The Clash of Barbarisms: The Making of the New World Disorder

Book Info

  • Length: 192 pages
  • Trim size: 5 9/16" x 9"
  • Rights: World

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  • ISBN: 978-1-59451-309-1
  • Publish date: July 2006
  • List Price: $39.95
  • Your Price: $33.96


  • ISBN: 978-1-59451-308-4
  • Publish date: July 2006
  • List Price: $163.00
  • Your Price: $138.55


The London bombings of July 7th, 2005, revived the debates that raged after 9/11. What relation did they bear to the foreign and war policies of the United Kingdom and the United States? Were they symptoms of a “cultural clash” between deep-seated “values” or signs of a social crisis at the root of the ongoing conflict? How should we analyze the present-day emergence of fanatical forms of Islamic fundamentalism?

The title of the book alludes to the famous thesis on the “Clash of Civilizations.” Achcar develops a counterthesis, namely that the clashes we are witnessing do not oppose civilizations, but their dark sides. Each civilization produces a specific form of barbarism, which tends to take over in periods of crisis. Accordingly, the Bush administration doesn’t embody the values of Western civilization nor does Islamic fanaticism of the al-Qa‘ida type represent Islamic civilization. The clash between them is a “clash of barbarisms” in which the main culprit remains the most powerful.

The war of aggression and occupation in Iraq led to blatant manifestations of Western barbarism, most strikingly epitomized by the torture at Abu Ghraib, and inevitably nurtured fanatical Islamic and other counterbarbarisms.

Author Info

Gilbert Achcar, who lived in Lebanon for many years before moving to France, now teaches politics and international relations at the University of Paris. He is the author of several books on contemporary politics and is a frequent contributor to Le Monde Diplomatique.


“This inquiry into the probable shape of things to come is sober, uncompromising, deeply informed, and full of provocative insights and judicious analyses.” —Noam Chomsky
“The most forceful, most rigorous text that there is to read on this war.”
—Le Monde Diplomatique


Introduction: From One September 11th to Another

1. The Narcissistic Compassion and Global Spectacle
-Anti-Americanism and ‘Values’
-Absolute and Relative Evil
-The Uniqueness of 11 September
-Globalization and Narcissistic Compassion
-The Media and the Logic of War

2. Oil, Religion, Fanaticism and Frankensteins
-The Sorcerer’s Apprentices
-An Islamic Texas
-Propagating Islamic Fundamentalism
-Interpretations of Islamic Fundamentalism
-On Despotism in Muslim Countries
-Neither Fascist nor Progressive
-Bin Laden’s Duel with Washington

3. Hatred, Barbarisms, Asymmetry and Anomie
-Hatred and Strategy
-The Clash of Barbarisms
-Preventing Terrorism
-On Asymmetric Dominance
-Hegemonic Unilateralism
-Apocalyptic Terrorism
-Urban Violence and Anomie

4. The Barbarism of the ‘Civilizing Mission’ [Postscript]
-Varieties of Perverse Enjoyment
-The ‘Civilizing Mission’s’ New Clothes
-The ‘Democracy Paradox’

Conclusion: Leviathan and the Presidents
-Two Conceptions of World Order
-Postwar Choices

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