Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Democracy in Iraq:

I started to write a post, but I think I might try to turn it into a piece for publication on Democracy in Arab-Muslim lands. Here are some of the ideas:

1) Spreading democracy is premised on the notion that the liberal democratic order is objectively better than other systems, specifically Islamofacism or corrupt dictatorships, or any other illiberal forms of governance.

2) Many post-modern elites in the West have a hard time with notions like "objective Truth" and declaring one political system objectively better than another.

3) Liberal democracy has a theory behind it -- natural right-state of nature and it purports to be objectively true, applicable everywhere to everytime.

4) In my observations social conservatives or traditionalists who believe in God are the only large group of folks who get gung ho behind the ideal that God grants men unalienable rights, which is one very important part of the theory (although this was an idea that was fervently embraced by unorthodox freethinkers during the time of our founding). The other part is that governments receive their legitimacy by the consent of the governed.

5) Many of these religious conservatives wrongly take credit for the theory of liberal democracy claiming that it's derived from the Bible, when in reality the Bible says nothing about God granting men unalienable rights, or that governments receive their legitimacy from the consent of the governed.

6) The Truth of liberal democracy was discovered by man's reason, unaided by Biblical Revelation.

7) Still, in order for a public comprised of many orthodox Christians to accept liberal democracy, they had to "properly understand" their faith as being compatible with the tenets liberal democracy.

8) The Islamic world, like the Christian right in America, believes in absolute and objective Truth. Therefore, ideas like tolerance, pluralism, democracy and rights won't easily go over there if such notions are premised on relativism, or wishy-washy notions of not wanting to "judge" other ways of life as better or worse than one another. No rather, they need to be convinced that such notions ARE the objective Truth and that indeed, God grants men unalienable rights of freedom and equality. This will be an intense epistemological undertaking.

9) Therefore just as Locke made Hobbes's notion of the state of nature and social contract safe for Christian audiences, and as the Presbyterian minister John Witherspoon incorporated Hobbsean-Lockean "state of nature" theory into his sermons (he was a very important founder and convinced many orthodox Christians of the legitimacy of the American Revolution), someone has to convince Islam that their religion, properly understood is compatible with democracy, that all men are by nature free and equal, that they have unalienable rights of conscience.

10) Therefore we need an Islamic version of John Locke who will write a book entitled "The Reasonableness of Islam," where he takes "reasonable" liberal democratic theory and argues that Islam, properly understood, is entirely compatible with it. Moreover, we need an Islamic John Witherspoon, a Mullah that will take such sentiments into the Mosques and intermix them into his sermons convincing his followers of the Justice of both the Koran and of liberal democracy.

11) It could be argued that Islam by nature won't be as receptive to liberal theory as was Christianity. After all, whereas Jesus said, "My Kingdom is not of this Earth," Muhammad was both head of Church and State. But if that's the case then we ought to ask whether we should be trying to spread democracy to the Arab-Muslim world in the first place.

12) Finally it's important to note that our founders, even though they tied rights to God, purposefully and perhaps brilliantly, refused to tie rights to the Christian God, or to revealed Christianity. That would make such democratic theory an inherently Christian idea, which not be appropriate for export to other areas that didn't also embrace Christianity as the dominant religion. A Generic monotheistic "nature's God" grants men rights. It could be the God of the Christian Bible, or it could be Allah. It could be any monotheistic God.


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