Many people have seen and cheered along to Andrew Neil’s witty and heartfelt denunciation of the Paris bombings. If you are one of the people who missed it, it’s worth taking a minute or two to watch the video.
It’s stirring stuff, I think you’ll agree. You’ve got to love liberté, egalité, fraternité and crème brulé.
It’s also dreadfully flawed.
Don’t get me wrong, I have no sympathy for IS and I’m a strong Francophile; I’ve lived in France and I love speaking the language. But the idea that the future belongs to France, or to liberal democracy in general is just as wrong as the idea that it belongs to IS.
Modern, Western democracy is a relatively new phenomenon, even though it has long roots. It’s less than 100 years since women were granted equal rights to vote alongside men in the UK; in historical terms that is a blink of the eye. Now, democracy is a good thing, I agree with Churchill (if he really said it) that it is the worst system of government apart from all of the others. However, the simple fact is that no system of government has survived more than a few hundred years without changing into something else. To assume that democracy and our Western way of life will carry on broadly as it is, runs against all human experience. Let’s face it, democracy is already facing some serious strains. The cycle of elections breeds a short-termism that is ill-equipped to deal with long-term problems such as climate change, or major economic shifts. Our government’s response to terrorism and cybercrime is to crack down on some of the freedoms of expression and communication which are required for democracy to work properly. And so it goes on.
Predicting that any human system, be it Daesh or liberal democracy will ultimately triumph is, at best, wishful thinking.
Which brings us back to the Lord’s Prayer. We don’t pray for the continuation of one human system of government over another, (though we should pray and work for the end of injustice, conflict and suffering) we pray for God’s kingdom to come. The end, be it in a thousand days, a thousand years, or longer, is God’s kingdom. Where he will restore all things to himself in heaven and on earth by the blood of his son shed on the cross.
I’d far rather live in Andrew Neil’s world than the one that Daesh want to bring about, but ultimately, they are both as mistaken as each other. The future does not belong to Daesh and it doesn’t belong to Paris.