Every person interested in International Relations knows the best-seller “The clash o civilizations and the remaking of World Order” published by Samuel Huntington in 1996. Nowadays, when Ukraine has it’s own well known problems and when the emergence of the ISIS’s danger is on the agenda, many analysts think that Samuel Huntington was right and that we face two clashes: one between the Western civilization and the Orthodox world and the other between the Western civilization and the Islamic civilization.
In my opinion, this theory is wrong and I will use for my argumentation the ideas expressed in many occasions by Mircea Malitza, my proffesor of Diplomacy at the Bucharest University of Economic Studies.
Mircea Malitza is a member of the Romanian Academy and of the Club of Rome, for which he co-authored the 1979 report “No Limits to Learning” and the 2003 report “Double Helix of Learning and Work” (first published by UNESCO).
He has written on diplomacy, negotiations, and mathematical models for international relations and many of his texts was published not only in Romanian, but also in other languages. For example, the book “Chronic of the year 2000” was published in 1969 in Romanian, in 1972 in Slovakian, Hungarian, Polish, in 1973 was translated in German and in 1975 was published in Spanish, at Buenos Aires, Argentina. Other books in English are “Mathematics of Organization” (Abacus Press, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, 1974) and “Coalition and Connection in Games” (Pergamon Press, Paris, 1980).
His most recent book in English is “Cold War Diplomacy. A Romanian Diplomat’s Memoirs. Small Players/Big Gambits” (2014) and in Romania he published his autobiography in 2015.
And these are just a small part of his work.
According to Mircea Malitza, Huntington mistakes civilization for culture and for this reason his theory is not so accurate. In Malitza’s opinion, “civilization is spelled in the singular, and there is little risk that its inner tensions could change into violent conflicts; cultures are spelled in the plural, and all signals point toward numerous conflicts under their banners in twenty-first century.”
In his article “Ten Thousand Cultures, A Single Civilization” published in International Political Science Review (2000, vol. 21, No. 1, pp. 75-89), he presumes a universality of civilization, which is the knowledge of the mankind, the sum of all technological achievements of humanity. “The Civilization produces wealth, which is power(…) Civilization protects us from hunger, disease, holds us in a favorable habitat and cand produce wealth”.
On the other hand cultures means a “belief-system”, are the sum of many values, traditions, languages, religions. So we have many cultures, but only one Civilization. “The cultures are the great source of identity.”
Why is so important this distinction? Because “we must remember that personal or collective identity, which confers recognition and self-respect, is expressed outwardly by “status” and its strong connotations in culture, image, and opinion. At the same time, the identity offered by civilization means a social or professional role, a position in the network of knowledge and action. A common project generates interaction and roles; the value of the project lies in the satisfaction derived from exercising one’s role, from the material, tangible advantages enhanced by fulfilling the role. These rewards are much more important than the volatile, airy prestige conferred by mere status.”
And this distinction helps us to understand the conflicts of the present, by naming them as being “cultural”, not “between civilizations” and also helps us to generate a solution for them, the so called “Common Project”, which is explained by Mircea Malitza in his article. It is an interesting article and you can read it online.
In the end, I would like to add that his ideas from the article “Ten Thousand Cultures, A Single Civilization” were developed in his book “Ten Thousand Cultures, One Single Civilization: Toward the Geomodernity of the XXI Century”, which unfortunately was published only in Romanian.