Huntington’s thesis -the clash of civilizations

Huntington's thesis, The Clash of Civilizations, published in 1993, was heavily attacked by researchers and media for being overly simplistic and focusing solely on a religious argument in predicting how future battles between civilizations will play out (Ayoob, 2017). His prediction that "the great divisions among humanity and the dominant source of conflict will be cultural" has recently come true as a result of the culmination of various world events ranging from Britain's exit from the European Union to Trump's election as President of the United States in 2016. (Ip, 2017).

This study focuses on employment security as the primary source of friction between the United States and Mexico, specifically along the border. As observed, this had been the highlight of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign (Ayoob, 2017). The paper is divided into three sections – the introduction, body and conclusion. The introduction gives the foundation of the paper while the body discusses three key aspects: how the border as an institution is involved in the production of “otherness”; how the border is the production of a community; and finally, how the physical structures of walls and borders participate in generating the concept of “otherness” and the discourses surrounding them. The conclusion gives a summary of the paper giving the views held by the author.

The border leading to “otherness”

During the campaign period, the current President, Donald Trump was seen to refer to the Mexican immigrants as “criminals and drug dealers”. His intention to rid the country of the Mexican immigrants by building a wall on the American – Mexican border was met with strong support from the American population. In addition, he cited that he would make the Mexicans pay for the wall. From the strong support of the American population in constructing a wall, it could be argued that the motivation behind it was job security for the locals. A record of over 11 million Mexican immigrants currently reside in America and are employed as casual laborers in many firms. By effectively reducing their inflow into the country, the Americans stand a much better chance at being employed in jobs that the Mexicans currently occupy.

Ip, 2017, identifies the emergence of conflicts in France against globalization (movement of goods, services and capital freely across borders) and globalism (the mindset that global governance should expand while national sovereignty contracts). More so, he cites an emerging conflict between nationalism and globalism and tries to equate it to that of liberals and republicans. The fight against globalism is motivated by the notion that locals want to exert control over their own resources. As such, it leads to less exportation of jobs beyond the borders of countries. For instance, Carrier Corp, an American firm, kept about half of the jobs it was intending to export to Mexico, within the country.

The erection of the wall between the two countries points to the notion that the Mexicans are viewed as being different from the Americans and by building a wall, America will be able to control their own resources in a better manner. This stems from the nationalist ideology that America is better than other countries. As Trump opined in his rallies, his preference was for America to be first thereby eliminating globalism (Ayoob, 2017).

Inasmuch as the erection of the wall is motivated by keeping the Mexicans out of America in a bid to create more employment for the locals, Huntington’s thesis of the clash of civilizations is seen at play. Huntington opines that “a world of clashing civilizations…is inevitably a world of double standards: people apply one standard to their kin countries and a different standard to others”. From the argument, America is seen as applying a double standard in the conflict with Mexico by keeping them out of the country through a wall they have been forced to build. Similarly, the erection of the wall doesn’t provide any implication for individuals crossing from America to Mexico. The argument that only Mexicans cross the border doesn’t hold much water.

The border creating a community

From history, communities are seen to be created when people sharing common similarities come together and unite for the greater good of the community. Too much emphasis on the border results in a duality of feelings to and against construction of the wall at the border. As such, while some parties will be against its development, others will be vouching for it. In addition, since the communities are based on the feelings to or against the wall, it doesn’t matter whether parties who support or fail to support the project are in either of the countries. It is not improbable that some Americans are against the wall at the border while some Mexicans are for the wall. However, it is important to note that the duality of feelings leads to a creation of different communities around the border.

In addition, the notion of a wall separating two countries implies segregation of the people living on both sides of the border. As such, it is anticipated that the Mexicans and the Americans will each form different stereotypes against each other. This is evidenced by Trump referring to Mexicans as criminals and drug dealers while at the same time considering the Americans as the being the better community. It could be argued that with the erection of the wall, the aspect of “otherness” is accelerated through segregation leading to development of communities on both sides of the wall.

Physical structures leading to creation of “otherness”

With the erection of a wall resulting to different communities on both sides of the wall, “otherness” is highlighted in a significant manner. This is because, with the difference in political power between the two countries, the Mexicans, who are the minority, feel that the segregation is aimed at pushing them away from the American population. In addition, Mexican immigrants in America are seen to work in low paying jobs such as casual labor. This also highlights their plight as minorities who are considered to be out of place in America. It also results in lowering their motivation and their self worth.

Close examination of the motivation behind physical structures leading to “otherness” reiterates the argument advanced by the clash of civilizations on cultural diversity being the lead cause of conflict between nations. It could be argued that the wall being put up by America at overwhelming costs of up to 21 billion dollars is not particularly concerned with putting up a physical structure as such. Rather, the ideology of nationalism over globalism leading to the preference of countries keeping their own resources compared to sharing them across borders is seen to be at play. As Huntington predicted, non national identity changes what physical barriers are as they are seen to be physical manifestations of actual the cultural diversity between nations.


The popularity of Huntington’s thesis on the clash of civilizations in different national environments testifies to the power of a global-like “public-sphere” enabling ideas to circulate widely across boundaries. This is seen through a variety of world events that reiterate the notion advanced by the thesis. Of particular importance, is the dispute between Mexico and America at the border. The Americans postulate that the wall is intended to keep the Mexican immigrants from flowing into America for both job security reasons and security concerns. However, the move can also be regarded as part of its evolution to a nationalism over globalism. This is because, while globalism advocates for the expansion of global governance and reduction of national sovereignty, nationalism on the other hand is focused on restoring a country’s resources back to its locals.

In addition, with erection of the wall at the border, the physical structure results in the formation of communities that are motivated by a duality of feelings either to or against the wall. A higher population of the Americans are anticipated to support its construction while the Mexicans are anticipated to reject it. However, this doesn’t necessarily imply that exceptions won’t occur in the two countries.

Upon analysis of the two communities, the aspect of “otherness” is seen to feature. Otherness refers to the association of the Mexican immigrants as minorities owing to the fact that they do not compare to the Americans in terms of political power or education levels. This would be highly motivated by the erection of the physical wall at the border as it is seen as a physical manifestation of their spite towards them.


Ayoob, M. (2017). The Clash of Civilizations Revisited. Retrieved 9 June 2017, from

Ip, G. (2017). We are not the world (1st ed.). Retrieved from

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