Democracy's Trojan Horse

In the 21st century, the gravest threat to representative government may come from within.

Issue: Summer 2004

JUST BEFORE the new century began, Marc Plattner, co-editor of the influential Journal of Democracy, wrote of the brave new globalized world coming into existence:

A borderless world is unlikely to be a democratic one. For while the idea of "world citizenship" may sound appealing in theory, it is very hard to imagine it working successfully in practice, Indeed, some aspects of globalization, "point to a long range danger  to democracy."

While Plattner is uneasy about these developments, other observers, such as Strobe Talbott, largely discount the risks. An entire industry of transnational agencies and non-governmental organizations is pushing forward changes designed either to deny or override the national sovereignty of democratic states against surprisingly muted or inchoate opposition. Taken together, these changes amount to a serious political and intellectual challenge to democratic sovereignty vested in the liberal democratic nation-state.

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