Debating IR

Probing the philosophical underpinnings of the international system and anything else of interest.


Sunday, February 26, 2006

Damn Echoes

I hate reading something and having one word echo in my head the whole time. As I read "Social Deconstruction" such was the case. The one word I heard constantly was "Huntington, Huntington, Huntington." And when you think about it, that word coming to mind is not very strange. After all, the entire piece is about Slavic or nationalist identity. First, I must admit, I like Huntington. I don't necesarily agree with him, however, I love the argument. I love how people get so heated, and I love how he can live comfortably for the rest of his life by proposing an unprovable and undefeatable theory. But I digress.

To me, this article can give a great argument against Huntington. If a person would look at map 1.3 in Huntington's Clash of Civilizations, he would find Huntington's view of how the world will break down, with different shadings for each civilization. Looking at the map, it is obvious that Russia and most of the former Yugoslavia are contained within the "Orthodox" civilization. To "orthodox" is not as correct as Slavic would be, but nonetheless. Hoffman's article makes the case that because Yugoslavs failed to identify as Yugoslavs, the state fell apart. He argues that nationalist identifications were more important than a broader identification with what is conceivably a civilization.

Yugoslav identity is a Slavic identity. And part of that Slavic identity is a now 1500 year old connection with Christian Orthodox churches. By rejecting a civilizational identification, it can be seen that one whole civilization in Huntington's system fails to coalesce. This argument of course does not dispove Huntington. However, if it can be shown that a myriad of factors whether nationalstic or otherwise cause states, in almost all cases to not gather together into bigger groups, but to identify with smaller more local groups, then Huntington's theory will have very little base to stand on.

One further thing, does anyone know what Huntington's avowed theoretical beliefs are? Because the Clash of Civs theory seems remarkably similar to social construction.


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