Samuel P. Huntington (1993) propounded theory, ‘clash of civilizations’ suggests that religious identity of people will play the main role in a conflicting world that takes place in the era of post cold world war. This theory is one of the most discussed and disputed theories in the modern world. Edward (2006) said introduced the theory of ‘Orientalism’ that focuses extensively on the cultures other than the western world. This paper intends to discuss both the theories and further tries to find out political motivations of these theories.
There are various aspects of Huntington’s theory. He believes that the ideology does not matter for the society anymore and what matters today for the world is the cultural and religious line. The whole world is divided into different columns and everyone believes that what he believes is the only right. There is also a sense of intolerance in the people for other’s cultures which creates several complexities among different civilizations and further makes the situation tense.
Huntington divided all the major civilizations of the world into different categories. He believes the western civilization as the best and suggests that there is a conflict between the west and the rest. Huntington suggests that there are some major differences in these civilizations that differentiate each other on the basis of language, traditions, culture, history and the most significant difference- the religion. These are very significant factors and people have been practicing them since centuries thus there are very rare chances that these factors will be vanished so easily.
Huntington suggests that the whole world has turned into a small place and today people can interact with each other in an easier manner. People come to know about the weaknesses, strengths and commonness of other’s cultures. Economic modernization, technological developments and social changes defied national boundaries and people interacted with each other irrespective of boundaries.
Huntington (1993) suggests that since the western civilization is very powerful, the western world wants to shape the rest of the world in their ways. He says that while non western countries are busy in looking towards their ancient roots the western countries are willing and planning to give a new direction to the world. Huntington suggests that this trend is the result of civilization consciousness and the same is going to be increased in coming days instead of decreasing. Huntington suggests that several economic and political factors also play a bigger role in making the policies of the western nations.
Huntington (1993) suggests that the future of western and the non western countries is full of conflicts. He gives some clues and steps that are going to take place in the future between western and non western countries. He suggests that non western countries will be compelled to go in isolation in order to preserve their values, cultures and protect themselves from the western aggression. Further he adds that the non western countries may surrender and accept the western culture.
Huntington (1993) also suggests that the non western nations may try to make a balance in the powers of the western and the non western world. They also can strengthen themselves by developing their military, economic, and technology. They also may assemble in order to face the aggression of the western countries. He presumes that if the non western countries succeed in doing so, the western nations will be joining them and make a better understanding with these nations.
Edward said, on the other hand, believes in a different theory. He believes that when the Europeans came to know about the eastern nations, they found these countries very exotic and pleasant. These countries were less developed but were culturally rich. Europeans divided the whole world into two parts i.e. the western and the eastern world. This divide was also apparently as civilized and non civilized. This demarcation was an effort of dividing the superiors and the inferiors. The Europeans considered themselves as the superior culture while believed others as inferiors.
Europeans made them realized that their traditions, culture and belief are inferior while they belong to a very advanced culture. Said suggests that Orientalism was a tricks of Europeans in order to establish their dominance in the newly acquired regions of the eastern world. Said suggests that the idea of orientalism was a well designed idea of the western nations. Said suggests that how smarty Europeans used knowledge and technology to establish their dominance in the eastern countries and ruled and exploited for several centuries.
Having observed the abovementioned succinct analysis of the subject, it can be concluded that Huntington’s theory is a bit prejudiced and there are certain caveats in his theory. Edward said seems very realistic when he says that the western civilizations have tried to manipulate their knowledge and technology. Orientalism is their product in order to fulfill their interests.
Huntington, Samuel P. "The Clash of Civilizations?" Foreign Affairs, 1993: 22-49.
Said, Edward W. Orientalism. New York: Vintage Books, 2006.