Colliding Concepts: Democracy and Freedom in the History of the Naga Hills

Marcus Franke, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

By focusing on the conceptions of democracy and freedom in the modern history of the Naga Hills it is tried to contribute to the better understanding of these very concepts. In our world today both concepts form a normative unit. It is widely agreed that we should have democracy everywhere and also that once we have democracy then we also have freedom. Yet it is also clear that despite their global uniform, terminological omnipresence their respective form, in set-up and execution, varies considerably. These variations are often explained with local, that is historical, peculiarities. This means that what we, in our transnational and globalized world, describe everywhere as democracy and freedom is really democracy and freedom but only with local variations.
Yet, sometimes this variation can be so strong that the application of the terms becomes meaningless or even problematic. Problematic in that sense that they, in the disguise of universal democracy and freedom, are used as legitimizing tools to destroy for good, ways of life that may have held otherwise the potential for other possible, local forms of freedoms that may be truer to those who hold them. Not only the case of the Naga Hills suggests this. And not only the case of the Naga Hills suggests that the term democracy may even have been used as an instrument of imperial rule and legitimized war against the unwilling portraying them as parochial enemies of universal freedom.
So we may conclude that democracy has been the enemy of freedom, at least for some. Further, that universal freedom in the form of democracy as a formidable legitimizing tool for the powerful had to defame other forms of rule that may have held the potential for other forms of freedom. So by focusing on the modern history of the Naga Hills we try to sketch more clearly the forms of rule and being behind the deluding concepts. We will also make an effort to identify factors preventing real democracy and freedom.