Monday, June 03, 2013

Professor Anna Simons on Future (Civilizational) Conflicts

Professor Anna Simons, of the Naval Postgraduate School, has written an open-eyed, non-politically correct paper on the coming conflicts between the US and its enemies, "21st Century Cultures of War: Advantage Them" (Foreign Policy Research Institute, E-Books, The Philadelphia Papers, April 2013), and I quote from the "Introduction":
It seems a foregone conclusion that we will continue to excel technologically. No one is likely to surpass us in the realms of technological inventiveness or organizational innovation so long as we continue to apply the scientific method to problem solving. However, in the realm of what humans can do with and to other humans we are being outstripped. Morally, we shouldn't want to compete in thisterrain, but the problem is we will be competed against. Already, there are some developments -- like suicide terrorism and "green on blue" violence -- for which we are unlikely to develop sufficient counters. The implications are profound for what U.S. forces might have to contend with in the field and cope with mentally.

Political correctness and self-censorship deserve some, but not all of the blame for why no one addresses the societal sources of others' inhumanity. Since the advent of anthropology, the mainstream social science view has been that we humans are more alike than unalike cross-culturally; differences can all be overcome. But -- what if that isn't the case? For the purposes of this paper my working assumption will be that we aren't all wired with the same sensibilities. At the same time, the more the world shrinks the more our status vis-à-vis one another will matter.

People(s) typically seek to alter their status in the eyes of others in one of four ways: a) they seek autonomy, which means they want to be left alone, b) they seek respect, which means they want to be treated as different but not lesser, c) they seek deference, which means they want to be treated as more equal than others, or d) they expect others to submit, which means they seek obeisance. Islamists, for instance, still seek our submission. (page 1)
Though she scarcely mentions Samuel Huntington (a sole footnote), Simons occupies a broadly Huntingtonian position with her emphasis on the implicitly civilizational conflict between the West and the Islamic world, the latter of which is designated by the formula "the (non-East Asian) non-West" (although including some non-Islamic examples). She differs from Huntington in not explicitly grounding value differences in the religions that he says underlie civilizations.

The paper is very interesting, and I urge anyone concerned about the coming conflicts to read it.

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At 12:58 PM, Blogger Yule said...

"the implicitly civilizational conflict between the West and the Islamic world"

What is "the West"?

The recent German census just revealed that 20% of the population in 2013 consists of persons of non-German ancestry. [How many of those are of non-European origin, I don't know]. Amazingly, deaths have exceeded births in Germany for every year starting about 1970 with no sign of recovery.

Thus, that 20% share will continue to inch upward and upward. Regular-mosque-goers may exceed churchgoers in many EU countries already.

Extrapolating, it seems to me that by the end of the present century, "What is 'the West'?" may be a tricky question to answer.

At 1:13 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

A valid point, Yule.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 1:27 AM, Blogger bibnida said...

In a 'Languages and Literatures' academic setting, both Simons and Huntington would likely be ostracized right out of their careers, so puritanical is the PC social-moral temper of those professional communities.

Are Simons and Huntington seen as 'conservative', or are they otherwise politically labeled, in their own disciplines or professional communities?

At 6:13 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Huntington was definitely considered conservative in political science, but I don't know about Professor Simons.

Jeffery Hodges

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