The Democracy Presumption

Why do most westerners believe in liberal democracy? Why do the vast majority of us believe that the best form of government requires competitive open elections, divided powers, independent judiciaries, a free press and all the other common attributes of modern democracy? Most of us would assert that we do so because we believe that liberal democracies systematically make more wise and humane decisions than do other types of government.

If most of us think this way, however, why does a significant segment of the Left in the West always argue that in any conflict between a liberal democracy and some form of autocracy the liberal democracy deserves most of the blame?

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Political Religions

I am struck by the degree to which modern leftist thought is like religion. In Robert Jensen’s fable, a malign United States brought sin into the world and now Americans must atone and purify themselves. Granted the early European settlers and their descendants did some very bad things, but so did other people including Indians, and anyway the perpetrators are all long dead. So why should Americans of non-Indian descent, many of whose ancestors didn’t even come here until recently, atone? Perhaps what Jensen really opposes is the idea of the United States, in which case people who celebrate the country’s existence would (in his view) have something to atone for.

Buried in Jensen’s seemingly prideful remarks is a reasonable point about national myths. I think that point was much better made by Bernard Lewis in his great short book, “History: Remembered, Recovered, Invented“. As for religion, if you must have it I think that you can probably do a lot better, both for yourself and others, with a traditional belief system.

(via Instapundit)