On Democracy

(republished from the Islamist website RevertsAloud  2006)

An article by David Warren, which first appeared in the Ottawa Citizen, February 01, 2006 rhetorically asks "Can Islam and democracy co-exist?".    Warren believes that coexistence between Islam and democracy is not possible because in his view,  “Democracy is not just voting. Democracy is a whole bourgeois way of life, and a method for resolving disputes peacefully. It is not essentially compatible with millenarian religious schemes.”

By defining democracy as “not just voting” but “a whole bourgeois way of life” Warren is able to construct an argument for annulling the result of any democratic election in the name of democracy, whenever and wherever an Islamic party is elected to govern.   This is not a new doctrine.  It is an expression of the policy which has long been followed in practice by the United States, Britain, and other western powers to upset the results of democratic elections which have installed Islamic, nationalist or social democratic governments in, for example, Algeria, Iran, Grenada and Chile.

Warren’s argument, which is designed to justify the violent suppression of democratically elected Islamic governments anywhere in the world, is misleading and obnoxious.   Islam can function alongside, or in association with, a democratic political system.   The outcome of the Palestinian elections, and the institution of a democratic system of government in the Islamic Republic of Iran are ample testimony to that fact.   But at the same time, Warren’s article  contains more than a grain of truth.    Democracy as understood and practised in the west is a “whole bourgeois way of life”, (read “secular, materialist way of life”), it is “a method for resolving disputes peacefully” (read “a method for ensuring acquiescence to the bourgeois system without the necessity of resorting to openly oppressive rule”) and it is not fully compatible with “millenarian religious schemes” (read “Islam and authentic expressions of Christianity”).

Democracy is not fully compatible with “religious schemes” because religion establishes God-given rules of personal and public conduct which cannot be negated or overturned by the outcome of a “majority vote”.   Islam still allows personal choice and public opinion to decide matters which fall within the considerable scope of those things which are “permitted” (but not obligatory) within the religion.    However Muslims do not, and cannot allow democracy to become a “whole way of life” and determine the outcome to every question because to do so would be to implicitly affirm that everything is permitted and thus to deny religion in its entirety.

In reality, not even the most democratic states permit everything to be decided by democratic mandate.   The ruling economic system (capitalism) and the armed forces in the western democracies are in no way democratic, and within the British imperial system in particular the hereditary monarchy has been carefully retained as a further constitutional protection against the possibility of radical economic or political change.

Warren democracy as  “whole bourgeois way of life”.   What exactly is meant by “bourgeois”?    The word is derived from bourg, meaning “a town or village under the protection of a castle”.    It refers to the kind of social order which developed within the city states of Europe from the Middle Ages, and which was characterised by a capitalist economy, a democratic political constitution, and Protestant religion.   The “whole bourgeois way of life” includes economic, political and religious elements, so Warren is incorrect to take just one of those elements, democracy, and categorise it as representing the “whole bourgeois way of life”.    The modern age, however has seen one very significant departure from the traditional bourgeois society.   Specifically, secularism (the idea that religion has no role to play in temporal affairs) has replaced Protestant Christianity as the guiding principle of bourgeois society, with the result that capitalism and bourgeois democracy have been effectively freed from all moral restraints.   Previously prohibited or restricted activities, such as usury, prostitution, gambling, the supply of intoxicating beverages, and work on holy days  have become or less fully accepted within the market system, and at the same time the bourgeois state has become increasingly bellicose and imperialistic in its external relations.


Secular literally means “of the world” or “worldly”.   Its wider meaning is “standing apart from religion”.   Secularism, as “worldliness”, therefore contains within itself the ever present  potential for conflict with religion as “Godliness”.    The earliest portrayal of the fraught relationship between the secular and the religious is to be found in the story of Cain, the first-born son of Eve, representative of the secular, material world, and his brother Abel, representative of the spiritual realm of God.   Cain violates his obligation to keep, or protect, his brother Abel, and slays him, after which Cain is condemned to spend his life “out from the presence of God”.     However, so long as worldliness is content to live alongside Godliness, the two can coexist.    All living human beings are both matter and spirit, and so long as the world endures,  matter must coexist with  spirit, the sacred can coexist with the profane, and religion can coexist with secularism.    In this way Islam can coexist with democracy, and with all the democratic institutions.    But by the same token there will always be a tension between Islam and secularism in general, and between Islam and democracy in particular.    When secularism seeks to destroy Islam, as Cain sought to destroy his brother Abel, then Muslims will be drawn into open conflict with secularism in all its manifestations, including materialism, democracy and imperialism.

On the other hand, the conflict between Islam and secularism will be subdued so long as secularism “.. does well” , which is to say, so long as secularism does not openly confront and reject the revelation of God through the prophets.   Thus in the Islamic Republic of Iran the secular principle of democracy and the Islamic principles of the Quran have achieved a modus vivendi.   But the European  powers, having thrown off the few restrictions and limitations on their freedom of action formerly imposed by Christianity, are now hell-bent upon destroying the last remaining influences of religion in the world as a whole, and, in particular, are determined to corrupt and destroy the religion of Islam.    Thus while a kind of “co-existence between democracy and Islam” may be possible within the borders of the Islamic Republic, such co-existence becomes increasingly difficult where secular rulers are determined to eliminate religion from the life of humankind by whatever means they deem necessary.

Last century the Islamic world  confronted and overcame sustained attacks from a coalition of violent, oppressive, and openly atheist Marxist regimes.   In this century, the attack comes from a different, and much more dangerous quarter.   It is led by men such as George Bush and Tony Blair who profess to be Christian.    But Bush and Blair would not behave as they do if they believed in the existence of a righteous God, feared the fires of hell, or had hope of paradise.   Their occasional references to religion are designed merely to deceive and confuse decent God-fearing people in the nations of the world.   The true motivation of the democratic rulers of the Anglo-American states is their lust for global hegemony, and their only true ideology is secular materialism.

In order to confront the threat of militant secularism, it is necessary to critically examine the ideological connections between secularism and democracy, democracy and popular elections, imperialism and democracy, and so on.    These issues came to the fore recently when Muslims were invited to join in a “democratic vote” conducted by an Australian newspaper on the subject of whether it is acceptable to ridicule the Prophet.   Some Muslims believed that such a vote was a suitable way for Muslims to express their repugnance of widely published cartoons which lampoon the prophet Muhammed.    This issue of the newspaper poll issue was useful to Muslim thinkers, because it exposed the fundamental contradictions between Islam and democracy, just as the original dispute over the cartoons served to highlight the contradictions between Islam and secularism.

The secularists believe that right and wrong can be determined through the voice of the people.   The well-meaning, but still misguided, among the secularists justify this on the basis of their belief that the people are good, noble and the source of all truth.   (The late Marxist leader Mao Zedong explicitly equated "the people" to God, and the secularists have long  appropriated the word “election”, which originally carried the meaning of “chosen by God”, so as to mean “chosen according to a particular political process” ).   The more cynical among the secularists, that is to say the kakistocracy who currently hold power throughout the western world, in contrast actually hold the public in great contempt but believe that through their control of the western mass media they can shape and manipulate public opinion to their own advantage.

Either way the secularists are perpetrating a falsity.   Questions of right and wrong cannot be resolved by counting heads.   Can one imagine Newton asking for a vote on the correctness or otherwise of the “Laws of Motion”?   Questions of right and wrong, truth and falsity can never be resolved by counting heads.

At the most, voting only serves the process of “resolving disputes peacefully” (to use David Warren’s phrase) when material interests, rather than moral imperatives, are at stake, and then only when the voters share an acceptance of certain categorical moral imperatives which underpin a just social order.   Even then it can be  misleading to suggest that “head counting” is necessarily a peaceful process and a  substitute for violence.   In the final analysis the poll  is itself a form of violence, symbolic and ritualised, but still designed to communicate the message "We outnumber you, so take care how you tread!"   Indeed, polls may give impetus to the propensity for violence, by making the majority party arrogant and the minority desperate.   This is what fuelled the “troubles” of Northern Ireland, it is a constant danger with respect to relations between ethnic groups in many parts of the world, including the warped democracy that the Anglo-American coalition forces have installed in Iraq.

It must be understood that “democracy” and all its associated institutions have appropriate and inappropriate applications, and that western democracy has only ever worked to the good  when the people were themselves committed to the good.    Thus democracy was a relatively robust element of a robust society in the early centuries of the European protestant reformation, when religious values and moral standards provided the context within which democracy functioned.    But the situation that pertains in the west today is very different to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.   As we move into the twenty first century it is goods, rather than “the good” that constitute the prime focus of the prevailing secular  ideology.   In such an environment,
democracy, which is inherently susceptible to abuse, quickly becomes debased, degenerate, and the cloak for a multitude of evils.

The Hoax of Modernism

The irony of all this is that the secularists insist that they are the “modernists”.   Yet their social theories blatantly ignore the reality of modern life.    Their talk of “free speech” assumes an early medieval society in which every individual has free and equal access to the village square or town forum, and in which no one  voice can overwhelm and effectively silence the voice of others.   Their talk of “free markets” assumes that every individual in society acts as an independent producer of goods, and that every producer brings their goods to a marketplace where individual consumers exercise fully informed freedom of choice, and where every seller and every buyer speaks true.    Their talk of “free elections” assumes that every individual can be known to the electorate, and that all their attributes, their history, and their beliefs will be equally and impartially represented to the voters.   The reality, however, is that the dissemination of knowledge, like the production of goods, is completely dominated by a few media barons and corporate monopolies, the modern equivalent of the corrupt clerics and “over-might nobles” whose abuse of power brought later medieval society to a state of crisis and eventual destruction.    The reality of concentration of economic and ideological power in so few hands is that the ideals of the “free market” and “free speech” and “free elections” have come to mean nothing more than the freedom of the few to do as they will, while the vast mass of humanity is kept silent, oppressed and in ignorance.

Democracy losing credibility

The slow demise of democracy is well demonstrated by the low and rapidly falling rates of political participation in the nations of the west.    Only a minuscule few are involved in the inner workings of the system, through membership of a political party, and as much as half the population fails to cast a vote in legislative or executive elections.   This is hardly surprising, given the way in which over the past three decades democratic governments in the west have implemented radical economic change (de-regulation and privatisation) and gone to war (Iraq and Afghanistan) without any mandate from the voters, and even in blatant disregard of the mass of public opinion.    Democratic government has become a matter of managing and manipulating, rather responding to or representing public opinion.   So it is natural that increasing numbers of people should lose interest in participating in a system which has become a mere travesty of itself.

Alarmed at the mass defections from the democratic process, the political classes respond with mass propaganda campaigns designed to lure the people back into the democratic fold, using such facile slogans as “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain”.  How democracy has come from its high ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity to this sad pass in which voting promises nothing more than the right to complain!   To vote is to abdicate one’s responsibilities to another who represents himself as being better, more capable, and more honest than oneself.    And, when, as is invariably the case, the representative proves himself, or herself, to be a scoundrel, one is merely permitted “to complain”.    This process of “voting and complaining” is fit only for charlatans and slaves, and it is hardly surprising that so many in the western world no longer want to have a bar of it.    Another equally offensive slogan of the kakistocracy is “Voting means having your say”.  Of course voting means nothing of the sort.   To spend a few seconds once in every three, four or five years ticking boxes in a small cubicle where no one else is permitted to be present and there is no one to hear or see, does not equate to any sane person’s notion of what it means to “have a say”.

Nor does democracy mean “.. the right to choose one’s own leaders” as the kakistocrats disingenuously  assert.  On the contrary, democracy is a process by which each voter, wittingly or not, attempts to impose their  own choice of leader over the population as a whole, and in which every citizen is expected to submit to the authorityof the candidate who emerges from that process with the largest measure of support.   The “right to choose one’s own leaders” is actually explicitly denied by democracy, which insists on submission to a ruler selected by process.   By contrast, the “right to choose one’s own leaders” is a fundamental principle of Islam.    Muslims are truly free to choose their own leaders, and to follow, or to part company with their own imam as they see fit.    The choice made by others can never be used to negate or annul or in any way circumscribe our own choice.   A Muslim leader cannot claim a mandate from a secret ballot, he cannot claim that the choice of one person gives him authority over another, and he cannot claim that a choice made at one time is irrevocable and binding for a time to come.    Islamic leaders can never claim authority as their due on account of a process- their authority remains always provisional, revocable, and subject to the will of God.

Is it irresponsible not to vote?

Those who decide not to vote are sometimes unjustifiably accused of irresponsibility. On the contrary, to vote is irresponsible, particularly when it is the only form of  political involvement.    Very few voters (perhaps 3% of the total?) are actively involved in the political organisations for which they vote and into whose hands they commit the country.   Voting then becomes an abdication, rather than a fulfilment of responsibility, and only serves to encourage the unprincipled self-seekers who throng the hustings once every three years.

Many westerners now regard the representative system as inherently corrupt, and vote not out of conviction, but in the false belief that voting “does no harm”.    In fact, a whole lot of harm is done by well-meaning people who endorse dishonest politicians through the ballot box (“vote for the crook, not the fascist” was the slogan in a recent French election) .   On the other hand, voting an honest individual into Parliament is like putting a maiden into a brothel - it is unrealistic to expect matters to be changed for the better thereby, and the outcome, whatever it may be, is bound to disappoint all those who pin their hopes on reform of the democratic system.

It is particularly irresponsible to encourage those who might not otherwise have done so to cast a vote.    Very many of those undecided, swinging, or floating voters are undecided simply because they are ignorant, or at least subconsciously aware of their inability to make a rational judgement on the issue of who could best rule the country.   If coerced into voting their vote may reflect the most superficial influences, the most banal considerations.   And yet the swinging voter has had the casting vote in all recent elections.    By encouraging a "high turnout" the kakistocracy seeks the most easily manipulated outcome to the election process.

It is not just the swinging voter whose judgement is suspect.   Infidel society has largely  deprived itself of the wisdom and judgement necessary to make democracy work “to the good”.    For democracy to work at all, we need to be able to judge our fellow man.    But secularism, having abandoned absolute “good” in favour of "non-judgmental values" has no standards left by which to judge.    And the predominance of autocratic social and economic institutions withing the political democracies means that voters have little if any social experience in judging the leadership and personal qualities of others, in either an informal or formal sense.   Some have experience in choosing their subordinates.   Virtually none are experienced in choosing their own managers or  rulers.    In their daily life they see power as being imposed.   And the way they vote in elections tends to simply mirror the reality they encounter in their daily life.    The average individual exercises his vote not to select one of his peers as his representative, but to ratify the power that exists in society.    That is the limit of his understanding and experience of democracy.    He has no concept of choosing the person who would be best fitted to be his factory foreman, chief executive of his corporation, or principal of his educational institution.   In days past he may have gained some democratic understanding and experience in his trade union, church, or sports club, but the average individual no longer belongs to a union, doesn't attend church, and is no longer actively involved in the sports club (though remaining a spectator).

Given these circumstances, one cannot safely generalise that it is irresponsible not to vote.  On the contrary one can more strongly argue that voting constitutes an irresponsible act. The core  democratic principle of the “secret ballot” provides the means for the individual to avoid accountability for his own political actions.     Some years after Richard Nixon's disgrace in the Watergate affair I met a young American who confessed to me that he was the only person who had ever voted for Richard Nixon.    What he meant was that he was one of only a few to admit and take responsibility for the crimes of power committed by the one whom they had elected to be President of the United States of America.   The secret ballot allows individuals and nations to come up from the cesspools of fascism, smelling of roses.

How much stronger the democratic cause would be in Germany or Austria if Hitler's plebiscites had been publicly conducted - if posterity knew the name of every German who had voted for the Third Reich.  “But”, the kakistocrats cry, “the vote will then be dictated by fear - the elector will vote as he believes his neighbours, his employer, the police constable, the local mayor, or his customers would wish him to vote”.   Muslims will argue that to the contrary that an individual is never free until he is prepared to act in a conscientious and accountable way against the will of those who hold power over him.   And that a society which cites fear as the justification for secrecy has already conceded defeat in the battle for righteousness and decency.

Democracy and amorality.

As opposed to religion and Islam in particular, which holds that “the good” is the ground of our being, something which we accept as a given, just as we accept the sun, moon and stars as  given elements of our physical world, liberal democracy holds that “the good” is a social product.  To put matters simply, in a democracy, the good is considered to be whatever the people deem to be good.    This is what the American philosopher Alan Bloom means when he talks about a democracy as a “value creating” rather than “good discerning” social system, and that is why democratic discourse is increasingly centred on “values” (which, as the word suggests, are based on an economic market model) rather than “the good” (which is divinely ordained).

It follows that democracy is the natural political expression of moral relativism, a doctrine which holds that the good is only what people take to be good at a particular time and in particular circumstances.   The corollary is that moral relativism arises naturally and necessarily out of a democratic political order in which the “majority decision” at any particular time is assumed to be “right” at least in the sense that one is expected to abide by that decision.   And even though democratic states may allow their citizens to dissent from certain majority decisions, democracy does not allow any unconditional or fundamental right to dissent.   Either the “majority” rules or it does not.    Thus when the secular state in France legislates against hijab in schools, no dissent can be tolerated.   The secular state cannot listen to appeals based on tradition or divine revelation because it recognises the existence of no authority higher than itself.   By the same token, Muslims cannot accept the concept of majority rule as a fundamental social principle, because to do so would be to effectively deny the higher authority of God.  Indeed, majority rule can only be upheld as an absolute principle by those who hold to the doctrine of moral relativism, which is to say among those who are essentially amoral.     That is why democracy has been described as “the marriage of  blasphemy (putting the people or demos in the place of God) and immorality (the moral relativism which is a necessary consequence of democratic fundamentalism)” by some Islamic scholars.

The British monarchy, while in no way “democratic” itself, has made the transition from being  ruler of the nation accountable to God, to being  a “figure head” of the state who is mystically representative of “democratic and family values”.   But the reality is that like the army, police and judiciary which answer directly to her, the British Queen symbolises the sheer amorality of the secular state.   In a secular state it is the role of the standing army, police and judiciary to enforce any law which has the Queen’s consent, and the role of the Queen to approve any law that is passed by the legislature.    Thus if the Queen is presented with an act requiring the execution of the first born child of every Muslim woman, she would presumably sign it into law just as casually as she approved the legalisation of abortion, and the invasion of Iraq and  Afghanistan.    No Islamic leader could abandon the role of moral judgement and responsibility in such a cavalier fashion.  But to the supporters of the British state, the amorality of the army, police force, judiciary, and the Head of State is regarded as a positive virtue, and paraded as “political neutrality”.   In the British dominions, such as New Zealand, the Queen serves the additional purpose of representing the political dominance of the British race, a point that is conspicuously underlined, rather than mitigated, by the more recent practice of singling out pliable Maori and members of ethnic minorities to function as her viceroy or Governor-General.

Democracy as a broker and divider of interests.

In a secular democracy which upholds the doctrine of moral relativism the fundamental political realities are interests: the interests of the state, class interests, corporate interests, gender interests, parochial interests, race interests and ultimately self-interest.   The “good” then becomes identified with  particular interests   When secularists say “What is good for General Motors is good for the United States” or “A successful middle east war will be good for the stock market” they are using the word “good” to stand for particular material interests rather than for the universal moral imperatives of a religion such as Islam.   In the liberal democracies, where the “good” has been thoroughly confounded with “self-interest”, Canadian philosopher John Ralston Saul’s arguments in favour of the “public good” and “the disinterested act” come to sound quaintly archaic (which
they are) and even naive (which they are not).

David Warren indignantly (and more or less correctly) charges that  “Hamas claims to be acting, not as the broker for its constituents' interests, but as the popularly acclaimed voice of God”.   In other words, Hamas is not playing by the rules of liberal democracy which insist that politicians should represent the interests of constituents.   And for the secularists “interests” specifically means the material interests of voters.   The imperialists are anxious that Hamas should appeal to the selfish desires of the Palestinian voter, just as western politicians habitually appeal to the selfish, materialistic and short-sighted element in their own constituencies.    But Hamas insists, for the time being at least, on retaining its Islamic character even while engaging in the democratic process.   Which is to say, that Hamas believes that its duty lies in serving God, and in following the word of God, within which there is hope of future blessings, rather than seeking immediate material advantage for itself or its constituents which would carry with it danger of corruption and perdition.    Secularists deride the Hamas approach as being “irrational” and tainted with “religious mysticism”.    The reality however is that Hamas approach is absolutely correct, and there is no rational alterative for any political movement which truly seeks to “do good”.  Those who accept the democratic doctrine  that the purpose of public life is to  serve particular interests, necessarily end up serving no one’s interests but their own.

Secular societies which do not recognise “the good” or “God” as a pre-existent external reality necessarily vest ultimate spiritual authority in the state itself.  Such states are, by definition, morally irresponsible, because there is no other authority, equivalent to the prophets, the Messenger of God, or the Holy Quran by which they can be called to account.    Liberal democracy makes much out of the “individual conscience” Secular states, whether fascist, communist, or liberal democratic, are fundamentally  in conflict with the individual conscience, for the conscience answers to a call which the secular state does not recognise.

Democratic fundamentalism.

However, secular states are capable of  prodigious feats of scientific, technological, and material progress as the history of fascism, Stalinism, and the new world order of the twenty-first century can bear witness.  The technological and military successes of the democratic states have given rise to a kind of democratic triumphalism which is no different in principle to the hubris which infected the Nazi and Soviet regimes at the height of their military and technological triumphs.   And just as these totalitarian populist regimes exposed their true underlying weakness by their refusal to allow any criticisms, so the democratic states of the west go to extraordinary lengths to ensure that there will be no critical analysis of fundamental democratic political and economic doctrines.   Even the long-standing and well reasoned caveats of Plato and de Tocqueville in relation to the principles and practice of democracy receive scant recognition.

At the same time as they assert that democracy is the most fundamental of values, the kakistocrats try to argue that western-style democracy is fully compatible with any valid philosophical or religious perspective.    However, this slight deference to religion, is no more than window-dressing   When United States President George W Bush, for example, asserts that “Islam is compatible with democracy” his words may meet with wide approval from both Muslims and non-Muslims, but, for all that,  he is attempting to mislead his Muslim audience by telling only half the story.    Islam is most certainly not compatible with democratic  fundamentalism of the kind which would allow every issue to be decided by counting heads.   Islam can accept democratic institutions, just as Islam can accept the reality of  individual and collective self-interest, but coexistence will only be possible so long as democracy limits itself to the realm of those things which are permitted in Islam.

In this respect Islam is not unique among the religions, all of which are essentially  theocratic rather than democratic.   Religious doctrine is received by a process of divine revelation, and never determined democratically.   Catholic Popes are elected, but they are elected by cardinals, and not by the demos, and the same may be said of the leaders of virtually every other religious community.    In fact, given that the principle of democracy is, with good reason, excluded from a determining role in those vital areas of human activity where truth is accorded precedence over  interests (principally science and religion, but extending also into wider areas such as health, education, and jurisprudence) it is obvious that far from constituting a “whole way of life”, democracy is a political process which has a strictly limited role within any rational social system.

The principle of representation

Since every individual is uniquely made, no one can represent another in all aspects of their being.   Never-the-less people sometimes arrive at the conceit that some other person represents the essence of their being, their identity, their yearnings, their  dreams and their desires.   This is the most dangerous form of representation, for it yields unbridled power to  the charismatic megalomaniacs, the Napoleons and Hitlers of the world.   The truth is that while oneself alone may represent one’s noble characteristics, one’s selfish interests are easily taken on by another.   The lawyer who represents a plaintiff in court is there only for the purpose of advancing or defending the client’s worldly, material interests, for which he normally receives a fee.    There is nothing noble in such a relationship.    Indeed, an innocent client will invariably be encouraged to step out from behind his representation, to present himself before the court, and to give evidence on his own behalf.    Conversely, the guilty client will be advised to allow another to stand in his place, and to do the speaking on his behalf.    That is not to say that every person who is represented in court is guilty, but it does suggest that the principle of representation is inherently suspect.

That helps to explain a certain ambivalence which we all feel towards those who represent us.  We may appreciate the efforts, and admire the skills of a lawyer who defends our interests in a court of law, but, with the exception of career criminals, we are unlikely to form a close personal connection with our legal representative.    That is even more the case with our political representatives.   We are instinctively aware that the politician represents our less noble traits, our prejudices, our desires and worldly ambitions.   When those whom we have elected to serve our interests die, or fall from favour, we are more likely to feel a sense of regret than deep mourning.    But for those who appear (rightly or wrongly) to be chosen by God to serve interests which transcend all our worldly desires - a Pope John Paul or a Princess Diana, who relate to us in exactly the opposite manner of our representatives  - there is a spontaneous outpouring of grief.    We can neither love nor follow those who we have chosen as the instruments of our own worldly desires.    We love and follow those whom, as we perceive it, God has chosen for an altogether higher and nobler purpose.

The principle of representation therefore, directly contradicts the principle of the good.   In representing another, and to the extent that he can claim to be representing that other, the representative ceases to be a moral self, making and acting in accordance with his own moral judgements.   His slogan becomes  “my country right or wrong”.  At its worst representation becomes a shabby arrangement in which both parties, the representative and the one represented, are driven by unadulterated self-interest, while maintaining the gross fiction that their interests are as one.

As Muslims we should not fall into the trap of choosing leaders who claim that they will  represent our material interests (which they will then proceed to dilute with a generous measure of their own).   We should not accept that we should be ruled those who are, whether ostensibly or in reality, mere  representations of our own selves.  Instead we should choose to follow leaders who precisely do not appeal to or in any way represent our mundane aspirations and worldly ambitions, and who acknowledge God as the sole legitimate source of authority in the world.

Democracy and Imperialism

Most professed democrats would claim to be “anti-imperialist”.    Yet every great democracy, from the classical democracies of Greece and Rome to the modern democracies of revolutionary France and the United States of America, has eventually given rise to its own empire.    The empires of Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Victoria were the natural heirs of the great ambitions, achievements, and abilities of their respective democracies.    It was the parliamentary democracy established by the British gentry in the seventeenth century which provided the social and economic strength necessary to the support of a vast British empire in the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The emperor, from one perspective the antithesis of the democratic ideal, is from another perspective revealed as the ultimate expression of the democratic principle of representation.   In the emperor - even in the case of the hereditary King and Emperor of the British empire - the people come to see their one true representative, and in the empire they see the expression of their perceived rights.    But in the very act of being  “represented” in the form of an emperor, fuhrer, or president who wears their stolen clothes, the people are deprived of their individual identities and their God-given right and obligation to act for themselves and in their own character, and reduced to the worst aspects of their being.

It is the fundamental democratic ideals of interests and representation which stock the ideological arsenal of imperialism.   The corollary is that we now find, in the twenty-first century, that American democrats, who previously would have categorically repudiated imperial ambitions, are increasingly seduced by the prospect of an American empire, albeit couched in similar terms to the “white mans burden” which served as ostensible justification for the British empire in its final days.    With breathtaking hypocrisy, the democratic rulers of Britain and the United States declare that in the interests of the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, they cannot call an end to the bloody massacres which they are perpetrating in those lands.   Democracy, once solidly founded on the false premise of the people’s interests, gives rise to the evil of imperialism which is nothing more than the representative state given free rein to advance the popular interest without scruple and over the entire earth.

Empire is the endpoint of representative democracy in more ways than one.   At the same time as being the highest expression of democratic fundamentalism, imperialism inexorably undermines the moral and political foundations of the very democracy which in the beginning provided its life and strength.    This is clearly seen on the political level, where “representation” was an authentic concept during the infancy of democracy.   The representative shared more or less the same social status and had more or less the same interests as the citizen whom he represented.    The citizen’s representative was himself a citizen, as the term implies he should be.    But the claims of an Emperor Napoleon, a Queen of England, or a President of the United States to re-presentthe ordinary citizen are mere fictions.   The “representatives” of the citizens now understand and acknowledge that their role is to efficiently manage the state rather than to give expression to the will of the people.   They have become a political class unto themselves with their own class ideology in the guise of “political science” which is the “scientific” (or, more properly, “technocratic”) approach to the function of managing and manipulating the political process.    Yet all the elaborate political structures and the highly systematic approach to the problems of political management cannot conceal the confusion at the core of the  imperial project, whether modern or ancient.

Democracy and the “standing army”

Alongside the representative state we invariably find the standing or professional army.   It is the standing army - which becomes increasingly “professional” or, more correctly, mercenary in the course of the transition from democracy to empire - which provides the kakistocracy with the means of imposing its will abroad, and, if necessary, at home.    As the democratic state increases in power and declines in virtue, the original volunteer armies are converted into citizen armies of paid conscripts commanded and controlled by the state, and finally into purely mercenary armies whose members (often falsely labelled as “volunteers” by the kakistocrats)  are entirely beholden to the state, and whose sole purpose is to inflict violence in the name of, and in the interests of, that state.   Like their political masters, the mercenary soldiers are bereft of political or religious ideals.  They go to war for the sake of their salaries alone, and  have no experience, understanding or interest in the peaceful arts or occupations.   Those who study history know that among the things most feared by the ordinary citizen of the sixteenth and seventeenth century was the standing army of the state, then in its infancy and still far from being accepted as a fait accompli, a positive good , or even a necessary evil.   But from the small beginnings of the British New Model Army, and the legions of Napoleon Bonaparte, have emerged the brutal mercenary armies of the United Kingdom, United States, the British dominions and all nations which follow the European democratic model.    Just as the political life of the moribund democracies of the west has become the preserve of a small minority of mendacious professional politicians, so the military function has become the exclusive function of a relatively small group of amoral mercenary killers.

By contrast with the mercenary armies of the infidels, the army of Islam, the mujahideen are simply the Muslim people in arms.   By the grace of God the mujahideen are able to defend themselves and their communities against marauders and would be oppressors.   But as armed civilians, who still retain all the responsibilities and obligations of farmers, tradesmen, labourers or merchants, the mujahideen have neither the ability nor the desire to impose their will upon neighbouring countries or regions.    They constitute no serious threat to their neighbours, but, by the same token, are of no great use to those rulers who have designs upon the  territories of neighbouring peoples.    Therefore it is no accident that among the first actions of the British and United States governments following the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were the moves to establish “national” (i.e mercenary) armies in the conquered lands.    They did so in the clear realisation that these so-called “national armies” are the antithesis of the armies of Islam, and in the hope that the national armies of Iraq and Afghanistan would serve the infidel cause as usefully as the national armies of Pakistan, Egypt, Turkey and Indonesia have done.   None of the western sponsored “national armies” of the Muslim nations have offered an effective defence against the State of Israel.   Their only successes have been in seizing state power and subjecting the Muslim people to a brutal and humiliating foreign domination.   We should not suppose, however, that this phenomenon is in any way unique to the Muslim lands.    Standing armies have turned on their respective democracies in most, if not all the countries of sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, and in most of Asia at some stage in history.    Going further back, we see that it was the Roman army, marching under the democratic banner of “The Army and People of Rome”, which delivered the coup-de-grace to Roman democracy.   Similarly it was the English standing army which destroyed the seventeenth century English republic and restored the corrupt Stuart monarchy to the throne,  and the French national army which brought down French democracy by raising the Emperor Napoleon to power in the nineteenth century.     In virtually every land and every era the national army, the bastard child of democracy and autocracy, has become democracy’s executioner.    In the final  analysis, professional armies exist only to serve the kakistocracy and the cause of Shaitan.

The democratic politician.

In the early years of democracy in the west, the practice of paying a salary to elected  representatives was regarded by most as being egalitarian, progressive and essential to the proper working of the system.   It was argued that by paying a salary to politicians, a working man who had no other means of support than his own labour could afford to take up office just as easily as the patrician,  landowner, factory owner or  merchant who had the financial means to live without working.   The longer term effect, however, was to drive an iron wedge between the people and their elected representatives.

The root of the problem was that paid representatives became legally and practically servants of the state, rather than servants of their constituents.    The incongruity of having a political representative who is actually in the employ of another entity (the state) should be obvious.   Muslims would be rightly concerned if it transpired that the Imam of their local mosque was receiving his salary from the United States Congress, or the Israeli Knesset.

By the same token, it is unsafe for the leader or representative of any social entity to be employed at the pleasure of some external authority.   The old saying that “He who pays the piper calls the tune” applies.   Being in the pay of the state, the representative becomes relatively independent of his constituents, and dependent upon the state.

The problem is aggravated by the fact that the state typically rewards the representative with a salary many times greater than the average income of his constituents.  This has the effect of giving the representative even greater power and influence vis-a-vis his constituents than he would otherwise have, and of making cupidity a major reason, perhaps the major reason,  for seeking public office.   Thus state remuneration of political representatives has had a corrosive effect upon the integrity of the democratic process.

Mercenary  politics, along with the mercenary or “professional” army, goes to the heart of the corruption in the democratic system.    And as a small, corrupt and avaricious class of mercenary soldiers, mercenary politicians, and professional managers assume exclusive responsibility for what were once the functions of each and every citizen, the “modern” secular democracy, while apparently at the pinnacle of its power, actually stands on the brink of destruction.

The corruption of the politicians has its obverse in the corruption of the demos or the secular masses.    The people, theoretically sovereign in the democratic regime, are as susceptible to the flattery and blandishments of courtiers (their modern day equivalent being the politicians and the popular press) as were the corrupt monarchs of the late middle ages.   The citizenry, caught in the pernicious web of liberal dogma, are bereft of morals and political principles, and thus, knowing no better, are easily induced to vote in accordance with their perceived material interests.   Thus the slogan of the left in a recent presidential election in France (in which the choice was between Jacques Chirac and Jean-Marie Le Pen) was "Vote for the crook (Chirac), not the fascist (Le Pen)".   What more needs to be said?   The only choice available to the citizens of the French republic, and by extension the citizens of all western democracies, is that between the left wing crooks and the right wing fascists.

The almost universal corruption of democratic politicians raises the suspicion that corruption is no aberration of the system, but a reflection of its basic  functioning.    Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, corrupt, wealthy, and backed by a huge media empire is the “very model of the modern politician”, but corruption comes from the left, from men like Tony Blair and Jack Straw who are in hock to big money, as much as from the politicians of the right who are themselves men of wealth .  The remarkable consistency with which populist parliamentary parties, such as the British Labour Party, go on to betray their constituencies makes untenable the suggestion that the problem is due to lack of personal integrity or commitment on the part of individual politicians.

This is not to say that everyone who embarks upon a parliamentary career does so in the expectation that they will inevitably end in abandoning or fatally compromising their political principles.   On the contrary, it is probable that many political aspirants may, at the outset, be genuinely committed to their ideals, and sincerely believe that they have the strength of character to stay true to their principles when all others have strayed.     Let us assume that the New Zealand Muslim member of parliament, Ashraf Choudhary, began his political career as a devout Muslim, concerned for the well-being of the Muslim ummah, and genuinely believing that the interests of Islam could be advanced through the democratic process.    How then, is it possible for him to have ended up as a legislator who voted in favour of prostitution and homosexual marriage, and as a member of a government which actively supports usury, gambling, the liquor trade, the Nato invasion of Afghanistan and a host of other evils?

The explanation is to be found as much in the dynamics of the democratic system as in the personal attributes of Ashraf Choudhary, or any of the many other Muslim politicians whose careers  have followed essentially the same path.    The first point to realise is that electoral politics involves an element of egoism at all levels.    Candidates in an election must promote themselves above their rivals in order to secure election.   Consequently the humble, the pious, the self-effacing and the self-denying can not be expected to win elections, or even to gain selection as a party candidate.   Electoral politics is a business clearly suited to the more ambitious, competitive, and egoistic individual.    If the political system itself has the means to utilise the ambition of such individuals, whilst balancing their ambition against social responsibility, and keeping egoism in check, then the end results of the process might, on the whole, be a positive one.

However, the reality is that virtually all those Muslim politicians who start out professing the highest Islamic ideals, end up, like Ashraf Choudhary as “pragmatists” who choose to accommodate themselves to what they describe as “economic and political realities”.    Some well meaning observers argue that the problem lies with individuals, and that if a better class of Muslim could be found to engage in the democratic process, then all would be well.   This argument is untenable for two reasons.   Firstly, because politics has less attraction for the “better class of Muslim” in the first place.   And secondly, because even a “better class of Muslim” would be exposed to the same corrupting influences as Ashraf Choudhary if they were to follow him into the same political process.

Most people - including newspaper columnists, television presenters, politicians and prostitutes - believe in their own innate goodness.    They justify some of their more dubious actions to themselves and others in ways which leave their sense of fundamental goodness pretty well intact.   But this is pure  subjectivity.   The objective reality is that those who go down the same path will end up at the same destination.   A virgin may enter into a brothel convinced that she is different to other girls, and that she will retain her essential goodness, purity and innocence regardless of the business in which she is about to engage.   It may be necessary for her to hold to that subjective belief, for without it she would have no ground for living, and no reason to carry on.   But every girl who has gone down that same path started out in the same condition, and everyone who follows that path must end up in more or less the same state as all those who have gone before.

Rather than hold to the tenuous argument that the problem and the solution lies with particular individuals, we need to look into the system for rational explanations as to why Muslim politicians consistently disappoint their supporters.    We have already discussed some of the inherent problems and corrupting influences of democracy - the blasphemous notion of “popular sovereignty”, the amorality of “counting heads”, the fraudulence of the concept of “representation” of the people in the form of a politician, and the divisive, corrupting effect of a system which is designed to cater to the  particular material interests of various social classes or ethnic groups.

But representative democracy suffers from another intrinsic fault which provide elected representatives with the motive and the scope to betray the ummah.   That is the absence of accountability.    From the moment that votes are cast in a parliamentary election, the elected representatives no longer feel accountable to the electors.    They remain beholden to the state which provides their salaries, to the political party which secured their candidacy, to the media which brings their name and image before the voting public, and to the organisations and individuals who fund their political campaigns.    The millions of dollars which corrupt businessmen poured into Tony Blair’s election campaign, for example, would have trickle-down benefits for all those Labour Members of Parliament who were in Blair’s “good books”.  Campaign donations also carry a price, that price being support for Blair’s plans to plunder the public wealth of Britain, as well as Iraq, on behalf of corrupt business corporations.

Crucially, Membership of Parliament is not an office of the ummah, even in the case of a professed Muslim.  It is an office of state. The parliamentarian gives formal allegiance to the state, not to Islam or the ummah.    In the case of New Zealand’s one “Muslim” Member of Parliament, Ashraf Choudhary, this involved swearing “solemn allegiance to Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of New Zealand, her heirs and successors according to law”.   Choudhary’s not insubstantial salary is paid by the Queen, not by the ummah.   In general, there is no contractual relationship between the ummah and “their” Member of Parliament, and the ummah has no power of oversight of, or right to recall, the representative.      It is unreasonable to lay the responsibility for this situation wholly at the door of the parliamentarian concerned.    The ummah must also share the blame on account having assisted those particular individuals into a position where their only effective responsibility was to a secular party and a secular state.   Choudhary, who chooses to call himself a Muslim MP, is actually nothing more or less than a Labour Party MP, and his stand on every issue is seen to be totally consistent with Labour Party policies, and most often, if not always, at odds with Islam.

Even before commencing his parliamentary political career Ashraf Choudhary had made many accommodations with and concessions to the infidel regime in which he now plays a minor, albeit personally lucrative, role.   He had already given his allegiance to the Queen Elizabeth, symbol of empire and worldly privilege, and the infidel commander-in-chief of Britain’s brutal occupying forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.    He had also taken to wearing a suit and tie, so as to set himself apart from true Muslims, and establish his identity with the bourgeois regime.    These accommodations were all deemed necessary to gain political backing for Choudhary from within the New Zealand Labour Party, whose members were anxious to secure for themselves the small but significant Muslim vote - provided there should be concessions on their political programme, which, by its encouragement of such practices as prostitution and sodomy was more resolutely anti-Islamic than that of virtually any other democratic political party in the western world.

Once propelled into office on the strength of the Labour Party’s electoral vote, Ashraf Choudray, and all others in a similar situation, would have found that non-Islamic political influences were more rigid and confining than when he was a mere candidate who still had to be allowed some license in order to plausibly appeal to, and secure the votes of, the Muslim constituency.    However, once the vote has been taken and the writs read, the Muslim voters are a spent force. They have “had their say” as the disingenuous advocates of democracy would say.   They have abdicated the political rights and responsibilities to a “representative”, and from that point on have no rights to a substantive involvement in the political process.   They become clients, supplicants, “protesters” or “complainers”.    They have little leverage over “their” Member of Parliament.   They do not pay his salary, they do not provide him with a forum, and they cannot fire him from office.

Once the fat lady sings and the electoral circus is over, it is the state, the parliament, the political parties, the mass media, and the plutocrats who dictate the actions of the professional politician.    It is the infidel state whose laws he is bound to uphold, and whose operations he is privileged to oversee and administer, which pays his salary.    It is the parliament whose regulations and customs he is required to abide by in fulfilling the functions of his office which provides him with secretaries, researchers, accommodation, airline tickets and other perks.   It is the members of parliament whose good will he requires in order to be given speaking time, a seat on a select committee, or support for introducing legislative bills into parliament.  It is the party whose support is necessary in order to acquire candidate nomination in a general election, speaking roles in parliament, a ministerial post or public spending in his home constituency.   It is the mass media whose complicity is necessary in order to keep his name before the wider public, and to communicate his policies to, or conceal them from, the electorate.   And it is the plutocracy whose approval is necessary to provide him with the funds to mount the next election campaign.

All these influences act upon every politician every day of his political life.    The political machines, the plutocrats, and the controllers of the media cannot be bluffed, cajoled, or mislead in the same way that they themselves manage to bluff, cajole or mislead the voters.  In his actions, and in private, the politician must conform to the will of those who have the power to make or break his career.   It would be wrong to suppose, however, that this is a simple process of coercion or undue influence.    Politicians are transplanted into a community of politicians, advisers and lobbyists whose values, customs, motivations and convictions may be sharply at odds with their native community.    But in accordance with basic  human nature, the neophyte politician feels a desire to be accepted and respected within his new environment, and fulfilment of that natural human desire is dependent upon conforming to the expectations of the group, and performing according to its standards.    No one wants to be the odd man out, the black sheep in the flock, the one who constantly criticises and never achieves.    None will openly admit the fact, but long before passing the milestone of their first year in office, most politicians feel they have more in common with fellow parliamentarians of the opposing party than they do with they electors who voted them into office.

When the already compromised politician goes to seek re-election after three, or four or five years in office, hehas the support of the party, the mass media, and the business community (without which he will not survive the process of renomination) and he has the additional advantage of being the incumbent.    The confused or cynical elector facing the choice of the “devil we  know and the devil we don’t” will often opt for the former.    If, on the other hand, as occasionally happens, he chooses to replace the incumbent “crook” with the aspiring “fascist” or vice versa the net effect on the political life of the nation is usually insignificant.  Democratic elections become auctions conducted in secret, with  political parties bidding for millions of dollars in funding from corporations and wealthy individuals, in return for agreeing to implement policies which will benefit the interests of their major funders.   A new management team, Labour or Conservative, Democrat or Republican, can be put in place but the board of directors remains unchanged.

The challenge of an election is not to determine the will of the people, but to win their confidence, a task which is accomplished using all the wiles of the accomplished confidence trickster - protestations of honesty, integrity, good faith, experience and ability, a ready smile, concern for the sick and the aged, a love of dogs, children, the outdoors, and healthy sports, a stern respect for God and country, and if all else fails tears in the eyes and a heart worn upon the sleeve.   Professional actors like Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwartzeneger and Joseph Estrada have a natural advantage in countries which have adopted the US model of government, but all democratic politicians are at the very least “gifted amateurs” when it comes to acting and “playing the part” of a populist politician.

For the few weeks or months that this democratic electoral circus is playing, every shift in sentiment among the electors, applauding one act today, another tomorrow, is recorded by the unofficial head counters or Gallup polls, giving the political scientists new data with which to focus and refine their tactics in the struggle to gain the affections of the electors.   Finally, the elector casts his vote, and the next morning he, or she, is no longer of any account.  Then the deal-making, the jockeying for power within caucus and between parties, resumes with a vengeance.    Debts are called in by the campaign funders, and the politician looks to another term in office. The state once again provides him with a rostrum, a salary, the trappings of office, and a coterie of assistants. The politician’s ego, never a fragile plant, blossoms.   He has, in his own estimation, won over the citizens through his personality, his hard work, his investment in the campaign.  He comes to believe that he owes nothing to God or the citizenry.   Having won election by what he takes to be his own superior qualities, he is subject to no residual obligations.    He becomes free to serve the cause of whoever may in turn be useful to him.

The voters, for their part, lose their claim on the representative's attention.  From being a means to power they are relegated to being the objects of government.  The state, and not the citizen, now becomes the essential reality for the representative.  The state provides for him.   He draws his sustenance from the state.   In the process of election the interests of the representative are ritually identified with, but actually separated from, the interests of the electors, and from that point on the interests of the representative become inseparable not from those of the electorate, but from those of the state.

This is even more the case under the new political paradigm, in which membership of parliament is seen as an executive position, and the process of gaining election to parliament is considered analogous to the process of impressing a personnel consultant with one’s fitness for the job.  No executive holds himself duty bound to serve the whims or interests of the recruitment agency which facilitated his appointment.   He can only believe that his appointment is a tribute to his own merit.  The recruiting agency has dispassionately completed the task entrusted to it within a well defined system, and the executive is now obliged to play his own designated role, in answering to the employer, to the real and ongoing power in the enterprise.

The representative knows that in due course he will be required to re-apply for his post, but he also knows that, as the incumbent, he will do so from a position of psychological and practical strength.   In once giving him political authority, the voters have given him authority over themselves.  Both he and the electors feel this as a reality.  Just as the Hebrews when wandering in the wilderness saw no irony in worshipping an idol they had created with their hands, so the citizen unconsciously defers to the representative he has raised above himself. The representative returns to his constituency with a power far greater than the sum of the powers of those who elected him.  Their authority is now joined with the power and prestige of the state, which he may use to persuade, to seduce and to awe his constituents.  And since their authority is vested in him, alongside the authority of the state, he is able to successfully intimate that for the citizens to undermine his position would only be for the citizens to undermine themselves.

Some of course, particularly those closest to the representative, are able to see through this charade. But the representative can use the power of his public image to over-ride the misgivings of those who know him more intimately.  He is secure in the knowledge that while some few may know his true character, many more are in ignorance, and that those among his political associates who may be prepared to stand up against him personally will, in the end, be politically driven to defer to that public ignorance.

We have seen how the fundamental principles of secular democracy are in conflict with the principles of Islam. We have seen how the misguided principles of secular democracy give rise to imperialism, militarism, political careerism, corruption and amorality.   And we have seen how the manifest failures and corruption of secular democracy are leading the people of the west to become disillusioned with the system as a whole, a system which simply defies the will of the people when it cannot successfully manipulate public opinion to its own ends, as in the case of the present war in Iraq.    In response, Islam offers the genuine ideal of leadership in place of fraudulent democratic concept of representation, it provides solidly grounded knowledge of right and wrong in place of the amorality of democratic fundamentalism.

The practical dangers of engaging in the democratic process.

Is democracy a snare and a trap into which Muslims enter at their peril?   The outcome, and aftermath, of the Algerian elections would suggest it can be.    Success in the elections spelled disaster for the Muslims in Algeria, with tens of thousands being killed in the savage response from the secularist camp, which remained in full control of the national army and the institutions of state, despite the electoral victory of the Islamist parties. The simple lesson to be learned from this tragic event is that political authority must always be accompanied by commensurate military power.   Muslims should not presume to accept or attempt to exercise state authority, regardless of any democratic mandate, unless their own independent military forces are sufficient to overpower any internal or external challenges to that authority.   Conversely Islamic movements must ensure that their political influence and their military capabilities increase in unison, and in a manner that gives solid assurance of the quality and reliability of their forces.    In this way, and only in this way, will there be a well constructed defence against the possibility of military or secular “coup d’etat” directed against the Islamic parties and the embryonic Islamic state.

The electoral victory of Hamas in Palestine similarly leaves the organisation exposed to certain dangers from which it was largely protected as a popular Islamic resistance movement without the responsibilities of government.   Leaving aside the danger that “power corrupts” (which is a problematic concept, and clearly not an immediate threat in the case of Hamas) it is apparent that in the process of gaining control of the state apparatus Hamas becomes vulnerable to a number of internal and external threats.   The situation is analogous to the problems created for an army when it conquers and occupies new territory.   Lines of supply become extended, new and extended front lines are formed, the friendly civil populace must be protected and supplied with the necessities of life, and remaining pockets of enemy resistance behind the new lines must be sought out and eliminated.   These are all problems which confront Hamas at this moment of electoral victory.    The organisation must cope with resistance from die-hard elements in the old corrupt regime, the fury of Israel, and a new level of belligerency from Europe and the United States, all while maintaining the ongoing administration of government within the Palestinian territories.    However well Hamas is equipped to cope, this will constitute a major test of the organisation’s capabilities.

Moving from the specific circumstances confronting Hamas, to the more general difficulties of working within democratic political systems, it is apparent that the same problems are inherent to any democratic process.   In a democracy,  power changes hands dramatically and of a sudden.   Or so it seems.   The reality of course is that changes in the balance of power only occur by slow degrees, and real power never changes hands in the process of a democratic election.    When the machinery of government is transferred into the hands of a new party through a democratic election it means one of three things.

The first possibility is that the new party in government will be one that has already (perhaps surreptitiously and corruptly) accommodated itself to the existing power structures.   In such a case one would expect no substantial change in the state policy.   This constitutes  the normal process of “change of government” in western democracies where the political system is highly sophisticated and effectively directed by a monolithic mass media, and the popular will is routinely thwarted by the political establishment.

The second possibility is that the new party in government will attempt to institute policies which are anathema to those who continue to hold the reins of economic and military power within the society.   In such a case we would expect a coup d’etat against the elected government on behalf of the old regime, supported by the western powers .  This constitutes the normal pattern in less sophisticated societies, particularly those which are vulnerable to western political intervention, some obvious cases from recent history being the western sponsored overthrow of the elected Islamic government in Algeria, Allende government in Chile, and Mossadiq government in Iran.

The third possibility, and the only one which offers any comfortable prospect for Islamists, is that the new party comes to government backed by its own independent military forces which are capable of repelling any internal or external aggression.   This is, God willing, the situation that obtains in Palestine, and it explains the fury and frustration of the west at the outcome of the Palestine elections.   Hamas can not be easily corrupted, and neither can it be easily overthrown by military force.   That explains why the western powers are so absolutely insistent that “Hamas must disarm”.   Unless and until Hamas disarms, it is virtually impossible for the western powers to sponsor a successful coup d’etat in the Palestinian territories.

Let us acknowledge that Hamas still faces considerable danger arising from its electoral success.    But those dangers are far less than they would be if Hamas was devoid of its “military wing”.    Experience teaches that every vote must be backed by a bullet if Muslims are to resort to democratic political systems without being at risk of a western sponsored massacre of innocents.

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