Samuel Huntington’s theory
However, all these earlier theories resulted in other theories and influenced them whether directly or and were the source for many and Samuel Huntington’s theory is no exception. Major civilizations still exist today, but is the clash between them avoidable? The thesis was presented in the work of Samuel Huntington and his „The Clash of civilizations“ that is serving as the main source in this work. There can be few paradigms describing the world order: First, euphoria and harmony that every nation is striving to have. Second, it can be a further division to „us“ and „them.“ Third, it can be sheer chaos or last, it can be a civilizational paradigm. As world politics changes quickly and enters new phases from time to time, it is difficult to predict its discourse and all possible reasons for that. In this thesis, Huntington is claiming that the main cause of conflict in the new world will be cultural, and not economic or ideological. In his theory, Huntington presented nine possible civilizations, which are: Western, Confucian, Japanese, Islamic, Hindu, Slavic, Latin American, Buddhist and possibly African.
Civilizations according to Huntington
According to this theory, the last phase of evolution will be civilizational conflict. Many conflicts were going on in the past years, but they were mainly the ones in the Western part of the world and between themselves. Now, what is Huntington predicting in his theory is that Western world will interact with non-Western world and all other non-Western civilizations. With the end of the Cold War, the world’s divisions became obsolete and irrelevant. Instead of grouping states based on their economic well-being and political and economic systems, according to his theory, it is better to group them according to their culture and civilization. A civilization is a part of culture and culture itself is comprised of religions, ethnic and minority groups and regions in one civilizational setting, along with their shared experiences, race and language.
Nevertheless, these factors are not fixed. They change over time in their nature and practice. For example, Jews were excluded from the Western civilization (that is mainly Europe and the USA) until recently, but what followed after the change in the geopolitical discourse in the second half of the last century is that the previous concept was replaced with the one that propagates common Judeo-Christian civilization of the western hemisphere. That shift happened due to many reasons, but the most important ones are the west’s guilty about the Holocaust and increased financial aid and strong lobbying groups, especially those from the Jewish communities in the US. This was the biggest success of the lobbying groups- to transform the discourse of the western world and the previous idea that they had and incorporate their own: Judeo-Christian. However, what we can see here is the set of double standards for some and not all civilizations have that privilege. Is it very common premise in the Western world that religion and race are in the same package that always goes together. With that being added, it is easy to understand that the Western world has double standards for some and it is on the civilizational basis, as it itself finds closer to some nations than to the others.
What goes in favor to this case and another theory that is quite parallel to Samuel Huntington’s theory is the geopolitical model from 1970, called Intermediate region.
This geopolitical model was coined by Greek historian Dimitri Kitsikis. In his model he claimed that the European continent is composed of three regions: the first one is Far East Europe, the second one is Western Europe and the third one is so called „intermediate region,“ which lies on the Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe. The intermediate region, found between the lands of the Adriatic sea and Indus river, is the bridge between the Eastern and Western civilizations. The vast swath of territory which lies on the eastern side of Europe and goes to the western side of Asia is specific, because it does not fully belong to Europe nor it belongs to Asia, simply because these two geographical areas are geographical and not civilizational. Even in the Huntington’s theory, it is the Western civilization that will interact with other non-Western. It is true that it means western Europe, the USA, Australia and New Zealand and that Japanese and Chinese are from the eastern part of the globe, yet the main argument is that those civilizations were not named as Asian or European, but rather Western and non-Western as the main paradigm is cultural and civilizational not just geographical. The most dominant religions in the intermediate regions are Orthodox Christianity (again Huntington’s paradigm coincides with this as one of the civilizations he mentioned is Orthodox and it mainly lies on the far eastern European soil and also on Asian), another religion is Sunni Islam, then comes Shiite Islam and the last two are Judaism and Alevism, but they are not dominanst as much as the previous ones.
On the other hand, Western Europe is dominated by Catholicism and Protestantism and the East is dominated by Hinduism and Buddhism. Throughout the centuries this region was in the hands of many different empires and there was a constant conflict in this area, caused by tense interactions of the polarized western and eastern parts. It brings me to another proof, which is „The Great Game.“ The Great Game was a confrontation that existed between the Great Britain and Russia to take over Afghanistan and other states in the region which today are the Central Asian countries, such as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and already mentioned Afghanistan. In took place in the nineteenth century and marked another confrontation between different civilizations: Russia and Britain with an aim to dominate another countries and make sure their economy and trade are flourishung and to take as much territory as possible. If these two do not do it, another power may arise and pursue that goal. The clashes existed before Huntington explained them, from the period of colonization, Belle Époque to the later stages. But his theory was a turning point for political thinkers and academics who did not pay attention to those factors that Hungtington presented. Whether someone agrees or opposes this theory, no one can neglect its impact on world’s politics. And as every theory, it has its drawbacks and advantages. On the other hand, it does not depend only on the facts presented in it, but also depends on the political context, social and economical norms that existed in the time when it is published.
The book „The Clash of civilizations and the Remaking of the world order“ by Samuel Huntington was published in 1993 and even today, after more than twenty years, it is quoted and did not lose its influence in the sphere of international relations. It is important to state that Huntington was right in predicting the result of the Cold War that happened to be globalization and secondly it comes with the fear of uncertain future. And it is more likely that those, already existing differences, will not disappear, they will continue. Huntington explained those differences and reasons for possible conflicts in six points, which are:
First, civilizations differ by history, language, culture, tradition and, most important, religion, which means basically by the things that define one culture as a broader concept. The people of different civilizations have different views on the relations between God and man, the individual and the group, the citizen and the state, parents and children, husband and wife, as well as differing views of the relative importance of rights and responsibilities, liberty and authority, equality and hierarchy. These differences are accumulated in centuries. (Huntington, 1993)
Second, the world is becoming a smaller place. The interactions between peoples of different civilizations are increasing and those increasing interactions intensify civilization consciousness and awareness of differences between civilizations and commonalities within civilizations. (Huntington, 1993)
It is not possible to live on autarky in the 21st century and people simply have to interact and they do interact with one another. However, they realize that exist tremendous differences between different civilizations and social settings.
Third, the processes of economic modernization and social change throughout the world are separating people from longstanding local identities. They also weaken the nation state as a source of identity. In much of the world religion has moved in to fill this gap, often in the form of movements that are labeled “fundamentalist.” Such movements are found in Western Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism, as well as in Islam. (Huntington, 1993)
In was more often in the period of tribes and later on in the period of colonialism when the people identified themselves in the context of local identity. Nowadays in the rapidly changing world, norms are changing as well as the identities of the people. They usually choose the religion to identify themselves. The fact that goes in favor is the number of religious people. There are 19 major world religions and their subdivisions include a total od 270 large religious groups and many smaller groups. (Barrett, 2001)
In the picture above are stated the most dominant religions in the world. Christians are still the largest religious group, although that number is declining in Europe.
While atheists form about 2% and it is clear that people identify themselves in the name of religion.
Fourth, the growth of civilization-consciousness is enhanced by the dual role of the West. On the one hand, the West is at a peak of power. A West at the peak of its power confronts non-Wests that increasingly have the desire, the will and the resources to shape the world in non-Western ways. (Huntington, 1993)
After the World War II and then the Cold War, the West was a First world, powerful and dominant. Due to the “successful” period of colonization for the Westerns, it yielded many natural resources, territorial networks ans still today there is a strong soft power in the former colonies. That was very helpful for the Western civilization (that in this way obtained the power), to maintain its growth and an image of a developed world that can shape the opinions of the others.
Fifth, cultural characteristics and differences are less mutable and hence less compromised and resolved than political and economic ones. In the former Soviet Union, communists can become democrats, the rich can become poor and the poor rich, but Russians cannot become Estonians and Azeris cannot become Armenians. In class and ideological conflicts, the key question was “Which side are you on?” and people could and did choose sides and change sides. In conflicts between civilizations, the question is “What are you?” That is a given that cannot be changed. Even more than ethnicity, religion discriminates sharply and exclusively among people.
This is the difference that is still dominant. As I explained previously, a religion is something that people use to identify themselves with. It is an ultimate importance and a source of identity, that are not going easily to give up on.
Sixth, economic regionalism is increasing. The proportions of total trade that are intra-regional rose between 1980 and 1989 in Europe, East Asia in North America. The importance of regional economic blocs is likely to continue to increase in the future. On the one hand, successful economic regionalism will reinforce civilization-consciousness. On the other hand, economic regionalism may succeed only when it is rooted in a common civilization.
It is clear that economy plays a vital role in any country and regional cooperation is another important aspect of economic well-being, stabilty, development and peace. However, a regional cooperation is more successful if rooted within the same civilization. An example includes the European Union (EU), which is the most important economic partner to non-Westerns and has a vital role in world’s politics. The success of the EU can be assigned to the fact that is rooted in the same civilization, but also thanks to its successful development policies.
Another example can be the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). This block of countries is working on the economic growth, regional stabilization, social and cultural progress and mutual assistance. This achievement was possible and it is sustainable, because this association was rooted in the same civilization as well. Furthermore, the clash of civilizations can be examined at two levels and it is likely to occur at them: the first one is micro level and the second one is macro level. At the first, micro level, the joint groups struggle among them and fight for the territory, which is often violently and it happens along the fault lines. At the macro level, it is the stuggle for power. States, as main actors try to take over other states by their own ideology and political norms as well as religious values. They also try to take over international institutions and compete for economic and military dominance. (Huntington, 1993)
The cultural and civilizational identities take over political and ideological ones and the fault lines between different civilizations used to be mainly due to those reasons, and that is continuing. When we only look at the post Cold War era, after the end of the Iron Curtain- which caused cultural but also political changes on the European soil. That change was the division of the Western Christianity (mainly Catholicism and Protestantism) and Orthodox Christianity and later on Islam. The border line is from Russia, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Belarus, Ukraine, Romania and down to the Western Balkan: Bosnia and Montenegro. The Catholics and Protestants are to the north and west from this line and they share the same historical and cultural experiences, starting from the feudalism, the Renaissance, the Enlightment, the French and Industrial Revolution and were able to maintain better economic development than the people to the eastern side of the line. The Orthodox Christians and even Muslims are to the east and south. These people, throughout the time, were part of tsarist regimes and Ottomans, because of that, their cultural experiences are quite different and their economic well-being is not as good as the one on the other side of the border.
A Critique of the „The clash of civilizations“ theory
„The clash of civilizations“ was published by Samuel P. Huntington in 1993 as an article in Foreign Affairs and later on it became a book in 1996. Major critiques on his works are: it is inadequate as an explanation of conflict. After the Cold War, states were rather pursuing their economic developement than fighting ideologically. The economy is an important part of evey country and all the states are aware of that. Its proper functioning is of a crucial importance for the state’s functiong as well and in that case, the culture was less important than economy. Secondly, implications that this thesis has are possible inclinations for the future conflict. That is because of the „double role“ of the West. As the most developed part of the world, holding economic and political power, it can take its toll on any other non-Western country. That is why the concept is vague and not so precise, because it seems that the cultural identity is gradially presented here: all non-Westerns are important, but the Western is the most important.
Another imprecise and vague aspect is the exact number of civilizations is there a seven or eight of them, because African is just a possible civilization. And how homogeneous they are if are about to fight each other? According to topological distance, it is not very likely that the states, that have the same political thinking and even polity will fight each other. It is a characteristic of ideologically different states. And that ideological difference Huntington refused.
He missed another important paradigm which is the United Nations. This organization is divided along North-South lines, it is not culturally divided, just as NATO. The interaction between the West and the rest is more likely to be only between the West and the Islamic countries. He mentiones the Economic Cooperation organization, but without Muslim countries.
He only strenghtened international organizations that foster western values of freedom, liberal democracy, capitalism, investments and so on and promoted mainly cooperation within West as those national should stick together, they are similar to one another. The Western part should get stronger and dominate over the others who do not share Western values and do not have the Western identity, which is, according to him, extremely important.
How wrong was his conceptualization of the „Clash of civilization?“ As the countries were divided into the first, second and third world countries, in the post Cold War period, for Huntington’s theory it was more accurate to divide them based on the culture and civilization than on ideollogy or economic development.
For him, the most important identity is cultural and civilizational, which separates all nations, more precisely by religion, language, institutions, customs and history. As their interactions increase, they are becoming aware of it. However, in the period of globalization and social changes, local identities are becoming less important. All non-Western civilizations are aware of the Western role in the political system of the world and are ready to challenge it. Then, cultural differences do not have the size that political differences have and they are less likely to be resolved. And finally, developed economic regionalism will empower regional cooperation and development.
Furthermore, he states that all non-Western civilizations will not join Western civilizations, because they are culturally very different. As a response to his statement, there are numerous regional organizations and initiatives that are eager to compete the Western world: in skills, technology, reforms, modernity, weapons and by promoting regional cooperation and development and do not have to be Western civilization to achieve that. Some of the many examples can include strong organizations between Confucian, Buddhist and Islamic world.
Another critique involves weak academic points of this theory, which is in methodology of discipline, correlatative proportions and approach. In the first dimension, concerning the discipline, this work is confusing. One, because he already took side in the proposed paradigm and second, he is fitting some other disciplines and puts them in his theory and conclusions. It is mainly referred to the concept of civilization, which is mainly used in antropology, the identity concept is borrowed from social psychology and conflicts from politics and conflict and peace studies. When talking about correlative proportions, the key argument that he holds is that future conflicts will be caused by civilizational differences. In the cases of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh, the Persian Gulf, some African states and Bosnia and Herzegovina that is not the case. They are different not only in their location, but also in the history of the events, nature, in the number of foreign entities involved. What can be concluded is that ideologies and different national interests, of a homogeneous or almost homogeneous societies, were the cause of the conflicts that happened. Another weak point of the theory is the affirmation of great entities in the involvement of „the West and „Islam“ (Said, 1994) as the biggest critique of Huntingon’s theory says- Edward W. Said. Huntington also lacked to explain internal conflicts and plularism in societies, because the only point he concentrated on was the interpretation of the cultures and civilizations.
And in his third weakness which is approarch to this theme is the uncertainity with realism in international relations ans politics in general. With an aim to produce international politics, he is not so consistent with the approach when he deals with the world power politics. For the purposes of alliances and cooperation, he sees national interestes less important than civilizational affinity, which are as the base, according to him. Another weak point is the unit of analysis. Civilization itself has many definitions, which makes it ambigious notion and a big one at the same time. Huntington was not able to define it neatly. The second oversight is in nature of geographical boundaries, that are so important in his theory. On the other hand, it may not be applicable to non-Western civilizations with an emphasis on Islamic civillization, because Islam is not bounded by geographical boundaries and so is not any other religion different from Catholicism, they are rather universal concepts. Then, do those growing Muslim communities in the west belong to the West or to Islamic civilization? (Ashraf, 2012).
“The Clash of Civilizations” and the contemporary system of international politics:
The article is not applicable in the today’s settings. Huntington stated that:
“What ultimately counts for people is not political ideology or economic interest. Faith and family, blood and belief, are what people identify with and what they will fight and die for. And that is why the clash of civilizations is replacing the cold war as the Central Phenomenon of global politics, and why a civilizational paradigm provides, better than any alternative, a useful starting point for understanding and copying with the changes going on in the world.” (Huntington,1993).
However, when the Cold War came to an end, states worried about their economies the most and considered national economies as the main driving force for both- their growth and development and for international political system. The national economies were crucial factors in determing a country’s destiny: whether it will grow and become developed and strong country or not. Then, is it possible that only what counts for the politics and shaping the world is not enonomic well-being but culture? (Junhui, 1995). How economy and economic development and cooperation are important it tells the number of regional organizations, such as European Union (EU), Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), The Organization of African Unity (OAU), The South Asian Association for Regionsl Cooperation (SAARC) that have a very important role in today’s regional in world politics. The Cold War has had serious consequences and the world is in the phase of adaptation and transition. In that unstable setting many factors can trigger conflicts, which can be ethnic conflicts, racial and religious ones, conflicts over territories, but which one or which ones are more likely to trigger a confrontation first is hard to judge and predict.
“In the short term it is clearly in the interest of the west to promote greater cooperation and unity within its own civilization, particularly between its European and North American components to incorporate societies in Eastern Europe and Latin America whose culture are close to those of the west” to promote and maintain cooperative relations with Russia and Japan, to prevent escalation of local inter-civilization conflicts into major inter-civilization wars, to limit the expansion of the military strength of Confucian and Islamic states, to strengthen international institutions that reflect and legitimate Western interests and values and to promote the involvements of non – western states in those institution..” (Huntinton, 1993).
In the Huntington’s proposals cited above, their only aim is to intensify „The Clash of civilizations“ and produce another conflict which may lead to another world labeling process and the dominance of the West over the others. (Mian M. Ashraf) In rhis theory there is one side which is the clash and bigotry of the civilizations, but the thing that was underestimated is the centuries long coexistance among these civilizations. Even the world heritage is the blend of Islamic, Confucian, Buddhist, African, Latin American, Slavic and Western civilizations. (Yuxi, 1995)
However, a call for the Western world to dominate the others would just confirm the paradigm of Modernization and Dependency theory. These theories are opposed to one another and describe the inequality of the world, but from different angles. Modernization theory was coined in the 50s by Walt Whitman Rostow. Rostow was a defender of capitalism and a free market economy. The global inequality is described in his theory in five step (taking an airplane as a metaphor) and the reason for it are cultural and technological differences. The stage one is the traditional stage, that people want to abbandon, because it is related to the past period and it obsolete way of life. The second stage is setting up needed preconditions in order to take off. Those preconditions are directions in economy and ideas about it. Once they are met, it becomes easier to focus on individualization and economic growth. The third stage is take off when all the prerequisites have been met and society becomes aware of the efficient economic production. The fourth stage is technological maturity, which marks the shift of production to goods and mass consumption. And the final, fifth stage is the higher mass consumption. That is the goal of the theory, while Rostow claims that everyone can be the USA and can have mondernization, but it is necessary to have the laws of modernization. However, in the 60s there appears another theory which is the opposite theory and it is Dependency theory, mainly developed by Andre Gunder Frank. This theory claims that the Western developed countries became rich at the expsene of the poor ones. Western countries exploited less developed countries since colonialism. That is the factor that explains their economic development and superiority, their take off and not any inherent culture. In addition to that, there are no laws of development, but rich countries got richer and poor countries became more impoverished and underdeveloped. That was the case since colonialism. The natural resources were exploited and the clonized people were enslaved. Eversince that system of inequality was established and the others cannot simply apply the five stages that the Modernization theory suggests in order to change their status.
It was all about the economy, development and power. This theory is another critique for „The Clash of civilizations.“ The underdeveloped countries, which means all non-Western countries, were exploited on the basis of economy, not just civilization and culture. Economies played a vital role in these confrontations not the cultural identities.
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