Egypt: liberal democracy or an African democracy? http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/features/70771
In the context of the popular uprisings in North Africa, Patricia Daley draws on the work of Nigerian scholar Claude Ake and asks how social justice scholars can operationalise the democratic principles he articulated. I started to ponder why the use of the term ‘liberal democracy’ has always made me feel uncomfortable, even though I am opposed to dictatorships, one-party rule, and other systems of governance that deny the participation of citizens. In contemporary political rhetoric, democracy is often seen as the gold standard.
Yet, those who uphold it at home and cite it as a reason to pursue warfare, when confronted with people power, are left bumbling. The humanity and dignity of the Egyptian people are at odds with geo-political interests - even when exposed to the full glare of international attention. It seems as if the empire has no clothes.
These events force us to consider the relationship between liberal democracy, empire, global economic dominance, and social Darwinism. The Nigerian scholar Claude Ake, in his book ‘Democracy and Development in Africa’, considers democracy within the history of colonial and post-colonial Africa. Writing of the North’s attitude to democracy in Africa, Ake notes that:‘Even at its best, liberal democracy is inimical to the idea of the people having effective decision-making power. The essence of liberal democracy is precisely the abolition of popular power and the replacement of popular sovereignty with the rule of law (p.130).’