In place of 'global democracy'

Saward, Michael (2008). In place of 'global democracy'. Ethical Perspectives, 15(4) pp. 507–526.



This article discusses something that is not ‘global democracy’. That notion too easily names something that we do not have, today, and whose shape (if it could have a shape) is for now unknowable. I first sketch key reasons why we ought to be cautious about invocations of ‘global democracy’, for example by looking briefly at some lesser noted assumptions accompanying such ideas as the world parliament. It is argued that we need to think more about political forms – where do transnational ones come from, how do they crystallise and become formalised, and are new procedures ‘designed’ or rather nudged from what a range of actors do or create? I move on to look at the unavoidable particularity of invocations of global democracy, in terms of varying narratives and emphases. I then sketch an alternative, reflexive and focused way to think about democratic practices in transnational spaces.

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