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Thursday, March 30, 2006
 It Takes More Than Democracy

Topic: Commentary

The on going controversy in Afghanistan over the fate of an ex-Muslim who converted to Christianity, and has since been charged with apostasy in Afghani court where they were seeking the death penalty under Islamic law, and where the man is still in mortal danger, highlights the fact that democracy itself has nothing to do with human rights.

Since this case has made international news, President Bush and other administration officials have called on Afghani leaders to “follow democratic principles”, but that is exactly what they are doing. All that democracy means is “majority rule”.

Democracy in no way guarantees human rights or even protects human rights at all, and this is one of the major problems with the so-called “Bush Doctrine”, or really the neo-con doctrine, of pushing for democracy in the Middle East.

The neo-cons act as though “democracy” = “human rights”, but his is not the case. Democracy only means that the majority opinion holds power, and if the majority opinion in a country is that people should be killed for leaving Islam then following democratic principles is going to contradict Western ideas of “human rights”.

Of course all of this presupposes that the neo-cons actually even care about democracy at all, which is doubtful, as it is more likely that the whole democracy rhetoric is just a front for the real objective of material conquest and continued exploitation of foreign lands to extract resources, which of course is going horribly wrong because the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are costing much more than the neo-cons had predicted.

But putting that aside, the belief that “democracy” has something to do with human rights, and that spreading democracy is going to spread human rights, reveals a gross misunderstanding of Western history.

Democracy is not what brought human rights to Western Civilization, Secularism and Humanism did. Democracy was only the vehicle by which secularism and humanism were brought to power.

Democracy resulted in an increase in human rights in Western Civilization not because of some defacto power of democracy to improve living conditions, but because there was a growing movement for secularism and humanism in Western society at the time that was being kept down by theocratic tyranny.

So, when the majority voice was able to come to power, it brought secularism and humanism to power with it. In the Middle East, however, the majority voice is not secular or humanist, instead it is theocratic and fundamentalist, so democracy in the Middle East is not going to yield a peaceful tolerant society, it is going to yield a militant, mobish , theocracy.

Freedom of conscience is not a democratic principle, there is no such thing as a democratic principle, other than “majority rules”. The majority is not always right and the majority is not always good and the majority is not always nice and the majority is not always tolerant, in fact, the majority is often not tolerant.

The reason that the policy of the Bush administration is failing and will continue to fail, is that the policy of the Bush administration, if it even is what it claims to be, only advocates democracy, yet democracy is not what produced the freedom that we have in Western society, secularism and humanism did. Without promoting secularism and humanism, democracy is useless.


Posted by rationalrevolution.net at 7:33 AM EST | Post Comment | View Comments (2) | Permalink

Sunday, April 9, 2006 - 11:38 AM EDT

Name: JC

Without a full understanding of what Democracy stands for, this article, at best, can only hope be somewhat accurate, and George "Even a broken clock is right twice a day" Bush is correct in this regard.

Our Democratic Principles include three, not two, fundamental properties, secularism which essentially means seperation of church and state, humanism, which calls for an emphasis on the present life as worthy in itself instead of being solely a preparation for an afterlife, and finally and most importantly, Majority Rule with the protection of Individual and Minority Rights. The author of this piece chose to completely ignore this fundamental pillar.

In this regard, Democracy in Afghanistan has not been excercised by the Afghan Gov't and Bush was correct in asking the Afghanis to follow Democratic Principles.

Whether this goal is possible at this time in Afghanistan, Iraq, or any other monolithic society is arguably questionable and why anyone would or should expect otherwise is beyond me. For example, Japan's history in excercising Democratic Principles leaves much to be desired also.

The West took hundreds of years to develop a framework where this was even remotely possible and we in the US still struggle with public policy and Democratic Principles almost daily. That is the nature of Democracy - it ain't easy. To say, however, that the policy of the Bush Administration "will continue to fail" gives no hope at all for the future of Democracy in Afghanistan, Iraq, or anywhere else for that matter.

Regards,

JC

Tuesday, April 18, 2006 - 7:30 AM EDT

Name: rationalrevolution.net
Home Page: http://www.rationalrevolution.net

Hi John, thank you for the feedback.

I disagree that "democracy" embodies any principles other than simple majority rule.

Now "Western Democracy" certainly implies secularism, humanism, and "basic rights", but this is not essential to have a democracy.

That's the point. What the Bush administration is touting is simply democracy by itself, without the strong promotion of secularism, humanism, and fundamental rights.

Don't forget that the Bill of Rights was almost never adopted. We originally didn't have a Bill of Rights and many of the Founders argued against a Bill of Rights.

Having a Bill of Rights is not essential to have a democracy in name. That's my point.

Not only is it not essential to have a democracy, but any Bill of Rights that is developed by a theocratic Islamic country is not going to be even remotely similar to our Bill of Rights.

Simply putting voting measures and elected governments in place in the Middle East is not going to produce rights, secularism, or humanism.

Unless you are proposing that we right the Bill of Rights for Afghanistan and Iraq, then I see no way that you can presume that putting elected officials in place in these places is going to produce Bills of Rights that are similar to ours.

Our Bill of Rights is a product of OUR CULTURE, not a produce of DEMOCRACY.

All democracy does is create one way to express a culture.

The root cause of the problems in the Middle East, however is their culture!

Unless the United States engages in a serious and credible effort to also promote secularism and humanism, then as society that embraces Western rights is never going to emerge. Democracies don't produce rights, cultures produce rights that protect individuals from democracy. If your culture does not cherish the individual rights, as Middle Eastern cultures do not, then your culture is not going to produce a Bill of Rights that is protective of the conscience and liberties of the individual, as we can see is presently taking place in Afghanistan, where they have democracy now, but not rights.

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