12 November 2010

Article: Democracy is not everything: A plea for non-democratic enclaves

Jonathan van Tongeren is the author of an article titled "Democracy is not everything: A plea for non-democratic enclaves", published on 8 November 2010 on the "Christians and Politics Portal" website.

The full text of the article can be read free of charge here:


Excerpts: "As we all know, there is no clear cut case for democracy in the Bible. At best some basic principles about government can be derived from scripture. This explains why some Christians are convinced democrats, while others only tactically accept the democratic rules or principally oppose democracy altogether. [...] Engelbert Dollfuss [...] was the leader of the Austrian Christian Social Party. Now, as a Christian Democrat, he was responsible for the end of the democratic system in Austria in the 1930's. [...] [H]e understood quite well that democracy is not a goal in itself, but that the aim of Christian-Democracy is to serve public justice. Democracy can be a means towards this end, but that is not to say there are no other means towards the same goal. Historically, Christian politicians such as the Dutch leader of the Anti-Revolutionary Party Groen van Prinsterer have criticized the basic tenet of democracy, the 'sovereignty of the people'. Groen believed that all sovereignty comes from God, and [...] that this basic tenet of Christian-Democracy is at odds with a basic tenet of modern democracy [...]; sovereignty lies either with God or with the people. [...]

"[N]eoconservatives and radical democrats [...] assume that democracy is everything. [...] Christian-Democracy is not about a blind faith in the workings of democracy. What Christian-Democrats have historically understood is that the usefulness of democracy is limited. Democracy is just a system of regulating the relations between the different spheres of sovereignty but it should not enter into the realm of the spheres itself. Authority in such spheres is naturally non-democratic. Families don't have a vote who will be in charge for the next four years, the children obey the parents[,] and what would be the point of a faith community without a central point of authority (revelation)? [...] For a long time Christian-Democrats have emphasized the rights of the pre-democratic institutions [...], radical democrats are working to undermine those rights. [...] Christians in politics should reconsider their strategy and focus on strengthening the pre-democratic institutions. Only these enclaves on non-democratic authority can save us from an overdose of democracy."

Jonathan van Tongeren, from Groningen in the Netherlands, was Secretary General of the European Christian Political Youth Network (ECPYN) from 2006 to 2010. ECPYN is the youth organization of the European Christian Political Movement (ECPM). Both are associations of political parties and organizations from all over Europe.

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