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Monday, August 25, 2014

Map on Monday: Religious Civilizations of Samuel Huntington

In his 1996 work entitled Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, the political scientist Samuel Huntington proposed the following world map structured primarily by religious loyalties:


Huntington argued that from the bi-polar world order of the Cold War, a civilizational world order would emerge built on the foundations of religion. One clear example of this may be seen in the Islamic civilization (spreading across north Africa, through the Mideast, and on to Indonesia). Others are found in the Hindu nation of India and the emerging Orthodox civilization binding together much of the old Soviet Union.

Civilizational fault lines  divide one civilization from another. Huntington uses the term fault line here because he argues that civilizational conflict will often occur geographically where one civilization meets another. It is precisely along such a boundary that one civilization clashes with another and where local conflict may easily widen to other parts of the same fault line. Huntington applied this concept to the conflict in Yugoslavia where Orthodox, Catholic, and Muslim civilizations met and the first post-Cold War European conflict broke out. We may also consider the current conflict in Ukraine in terms of Huntington's civilizational thesis.

Sometimes a civilizational fault line runs through a nation. In this case, one part of a country belongs to a civilization that the other part does not. This was exactly the situation with the nation of Sudan, which was divided into a Muslim north and a Christian south. Huntington's map above -- though made in the 1990s -- accurately predicted the 2011 emergence of South Sudan as a separate nation from the Muslim-dominated northern Sudan.

The late professor's map, however, is not without its issues. Perhaps the gravest problem is Huntington's insistence in defining western Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia, etc. as the non-religious secular West. Thus after treating the world in largely religious terms, Huntington fails to apply the same treatment to western Europe and those nations who have deep colonial-immigrant ties to western Europe. This is certainly a comment on the world view linking Harvard Square to European bureaucrats.

We would paint most of Europe as atheist. We would link Britain, Australia, and Canada as English-speaking atheist. We would color America as Christian -- understanding that she can be tempted into the two atheist camps. Latin America is made up of Catholic nations who are less seduced now by the Marxist siren, but falling for the atheism of the sexual revolutionaries and globalized bureaucrats. Africa below the northern Muslim belt should be painted as Christian and ethnic. We would mark Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Croatia, and Ireland as Catholic nations. We will publish our variant of this map at a later date.

Despite its limitations, Samuel Huntington's conception of the world -- and that map inspired by it -- should be familiar to all those who look at the globe and seek to better understand the nations.

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