ABSTRACT

Apposite for this chapter, Jacob Viner (1991: 227) writes that “most abstract terms ending in ‘ism’ inevitably accumulate about them a haze of uncertainty and imprecision.” 1 The chapter focuses on civilizational and regional politics. It maneuvers between two sets of claims articulated after the end of the Cold War. Francis Fukuyama’s (2006) end-of-history thesis interpreted the victory of liberalism over communism and fascism as the end of different programs for modernity and the beginning of stultifying sameness. Samuel Huntington’s (1996) clash of civilization thesis viewed the same victory as setting the stage for bitter civilizational clashes across deep fault lines. The first views the world in terms of convergence toward harmonious cooperation, while the second views it in terms of divergence into fundamentally irreconcilable differences. Polyvalent globalism, I argue, describes a situation of constrained diversities that characterizes contemporary world politics more accurately than either of these perspectives. A recognition of constrained diversities makes it easier to resist Fukuyama’s urge of imputing to history a teleology and helps discover spaces for new political possibilities that Huntington’s language of clash conceals.