“The distinctive feature of modern liberal governance, I would submit, is neither compulsion (force) nor negotiation (consent) but the statecraft that uses “self-discipline” and “participation,” “law” and “economy” as elements of political strategy.” (Asad 3)
The appearance of the word ‘democracy’ in the public discourse of modern liberal states has gained a kind of currency where it can camouflage as many things and therefore functions as a prominent nothing. The deep shadow of ‘totalitarianism’, a term referring to the fascist regimes and the communist experiments of the twentieth century, lingers in the collective memory of the Western world to the extent that alternative forms of social and political organization are immediately sensed as dangerous and “anti-democratic”. The secular, liberal democratic state constantly establishes itself as the norm in such public discourse with the consequence that its authority is constantly evoked, through a necessary evocation of the terrible totalitarian past, to legitimate ‘democratic’, ‘legal’, ‘rational’ acts of governance. The conflation of the word ‘democracy’ with “the universally correct way of life”, its synonymy with the secular, liberal state, entails a certain attitude towards the religious, alternative economic modes of organization of material resources and alternative definitions of the political. The constant evocation of ‘democracy’ in the public sphere as an incontestable order reveals the coercive assertion of the superiority of the dominant Western, especially American, ways of organizing the social, the economic and the political. It is coercive because, as the last two decades and more, have proven that in the name of “democracy” the West, and especially the United States, can undertake a new imperialism, bring “peace” to troubled nations, support rebel groups and coups in other regions and neutralize non-existing weapons of mass-destruction.