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When, at the end of the cold war and at the beginning of a new wave of democratization, we suggested the idea of a cosmopolitan democracy, we were aware that we were pouring old wine into new bottles. (1) The attempt to make world politics more transparent, more accountable, more participatory, and more respectful of the rule of law had pioneers spanning from Immanuel Kant to Richard Falk. Still, the idea that "democracy" as a concept and a practice could and should be applied beyond nation-states was somehow innovative. If we read the international relations textbooks prior to 1989 we may be surprised to note that many of them do not even contain the word "democracy." When the word appears, it is generally in reference to the internal political regime of states, and certainly not in relation to the possibility of reordering world politics according to democratic rules. Even international organizations were seen mostly as purely intergovernmental bodies, and the prospect of making them more democratic was not contemplated. The European Union, the first international organization composed exclusively of democratic regimes and with some germs of democratic norms in its modus operandi, was mainly discussed in relation to the limits it imposed on the sovereign decision-making of its member countries rather than in terms of its ability to deal publicly with transnational issues. The state of the art was not very different in the realm of democratic theory. Most of the textbooks dedicated to democracy (including the first edition of a work by one of us (2)) did not contain any reference to the problem of democracy beyond borders. Many of these textbooks addressed in detail how decision-making within town halls, counties, and central governments could foster or hamper democracy, but democratic theory ended at state borders: it had nothing yet to say beyond this level of analysis. This was also driven by historical conditions dominated by the cold war, which made it impracticable to try to make the international system more democratic.

Politics & Current Affairs
22 December
Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.

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