[My objections to Huntington can be summarized in four questions:
Who defines the values that characterize different civilizations? In too many parts of the world definitions are not left to individuals and social groups, but are unilaterally proclaimed by non-democratic leaders, be they dictators or terrorists. Taking their claim at face value would entail a racist disrespect for millions of “producers of civilization”. This is especially, dramatically true for millions of Islamic individuals, who are today culturally and politically disenfranchised by the violence of few and the fear of many.
Where do we draw the territoria/limits that allow us to define “a civilization”? We cannot but agree with Amartya Sen, when he wrote that he resented being included, as a person coming from the rich, manifold cultural and spiritual tradition of India, in the general “Confucian” category to which Huntington ascribes Asia as a whole.
When — with reference to which time-frame — do we assess the characteristics of a given culture? Fixity is definitely not what characterizes cultures — vital phenomena in constant transformation — so that the attempt to understand them by still photos instead of a movie can only lead to absurd misunderstandings.
Who has ever seen a self-contained civilization? The history of cultures is one of constant cross-fertilization, of endless exchange and mutual borrowing. - Carry on talking, civilizations need it - Roberto Toscano, Sunday TOI, July 19, 2009] Reply