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The roots of the absence of democratic behaviour in the Islamic world

Reader comment on item: The Problem with Middle East Studies

Submitted by Edmond Beniacar (Australia), Jul 14, 2008 at 05:45

In his 2007 Bonython lecture in Australia titled Anglo Primacy at the end of History, The Deep Roots of Power, Lawrence Mead of the Department of Politics at New York University made an interesting analysis. He contrasted the roots of dominance of the Anglo world, which he ascribes to what he calls "responsible individualism" and the preponderance of "compliant societies" as illustrated by those in the Islamic world.

In his view, compliance is the only way through which the latter societies can achieve some semblance of order within their own land. To do this also requires the presence of a very powerful and dominant leader. The question as to how the leader achieves this power is probably not as important as the fact that his presence is a pre-requisite for such order. It could be argued that such leadership does not always create peace, but at least it usually prevents civil war. At what cost is a moot point, but a reasonable reality nevertheless.

The question that must be raised then is: Should one consider democracy as the better system for societies such as the Islamic ones, or is the ultimate form of government for them that of a benign dictatorship? If so, could it not be said that the difference between a compliant society that promotes and sustains terrorism and one that does not, lies purely in the leader who, one way or another, assumes and exercises that power?


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