Futuribles Journal n° 332

Géopolitique - Société, modes de vie

A Plea in favour of a Geopolitical Approach to Foresight Studies - in Reaction to the So-called "Clash of Civilizations"

This article argues that we need to develop foresight studies with a strong geopolitical element, although it also stresses the need, as a preliminary, to meet the challenge of finding a way of capturing the dynamics of the contemporary world situation which is as relevant as possible - a world that clearly no longer resembles the world of the past, heavily dominated as it was by the interaction of nation-states and above all by the Cold War with its head-on confrontation of two opposing blocs operating according to a common logic.
In the absence of an apposite system of representation, the approach offered by Samuel Huntington in his book on The Clash of Civilizations met with great success. The essence of Huntington's thesis is that the civilization paradigm is the best means of analysing, perhaps of anticipating, changes in international relations. The article sets out the main points of Huntington's thesis and then examines what led up to it and, in particular, what its basis and limitations are.
Nevertheless, Hugues de Jouvenel recognizes the need to acquire new tools for deciphering a world where there is a vast increase in global interdependency as well as in tensions and conflicts that should not be viewed solely in terms of differences in culture or civilization, even if these factors undoubtedly play a growing role.
Hugues de Jouvenel concludes by raising the issue of the sense of identity and of belonging to communities of more or less shared values and interests which operate according to models that are sometimes quite unlike those of the past when geopolitics was considered to be the exclusive domain of states and the relationships they forged with one another. He therefore argues that we should thoroughly overhaul our ways of looking at the world which will undoubtedly determine, as always, the way we perceive possible futures.

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