Thursday, February 23, 2006

Purple Fingers

As I was saying, it's this problem of democracy and the other that it necessarily incorporates:

The dilemma struck me almost immediately after my arrival, when one of our colleagues stormed into the office after a late-night meeting of the Iraqi Governing Council, uttering: ``We have a problem. And no one wants to deal with it. The Governing Council is issuing orders and the ministers are starting to execute them.'' Several of us burst out laughing. We were fostering a transition to sovereignty and democracy. We had established the Iraqi Governing Council. But God forbid it should actually seek to start governing!
(link via Eschaton)

Cf. Hamas in Palestine, or Congress questioning whether a UAE based and owned company should operate 6 ports in this country (and why does even the desire to review that deal prompt a veto threat from Bush?), and why Bush seems to think "the government" is neither him, nor his Secretary of Defense, nor even the "leadership" of Congress, etc.

This isn't, of course, about democracy limiting itself in order to save itself. This is about allowing democracy license, and freedom. Which is the problem:

Is democracy that which assures the "right to think and thus to act without it or against it? Yes or no? Although there are today, apart from the Arab and Islamic exception we spoke of earlier, fewer and fewer people in the world who dare speak against democracy ....even though almost everybody outside a certain Arab and Islamic world at least claims a certain democratism, we would do well to recall that there are in the end rather few philosophical discourses, assuming there are any at all, in the long tradition that runs from Plato to Heidegger, that have without any reservations taken the side of democracy. In this sense democratism in philosophy is something rather rare and, in the end, very modern. And perhaps not even very philosophical. Why? This democratism was, as we know, the constant target of Nietzsche, whether because of the specific forms it took in modernity or because of its geneealogy in the ethico-religious, that is, Jewish, Christian, and especially Pauline perversion that turns weakness into force. More than any other form of democracy, more than social democracy or popular democracy, a Christian democracy should be welcoming to the enemies of democracy; should turn them the other cheek, offer hospitality, grant freedom of expression and the right to vote to anti-democrats, something in conformity with a certain hyperbolic essence, an essence more autoimmune than ever, of democracy itself, if "itself" there ever is, if ever there is a democracy and thus a Christian democracy worthy of this name. Derrida, Rogues, p. 41
Of course, a Christian democracy is not on offer in Iraq, nor is it necessary that it be. But interesting that a "Christian" democracy (the article quotes a young Bushite who fears giving Iraq constitutional authority for judicial review as that might lead to legalized abortions) can't seem to begin to offer democracy at all.

Much less accept it, at home or in countries we haven't invaded. Perhaps it is that problem of having other voices heard, and of considering how those voices are to be counted.

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