In his well-known book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, Samuel P. Huntington implied that peace was an impossible dream. “People are always tempted to divide people into us and them,” he wrote. For example, let us assume that the Saffron Brigade succeeds in creating a Hindutva India after the present face-off with Pakistan is surmounted. Let us imagine an India where everyone abides by the principles of Hindutva. Will it be a peaceful nation? Huntington would say that we would soon start dividing ourselves into us and them, us being the dominant sections and them being the marginalised sections. That’s how human nature is. There is no escape from clashes.
Huntington has evidences from history to substantiate his argument. “World War I was the ‘war to end wars’ and to make the world safe for democracy,” he writes. What actually happened, however? Communism and fascism with their various versions of dictatorship. Not democracy as dreamt by those who waged the world war.
Franklin Roosevelt argued that World War II would “end the system of unilateral action, the exclusive alliances, the balances of power, and all other expedients that have been tried for centuries – and have always failed.” The UNO that followed was supposed to be “a universal organization” of “peace-loving Nations” and the beginning of permanent peace in the world. What the world actually got were ethnic conflicts, new patterns of alliances among nations, resurgence of neo-communist and neo-fascist movements, intensification of religious fundamentalism, and a lot of genocide in many countries including India.
People have always loved divisiveness. The desire to be one up on the neighbour is an inborn instinct in us. This desire has always created divisions among people. Scholars used to divide the world into the Orient and the Occident. For the Jews there were the gentiles. For the Muslims, Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Harb. “And when you pray, don't babble on and on as people of other religions do,” said Jesus who thereby made a distinction between his followers and the rest.
Peace is an illusion, concludes Huntington. Whatever we achieve, we will continue to create divisions and distinctions. No wonder almost all the countries in the world are at war with somebody or the other even now just as you are reading these lines.
Peace may be a distant possibility. Mankind has to raise its consciousness level. Huntington’s thesis was in fact an answer to his former student Francis Fukuyama’s book, The End of History and the Last Man, in which the author dreamt of a world that has evolved ideologically to a level at which there will be no more clashes because it will have universalised the Western liberal democracy as the final form of government.
Fukuyama’s was a dream. A dream about an ideological evolution. A dream about democracy and liberalism. A dream about individual freedom. Freedom from religions and their gurus, from fundamentalisms, parochialisms, and clashes.
If I were living in the Indo-Pak border, I would fly on the wings of Fukuyama’s dream leaving the debris of my home down on the ground for soldiers and terrorists to stand on and blow their horny trumpets. But I am more fortunate and I share the realism of Huntington who was actually Fukuyama’s teacher.