Why (Clash of) Civilizations Discourses Just Won’t Go Away? Understanding the Civilizational Politics of Our Times, E-IR, 2018
Why (Clash of) Civilizations Discourses Just Won’t Go Away? Understanding the Civilizational Politics of Our Times, E-IR, 2018 (with F. Petito)
The notion that relations between civilizations are central drivers of international politics has become a key feature of international relations discourses and practices since the end of the Cold War. Some see these relations as marked by conflict and confrontation, most notably in the case of Samuel Huntington’s (1996, 1993) ‘Clash of Civilizations’ theory. Similar ideas, however, can also be found in Bernard Lewis’ (2002) analysis of the malaise afflicting the Muslim world, in the ‘Asian values’ debate (Zakaria and Yew 1994), or in Aleksandr Dugin’s (2014) efforts to situate Russia at the center of an anti-Western and anti-liberal Eurasian civilization. Such narratives are not just confined to the realm of academia, but permeate political discourses around the world. A view of an Islamic civilization attacked and violated by the West has animated Al Qaeda’s rhetoric and given impetus to Daesh’s actions. Conservatives in the United States and Europe have likewise portrayed a West under assault by Islam, whether culturally, demographically, or militarily. Donald Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’, for instance, is directly a consequence of these views. Eurasianism is the ideological linchpin of Vladimir Putin’s efforts to construct a Eurasian Economic Union juxtaposed with the European Union.