[Paleopsych] Seifudein Adem Hussien: On the End of History and the Clash of Civilization: A Dissenter's View
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Seifudein Adem Hussien: On the End of History and the Clash of Civilization: A
Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, Vol. 21, No. 1, 2001.
At the end of the Cold War, many leading analysts of international politics
began in earne st the task of theorizing where we were headed. Outstanding
among such endeavors, especially in relation to attempts to develop a new and
more comprehensive understanding of the future of world affairs, are two
wellknown works, Francis Fukuyamas The End of History?1 and Samuel
Huntingtons The Clash of Civilizations?.2 It is the attention these
analysts attracted as well as the grandiose nature of the subject they tackle
that motivated us to take a closer look at the epistemological foundation of
their theses, their general implications and the extent to which they stood the
test of time. Taken together, these two views are in a sense mutually
contradictory in their prophecy of what was lying ahead in the postCold War
era. For Fukuyama, world politics becomes less anarchic, whereas Huntington
believe s intercivilizational con. icts would replace the traditional
interstate con.icts, engendering a new and more dangerous type of
Both Fukuyama and Huntington raise a number of interesting and
thoughtprovoking issues and deserve credit for their contribution to the
scholarship in this respect. In a sense intended neither to disparage them nor
belittle their contribution, our task in this paper is to put their ideas under
a brief theoretical, philosophical as well as empirical scrutiny and point out
what appears to be some of the most outstanding weaknesses in their theses. We
shall start with a brief assessment of the whole idea of the end of history.
Similarly, an appraisal will then be made of Samuel Huntingtons clash of
civilizations. The essay employs critical method to single out the .aws in the
analyses of the aforementioned scholars. Toward the end of the essay, we shall
attempt to offer an alternative view and informed speculation s. And yet our
main concern will be to clear out errors, confusion and false assumptions in
relation to the two theses.
It is worthwhile noting from the outset that the clash of civilization s and
the end of history theses represent hypotheses that are poles apart in spite of
their tacit commitment to a dualist and objectivist epistemology and
realistic ontology. The question that may hence arise is whether it is justi.
able to deal with such mutually deviating hypotheses in a single
researchnote.3Indeed, this essay does not attempt to strictly compare the two
but not so much because they are not comparable. Instead the reason is simply
because our preferred focus is different. In theory, the fact that two theories
are logicall y incompatible does not make them ipso facto incomparable.4
The End of History
Francis Fukuyamas main thesis was that the collapse of communism af. rms the
unabashed victory of economic and political liberalism .5 Fukuyama did qualify
assertion by saying: [t]his is not to say that there will no longer be events
to .ll the pages of Foreign Affairs yearly summaries of international
relations, for the victory of liberalism has occurred primarily in the realm of
ideas or consciousness and is as yet incomplete in the real or material
world.6Our major interest here is in the main issues that radiate from the
True, communism has collapsed. Fukuyama was on a less solid ground, however,
when he assertively implied,just because of the collapse of communism,
liberalism has proved its superiority over the other ideologies and that with
the collapse of communism the world is increasingly moving toward the ideology
of economic and political liberalism. He was implying the superiority of the
liberal values when he wrote:
What we may be witnessing is the end point of mankinds ideological evol
ution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the .nal form
of human government.7
Before advancing further, it is important to note that one can identify at
least two major .aws with the aforementioned conjecture and line of reasoning:
one analytic and the other empirical . Not only does Fukuyama allude to the
superiority of liberal values but also he seemed to have taken the truth of
this hypothesis as selfevident. Needless to say, not everybody would accept
this withoutsuf.cientclari.cation, substantiation and quali.cation. Similarly,
it is open to question if, since the end of the Cold War, more and more people
are embracin g (or have embraced)liberal democracy, understood and de.ned by
Fukuyama as popular sovereignty, along with a formal guarantee and protection
of individual rights.8
A few years ago L. J. Diamond9 argued that it is essential to differentiate
between what he labeled electoral democracy and liberal democracy.
According to him, these are the two visibly divergent trends following the
collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and Africa, the spread of electoral
rights and the continued disrespect for liberties that are supposed to be a
postulation for a meaningful exercise of them. Diamond put together an array of
empirical data to demonstrate that even the spread of democracy cannot be
equated with the spread of liberalism. Mass participatio n in the political
process can also at times challenge certain liberal values as recently
demonstrated in Algeria and Turkey. James Rosenau and Mary Durfee were perhaps
closer to the mark than was Fukuyama when they wrote: [t]he worlds peoples
are not so much converging around the same values as they are sharing a greater
ability to recognize and articulate their values.10A caveat is in order here.
Rosenau and Durfee had the bene. t of hindsight, whereas what Fukuyama was
engaged in six years earlier was a predictive, and by implication,
prescriptive, endeavor that naturally allowed relatively little latitude.
To the aforementioned questionability of the empirical validity of Fukuyamas
argument, we can also add a critique of the logic of his analysis, that is, in
respect to the fact that his arguments proceed from an unwarranted assumption
to a foregone conclusion. His assumption is that communism was defeated by
liberal democracy. His conclusion is, as mentioned above, that liberal
democracy is superior to all other ideologies. It can be arguedthat communisms
defeatwas due more to its inadequacy to sustain itself and achieve its ideals
than to its exhaustion subsequent to putting up a good . ght. As we all know,
communism, while opposing liberalism , strove to perfect it. No wonder then
some viewed the Cold War as a civil war within the Western ideology.11 It
does not, therefore, follow that one ideology is superior to the other. The
assumption as well as the conclusion that presumably follow from it is also
problematic for, notwithstanding their familiarity , they have not undergone
Implicitl y as well as explicitly, for Fukuyama, consciousness takes primacy
over matter. This is whatone would be led to believe after reading his
contention that ...the victory of liberalism has occurred primarily in the
realm of ideas or consciousness and is as yet incomplete in the real materia l
world.12 It is in the same sense that one would understand him when he writes:
one unfortunate legacy of Marxism is our tendency to retreat into materialist
or utilitarian explanatio n of political or historical phenomena, and our
disinclination to believe in the autonomous power of ideas.13 Yet Fukuyama
appears to contradict himself on this issue when he refers on the .rst page of
his essay to
...the ineluctable spread of consumerist Western culture in such diverse
contexts as the peasants markets and color television sets now omnipresent
throughout China, the cooperative restaurants and clothing stores opened in the
past year in Moscow, the Beethoven piped into Japanese department stores, and
the rock music enjoyed alike in Prague, Rangoon and Tehran.14
presumably, these being both the catalyst and the manifestation of an unabashed
victory of economic and political liberalism.
While he openly favors the Hegelian conception ofthe relationship between
matter and consciousness, his practical examples therefore seem to suggest the
truism of Marxism in this regard.
Fukuyamas attempt also to underscore the primacy of the ideal over the
material especially in reference to the reform movements in Russia, Eastern
Europe and China is less than convincing and lacks coherence. He writes, for
instance: [t]hat changes were in no way made inevitabl e by the materia l
conditions in which either country found itself on the eve of the reform, but
instead came about as the result of the victory of one idea over another.15
The question that arises is whether it might not be the case that reformist
ideas (consciousness)were conceived in the . rst place because of the bad state
of the economy (matter). Take also the concrete examples he mentions with
respect to the effect materia l factors can have on ideas with reference to
Burma vs. Singapore16 and China vs. Taiwan.17 In general, it appears that the
relationship between matter and consciousness is circular rather than linear,
as Fukuyamas analysis seem to suggest.
In another book, Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Wealth, which
was published after The End of History and the Last Man became a bestseller,
Fukuyama advanced another theorythat seemed to be deeply . awed logically in
a similar way. The central focus of Trust was the presumed relationship between
culture and development:
...the most importan t lesson we can learn from an examination of economic
life is thata nations wellbeing, as well as its ability to compete, is
by a single, pervasive characteristic : the level of trust in one society.18
A causal linkage between culture and development thus formed the fundamental
premise of the entire book. Fukuyamas conclusion was that there is a one way,
direct and positive relationship between the two variables . However, he did
not adequately address rival hypotheses that are the reverse of his thesis,
such as that whether or not the level of wealth does affect the level of trust
in a society, rather than the other way around and that even if the
relationship between the two variables holds true, how we could ascertain that
it is linear? At least in theory, it is possible that wealth may positively
affect the level of trust but only up to a certain point beyond which it would
begin to yield a diminishing return. In any event, one ought to remember that
linear thinkin g such as Fukuyamas view of the relationship between matter and
consciousness precludes the theoretical possibility that a given effect may be
the result of many causes, and in turn produces still further effects, one
cause reinforcing another.
Again, to place Fukuyamas arguments in a proper philosophical context, we
shall digress for a moment and brie. y compare them with that of Immanuel Kant.
For Francis Fukuyama, humankinds historical advancement is progressively
linear until it reaches the end point: the end of history. Kant also had a
roughly similar idea with respect to the direction of human progress:
...nature follows a regular course in leading our species gradually upwards
from the lower level of animality to the highest level of humanity.19The very
idea of progres s as a directionalchange for the better is itself not
unsusceptible to a counterargument. It is true, one may say for instance, that
humankind has witnessed signi. cant progress, especially in the materialistic
sense of the term. At the same time, humanity has also borne witness to events,
or chain of events, that can unequivocally be regarded as historical
retrogression. The birth and consolidation of Fascism and Nazism during the .
rst half of the last century and the recent revival of tribalism in different
parts of the world do not seem to provide a ringing endorsement of the idea of
a regular progression of historylet alone the end of history itself. A
strong disagreement to the notion of progres s also comes from an increasingly
large number of ecologists or environmentalists. Kant thus elaborates his idea
of historical progress in more concrete terms:
...the earlier generations seem to perform their laboriou s tasks only for the
sake of the latter ones, so as to prepare for them a further stage from which
they can raise still higher the structure intended by nature ...
In this sense, and in light of what transpired in the last century, humanitys
history can be viewed as either retrogressive or, at best, a progressive
history replete with aberration. For both Kant and Fukuyama, historical
progres s is the result of the (natural)law of negation. The law of dialectics
governs the transition from a lower to a higher stage of human development. In
Kants own words: [t]he means which nature employs to bring about the
development of innate capacities is that of antagonism within society, in so
far as this antagonism becomes in the long run the cause of a
Despite the similaritie s in this respect, Kant and Fukuyama diverge on a
number of important issues. For instance, for Kant it is the formation of a
confederation or union of states, not the triumph of one ideology in a group
of countries, which would ultimatel y herald the end of history. This stage
could only be reached by
...abandoning a lawless state of savagery and entering a federation of peoples
in whicheverystate, even the smallest, could expect to derive its security and
rights not from its own power or its own legal judgment, but solely from this
great federation ...from a united power and the lawgoverned decisions of a
As for its achievability, Kant was cautiously optimistic:
...this cycle of events seems to take so long a time to complete, that the
small part of it traversed by mankind up till now does not allow us to
certainty the shape of the whole cycle, and the relation of its parts to the
but after the transforming effects of many revolutions
...the highest purpose of nature, a universal cosmopolitan existence, will at
last be realized as the matrix within which all the original capacities of the
human race may develop.24
In short, Fukuyamas end of history thesis appears to have been anchored in a
shaky logical and philosophical ground. What theory and empirical evidence seem
to bear out with regard to the future of global affairs will be treated more
fully in the concluding section of the essay. It wouldsuf.ce here to say that
we now know that the triumphant claim of the end of history was at best
The Clash of Civilizations
Like Francis Fukuyamas The End of History?, Samuel Huntingtons The Clash
of Civilizations? is an essay that purported to predict where we were headed.
For the same reason it sparked much debate and discussions. By way of preface
to this subsection, let us try to delineate the philosophical boundaries of
Huntingtons ideas in comparison, again, to Immanuel Kants writings on the
subject. Clearly, it is dif. cult to compare Kants ideas with those of
Huntingtons, since their premises as well as conclusions are poles apart. The
following contrastive points can, however, be made with respect to the
philosophical foundations of the two. Kants views are universalistic in that
their point of reference is human species in contrast to distinct
civilizations of Huntington. Huntingtons philosophy is particularistic, for
he not only believes that Western civilizatio n is a superior form of
civilization,25 but also he prescribes ways as to how this superiority can be
preserved visa`vis the other civilizations. On civilization, Kant wrote:
[w]e are civilized to the point of excess in all kinds of social courtesies
and properties. But we are still a long way from the point where we could
consider ourselves morally mature.26It appears therefore that for Kant moral
maturityconstitutes an importan t dimension of a civilization. Let us now
brie. y consider the logical and empirical problems associated with
Huntingtons idea of the clash of civilizations.
The fundamentalsource of con.ict in the new worldwill not be primarily
ideological or primaril y economic. The clash of civilizations will dominate
global politics,27 thus hypothesized Huntington. After elaborating and re.ning
his hypothesis, he asked the following key question: why do civilizations
clash? His answer is short and simple and could be logically reordered in the
following way: (1)there are fundamental differences between civilization s
(which he classi. ed into seven or eight);28 (2) as a result of globalizatio n
there will be more interaction between them and this will lead to increased
civilizatio n consciousness; and (3)therefore theywould clash. One fallacywith
this line of argument may be the absence of historical or logical evidence
which supports the view that increased consciousness about ones civilizational
identity in itself would automatically lead to civilizational con. ict. If the
preceding statement is correct, one may justi.ably wonder if the same
phenomenon, i.e. increased interactions among civilizations, does not lead to
mutual respect rather than confrontation between civilizations.
Samuel Huntington goes on to state that modernization andsocial change weakens
the nationstate as a source of identity.29 Even though this statement is not
central to Huntingtons thesis of the clash of civilizations, it has a profound
and wider theoretical implication, the discussion of whichwe shall defer for
the concluding section. However, it needs to be mentioned here that the role of
the nationstate as a source of identity is perhaps one of the most resilient
aspects of the function of state that promises to outlive even the challenges
of globalization.30 To use an ordinary example, when two individuals meet for
the . rst time, one of the initial questions they exchange is not to which
religion/culture or civilizatio n one belongs to but it is where one is from.
Of course, when a person introduces himself as X from country Y, more often,
what he/she means or intends to mean goes beyond mere labeling of oneself. It
also includes the desire to ensure ones ontological security (Alexander
Wendts term)31 by implying the relative place of each in relation to the
other. Essentially, this is the effect that the speaker intends to produce in
the hearer. In other words, when X introduces himself/herself to Y as coming
from country Z, the introduction serves two functions. The .rst is the simple
function of identi. cation useful merely for ease of communication. The second
and subtler function relates to the speakers intention to produce a more
complex meaning. To speak of oneself as being from country Z in this case is to
let the other know how the speaker wants to be treated by virtue of his country
of origin. This function also serves the speaker to rule out or at least
minimiz e the cognitive dissonance that would likely arise as the result of not
exactly knowing where the other is from.
Huntington also touches upon the dual role that the West plays in enhancing
civilizatio n consciousness.32 The view that civilizatio n consciousness has
increased is dif. cult to disagree with. The principal problem instead pertains
to the related idea that this would automatically lead to increased violence
and con.ict among civilizations.
Huntington notes that deWesternization and indigenization of the elite is
occurring in many nonWestern countries at the same time that Western, usually
American, cultures, styles and habits become more popular among the
masses.33Contrary to what Huntington might like us to believe, this seems to
support the argument that increased civilizatio n consciousness does not
necessarily lead to civilizationa l seclusion and eventual clash. And many
historians of civilizatio n do agree that cultures, styles and habits
constitute the core elements of any civilization . It can thus be argued,
perhaps more convincingly, that increased interaction between civilizations
would lead to cooption rather than collision.With a view to giving his idea a
scienti.c .avor, Huntington then mentions the proportions by which the
intraregional trade rose between 1980 and 1989.34 It is worth noting, however,
that the time frame of the data is altogether irrelevan t, in fact, so
irrelevant as to be misleading. If what he was trying to do is to show how the
Velvet curtain of culture has replaced the Iron curtain of ideology,35 why use
data for the period between 1980 and 1989? Similarly, Huntington surmises that
culture and religion form the basis of economic cooperation and mentions the
case of 10 nonArab Muslim countries.36 On the contrary, the reason why these
countries would come together may have more to do with common economic
interests than culturalsimilarity. True, there may be no way of .guring out
what exactly was in the minds of these elite in signing a mutual economic
cooperation treaty. Despite this fact, or because of it, Huntingtons
interpretation can only be considered just that, his own interpretation .
With the Cold War over, Huntington goes on writing, the underlying
(civilizational?) differences between China and the United States have
reasserted themselves.37 That may have been so for the few years before
Huntingtons article was published but over the past few years China and the US
have, if anything, had more cordial relation s in decades. Of course, it
remains to be seen if this is a shortterm trend or a longterm pattern. With
respect to Japan and the US, Huntington has also this to say: [p]eople on each
side allege racism on the other, but at least on the American side the
antipathies are not racial but cultural.38Here, there is a fact that
Huntington either fails to see or chooses to ignore: that is that, acknowledged
or not, cultural bias reinforces racial bias or racism and the difference
between the two is academic rather than practical . With regard to the
occasional trade disputes between Japan and the US, the way the disputes are
perceived and handled is undoubtedly a function of the culture and history of
each country. But does this give culture primacy over economics, as Huntington
Huntingtons idea of kincountry syndrome, which he tries to substantiate
taking the case of the Gulf War, is similarly .awed.39 Had civilizational fault
lines been the major lines along which the postCold War battles were to be
fought, as Huntingtons main hypothesis hints, it would be inconceivable for a
Sunni Muslim Iraq to invade a fellow Sunni Muslim Kuwait in the .rst place.
Iraqi invasion of Kuwait was unjusti. able. And yet the con.ict and the
acrimonious relationship between the two representeda quarrel between two
Arabstates or, to put it even more precisely, a family quarrel within one
nation: an Arab nation. One should also note, in this regard, that the very
idea of state as a . xed political border was alien to Islamic thought. From
a strictly Islamic point of view, nationhood is a selfcontained and
indivisible legal and sociopoliticalentity. Iraqs invasion of Kuwait at
another level points to the primacy of economics rather than culture or
civilization . In this sense, the Gulf War is at best a doubleedged sword and
at worst refutes Huntingtons conjecture and interpretation putting into
question his idea of kincountry syndrome. By the same token, during the war
in former Yugoslavia, US policy was not as onesidedly proSerbian as
Huntington describes.40 To say otherwise is to discredit the US and, in
general, the Wests effort to halt and punish the atrocities committed by
Bosnian Serb leaders. Another case that makes the cogency of the kincountry
theory dubious is Turkey. In one of his recent writings Huntington discusses
Turkeys rejection of Mecca only to be rejected, in turn, by Brussels.41If
civilizational identity was the major factor de.ning the orientation as well as
behavior of states, then is it not logical to expect Turkey, a successor state
to the most recent Islamic empire, to turn its face around and embrace Mecca
and reject Brussels? How can one explain such anomaly from a clash of
civilization s perspective, and what is the implication of this for its
For Huntington, countries with large numbers of peoples of different
civilization s are in the future candidates for dismemberment.42 Our view is
that it is not civilizational diversity in a country per se, but it is how the
diversity is handledor mishandled which in. uence the dismemberment of
multicivilizational states. In other words, it is when the crisis of
legitimacy and citizenship reaches an acute level that such states become
candidates for dismemberment. Toward the end of his essay, Huntington declared:
[a]ConfucianIslamic militaryconnection has thus come into being...and the .
ow of weapons and weapons technology is generally from East Asia to the Middle
East.43Huntington does not give us facts to substantiate hisjudgment. If the
ConfucianIslamic connection has indeed come into being, as Huntington claimed
, it would undermine his kincountry argument mentioned above. Similarly, in
terms of the value of weapons, the West by far surpasses East Asia as a major
source of arms to Islamic countries.44 In either case, one of the central
propositions of the Huntingtonian idea of the clash of civilizations would be
seriously undermined. It may be also argued that neither the presence of a
ConfucianIslamic military connection nor its absence need be philosophized, in
terms of civilization or otherwise. The occasional groupings and af.nity, or
lack thereof, could merely re.ect either the convergence or divergence of
interests among states for a short or long duration of time. While empirical
evidence does not support the claim that the IslamicConfucian connection has
come into being, civilizational logic does not also point to the possibility
for that to happen even in the future. In fact, should civilization s become
the de. ning factor of transnational links, the IslamicChristian or
IslamicJewish connection is more likely to emerge than the IslamicConfucian
one. Here we may quote Erich Weedes observation to illustrate our point:
From a Muslim perspective, for example, the clash between Islam and the rest of
the world is not equally serious on all fronts. The prophet himself reserved a
special place for the peoples of the book, i.e. for the adherents of
monotheistic religions, for Jews and Christians. At the level of pure
doctrinenot least the practice of the prophet himselfMuslim toleration of
Jews and Christians looks much easier than Muslim toleration of essentially
agnostic or secular Confucianism or polytheistic Hinduism with its relativistic
conception of transcendental truth.45
It ought also to be pointed out that Huntingtons approac h lacks objectivity
in that it is openly antiIslamic . We do think that no matter what his
personal values, if he disassociates himself from his preferences and presents
his observation/.ndings in a neutral fashion, the contribution of his theory
to our knowledge, no matter whether it is or is not true, will be enhanced
greatly. When he writes, Islam has bloody borders,46 for instance, the way
the sentence is formulated itself reveals a lack of objectivity in his
approach. The matter here is not just the morphology of the language. Why not
write, for instance, the borders between Islam and other civilization s are
bloody. After all, when we talk about a border our points of reference are two
or more phenomena--the one within the border and the one without, or the one on
this side and the other which is on the other side. Comparing the two
statements, one will be left with the impression, after reading the . rst
statement, that Islamic civilizatio n is inherently violenceprone. The message
Huntingtons statementseeks to conveyseems also to bejust that. In the case of
the secondstatement, one willnot be led to the prima facie assumption that one
civilizatio n is--or will be--more violent than the other. Underlying the
normative foundation of his narrativ e is his belief that other
civilizations are inferior or inimical to that of the West and should be
kept in check by any means. To this end, in fact, he offers a piece of
Machiavellian advice to his compatriots: exploit differences and con. icts
among Confucian and Islamic states.47 In short, Huntingtons argument as to
what the 21st century would look like are based on reasoning by too few
examples, some of which even undermine rather than support his argument. In
addition, he seriously poisons his method by mixingscience with politics.
An Alternative View
In the preceding pages we have tried to demonstrate that not only do the end
of history and the clash of civilizations theses have serious philosophical
and logical defects from their inception, but also the facts on the ground do
not unequivocally bear them out. In this section, we will . rst place the end
of history and the clash of civilizations in the broader theoretical
context. We will then attempt to offer an alternative understanding of the
future of world affairs in light of what has transpired over the last 10 years.
Emphases and shades of meaning may vary, but virtually all theories of
international relations share the assumption of anarchy in world politics.48
Political realism asserts that international politics is anarchic.
Neoliberalism also concedes that it is so. Even social constructivism, arguably
the most radical and progressive school of thought, acknowledges, perhaps
regretfully, that international system is not a very social place.49 The
three most importan t elements embodied in the concept of international anarchy
are: (1)absence of world government, (2)sovereignty of states, and (3)egoistic
andselfservingnature of state interests. Taken together, we are told, these
constituent elements engender a potential for interstate violence, thereby
making the international system incurably anarchic.
Where do the end of history and the clash of civilizations. t in this
theoretical spectrum? Certainly Fukuyamas thesis is an indirect attack on the
assumption of international anarchy since what he foresaw was a peaceful and
prosperous era of liberal democracy in which interstate wars would become
obsolete, or at least unnecessary. Like other mainstream theories in the . eld,
the end of history does not however challenge the role ofstate as the primary
actor in world politics. Ironically, the clash of civilizations despite its
implicit endorsement of the notion of anarchy seriously challenges one of the
core assumptions of political realism--namely, state as a unitary anda primary
actor in international politics. There is also an irony in the fact that the
Huntingtonian thesis at the same time shares with realism its aggressiveness
and belligerency.50 However, realism does not buy into the idea of
intracivilizational solidarity or intercivilizational clash since, as we
indicated above, from its vantage point states are by de.nition selfserving
and egoistic, and genuine and longterm cooperation among them is dif.cult, if
not totally impossible.
Developments over the past 10 years seem to indicate signi. cantly reduced
interstate and intercivilizational con. icts, contrary to what has been
suggested by neorealists like Kenneth Waltz and clashofcivilization
proponents like Samuel Huntington.51 One explanatio n for this perhaps lies in
the . awed assumption of anarchy in international relation s which is shared
by both schools of thought. The absence of world government is taken as an
empirical equivalent of the reign of anarchy as if the prevalence of more
order was also necessarily presupposed by the existence of a central
government. We propose to argue that over the years world politics has despite
the absence of a government progressively become more orderly than its domestic
counterpart. A partial reason for this is that hierarchy rather than anarchy
characterizes contemporary world politics. And this hierarchy is based on the
intersubjective understanding among states rather than on enforcement from any
external body. But why has contemporary world politics become hierarchical and
orderly and why progressively so? We can look again at Francis Fukuyamas
thesis in our endeavor to disentangle the issues revolving around this
Whereas it is true that history has not quite ended as Fukuyama hadclaimed,
there are, as indicated above, more states in contemporary international system
that are democratic compared to any period in human history. This appears to
provide a congenial atmosphere for enhancements of the trend towards more
elaborate hierarchy and orderliness in the international system and, at the
same time, provides a more fertile ground for more domestic disorder. Let us
look at each of these formidable propositions one at a time.
International hierarchy is in part an extension of an innate human
predisposition. Human beings naturally tend to rank and order events, peoples,
states and other collectivities, however more or less systematic the process
may be. This in turn may be due to the human proclivity for stabilit y in their
interaction, a notion not totally unrelated to ontological security--a
concept described earlier in the discussion. In any case, there is ample
empirical evidence that human perception operates in a context of
hierarchy--imagined or real. It could thus make sense for Dumont to argue that
we should refer to ourselves as HomoHierarchicus.52 Even though we have
argued that hierarchy rather than anarchy characterizes international politics,
it is however wrong to assume that there is one, universally agreedupon
hierarchy of states. Different sets of hierarchies have existed in different
issue areas and at different times.
Hierarchy also emanates from what internationalrelations scholars call regimes.
The main function of a regime is the creation of a pattern within sets of
issue areas which approximate legal liability whereby states conform to agreed
rules due to converging expectations and due to the enhancement of coordinated
sanctions against defectors.53 Racial, geographic , economic and cultural
indicators as well as socalled national character had also been in use for
bestowing upon or withholding from a political entity a status in the
international system. One set of such an indicator, namely, the quality of
health, education and welfare, constitutes the developmental hierarchy of
nations.54 There are also less explicit sources of hierarch y in contemporary
international system. What we should like to stress here is that there are
relatively durable hierarchies virtually in all areas of potential con.ict and
cooperation among states.
Hierarchies are established through voluntary agreements or through tests of
will and strength among rivals. Sometimes, the place a state occupies could
simply be bestowed upon it and the status thus attaine d or assigned could be
more or less attuned to what a particular state would wish it to be. Alexander
Wendt has recently argued that widespread compliance by states to international
rules and norms is attributable to coercion, selfinterest and legitimacy.55
These same factors in. uence adherence by states to international hierarchy .
True, there are, and will always be, instances where a set of hierarchy is
contested, and sometimes forcefully, for it is shared knowledge rather than
an external body that regulates and restrains interstate behavior. But, in
the .nal analysis, it is true that most states do indeed follow most
international laws most of the time.56 Thus far we have attempted to
substantiate our argument in favor of the view that world politics is marke d
by a feature that is closer to hierarchy than anarchy. We shall now turn to the
related question of why domestic politics is becoming relatively more anarchic
than world politics.
It is importan t to note, .rst, that in domestic politics there is an alarmin g
lack of shared knowledge as to ones place. All citizens, regardles s of
their economic, ethnic as well as political standing, seriously regard
themselves as equals, while unfortunately the sad fact is that they are not.
Some are richer than others or more educated than others and so on. This
distinction also carries with it broad ranging consequences both for the social
status and the privilege s of individuals as wellas for con. ict and anarchy.
To say that such inequality of citizens in the face of a legally guaranteed
equality is crucial, however, is only to state the obvious, even if the obvious
is often ignored. In contrast, despite the principle of sovereign equality of
states ingrained in the UN Charter, no state seriouslyconsiders itself as equal
to others. Each state fully realizes that the principle of sovereign equality
does not work outside the General Assembly Hall of the UN. Hence a greater
potential for anarchy in domestic politics.
Instructive empirical evidence also suggests that domestic politics is
progressively becoming more anarchic . It may indeed be an extreme case, but
according to a recent nationwide poll, 70% of Colombians said that they are
afraid of going out at night because they feel insecure.57 One wonders if there
is a single state, weak or strong, that worries in these terms for its
survival. In addition, individuals are currently undergoing what James Rosenau
has called a skill revolution, as a result of which they are now capable of
assessing competently where they .t in international affairs and how their
behavior can be aggregate d into signi.cant collective outcomes.58But
although citizens now have greater awareness of their circumstances and their
rights, there is nothing inherent in the skill revolution that leads people
more in democratic direction.59
A related issue pertains to a states legitimac y understood here simply as
the ability to evoke compliance short of coercion.60 Two interconnected
venues exist for ascertaining whether or not a government is legitimate. One
is by considering how the government came into being. To this end, we ask
whether the leaders who hold/held of. ce came to power through a
legal/constitutional means or otherwise. Legitimacy could also be judged on the
basis of the policy outputs of those who govern. In this case, the regime or
the leaders provide the stimuli, . rst in the form of policies improving
citizens welfare and later in the form of symbolic materials which function as
secondary reinforcements, and the followers provide the responses, in the form
of favorabl e attitude towards the stimulators.61 When we refer to policy
outputs, or political outputs, as James N. Danziger puts it, we therefore mean
the issues pertaining to what values will be allocate d and who will bene. t
from and who will be burdened by the particular con. guration of value
allocation .62In this sense, the notion of popular reaction to stimulators does
not contradict the aforementioned idea of the skill revolution. Historically,
authority structures have been founded on traditional criteria of legitimac y
derived from constitutional and legal sources. The sources of authority have
now shifted from traditional to performance criteria of legitimacy . Again,
partly as a result of the skill revolution--and the resultant marked change
in the analytica l capacity of individuals--future challenges to the legitimac
y of state are likely to be signi. cantly different from the past in that they
would be more concerted and more powerful. D. Rothchild and A. J. Groths
observation clarify the factors behind this transformation:
With changes in communications ensuring a ready . ow of news across state
boundaries, ideas on national selfdetermination, racial equality, intergroup
con. ict, and political liberalizatio n are readily diffused to an
international audience. Such a diffusion (or contagion) effect spreads
information on domestic political demands and con. ict relations to an
international audience by example rather than by deliberate action, initiating
an international learning process with enormous potential for con. ict
We may conclude that democratization makes it easier to assess the intentions
and therefore predict the behavior of states rather than of individuals. Indeed
the structure of corporate minds is typically written down in organizational
charts that specify the functions and goals of their constituent elements, and
their thoughts can often be heard or seen in the public debates and
statements of decisionmakers.64 Intriguingly enough, democratizatio n of
political systems appears at the same time to engender more anarchy
domestically while enhancing order in the realm of interstate relation s. This
is also consistent with the result of a recent study, which found that
autocracies are much less vulnerable to state failure than are partial
democracies. In the subSaharan Africa, for instance, the study concluded,
other things being equal, partial democracies were on average 11 times more
likely to fail than autocracies.65
Our tentative conclusions are that history has not yet ended, as Fukuyama had
claimed; that the end of history, should it somehow happen, would be a bane for
domestic politics and a boon for world politics. As regards the clash of
civilizations, our conclusion is that such a clash does not appear imminent
for, among other things, states rather than civilizations continue to provide
individuals with a badge of identity. In the preceding pages, we have also
called into question both the logic and empirical validity of the assumption of
anarchy in international relation s. Since this assumption constitutes the
bedrock of contemporary international relations theories and raises wider
questions in relation to the end of history and the clash of civilizations, it
may be pro. table for both the theoreticians of international relations and its
practitioners to adequately analyze it from a variety of approaches.
1. Francis Fukuyama, The End of History?, National Interest, Summer 1989, pp.
319. For a brief account of the historical evolution of the idea of the end of
history, see E. H. Carr, What is History? London: Penguin Books, 1990,
especially pp. 110119.
2. Samuel Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations? , Foreign Affairs, Summer
1993, pp. 2249.
3. In fairness to Fukuyama and Huntington, it should be pointed out that our
assess ment of the two theses is based on their short essays and not on their
more elaborate and expanded ideas later published in book form. Here objections
are likely to arise by those who deny the propriety of our approach. To such an
objection our answer is that while the books are certainly richer in empirical
and theoretical details, the central arguments and their logic re.ect
essentially the same line of reasoning and argument and that the trunc ated
version would therefore be more useful for our purpose .
4 In fact, two hypotheses that, logically and philosophically , are different
from one another could both be true. See Bertrand Russell, The Art of
Philosophizing and Other Essays, Totowa: Little.eld, 1974, p. 58. A good
example is a theory in psycholog y known as alpha, beta, gamma hypothesis,
according to which three different hypotheses relating to learning had been
supported under differentexperimentalcircumstances. The alpha hypothesis states
that the frequency with which a behavior is performedenhances learning. The
beta hypothesis states that repetition frequency has no effect on learning. The
gamma hypothesis states that repetition frequency hinders learning. See
Jennifer Bothamley, Dictionar y of Theories, London: Gale Research
International, 1993, p. 20
5. Fukuyama, The End of History?, op. cit., p. 1.
6. Ibid., p. 4.
8. This is not to deny the empirical fact that more than half of the worlds
populatio n today live under democratic governments. In Robert Dahls count,
for example, there were 86 democratic countries in 1997 as compared with only
eight in 1900. See Robert Dahl, The Shifting Boundarie s of Democr atic
Governments, Social Research, Vol. 66, 1999, pp. 921923.
9. L. J. Diamond, Is the Third Wave Over?, Journal of Democracy, Vol. 7, No.
3, 1996, pp. 2037.
10. James N. Rosenau and M. Durfee, Thinking Theory Thoroughly: Coherent
Approaches to an Incoherent World, Boulder: Westview Press, 1995, p. 36.
11. Chris Brown, History Ends, Worlds Collide, Review of International
Studies, Vol. 25, 1999, p. 52. The renowned African political scientist, Ali A.
Mazrui, made a similar observation nearly a decade before the end of the Cold
War: Marxism ...is a child of the West. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engles were
themselves Westerners and their theories and ideas emerged out of Western
intelle ctual and economic history. In that sense, the confrontation between
Marxism and Western civilization is between a parent and the offspring; it is
an intergenerational con.ict in the realm of ideas and values (Italics
original). See Ali A. Mazrui, The Moving Cultural Frontier of World Order: From
Monotheism to North--South Relations, World Order Models Project, Working Paper
No. 18, New York: Institute for World Order, 1982, p. 18. See also Ali A.
Mazrui in this issue (Editor).
12. Fukuyama, The End of History?, op. cit., p. 4.
13. Ibid., p. 6.
14. Ibid., p. 3.
15. Ibid., pp. 78.
Ibid., p. 11.
Ibid., pp. 1112.
Francis Fukuyama , Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity,
London: Hamish Hamilton, 1995, p. 7.
Immanue l Kant, Political Writings, 2nd edn, ed. Hans Reiss, Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1991, p. 48.
Ibid., p. 44.
Ibid., p. 47.
Ibid., p. 50.
Ibid., p. 51.
The tendency both to classify as distinct and refer to one as superior to
another is very problematic. The reasoning involved is that different
civilizations had been intermingling and borrowing ideas from one another so
much so that it becomes hard to talk about their distinctiveness. Robert W.
Cox, for instance, reminds us in regard to the relationship that had existed
between the Islamic and Western civilizations in these terms: It was through
contact with the higher culture of Islam that the Christian West recovered
knowledge of Greek philosophy . See Robert W. Cox, Towards a Posthegemonic
Conceptualization of World Order: Re.ections on the Relevancy of Ibn Khaldun,
in Governance Without Government: Order and Change in World Politics, eds James
N. Rosenau and ErnstOtto Czempiel, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992,
Kant, Political Writings, op. cit., p. 49.
Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations? , op. cit, p. 22.
Ibid., p. 25.
Ibid., p. 26.
Haruhiro Fukui, The Changing State in the Changing World, International
Political Economy (Kokusai Seiji Keizaigaku Kenkyu), Vol. 1, March 1998, pp.
Wendt de.nes ontological security as the human predisposition for a relatively
stable expectations about the world around them ...along with the need for
physical security, this pushes human beings in a conservative homeostatic
direction, andto seek out recognition of their standing from their society.
See Alexander Wendt, Social Theory of International Politics, Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1999, p. 31.
Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations? , op. cit., p. 26.
Ibid., p. 27.
Ibid., p. 31.
Ibid., p. 28.
Ibid., p. 34.
Ibid., pp. 3536.
Ibid., p. 37.
Huntington, The West: Unique Not Universal, Foreign Affairs, Vol. 75, 1996,
Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations? , op. cit., p. 42.
Ibid., p. 47.
Between 1994 and 1998, the top four suppliers of conventional weapons to Egypt,
Iran, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE were, in descending order, USA,
Russia, France, UK and Germany. See SIPIRI Yearbook. Armaments, Disarm ament
and International Security, New York: Oxford University Press, 1999, p. 426.
Erich Weede, Islam and the West: How Likely Is the Clash of Civilizations ?,
International Review of Sociolog y, Vol. 8, No. 2, 1998, pp. 185186.
Huntington, Clash of Civiliz ations?, op. cit., p. 35.
Ibid., p. 49.
It is perhaps considerations such as this that prompted some analysts to
declare that the assumptio n of anarchy sets international relations from other
disciplines (rather than settingmerely one brand of international relations
theory from an other). See Hans Mouritzen, Kenneth Waltz: A Critical
Rationalis t between International Politics and Foreign Policy, in The Future
International Relation s. Masters in the Making? eds Iver B. Neumann and Ole
Waever, London and New York: Columbia University Press, 1997, p. 79.
Wendt, Social Theory, op. cit., p. 2.
Here our reference is especially to what Gidon Rose has recently called
aggressive realists. See Gideon Rose, Neoclass ical Realism and Theories of
Foreign Policy, World Politics, Vol. 51, 1998,
51. In 1998 out of the 27 major con.icts in the world all but two were
domestic. See SIPIRI, 1999,
p. 7. In fact, there has been a steady decline in the number of interstate
wars in the international system since 1648. See Kal J. Holsti, Peace and War:
Armed Con. icts and International Order, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
1991; and Kal J. Holsti, The State, War and the State of War, Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1996.
L. Dumont, Homo Herarchicus, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980.
Attributed to Robert Keohane, in M. Suhr, Robert O. Leohane: A Contemporary
Classic, in The Future of International Relations. Masters in the Making? eds
Iver B. Neumann and Ole Waeve r, London and New York: Routledge, 1998, p. 98.
This taxonomy is from H. Barbera, Rich Nations and Poor in Peace and War.
Continuity and Change in the Development Hierarchy of Seventy Nations from 1913
through 1952, Lexington, Toronto and London: Lexington Books, 1973, p. 1.
Wendt, op. cit., p. 286.
Hedley Bull, The Anarchical Societ y. A Study of Order in World Politics,
London: Macmillan, 1977,
San Francisco Chronicle, 10 February 2000.
James Rosenau, Security in a Turbulent World, Current History, May 1995, pp.
A. C. Janos, Authority and Violence: The Political Framework of Internal War,
in Internal War: Problems and Approaches, ed. Harry Eckstein, New York: The
Free Press, 1964, p. 151.
J. H. Schaar, Legitimacy in the Modern State, in Legitimacy and the State,
ed. W. Connolly, Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1984, p. 109.
James N. Danziger, Understanding the Political World. An Introduction to
Political Science, New York and London: Longman, 1991, p. 374.
Donald Rothchild and A. J. Groth, Pathologica l Dimensions of Domestic and
International Ethnicity, Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 110, No. 1, 1995,
Wendt, op. cit., p. 222.
The study de.ned partial democracy as a country which has some democratic
characteristicsuch as electionbut also have some autocratic characteristics,
such as a chief executive with almost no constraints on his/her power, sharp
limits on political competition, a state restrained press, or a cowed or
dependentjudiciary. See Ted R. Gurr et al., State Failure Task Force: Phase II
Findings, Environmental Change and Security Project Report, Vol. 5, No. 49,
1999, pp. 5255.
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