According to Samuel P Huntington in The Clash of Civilization, what is the role that religion, terrorism and democracy have among nations responding to Western influence and modernization?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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According to Samuel P. Huntington in his The Clash of Civilization, the conflicts of civilizations will come not from political or economic systems, but will emerge from the conflicts "along the cultural fault lines separating these civilizations from one another." Huntington contends that the West's attempts to institute or promote its cultural ideals of liberalism and values of democracy as those that should be held universally simply "engender[s] countering responses from other civilizations." For, "[D]ifferences in religion and culture create differences over policy issues."

Thus nations which have Western influence and modernization react "along the cultural fault lines." These countries, then, seek to maintain their own identity. But, as the economic modernization and social change evolve in these countries, the gap that comes from the lessening of the national identity is, Huntington argues, filled by religion since religion provides a basis for identity and involvement that crosses all boundaries and civilizations.  The Bosnian War that began in 1992 exemplifies the contentions of Huntington that religion will fill political and economic gaps. Once the political and economic system of the Soviet Union dissolved, Yugoslavia was broken up and the "cultural faults" of the Orthodox Serbs and the Catholic Croats with the Muslim Bosniak and Croat effected a war. Similarly, Huntington comments,

As people define their identity in ethnic and religious terms, they are likely to see an "us" versus "them" relation existing between themselves and people of different ethnicity or religion.

Further, Huntington writes that with their increasing wealth many Arab nations are reaching levels of social and economic development in which the old autocratic governments are no longer effective; consequently, efforts are being made to introduce democracies. But,

Western democracies strengthen Western anti-political forces, complicat[ing] relations between Islamic countries and the West.

Other democracies that have been formed are the result of colonization; thus, they too have given rise to culture clashes. Many in the Middle East, Huntington remarks, feel that the way to protect themselves from the West is to have nuclear weapons. They want to shape their own identities and protect them if necessary. Terrorism seems a reactionary method of insisting upon this distinct identity and fighting against Western influence.

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