Tuesday, February 18, 2003

More signs of vigorous debate by students 

The two of the founders of OxBlog, an excellent student weblog, have an article in today's OpinionJournal.com about their formation of the Oxford Democracy Forum. The Forum's founding principles calls for a democracy "that actively promotes civil rights, the rule of law and citizen participation" and a foreign policy that sees "spreading democracy is the only demonstrated and sustainable means of preventing international conflict". From the OpinionJournal piece:
We founded OxDem because we were saddened by many students' lack of interest in the fate of those who are not fortunate enough to share in the freedom that students in Western democracies take for granted. While students have taken to the streets on behalf of good causes such as the plight of exploited workers in Vietnam and desperate refugees in Central Africa, none of them seem to recognize that the ultimate cause of such suffering is a lack of democratic government.
A similar group has formed at Yale. Chances most of them understand the meaning of this sign from Saturday's anti-war protests.

I find myself at times uncomfortable with the statement that democracy is something that can be imposed from outside. I'm greatly influenced by the writings of the late Mancur Olson, who thought the conditions by which democracy forms to be relatively rare. (See for example this paper.) But the choice between OxDem and A.N.S.W.E.R. is an easy one to make.

UPDATE: Instapundit links to this article from the Yale Daily News.