posted on April 27, 2015 10:50
I’ve asserted in my book that all forms of governance break
down into three or four types. It is
time to talk about those in more detail, as it has a direct relationship to the
topic at hand.
The State Religion Societies
The first blog posts on this site discussed the differences
between individualistic and collectivist societies. The state religion societies were all
collectivist, and include the civilizations from the ancient world such as
Egypt, Persia, Assyria, Babylonia, Greece, Rome, Mayans, and Aztecs. These societies all had similar governance
structures and similar gods. Initially
their rulers worshipped the gods, but over time the rulers themselves often
came to consider themselves gods. The
notion of political power and religious power were seen to be very closely
related. This relationship was
emphasized by the positioning the palace and temple in close proximity, and
placing them on land with the greatest height above the town or city. As the location of a temple was selected by
its god, the location of the temple never changed. Instead a new temple would be built upon the
ruins of the previous one.
Some of the relevant underlying tenets of these societies included:
Rights came from the State through the laws it
As it is the State which mattered, it was only
the whole society which also mattered.
There was a sense of collective morality; the group was punished for the
transgressions of an individual. Individuals
only mattered to the extent that they supported the collective.
was no sense of individual rights as we understand them today. Rights were based upon the group that you
belonged to, as defined by the State. Individuals
were not recognized as being equal, but rather some were more equal than
As individuals only mattered in accordance with
their ability to support the State, some were naturally better than
others. Those who were not as endowed were
meant to be ruled by those who were so gifted – their betters. This was both ‘expedient and right’ in the
words of Plato and Aristotle, and both persuasion and compulsion were
acceptable means to acquire this end.
Citizenship was not for everyone, only those who
were deemed to be better by the State.
As we were not all equal, the acquisition of
knowledge was only for those who had the ability, and leisure, to use it. There was no right to education, or rather
you had the right to the education that would suit your station in life, as
defined by the State.
These society’s governance structures looked as follows.
The founding of this country was based upon the promise
proclaimed within the Declaration of Independence, and fulfilled by the
ratification of our Constitution. It was
an extension of the principles upon which the Western Europe governments were
founded, particularly those of the states of Northern Italy, the Netherlands,
and England. It differs significantly in
a number of ways from the State Religion societies previously mentioned. These differences constitute what I’ve termed
‘individualism’ in earlier posts.
However, this is not the same notion of individualism that we largely
see on display today, as the current notion is generally based upon the
individual alone. We are called to
individualism both as an individual and as a people. Our Founders understood this and attempted to
create a form of governance that would recognize both levels, while putting
checks in place to keep the Government from corrupting Religion, a reason that
many of their families had immigrated to the Colonies to begin with and a
direct rebuttal of the thoughts of those such as Machiavelli, Hobbes, and
Some of the relevant underlying tenets of this governance form
individual is the level of existence which matters. Creation was made for man’s use in fulfilling
his purpose, and we are to exercise stewardship in its use.
were all created with the same innate nature, and share the same kinship. Therefore, we all share in an equality of our
can be by the one, a few, or many.
However, the power to rule is to be subservient to our Creator’s Law and
Governance. Power under this approach is
more likely to be limited and dispersed, and to come from the people who are to
have divine rights which come from our Creator, through divine and natural
law. Other rights can come from the
people, but these should be aligned with our divine rights.
are called to be a ‘people’. For a
people to exist there must be both a mutual recognition of rights and a mutual
cooperation for the common good. The
mutual recognition of rights was grounded in the previous point. Those rights which came from our Creator were
inalienable, we could not cede those as we alone were, and are, responsible for
their use. Looking out for the common
good meant that individuals, and not the State, were called to look after
others within this society – in a word, to act with charity.
belongs to all those who choose to be a part of the people.
morality, religion, and education are cornerstones of individualism.
is required in order for individuals to make sound choices. Clement stated that while we are not born
with virtues, we are made to acquire them.
effort and reason to acquire knowledge—education—is needed to acquire virtue.
provides the morale basis to encourage virtue’s development.
State’s primary purpose is the execution of the virtue of justice when a member
of society fails to recognize the rights of another. For justice to exist the society itself must
be virtuous, including those who have a role in the State, and religion is a
necessity in providing the foundation for morality and virtue.
There are at least
two further distinctions between collectivism and individualism which must be
considered. The first concerns emotion
versus reason. This is captured by Milton
Friedman who wrote, ‘The argument for collectivism is simple if false; it is an
immediate emotional argument. The
argument for individualism is subtle and sophisticated; it is an indirect
rational argument. And the emotional
faculties are more highly developed in most men than the rational,
paradoxically or especially even in those who regard themselves as
The second concerns the means
and the ends. Also from Friedman,
‘Unfortunately, the relation between the ends and the means remains widely
misunderstood. Many of those who profess
the most individualistic objectives support collectivist means without
recognizing the contradiction. It is
tempting to believe that social evils arise from the activities of evil men and
that if only good men (like ourselves, naturally) wielded power, all would be
well. That view requires only emotion
and self-praise—easy to come by and satisfying as well. To understand why it is that ‘good’ men in positions
of power will produce evil, while the ordinary man without power but able to
engage in voluntary cooperation with his neighbors will produce good, requires
analysis and thought, subordinating the emotions to the rational faculty.’
To summarize, within
collectivist societies only the ends matter – generally how one gets there does
not matter, all that matters is the end is reached. This is done with a great deal of
emotionalism, as that is easy and requires little thought. Within individualistic societies, both the
ends, and the means used to obtain them, matter. Great thought and care are needed in
balancing the means and the ends, and the decisions around the means and ends
are largely left to individuals. This
would be complete anarchy if the society did not possess both virtue and
governance structure can be shown as follows:
We’ll apply the same analysis to Islam. From Islam’s tenets, we can derive the
following regarding its form of governance.
Man’s natural state is that of a slave. Man is the slave of his Creator, and his sole
purpose is the worship of his Creator.
Obedience is the cornerstone of Islam.
Divine (revealed) and human law are one and the
same. Obedience to the law is the
objective of governance and it is enabled through Shri’a. As revealed and human law are one, there is
no separation between the church and state as we understand it.
The Umma (brotherhood) is the lowest level that
matters. Obligations exists only for
those who belong to the Umma. They can
be extended to others as a form of piety, but it is not required.
Rights and obligations are defined through the revealed
law within the Qur’an and Hadith, as interpreted by the clergy and administered
by the state. These are group rights and
at a very high level include the following distinctions:
Muslim men possess more rights than Muslim
women, but both possess relatively more rights than any other group and both belong
to the Umma.
The rights of the Peoples of the Book (Jews,
Christians, and Zoroastrians) are fewer and less in scope (see examples below) than
those of Muslims.
have very few rights, if any.
There are limitations within society based upon
your belief. Jews and Christians cannot
hold political office, own certain types of businesses, or enter certain
professions within Islamic societies.
There are limitations within society based upon
ones gender. Women are often not allowed
to drive, vote, receive an education, or be in public without a male escort who
is a family member.
Once a Muslim purchases property, it becomes
part of dar al-Islam and can only be sold to another Muslim.
Muslim charities can only extend benefits to
The common good becomes what is good for Islam,
as expounded by the example set by Muhammad.
Expediency in spreading Islam trumps morality. In other words, the ends justify the means.
These societies have the following governance structure.
We can see that an Islamic society
is just another form of collectivism as it has been defined within these
discussions. Its most significant
difference from the State Religion societies is that human law and divine law
are seen as one and the same – and divine law may only be changed by one’s
Collectivist and individualistic
societies are mutually exclusive. Only
one form or the other can exist within a society, therefore any Islamic form of
governance is contradictory to our founding principles. Shri’a attempts not so much to diminish
non-Muslims rights (at least initially), but rather to elevate Muslims rights
above all others within a society. There
is no self-governance within Islam; everything down to the smallest details of
life has already been dictated for you.
You are only called to obedience.
This structure too is both contradictory and incompatible with the founding
principles of our society.