chapter  12
Relocating the demos?
ByPeter J. Taylor
Pages 9

The fundamental problem seems to be that there is serious erosion of the idea that franchised peoples are also communities of fate (Held et al 1999:30-1). The contemporary state has been legitimated as ‘nation-state’ where the ‘nation’ is an imagined community, and this state-model claims to provide a designated ‘people’ with a common past upon which to build a common future. It is this combining of roots with fate that has made democracy a plausible collective enterprise. Taking the future of a people out of its own hands is the basic political threat of globalisation: ‘rule by the people’ is meaningless if elected leaders are deprived of the ‘levers of power’. To avoid this outcome it is necessary that we rethink the ‘demos’. There is surprisingly little past literature to draw on for such a task

which is why our theme of transnational democracy is so important. Ever since franchise reforms produced universal suffrage in Western countries, concern for democratic change has generally focused upon procedural matters (electoral reform, PR or not PR, and so on) with the demos usually playing the role of a taken-for-granted given (but see Taylor 1996, 1999:69-72). My purpose in this discussion is to open up the question of demos to further scrutiny under conditions of contemporary globalisation. In the analysis attempted here, it is assumed that an effective and legitimate demos will need to reintegrate community of fate and imagined community.