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Society & Culture

Democracy is More Colorful than Imagined

Feb 17, 2011

The worldwide shift toward democracy is unstoppable. However, with globalization, democracy has become more like a Russian doll: you always see the one on top, but not those hidden inside.

From the perspective of history, the global wave of democratization will remove a Western-focused center of interest.

The beginning of the Egyptian revolution is like a constitutional revolution. There seems to be a wide gulf between Egypt and Western cultures, with some external influences blocked out and some allowed in.

In the future, the US-backed Egyptian military and democrats will compete with the Muslim Brotherhood. It is still too early to assert that Egypt and the Middle East will embark on an anti-American road.

But it is even more foolhardy to conclude that the Egyptian revolution was a victory for the West. The current world order is unfair, just as a nation's richest city is filled with affluent Western influences while many live on in poverty. They will ask: Why?

The late American scholar Samuel P. Huntington wrote in The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century that elections in non-Western countries often induce politicians to come up with the claims that can win the most votes. These often have racist, religious and nationalist hues and will aggravate divisions, leading to more support for anti-Western rhetoric and policies.

For some Muslim countries, Huntington's conclusion is that people there can only choose between anti-democratic secularism and anti-Western democracy.

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