Samuel Huntington oppnådde noe som blir svært få intellektuelle til del: han smidde et uttrykk som har gått inn i språket og et uttrykk for tidsånden: Clash of civilization. «Alle» tar avstand fra det, med en intensitet som røper ubehag og usikkerhet. Dermed bidrar de til å gi det energi. Hvis et uttrykk treffer er det lite man kan gjøre. Det går «inn».

Fouad Ajami skriver om mottakelsen av essayet som sto i Foreign Affairs i 1993. Han var selv skeptisk til tankene.

In this civilizational struggle, Islam would emerge as the principal challenge to the West. «The relations between Islam and Christianity, both orthodox and Western, have often been stormy. Each has been the other’s Other. The 20th-century conflict between liberal democracy and Marxist-Leninism is only a fleeting and superficial historical phenomenon compared to the continuing and deeply conflictual relation between Islam and Christianity.»

He had assaulted the zeitgeist of the era. The world took notice, and his book was translated into 39 languages. Critics insisted that men want Sony, not soil. But on 9/11, young Arabs — 19 of them — would weigh in. They punctured the illusions of an era, and gave evidence of the truth of Huntington’s vision. With his typical precision, he had written of a «youth bulge» unsettling Muslim societies, and young, radicalized Arabs, unhinged by modernity and unable to master it, emerging as the children of this radical age.

If I may be permitted a personal narrative: In 1993, I had written the lead critique in Foreign Affairs of his thesis. I admired his work but was unconvinced. My faith was invested in the order of states that the West itself built. The ways of the West had become the ways of the world, I argued, and the modernist consensus would hold in key Third-World countries like Egypt, India and Turkey. Fifteen years later, I was given a chance in the pages of The New York Times Book Review to acknowledge that I had erred and that Huntington had been correct all along.

Huntington skrev mot the Davos crowd – eliten som samles i Davos hvert år lever i sin egen verden. De tror på en friksjonsløs globalisme og kosmopolitisk kultur. Huntington ødela selskapet.

I hans siste bok «Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity,» er han bekymret for den angelsaksiske kulturen som Amerika ble bygget på. USA bygger på patriotisme. Kan det bli patriotisme når andre lands flagg vaier høyere enn det amerikanske? Hvem er vi? Det samme spørsmålet stiller man seg i Europa.

«This book is shaped by my own identities as a patriot and a scholar,» he wrote. «As a patriot I am deeply concerned about the unity and strength of my country as a society based on liberty, equality, law and individual rights.» Huntington lived the life of his choice, neither seeking controversies, nor ducking them. «Who Are We?» had the signature of this great scholar — the bold, sweeping assertions sustained by exacting details, and the engagement with the issues of the time.

He wrote in that book of the «American Creed,» and of its erosion among the elites. Its key elements — the English language, Christianity, religious commitment, English concepts of the rule of law, the responsibility of rulers, and the rights of individuals — he said are derived from the «distinct Anglo-Protestant culture of the founding settlers of America in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.»

Kritikerne fremstilte dette som nostalgisk og reaksjonært. Men Huntington drømte seg ikke tilbake, det var kulturen han ville bevare. Den hadde verdier som er verdt å forsvare. Det samme kan man si om kulturen i mange europeiske land. Mange er sjokkert over hvor lett britene oppgir sin kultur. For ikke å snakke om Sverige.

Samuel Huntington’s Warning

He predicted a ‘clash of civilizations,’ not the illusion of Davos Man.