chapter  8
13 Pages

What's Wrong with Cosmopolitan Democracy?

In the past, the sovereign nation-state was considered to be the 'ultimate power' that could impose, and enforce, order within a territory. Political rule in general, and the regulatory, steering and coordinating capacities of the state in particular, have been territorially bounded in their reach. The success of the nation-state in the last two hundred years or so, as well as its universality and legitimacy, were premised on its claim to be able to guarantee the economic well-being, the physical security and the cultural identity of the people who constitute its citizens. However, ever more societal interactions cross borders, becoming transnational and hence detached from a particular territory. Global capitalism and the global division of labour, the global proliferation of nuclear weapons, the global reach of environmental and health risks, global tourism and mass migration, or global media and communication networks, now challenge the effectiveness of the organisational form of the nation-state. The links between the citizens and the nation-state are becoming ever more problematic. The citizens demand political representation, physical protection, economic security and cultural certainty. Yet we are moving into a world of diffused and decentralised power. In this world that is made up of states, (politically organised) regions, international and supranational organisations, non-governmental organisations and transnational corporations, the nationstate finds it increasingly difficult to accommodate these interests and mediate between its citizens and the rest of the world.