Referring to a specific kind of intellectual, namely historians, Ian Ifversen has recently observed that these ‘are professional narrators of changing time. In this sense they imagine change’. Historians, and intellectuals generally, foresee crises, prepare public opinion for facing them, and even create new terms (Vorbegriffe) in order to define future events and scenarios, the perception of which is not clear in times of transition.This is what Arnold J. Toynbee (1889-1975) and later Samuel P. Huntington (1927-2008) did. The following analysis aims to fill this gap by showing that the main difference between Arnold J. Toynbee's and Samuel P. Huntington?s models of civilisation and of social crisis is related not only to their political beliefs, but also to their position as critical intellectuals commenting on political and social crisis. The following analysis focuses on their main works, Toynbee’s Study of History (1934-61) and Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations? (as an article 1993 and as a book 1996), which were written during critical political periods and enjoyed huge public attention well after their publication. I will also partly consider their reception, which may reveal the legitimation they gave (consciously or unconsciously) to the specific geopolitical system of power in the Western world after the Second World War. This chapter aims at discussing the main scale theories of civilisation in the twentieth century as they tackle, but also as they respond intellectually to crisis. The models of interpretations were even then turned to direct uses in international politics by high level policy makers in order to offer a rationale for some steps taken in the management of relevant political crisis – whether or not such uses comply with the ideas and intentions of the author of the theory.

Civilisations and Political Elites in Critical Times: The Perspectives of Arnold J. Toynbee and Samuel P. Huntington

Chiantera, Patricia
2021-01-01

Abstract

Referring to a specific kind of intellectual, namely historians, Ian Ifversen has recently observed that these ‘are professional narrators of changing time. In this sense they imagine change’. Historians, and intellectuals generally, foresee crises, prepare public opinion for facing them, and even create new terms (Vorbegriffe) in order to define future events and scenarios, the perception of which is not clear in times of transition.This is what Arnold J. Toynbee (1889-1975) and later Samuel P. Huntington (1927-2008) did. The following analysis aims to fill this gap by showing that the main difference between Arnold J. Toynbee's and Samuel P. Huntington?s models of civilisation and of social crisis is related not only to their political beliefs, but also to their position as critical intellectuals commenting on political and social crisis. The following analysis focuses on their main works, Toynbee’s Study of History (1934-61) and Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations? (as an article 1993 and as a book 1996), which were written during critical political periods and enjoyed huge public attention well after their publication. I will also partly consider their reception, which may reveal the legitimation they gave (consciously or unconsciously) to the specific geopolitical system of power in the Western world after the Second World War. This chapter aims at discussing the main scale theories of civilisation in the twentieth century as they tackle, but also as they respond intellectually to crisis. The models of interpretations were even then turned to direct uses in international politics by high level policy makers in order to offer a rationale for some steps taken in the management of relevant political crisis – whether or not such uses comply with the ideas and intentions of the author of the theory.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11586/371497
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