Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Samuel Phillips Huntington: April 18, 1927–December 24, 2008

I guess news moves a little more slowly over the holidays. I had no idea Dr. Huntington had died until I opened the Economist today. Below, an excerpt from the commentary article.

I recall my professors spoke of him dismissively, before 09/11 that was. Is optimism inherently dangerous? Are liberalism and culture diametrically opposed?

"Both well and badly. Huntington came as close as anybody to predicting September 11th and the “war on terror” with his strictures about Islam’s “bloody borders”. He also came as close as anybody to predicting America’s agonies in Iraq by pointing out that democracy is the product of very specific cultural processes. His argument that modernisation does not necessarily entail Westernisation also looks prescient: why should the Chinese embrace the American economic model when it seems to produce such economic havoc? And why should authoritarian regimes in the Middle East embrace democratisation when it might mean handing power to Islamists? The master emerges better than his pupil, Mr Fukuyama."


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