That number one cheerleader for the ‘Asian Renaissance’ is at it again, waving and twirling his poms-poms like an over-enthusiastic high-schooler.
Let me begin with an extreme and provocative point to get the argument going: Francis Fukuyama’s famous essay “The End of History” may have done some serious brain damage to Western minds in the 1990s and beyond.
Mr. Fukuyama should not be blamed for this brain damage. He wrote a subtle, sophisticated and nuanced essay. However, few Western intellectuals read the essay in its entirety. Instead, the only message they took away were two phrases: namely “the end of history” equals “the triumph of the West.”
Western hubris was thick in the air then. I experienced it. For example, in 1991 I heard a senior Belgian official, speaking on behalf of Europe, tell a group of Asians, “The Cold War has ended. There are only two superpowers left: the United States and Europe.”
This hubris also explains how Western minds failed to foresee that instead of the triumph of the West, the 1990s would see the end of Western domination of world history (but not the end of the West) and the return of Asia.
Sigh…not that same old tune again, Kishore.
How many times can one flog that tired and actually dead horse — Fukuyama’s “The End of History” and Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations.
A quicker and definitely more satisfying way to end this tired debate may be for Fukuyama, Huntington (though now deceased) and Mahbubani to climb into an octagon ring and simply duke it out. And of course, with Amartya Sen running in halfway to jump in the melee, all the while proclaiming: “There is NO Asian Values!”
While the esteemed gentlemen engage themselves thus, here is another perspective:
[…] the importance of Etzioni’s contributions in identifying the schism as occurring within rather than between civilizations, as Samuel Huntington’s (1996) thesis would have us believe. Although significant for drawing attention to the return of nonmaterial factors to the political sphere, Huntington’s thesis is deeply flawed. It etched a line in the sand that subsequently hardened, and one can validly question the extent to which predictions have become self-fulfilling prophecies. There is now an unhealthy propensity to see all quarrels, big or small, as part of a larger clash of civilizations. Etzioni’s redrawing of the fault line allows for a more accurate assessment of friend and foe and for appropriate strategies to be adopted for each.
If I am not mistaken, Ms. Kuok may be a fellow schoolmate from a long time ago. A fair review of the regional dynamics, of unapologetic ‘illiberal moderates’ and some possible touchpoints for policy engagement, but nothing really groundbreaking in the paper actually. Still, an interesting work, especially the portion on Malaysia; considering how the author may be a third generation member of the Asia Sugar King’s clan and its fortunes.