by Rebecca Bynum (April 2009)
Rebecca asked, "Can head-counting ballots be described as democracy?" I'm sure the question was rhetorical as the answer seems to be obvious, but it is an important question nevertheless, particularly because so many in the media seem to equate simply holding elections with achieving democracy. Fjordman has a good treatise on this issue and lists the following four conditions for a functioning democratic system:
Notice that the ballot box is not specifically among the four conditions but could be inferred from the condition that "there must be sanctions in place to allow the demos to hold accountable or remove incompetent or corrupt officials." However, without the presence of the remaining conditions, it is difficult to see how a democracy could be realized.
The entire treatise, entitled "Is Islam Compatible with Democracy," is thoughtful and worth a read. It can be found at http://chromatism.net/fjordman/islamdemocracy.htm
- There must be a demos. That is, there must be a group of people with a shared pre-political loyalty. This common understanding would include mutual identification and trust between leaders who implement policies and the general public. There must be sanctions in place to allow the demos to hold accountable or remove incompetent or corrupt officials. The growth of supranational institutions has weakened the connections between the members of the elite and the nation states they are supposed to serve. The demos has been attenuated by both Multiculturalism and mass immigration.
- In the demos, there has to be true freedom of speech. There have to be genuine debates about crucial issues. For a combination of reasons, this process is now severely curtailed in many Western countries. Activists on the Left demand formal and informal censorship of sensitive issues. Meanwhile, the media isn’t functioning as a counterweight to the political elites because it frequently is in lockstep with these elites.
- In the demos, there should be no significant Muslim presence. Islam is toxic to a democratic society for several reasons, which I will explore later. One is the possibility of physical attack against anybody who criticizes the Islamic agenda. The fear thus engendered destroys any possibility of a free, civil public discourse. Another is the resentment generated by Muslim demands for separate laws and “special treatment,” demands which are driven by an inherent sense of entitlement. Finally, there is the harassment of non-Muslims, even those who do not criticize Islam. This aggressive behavior is always part and parcel of Jihad.
- The territorial entity where the demos lives must control its own borders. A nation that fails to discriminate between citizens and non-citizens, between members and non-members of the demos, will cease to function.
Your argument is convoluted and confusing. You say one shouldn't separate the different levels of reality and yet you claim you are not a pantheist. And you call me a heretic? Fine. The whole concept of heresy is abhorent to me.
I stand by my contention that Islam is a highly materialistic religion. It is anti-evolutionary, anti-progress, anti-human, anti-love and anti-life. If this enrages Muslims, so what?
Study Islam before you make pronouncements about what is so right about it.
The sundering of matter and spirit you advocate as the core of all religion is merely the gnostic heresy. You have completely failed to see that the operative distinction is between righteous and unrighteous, which is between use and abuse of matter, and not the repudiation of matter or the sundering of it from spirit. The gnostic heresy undercuts or even denies that God is the creator of all things. You may see that God is transcendant. but have clearly missed that he is immanent also, and may even be inclined to see this paradox as a contradiction to justify rejection of all relgion altogether. Such is the straw man fallacy
I write not as a secularist but as a practicing evangelical christian versed in scripture and religious history. I am well aware of what religion is: worshipping God in the creation and letting his handwork bear witness to His character, as Romans chap 1 :19-20 says. There is not a trace of gnosticism in the Bible, either New or Old Testaments
You have merely spread error about Islam in regards the one thing it has got right, namely that true religion is about all of life. Such slander will only encourage them in their error. Do you really want that? They will see your misconception of Islam and be inflamed by it. If you need to enrage Muslims at least get it right what you accuse them of
I am no Islam fancier. I reject it as it denies that Jesus is the Son of God and God the Son. I also reject it as it propounds the ancient heresy that God can be reached by law keeping. This the Bible strenuously rejects. Read St Paul to the Romans and to the Galatians
You are the one ignorant of what christian religion in particular an monotheism in general is about.
I worship the creator and delight in his creation as part of his works. I am no pantheist but neither will I degrade matter because of a heretical tradition
This issue is too dangerous to be aggravated by imposing western thought forms on a Middle eastern religion especially when these thought forms stem from greek philosophy and classical paganism as emerged as gnostic doctrine.
It appears that you are projecting: the crude materialism is likely yours, not that of an ancient religion, which, even if heretical, is patent of more depth than you are willing to give it credit for
Dear Mr. Meikle,
If you don't understand that a sharp distinction must be made between the spiritual and material in religious thought, then you don't understand what religion is.
You have made my point.
Spot on. David T and the others at Harry's Place have just the misunderstanding of Islam that this articel outlines. Harry's Place is a good site in many ways and has done much to uncover the wrongs done my Muslim groups. However, they still think that the Muslim "religion" is a personal matter, nothing to do with politics, except when it is manifested in the political form "Islamism". This is a grave error.
It's odd, isn't it, that there is no Judiasmism, Hinduismism or Christianityism to worry about?
It seems to me that Ms Bynum has propounded the western error of sundering material and spiritual and puts Islam on entirely on the other side of the divide. I am no Moslem, but Islam correctly claims that true religion is about the whole of life. It is this divide that is in error, and the author still thinks in these terms, it seems to me
To accuse Islam of being purely materialist is crude and in my opinion shows ignorance of its nature. Western nominal christianity has put itself into a box and become ennervated by this also
I have no fondness for what Islam has done in the name of religion being a matter of whole of life, as opposed to the compartment entered in to on the one day of the weelk deemed Holy, but I do no propose to oppose Islam by imposing false thought categories (a misconstrued form of the divide between sacrtfed and secular) upon it.
Such is to propound prejudice and achieve no good