Looking at ideologies that are challenging liberal democracy: are they compatible with democracy or not?
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"A state of society characterized by formal equality of rights and privileges"
It seems to me that according to the above definition having differeing ideologies whatever they may be is part of democracy. Ideologies that challenge commonly held beliefs are no less democratic than the commonly held beliefs.
In the US, our democracy is challenged every day with the idea of immigrants living here. Many are illegal, yet they believe that they should be able to have the same rights as legal immigrants on work or school Visas and legal citizens. Human rights are not the same as rights of citizens to social programs and other benefits of being a legal and therefore legitimate member of that society. An illegal alien, for instance, can expect to be treated respectfully and get help at soup kitchens, churches, and homeless shelters if he needs it. However, he can not expect to collect social security, welfare, food stamps, or other discounts the government has in place to take care of its legal population.
By the same token, when democratic countries allow immigrants from other countries, the host country should be more aware of why they are immigrating. For instance, when warring factions in countries like Somalia or the Middle East come to the USA, they should not be allowed to live in close proximity of one another or even in large numbers. It makes sense that if these factions are tearing their own countries apart, the same will ensue when the immigrants change addresses. The new geographic location will not change their deep-seated anger toward one another or their desire for revenge. Therefore, their relocation is just relocating a war and will then become the host country's problem on a different and bigger scale.
I think by its very definition democracy has to be open to being challenged. In Britain we are finding that the increase in our immigrant population is creating a definite need for greater cross-cultural sensitivity and respect which is all definitely part of democracy. I don't think that it necessarily makes maintaining democracy impossible, but at the same time I feel that democracy needs to be challenged healthily.
Many ideologies do not seem to be compatible with democracy, but whether they are or not depends on the ideology. Democracy itself is the idea that all ideologies should be able to thrive, so the issue is more with the ideologies that disagre with democracy. It is more that the ideologies are incompatible than democracy is incompatible with them.
I think it is possible for there to exist a liberal democracy in a place where ideologies (assuming we are speaking about religious ideologies) are challenging it. This is true at least in the hypothetical sense. In reality we have to look at why and how a democracy is being put into place. If liberal democracy is being forced on a group of people who either don't understand or don't want it, well then of course there traditions and ideologies are not going to be compatible. People will only accept a liberal democracy if they see a benefit in it. In that case their ideologies will likely fit into the freedoms allowed by a liberal democracy.
I will look at the ideology of "theocracy." This is the idea that the state and a church should not be separated. We can see examples of theocracies in Iran, especially, and to some extent in many other countries of the Muslim world.
Theocracies can be somewhat compatible with democracy. Theocracies can, if they wish, allow multiple political parties and free elections. The parties cannot really go against the core tenets of the religion, but there can be political disputes about other things like foreign policy, economic policy, etc.
However, theocracies are not usually able or willing to allow the sorts of freedoms that we take for granted in true democracies. Theocracies do not typically allow for freedom of religion in particular. In this sense, they are not compatible with liberal democracy.
It depends on what you mean by democracy and liberal democracy, etc. But apart from that, I don't see why not. Socialism rivals liberal democracy but is supposed to be democratic. In fact, I can't think of anything more democratic than an equal distribution of the means of production. Liberal democracies don't allow for rulership by all in this sense. They usually advocate a rulership by a small group of elected people.
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