Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Ponnuru’s response

Ramesh Ponnuru, a very able writer and thinker, has responded to my contumelious assault on a point of his. I take his response at face value and we don’t need to stretch it out.
He is right that I do not maintain that the Iraqis (or any other human beings) can govern themselves democratically just because they have the right. But they do have the right, and they are now going to be given the power and the opportunity to attempt to actualize it. I don’t expect self-government to be immanent, but I expect movement toward the
ought.

Discussions - 3 Comments

I thought one of the op-eds in the NYT was interesting, if true: that we erroneously believed Iraq to be much more "secular" that it really was. Or that with their new found freedom, the Iraqis are rediscovering their religious roots, and thus radical Clerics are running rampant. The writer concludes that our dream of establishing a demcratic beachhead over there is now "dead."

Can a democracy govern these people? I think the answer lies in Christianity’s own history, and how the Church learned pluralism. The Jewish sects have learned the same lessons as well. Thus I am more positive than the writer, demcracy will soon thrive in Iraq.

Let’s face it folks, once you learn that arguing about all this stuff is a lot more fun than shooting each other, everybody eventually embraces the politics of democracy. :)

I thought one of the op-eds in the NYT was interesting, if true: that we erroneously believed Iraq to be much more "secular" that it really was.

It may not be that the Iraqis are less secular than we believed. It may be that they are less literate than we believed. In a literate culture when you want to know something you look it up. In an oral or residual oral culture when you want to know something you find somebody. And that somebody may just be a cleric.

I think the most important thing will be who the Iraqi’s come to trust. Here in America we can pick and choose from all sorts of media, and figures approching clerics at that. But it is not just enough to read the news, we have to interpret it, and decide what we can believe and what it means. Even if some Iraqi’s have to rely on Clerics, this is not the same as saying that they have to trust them. Of course some will trust in the Clerics and some will not...but it is like that everywhere. What makes or breaks a democracy is the extent to which people are able to process the information they do receive. Why is trust in Clerics suddenly more attractive than before? A simpler life? A religiously integrated world view? A helpfull Leviathan?

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