In his seminal work The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, Samuel Huntington argued provocatively and presciently that with the end of the cold war, “civilizations” were replacing ideologies as the new fault lines in international politics.
Now in his controversial new work, Who Are We?, Huntington focuses on an identity crisis closer to home as he examines the impact other civilizations and their values are having on our own country.
America was founded by British settlers who brought with them a distinct culture, says Huntington, including the English language, Protestant values, individualism, religious commitment, and respect for law. The waves of immigrants that later came to the United States gradually accepted these values and assimilated into America's Anglo-Protestant culture. More recently, however, our national identity has been eroded by the problems of assimilating massive numbers of primarily Hispanic immigrants and challenged by issues such as bilingualism, multiculturalism, the devaluation of citizenship, and the “denationalization” of American elites.
September 11 brought a revival of American patriotism and a renewal of American identity, but already there are signs that this revival is fading. Huntington argues the need for us to reassert the core values that make us Americans. Timely and thought-provoking, Who Are We? is an important book that is certain to shape our national conversation about who we are.
Photo Credit: Jon Chase/Harvard University News Office
Samuel P. Huntington was the Albert J. Weatherhead III University Professor at Harvard University, where he was also the director of the John M. Olin Institute for Stategic Studies and the chairman of the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies. He was the director of security planning for the National Security Council in the Carter administration, the founder and coeditor of Foreign Policy, and the president of the American Political Science Association.