Global Democratic Theory is the first comprehensive introduction tothe changing contours of democracy in today's hyperconnectedworld. Accessibly written for readers new to the topic, itconsiders the impact of globalization and global forms ofgovernance and activism on democratic politics and examines howdemocratic theory has responded to address these challenges,including calls for new forms of democracy to be developed beyondthe nation-state and for greater public participation andaccountability in existing global institutions.
Divided into two parts, the book shows how globalization providesboth new obstacles and new opportunities for democracy. PartI explores the shifts underway at the national and internationallevels that are challenging democracy within nation-states aroundthe world. In response, new proposals for global and transnationaldemocracy have emerged. Part II critically analyses five mainapproaches of 'global democratic theory' D liberalinternationalism, cosmopolitan democracy, deliberative democracy,social democracy and radical democracy, focusing on their specificinterpretation of the problems facing democracy, theirnormative claims, and the feasibility of their proposed pathways ofdemocratization. The book's extensive account of theproblems and possibilities facing democracy today will be essentialreading for students and scholars of politics, political theory andpolitical philosophy.
Daniel Bray is Lecturer in International Relations at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia. His main research and teaching expertise is in international ethics, globalisation, democratic theory, and environmental politics. His current research specifically focuses on cosmopolitan approaches to international relations and pragmatist democratic theory.
Steven Slaughter is a Senior Lecturer in International Relations at Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia.
Globalization and the Democratic State
A comprehensive examination of global democratic theory must begin with how globalization has impacted on the nation-state and the consequences for traditional conceptions of democracy. This is no easy task because the role of the state in the contemporary world is a contested issue within public debates and academic scholarship. The issue is further complicated by differences in how globalization is understood. For some scholars, globalization refers to a range of social processes that for many centuries have increased transnational and transcontinental interdependence, while for others globalization is conceived more narrowly as a process of economic integration involving the recent influence of neo-liberalism on the global economy. In either case, it is clear that the ideas and practices of neo-liberalism have ratcheted up the spatial process of global integration to unprecedented levels in recent decades (Steger 2009: 38-57). Today, people all over the world are involved in or affected by an array of global and transnational processes ranging from economic transactions on global financial markets to cultural exchanges on the Internet. However, it is also the case that the scope and impact of these practices are distinctly uneven: many people are excluded from sharing in the benefits of globalization, while others face serious burdens and disadvantages arising from their enmeshment in global networks of power. As a result, public reactions against contemporary globalization have been driven by the perception that there is little or no democratic control over new sites of power and authority that transcend the nation-state.
At the heart of these concerns are questions about what globalization means for the role and significance of the nation-state. Until the emergence of contemporary globalization, the state was assumed to be the primary reference point for understanding the nature of political community. Democratic theory largely assumed that the nation-state was central to democracy by defining "the people," their political rights, and framing what social purposes the people should pursue. The emergence of contemporary globalization has fundamentally challenged these assumptions. The changing role of the state presents considerable challenges to prevailing notions of political community and representative government that underpin democracy within the state. In order to explore these challenges, this chapter first explains the key features of a nation-state and then examines the different perspectives regarding the impact of globalization on state power and capabilities. It then considers the rise of neo-liberalism and some of the public reactions and debates about globalization in this context. Finally, the chapter examines how democratic theory has reacted to these developments in its understanding of the role of the state in contemporary democratic life.
The Modern State
In order to understand the changing role of the nation-state in contemporary global politics it is first necessary to define what a "state" is. The modern state is a historically specific type of polity that has spread across the world to become the predominate form of political organization. Due to the different historical trajectories in which they developed, states vary widely in their capabilities and in the type of political regime that controls them. States in the industrialized West and postcolonial Africa differ markedly in their ability to control their domestic economies, for example, and states might be further differentiated by liberal democratic, authoritarian, or theocratic systems of government. However, central to the development of all modern states is the notion of sovereignty manifest in control over a delimited territory and population. The modern state is a form of territorial rule that centralizes most of its key functions in a system of government that is backed by a monopoly over the legitimate use of force and the possession of the legitimate right of taxation. As Anthony Giddens (1985: 282) explains:
a sovereign state is a political organization that has the capacity, within a delimited territory or territories, to make laws and effectively sanction their up-keep: exert a monopoly over the disposal of the means of violence; control basic policies relating to the internal political or administrative from of government; and dispose of the fruits of a national economy that are the basis of its revenue.
This capacity to rule involves an ability to create domestic law and enter into international legal arrangements, as well as playing a key role in shaping its population's identity and allegiance (Linklater 1998a: 118). By linking a vision of community to the administrative apparatus of the state, the "power over life and death" is legitimized by "appealing to and mobilizing deeper and more demanding feelings" of communal loyalty (Poggi 1978: 101).
The capacity for sovereign rule is also grounded in a state's right to supremacy in its domestic affairs and, by extension, a right to non-intervention by other states in its territory. Such rights are therefore conferred only by the recognition of sovereignty by other states and acknowledgment of the legal equality between them in an international society framed by shared rights, rules and responsibilities. This mutual recognition of sovereignty rose to prominence in the early modern period, as evident in the signing of the Peace of Westphalia that ended the Thirty Years War in Europe in 1648. In this period, European sovereigns began to recognize each other as equals and agreed not to interfere in each other's domestic affairs, particularly with respect to religious conflicts. In subsequent centuries, norms and practices of this so-called "Westphalian order" spread from Europe to the rest of the world and led to the development of international law, diplomatic communication, and other forms of cooperation between sovereign states. However, this expansion of the state system did not occur peacefully or without struggle. European countries violently imposed state structures on their colonial territories and did not recognize the sovereignty or existing political systems of the people they colonized. It was only when colonized people gained independence and sought to build their own states though a mixture of resistance and emulation that they gained sovereignty rights in the international system. Not all have been successful: many postcolonial states, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, can be characterized as "weak" or "failed states" because they are unable to maintain domestic order and are prone to civil wars and humanitarian disasters that prompt external intervention, sometimes without the consent of the host government. Nevertheless, the processes of decolonization in the twentieth century marked the final decisive phase in which the state system became truly global.
While the sovereign state is an organization based on legal independence and collective administration, it also normally represents a political community that shares some basic ideas about its collective identity and how society ought to be governed. Since the early nineteenth century, nationalism has become the central ideology shaping the identity of political communities, and the associated quest for national self-determination has driven the proliferation of sovereign states. This is why contemporary states are referred to as "nation-states." Despite the prevalence of nationalism, however, its precise nature as an ideology and cultural practice is widely contested. Some scholars argue that the nation and nationalism rest on primordial conceptions of ancestry and territory, while others contend that nationalism is a modern phenomenon that has been constructed by political leaders in response to the breakdown of traditional societies (Gellner 1983). As a modern ideology, European nationalism developed in conjunction with and in response to the rise of popular sovereignty, the mobilization of mass armies, capitalism, and industrialism, and alongside the development of new forms of communication such as the printing press that generated a national consciousness in dispersed populations (Anderson 1991: 36). Ernest Gellner (1983: 1) argues that nationalism aims to unite the political sphere, understood as the state, with the cultural sphere, understood as the nation: "nationalism is primarily a political principle which holds that the political and the national unit should be congruent." This aspiration for political unity can lead to devastating consequences for territories where multiple nationalisms are present and the leaders of one nation use the state apparatus to oppress or eradicate the others, as was the case in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Nationalism thus entails a special loyalty to members of one's nation that can ultimately supersede obligations to all other communities. As a moral ideal, this includes an ethic of public service and self-sacrifice that enables redistribution to fellow nationals through state welfare policies, and justifies the use of state violence in the defence of the nation against internal and external enemies.
However, in recent decades states have become embedded in global forms of governance addressing a range of global issues. Indeed, for much of the twentieth century states expanded their social and economic roles and developed international institutions dealing with a wide array of...