When Samuel Huntington published his "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order," many progressive academics dismissed it as yet another excuse by right-wing academics to justify Western aggression against non-western civilizations. They may have been right to a certain extent, but in my view they were wrong not to consider the merits of some of the arguments presented in the book. When I personally read the book in 1998, I was still in Iran, at a time when Khatami was just getting warmed up with his Dialogue of Civilizations. I felt Huntington's arguments to be out of touch with reality. Now I see his arguments to be close to the current reality of fundamentalist confrontation, which may have emerged with the failure of dialogue between and reform within civilizations.
This Morning a series of bombings on London transit killed 37 people and injured more than 700 (as of 2:00 p.m. EST, July 7th, 2005). A group tied to Al-Qaeda in Europe has claimed responsibility. While a tragedy of this magnitude is unfolding continuously in Iraq, with insurgents targeting the same number of people nearly every single day, I feel that the spread of violence to Western countries is taking us further towards an extensive confrontation between two fundamentalist visions. My intuition tells me that the next decade will be a tough one for the world, as were the times leading to and during World War I and Word War II. What I ponder at this time is whether such a confrontation is indeed inevitable, or if it isn’t what can be done to prevent it.
The choice of the Islamic fundamentalists, the Neocons and Christian Fundamentalists seems clear. What is unclear in this period of time is the role of the progressive peoples representing the multiple civilizations at odds. For long the only thing we have achieved is to condemn acts of wars and atrocities, without an actual and concrete alternative to offer. So how about it? Do we want to sit and watch while the hatemongers in our nations take over the destiny of mankind and steer us towards massive bloodshed? What concrete ways are there to address issues of terrorism and bigotry in the Middle East, the growth of the military-industrial complex and religious fundamentalism and the retreat of rationality and human ideals in the West? Are there ways to address these issues on a global level? What I would like to see is something beyond the conventional intellectual response of demonstrating outside the White House etc. Where do we start? What do we learn? What ways can we propose? What organizations can help get our agendas on the table? I personally don’t have any answers to these, but I believe in collective wisdom. If we think about it together we might be able to do things beyond just empty talk.
Progressives of the World Unite!!!