Imperialism and Culturalism Complement Each Other


  • Samir Amin





Capitalism is always ready to reward academics and publicists who provide plausible exculpatory explanations for its crises, failures, and crimes. Frequently the most effective are those that play upon the prejudices and superstitions of the prescientific past but in modern (or "post-modern") and scientific farm. Favored alternatives to historical materialist social science have been theories of world-historical process as the working out of closed and separate "civilizations" or "cultures." These "civilizations" and "cultures" are not explained by history, but instead explain history. One current version is that of the publicist (and Harvard Professor) Samuel Huntington, justifying the crimes of imperialism as the product of cultural "incompatibility." This is merely the most Authorized Version of a noise that can be heard today in all rhythms, tunes, and dissonances, often with its origins in racial pseudo-science only slightly disguised. Other varyingly sanitized and fragmentary versions are sometimes presented as "identity politics" or "communitarianism." The Egyptian journal Al Ahram asked our good friend and frequent contributor Samir Amin to give his view of Huntington's theory of "clash of civilizations." His demonstration of why culturalism and imperialism reinforce each other, and how victims can be led to accept "difference" in place of equality and liberation, is today of potential utility everywhere. —The Editors

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