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Spreading Freedom
WRM in the WSJ : How to Promote Democracy

2013 was a bad year for democracy and freedom around the world, as WRM notes in his latest piece for the Wall Street Journal. Many Arab Spring nations have experienced coups or other chaos, fascism is on the rise in some countries, and places like Thailand are moving towards less democratic forms of government. In light of all of this bad news, WRM’s column proposes a way forward for those who care about spreading political freedom:

This doesn’t mean that democracy advocates should wring their hands and stand aside, but it does mean we need to think about promoting deeper social change over longer periods […]

A more sustainable and effective democracy agenda would start with education. Helping talented young people get access to good education will, over time, do more to promote democratic ideals than anything else. This doesn’t just mean offering more students more opportunities to study abroad. Many countries, like Egypt, have terrible postsecondary systems. Founding new schools, helping existing ones, and promoting partnerships between Western and foreign institutions can go a long way.

Read the whole thing to get a fuller sense of how Western countries can still promote democracy in an age of domestic exhaustion and international chaos.

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  • Andrew Allison

    I question the thesis that spreading democracy around the world is a good thing — consider the track record of such efforts. History, ancient and modern, suggests that “tribal” (by which I mean ethnic, religious and cultural) enmity can only be kept under control by repression. The death of Tito in 1980, for example, lead to a bloodbath in the Balkans, and the Levant is currently awash in blood which can be attributed to the spread of “democracy”.

  • gmcinva

    Perhaps we would be better served to work toward preserving freedom in our own republic. We seem to be having considerable difficulty in maintaining or restoring the rule of law and a respect for private property as well as other previously respected freedoms in our own country. If we can or will solve those issues, then we might be more able to promote “democracy” to others without attempting to impose same on cultures that do not want it.

    • Kavanna

      You know, this is why I come here. I loaded this page thinking I would write something like this, only to discover that WRM’s super-smart fans have, once again, beaten me to it. Clearly, we need to stage a virtual sit-in and occupy Prof. Mead’s cyberoffice 🙂

      Liberal democracy begins at home, and we are losing it, here at home.

  • Bruce

    2013 was a bad year for democracy in the USA as well as the usurper president was not challenged by the “opposition” party as he governed by executive order. The usurper does not like our Constitution and feels we should not be able to keep it.

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