Monday, May 18, 2009

"Liberal Democracy" in American and Iraq

America was not created as a "Democracy." Proof. But some political scientists speak of America as a "liberal democracy," by which they intend a contrast with totalitarian centrally-planned governments like the "former" Soviet Union and China.

Duke University Divinity professor Stanley Hauerwas questions the ability of "liberal democracy" to be planted by governments after their military overthrows a totalitarian regime. Excerpts from a "Memorial Day" interview by Paul O'Donnell:

BeliefNet: Bonhoeffer wrote during the war that he thought Germany should not attempt to return to a liberal democracy if the Nazis were defeated.
Hauerwas: Bonhoeffer believed that Germany had not developed the ethos that, say, England had to support liberal democracy. Germany had been turned into a nation-state by Bismarck in the middle of the 19th century, and as a nation came very late to liberal democracy. The German version of liberal democracy, the Weimar Republic, had barely begun before the Nazis took over, whereas England had formed a liberal ethos over centuries.

B: But his beef with liberal democracy seems more philosophical and thoroughgoing. He says that the language of rights and liberties, as you write in your book, "cannot help but lead to godlessness and the subsequent deification of man, which is the proclamation of nihilism."
H: That's right, and in noting that, I hoped some people would see a parallel to the present day in this country.

B: The other place it seems this has application is in the current situation in Iraq. Many argue that the proper ethos is not present there either for liberal democracy.
H: To try to turn Iraq into a liberal democracy is absolutely crazy. Islam has no understanding of the separation between church and state because they don't understand Islam to be a church. The very idea that you could have separation between mosque and state from Islam's perspective is the imposition on them of Christian practice. Islam doesn't really have a place for state. They are a universalistic faith like Christianity, but they think there is no country that bounds Islam.

Hauerwas is right about Memorial Day, but wrong about "the separation of church and state." The "ethos" of a "liberal democracy" is Christian morality. The ethos of totalitarianism is the false religion of statism, rooted in envy. The modern myth of "separation of church and state" really means "freedom from" Christian morality. This destroys any hope for "liberal democracy."

What made America great was the idea of "Liberty Under God." Not the "separation of church and state," but the progressive elimination of church and state. Not the elimination of Christian morality, but the elimination of the idea that religious rituals practiced on Sunday can substitute for the practice of Christian morality the other six days of the week. And not the elimination of "government," but the elimination of "the government," the institution that wars against self-government and the practice of Christian morality in schools and businesses -- and especially in Washington D.C.

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