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2. Philosophy and Identity

Athenian democracy Constitution Direct democracy Elections. Liberal democracy Majority Politicians Public opinion. Representation Social democracy Two-party system. Close scrutiny of the argument involving this term indicates two principal lines of research. The first type, i. Although discussions couched in the terminology of theoretical—normative level were generally distinct from those on a political—constitutional scale, mention should be made of theorists such as Raphael Cohen-Almagor, Peter Chalk, Ronald Crelinsten, Alex Schmid and, more recently, Giovanni Capoccia, 6 who were successful in bridging between these two levels of analysis.

Works by these scholars were helpful in presenting a more inclusive theory regarding the democratic response to extremism, subversion and political violence. At the same time, their research still suffered from the lack of a comprehensive model which could account for additional levels of analysis and, in particular, the social level of analysis.

In the attempt to address dilemmas encountered in the democratic response to extremism and violence, scholars, and particularly those affiliated with judicial schools of thought as well as judges and policy-makers, have searched for a terminology that would accurately describe democratic polities caught up in the struggle against powerful extremist elements. The first term of note is the militant democracy prescribed by Loewenstein to indicate certain polities which held sway in the period between the two world wars.

This designation carried normative implications and was intended to define the legal measures deemed worthy of use by European democracies in order to deal with the growth of fascism. This brief definition leaves the student of political science who wishes to put it to academic use somewhat at a loss. Do subversive elements, which in fact pose a threat to democracy, take on the guise solely of parliamentary organisations, to wit, political parties?

Furthermore, what is the genuine intention behind keeping the doors of democracy shut in the face of the same subversive groups? Does the wehr-hafte Demokratie disbar these organisations from taking part in elections?

Defending Identity by Natan Sharansky

Or, even more stringently, does it outlaw them and imprison their members? These questions, for the greater part, are left unanswered despite the efforts of Carlo Schmid, chairman of the committee in charge of consolidating the German constitution following the Second World War, to invest the construct with more meaning:.

It is not part of the concept of democracy that it creates the preconditions of its own destruction. I would even like to go further. I would like to say: democracy is more than a product of utilitarian considerations only in those places where the courage exists to believe it as something indispensable for the dignity of man.

If this courage exists, we should also have the courage to be intolerant towards those who wish to use a democratic system in order to kill it off. These words are indicative of the conventional approach assumed by democratic forms of government according to which a democracy has an absolute justification to protect itself from insurgents, whoever they may be.

Still, the key question remains: using what kinds of methods? In the effort to find resolution to this question, I have elected to appropriate a second term — the defending democracy. This notion is also a derivative of the judicial school of thought and is associated with the State of Israel and its decision, in the mids, to prevent the Arab Socialist List from taking part in parliamentary elections. Prima facie, this definition is a significantly softer rendition than is the German wehr-hafte Demokratie. According to Justice Zusman:.

Just as a man does not have to agree to be killed, so a state too does not have to agree to be destroyed and erased from the map. Its judges are not allowed to sit back idly and to despair from the absence of a positive rule of law when a plaintiff asks them for assistance in order to bring an end to the state. Likewise, no other state authority should serve as an instrument in the hands of those whose, perhaps sole, aim is the annihilation of the State. This formulation indicates that these two social scientists chose to pursue the same path laid down by legalists while expanding it on two counts.

From the above, it appears that a majority of scholars agree that democratic systems of government have the right to exclude from the political arena those organisations, and especially political parties, whose ideology or actions may endanger, first and foremost, the actual democracy and, in certain cases, also the system of principles forming its basis of legitimisation. Accordingly, the term must be elucidated, the elements which comprise it must be underscored, and the distinctions among them highlighted.

For this purpose, I submit a theoretical framework based on both the political—institutional level and the social level which spells out the guiding principles and tools used by democratic countries in their struggle against perceived adversaries. Assuredly, this does not disallow the possibility that the nature of the democracy may in fact dictate the nature of its response to provocation often, certain courses of counteraction are identified with certain types of democracy ; however, for the sake of clarity and to avoid confusion, modes of response should not be treated as part of the definition of the political system.

Therefore, it is to be assumed that all democratic systems endeavouring to protect themselves in the face of radical and violent elements do indeed fulfil the requirements of the general framework of the defending democracy. Having said that, it should be stressed that this term alone does not suffice toward understanding the various types and degrees of response. Of course, these two exemplary approaches signify ideal types, 13 which are not necessarily empirically proven concepts but, at the same time, they represent a continuum along which can be found the responses of the majority of democratic polities facing serious challenges.

In the light of this, four principal categories of controls are offered that will later on serve as the basis for the definition of the various orientations:. Legal and judicial controls include measures at the disposal of democratic countries implemented in their struggle against extremist insurgents, whether speaking of political parties, social movements or individuals. This network of controls includes, inter alia, constitutions or statutes stipulating under what conditions partisan political activity can be restricted, as well as laws establishing which tools are legitimate and which are not, in instances of anti-governmental protestation such as incitement or subversive action.

Included in this category are also those legal barriers regulating the relations among the different groups in society and, in particular, controls intending to restrict racist or other expressions which may offend various social groups. The notable aspect of these barriers is that they are most often predicated on constitutional or legal frameworks and are subject to continuous judicial review. Despite the sharp contradiction between these orientations and the liberal democratic paradigm, there is abundant testimony of their use, particularly when the polity senses its stability is in significant jeopardy.

This infrastructure may include emergency legislation, the use of administrative regulations, modifications to the legal process in order to facilitate a smoother conviction of extremist elements and occasionally, in fact, the creation of special courts of law whose specific role is to preside over concerns related to subversive violence and, principally, terrorists. This area is of considerable significance because, by exercising educational means, the state is able to contend with the challenges of extremism a good while earlier than their materialisation into political alternatives.

To be specific, with the aid of the education system and particularly, but not exclusively, civic studies, the future citizens of a state can be introduced to the key notions fundamental to the democratic system of governance. In addition, most pupils are exposed to the formal aspect of the governmental process, i.

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In this fashion, pupils become acquainted with the guiding principles of the polity in which they live, its basic essentials, the problems confronting it and the political modus operandi of its country. In certain cases, they may mobilise efforts to influence governmental authorities. In these aspects, we find an additional contribution to the fortitude of the democratic government. The goals of these organisations and the tactics employed by them may tend to vary, yet the emergent pro-democratic social controls positioned in-between the state and subversive factions may, on the one hand, carry significant potential in reducing the threats confronting the state, and, on the other, may limit countering governmental action to a more democratically tolerable standard.

In order to classify these numerous controls and measures and help elucidate the ideal types of response, they are categorised according to two criteria: scope and intensity. Intensity denotes the types of mechanism utilised by the state. That is, does a particular democracy choose to respond to extremist challenges by using the more moderate means of countermeasure, such as education, expanding civil society activity, and imposing minimal statutory restrictions on antagonistic elements?

Furthermore, this continuum enables a diachronic analysis of isolated cases and, principally, an estimation of the movement of single countries along the axis of time from one type of response to another. The following chart represents in more detail the features of the routes of response. Borrowing from the definitions presented above, this denotes a political system whose goals are very narrow and one that is principally restricted to defending the state from manifestations of political extremism, incitement and violence.

The state adopting this route in effect seeks to shore up its governmental system against subversive acts of defiance, and if and when these provocations in fact are realised it deploys defensive means which form a more comprehensive treatment of those elements. In order to help draw comparisons among the guiding principles of either model, a medical metaphor is proposed.

These symptoms are principally political parties, radical movements and manifestations of incitement, sedition and political violence. This medicinal plan includes a list of unconventional measures which circumvent standard legal and judicial processes. Nevertheless, the holistic approach does not neglect the treatment of the symptoms of the illness in the event that, after all the preventive measures have been taken, extremism and violence still break out.

However, in that case, since we are speaking of a more immunised body, the medical measures applied are more conventional; that is, they are within legal limits and do not threaten to subsequently weaken the body. On the other hand, in the absence of persistent enforcement, outlawing the movement can be just minimally effective because parties and movements have the ability to adapt and adjust themselves to changing circumstances.

A movement which has been legally banned can occasionally assume various other guises by changing its name or the composition of its key activists, and, in the long run, can make things more difficult for the democracy. In sum, using the theoretical constructs elaborated above, an attempt is made in this book to illustrate the changes in the response of the State of Israel to its internal adversaries in the last fifty-three years.

This treatise will focus on the transition from a heavy-handed and often, in democratic terms, problematic policy of counteraction which marked the State in the first decades of its existence to a more moderate response whose confinement to democratic and even, at times, liberal boundaries, characterises it with the advent of the present decade. Concurrently, the depiction of the extremist and violent events the State has had to contend with are also presented.

Democracies of this type stress uniformity at the expense of diversity, and unity over pluralism. This reflects a type of collective regime, where the principles of equality and harmony are predominant among those who belong to a certain group and aspire to its common goals. Participation is more a privilege than a basic right and is therefore reserved for those who act in the collective interest. The operative aspect indicates the active and centralised character of the state. In terms of values, the non-liberal democracy concentrates on the ideological—national foundations of the state and, in the case of Israel, on the Jewish nature of the country.

According to Smooha, the ethnic democracy. The establishment of the state on these two opposing principles occasions irresolvable conflicts and dilemmas. But the world doesn't work this way to me. Even strikes in Poland in 70, 80's against communistic regime that deprived people of freedom were triggered by e. So national identities language, culture, even religion are important, but only secondary It is an interesting point of view, but a couple of issues strikes me.

So national identities language, culture, even religion are important, but only secondary to basic material needs and sometimes On the other hand, freedom could be regained by sole economic development, e. Secondly, the fact that in a Soviet camp strongly patriotic prisoners were the most reliable "brothers in arms" doesn't say much. Temporary union of very extreme or even hostile groups against common enemy doesn't prove that they are able to coexist peacefully after the external threat is removed.

Another problem is that the further you read, the more the author focuses on Palestinian-Israeli conflict instead of formulating some universal and helpful conclusions.

Overall, a very good discussion igniter, but author's arguments haven't convinced me so far. May 11, Harry rated it it was amazing. Very important book, no matter what your "identity" is, be it Jew, Christian or Moslem. Sharansky shows the importance of a strong identity combined with democratic traditons. He then goes on to show the fallacy of the "doublethink" concepts of post-identity and post-nationalism and how it has contributed to the downfall of European society. Written in , his ideas are even truer today as I write this in My only quibble is that Sharansky seems to the laud the U.

Unfortunately, the U. Democracy without identity can become superficial and meaningless. We're practically inviting our Islamist north-African neighbors to come take over. A Balcanized peninsula in the making. But this essay by a former political prisoner of the Soviet gulag, and reborn Jewish Israeli is an eye opener to all the world who has not lost its senses yet, in common-sense, plain langu "Identity without democracy can become fundamentalist and totalitarian.

But this essay by a former political prisoner of the Soviet gulag, and reborn Jewish Israeli is an eye opener to all the world who has not lost its senses yet, in common-sense, plain language. A good advice on how to break the cycle of relativism and cultural decadence in the West: the fear of God. Sharansky describes this fear in a way I had never been able to describe myself, and beautifully. You don't have to be a believer to understand it at all. He explains how he became aware of this fear which, as you should know from the bible, is the beginning of knowledge.

Countries with strong identities supposing they are also strong democracies are good "not because of their particular identities but because of their strong identities, because they each had things that were more important to them than their physical existence. The author's experience in political prison camps in Russia taught him that "those with the strongest identities were the least likely to succumb to tyranny, those who retained a sense of the value of history, of tradition, of community, those who saw a purpose in life beyond life itself proved the ultimate bulwark against Soviet evil.

Wells or G. Shaw, who played into the hands of totalitarian communism. The story I didn't know and that really terrified me was that of American singer Paul Robeson, worth the purchase of the book alone. Why isn't multiculturalism both ways? And these groups do not have the slightest qualms about the supremacy of their identities. They are prepared to fight and die for their twisted beliefs.

Identity is the only force that will give us the strength to resist and ultimately to defeat them. Jan 06, Phoenix rated it really liked it Shelves: politics , ethics. Convincing position and well thought out! The first half of the book covers the period while he was a prisoner of conscience in the Soviet Union. The pressure inside the prisons to give in to the interogators was, in his view, only countered by a strong sense of identity.

Sharanksy came to the point of view that the essence of the dissident movement was in a common desire to respect and encourage distinct identities rather than be Convincing position and well thought out! Sharanksy came to the point of view that the essence of the dissident movement was in a common desire to respect and encourage distinct identities rather than be sublimated by the State.

He describes forging alliances between different groups such as Pentecostals, Latvian Nationalist and Zionists based on respect for each other's identities. He also has kind words for the firmness and support of the cause of freedom by President Ronald Reagan. Of note, Sharansky relates that when he was released the guards told him that he had to leave immediately and in his prison clothes. He refused saying he would only leave in a dignified fashion in normal street clothes - a move copied by the terrorist Samir Kuntar when he was released from an Israeli prison.

The second half of the book covers the period in Israel when Sharansky was in government and twice resigned from a ministerial position.


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Here too the importance of identity is covered where he sees that Arafat and the Palestinians actively sought to attack Israel's Jewish identity by not only demanding the temple mount but by denying against all historical evidence that the 1st and 2nd Temple were in Jerusalem. I cannot help but feel that this book was heavily influenced by the essay by Ze'ev Maghen, "Imagine: On Love and Lennon" in the book New Essays on Zionism published last year in which Sharansky was also published.

Like Maghen, Sharansky picks on the seductive words of Lennon's "Imagine" and its picturing of a world without identity, but also without anything to live for as well. Love the song, but Lennon's dystopia is now somewhat unnerving.

Originally I was going to give the book a 5 star rating - but I was so impressed that I ran out and read his previous book The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror - which was even better. On the political side Sharansky is definitely a man to watch and listen to, especially given the leadership contest that has begun in Israel. It is possibly that he has permanently moved on from politician to pundit, but it is also possibly that he may be pulled in once more into a ministerial role, with an outside possibility of something higher.

go to site Jun 15, Dovofthegalilee rated it did not like it. Perhaps it's because this is the third of Sharansky's books I've read inside of a year but they all seem to bleed into one another. I respect what the man endured and I'm sure he had a story to tell but by this book it becomes redundant- we don't want to hear you go on about the things you formerly said! If you've got a new idea then share it. Also I find it interesting that his market group is English speakers, English speaking Jews, try getting other Jewish Russians to read your books here in Perhaps it's because this is the third of Sharansky's books I've read inside of a year but they all seem to bleed into one another.

Also I find it interesting that his market group is English speakers, English speaking Jews, try getting other Jewish Russians to read your books here in Israel and get some national identity and then we might have something to talk about. Jul 07, Erica rated it it was amazing Shelves: israel.

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Sharansky's is a voice of moral clarity; his exposition of the critical importance of both democracy and identity personal, communal and national and their relationship is indispensible to understanding what has driven the ideology that creates a worldview. It is one of the most significant books I have read. Oct 21, Jewish Awakening rated it it was amazing.

Sharansky has been a pillar of Zionist advocacy ever since he discovered that the Soviets wanted to crush his identity. He has led a principled fight for the human right to pursue the identity of your choice. This perspective drove him to tie Soviet Jewry and Zionism to democratic freedom. Joshua rated it liked it Apr 24, Sofia rated it did not like it Apr 10, Loqo rated it liked it May 20, John rated it really liked it Dec 10, Sam Woodcock rated it really liked it Jun 20, Helen Rauch-elnekave rated it it was amazing Sep 10, Heyden rated it really liked it Feb 26, Ben Ryan rated it really liked it Oct 21, Ben Schnell rated it really liked it Apr 03, Samuel Thomsen rated it liked it Dec 27, Emily rated it liked it Apr 08,