Liberalism & Secular Democracy

The Self-Refuting Nature of Democracy


“…مَالَكُمْ لا تَعْقِلُونَ…”

All man-made conceptual constructs, are by their very nature marred with contradictions and paradoxes. However, Jahili ideologies are more than often based on the naturalization and systemization of these self-refuting concepts and they are posited as being ‘Absolute’. The origins of tughyan lays precisely in this epistemic hubris. Therefore, the da’wah carrier must explicate the contradictions within these Jahili constructs in addition to appraising them in accordance from the Islamic ‘Aqeedah. One of such ideas is ‘Democracy’;

  • Democracy makes a normative claim: the decision of the majority ought-to be binding and is the fundamental criterion for all matters related to our temporal affairs. Therefore, if a majority decides that abortion is morally acceptable than it becomes what we ought-to do.
  • Accordingly, Hitler and his ‘Enabling Act’ were democratic regardless of the human devastation which followed. The United States was democratic, even prior to the passing of the Civil Rights Act. Similarly, Sweden was democratic even before it passed legislation in 1970 allowing women to partake in the electoral process.
  • In short, a true democrat will argue that any ‘idea’ is legitimate insofar as it is reached through the “general will.”

However, a problem emerges in regards to the supposed criterion of Democracy (majority rule). On what basis can the idea that “majority votes are normatively binding” be legitimized? If it is argued that this idea (“majority votes are normatively binding”) is legitimized by a majority vote then the democrat has fallen into circular reasoning: “(Latin: circulus in probando, “circle in proving”; also known as circular logic) is a logical fallacy in which the reasoner begins with what they are trying to end with. The components of a circular argument are often logically valid because if the premises are true, the conclusion must be true.” This problem may be expressed in a different way, as posited by Carl Schmitt; what happens if in a particular nation, only a minority supports democratic governance (i.e. the idea that majority votes are binding) whereas the majority rejects Democracy? In this case, Democracy is both valid and invalid; a paradox.

This problem is not only a theoretical problem but also poses problems within the concrete material political sphere. To deal with this paradox, ideologues have been forced to eviscerate Democracy of its essence (“majority rule”) and replace it with an overarching external criterion – and thus Democracy becomes an illusion. In other words, the only way they have been able to “save” Democracy is by forgoing Democracy.

Ali Harfouch (@asharfouch)

1 reply »

  1. Ali Harfouch should describe a better system than democracy.

    Winston Churchill said in the House of Commons on 11th November 1947, “democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”.

    Roy Saich

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