Culture and Civilization Matters

October 24, 2009

Huntington Revisited: The Western/Islamic Fault Line


The primary course reading that deals with the topic of Civilization is Samuel P. Huntington’s 1993 Foreign Affairs article entitled, “The Clash of Civilizations?

In this article, Huntington’s central thesis is that “The fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural…..The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.”

Huntington defines the following world regions as Civilizations: Western, Orthodox, Islamic, African, Latin American, Sinic, Hindu, Buddhist, Japanese:


In this article, Huntington suggests that, “A civilization is thus the highest cultural grouping of of people and the broadest level of cultural identity people have short of that which distinguishes humans from other species. It is defined by both the common objective elements such as language, history, religion, customs, institutions, and by the subjective self-identification of people.” (p. 24)


Huntington asserts that “Conflict along the fault line between Western and Islamic civilizations has been going on for 1,300 Years.”

Here is a very brief summary of the conflicts outlined by Huntington:

    After the founding of Islam in 627 AD, the Arab and Moorish surge West and North ended at the Battle of Tours in 732

    From the eleventh to the thirteenth centuries the Crusaders of the Fourth Crusade attempted with temporary success to bring Christianity and Christian Rule to the Holy Land.

    From the fourteenth to the seventeenth century, the Ottoman Turks reversed the balance and extended their way over the Middle East and the Balkans, captured Constantinople and twice laid siege on Vienna.

    In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as Ottoman power declined, Britain, France, and Italy established Western Control over most of North Africa and the Middle East.

    After World War II, the West, in turn, began to retreat: the Colonial Empires disappeared and Arab Nationalism and Islamic Fundamentalism manifested themselves.

    The West became increasingly dependent on the Persian Gulf countries for its energy and several wars between the Western and Islamic regions ensued: From the numerous conflicts between Arabs and Israelis, France’s war with Algeria in the 1950s, The French and British invasion of Egypt in 1956, and the Lebanon Crisis in 1958.

    This was followed by numerous terrorist activities prior to the Gulf War in 1990, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in the United States, March 11, 2004 in Madrid and July 11, 2005 In London.

    Ultimately culminating in the current conflicts that are ongoing in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Much of this tumultuous history of the struggles along the Western/Islamic Fault Line can be explored in greater detail by using the BBC tCivilizations tool that, “uses web technology to reveal the sweep of historical forces and the rise and fall of great empires and ideas over 5000 years in a way that no book could ever do.”


You can access the tool by clicking HERE. We encourage you to explore in greater depth the contentious history between Christianity and Islam.


Huntington suggests that the “Velvet Cloak of Culture” represents the historic boundary between the Habsburg and Ottoman empires. Those North and West of this fault line were primarily Protestant or Catholic and shared the common experiences of European History: Feudalism, the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution.

Meanwhile, those peoples to the East and South of the Fault Line are Orthodox or Muslim and were only lightly touched by the shaping events to the North and West. According to Huntington, these regions are “less advanced economically and they seem much less likely to develop stable democratic political systems.” However, as we shall see in the Islamic Banking section of this blog, Dubai is playing a significant global role in the Financial, Tourism and Real-Estate sectors.


Lawrence Harrison, Director of the Culture Change Institute at Tufts University cites his own research in an address to the Council on Foreign Relations that aligns with Huntington’s point of view with regards to Islamic economic development.


In his most recent book, The Critical Liberal Truth, Harrison examined 117 countries against ten indicators of prosperity. In describing this research he mentions that “Islam has fallen far behind economically” and that there is a Universal Progress Culture that emphasizes: Education, Merit, Achievement, Frugalitiy and Community. It should be noted here that Harrison is quick to point out the danger of generalizations across regions in his discussion.

Dr. Harrison ends in saying that these five Progress Culture values that are largely shared among Protestants, Jews, Confucians and Sikhs.


Given the historical backdrop of the Fault Line between Western Civilization and Islam, the ensuing economic retrograde of the Islamic region and the fact that this Islam does not align with a Universal Progress Culture, the central tension that Dubai has been dealing with: Remaining true to its Arabic and Islamic roots while striving to become a leading hub in the 21st century market economy is becoming more acute.


The next seven years in Dubai will be fascinating to study as this central tension unfolds through time:

    Will the Dubai’s leaders continue in their quest to accomplish Vision 2015?

    Or will Dubai’s leadership revise its goals and seek refuge in its Arabic and Islamic heritage?

    Or will Dubai’s leaders find a “third way” to ensure that the region continues to prosper?

Click HERE to return to CCL Dubai Main Page.


July 8, 2009

July 7, 2009

The Rise and Fall of Civilizations

The BBC has made available a useful tool called Civilizations that, “uses web technology to reveal the sweep of historical forces and the rise and fall of great empires and ideas over 5000 years in a way that no book could ever do.”


You can access the tool by clicking HERE. We encourage you to explore the rise and fall of key civilizations throughout history and, in so doing, try to ascertain the key events or moments in time that allowed these civilizations to emerge and, ultimately, decline.

Jared Diamond, has respectively studied the rise and fall of civilizations in his popular books, Guns Germs and Steel and Collapse.


In Guns, Germs and Steel, Diamond suggests that the majority of humanity’s achievements (scientific, artistic, architectural, political etc.) have all occurred on the Eurasian Continent while the people of other continents have been largely conquered, displaced and sometimes exterminated.

Diamond further argues that Eurasian civilization is not so much a product of ingenuity, but of opportunity and necessity. That is, civilization is not created out of sheer will or intelligence, but is the result of a chain of developments, each made possible by certain preconditions.

In our earliest societies humans lived as hunter-gatherers. The first step towards civilization is the move from hunter-gatherer to agriculture with the domestication and farming of wild crops and animals. Agricultural production leads to food surpluses and this in turn supports sedentary societies, rapid population growth, and specialization of labor. Large societies tend to develop ruling classes and supporting bureaucracies, which leads in turn to the organization of empires.


Here is a brief overview of Diamond covering the key factors in the Rise of Civilizations:

Rise of Civilizations Part I (10:55)

Rise of Civilizations Part II (8:15)

Here is a brief overview of Diamond covering the key factors that contribute to the Collapse of Civilizations:

Short Version of Collapse of Civilizations (2:31)
Vodpod videos no longer available.

Longer Version on Collapse of Civilizations (9:06)

Please take the following POLL:

Is the Current Global Situation Sustainable?

The picture below shows a composite of satellite pictures at night . The differences in night illumination and electric power consumption are directly proportional to the differences in resource consumption, waste production and standard of living between societies. In Collapse, Jared Diamond wonders Will it be really possible to maintain such differences?


Below, Niall Ferguson and Peter Schwartz argue over whether or not this current state of affairs in the world today is sustainable:

Note: Click HERE to view full video on

Finally, Tom Friedman shares his insights on how we got to where we did before the financial crisis and how Mother Nature is responding:

Note: Click HERE to view full video on Charlie Rose
Some Questions to Ponder:

    Both Huntington and Diamond seem to argue that the Civilization that emerged from the continent of Europe has generally fared better than other civilizations. Do you agree with their position? Why or Why Not?

    Diamond argues that the predominance of the Western Civilization is largely due to environmental and geographic factors while Huntington argues that the differences can be explained to a large extent by religious differences of the different civilizations. Which argument do you believe has more merit?

    Do you think that Diamond would agree with Huntington’s hypothesis that the greatest conflicts of the future will be based on “Wars of Ideas”? Why or Why Not?

    Do you agree with Schwartz that the gains we have seen over the last 200 years are sustainable or with Ferguson that it is simply a historical anomaly? What is the basis for your choice?

    Which of Diamond’s five root causes of civilization collapse most threatens Western Civilization today. What is the basis for your choice?

Click HERE to return to Main Course Page.

July 2, 2009

Welcome to Duke/Fuqua/CCMBA/and the CCL Course!

Filed under: CCL Overview — Tags: , , , , , , , , — wadatripp @ 6:22 pm


First, we want to WELCOME you to Duke University and the Fuqua School of Business. Your decision to join us in the CCMBA program comes at a time when global competence is increasingly critical to becoming leader of consequence.

In this brief video, Fuqua School of Business Dean Blair Sheppard shares his insights on how leaders of consequence develop based on mutual acceptance of responsibility on the part of both the institution and the individual:

Also, for those of you who have not yet seen our brief “While You Were Sleeping” video, please take a moment to view it now as it clearly outlines why we are in the midst of executing a strategy to become the first Globally Distributed Business school.

Now, onto the real work!

It is our pleasure to welcome you to the CCMBA Culture, Civilizations and Leadership course blog where we will be posting rich-media sources we find relevant to the topics we will be discussing in the course.

We have created separate pages that cover the following topics for your review prior to getting together in London.

Here is the outline:

    The Clash of Civilizations: Click HERE to view.
    The Rise and Fall of Civilizations: Click HERE to view.
    Civilizations and their Linkage to Relational Models Theory: Click HERE to view.
    Defining and Identifying a Regional Culture: Click HERE to view.
    Leading the Globally Integrated Enterprise: Click HERE to view.
    Civilizations and Culture Explained Through Food and Drink: Click HERE to view.
    England – Timeline of Pivotal Events: Click HERE to view.
    Dubai – Welcome to Term 2: Click HERE to view.
    Delhi – Welcome to Term 3: Click HERE to view.
    Shanghai – Welcome to Term 4: Click HERE to view.
    St. Petersburg – Welcome to Term 5: Click HERE to view.

We encourage you to review the contents of this blog and to post any comments, questions or issues that come to mind as a result of having done so.

It is our sincere hope that we will begin a robust virtual dialogue via this blog that we can synthesize during our time together during each residency.

Blog at