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Is Democracy Culturally Limited?

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by MwanaFalsafa1, Sep 14, 2009.

  1. MwanaFalsafa1

    MwanaFalsafa1 JF-Expert Member

    Sep 14, 2009
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    There is a piece I have read from the book "International Politics, Power and Purpose in Global Affairs" by Paul D'Anieri page 125. I ask every one to read with an open mind. Let me first start by defining democracy according to the same book.

    Democracy: The doctrine that the entire population of a nation, rather than a small elite or single monarch should control government.

    Now below is the piece regarding the thread itself

    Over the past two decades, failed attempts to promote democracy have raised the delicate question of whether democracy is culturally limited. Are there cultural orerequisites for democracy, such that some societies simply are not "ready"? Some see the question itself as ethnocentric; others see the assumption that all countries should have the same kind of government as ethnocentric.

    The collapse of communism made this a very practical question. The assumption both in the region and in the West was that any of the post-communism states could become democratic if they simply adopted the right kind of institutions-that is, constitutions, laws, and government agencies. Skeptics pointed out that such insititutions could not work-or even adopted-in countries with no historical experience with democracy and without the societal values and practices necessary to support democracy.

    The mixed record of democratization in the post-Soviet states has given some credence to the notion that some societies are not culturally "ready" for democracy. It would appear that democracy came most easily to those post-communist states, such as Poland, the Czech Republic, and the Baltic States, that had experienced democracy prior to World War II and had a much stronger societal commitment to it. On the other hand, scholars have not been able to identify specific cultural characteristics that democracies must have but that the struggling states lack. They argue that the states that have succeeded have done so because they were given moral support, in the form of prospective membership in NATO and the European Union for example.

    The question comes up again when considering the spread of democracy in the Islamic world. Some have argued that Islam is incompatible with democratic government. They point out that there are few true democracies in Muslim countries, with the possible exception of Turkey, which is a secular state. If this view is valid, plans to bring democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan are doomed. again, however, it is hard to evaluate any such argument, since the question of whether there are such cultural prerequisites has not been settled. The general absence of democracy in the Muslim world seems to be superficial evidence that indeed, Islam and democracy are incompartible. But the success of democracy in a Muslim country such as Turkey indicates that that is not the case.

    U.S. foreign policy has in recent years assumes that there are no cultural barriers to democracy in the Muslim world, as demonstrated by the policy of setting up democracy in Iraq and encouraging it elsewhere in the region, after many years of tolerating and even encouraging authoritarianism. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stated in 2005, "...There's no culture on earth, there are no people on earth, who don't desire to be free. People in the Middle East rightly understand that for 60 years the United States, and many others, tried to trade stability with democracy. And we got neither stability nor democracy and it's not surprising to me that there are resentments about that period of time"

    In this debate about culture and democracy, what seems at first to be a relatively esoteric academic issue turns out to have importatnt policy consequences.

    Again I urge people to read this with an open mind while keeping in mind that democracy is a theory and not a law. I think the writer has done his best to be unbiased and has put forward arguments from both sides. I have written the writers word letter for letter and everything is as would appear on the book itself. I know some will make comments without clearly understanding what has been written and for some emotions will start to take over but I hope the discussion for the most part will be civil.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2009
  2. MaxShimba

    MaxShimba JF-Expert Member

    Sep 15, 2009
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    Yes Sir, it is a theorem and it works for few people who are above par.