A story for Europe

In the 2009 edition of his book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, Samuel Huntington famously turned his attention from the ‘Third World’ to Europe. His expanded thesis was widely derided at the time, receiving hostile reviews in the TLS, FAZ and IHT. Today, however, it appears oddly prescient: the European Union is showing just the cleavages that Huntington suggested.

Huntington was the one who, back in 1993, predicted that the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War would create an ideological vacuum to be filled by ethno-religious beliefs, largely directed against the West. Following the apparent vindication of the 9/11 attacks, Huntington expanded his theory: in 2009, he suggested that the decline of the US and the breakdown of the ‘western bloc’ would give way to similar trends in Europe.

Huntington has been unnaturally quiet in recent years, but he surprised European viewers on Friday with an untrailed appearance on Euronews. The US academic had been attending the launch-event in Warsaw of a “New Narrative for Europe”, a Brussels initiative to update the story of European integration. “I’d just like to tell my friends in Europe that this may be the beginning of the end for the EU,” Huntington sighed. “I recognise the signs”.

The EU, he said, was echoing many other supranational regimes in their dying days: a European Cultural Committee had set up a listening exercise with Citizens to create a legitimate new Ideology for EU integration. Huntington’s verdict: “Oh dear, oh dear.” This small man with large gig-lamp glasses and white suit, a visible figure up in the gods, had become perceptibly gloomier as the day wore on.

Huntington said he had watched the Commission President address the assembled artists and intellectuals on the subject of the unfolding drama of Genuine Economic and Monetary Union and the EU’s cultural competencies under Article 167 of the Lisbon Treaty, while Commission Vice President Viviane Reding had spent an hour in ‘listening mode’ sympathetically telling the audience about the benefits of EU integration. 

The veteran Cold Warrior, a former adviser to Carter, said he had been drawn back to Warsaw to check on the health of the EU’s ideological basis. Saddened by its shaky condition, he named the forces likely to fill the vacuum. Speaking in his soft Noo Yawk accent, he suggested the sovereign debt crisis was splitting the bloc into three ethno-religious groups, all of which were prominently represented at the congress.

Europe’s ‘Catholics’, he said, were represented by the old guard who had been wheeled out to talk about their experience of Nazism, Francoism and Communism. They demanded solidarity and financial transfers between Europeans, framing these as atonement for past sins. “These elderly gentlemen,” said the sprightly 86-year-old, “are the reason that Europe’s new cleavages will be along transnational not national lines.”

However, they were under fire from the ‘Calvinists’, a group much in the news since the start of the crisis. Represented notably by French speakers at the congress, the Calvinists painted a bleak future for Europe in the face of international competition. Although they claim salvation is largely out of the EU’s hands, noted Huntington, they still demand that its citizens make painful choices and stick to the straight and narrow, just in case.

Huntington also identified a few lone ‘Anglicans’, not least in the form of a British member of the Cultural Committee. Clearly ill at ease with the dogma on offer, she had underlined the need to live in the here and now, albeit according to the principles of self-moderation and mutual respect. “You guys ever seen that limey sitcom, the Vicar of Dibley?” Huntington shouted. “It was like listening to the vicar of Dibley preaching PM Cameron’s Europe policy!”

In Huntington’s opinion, if you want to transform society, you have to present a strong vision of the future. “The Communists imagined a utopian future, the Fascists projected a utopian past, but you Europeans did something else – you looked back to a dystopian past and left the future undefined. The shared desire to leave that past behind was the secret of your success. But you’ve lost faith in a shared future now. That’s why the religious nuts are out.” 

Asked if he took anything positive from the event, Huntington replied “Oh sure. Hey, many of the speakers today have been completely off beat. Any continent that can produce the exciting array of hair and dentistry I’ve seen here must be doing something right. Narrative? You’ve got enough material for a whole telenovela.” And with that, he was gone, later tweeting “A New Narrative for Europe? #ucdntmakeitup”.


twitter: @roderickparkes


  1. #1 by jon livesey on July 13, 2013 - 11:55 pm

    I guess it really was a surprise to see Huntington turn up, seeing that he died in 2008.

  2. #2 by Victor on July 14, 2013 - 1:37 am

    Ever since the demise of the European Defense and Political Communities, talk of the end of the idea of European Union has come and gone.

    The relevant questions are always avoided:

    1) is European integration now slower than in the past?

    2) is European integration significantly slower than integration in other federations (US specially which is the most similar legal system)?

    Schuman´s method is alive and well, use any crisis to create more integration. If the Euro has survived the last five years, why would the EU fail during the next five?

    There are certainly still problems, and in some countries things could get very bad very quick, but the institutional architecture has only deepened specially in the Eurozone.

    There hasn´t been an empty chair crisis or the equivalent in a long time.

    But of course statecraft is as much about drafting rules as it is about managing passions.

    The ultimate question is whether the passions are out of control in the national political systems so as to constitute an unavoidable threat to the European project.

  3. #3 by Wim Roffel on July 15, 2013 - 10:59 am

    In Huntington’s opinion “if you want to transform society, you have to present a strong vision of the future.”. And then Huntington mentions the communists and fascists as example, blissfully ignorant that although these ideologies had a big following for some time their implementation was never a success.

    The real problem of the EU is that it is an ideology. It is NOT based on what people want and it is NOT based on the needs of society. As such it is doomed to fail.

    Realistic European integration should start from what is really needed and should keep the initiative at the member state level for a considerable time. The EU has already too much laws that were adopted for no other reason than to undermine the nation states. And it democracy is already too much undermined.

  4. #4 by cecelia on July 17, 2013 - 3:02 am

    Samuel Huntington has indeed been reported to have died several years ago – so I do think it is incumbent upon you to explain how he could have been at this conference – your own credibility is challenged now – either we have a case of a return from the dead or a imposter was at the conference – explanations are required.

  5. #5 by Bastian on July 18, 2013 - 7:47 pm

    This is typical Orwellian EU speek. Even dead can be alive again if helpfull for certain purposes and interests.
    According to all what we know by the mass media, Huntington died in 2008.

  6. #6 by DearZod on July 19, 2013 - 2:27 pm

    Is this article supposed to be fiction, or are your just using old essays … ?

    “Asked if he took anything positive from the event, Huntington replied “Oh sure. Hey, many of the speakers today have been completely off beat. Any continent that can produce the exciting array of hair and dentistry I’ve seen here must be doing something right. Narrative? You’ve got enough material for a whole telenovela.” And with that, he was gone, later tweeting “A New Narrative for Europe? #ucdntmakeitup”. …

    So Mr. Huntington is obviously really into twitter now … social media after all transcends death!

    December 27, 2008,

    “Samuel P. Huntington, an influential political scientist and longtime Harvard University professor, died at the age of 81 on Wednesday, according to an obituary on Harvard’s Web site. Mr. Huntington’s most famous thesis – that world conflicts stem from the competing cultural identities of seven or eight “civilizations” – became a fundamental, if controversial, premise of post-Cold War foreign policy theory. His emphasis on ancient religious empires, as opposed to states or ethnicities, gained even more cachet after the Sept. 11 attacks.”


  7. #7 by Maggie G on July 21, 2013 - 3:12 pm

    It is commonly understood that Propaganda is usually employed to garner citizens’ support for current political objectives. But, these need to be placed in the proper context, in order to make them appear justified within the greater scheme of things. This fact has long been recognized, and therefore, since the eighteenth century, there has been a concerted effort to consolidate the media, in order to ensure a perception of reality, that was commensurate with the objectives of the powers that be.

    Part of this agenda has been the re-writing of history, to nurture patriotic devotion to the collective consisting of the nations of Europe and America as “Western Civilization”, to be pitted in opposition with some specific “other”. In our case, the “East”.

    “…history, properly studied or taught, is constantly reminding the individual of the larger life of the community… This common life and the ideals which guide it have been built up through the sacrifice of individuals in the past, and it is only by such sacrifices in the present that this generation can do its part in the continuing life of the local community, the State, and the Nation.”

    And as such, the myth of “Western Civilization” was born. Through their influence, the entire American educational system was coordinated to serve a centralized command, to further specific areas of scientific research, and to inculcate a proper “interpretation” of history. In Universities and the Capitalist State, Clyde Barrow commented that:

    “The full-scale rewriting of history under state supervision not only facilitated a short-term justification of American participation in the war, but also helped to institutionalize a much broader and more permanent ideological conception of the United States in the social sciences and humanities.”

    Quotes from David Rockefeller’s Memoirs (Random House, New York, 2002) Chapter 27, pages 404 and 405. Cited by Dr. Dennis Cuddy:

    “My lifetime pursuits as an internationalist might best be summarized by one rather extraordinary day in 1995. October 23 was a busy day at the Council on Foreign Relations. The fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations had drawn almost two hundred heads of government to New York, and many had asked to speak at the Council. but even then the day was unusual for the diversity of the speakers: Jiang Zemin, president of the People’s Republic of China and heir apparent to Deng Xiaoping; Vaclav Havel of the Czech Republic… Yasser Arafat… and, finally, Fidel Castro…. With the exception of Havel, these men had vowed to fight to the death against imperialist America. Now, with the end of the Cold War, they flocked to the center of world capitalism, eager to meet and close deals with American bankers and corporate executives, or at least to be seen with them — even Castro….

    “For more than a century ideological extremists at either end of the political spectrum have seized upon well-publicized incidents such as my encounter with Castro to attack the Rockefeller family for the inordinate influence they claim we wield over American political and economic institutions. Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as ‘internationalists’ and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure–one world, if you will. If that’s the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.
    Documentary movies:The Power of Nightmares
    Why Poverty? Poor Us: An Animated History of Poverty

  8. #8 by milen on July 24, 2013 - 4:20 pm

    So this was some kind of twisted satire? It’s kind of funny how people in the comments jump on the bandwagon, taking every word here at its face value. :)

  9. #9 by Journalist on August 10, 2013 - 8:56 am

    There is an American Radio Announcer and Journalist who is very educated and has written dozens of books and who has a PhD said the following regarding Anglo-America, Nazi NATO, the Nazi European Union, Serbia, Kosovo, Slobodan Milosevic, and the Bribed and Corrupt Western Journalists.

    President Bill Clinton who belonged to the Democrat Party was not impeached because of Monica Lewinsky, but because of how he chose to Illegally handle that matter.

    Upon the passage of House Resolution 611, Clinton was impeached on December 19, 1998, by the House of Representatives on grounds of perjury to a grand jury by a 228–206 vote at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impeachment_of_Bill_Clinton .

    Clinton was Guilty of Perjury, but it requires a two thirds majority in the Senate to Convict, and the Democrats in the Senate Corruptly protected Bill Clinton from a Justified Conviction.

    If Western Journalists are interested in Real Journalism, then set the Record Straight, and say that Slobodan Milosevic was Innocent, and suggest that America and Nazi Europe Secretly place 30 Billion Bernanke Dollars in Serbia’s Bank Account as Compensation, and along with withdrawing support for Kosovo’s Independence.

    Anglo-America has slandered the Innocent Serbian People as being Filth and Garbage, and I correctly say because I am Polite that the English who control their Puppet Colony of America are Anglo-Saxons.

    I know that the Al Capone English Empire and the Nazi European Union can get even the Serbian Politicians to Lie for them, but they will be Nazis until they Confess and Pay Compensation, and the Video of the Journalist with a PhD that sets the Record Straight is Titled: Bill Clinton Murderous President at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBGKbPDvNto .