Saturday, May 28, 2005

Freedom Is The First Principle
Some Thoughts On the Exporting Of Democracy

From Marlowe's Shade:

Spengler had a very interesting response to in his letters section to a reader who proposed that the greatest threat to Islam may come from a burgeoning Christian population south of the Sahara. Spengler agreed:

Prof Philip Jenkins of Pennsylvania State University predicts an "historical turning point" in Christianity, "one that is as epochal for the Christian world as the original Reformation". In the October 2002 edition of The Atlantic Monthly, he wrote,

"In the global South (the areas that we often think of primarily as the Third World) huge and growing Christian populations - currently 480 million in Latin America, 360 million in Africa, and 313 million in Asia, compared with 260 million in North America - now make up what the Catholic scholar Walbert Buhlmann has called the Third Church, a form of Christianity as distinct as Protestantism or Orthodoxy, and one that is likely to become dominant in the faith." (Click here for the article.)

This may look like a "Third Church" to Catholic eyes, but what I perceive is the proliferation of Anglo-Saxon, that is, American, Christianity, albeit in the patchwork raiment of local peoples. Growth of church membership in the southern hemisphere concentrates in denominations of American or British origin.

Observes Prof Jenkins, "it is Pentecostals who stand in the vanguard of the Southern Counter-Reformation. Though Pentecostalism emerged as a movement only at the start of the twentieth century, chiefly in North America, Pentecostals today are at least 400 million strong, and heavily concentrated in the global South. By 2040 or so there could be as many as a billion, at which point Pentecostal Christians alone will far outnumber the world's Buddhists and will enjoy rough numerical parity with the world's Hindus."

He concludes with this fascinating point about the "kernel" of democracy:

The secularists who dominate American foreign policy seem to think that they can export the shell of the American system, namely its constitutional forms, without its religious kernel. It seems that the peoples of the South know better. It is no stranger that America's hold over the world's imagination should find religious expression first and political expression later, than that radical Protestants should have founded America in the first place.

The new Christians of the South will surprise us for ill as well as good. Such matters of the spirit lie beyond anyone's capacity to predict and well may have huge strategic impact, as you observe.

Spengler likes this idea so much he continues the thought in a related letter:

That America's roots are Hebrew rather than Greek is widely argued. See for example the Catholic writer Michael Novak's On Two Wings (San Francisco 2002):

"The way the story of the United States has been told for the past 100 years is wrong. It has cut off one of the two wings by which the American eagle flies, her compact with the God of the Jews - the God of Israel championed by the nation's first Protestants - the God who prefers the humble and weak things of the world, the small tribe of Israel being one of them; who brings down the mighty and lifts up the poor; and who has done so all through history, and will do so till the end of time."

His book contains many an interesting anecdote, although from an American vantage point, therefore, even the crack addict is important in the sight of God (although I believe a crack addict once convicted of a serious offense may lose the right to vote in American elections).

Democracy does not work unless the people truly believe that the individual is sovereign - not the people, I hasten to add. Since the odious J J Rousseau, we have had enough varieties of the "fuehrer principle" to choke on, in which an absolute leader embodies the spirit of the nation, disdaining the vulgarities of democracy in which candidates must persuade even crack addicts. One cannot be a little bit pregnant. Either the individual as a living image of God has such rights as pertain to his station, or not.

If democracy comes to the peoples of the southern hemisphere it will come as a consequence of the evangelizing described above ...not as a set of transitional measures by the political scientists of the Pentagon.

I don't wholly agree with the ideas presented here by Spengler. Spengler seems to be saying that Democracy can only grow in Africa after Christianity has grown there. Nuh uh, don't agree. Nope, non, nein.

However, I must say, we do need to give careful consideration to the fact that modern Democracy sprang from a society (the first modern Democracy being America) founded on the ideas of the Christian Reformation, melded with a deep understanding of the Hebraic roots of Christ's teachings.

The unique idea of the Christian Reformation is that every individuals has direct access to God, through prayer. No intermediary is needed in the form of a Priest, Bishop, Cardinal, or Pope. It is a very small step from such a notion to the idea that government is of the people, by the people, and for the people.

But, getting back to my disagreement with Spengler, how would he account for Japanese Democracy? Or Indian Democracy? Or the free market Democracies that Hong Kong and Taiwan have enjoyed?

The desire for freedom truly does beat in the hearts of all men. That's the answer. It isn't a "Christian" desire. However, in my opinion, it is a desire put there by the same God who Created us, and sent Christ to Earth to teach us how to love.

And part of freedom is that people need to be able to choose to ignore Christ, to ignore Christianity, and to ignore the Word of God. And no matter how much people ignore God, they still want to be free, and deserve to be free.

I think we need to understand that that's the way God planned it. He wants us to be free to choose for better or worse, richer or poorer, good or evil. So, freedom is the first principle. It comes before everything else. Nothing should get in it's way.