The clash of civilizations: “green” vs. “red, white and blue”

“Our civilization is not indestructible: it needs to be actively defended” — so said a recent Wall Street Journal article highlighting the “Huntingtonian model” as laid out in the classic work of political science Clash of Civilizations, written by the late Harvard scholar Samuel Huntington. In short, the model contends that “a civilization-based world order is emerging in which states that share cultural affinities will cooperate with each other and group themselves around the leading states of their civilization.” Huntington defines the three main civilizations as Western, Muslim, and Confucian — and the West, according to the model, is declining in power.

In Clash of Civilizations, Huntington proposed a politically incorrect idea: that survival depends on groups with a shared civilization uniting to defend themselves against shared challenges. According to Huntington, the West is declining because of its growing dependence on the other two. The Middle Eastern countries — Huntington’s Muslim civilization — is where the West goes for oil. Asian countries — Confucian civilizations in the model — provide almost everything else, including most consumables such as computers, cell phones, furniture, clothes, dog food and medicines. According to Huntington, the Western civilization manufactures very little on its own.

Despite their importance to the world economy, neither the Muslim nor the Confucian civilizations have become superpowers. They cannot boast about housing any of the world’s great institutions of learning. Major inventions do not come from these civilizations. So, if the West is being supplanted, who’s taking its place? In fact, much of the West’s decline can be traced back to the emergence of a fourth civilization: the “green” civilization.

Originally sold as America’s salvation, the green movement has morphed into a civilization at odds with the West. The environmental movement had not yet become the force it is today at the time of the release of The Clash of Civilizations. Environmentalists were viewed as a radical fringe back in the sixties and actually became worthwhile and relevant in the polluted seventies. However, as Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace (one of the first environmental groups) explained, “the 80’s ushered in the age of environmental extremism.” The basic issues for which he and Greenpeace fought had largely been accomplished and the general public was in agreement with the primary message. In order for the environmentalists to remain relevant, they were forced to continue the fight, leading to ever more extreme positions. In truth, they appear today to have abandoned science and logic altogether.