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Thread: Democracy’s Collateral Damage

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    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    Democracy’s Collateral Damage

    Democracy’s Collateral Damage | NY Times Op-ed | October 15, 2011

    Democracy’s Collateral Damage
    By ROSS DOUTHAT
    Published: October 15, 2011

    THE Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt is one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, tracing its roots to St. Mark the apostle and the first century A.D. Coptic Christians have survived persecutions and conquests, the fall of Rome and the rise of Islam. They have been governed from Constantinople and Ctesiphon, Baghdad and London. They have outlasted the Byzantines, the Umayyads and the Ottomans, Napoleon Bonaparte and the British Empire.

    But they may not survive the Arab Spring.

    Apart from Hosni Mubarak and his intimates, no group has suffered more from Egypt’s revolution than the country’s eight million Copts. Last week two dozen people were killed in clashes between the Coptic Christians and the Egyptian Army, a grim milestone in a year in which the Coptic community has faced escalating terrorist and mob violence. A recent Vatican estimate suggests that 100,000 Copts may have fled the country since Mubarak’s fall. If Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood consolidates political power, that figure could grow exponentially.

    This is a familiar story in the Middle East, where any sort of popular sovereignty has tended to unleash the furies and drive minorities into exile. From Lebanon to North Africa, the Arab world’s Christian enclaves have been shrinking steadily since decolonization. More than half of Iraq’s 1.5 million Christians have fled the country since the American invasion toppled Saddam Hussein.

    More important, though, this is a familiar story for the modern world as a whole — a case of what National Review’s John Derbyshire calls “modernity versus diversity.” For all the bright talk about multicultural mosaics, the age of globalization has also been an age of unprecedented religious and racial sorting — sometimes by choice, more often at gunpoint. Indeed, the causes of democracy and international peace have often been intimately tied to ethnic cleansing: both have gained ground not in spite of mass migrations and mass murders, but because of them.

    This is a point worth keeping in mind when reading the Big Idea book of the moment, Steven Pinker’s “Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined.” Pinker marshals an impressive amount of data to demonstrate that human civilization has become steadily less violent, that the years since 1945 have been particularly pacific, and that contemporary Europe has achieved an unprecedented level of tranquility.

    What Pinker sometimes glosses over, though, is the price that’s been paid for these advances. With the partial exception of immigrant societies like the United States, mass democracy seems to depend on ethno-religious solidarity in a way that older forms of government did not. The most successful modern nation-states have often gained stability at the expense of diversity, driving out or even murdering their minorities on the road to peaceful coexistence with their neighbors.

    Europe’s era of unexpected harmony, in particular, may have been made possible by the decades of expulsions and genocide that preceded it. As Jerry Z. Muller pointed out in a 2008 essay for Foreign Affairs, the horrors of the two world wars effectively rationalized the continent’s borders, replacing the old multi-ethnic empires with homogeneous nation-states, and eliminating — often all too literally — minority populations and polyglot regions. A decade of civil war and ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia completed the process. “Whereas in 1900 there were many states in Europe without a single overwhelmingly dominant nationality,” Muller wrote, “by 2007 there were only two, and one of those, Belgium, was close to breaking up.”

    Along the same lines, the developing world’s worst outbreaks of ethno-religious violence — in post-Saddam Iraq, or the Indian subcontinent after the demise of the British Raj — are often associated with transitions from dictatorships or monarchies to some sort of popular rule. And from Kashmir to the West Bank, Kurdistan to Congo, the globe’s enduring trouble spots are usually places where ethno-religious communities and political borders can’t be made to line up.

    This suggests that if a European-style age of democratic peace awaits the Middle East and Africa, it lies on the far side of ethnic and religious re-sortings that may take generations to work out.

    Whether we root for this process to take its course depends on how we weigh the hope of a better future against the peoples who are likely to suffer, flee and disappear along the way. Europe’s long peace is an extraordinary achievement — but was it worth the wars and genocides and forced migrations that made it possible? A democratic Middle East would be a remarkable triumph for humanity — but is it worth decades of sectarian violence and ethnic cleansing?

    I don’t know the answer. But maybe we should ask the Copts.

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    Senior Contributor Mihais's Avatar
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    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    What got my attention was the bolded bit

    For all the bright talk about multicultural mosaics, the age of globalization has also been an age of unprecedented religious and racial sorting — sometimes by choice, more often at gunpoint. Indeed, the causes of democracy and international peace have often been intimately tied to ethnic cleansing: both have gained ground not in spite of mass migrations and mass murders, but because of them.
    Where was the ethnic cleansing in post-WW2 peaceful Europe ? it happend in the Balkan during their war. Post 1950 Europe is more hetergenous than pre-1950.

    The other point was he broadened the scope of whats happening in Egypt to the world stage by finding common patterns elsewhere. I'm not sure how strong his argument here is though.

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    Dirty Kiwi Senior Contributor
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    Quote Originally Posted by Double Edge View Post
    What got my attention was the bolded bit



    Where was the ethnic cleansing in post-WW2 peaceful Europe ? it happend in the Balkan during their war. Post 1950 Europe is more hetergenous than pre-1950.
    Flight and expulsion of Germans (1944
    Istrian exodus - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Polish population transfers (1944

    Just to name some of the biggies: oddly there is no wiki page covering the surviving Jewish exodus from Europe
    In the realm of spirit, seek clarity; in the material world, seek utility

    Gottfried Leibniz

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    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    Could we put those down to movements as a result of previous war related activites. A victors justice of sorts. From here. If there was no war then they would not have occurred.

    But the author of the op-ed seems to be suggesting that democracy by itself results in displacement of people and requires 'ethno-religious solidarity'.

    mass democracy seems to depend on ethno-religious solidarity in a way that older forms of government did not.
    This is the part i do not understand. The author then goes on to say..

    The most successful modern nation-states have often gained stability at the expense of diversity, driving out or even murdering their minorities on the road to peaceful coexistence with their neighbors
    Last edited by Double Edge; 17 Oct 11, at 21:16.

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    Senior Contributor Mihais's Avatar
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    You could put however you want,the end result matter. I'm not sure if there is a direct connection between democracy and peace in Europe.But there is certainly a connection between the reduction of minorities large enough to pose troubles and peace. Considering that most wars in the last 200 years in Europe had something to do with the desire to form national states and unite lands with significant populations of ones ethnicity,we're finally in a point when balance has been reached.
    Actually what the author suggests is quite logical.You cannot afford to fight internally(the democratic electoral&ideological contest) unless foreign threat ceases to exist.
    Those who know don't speak
    He said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. Luke 22:36

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