Globalizing the democratic community

Ethics and Global Politics 1 (4):159-174 (2008)

Abstract
This article discusses the problem of global democracy, and why democratic legitimacy seems so difficult to attain at the global level. I start by arguing that the difficulties we experience when we try to widen the scope of democratic governance beyond the boundaries of individual states have nothing to do with the characteristics of global society, but result from the underlying assumption that a political community has to be bounded and based on consent in order for democratic legitimacy to be possible. I then explore how this view came into being, arguing that the perennial paradoxes of democratic legitimacy are little but results of earlier and successful attempts to make the concept of political community coextensive with that of the nation. Finally, I argue that once we let go of the idea that political communities have to be bounded and based on consent in order to qualify as democratic ones, the paradox of democratic legitimacy will look like a category mistake rather than an inescapable obstacle to global democracy. Keywords : cosmopolitanism, democratic paradox, legitimacy, global governance (Published online: 7 November 2008) Citation: Ethics & Global Politics. Vol. 1, No. 4, 2008, pp. 159-174. DOI: 10.3402/egp.v1i4.1858
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DOI 10.3402/egp.v1i4.1858
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