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Thursday, May 23, 2024

The American civilization and civilization state

The Civilization-State has a problematic propensity of mission creep. It has the potential to speak for its Civilizational kins residing outside its borders. And that is something the current system disallows. Acknowledging one State (India) as such and denying the same right to another (China) will also be problematic.

The American republic, separated by time and the Atlantic Ocean, in parallel to its European lineage, over the centuries in my observation has morphed into a civilization of its own kind. Americans have so far not needed to appreciate this slow departure because of the shared racial supremacy and the power it brought along by its continued association. They have up till now, not only celebrated this common heritage with the Europeans & made kinship alliances with other states of similar cultural roots; they have fought with their money and blood the two world wars in support of and to the rescue of the Western Europeans.

While the Atlantists (USA and Europeans) celebrate their common racial & cultural origins and share a common strategic vision; America’s own very social structure has insidiously taken a form that is very different from both its allies and the rest of the West. It has now morphed into a civilization of its own.

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Cultural Shift and Drift

This slow cultural shift happened primarily due to the initial ideological differences that had led to American independence. Other factors including but not limited to were its distance from the continental Europe, the Atlantic slave trade & all future waves of immigration that brought along their respective culture’s contributions into the American melting pot.

This is reflected in the American social hierarchy, health & economic system, public social safety network, cuisines, sports, pop culture and even the language. All subtly but palpably deviated from the telos and trajectories of Europe and its Union. This unique American milieu made America the land of opportunity that we all so adore and admire.

We must first accept & understand that this reality has evolved in a very pernicious manner and it is not yet an available part of the mainstream political diagnosis & discourse. With these cultural commons and their later drift & shift set as a priori, we move to the next layer of emulation and commonality.

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Roman Emulation

We also observe two other common denominators. One, in the American form of government and second, in the Christian Faith; which sixty-five percent of its citizens subscribe to. Firstly, I agree with the historian Will Durant that with respect to the form and writ of governance America has been modeling the Roman Empire of the first few centuries of the first millennium.

We find many imperial and exploitative parallels in the manner it conducts its state’s business and projects its power across the globe. And secondly, but of no lesser importance, is that it’s religion and faith too is shared with the Constantinian Rome and Europe of the late antiquity (200-700 c.e.). Therefore unsurprisingly both these transatlantic cultures identify themselves as posterity and flag bearers of the Judeo-Christian tradition.

Modern Nation-State

The United States with other European colonial powers, with above-highlighted commonalities i.e (I) European decent, (II) Roman Governance Model & (III) Judeo-Christian roots now established, we move on to see that they adopt yet another commonality. Which is the framework of sovereign national democratic rule i.e. (IV) The Nation-State.

We observe that over the past five or six centuries these countries (Nations) have mastered the art of the Nation-State system to their economic, political and common racial advantage. This is an unfortunate but established fact of history with a large body of Post-colonialism literature to its support. Briefly, to refresh the memory of my readers, The Nation-State concept was originally a European system constructed in the 1600s after the Peace of Westphalia which was the need for a stable and predictable European commerce of that age. For reasons beyond the scope of this note, I’ll leave this here for now.

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From Nation to Civilization State

I have long contested, that not only this Nation-State construct is failing by the decade purely by its zero-sum and unstable virtues, but it may also have just outlived its usefulness when current global problems of climate change and water scarcity, just to name a couple need to be addressed. We are also observing this crumbling of the cookie at its margins with the development of the schism/s between the continental Europe interests and the continental US interests.

And with the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, this schism is increasing and is bringing to bare, some of the deep-seated differences within the EU & other Western alliances. Is this an inter-civilizational divide in lines with the western and eastern Roman Empire…we are not sure yet.

The Civilization-State

Civilizations have come and gone. With the inability to look into the future with certainty humans tend to find answers & solace in their past. And what is better to a humiliating present than a glorified past. What we are now seeing and about to explore a little more is not something new, but it is certainly new to the modern state architecture of the Nation-States map.

We are now beginning to see two current Nation States switching their identity to a new framework of Civilizational States e.g. Indic & Sinic civilizations asserting and wanting to be recognized not as Nation but as Civilizations. Muslim & Christian Orthodox remain the other two important remaining civilizations if we agree on leaving African and South American civilizations aside for the purpose of this article’s Asian focus.

Both Chinese and Indian diplomats are beginning to introduce themselves to the world leaders as representatives of Civilization-States and are refusing to accept & behave as Nation States are expected to in the western led loosely based international liberal order. There are some unique differences between these two frameworks. A big one for our understanding can be that “as a civilization-state, China or for that matter India has it that it is organized around culture rather than politics. For a civilization-state, cultural ties are potentially more important than the mere legal status of citizenship. Linked to a civilization, the state has the paramount task of protecting a specific cultural tradition. Its reach encompasses all the regions where that culture is dominant’ [sic].

The global power structure (as in animal kingdom) depends of coalitions and alliances. In Asia we are seeing this change happen and US would now be making alliances not with Nation States, rather with countries who are beginning to assert themselves as Civilization-States. CCP is an obvious example & BJP too is moving away towards it as they firmly believe Hindus are a civilization and India not just a country. So the future alliances and conflicts insofar Asia is concerned, are going to be between these Civilizations, as Samuel Huntington’s important Foreign Affairs 1993 paper on “The Clash of the Civilizations?” predicts. Very important!

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This segue is becoming a problem for the hegemon and the current superpower. Not only it has to adapt to these new realities where it must, it also must forbid remaining civilizational coalitions to occur.

Pakistan’s conundrum

If this be the case then, Pakistan is unique as it can trace itself both to Indic as well as Islamic civilization. With the first option we have a love-hate mixed feelings.

And while the other camp is pseudo-available; it is too fragmented and divided even to acknowledge this new reality, let alone plan to project itself as an Islamic Civilization State or Ummah.

The ouster of Imran Khan

This puts Pakistan in a bind. If it cannot become a Civilization State of it’s own soon enough in next 10-20 years (which in theory it can’t), it’s short term interest naturally will be to stay and try to survive as a Nation-State (status quo). And yielding to, by making to stand in support of the US led Western response to the Russo-EU war remains its obvious choice and some may say the only option. The current European conflict in its essence is in fact a clash of Civilizational Ideologies (Western vs. Orthodox + Sinic) and nothing else.

Understand that Imran Khan’s administration’s demise was not solely due to its poor governance, inflation, liking of the former Inter-Service Intelligence chief (Lt. Gen Faiz) and misunderstandings with the all-powerful Chief of Pakistani Army, or that he was a hurdle in the way of US policy for Af-Pak—rather far from holistic. Imran Khan provided that charismatic Islamic Socialist leader who “may” lead to the Islamic Civilizational State (as opposed to current workings of a Nation-State). And that in future is then going to be very problematic for the hegemon to adapt its policies to. How practical might that Pakistani shift under Imran Khan or his likes might be is a topic to be explored at another time.

Crystal bowl

Challenge for Pakistan now is how to identify itself and find its way in this new landscape yet maintain the dubious logic of the Two-Nation Theory. Its entry to these new clubs and camps is neither clear nor easy and except for checking into the Islamic Civilizational structure it has nowhere else to go either. OPEC’s reluctance to increase pumping oil is seemingly sending cold sentiments towards western cause too. Making this option equally enticing yet uncertain and fraught with dangers to existing Pakistani borders.

In this uncertainty and shifting national reorientations based on Civilizational divide, just to avoid the Domino Geopolitical Theory actualizing, Pakistan can and must not be allowed to switch sides or re-identify itself just yet.

Read more: How America lost Pakistan?

The Pakistani political drama is ongoing and we will all have to see it unfold together. But this exegesis may help us understand where this all current chaos is stemming from.

Neo-Roman Civilization

Its also not clear yet how this hybrid structure of Nation States in the West and Civilizational States of East will play in the sandbox. Whats clear is that the current power structure suits the Atlantists and the Asiatics are not going to conform to that order for long. It is a theoretical possibility that in the coming decades it may so happen that USA may acknowledge its unique Neo-Roman Civilization and decide to rebuild State relationships with India and China at their terms. It is also possible US refuses to identify and engage with such as such.

The Civilization-State has a problematic propensity of mission creep. It has the potential to speak for its Civilizational kins residing outside its borders. And that is something the current system disallows. Acknowledging one State (India) as such and denying the same right to another (China) will also be problematic. Coming decades will tell us more how this interaction pans out & would largely depend on how assertive China and India are going to be in their such demands.

Hope is that to avoid a large scale conflict, with introspection US will reconfigure its foreign policy suited to its great power competition with the recognition of its new character of the Neo-Roman Civilization-State.


Dr. Qazi is a Diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine with over 15 years of clinical experience. He has completed his residency training in Internal Medicine (2009) and Preventive, and Community Medicine (2013) during which he earned his Masters in Public Health (MPH). He also has a fellowship in Clinical Infectious Diseases (2015) from the University of Rochester Medical Center in NYS.  

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.