Millet system in Canada

Recent changes to Canadian law greatly broaden the scope of binding arbitration. Under the new rules, if people don’t want to go to court to settle civil disputes they don’t have to, but can get a legally enforcible decision from an arbitrator. One consequence is that it is now practical of Muslims in Canada to govern their mutual relations by the Shari’ah simply by agreeing to do so. Once it is practical it becomes a religious obligation, so they are now working out the practical details.

In general, people can agree to submit future disputes to arbitrators. It seems, then, that a Muslim community could require its members to agree to submit all disputes with other Muslims to Islamic judges. A group of traditionalist Catholics or Mormons could do likewise, and so have Catholic or Mormon principles govern their commercial transactions or function as their family law.

The result would be something that has been altogether typical in profoundly multicultural societies in the Middle East and South Asia, Ottoman Turkey and British India for example. Each community would have its own law for inheritance, domestic relations and internal contractual dealings, with a common law defined by the state governing intercommunal relations and the more serious crimes.

It’s not a perfect solution to the problem of liberal nihilism. It means the end of the common public life that has distinguished the West and given rise to unmatched achievements in science, philosophy, the arts and politics. It means radically irresponsible and therefore despotic government. On the other hand, it does let things go forward within particular communities on principles that make a tolerable human life possible, and so is better than comprehensive government of social life by the principles of advanced liberalism. It may turn out to be the best that’s available to us.

5 thoughts on “Millet system in Canada”

  1. Very well said. I agree
    Very well said. I agree that this trend will pose a number of problems, but I think that it will also offer some advantages.

    Probably the most important is that young people will be able to compare various social and belief systems side by side, and thereby make some comparisons. (More easily than they can now)

    It’s even possible that different
    systems will begin to compete, free market style,
    to win young adherents. I can imagine some great
    billboard advertising.

    In the long run, Christianity would probably benefit from the competition. At the very least, this will force the Church to examine it’s own ideology more closely.

  2. Mr. Kalb’s position may be
    Mr. Kalb’s position may be nothing more than realism, but I confess it sounds defeatist to me…and in that respect, uncharacteristic of him; a little like “Give me Liberty, or whatever the next best thing is”. How “tolerable” will human life be under “despotic government” after “the end of the common public life that has distinguished the West”? If we start to think of this as perhaps “the best that’s available to us”, how will we preserve our will to resist it? I also have serious doubts that Muslims will accept a modus vivendi that still requires them to defer to “a common law defined by the state governing intercommunal relations and the more serious crimes”; though even in Canada, they may not build up the sheer number of people needed to obtain better terms.

  3. “though even in Canada, they
    “though even in Canada, they may not build up the sheer number of people needed to obtain better terms.”

    The one thing in the article that struck me the most had nothing to do with the subject matter directly, but was the statement that “the Muslim community is the largest minority in Canada, over one million strong”. I’m Canadian, and had no idea there were quite so many Muslims here – we only have around 31 million people here or so, in total. So that makes our Muslim population about three percent of our total, and they tend to have a higher birthrate than the rest of Canadians, to my knowledge. So it’s conceivable that one day, they could be a large enough group to wield much more political clout here than at present.

  4. A chilling post and chilling
    A chilling post and chilling insight from Mr. Kalb, which we’ve discussed further at View from the Right:

    I’m reminded of Mr. Kalb’s essay on Ibn Khaldun, in which he argued that the West may be moving in the direction of traditional Mideastern society, consisting of small, closed cultures, all under the umbrella of a distant and despotic government. This to us Westerners is not acceptable at all, but a vision of hell on earth. However, we must be realistic about the tendencies that indeed seem to be pushing us in that direction.


Leave a Comment