Is The West Secular And Democratic?

By Dr. Sawraj Singh

The biggest claim that the contemporary West makes is that it is secular and democratic. However, on closer scrutiny, this claim appears to be false. On one hand, the West neither fulfills the criteria for secularism nor for democracy. On the other hand, eastern concepts of secularism and democracy have proven sound.

Let us look at the historical evolution of these concepts in the West. Secularism and democracy in contemporary western society started during the so-called Age of Enlightenment (or Rational Age). After the Dark Ages came the Renaissance and then came the Industrial Revolution. After the Industrial Revolution came the Age of Enlightenment. This is the period when the movement for secularism and democracy reached its peak in Europe.

What was the motive for the movement for secularism and democracy? An industrialist (or capitalist) class had emerged in Europe. However, the political power was still mostly in the hands of the Church. This new class wanted to take away political power from the Church. For this purpose, it gave slogans of secularism and democracy. It is obvious then that the motivation was deeply-rooted in selfishness and greed.

This new class already had economic power. However, it lacked political power, which was still concentrated in the Church. The newly-emerged capitalist class had to discredit the Church in order to take political power away from it. Therefore, the new capitalist class blamed the Church for being neither secular nor democratic. It is obvious that the motive for this movement was to discredit the Church and take political power away from it.

The secularism of the West started as a negative phenomenon. This was not based upon respect for religion, but grew from opposition to religion. I call this Negative Secularism. As opposed to this negative secularism, the eastern concept of secularism is positive. The eastern concept of secularism means respect for all religions. It is based upon love, tolerance, and peaceful coexistence. The western negative secularism is intolerant to religious and other philosophies.

The western negative secularism takes any absolutist approach that it can; it feels that this is the only right way and those who do not agree with it are wrong. Western negative secularism promotes an approach of uniformity. It wants others to conform to its concepts. It never truly gives others the right to follow their own concepts. Western negative secularism judges others by its own standards and wants to impose its own values upon others.

However, under the garb of secularism and democracy, the West actually wants to dominate and exploit the entire world. In the final analysis, western democracy only serves the interests of western capitalists instead of people at large. Western democracy is therefore fundamentally faulted. It is only a numbers game: whoever can manage to get more votes by whatever means wins in the end. Only those who have the means and resources to win will win. The capitalist class has control over resources. Therefore, in this system, those who have control over resources (the capitalist class) will win in the end.

Western democracy, the numbers game, was faulted from the beginning. We can look at the history of England, which can be considered the birthplace of western democracy. Oliver Cromwell wanted to eliminate King Charles I. In December 1648, Cromwell passed a motion in Parliament to put to vote a charge of treason against King Charles I. Cromwell ensured victory by having his hired soldiers march on Parliament, stand on the stairs leading to Parliament, and only allow those members to go in who will vote in his favor. The members voted to execute King Charles I. However, after Cromwell’s death, a motion was again passed in Parliament to put to vote punishment for Cromwell for the unjust execution of King Charles I. The members this time voted for punishing Cromwell. On the 12th anniversary of King Charles I’s execution (January 30, 1661), Cromwell’s decomposed corpse was exhumed from Westminster Abbey, hanged in chains, and thrown into a pit, and his severed head was displayed on a pole outside Westminster Hall for the next 24 years.

As opposed to this basically faulted western concept of democracy, the eastern concept of democracy, which is very well illustrated in Sri Guru Granth Sahib, is of selection by consensus. We can compare the eastern and western concepts of democracy in Punjab. Before British rule, the Sikh concept of selection by consensus was followed. We can observe the quality of leaders selected during that period and compare it to the quality of leaders who have been elected after the British replaced the Sikh principle with their concept of election by numbers. Very few will disagree that thanks to the numbers game, generally more manipulative, opportunist, undeserving, selfish, shameless, and corrupt leaders have been elected.

Under the pretext of secularism and democracy, the West follows hypocrisy and double standards. Just look at the record of those countries which are now making a lot of noise about Russia invading Ukraine. These are the very countries that invaded Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Iraq, Somalia, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and Libya. Invasions by western countries have killed many times more people than were killed by Russian invasions. However, western countries present themselves as defenders of secularism, democracy, and human rights.

Western capitalism places economics above ethics. Therefore, its secularism, democracy, and human rights are all meant to serve its economic interests. The West will justify any means which will serve its economic interests. More and more people have started to understand western hypocrisy and double standards. The West cannot extend its rule beyond the middle of this century.

After the impending collapse of the western capitalist system, the sham secularism and democracy will also collapse and true secularism and democracy, which evolved in the East, will prevail. Everyone will then understand that the West is neither secular nor democratic.

Dr. Sawraj Singh, MD F.I.C.S. is the Chairman of the Washington State Network for Human Rights and Chairman of the Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice. He can be reached at sawrajsingh@hotmail.com.

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