Cartoon, world view

The Les Politiques blog refutes the idea of a ‘clash of civilisations’ as asserted by International Relations theorists such as Samuel P. Huntington.

In short, the article posted there appeals against the idea of an inevitable clash between political, military and ideological spheres called civilisations, (Huntington divides us all into Western, Confucian, Islamic, Slavic-Orthodox, Latin American civilisations as the main warring parties in the world today).

The Les Politiques article instead submits that this is an attempt to justify US hegemony through war (conveniently to be waged in a  conflicted Europe rather than the neocons’ safe homes in the US). The argument given is that instead, we should look at reconciliation between values and adjust all our values to coexist where there are any differences.

However, as I believed, this is to be done through dialogue. We can’t, as westerners, sit and simply decide for the world what the right mutual value system is going to be.  Shallow talk of the goodness of western “freedom” or “democracy” has no place in such dialogue.

As the post states, the clash of civilisations “implies a confrontation. It is both a testimony to the neocons’ warring agenda as well as to their backward thinking. Wars aren’t needed today to establish contacts with other civilizations. Today’s means of communication are many, multi-level, fast and easy.” Anyone who tries to communicate across the gulf of the so-called clash of civilisations is thwarting the neocons’ backward agenda and is putting forward instead the models of positive globalisation – reconciliation and multiculturalism.

Wisdom emerges through the maximum possible diversity. Only by knowing the most diverse places, people and values can you create a set of values everyone will be universally comfortable with. That task we do is not merely an intellectual exercise, either, but is essential to humanity’s safety and security in a world where globalisation is accelerating. It is an important point mentioned at the Mont Order, whose role I think includes trying to discuss all different global values and try to form a consensus to show an example of what is possible.

The post revealing writes that there “Wherever there was a clash of values, the neocons created wars resembling a clash of civilizations with their lot of humiliations, provocations and blasphemy of religious symbols, leading to a greater clash of values, reinforcing in a loop the ‘clash of civilizations’.” This is obviously true. Whenever the issue of Muslims’ sensibilities or their religious perception of right and wrong comes to the fore, which is the main issue of importance to the analysis at Les Politiques, we get no end of media headlines making it out to be a fundamental clash between western civilisation and the Islamic world.

If the analysis holds true – and I will argue it does – we are not looking at all at anything that needs to be a war scenario or where one side needs to beat the other. Instead, the solution is dialog. A recognition of why any clash of values exists, and how to accommodate both sets of values to reduce offense, is absolutely necessary for the purposes of harmony and positive globalisation.

We have “every possible tool to make communication and dialogue on many issues, including values, easy and natural” and it cannot be denied that “dialogue on values can be much more enriching than the forcing of western values on Muslim societies”. I will finish by quoting further, “The clash of civilizations is an idea as backward as the barbaric terrorism it sets out to explain… and fight… by curtailing our civil liberties and creating an artificial wedge between civilizations destined to increase their common ground in an era of rapid communications where societies are becoming more open and more welcoming.”

These comments speak exactly my own conclusions on this issue and I ask everyone to side with the path of dialogue and true pluralism that informs my attitude to Muslims, rather than the path of offense, locating and bringing up grave differences, and trying to dictate what the right universal values are in such a way that someone is the victor.

I see this as important. I believe Europe and even Britain are going to become a focal points of this developing attempt to start a conflict. It is Europe, now, where everyone must reduce offence and try to remedy any grave differences of values and culture – especially over individual-vs-collective well-being. Cultural assimilation is absolutely wrong and only cultural tolerance should be practiced. People across the pond in the US might be able to safely ignore that struggle or even inflame it like some kind of new Cold War against Islam, but the peace of many parts of the world depends on dialogue in the long term.

No-one can be allowed to dictate a clash of civilisations to us all. I would go even further and advocate reforming all political platforms and pressure groups in Europe to take Muslim sensibilities and political theories into consideration even at this early juncture, rather than letting them focus exclusively on promoting the usual set of western ideologies.

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