From The Atlantic: Samuel Huntington’s Death And Life’s Work

Full article here.

It’s likely you won’t agree with all of Huntington’s ideas, but he maintained a deeply learned understanding of the animating ideas behind Western/American political organization with keen observation of what was happening on the ground in foreign countries.  Here’s a brief summation from Robert Kaplan’s article:

“• The fact that the world is modernizing does not mean that it is Westernizing. The impact of urbanization and mass communications, coupled with poverty and ethnic divisions, will not lead to peoples’ everywhere thinking as we do.

• Asia, despite its ups and downs, is expanding militarily and economically. Islam is exploding demographically. The West may be declining in relative influence.

• Culture-consciousness is getting stronger, not weaker, and states or peoples may band together because of cultural similarities rather than because of ideological ones, as in the past.

• The Western belief that parliamentary democracy and free markets are suitable for everyone will bring the West into conflict with civilizations—notably, Islam and the Chinese—that think differently.

• In a multi-polar world based loosely on civilizations rather than on ideologies, Americans must reaffirm their Western identity.”

Huntington grew up an FDR liberal, and seemed to maintain humility and some respect for ideas that perhaps he no longer always found tenable personally, but realized were crucial for America’s survival…and a crucial component of America’s assumptions (often not correct) about the rest of the world.

Addition:  Of course it’s quite possible he still found many of them tenable as well…here’s a quote from Leo Strauss:

From Wikipedia:

“Strauss noted that thinkers of the first rank, going back to Plato, had raised the problem of whether good politicians could be completely truthful and still achieve the necessary ends of their society. Are myths needed to give people meaning and purpose and to ensure a stable society or can men dedicated to relentlessly examining, in Nietzsche’s language, those “deadly truths,” flourish freely? In The City and Man, Strauss discusses the myths outlined in Plato’s Republic that are required for all governments. “

See Also:  Google books has ‘Political Order In Changing Societies‘ and ‘Who Are We?:  The Challenges To America’s National Identity‘  (previews)available.

Huntington’s page at Harvard here.  Reihan Salam has a short piece here.

Also On This Site:  I still have my doubts about that Nietzschean influence on our thought and politics: A Few Thoughts On Allan Bloom–The Nietzsche Connection…which also can be found in the new ‘experimental philosophy’ school:  Christopher Shea In The Chronicle Of Higher Ed On Experimental Philosophy

Add to Technorati Favorites

Leave a Reply

Name and email address are required. Your email address will not be published.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title="" rel=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <pre> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> 

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: