The Associated Press reports that Samuel Huntington, a political scientist and author of “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order” passed away at the age of 81 on Wednesday. Huntingdon famously said
It is my hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural.
Given Huntington’s profession as a political scientist it is curious that politics and economics are dismissed as fundamental sources of conflict in favour of culture. I am not aware of any major conflict of the last few hundred years which was primarily fought over culture. It seems more accurate to say that cultural (or religious) differences often provide a fig leaf for the political or economic ambitions of the individuals involved. This being the case “The Clash of Civilizations” thesis seems unduly pessimistic about cultural diversity. Cultural diversity is part of our common humanity. In the words of Bahá’u’lláh addressed to the peoples of the world
Ye are all fruits of one tree, the leaves of one branch, the flowers of one garden.
We are all the flowers of the same garden and not all the flowers are the same.