Gilbert Achcar, born in 1951, lived in Lebanon until 1983, when he moved to France. He teaches Politics and International Relations at the University of Paris. The author of several books on contemporary politics, he is a frequent contributor to Le Monde Diplomatique as well as to several websites on general politics or Middle East affairs.
THE CLASH OF BARBARISMS
The London bombings of 7 July 2005 revived the debates that raged after September 11 2001. How were they related to the foreign policies of the UK and the US? Were they symptoms of a cultural clash between deep-seated values, or signs of social crisis? The title refers to the famous thesis on the ‘Clash of Civilizations’. Achcar develops a counter-thesis, namely that the clashes we are witnessing do not oppose civilizations, but their dark sides. The war of aggression and occupation in Iraq led to blatant manifestations of Western barbarism, most strikingly epitomized by the torture at Abu-Ghraib, and inevitably nurtured fanatical Islamic and other counter-barbarisms. Each civilization produces a specific form of barbarism which tends to take over in periods of crisis. Accordingly, the Bush administration doesn’t embody the values of ‘Western civilization’ nor does Islamic fanaticism of the al-Qa‘ida type represent ‘Islamic civilization’. The clash between them is truly a ‘clash of barbarisms’.
Publisher: SAQI BOOKS