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Samuel P. Huntington

Samuel Phillips Huntington (born April 18, 1927) is a political scientist known for his analysis of the relationship between the military and the civil government, his investigation of coup d'etats, and his thesis that the central political actors of the 21st century will be civilizations rather than nation-states. He is a professor at Harvard University.


Clash of Civilizations

In 1993, Huntington ignited a major debate in international relations with the publication in the journal Foreign Affairs of an extremely influential and often-cited article entitled "The Clash of Civilizations?" The article is often contrasted to the view expressed by Francis Fukuyama in "The End of History." Huntington later expanded that article into a full-length book, published in 1996, entitled The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. The article and the book articulate his theory of a multi-civilizational world headed for conflict. In his writings, he is critical of both Western and non-Western behavior, accusing both of at times being hypocritical and civilization-centric. He also warns that Western nations may lose their predominance if they fail to recognize the nature of this brewing tension. See the clash of civilizations article for more discussion.

Critics (see Le Monde diplomatique articles) call Clash of Civilizations a covert way to legitimize aggression by the US-led West against the Third World, in order to keep the latter "in check", that is, preventing their economic development.

It is interesting to compare Huntington, his theory on civilization, and his influence on policy makers in the U.S. Administration and the Pentagon, with A.J. Toynbee and his theory, which relied heavily on religion and was criticised similarly.

Other works

The latest book by Huntington, Who Are We: The Challenges to America's National Identity, was released in May 2004. The subject is the meaning of American national identity and the possible threat posed to it by large-scale Latino immigration, which Huntington warns could "divide the United States into two peoples, two cultures, and two languages". Like The Clash of Civilizations, this book has also stirred controversy, and some have accused Huntington of xenophobia for asserting that America has historically been culturally an Anglo-Saxon Protestant country.

He is also the author of Political Order in Changing Societies and The Soldier and the State.

The National Academy of Sciences Controversy

In 1986, Huntington was nominated for membership in the National Academy of Sciences. Nominations are voted on by the entire academy, but most votes, which are by scientists who are mainly unfamiliar with the nominee, are token votes. This status quo was disturbed when Serge Lang, a Yale mathematician, began challenging Huntington's nomination. Lang campaigned for others to deny Huntington membership and was eventually successful, with Huntington being nominated and rejected twice.

Huntington's prominence as a Harvard professor and (at the time) director of Harvard's Center for International Studies contributed to the coverage by publications such as The New York Times and The New Republic.

Lang was largely inspired by the writings of Neal Koblitz , another mathematician, who accused Huntington of misusing mathematics and engaging in pseudo-science. Lang's accusations included claims that Huntington had distorted the historical record and used pseudo-mathematics to make his conclusions appear more convincing. Lang's side of the controversy is covered in his book Challenges.

Huntington's supporters included Herbert Simon, a 1978 Nobel Laureate in Economics. The Mathematical Intelligencer offered Simon and Koblitz an opportunity to engage in a written debate, which they accepted.


"It is my hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future."

"The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do."


  • Huntington, Samuel P. The Soldier and the State: The Theory and Politics of Civil-Military Relations (1957),
  • Huntington, Samuel P. The Common Defense: Strategic Programs in National Politics (1961),
  • Huntington, Samuel P. Political Order in Changing Societies (1968),
  • Huntington, Samuel P. American Politics: The Promise of Disharmony (1981),
  • Huntington, Samuel P. The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century (1991),
  • Huntington, Samuel P. The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (1996),
  • Huntington, Samuel P. Who Are We? The Challenges to America's National Identity (2004)

See also

External link

  • Huntington's personal homepage at Harvard University

Last updated: 02-07-2005 12:50:38
Last updated: 04-25-2005 03:06:01