The Strange Death of Liberal Democracy

Liberal democracy's salvational ideology is dying.

Decades on from George Bush’s War on Terror, the battle between liberal democracy and Islamic fundamentalism continues to rage. Whilst one is a political system, and the other an extreme form of religious ideology, is it possible that both are manifestations of the same innate human need to believe in a higher power? US anthropologist Scott Atran contends that a resolute belief in democracy is merely a modern version of our need to have faith.

“To prevent the destruction of human democracy we are willing to destroy ourselves and the world,” says Atran. “All of the ideologies that have been successful since the French Revolution, that have carried people, have been salvational, secularised religious ideologies. That is, each contains the idea that we can save humanity and we have the right message.”

These ideologies of salvation will go to extraordinary lengths to protect and justify themselves. Atran points to the development of the atomic bomb by way of exampl

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terence williams 12 February 2015

Any society at any point in history expresses a collective or received 'attitude of mind'. That something is an 'attitude' that must always be grounded in 'mind', however it is collective or numerous in its sharing, does not carry with it automatic guarantee of its correctness. This is the whimsical 'porridge' from which 'ethics' arise, but, likewise, ethics carry no automatic convergence with 'values' grounded in virtue. What may suit the society and culture of the Roman amphitheatre in Nero's day, or the tenets of the Third Reich, can be ethical standards in direct opposition to the values of virtue. Indeed, the ethical basis of a society may indeed conflict with such values, as is usual in cases of excessive liberalism, for which today's society is an excellent paradigm. More reliable and hope of correctness is to be found in the devotional commital of private mind to the values of moral intuitive knowing, and this shows how political, (however democratic), straitjackets of collective thinking can often be entirely wrong-headed.

terence williams 12 February 2015

Any society at any point in history expresses a collective or received 'attitude of mind'. That something is an 'attitude' that must always be grounded in 'mind', but however it is collective or numerous in its sharing, it does not carry with it automatic guarantee of its correctness. This is the whimsical 'porridge' from which 'ethics' arise, but, likewise, ethics carry no automatic convergence with 'values' grounded in virtue. What may suit the society and culture of the Roman amphitheatre in Nero's day, or the tenets of the Third Reich, can be ethical standards in direct opposition to the values of virtue. Indeed, the ethical basis of a society may indeed conflict with such values, as is usual in cases of excessive liberalism, for which today's society is an excellent paradigm. More reliable and hope of correctness is to be found in the devotional commital of private mind to the values of moral intuitive knowing, and this shows how political, (however democratic), straitjackets of collective thinking can often be entirely wrong-headed.