[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 
Dissenter's View
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 Fukuyama’s ‘The End of History?’1 and Samuel 
Huntington’s ‘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 
international anarchy.
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 Huntington’s ‘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 Fukuyama’s 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 
aforementioned proposition.
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 mankind’s 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 world’s 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 Fukuyama’s 
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 communism’s 
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 
rigorous tests.
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.
Fukuyama’s 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 Fukuyama’s 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 ‘theory’that 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 nation’s 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. Fukuyama’s 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 Fukuyama’s 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 Fukuyama’s 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, humankind’s 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 history’—let 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, humanity’s 
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 
Kant’s 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 
law­governedsocial order’.21
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 
united will.22
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 
determine with
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, Fukuyama’s ‘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 Fukuyama’s ‘The End of History?’, Samuel Huntington’s ‘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 
Huntington’s ideas in compari­son, again, to Immanuel Kant’s writings on the 
subject. Clearly, it is dif. cult to compare Kant’s ideas with those of 
Huntington’s, 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. Kant’s views are universalistic in that 
their point of reference is ‘human species’ in contrast to ‘distinct 
civilizations’ of Huntington. Huntington’s 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 
Huntington’s 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 one’s 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 Huntington’s 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 one’s ‘ontological’ security (Alexander 
Wendt’s 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 speaker’s 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, Huntington’s 
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 
Huntington’s 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 
Huntington’s 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 Huntington’s 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. Iraq’s 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 Huntington’s 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 West’s 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 
‘Turkey’s 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 
explanatory potential?
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 handled—or 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]Confucian–Islamic 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 
Confu­cian–Islamic 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 
Confucian–Islamic 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 Islamic–Confucian 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 Islamic–Christian or 
Islamic–Jewish connection is more likely to emerge than the Islamic–Confucian 
one. Here we may quote Erich Weede’s 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 
doctrine—not least the practice of the prophet himself—Muslim 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 Huntington’s 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 
Huntington’s 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, Huntington’s 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 Fukuyama’s 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 Fukuyama’s 
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 one’s 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 state’s 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. Groth’s 
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. 
3–19. 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. 110–119.

2. Samuel Huntington, ‘The Clash of Civilizations? ’, Foreign Affairs, Summer 
1993, pp. 22–49.

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.

7. Ibid.

8. This is not to deny the empirical fact that more than half of the world’s 
populatio n today live under ‘democratic’ governments. In Robert Dahl’s 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. 921–923.
9. L. J. Diamond, ‘Is the Third Wave Over?’, Journal of Democracy, Vol. 7, No. 
3, 1996, pp. 20–37.

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. 7–8.

Ibid., p. 11.

Ibid., pp. 11–12.

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, 
p. 151.

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. 35–36.

Ibid., p. 37.

Huntington, ‘The West: Unique Not Universal’, Foreign Affairs, Vol. 75, 1996, 
pp. 28–46.

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. 185–186.

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,

p. 146.
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,

p. 42.
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, 
p. 78.

Wendt, op. cit., p. 222.

The study de.ned partial democracy as a country which has some democratic 
characteristic–such as election–but 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. 52–55.

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