cj#678> Huntington: ws architect – part 2


Richard Moore

In outline, Huntington's thesis seems to be:
        (1) We had a world system structured by superpower alignments.
        (2) That system provided considerable free-world stability and
            gave the US a point of leverage with which to exercise leadership
            and influence.
        (3) That system is unravelling due to collapse of one superpower.
        (4) Regional cultural alignments bode to be the natural new
            organizing principle; the West is powerless to stop this tide.
        (5) Various historical observations demonstrate the naturalness
            and stability of such a culture-centric system.
        (6) "Core" powers - one dominant in each region - can play a
            natural and beneficial regional stabilizing role.
        (7) In response to this new system, the West should come together
            in solidarity as a single "region", unified by a
            re-dedication to traditional Western cultural values.
        (8) The other regions can be expected to similarly re-embrace their
            own traditional values - and this is as it should be.

Superfically this thesis makes considerable sense, seems to fit the data,
and promises that a comforting stability will develop out of the very
divisive forces which seem threatening from the old-system perspective (eg-
Muslim fundamentalism, anti-Western feelings, etc).  It seems an attractive
hypothesis on which to base US foreign policy, from both a
national-interest and concerned-citizen perspective - it "goes with the
flow" and it promises stability.

But only slightly beneath the surface the analysis behind the thesis unravels.

To begin with, Huntington bases much of his hypothesis on a strong
distinction between Western culture and modernity.  The widely-perceived
identification of Western culture with modernity, he claims, is unfounded -
Western culture preceded modernity and is characterized by such things as
rule of law, democracy, human rights, etc.  Hence economic modernization -
which is not based on those characteristics - should not be expected to -
and in experience is not leading to - a convergence of global cultures.

Here he leaves out what may seem to be a fine distinction, but one which
turns out to be significant.  To wit: a modern culture is made up of _both_
its inherited cultural elements _and_ new cultural elements caused by

Let me give a microcosmic example.  There was a time when Western culture -
I hope I'm not over-generalizing - could be characterized by
mutually-supportive extended-family units, and by stable communities
arising out of families remaining in the same communities for several
generations.  With modernization - which brings shifting job markets and
increased mobility potential - family units have decreased in size,
extended families have been dispersed, population transience is on the
rise, and communities have become more unstable - leading to all kinds of
social and psychological dysfunctions.

This amounts to a significant transformation in the definition of what
Western culture is, and this transformation is one which has been affecting
- and can be expected to affect - all cultures in similar ways as a
consequence of modernization.  Similar considerations apply to other
modernization-related cultural shifts, such as: increased dependency on
wage employment for economic survival, decreased connection to - and
ownership of - land by the majority of people, increased importance of
cities as economic and social units, increased exposure to
mass-media-propagated cultural models, and decreasing relevance of
traditional culture and religion to the problems of daily life - lending
strength to either secularism or reactionary fundamentalism, or perhaps
both simultaneously (eg- Turkey, US).

To assess the significance of such modernity-related cultural
transformations would take a bit of research and analysis.  But to ignore
these cultural trends entirely, as Huntington does, is to ignore what may
be a signicant degree of global cultural convergence, a convergence which
can only be expected to increase as modernization expands its dominion as a
consequence of free trade and globalized investment strategies.

Additional encouragement of cultural convergence could be expected from
increased world travel, globalized communications and media, increased
trade, and the presence of the same corporations and products throughout
the world.  Although Huntington discounts it, MacDonalds, Sony, Toyota,
Siemens, Shell, Agfa, Heinekens, and Nestle to name a few, do bring some
degree of shared cultural experience with them, if only in the common
economic activities which are displaced (ie decline in competing indigenous

If all these convergence factors turn out to be sufficiently significant,
Huntington's thesis may be 180 degrees wrong (culture may ultimately be
unifying rather than divisive), and certainly his thesis cannot be accepted
without adequate consideration of such possibilities.

* * *

While Huntington makes much of the naturalness and beneficence of nations
and regions retaining their distinct socio-political heritages, he never
touches on the possibility - perhaps because it would be beyond his ability
to imagine - that nations and regions could also be encouraged to retain
their various traditional economic heritages, which in many cases have
included communal rural land ownership, socialism, state-operated
infrastructures, protected national economies, sustainable development,

When it comes to economics and trade, his focus on local variability,
desirability of stability, and the limited power of the West is suddenly
forgotten - he tacitly accepts that the West, with its considerable
economic influence, and assited by the international agencies and treaties
it has promulgated, should continue to impose the Western-evolved
corporatist, unbalanced-growth economic model on all regions of the world
indiscriminately - despite the obvious instability introduced, and the
popular resistance which is often encountered.

In economics Huntington is happy to see the West force homogenization
despite opposition, while with respect to democracy and human rights he
wants to take a hands-off, local-autonomy stance.  Centralized control of
econmomic policy and laissez-faire politics - an ironic twist in the
evolution of neoliberal doctrine.  Perhaps it is time we drop the pretense
that Huntington is an objective political scientist, and take into account
that he is in fact a flagship propagandist for the Council on Foreign
Relations, and the elite interests embodied therein.

* * *

An objective political scientist would agree with Huntington that the end
of the Cold War and the onslaught of globalist-accelerated modernization
bodes the evolution of new global ordering structures, but he or she would
see that many future scenarios are possible and that the West is in a
position to strongly influence which evolving buds are nurtured and which
are discouraged.

The West _could_ excercise clear and steady pressure in the direction of
democracy, human-rights, healthy working conditions, pollution controls,
etc.  It could do this effectively, without great cost, without imposing
specific Western mechanisms, and without stirring up conflicts - it would
only need the will to do so.  Lack of success in this regard in recent
experience reflects only that the effort was insincere - token pressure on
China, for example, following Tianmen Square, was only a sop to public
opinion and China well understood (and was probably told covertly and
explicitly) that there was no resolve behind the rhetoric.

Similarly, the West _could_ encourage civil fraternity among _all_ nations
and help nurture a spirit of increasingly shared cultural experience - and
cinema and other Western propaganda channels could be employed to this

Huntington's proclivity to fixate immediately on one particular scenario -
culture-centric spheres - does not reflect, let's be realistic, lack of
intellectual imagination on his part - it rather reflects an obvious
agenda: the CFR/elite interests simply do not want more democracy and human
rights loose in the world - it's bad for profits.  Simple as that.  The
rest is rationalization/ propaganda.

* * *

Huntington's further elaboration of his scenario - local core powers, a
nostalgic return to "traditional values", and the circling of the Western
wagons against a threatening world - flesh out the architecture of this CFR
agenda of a mafia-like world heirarchy of gang-clans, as was explored in my
posting of a few days ago.


Posted by Richard K. Moore - •••@••.••• - PO Box 26   Wexford, Ireland
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