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Establishing Democracy Without Violence

 
 
Reply Mon 23 Jul, 2012 01:09 pm
The establishment of democracy has a checkered history. The French Revolution was followed by the infamous "reign of terror." In 2011 we have seen pro-democracy movements in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Syria. There has been terrible violence in these countries with thousands of deaths.

Mairead Maguire, Northern Ireland peace activist and 1976 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, recently made the following comment about Syria:
Quote:
Many may believe that there is a fight going on in Syria for 'democracy' and 'freedom'. We can be seduced into thinking there is a magic wand or instant formula to mix that will create a democratic country, but there are none. If it is a democracy a people want they must strive for it in their own way. It is said the greek idea of democracy was that people would be equally valued. This is something every society has to strive for at every point in its history; it itself is a 'revolutionary' concept and a nonviolent revolutionary action. Strive to value everyone equally. It is an idea, a motivation for a better world that doesn't require blood; it requires the hard work of people and the nurturing of a community spirit; a constant growing of peace and it starts within each human heart.


Is non-violent democratic revolution possible?
 
dalehileman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Jul, 2012 01:55 pm
@wandeljw,
Quote:
Is non-violent democratic revolution possible?
That’s a good q and one I’ve long pondered

In Egypt for instance will the military be replaced by an Islamic reign under Sharia law, murdering innocent women, persecuting Christians

fresco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Jul, 2012 02:12 pm
@wandeljw,
....without violence ?....No....especially in a historically tribal or class divided society in which "the State" is a secondary concept.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Mon 23 Jul, 2012 02:38 pm
I don't know exactly how you would determine that democracy had been established wihtout violence. Democracy was already practiced in the American colonies, from the early 17th century onward. The Virginia company was sufficiently incompetent that the settlers established their House of Burgesses to govern their affairs. The Massachusetts Bay Company charter was, apparently, drafted by clever Puritan lawyers, and, unlike other charters of the type, did not specify that the Governor and Selectmen (we would think of them as the corporate board) would meet in London. So, in 1630, the company's new Governor, John Winthrop, sailed for Massachusetts with the Selectmen, and the charter itself. Once arrived, Winthrop, of his own initiative, extended the franchise to all men who were in good standing in a recognized congregation. By the terms of the company charter, only the Selectmen would have voting rights. However, the charter also did not specify the number of Selectmen, nor how they would be chosen. To this day, the officers of town government in New England are called Selectmen.

All the colonies eventually had elected assemblies, alhtough there was usually a great deal of political tension between the Governors with their councils and the elected assemblies. The charter of Rhode Island allowed them to choose their own governor. During the civil wars in England, from 1640 to 1650, the North American colonies were pretty much on their own. In fact, they operated without royal supervision pretty well from the accession of Charles I in 1625. After the restoration of the monarcy in 1660, royal governors were appointed and they appointed councils, but the assemblies continued to control the purse strings. Our revolution did not bring democracy, it just basically removed the few fetters which had been in place.

In Costa Rica, there was a very bloody civil war in 1944, and the ruling junta which had won that civil war abolished the military and relinquished their offices voluntarily in 1949. It would be difficult to say that democracy was estalished without violence, but the junta gave up power wihtout violence.

I don't think focusing on democracy is useful in such a discussion. Monarchy and oligarchy had not been free of violence, but many monarchical and oligarchic governments have ruled for generations without violence accompanying changes of government, just as is the case with many modern democracies. I don't know of any form of government which has not been established or maintained entirely without violence.
0 Replies
 
izzythepush
 
  2  
Reply Mon 23 Jul, 2012 02:43 pm
@dalehileman,
dalehileman wrote:
In Egypt for instance will the military be replaced by an Islamic reign under Sharia law, murdering innocent women, persecuting Christians




Talk about rushing to judgement. The Moslem Brotherhood has been democratically elected. If you look at their behaviour, they seem to want good relations with the West. They've seen what happens to those who don't have good relations.
dalehileman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Jul, 2012 04:09 pm
@izzythepush,
Quote:
Talk about rushing to judgement.
Didn’t think I was judging, only speculating
izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Jul, 2012 04:13 pm
@dalehileman,
It was a bit of a harsh speculation, you automatically assumed Shariah law would lead to the persecution of women and Christians. A lot of what makes up Shariah is down to interpretation. It doesn't necessarily mean the Taliban's interpretation.
vikorr
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Jul, 2012 04:46 pm
@izzythepush,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohammed_Badie


Quote:

Muhammad Badie (born 1943) is the Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood.

In a weekly sermon, titled "How Islam Confronts the Oppression and Tyranny [against the Muslims]," Mohammed Badie accused the Arab and Muslim regimes of avoiding confrontation with "the Zionist entity" and the United States, and also of disregarding "Allah's commandment to wage jihad for His sake with [their] money and [their] lives, so that Allah's word will reign supreme and the infidels' word will be inferior." Badie stated that the U.S. is immoral and doomed to collapse. He accused the Palestinian Authority of "selling out" the Palestinian cause, adding that a third intifada was about to erupt. Badie also stated that "Resistance is the only solution against the Zio-American arrogance and tyranny, and all we need is for the Arab and Muslim peoples to stand behind it and support it." [4][5][6]

In July 2012, during his weekly sermon, Mohammed Badi stated that Israelis are "rapists" of Jerusalem, and called on all Muslims to "wage jihad with their money and their selves to free al-Quds." He described the creation of Israel in international law as an "alleged, illusory right."[5][7][8]


That's not a particularly promising start.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Jul, 2012 04:51 pm
@izzythepush,
Thanks for drawing my attention to the Muslim Brotherhood (wink). Reading what seems to be the fairly balanced Wiki article confirms my suspicions about attitudes to the status of women and their ambiguous attitude to violence. As many Egyptian voters stated when interviewed...the choice of candidates was somewhat limited.
0 Replies
 
izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Jul, 2012 05:28 pm
@vikorr,
He's not the President. Didn't Obama have a bit of bother with his preacher?

I think they'll be a bit more pragmatic. Islamists did well in Egypt and Tunisia because they were organised, and the secular parties weren't. In Libya, where neither side was organised, the secularists got in. Hopefully that might indicate a broad trend.
vikorr
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Jul, 2012 05:47 pm
@izzythepush,
I understand he's not the president. Though it does strike me that the islamic countries don't practice separation of religion and the state in the way we do in the west. Some countries are in fact Islamic States, and others have it as a State Religion. Even in 'Secular' Islamic republics, the pressure on the govt from the religion is pervasive.

As an example regarding the dividing line between religion and state - Iran, is both a democracy and an Islamic State where it has a democratically elected president, and then The Supreme Ruler of Iran, who is a cleric. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supreme_Leader_of_Iran

The Muslim Brotherhood...
Quote:
The Brotherhood's stated goal is to instill the Qur'an and Sunnah as the "sole reference point for ...ordering the life of the Muslim family, individual, community ... and state"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muslim_Brotherhood

...is an Islamist organisation
Quote:
Islamist movements seek to implement a conservative formulation of Islamic law and remove Western influences from Muslim society. Islamists usually refer to themselves as Muslims, disapproving of the term Islamist. The movements are sometimes controversial among other Muslims due to their anti-government and sometimes violent activity. See Islamism.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Islamist_groups

There are of course the kingdoms that were established after WW1, which hold on to their authority. But even they tread a cautious line in regards to the religion of Islam.

It would not surprise me if Egypt becomes an official Islamic State, and even if it doesn't, if it the party takes it's direction from it's roots.
izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Jul, 2012 11:32 pm
@vikorr,
You could have chosen Indonesia as an example of a Moslem country instead of Iran.
RABEL222
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Jul, 2012 11:33 pm
@izzythepush,
Christians are already being persecuted in Egypt before the new government was elected.
izzythepush
 
  3  
Reply Mon 23 Jul, 2012 11:46 pm
@RABEL222,
That's true, but it doesn't necessarily follow that the Moslem Brotherhood had anything to do with it.

They wouldn't be my first choice for a government, but let's see how they do. Hilary Clinton didn't seem overly concerned when she visited the president.

The West's habit of propping up unsavoury characters like Mubarak has meant that in many places, the only opposition has been hardline Islam. And, it needs to be stressed, the only political force in Egypt, outside the military, that is organised.
0 Replies
 
vikorr
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Jul, 2012 02:52 am
@izzythepush,
Quote:
You could have chosen Indonesia as an example of a Moslem country instead of Iran.

Obviously the point of choosing Iran, is simplification of example regarding separation of Religion & State. Indonesia would still offer numerous examples...but that is what it would take to make a point with Indonesia - lots & lots of examples.

This list will also paint a picture of what I am talking about regarding separation of State & Religion
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Muslim-majority_countries



.
0 Replies
 
wandeljw
 
  2  
Reply Tue 24 Jul, 2012 08:26 am
It seems natural that those who believe in human equality would reject violence. Ghandi and Martin Luther King, Jr. advocated nonviolence in bringing about change. The tactics of nonviolence, however, seem limited to marches, public meetings, and boycotts. It would require a great deal of patience to pursue such tactics against an oppressive regime.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Tue 24 Jul, 2012 08:40 am
Ghandi pursued a non-violent campaign against the Raj. Nonetheless, immediately after independence was achieved, he was assassinated, less than six months later, and an estimated half a million people were killed as Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs carved out their "homelands."
wandeljw
 
  2  
Reply Tue 24 Jul, 2012 08:47 am
@Setanta,
Yes, it seems like violence can not be avoided when sectarian conflicts are also present. The success of a nonviolent approach depends on a set of circumstances that are rarely present, if ever.
0 Replies
 
wandeljw
 
  2  
Reply Tue 24 Jul, 2012 10:24 am
The paradox of using violence to bring about human equality is what prompted me to start this thread.
0 Replies
 
wandeljw
 
  2  
Reply Wed 25 Jul, 2012 07:41 am
Quote:
Russia accuses US of 'justifying terror' in Syria
(Agence France-Presse, July 25, 2012)

MOSCOW — Russia on Wednesday lashed out at the United States for backing the armed opposition to the Syrian regime, saying Washington's failure to condemn the July 18 blast that killed top security officials meant it was justifying terror.

"This is quite an awful position, I cannot even find the words to make clear how we feel," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters. "This is directly justifying terrorism. How can this be understood?"

Lavrov expressed bewilderment at calls on Russia to clarify its position on Syria, saying Moscow's policy was crystal-clear and it was the West whose actions were contradictory.

He criticised the US ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, saying she had argued that the attacks in Damascus meant the UN Security Council had to agree a sanctions resolution against Syria last week that Russia later vetoed.

"In other words, to say it in plain Russian, this means 'we (the United States) will continue to support such terrorist acts for as long as the UN Security Council has not done what we want'," Lavrov said.

Russia has repeatedly rejected accusations Moscow is backing the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in the crisis, claiming it has an even-handed approach while rebuking the West for siding with the rebels.
0 Replies
 
 

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