Democracy Survive in a Patrimonial Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

In these very conservative Islamic countries, and even those less conservative like Jordan and Egypt, we see symbols of capitalism. This gives rise to the question of whether or not these countries can in fact be a part of a world economy without surrendering their theocratic rule to more liberal forms of democratic rule; or whether they reject - as Iran has done - Westernization completely.

At this point the outcome is unknown, but this does help explain the conditions in the Middle East today, and why the situation in Iraq has become so violent. The question becomes one of whether or not the fundamental principles of Islam can survive against the fundamental principles of democracy; the answer is predictably no. This is what has given rise to Islamic fundamentalism in the region; those Muslims who - and perhaps rightfully so - under stand the threat of over exposure to democracy as being one of deterioration.

The fundamentalists understand the world around them, and have seen the Soviet Union crumble under the capitalistic wheel of democracy. Oligarchies and monarchies have taken seats as historical figureheads, surrendering their authority to law making bodies that reflect the choice, mood and discretion of the electorate. Even China is now a quasi-capitalist country. Should Islam clerics surrender authority to such law making bodies then the authority of the religious clerics could stand in question and be subjugated to the civil authority.

Again, in Iraq, the fear is that if the United States and the government that has been elected by the people of Iraq succeeds, putting its political policies ahead of its religious ones, then it is a step backwards into colonialism as the government that has been established is perceived as a renewed effort to attempt what the British and the United States failed at during the decolonization of the Middle East. Where the governments of Egypt, Jordan (where the King is still very much a powerful force), and Turkey have implemented governments that tend to look somewhat democratic in nature, that is a misleading perception because those governments are very much subject to the religious clerics and courts of those countries. And even in those countries recent disturbances might be perceived as a move by religious clerics to bring those governmental bodies back in line with the ruling clerics and to cause them to be more subordinate in nature to the clerical authorities of those countries.

They dynamics of the Middle East are indeed fluid, changing, moving and flowing in one direction one moment; another the next moment. What is certain is that the Middle East is standing at the brink of major change in the region. The change with either go the direction of a very conservative Islamic state, or will, by way of exposure to the West through globalization, begin to exhibit more signs of Westernization and most certainly will be followed by greater tendencies towards democracy as the Middle East assumes a place in the world community.

It is clearly a tenuous situation, because a move that goes in the direction of democracy is one that will spell the end of traditional Islam as Middle Easterners begin to move about in the world community. However, Islamic clerics continue to have strong authority and control over major regions of the Middle East. Right now they are struggling to bring Iraq into that fundamental Islamic fold, to ensure that the move the Middle East makes is one closer to traditional Islam than democracy. Clearly democracy and Islamic theocracy and a patrimonial tradition are not compatible and cannot coexist within a Middle Eastern…

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