The Byzantine Forum
Newest Members
Taylor, Randy Danielson, TAFrazer, PNCC Random Guy, Coldstream
5,769 Registered Users
Who's Online Now
1 members (theophan), 69 guests, and 31 robots.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Latest Photos
Church of St Cyril of Turau & All Patron Saints of Belarus
Byzantine Nebraska
Byzantine Nebraska
by orthodoxsinner2, December 11
Church of the Holy Trinity (UGCC) - Brazil
Church of the Holy Trinity (UGCC) - Brazil
by Santiago Tarsicio, March 17
Papal Audience 10 November 2017
Papal Audience 10 November 2017
by JLF, November 10
Upgraded Russian icon corner
Upgraded Russian icon corner
by The young fogey, October 20
Forum Statistics
Forums26
Topics35,056
Posts414,078
Members5,769
Most Online3,380
Dec 29th, 2019
Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
Page 1 of 4 1 2 3 4
Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 424
Z
ZAROVE Offline OP
Member
OP Offline
Member
Z
Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 424
I know that I seem to have caused contention on the Subject of Democracy, but while some will say I have no credibility, I should like to discuss its blossoming in the Arab World today, if I may.


Revolutions have been ongoing since the Start of the “Arab Spring”, overthrowing existing Governments, such as in Tunisia and Egypt, and lately in Libya, though Libya alone suffered a Violent Revolution that saw at its end the Death of the former leader, Mumar Ghaddaffi in Questionable circumstances.

The leaders of each Revolution have promised to institute Democracy, which has won much praise from the Western World and World in General. We understand Democracy as itself a Virtue and assume that if Democracy is introduced, Freedom will Flourish. We also assume that when Democracy is introduced then instantly the Culture will reshape itself to appear as a Western liberal Democracy with the same general Legal and Cultural basis as we see in Europe and America.

We place into Democracy Values of Free Speech, protection of the Minority, and Freedom of Religion. We also assume that Democracy demands a Secular Government, with an established Separation of Church and State. We also assume that Liberalism (In its true sense, not the political Liberalism we discuss Today) will be the guiding Light and that the societies will be established based upon the tenets of Lockean Philosophical beliefs and that the society will assume the same values we see in Europe and North America. They will simply become more an more like us.

As a Consequence to our beliefs in Democracy, the Arab Spring is interpreted to be a re-enactment of the Revolutions of the 18th century, in our mythic and storied understanding of them. Noble Revolutionaries fighting Evil Dictators in the name of the people and toppling them, leading to prosperity, Peace, and Freedom for All! Equal Rights and the protection of Law shall by nature now ensue.



Thus I have read many Commentators and intellectuals assume that the Arab Spring Nations will now begin to Liberalise and Secularise their Education, allowing for greater access to Public Roles by Women, and greater Freedom for Religious Minorities. It is believed that in the Arab Spring Democracies, people will now begin to think in terms of Universal human Rights in the same way we in the West do, and begin to assume that Equal Opportunity Laws, and that the Government shall enact measures to ensure Equality is given to all no matter what race, Ethnicity, gender, or Sexual Orientation. They anticipate that Sexual mores will also Change. I have even read where many commentators expect Women’s Rights to advance under the New Democracies, as well as Contraception and Abortion Rights for Women.



It is also widely believed that the Government will assume a posture of Multiculturalism, and will pursue that with as much Vigour as does modern Society in the West.

It is assumed, in other words, that once those nations become Democracies they will culturally change to reflect the same values Europeans and North Americans do.

The Problem with this is, Democracy as a Political Theory is not based around any of that. Democracy is really simply “The Rule Of The people” and bases itself on the belief that the Majority should Rule. The Majority in Africa and Arabia do not have Western liberal values, so why do we assume they will institute a Government that reflects Values that are not intrinsic to their Culture?

The same thing happened when the Palestinians held an Election. They shocked the World by promptly voting in Hamas. That wasn’t supposed to happen, as Democracy always chooses the peaceful and Liberal Candidates, Right?

Of course it didn’t in the case of the Palestinians, yet the usual fallback of it not being a Real Democracy, whilst occasionally used, makes no sense. The Elections were monitored by the United Nations and independently by several Non Governmental Agencies and National observers, and was certified as being Open and Fair. There was more than one party involved, and no evidence of Vote tampering.

The Palestinians had simply elected by Majority Vote the Terrorist Organisation.

Further, Hamas did not institute any sort of Liberal Changes but went hard line Islamist.


Undaunted and not questioning the Sacred tenets of Democracy or the narrative of how Revolutions always end in greater freedom and Liberal values, the Revolutions in Africa were looked on with a Mixture of Awe and Loving Support by the West, for we knew, simply knew that this was good. Tyrannical Dictators shall be Overthrown, and Democracy introduced in its Wake, which will make the People free and bring about Liberal Secular values!


Tunisia held its Election, and it went to the Islamists.


The World was surprised, but I wasn’t, nor were sensible people who realised that in an Arabian Culture (even if in Africa) Islam is a supreme guiding Force, not Secularism. They also have a very different historical development that shapes their view on the World. Theirs is not shaped by Montesquieu or Locke or Moore, or even Paine and Jefferson and Rousseau. No, their Culture and Heritage comes from various Sources in the Arab World, none of whom were the product of the European Social Developments, from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment to Modern debates.


Why then do we assume they would Vote according to Cultural and Social values that had never been a part of their Culture to begin with?

Democracy does not Change who they are. It doesn’t Change what they want as a Collective People. It doesn’t Magically institute a Western Culture in Africa or Arabia.


It should come as no Surprise that they Voted based upon their True Values and beliefs. It is only a shock when we associate Democracy to our Culture only and assume the same will Result elsewhere.


I of course fully assume that in a few years, no matter if Multiple Parties exist in those places or they have Free and Fair Elections, the Institution of Shariah law, lack of Secular Primacy, and Institution of Laws in accordance to Traditional practices will ensure that they are looked upon as being Dictatorships with no Freedom, and we are Told they are not real Democracies.


Nothing is a Real Democracy unless it conforms to Western Values you see.


But I do think that this will be a weak Argument for Revolutions we supported, especially if we consider Libya and the NATO Air Strikes.

We should not be surprised.

Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 6,186
Member
Offline
Member
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 6,186
Shariah does not equate to Democracy as is understood by any serious observing. Forced conversion or death is not a way the majority operates toward a minority in a Democracy. That's really all that I need to know.

Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 424
Z
ZAROVE Offline OP
Member
OP Offline
Member
Z
Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 424

You’ve just proven my point. Democracy can never be criticised since every example of Democracy being used to promote something other than Liberal Western Values is seen as “Not a real Democracy”, just like all Governments that become oppressive or dysfunctional “aren’t real Democracies”.


If the Majority of Tunisians vote to support Shariah, then how is it not Democratic? Why do we think something is only Democratic if it yields exactly the same Cultural Results as it did in America or Western Europe?

The thing is, the Tunisians held an open and fair election. So did the Palestinians. You can’t use the same excuses used to say the Soviet Union “was not a Real Democracy”, as they had an option to go with another form of Law and chose freely by Majority Vote Shariah. Tunisia has more than one active Political party as well. The Elections do not seem to be rigged. So why doesn’t this qualify as “democracy’ to you? Or is it just that its not Liberal and Secular?

Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 7,309
S
Member
Offline
Member
S
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 7,309
One man, one vote, one time is not democracy. You are making the same error as those on the Left who mistake democratic processes for democratic institutions. Without the latter the former are empty rituals. But, without the former, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to establish the latter. Thus, the establishment of democracy in a country requires the concurrent building of democratic institutions (political parties, rule of law, free press, representative government, respect for human rights) and democratic processes (free and fair elections, petition of grievances, freedom of expression). Nobody said it was easy to do, but we did it three times after World War II--in Germany, Japan, and South Korea. None of those countries had a history of democratic government, but they are among the strongest and most stable democracies in the world today.

Well done, United States. We had moxie, back in the day.

Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 424
Z
ZAROVE Offline OP
Member
OP Offline
Member
Z
Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 424
Er, Germany DID have a History of Democrscy... again, as much as we hate to admit it, Hitler was duly elected. The Weimer Republic was also as Democratic as anythign today, and the Kaisar also operated on a Constitutional and Limited basis.


Also, i don't biy the whoel "Demoxcratic Institutions" rot. The thign is, those institutions developed in a Western Cultural venue and even then often deny basic Rights. Abortion on Demand is easy to get in Europe, for example. Where is the respect for Human Rights there? or the respect for Human Rights in thode who morally oppose Homosexuality? or the respect for Human Rights for those who want to pray on public property int he US?


The idea thast Democeracy is all abotu Human Rights is a fantasy, its always been abotu the proccesses, and anyoen can reinterpret the vaufge notion of "Human Rights" to fit whatever they want it to mean.

Joined: Mar 2010
Posts: 115
S
Member
Offline
Member
S
Joined: Mar 2010
Posts: 115
I agree with Stuart, what happened in many of the Arab nations were Democratic elections-not democracies! In a Democracy the people are the ultimate authority as opposed to a theocracy. A democratic government is a tool( I assume we are talking about Democratic Republics here). Thats all! Serious students of government always knew this! What you are saying comes as no surprise to anyone who pays attention to public affairs and history! The problems that you are talking about stem from the lack of faith from Gods people. It doesn't matter what form of government you have! Israel under the rule of Kings strayed from God again and again.

Nothing is a Real Democracy unless it conforms to Western Values you see. My answer to that is, it isn't a real Democracy unless the ultimate authority(in all aspects of the law) are the people! NOT a theocracy!


Joined: Jan 2006
Posts: 848
Member
Offline
Member
Joined: Jan 2006
Posts: 848
Originally Posted by Scotty

Nothing is a Real Democracy unless it conforms to Western Values you see. My answer to that is, it isn't a real Democracy unless the ultimate authority(in all aspects of the law) are the people! NOT a theocracy!


I think you'll be hard pressed arguing that religious leaders shouldn't play a role in politics with the more intellectual members of this forum. Read some Byzantine history and you'll see why.

The whole tone of this thread has been somewhat emotive, populist, and overly simplistic, and I have to say that for once I have been thankful to Stuart for bringing some intellectual rigour to it.

Joined: Mar 2010
Posts: 115
S
Member
Offline
Member
S
Joined: Mar 2010
Posts: 115
I am telling you a definition, not what is. Remember, governments are tools. A system designed to govern people. What we make of it is something else, that's my point. Should religious leaders have a role, you bet ya! But thats not the point I'm trying to convey.

Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 7,309
S
Member
Offline
Member
S
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 7,309
Quote
Er, Germany DID have a History of Democrscy... again, as much as we hate to admit it, Hitler was duly elected. The Weimer Republic was also as Democratic as anythign today, and the Kaisar also operated on a Constitutional and Limited basis.


Germany as a unified political entity only came into existence in 1871. Prior to that time, Germany was a patchwork quilt of independent kingdom, principalities and electorates, none of which had ever had representative government of any sort, going back to before the Roman Empire.

As Imperial Germany's constitution was formulated by Otto von Bismarck, it had the facade of democracy in the form of a Reichstag and a Senate, but both membership in it, and the franchise to vote for its members, were severely restricted. Bismarck's objective was to provide the appearance of democratic processes without creating democratic institutions; power was retained firmly in the hands of the Kaiser and the Prussian aristocracy.

The Weimar Republic (which, let us remember, existed for all of a decade) demonstrated the lack of democratic institutions in German culture. Parties were weak and evanescent, the government was unstable, and for the most part unable to deal with serious societal problems. Hitler was not voted into office, nor did the Nazis win a majority in the Reichstag. Hitler was appointed Chancellor by Reichspresident Paul von Hindenburg when the Nazis gained a plurality in the Reichstag.

But Hitler did run on a platform of establishing a strong, authoritarian government that would provide stability, prosperity and national unity. There was never any doubt that Hitler's appointment would result in government by executive fiat. That could not have happened had Germany strong democratic institutions to undergird its nominally democratic processes.

Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 6,186
Member
Offline
Member
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 6,186
Monarchies are closest to Catholic or even Orthodox ideals. The real isn't so much what kind of government one has as long as it is Christian through and through. The high middle ages in Europe came as close to the ideal as we have ever had.

Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 424
Z
ZAROVE Offline OP
Member
OP Offline
Member
Z
Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 424
Carson Dnaiel, I agree that the best Government is giodly Governemnt, I just dont see hwo a Republican Base can promote that.

Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 424
Z
ZAROVE Offline OP
Member
OP Offline
Member
Z
Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 424
Scotty-


Quote
I agree with Stuart, what happened in many of the Arab nations were Democratic elections-not democracies!


This is why I call this a No True Scotsman fallacy. I’m sorry but Democratic Elections are Democracy, and simply declaring something not a Real Democracy because it doesn’t follow the same outcomes you desire them to come or that you link with Democracy is not the same thing as it not being Democratic. If their form fo Government was chosen in a Free and Fair Election by “the people” then it is Democratic. That is the Nature of Democracy.


Quote

In a Democracy the people are the ultimate authority as opposed to a theocracy.


If this is so, then why can’t the People Vote for Shariah Law? If the Majority want to live under Shariah, how is it a Violation of their Will and thus not a True Democracy?

It seems you can only have a Democracy if the people vote for Western liberal Secular Values. But if this is so, in what way are they Free to choose their Government? If they do not want a Western Liberal society, why must they elect one? What makes them choosing something different as a People not Democratic?

If the Ultimate Authority is the People, and the People choose Shariah, it is the Will of the People to be under Shariah. How is this not Government that vests its supreme Authority in the People?

This is the same kind of Argument I see from Atheists in regards to Reason. They say Religious People are all Irrational, and can’t think for themselves or use Logic or be Scientific. Anyone who is Rational is an Atheist.


This Atheist Stance I mention above is the assumption that if someone is a Christian then they can’t possibly think for themselves and arrive at the Conclusions that Christianity is True, and they must never subject their Religious Faith to Logical Evaluation, for if they do they must realise its Irrational and give it up. Religion is held to for Emotional Reasons and is always, always Irrational.

Of course they define “Being Rational” and “Being a Freethinker” in such a way that in order to qualify, one has to basically be an Atheist or an Agnostic who has embraced Humanism and accepting the specific views of Modern Secularists. They basically conflate their own Philosophical beliefs and understanding with Reason, so that to contradict their beliefs is to go against Reason itself, and those who embrace their beliefs are Automatically Rational.


Dan Barker even has a Non-Tract about this in which he explains that a Freethinker is Free to come to any Moral or Ethical Consideration to believe anything about the nature of his Existence so long as it rests within the Bounds of Humanism.


Of course we can all see the problem with this. The Atheists who promote this view are simply defining “Reason” in such a way that it is divorced form the actual intellectual processes in how we make decisions and rests entirely on arriving at the “Correct’ Conclusions, no matter how one arrives at them. They simply conflate their own beliefs with Reason itself so that in the end their own Conclusions are the only ones they accept can be arrived at by all Rational People, and those who disagree are simply Irrational. Religion, thus, by definition, is Irrational as it has not arrived at the Rational Conclusions they have.


In this way, they are just as right to say “If Religious people were Rational, they’d not be Religious” as we are in saying that a Society that held a Free and Fair Election as to what sort of Government their People want is not a Real Democracy because the People did not choose what we did.


Quote

A democratic government is a tool( I assume we are talking about Democratic Republics here). Thats all! Serious students of government always knew this! What you are saying comes as no surprise to anyone who pays attention to public affairs and history!


But one can also say this of any form of Government. However, if a Democracy is defined as “Rule of the People” and we truly believe that the People should be the Seat of all Authority, and the People choose Shariah Law, it is still Democracy for they are still the Seat of all Authority.



Quote

The problems that you are talking about stem from the lack of faith from Gods people.



No, I have a problem with an Unbiblical notion of Populism leading to Moral Righteousness, when I know that Populism usually leads to Moral decay, and I have a Problem with thinking that Democracy will unite Society when it is inherently a Divisive Affair, and I have a Problem in assuming that the Chief Authority in all Law is Men when God and Natural Law say otherwise.

I cannot deny the simple Truth that the Majority is not Always Right, and is often easily lead Astray. Both can I be a Christian and think the Supreme Authority is the People, and not God.


Quote

It doesn't matter what form of government you have! Israel under the rule of Kings strayed from God again and again.



I actually have a Thread about this. It has never been my Argument that Monarchy leads to Automatic Righteousness, I just think the System functions on a Social Level better than a Republic.

But I will say that Republics tend to fall into Sin far faster than do Monarchies, which at leats maintain Social Unity and Cohesion.



Quote

Nothing is a Real Democracy unless it conforms to Western Values you see. My answer to that is, it isn't a real Democracy unless the ultimate authority(in all aspects of the law) are the people!



The People of Tunisia want Shariah law. They voted for it. If it is not imposed, how is that Honouring the Will of the People? And how is it that the People are not Supreme in a Government they chose and serve as the Supreme Legitimisation of?





Quote
NOT a theocracy!



Theocracy is not a bad form of Government. God instituted one in Israel.

Not that it matters, as all the “Theocracies” in the Middle East are not actually Theocracies. Tunisia may go under Shariah law, but Islam understands that God is not directly involved in Governance and thus the Government is of Men, not God. While they will guide their Governments on the Tenets of the Sacred Koran and Islamic Law, it will be Men who interpret such Laws.

They also seem to want an Elected National Counsil.


Tunisia is not becoming a Theocracy, and the word “Theocracy” is not “Rule by Religion”. Theocracy is literally “Rule by God”, and there is only oen actual Theocracy on the Planet, the Vatican City-State.

I do not think Theocracy is a Bad form of Government.


Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 424
Z
ZAROVE Offline OP
Member
OP Offline
Member
Z
Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 424
Stuart, the main problem with your assertions are that America and France would thus not be “real Democracies” foe the early years of their History. Or for most of it really.

All of America’s institutions, for instance, existed whilst they were Colonies, and they only made moderate reforms to some of them, while others remained the same.

Most of the “Democratic Institutions” that you are citing, and even the “Democratic values”, already existed since the Middle Ages. EG, protection of Minority Groups or Freedom of Speech and Assembly were discussed in Feudal Europe in the 1200’s. Surprisingly though we think only Democracy actually allows these things, that somehow only a Government run by Popular Vote can safeguard our Rights to these things. Our concepts of basic Human Rights wouldn’t even exist had it not been for Christian Theological Considerations and for Feudal Law. All of our “Democratic Institutions” either came directly from, or developed out of the Monarchies of Medieval or Early Modern Europe. Why then do we call them “Democratic institutions” as if they came from only modern Republics?

Worse still is the supposed argument that Germany had “only’ been a unified State since 1871. Well so what? America had only been a Unified Government in its present form since 1789. Under the Articles Of Confederation the States were pretty much independent Nations in a “League Of friendship” comparable to the Separate German Provinces and Kingdoms. America in 1861 was only 84 years old. That’s not much older than the Unified Germany. As to the Aristocrats having the real Power and the German Kaiser only giving the Illusion of Democracy, in America only White male landowners could Vote, and in America they also instituted a Poll tax at one Time to keep the poor out of the ballot boxes when that Changed. America’s founding fathers did not believe in a Universal Right to Vote for all Men, and the US Government initially did seek to eliminate the poorer members of society from the voting Ranks. How is that a lot different than the Kaisar you describe?

Not that it matters, Otto Von Bismark was not as bad as you describe either.

Otto Von Bismarck was a leading proponent of Secularism and Liberalism, who anted to remove the Power from the Protestant and Catholic Churches, especially the Catholic, and to introduce “Enlightened” policies. While he was a Monarchist, he was not a Traditional or Classical Monarchist. (This brings me back to a point few seem to realise, that Monarchism is not really a singular thing any more than Republicanism is.)

It should also be noted however that Von Bismark did not really end existing freedom and actually expanded Social Liberties. Freedom of the Press and Speech and to Assemble were all Given to the German People under his CHounsilorship. (they had these before but Bismark made a point of safeguarding them.)

If Germany under Von Bismark was not worthy to be called Free Relative to its Times, then tell me why this is so.





As for Hitler and how his Party could never have taken over had they had a Strong Democratic History, you are wrong. America saw Abraham Lincoln take over as basically an Absolute Executive Authority Figure who did as he pleased, and Roosavelt came close as well. Venuzuala’s Hugo Chavez is another such example, as is Fidel Castro of Cuba, and come to think of it, so is the entire European Union.

Also, there is no direct link between otto Von Bismark and Hitler.

The simple fact remains that Germany was as much a Republic as France. I see no Reason, other than attachment to an Ideal of Democratic Freedom and Prosperity, to pretend otherwise, and then its just to Rationalise away the Glaring Flaws and Failures.

Joined: Mar 2010
Posts: 115
S
Member
Offline
Member
S
Joined: Mar 2010
Posts: 115
Zarove, Due to the fact that I am not an "INTELLECTUAL" I can only explain my position in so many ways. Let me give it one more try. Any country can have a Democratic election, which is too say they have candidates, have a ballot, provide time for candidate research then have an election day at the polls. The ballots are verified, even by outside agencies. This is a democratic election. We have them all the time here and in most of the free world. So we have no disagreement there. This changes when ever a democratic government's laws are formed and kept within the bounds of a religious law or "other" authority. In other words,IF a country that has Sharia law and can change Sharia law at the will of "the people"-THEN it is a true democracy. IF the Sharia Law is protected by secular law against any change then it is a form of theocracy. So some Arab countries may well have true democracies as Western counties know it. I think that remains to be seen. I know that you truly believe that the rule of Kings is the only way to go. I respect you belief, I disagree with it, but I respect it. You see that's one nice aspect of a Democracy! A democratic system of governing is not the problem, it is mans straying from the faith that is the problem and I don't think that would be protected against any better than if we were in monarchy. Now in fair balance, has Democracy caused damage to our faith, insofar as "free thinking" relates to it, yes. Free thinkers as you discribe have caused damage to the faith through humanism. In looking at the whole picture, would of those free thinkers never surfaced in a monarchy- well most of the original free thinkers were actually born under monarchs such as John Stuart Mill-Utilitarianism ,Friedrich Nietzsche just to name a two. I do know that the US has its share of free thinkers as well.

Perhaps the need or function of our democratic system will no longer fit the people of America and when that time comes "The People" will change governments. And who knows maybe they choose a monarchy in its place, although most likely a more socialist regime. That being said,I put worldly governments in their proper perspective . Kings rise to power and are deposed, Empires fade into the sunset in their due time, republics are built by and will be eventually be torn down by "the people". One Kingdom never dies!

Last edited by Scotty; 10/29/11 11:05 AM.
Joined: Mar 2010
Posts: 115
S
Member
Offline
Member
S
Joined: Mar 2010
Posts: 115
Let me restate elections vs governance. An election is by its nature is democratic, that is people casting their votes for a candidate or a system of government. Then you have a government, a system or framework that governs a particular people. For this argument, I refer to a democracy as a democratic republic form of government and distinguish it from an "election". If you want to fuse the two that's ok, but it may not hold weight with some, "intellectuals".

Page 1 of 4 1 2 3 4

Link Copied to Clipboard
The Byzantine Forum provides message boards for discussions focusing on Eastern Christianity (though discussions of other topics are welcome). The views expressed herein are those of the participants and may or may not reflect the teachings of the Byzantine Catholic or any other Church. The Byzantine Forum and the www.byzcath.org site exist to help build up the Church but are unofficial, have no connection with any Church entity, and should not be looked to as a source for official information for any Church. All posts become property of byzcath.org. Contents copyright - 1996-2020 (Forum 1998-2020). All rights reserved.
Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.7.5