Is democracy a sword of Damocles?

The notion of democracy is as abstract as the concept of a human being; it does not hold any meaning by itself. If anybody asked me if I love human beings, I would ask him what human being he is referring to. No one likes a person who is a liar, cruel, immoral, indecent, arrogant and an egoist, but everyone likes a person who is decent, fair, tolerant, modest and humble. This means that we like the good deeds a person does that make him a concrete entity rather than an abstract human being; similarly, we dislike the evil features of a human being. Things we like, including faith, justice, morality, philanthropy, humility and dignity, are good traits, whereas the things we do not, including infidelity, exploitation and intolerance, are bad. This is the basic distinction between Islamic and Western humanism.

The abstract human being of humanism refers to an amorphous ideal and ideology; likewise, democracy refers to just such an ideal whose aspects have not been properly identified. From this perspective, we could determine if democracy, as a method of politics, has fulfilled the roles it was expected to by reliance on concrete practices alone. As it remains abstract, everything is all about ideology, and unless it is tested, it is not considered a view or opinion and instead it is idealized and converted into a dogma. The current hegemonic liberal mindset has converted democracy into an ideology and some sort of liberal dogma that declares all other ideologies illegitimate and threatening.

By definition, ideology is not bad; it is even necessary. A person who has no ideology does not have an image of the world and an ideal. As referred to by Parmenides, such a person is a useless man who does not take action on any matter. Regardless of whether he is aware of this or not, this person submits to the decisions of the ideology of others, taken to determine his fate and destiny; this man is a human being strongly desired by the market economy. Democracy is an ideal; in the end, it was designed, developed and implemented. The question “Which democracy?” should be asked in order to save democracy from an absolute and dogmatized ideology. There is no answer to this question yet.

When it becomes the ideal of hegemonic culture and the ideology behind it, everyone wants to promote democracy. Even the current autocratic regimes in the Middle East consider themselves democracies. If you ask them, their regimes, which are inherently democratic or will gradually introduce democratic reforms, are antidotes to the authoritarian and totalitarian regimes of the Islamists. All totalitarian rulers, including Saddam, Mubarak, Gaddafi and Bin Ali, propagated the idea that they were bulwarks against the threat of Islamism.

Moreover, like the Europeans and Americans, even the former leftists and the new liberals, without taking a look at the horrible legacy of their practices in the past, who took as legitimate political systems the Soviet Marxist-Leninist or Stalinist rules or Mao's communist approach and practice in China, are attempting to subject Muslims to a test by reliance on some criteria of democracy. The democracy of Muslims in not benefiting the accepted Western political paradigm; the liberals, the social democrats, the leftists, the Maoists, the communists and the nationalists assume they have the right to question the democracy of Muslims. For them, an election victory by a political party or movement that they do not like is not sufficient for democratic legitimacy. For this reason, the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) in Algeria and the Welfare Party (RP) in Turkey were not considered legitimate administrations by the West. When Hamas won a victory in democratic elections in 2006, the Zionist administration put its leaders in jail. The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has still not received the endorsement of these circles. And the Islamic movements, including the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Tunisia, will not be able to get approval. It is now time to be critical of these inquiries and the condescending approaches. Is democracy a sword of Damocles hanging over Muslims?