Who Are We? America's Great Debate by Samuel P Huntington - review by Bryan Appleyard

Bryan Appleyard

The End of Multiculturalism

Who Are We? America's Great Debate


Simon & Schuster 428pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

WITH THE CLASH of Civilizations in the Nineties, Samuel Huntington anticipated today's confrontation with radical Islam. The wars of the future, he said, would not be national or economic in origin, they would arise from fundamentally conflicting world-views derived not, as in the past century, from competing humanist ideologies, but from culture and history. With 9/11 and its aftermath, Huntington has been, for the moment at least, vindicated. But he has also been abused. Most commonly, his critics cannot distinguish between analysis and advocacy. They assume that he is in favour of civilisations clashing. In reality, he was simply saying it would happen. Speaking unpalatable truths, after all, is his job as a Harvard professor of politics. Now, with Who Are We?, he has done it again. The abuse is likely to be yet more intemperate.

Understanding the nature of America's world domination is difficult because it is not at all clear what America is. It is not a European-style nation state, having been created in the middle of the eighteenth century by an act of will rather than history. Indeed, though this is less true

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