The rise of religion and the fall of the civilization paradigm as explanations for intra-state conflict
Cambridge Review of International Affairs
abstract
The study presented here compares the impact of Samuel Huntington's concept of civilizations and that of religion on domestic conflict between 1960 and 2004 using the State Failure data set. The results show that examining the religious dimension of domestic conflict provides a better understanding of the dynamics of domestic conflict than does Huntington's concept of civilization. The results show that Huntington's predictions for conflict have not come to fruition as of 2004. Civilizational conflicts are a minority of all conflicts. Muslims, while engaging in a significant amount of inter-civilizational or inter-religious conflict, primarily fight other Muslims. When one takes population size into account, Muslims participate in a disproportionate amount of conflict. In absolute terms, Muslims participated in the majority of all religious conflict for the entire period covered by this study and in 2003 and 2004. Finally, religion increasingly impacts on domestic conflict. Religious conflicts—including religious wars like those in Afghanistan and Algeria, which are not civilizational but clearly between factions within the same religion—are consistently more common than civilizational conflict and became a majority of all conflict starting in 2002. This rise in religious conflict as a proportion of all domestic conflict is not a post-9/11 phenomenon, but is, rather, the result of processes that date back at least to the late 1970s.