Democracy cannot be one-size-fits-all

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of PLC.

Democracy will not necessarily deliver successful results when applied in the non-Western sphere. It can set general guidelines, but varieties will persist, writes Roman Rukomeda from Ukrainian Foundation for Democracy – People First.

Roman Rukomeda is a political analyst for the Ukrainian Foundation for Democracy “People First”.

"The western political and philosophical minds of the last century understand the modern type of state as an abstract corporation which is a legal entity, detached from the personality of its heads and managers.

The state is perceived as a public corporation. It lives according to its laws and was created to protect the interests of the majority, while private corporations in contrast defend interests of the minority. The dividing line between public and private corporations created a long history of relations between western nations, which now needs upgrade to suit the challenges of the 21st century.

This takes us to a new understanding of the phenomenon of corporations which were practically always groundbreaking and productive formats of human activity. Any society in fact has been a corporation made up of its members and aiming at securing survival and development.

Basically, the state is only a mirror reflection of the very society. With time and patience, it would be possible to politically unite the EU into one full-blooded state-public corporation, when a united European society would be created.

It is possible to assume that historically, the guidelines for the management and the practical realisation of the functions of public corporations in Europe was invented by the ancient Greeks in the form of democracy. Hence, democracy can be perceived as the tool for managing a public corporation-state or a city-polis.

Western nations, cultivated by the rationalism of René Descartes and the empiricism of Francis Bacon, applied democracy in a very efficient manner. It is no surprise that the USA and Europe became the symbols of effective democracy. The West has overcome the East in the historical competition of the last five centuries, because it had better instructions of management, and Europeans appeared to be its best executors.

But what about the rest of the world?

The non-Western world, with its variety of cultures, civilisations and religions, uses its own tools for its own public corporations from ancient times. Its basis are religious and philosophical doctrines.

Hence, the present understanding of democracy needs specification. Democracy continues to remain a sort of modernised tool for western public corporations which started the process of political consolidation. And indeed we can speak of the western democracy which keeps a strong links with its Greek heritage.

However, for the non-Western world, including a part of Slavic Eastern Europe, democracy can only set the general framework for the evolution of their societies, of their political systems, to the general platform of global coexistence and development. This is the reason why western democracy doesn't work in post-military Muslim Iraq, in the countries that went through “the Arab spring”, in Asia, and even in Ukraine and Russia.

Due to this reason, it makes sense to speak of separate versions of democracy: Western, Islamic, Asian, Slavic and others. Each one of this kind is fundamentally different from others because it, first of all, stems from the civilization and the society which grew on a certain territory, from its religion and culture. And the faster the western community would understands this, the faster and more effectively it will be possible to harmonise the world under the conventional democratic basis, while preserving all it civilizational variety.

The mankind will only win, if the lotus flower of the world civilisation contains a full inflorescence of cultural petals."