Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns


A Primer on Middle East Democracy (Update)

Bob Reilly takes on neo-conservative Middle East expert Reuel Marc Gerecht in today's Wall Street Journal. Reilly points out that a presupposition of democracy is solution of the religious issue--that is, freedom of conscience. That is, the American model remains the most reasonable means of establishing democratic self-government.

UPDATE: The Reilly letter in op-ed form.

Categories > Religion

Discussions - 6 Comments

Yes, it's a good question, what are we going to do about Islam and democracy. Tyranny of the majority has a unique twist in nations where democracy is Muslim.

Mona Eltahawy has a compelling article in Foreign Policy Magazine this month, "Why Do They Hate Us? on the real war on women in the Middle East. Here:

The article is a description of life as a woman in Islam. That treatment is another aspect of tyranny in Islamic nations. Those countries are the worst places to be a woman and Eltahawy explains why. The comment section continues the argument.

that is, freedom of conscience. That is, the American model remains the most reasonable means of establishing democratic self-government.

1. Electoral and deliberative institutions emerged and endured for centuries in a Europe which was not religiously pluralistic.

2. There was no 'American model' to emulate until the earlier half of the 17th century and most colonies in British North America had a religious establishment until the last quarter of the 18th century.

3. The signatures of American political institutions (separation of powers, federalism, bicameralism) are seldom present in toto in constitutional states abroad, most particularly among those states where constitutional practice has been the most enduring.

1. After how many centuries of religious conflict and bloodshed?

2. So?

3. Democracy and republics are not the same. The form by which democracy is expressed is not really germane. There is the more to the "American model" than consitutional government.

1. Representative assemblies of entire kingdoms emerged in the high middle ages (around 1265 in England, to take one example). Municipal councils in France emerged during the previous century. Open field villages and their associated deliberative assemblies were institutions so antique that medieval historians have been unable to securely delineate the social process of their emergence. All of these institutions emerged in societies that were religiously uniform, for the most part. You did have an ecclesiastical apparat which acted to suppress heresy, but this was fairly small scale. I cannot see how my hypothesis is discredited by the emergence of sanguinary religious warfare in the early modern period (when religious uniformity was being deconstructed and representative assemblies falling into desuetude). The Thirty Years War concluded in 1648, nearly four centuries after the foundation of the Parliament of England.

2. The foundation of deliberative government antedated any 'American model' and was dissimilar to it.

3. So?

Then I do understand what you wrote, but not why you wrote it in response to the post. How does what happened in Europe and consequently by extension in America, relate to what is happening in the Middle East?

Dunno, Kate. Maybe I thought the remark I noted in italic required a reply.

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