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edao
03-03-11, 20:01
With the fall of dictators all over the Arab world, do you think Arab culture is capable of running a democracy?

Should western nations stop trying to empose their values and cultural templates onto people from different cultures?

LeBrok
04-03-11, 04:01
Exactly my dilemma too.

I'm sure will see some democratic countries in middle east and north Africa.
Will they be successful and long lasting? I don't know.
I'm sure some will be overrun by Islamic extremists. I'm worrying that this might happen quickly and world will have to wrestle with next Iran and Afghanistan, this time closer to Europe.

At the moment the worst situation is in Libya. We are looking at civil war. One tribe in East and Kadafi tribe in west. The battle will be fierce for the control of oil fields. The only hope is that they split the control and the country in half, and fighting will stop soon.

Taranis
04-03-11, 04:22
"Are Arabs even capable of democracy?"

Well, they said the same about Germany and Japan 66 years ago...

In my opinion, only time will tell, but I don't see why not. One issue that should be considered is that radical Islamism (both in the style of the Taliban, and in the style of Iran) has been thoroughly ostracized against. Another issue is that these revolutions came from the Arab people, so this is not something that is pressed onto them from the outside.

However, one thing that we as Westerners have a hard time understanding is that we cannot expect them a democracy in the same style as we do it. One aspect here is that the concept of secularism has no backstory in the Islamic world. In contrast to that, European history was dominated by the permanent struggle between Church and State, which was eventually won decisively by the State, which ultimately led to the concept of Secularism. However, in the Islamic world, this conflict never existed, and any ruler of state was automatically also a religious ruler... which is why Muslims often perceived the concept of secularism as something alien and uncomfortable, and the most likely solution (in my opinion) can be only some kind of democratic system that also incorporates religious authority. It's very clear that religious authority suffers from the same symptoms of power abuse as state authority. In so far, we should be careful not to condemn the more 'benign' forms of Islamism, even if that leaves a very strange taste in the mouth of us Westerners. Besides, even amongst western democracies there's considerable differences (presidential vs. semi-presidential vs. parliamentarian system, and some western democracies such as Britain and the Netherlands are actually constitutional monarchies whereas most other democracies are republics). In any case, it should be clear though that the various authoritarian/totalitarian styles of Islamism have been thoroughly discouraged against, and with high certainty are non-sustainable in long term, so from that perspective we have basically nothing to worry about.

Elias2
04-03-11, 05:29
There are some basic things a state needs in order to have a democracy;

- an universal education system
- a centralized state
- some form of sound economic system for a country to depend on

Now how many arab countries can you count that have all three? The first arab country that is developed enough for this is Egypt, and I believe with american overseeing it will happen.

But look at the other arab countries. The education systems isn't very developed and focuses too much of koranic studies and not enough about scientific enquiry. Most arab countries still have tribal mentalities, and tribal loyalties, the centralized state only exists on paper. The economic systems, arabs have large amounts of oil but it's a blessing and a curse. They don't have very developed diversefied economies.

So I voted yes of course they can in my opinion.

Antigone
04-03-11, 08:36
However, one thing that we as Westerners have a hard time understanding is that we cannot expect them a democracy in the same style as we do it. One aspect here is that the concept of secularism has no backstory in the Islamic world. In contrast to that, European history was dominated by the permanent struggle between Church and State, which was eventually won decisively by the State, which ultimately led to the concept of Secularism. However, in the Islamic world, this conflict never existed, and any ruler of state was automatically also a religious ruler... .

Yes I agree, this is one important aspect often over-looked, ignored or forgotten by the west. Islam is a much younger religion than Christianity, 4 or 500yrs younger. The Christian west has already gone through the upheavals of seperating church from state but the Islamic world is only just beginning this process now.

One can only hope that the Islamic version will not be nearly as bloody as the Christian example but I think the worst thing we can do is interfere. Let us practice what we preach for a change and allow ALL the right to self determination, whatever that may be but as the Islamic world also straddles the world's power supply this, unfortunately, seems unlikely.

Rastko Pocesta
30-04-11, 21:44
Of course they are capable... stop generalizing, this seems racist. Everyone is capable and deserves to live in a free and democratic society and we, Europeans, are obliged to help them achieve one.

Vallicanus
01-05-11, 08:26
Of course they are capable... stop generalizing, this seems racist. Everyone is capable and deserves to live in a free and democratic society and we, Europeans, are obliged to help them achieve one.

You are being a bit imperialist and patronising.:shocked:

The West should not interfere.

What if they don't choose secular democracy?

They are more likely to choose Islamic rule and who are we to say that they are wrong.

Maciamo
01-05-11, 10:09
A democracy needs an educated electorate to work properly. I don't think that countries like Tunisia, Libya, Egypt or Yemen have what it takes. It's hard enough to run an efficient democracy in developed countries that have several generations of experience in democracy and relatively high education levels and a stable economy.

Additionally, a country with no tradition and experience democracy cannot just improvise it like that. It took France over a century after the French Revolution to come up with a more or less stable democratic republic, reverting 4 times to authoritarian monarchy/empire in between. The USA is the oldest continuous democracy in the world, but democracy has become a fairly nominal appellation, as American politics is clearly dominated by a few corporate lobbies at the national level. It's a democracy in fa├žade, nothing like the democracy in Switzerland or Scandinavia.

One can always impose democracy on a nation, just like the US did with Japan in 1945-52 and with Iraq in 2003-2010. But that doesn't mean the population is going to embrace it. Japan has supposedly been a democracy since 1952, but it has been in effect a single-party democracy for over 50 years. The latest polls show that 80% of the population don't support or trust any political party.

A majority of French and Belgian people are equally at a loss nowadays to find suitable politicians to vote for. Opinion polls for the 2012 French presidential election suggest that over 50% of the electorate doesn't want to vote for any of the traditional parties. Belgium still hasn't been able to form a government, 11 months after the last election, and people don't want new elections.

So can we expect poor, mostly uneducated countries, with a long history of despotism and a religion increasingly inclined to fanaticism to become truly democratic states ? I seriously doubt so.

Maciamo
01-05-11, 11:16
"Are Arabs even capable of democracy?"

Well, they said the same about Germany and Japan 66 years ago...

Germany managed to adopt democracy for several reasons :

1) it is a Western country, part of the same civilization, sharing similar values as countries such as France, Britain or the USA. Arabic countries just don't share these values and common history.

2) The USA, Britain and France helped Germany set up a democratic system adapted to its cultural specificities after WWII, taking into account the weaknesses of the failed experienced of the Weimar Republic. There was a strong will from the Allies that democracy worked in (West) Germany to avoid another war, and they did all they could to make it work.

3) Germany was heavily culpabilised for its responsibility in WWI and WWII, as well as the Holocaust, which helped the self-conscious Germans to try as hard as they could to prove to the world that they could become a peaceful democratic nation too.

4) The EEC, then EU thoroughly encouraged the development of democracy in Germany. Contrarily to Japan that was isolated from the Western political scene, and could do more or less whatever it wanted, Germany was at the centre stage of the Western world during the Cold War (in part also because it was divided, and Germany acted as the showcase of the Capitalist vs Communist systems). As a founding member of the EU, Germany had little choice but to become a role model of democracy. Its political scene was observed by other EEC/EU members. When you feel watched from the outside it is always a good incentive to show the best you can do.


Japan, on the other hand, failed to become a true democracy. It developed well economically, but under a rather autocratic single-party government. Even today, Japan is only an illusion of democracy and Japanese people will be the first to tell you so. It is democratic in the sense that China sees itself as democratic (an elected paternalistic government that cares about the people rather than the own self-interest of a despotic monarch).

Personally, I do not hold the view that a country is democratic so long as its government is elected. There must be a plurality of party to represent the various views of the population. Nowadays too many democratic parliaments and governments are like appointed boards of directors, chosen among the ranks of a small oligarchy, divided in one or two parties that hold basically the same views (like in Japan or in the USA), or anachronistic parties that are completely out of touch with modern reality (like the French extreme-left or extreme-right that both want France to quit the EU, revert to the Franc and live in autarky).




Another issue is that these revolutions came from the Arab people, so this is not something that is pressed onto them from the outside.

The revolution came from the Arab people, but against the Arab people that oppressed them, so it doesn't mean anything. Besides, if no "experienced" democratic country is behind them to "guide" their democratic reforms and help them set up the right institutions, there is a good chance that things won't be done properly. In 1789, French philosophers of the Enlightenment helped setting up the first (yet very imperfect) European democracy, the world's first declaration of human rights, and so on. North African countries do not have Enlightenment philosophers among their ranks today. In 1945, the Germans had the USA, UK and France behind them to help them set up their democracy, then the EEC/EU to foster its democratic development. Arabic countries are not part of the Western world, and do not have any democratic organisation like the EU to keep them in check. I believe that none of the elements that allowed the success of democracy in Europe exist in Arabic countries, and therefore democracy will fail.

Maciamo
01-05-11, 11:28
However, one thing that we as Westerners have a hard time understanding is that we cannot expect them a democracy in the same style as we do it. One aspect here is that the concept of secularism has no backstory in the Islamic world. In contrast to that, European history was dominated by the permanent struggle between Church and State, which was eventually won decisively by the State, which ultimately led to the concept of Secularism. However, in the Islamic world, this conflict never existed, and any ruler of state was automatically also a religious ruler...


Yes I agree, this is one important aspect often over-looked, ignored or forgotten by the west. Islam is a much younger religion than Christianity, 4 or 500yrs younger. The Christian west has already gone through the upheavals of seperating church from state but the Islamic world is only just beginning this process now.

The separation between State and Religion is not an inevitable evolution of all religion. It only happened in Europe, or more specifically in 18th-century France with Catholic Christianity. The United Kingdom still has a head of state, the Queen, who is a religious leader too (head of the Anglican Church). The USA also do not separate State and Religion (after all, the government mottoes include "In God We Trust" and "God Bless America", and talk about religion is allowed in US politics, unlike in most of Europe).

edao
01-05-11, 16:09
I guess at the end of the day most people don't really care about a true democracy as long as they can earn money and are reasonably safe and free to do what they want. We are already seeing how peoples politics change when recession puts a squeeze on their finances. We have gone in Europe from selling mulitculturism to claiming it is nothing but a huge failure. Many have gone from moderate political stances to the extremes in a pursuit to find somone or something to blame.

My point being, that the Arab countries aren't really looking for democracy they are looking for a better standard of living, setting up ballot boxes and giving people certain western freedoms doesn't guarantee any food on the table. As has been mentioned even with the best institutions, the best education, and a competitive economy it's still no guarantee of prosperity. Looking at the Arab world as it stands perhaps the current situation will act as a stepping stone for a better future but I fear anything like western prosperity will not be seen in out life time.

Maciamo
01-05-11, 16:24
I guess at the end of the day most people don't really care about a true democracy as long as they can earn money and are reasonably safe and free to do what they want. We are already seeing how peoples politics change when recession puts a squeeze on their finances. We have gone in Europe from selling mulitculturism to claiming it is nothing but a huge failure. Many have gone from moderate political stances to the extremes in a pursuit to find somone or something to blame.

My point being, that the Arab countries aren't really looking for democracy they are looking for a better standard of living, setting up ballot boxes and giving people certain western freedoms doesn't guarantee any food on the table. As has been mentioned even with the best institutions, the best education, and a competitive economy it's still no guarantee of prosperity. Looking at the Arab world as it stands perhaps the current situation will act as a stepping stone for a better future but I fear anything like western prosperity will not be seen in out life time.

Whatever nation is looking for better standards of living needs to be ready to work harder, learn more (with a special emphasis on sciences, engineering, management, marketing and finance), be more innovative and follow the rules of capitalism and free market. Unfortunately many of these are incompatible with the traditional Muslim way of life, or are rejected as "Western style". Japan, South Korea, then China, respectively in chronological order, adopted whole-heartedly this "Western style" for the sake of economic growth. The real question is: can Muslim nations accept that the adoption of Western capitalism and sciences is inevitable to improve their living standards ? They have to be aware that modern sciences are mainly incompatible with Muslim (or Christian) faith, and that educating their children like modern Westerners might prompt a wave of atheism/agnosticism, or at least strongly undermine some deep religious convictions.

Rastko Pocesta
05-06-11, 02:05
You are being a bit imperialist and patronising.:shocked:

The West should not interfere.

What if they don't choose secular democracy?

They are more likely to choose Islamic rule and who are we to say that they are wrong.

I am anti-imperialist and an ardent opponent of neocolonialism. I just talking that the democratic world shall help Arab countries achieve democracy by supplying them with needed resources in order to create a revolution. Europe was much worse than Arab countries ever were or are going to be only two centuries ago. For instance, in early Middle Ages Arab countries were centuries ahead of any other European or perhaps world nation at the moment. Islamic democracy is possible and although I would most certainly prefer a completely secular democracy, we shall start with this.

Brett142
06-06-11, 06:14
Of course, democracy will always succeed because it's the will of people who help create it and if anything the Arab nations have definitely displayed will over the past year.

Reinaert
07-06-11, 20:34
Well, I know something about the middle east from colleagues from that area, and they suffer from the same problem as Europe did.
Some ruling families that suck the blood out of a nation, while the people remain poor.
America and other western nations are only interested in oil, and they supported the bad guys over and over again.

And I don't believe in an Islamic revolution. I don't believe in a Christian revolution either. Because both religions are totally corrupted by the guys at the top.

Both Jesus and Mohammed preached the same thing.
Care for each other.
Help the poor, the lonely, the sick, the homeless.
Don't kill each other.
Don't steal.
Don't revenge evil with evil.
And so on..
It's so very simple! :innocent:

Reinaert
07-06-11, 20:36
Of course, democracy will always succeed because it's the will of people who help create it and if anything the Arab nations have definitely displayed will over the past year.

Sorry, but that is an illusion!

Anton, Bear's den
09-06-11, 20:10
With the fall of dictators all over the Arab world, do you think Arab culture is capable of running a democracy?
No, they are not capable

4878


Should western nations stop trying to empose their values and cultural templates onto people from different cultures?
In moral & family values granny Europe sucks while in technical approaches to state-building it's example to follow (pluralism, freedom of speech, separation of powers, rule of law, elections etc...). Depend from concrete kind of values.

Reinaert
09-06-11, 20:37
Hmmm... Anton, Western Europe isn't democratic.
Freedom of speech? Who own the press and the media?
Elections? A great portion of the people doesn't care, due to lack of education and lots of government propaganda. (Corrupted media)

Anton, Bear's den
10-06-11, 00:12
Hmmm... Anton, Western Europe isn't democratic.
Freedom of speech? Who own the press and the media?
Elections? A great portion of the people doesn't care, due to lack of education and lots of government propaganda. (Corrupted media)

That's not ideal I know, but anyway it's much better than religious fundamentalism, totalitarianism. On the local level the democracy works, people discuss their problems, spend meetings, criticize the government etc... it issues steam of dissatisfaction out and little by little leads to improving of living conditions of simple people.
Arabic countries had not it so the only way for expression of dissatisfaction of society was a violent revolution. But revolution by itself does not mean that they became democratic or something. Arabs have other culture in the core, Islam gives other foundation of values with huge contrast to Christianity. Their understanding of democracy may be very different from European.
Plus many of these countries have primitive tribal political system, 90% of land is desert, extremely poor population & full of religious fanatics, all this will lead to the tough clan wars for oil resources. Hardly possible that revolutions will lead to something worthwhile. Fundamentalistic "Muslim Brotherhood" in Egypt, tough violent autocracy in Iraq, endless war of tribes in Libya, Syria, Yemen etc...

Anton, Bear's den
11-04-12, 18:34
Hmmm... Anton, Western Europe isn't democratic.
Freedom of speech? Who own the press and the media?
Elections? A great portion of the people doesn't care, due to lack of education and lots of government propaganda. (Corrupted media)
... my only friend on this forum Reinaert was banned :crying::lmao:, why and who did it?:crying:

L.D.Brousse
13-04-12, 14:47
I think IMO that these country's need an Iron Fist. It seems to me when we bring democracy it only makes them more a threat. Islam is like in a time capsule probably where Christians were 1000 years ago they never advance and cling to the old ways. While training to fight in Iraq we learned that Iraq to Iraqi's is at the bottom of what they hold dear. How can you have democracy with no sense of Nation?

edao
12-08-13, 11:01
Democracy is championed as a universal good by the West, but we over-estimate its power to guarantee personal and political freedom, argues Roger Scruton.

"In my view, the idea that there is a single, one-size-fits-all solution to social and political conflict around the world, and that democracy is the name of it, is based on a disregard of historical and cultural conditions, and a failure to see that democracy is only made possible by other and more deeply hidden institutions. And while we are willing to accept that democracy goes hand in hand with individual freedom and the protection of human rights, we often fail to realise that these three things are three things, not one, and that it is only under certain conditions that they coincide."
Read article (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-23607302)

Cambrius (The Red)
12-08-13, 19:25
The difficulty for Arabs in Western countries concerns poor education levels and stringent religious beliefs. A two headed monster that restricts social acclimation capacity.

K_Sacana_Blomqvist
20-08-13, 19:28
Current events in Egypt prove that democracy is extremly difficult to implement in the Arab world. The young secular-liberal part of the Eyptian anti-MOubarak revolution was too split and unable to win the democratic election.

Instead the well organized Muslim-brotherhood won it and then proved to be undemocratic. The only solution was a military coup.

edao
20-08-13, 21:02
Current events in Egypt prove that democracy is extremly difficult to implement in the Arab world. The young secular-liberal part of the Eyptian anti-MOubarak revolution was too split and unable to win the democratic election.

Instead the well organized Muslim-brotherhood won it and then proved to be undemocratic. The only solution was a military coup.

The media are calling this a military coup, but from what I can see you need a change of power for that to happen. In reality all the army did was remove Mubarak, then entered into a farce. They thought they could hold elections and then use the president as a puppet. Obviously Morsi wasn't willing to play their game and they basically ended the charade. The media are pretending it's a coup but it happened so quickly with so little blood shed it was obvious that the army had never left power in Egypt.

They have been quite clever however, I have read articles proclaiming the Egyptian army as the saviours of the revolution. People who don't like Islam but love democracy are looking a bit stupid right now as they try and figure out what kind of oppression they hate more.:thinking:

As the article debates above Democracy is a high level form of government you need a lot of fundamental social and political linch pins in place for it to stand a chance. From what I can see in the Middle East they have very few if any of these frame works that are solid enough to build upon. I think they need to be left to find their own way, this I think unfortunately is probably going to be a bloody process, Western intervention seems only to create complications and accusation that Europeans and Americans are the route cause of the problem. If anything should be learned from this I think it's not to hold Democracy as the holy grail of social evolution and to accept that other racial groups should be left alone to develop their own systems and cultural ideas.

Twilight
26-08-13, 01:14
As long us Christians and Muslims can work together peacefully then I don't think there could be a problem

Cambrius (The Red)
26-08-13, 05:07
Arabs nations have too many internecine conflicts and manifest a propensity to downplay democracy in their socio-political worlds.

LeBrok
26-08-13, 06:23
It is enough to look how difficult was the birth of democracy in Europe after WWI to see, that what is going on in middle east, is nothing unusual for young democracies, or any nation during change of political system. Remember history of Germany, Spain or Russia at this time period? Not mentioning many other european countries and their march towards democracy.
And look at Russia, it is still not fully democratic or tolerant and it is in Europe!

Democratisation of Middle East will happen together with economic development. The richer people get, the more freedoms and rights they demand. If they stay poor we will see mess, revolutions and dictatorships.

Cambrius (The Red)
26-08-13, 14:56
Only when the Muslim religion becomes less draconian will there be a reasonable chance for Arabs to accept democracy. Not likely to happen anytime soon.

edao
26-08-13, 17:41
In many ways democracy is a just a kind of rolling dictatorship.
Most countries have a few parties that are pretty much set in stone and 2-3 parties that take 80% of the vote.
While these parties change leaders they are rarely challenged in power by outside organisations (eg protest parties).

Who gets to decide on the leaders of the these parties, who gets to decide who the candidates are, who decides on their policies?
In the UK Labour, Conservatives and Lib Dems all offered public cuts although I imagine if you could poll the entire population directly on 'Do you want cuts to the public sector?' the overwhelming result would be no.

In the UK a Cambridge/Oxford education is a minimum qualification to be a political leader, already we are talking about a set power structure that is designed to keep certain people from power. One way or another hierarchy will manifest itself, we like to kid ourselves we live in a free open society but its just a perception of putting a ballot paper in a box that makes people think they have any say in the running of their country. Once in power political parties generally push through whatever they feel like.

They have done research that people are only bothered about wealth dependant on how rich they feel in relation to others in society, e.g. discontent about your wealth is dependant on your perception of where you sit in the hierarchy and the distance between the top and the bottom. One of the misconceptions about wealth, that many politicians like to play on is that there are loads of rich people to tax. Reality is millionaires are a very small percentage of the population and even heavy tax programmes on them would do little to bolster most government's balance sheets (as has been discussed in France on the 75% tax).

Anyway enough waffle, I think the Arab world is in a terrible place, I don't think their societies are compatible with Western ideas about democratic systems, which I think is fine. They should be left to figure out a system that works for them. The Chinese are doing alright and they are supposed to be communists.

It's about stability, prosperity and a certain level of freedom, who cares what the idiot in the street has to say about the running of the country. #OverratedDemocracy

American Idiot
21-11-13, 16:12
from what I understand about Arab countries the political elites are usually some group/groups that have been long established and even in places with widely held elections, such as Lebanon, only people from this certain grouping can run for office. In Lebanon the Christians control all of the politics even though the country has overwhelming Muslim majority.It was a system put in place by the French, in Lebanon. Not so sure if it's a matter of legality or more a matter of politico-culture, though.

In other arab countries the situation is similar with a certain political elite running the show all the time. But if you look at Egypt, obviously the people themselves can change the situation if they actually want to bad enough. But it's their choice since it is their nation and the west should stay out of it.


and despite what westerners think, places like Iran do actually have a democratic government in place, especially when compared to other Muslim nations.
They just dont have the specific western form of democracy.

toyomotor
22-11-13, 04:16
With the fall of dictators all over the Arab world, do you think Arab culture is capable of running a democracy?

Should western nations stop trying to empose their values and cultural templates onto people from different cultures?

From recent history, it would seem that Arab countries still have a fair way to go in embracing the democratic process. If one was to include Egypt into this debate, one could only say "NO". As for western countries attempting to impose their values and culture on other different cultures, again I would agree with you. But, in many cases, the erosion of cultures in favour of western models is happening at the behest of the younger generation which is saturated with movies, television, fashion and advertising from the west. You can't blame manufacturers of a new market opens for their product in other cultures.

LeBrok
22-11-13, 07:21
But, in many cases, the erosion of cultures in favour of western models is happening at the behest of the younger generation which is saturated with movies, television, fashion and advertising from the west. You can't blame manufacturers of a new market opens for their product in other cultures.
By the same measure you would need to conclude that feudal and imperialist culture of Europe of 17 and 18 hundreds "eroded" into free and democratic culture of today.
It is hard to blame young people of middle east that they desire more freedom, engagement in politics and to join the middle class of the world.
I can agree that the process and the changes are always messy and scary, and might not be successful at first try or at all. For most of 19 century Europe was in a very messy terrifying state, with tens of millions killed in wars. Why would we even consider that changes in the Middle East (hopefully for the best) can be a quick and peaceful process?

toyomotor
23-11-13, 03:28
LeBrok: I'm not "blaming" the young people, it's a process of evolution. As people become more exposed to other cultures, they select segments that they like and adopt them. As for the Middle East, this area was civilised when most of Europe was still running around in animal skins. One would have expected a far more stable political situation there than in Europe. Personally, I have no view on the pro's and cons of Middle Eastern culture, and I agree that democratisation still seems a long way off.
By the same measure you would need to conclude that feudal and imperialist culture of Europe of 17 and 18 hundreds "eroded" into free and democratic culture of today. I don't think it was an erosion, more evolution.

LeBrok
23-11-13, 04:27
LeBrok: I'm not "blaming" the young people, it's a process of evolution. As people become more exposed to other cultures, they select segments that they like and adopt them. As for the Middle East, this area was civilised when most of Europe was still running around in animal skins. One would have expected a far more stable political situation there than in Europe. Personally, I have no view on the pro's and cons of Middle Eastern culture, and I agree that democratisation still seems a long way off. I don't think it was an erosion, more evolution.
Exactly my point too, therefore changes in the Middle East are just an evolution too, and not an erosion due to Western "decadent" influences.

albanopolis
23-11-13, 05:07
Arabs can not have full democracy. At most half democracy. The reason is unreformed Islam. Democracy is not free election only. Iran holds regularly free elections and yet is not democracy. Arabs if free are very productive. I have seen some in US.