Rethinking yesterday’s post: “danger” was a poor choice… Shura and Democracy

by b socha

in wording. And soon enough, I found evidence to damn my own conclusions. It is clear to me now that my frustration with the term and implications of shura were from the Shavit piece, more specifically, from Shavit’s explanation of the historical functionalization of the term. (Especially in the case of the Society of Muslim Brothers, it is guilty of all the things I frantically outlined…)

After I rushed off to class and we discussed “what is the West and what is democracy?” I had a few more thoughts on shura and the demands that the question (not only of “the West” and democracy, but) of the emancipatory principles of Islamic law.The project is riddled with layers of decrepit politicized crust. It is hard not to take the crust for law, historical implementation for potential. In short, I cannot mistake my big fat finger for the moon, even though I have to point to it somehow.

I also read Charles Tilly’s piece on Social Mechanisms, and his example of mechanisms and their interplay was on democratization. What do you think his definition was?

Democratization is any move toward protected consultation, de-democraization any move away from protected consultation.

As you recall, shura is translated as “consultation.” But I think that I was a little bit right and a lot wrong when I said that there are dangers of equating shura with democracy. I was right in my discernment on the improper and unclear linearity of the two terms. I was incorrect because (from ignorance and conceptual ambiguity that DEFINITELY still lingers) on the relationship to shura as a mechanism in democratization. Thus, the concepts are not linear or interchangeable but are definitely related. There is certainly more to come on this topic. I only wanted to point out my earlier failing and also to share my definitions of “the West” and “democracy” (both formulated pre-Tilly).

{Directly from my notebook:}

The West: A non-geographical tradition of accumulating hegemony. Western thought is also an inheritence of this type, and it remains a sort of hegemonic enterprise defined after its apogee. Historical networks of hegemony centralize power and expand influence. Resistance is always non-West, because it is always non-hegemonic. Is “the West” a way to name a dot on the map of this tradition as it falls away?

Democracy: mutual recognition of inherent radical equality for decentralized, ubiquitous consensus.

Signing off,

BKS

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