Politics, Power and Peace

“Power is to be used not to impose truth, but to preserve peace. The religious significance of liberal democracy is precisely that it secularises power. It does not invite citizens to worship the state, nor does it see civic virtue as the only virtue. It recognises that politics is neither a religion nor a substitute for one. Liberal democratic politics makes space for difference. It recognises that within a complex society there are many divergent views, traditions and moral systems. It makes no claim to know which is true. All it seeks to do is ensure that those who have differing views are able to live peaceably and graciously together, recognising that none of us has the right to impose our views on others. Democratic politics has no higher aspiration than to allow individuals freedom to pursue the right as they see the right, with this proviso only, that they extend the same right to others, seeking the maximum possible liberty compatible with an equal liberty for all. Democratic politics is a religious achievement because it secularises power.”

The Great Partnership, Chapter 13, p. 231