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Then what about democracy?
As Mark has said, great article Will. I agree also that much of the history of Islam and the entire Muslim culture is clouded with a smoke screen and given a hand wave thoughout many educational levels. However, as I read this article I began to think about the creation of democracy, though a much newer form of government and as you know, run under the belief that church and state are seperated. Though not started in totally violent/war like manner like Islam (which as we all know is deeply embedded in the political views of many states), democracy, and those that live in democratic states, has continually forced its will, opinions, and theology on others by use of force and war much like the Islamic states of old and possibly the present have and do. With democracy being as "young" as it is, there is still a long history to be written before it collapses. Now to my point. Though there are huge fundamental differences between the theologies and basis for Islamic and democratic states, do you believe that at some point in history the democratic society could possibly be viewed much like we view the Islamic states today? If we take a look back at history, there are examples, I admit not exact mirrors of democracy, but none the less similar, where democracy was created in similar fashion as the Islamic states of today and has attempted to concur others and force the idea that democracy is the
way to conduct business. How do you feel (if you do at all) that comparisons between the forcefullness of the Islamic states’ theologies differs from that of the means by which democratic states "push" their ideologies to other non-democratic states? And finally, damnit Mark. I could sit on this site and respond to comments all day. Though not as well read as Will, many of the articles posted have some great debatable qualities. Look forward to visiting often! Maybe we’ll have to get together again, drink some beers and have some deep conversations about some of the presented topics. I’ll be sure to keep Erin away because she always wins!
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Islam > democracy
The idea that democracy is bent on converting the world is a very interesting notion that I have not much considered. So, excellent point. We, in the West, have developed this notion that democracy is the end-all and be-all of human achievement; that somehow once the world is universally democratic peace will break out all over the globe and as Francis Fukuyama thought, we will reach “the end of history.” I do not subscribe to this theory and think that the United States’ policy, in particular, of pushing democratic government is ill advised. Democracy does not have the ideological appeal it once enjoyed and the world is decidedly disenchanted with the West’s pretension to global leadership. But, on to the point. I feel that although there may be similarities between Islam’s desire for global hegemony and democracy’s push for universal adherence, there are also significant differences. For one democracy, as an abstract concept, cannot fanatically hold the allegiance of its pundits. Islam, by way of comparison, can. Islamic devotees believe that God is watching them, and guiding their path. If you believe that a God so inclined will be the arbiter of your final resting place for all eternity, it tends to strengthen your conviction. I do not believe that democracy can muster anything like that. I am also fairly convinced that democracy will be unable to provide the requisite motivation for further “wars of expansion,” if you will. Men do not die to expand an abstract philosophy that cannot be reckoned beyond the here and now. In the past democracy was championed for different reasons, I believe. Previously men fought and died for democracy as a means, not an end. Democracy was the mode by which we achieved freedom, justice, the ability to worship God, the pursuit of happiness, etc. It was these higher, transcendent ideals that tugged at men’s heartstrings, not necessarily democracy itself. Of late, however, it would seem that democracy has been detached from its defining teleology. We promulgate democracy irrespective of its ends. In Iraq we push for a democracy that will, in all likelihood, engender civil strife or Islamic fanaticism, both of which are counter to the real goals of our erstwhile political system. Because of this it seems likely that democracy will lose its hold over men, even in the West. And in that respect, it is weaker than Islam. Islam is both ends and means. Its underlying teleology is necessarily advanced by its growing ubiquity. This is not the case with democracy. The spread of desultory democracy may, in fact, be its undoing.
Posted 11 October 2004,
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