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Rebel without a cause!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Clash of Civilization

"The Vigil-at-Arms"

Keep holy watch with silence, prayer, and fasting
Till morning break, and all the bugles play;
Unto the One aware from everlasting
Dear are the winners: thou art more than they.

Forth from this peace on manhood's way thou goest,
Flushed with resolve, and radiant in mail;
Blessing supreme for men unborn thou sowest,
O knight elect! O soul ordained to fail!

-- Louise Imogen Guiney
(from 'A Roadside Harp', 1893)

There is a fascinating exchange of open letter between Robert Kagan and Amartya Sen at slate. Now, I might be a biased Indian but I still support Dr. Sen.

Dr. Sen argues that Prof. Huntington's thesis of clash of civilization is flawed. The name of the theory has a certain ring to it which amongst other thing must have contributed to make it so popular.

Basically, it says that the world is divided into a few broad civilizations like the western, islam, chinese, hindu etc. His theory says that these civilizations have certain inherent hostility amongst themselves like the west and islam, hindu and china etc. And he predicts that in the future there will be more clashes.

Dr. Sen refutes the theory with strong arguments. Though his arguments might sound a bit optimistic and with a humanistic convictions, but I think they are right. One important piece in his argument is that the boundaries are not as clearly demarcated.

That is something which I too have felt. Basically, one man can at the same time form into numerous groups at the same time. For example, he may be a muslim, a sports fan, an enviromentalist, an archaeologist, a scientist etc. So he shares some characteristics with others and there is always an overlap.

In Prof. Huntington's thesis, the main argument is that the group of civilization is the strongest. Now that used to be true but infact due to globalization, we will find that there will a dilution of this civilizational homogeneity and hence globalization instead of causing this clash would actually serve to reduce the pressure which this civilizational differences threaten.

The above poem is the relic of the time when christians went out in crusades against the infidels. It should serve as a reminder to those who belive that there is something evil in islam or any other religion just because there are a fringe who are now waging holy war i.e. jihad in the name of religion.

Let's hope this is a growing phase of the religions of the world and this too will pass. (as said by Donald Rumsfield)

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