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Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Difficulty of imposing democracy on Islamic cultures finally acknowledged

The notion that people should be given power to make their own laws has always conflicted dangerously, and at the most fundamental level, with the Islamic knowledge that all law comes from Allah, and from Allah alone.

That is why it has always been futile, extremely dangerous, strategically unsound, and naive, for western nations to attempt unilaterally to convert Islamic cultures into western style democracies.  Democracy denies Allah's role, placing mortals' laws above those of Allah.  Many perceive the fight for democracy to be war against Allah.  Even the most uneducated decision-makers should have been aware of the depth and magnitude of this profound conflict.

See "German military rethinks exporting democracy", from Der Spiegel.


  1. I think the people involved in Arab Spring won't agree with you Nils.

  2. Dear PFWhite,

    Thanks for your comment.

    Those in the Arab Spring who seek a secular democracy might not agree with me. But those who seek to impose a strict Islamic political system see potential democracy as a threat, and so some involved in the Arab Spring might be exploiting the instability and infant democracy to win political power to impose a strict Muslim political system. It is possible for a democracy to "democratically" eliminate its democracy.

    What I had in mind when I wrote this post was the notion that the West could introduce democracy to Afghanistan. Democracy needs more than a democratic government, it needs a widespread cultural shift of nearly every citizen in the electorate to embrace the whole concept of shared political power with ultimate accountability to the people, instead of to Allah. That is very difficult to achieve.

    In Egypt and Syria, the notion is already widespread amongst citizens that those in political power must be accountable to the people. Democracy can succeed there because it is not being imposed from externally by foreign decision-makers who "know better", but rather arises popularly from those citizens who want to make democracy work.

    In Afghanistan it appears to me there is not the popular critical mass of citizens who want to make democracy work properly, because it requires a very large, even threatening, cultural shift.


  3. Dear Nils, thanks for your reply. I agree that as much as anything democracy is a cultural thing and you need the mass of citizens to have the will, understanding and education to make it work. You also need some essential institutions to work to a reasonable degree. Further I agree that societies will find it difficult to make a quick transition to democracy because its threatening. I suppose where I disagree is that these characteristics are particularly related to Islam. Religion has a large cultural component to it, so as societies we can make room for democracy. If we lived literally from a religious standpoint, Christian, Muslam or other, I don't think there would be democracy. I think it is a mistake to believe Afghanistan, can not, over time develop a culture of democracy as can any other society.

  4. Dear PFWhite, thanks again for your comments and discussion, which I appreciate. I agree with you: resistance to democracy is not only related to Islam; and Afghanistan could, over time, certainly develop a culture which enables democracy. And I think especially so if the education of women, who I think play a key role in cultural change, becomes more widespread through Afghanistan. Thanks again for the dialogue, which I thoroughly enjoy! Nils.