Clash of Civilizations?
Solving Underlying Conflicts
These lectures were given fall 2014 as holder of thee Tun Mahathir Chair of Global Peace Studies, International Islamic University of Malaysia, in Kuala Lumpur.
There are two themes: real clashes, and solutions.
There is indeed something going on, by Bernard Lewis called "clash of civilizations", used by Samuel Huntington's publisher as title of a 1996 book about clash of regions with civilization names but no cultural analysis. Culture is basic, defining what is true, good, right, beautiful, sacred, valid, and what not. A primacy of cultural power thesis makes sense. Economic-military-political power matter, but culture shapes the economy, who is friend and foe, about right and wrong decisions.
The problem with Lewis-Huntington was that they forgot the major clash: missionary Abraham ism – Christianity and Islam – vs the Rest, all over the world, including the indigenous. They basically focused on the reactions, repercussions, today, on Islam.
The cultural-racist contempt for the indigenous in a "land without a people" was a reason for starting with Israel-Palestine, as a regional macro clash between nations and mega clash between civilizations.
The second lecture is inside religions--two Christianities, two Islams, two Buddhisms--for clashes not of but inside civilizations, seen in their economic-military-political contexts.
The third lecture broadens that to Christianity vs Islam in a historical perspective--when one goes up the other goes down, and vice versa--for a view of the present clash with ISIS.
The fourth lecture broadens that perspective still further, to Abrahamic space--the Occident spanned by those three religions--vs the Buddhist space, the Orient of pure Buddhism, or amalgamated with other cultures--in-between is the Hindu space--in power context.
The final lecture brings all together in a global perspective, using the Octagon representation of the world as Russia-India-China-OIC-EU-USA-Latin America-Africa surrounded by BRICS. Civilizations, and economic-political-military power. For prognosis, for therapies.
The second theme can be simply formulated: what to do about it. There are general points like holistic understanding, large spacetime in geography and history, and dialectics, forces and counter-forces. But simple conflict analysis with two parties also carries a far way, from either-or clashes to neither-nor, compromise, both-and solutions. Nobody believes solutions are around the corner, but the lectures try to indicate in what directions they may be located, where to look. Some visions may dampen the huge violence potentials in all of them.
The reader will permit some overlaps as some basic points and history had to be repeated in the lectures.
In gratitude for the invitation for dialogues, and to Mohamad Kotob from Syria and Amel Mohammed Al-Ariki from Yemen for helpful advice,
Kuala Lumpur, Fall 2014