Democracy in the Age of Global Markets
Contemporary controversies about the content and aim of democracy concern the question of whether the right and the capacity to shape our destinies require only the control and limitation of state power or, in addition, a significant control and limitation of economic power. According to the classical liberal conception, the main function of constitutional constraints is to protect the people from arbitrary exertion of state power. Carrying on the classical conception, neo-liberal theories tend to interpret democracy as market democracy, and thus largely identify the citoyen with the consumer, their bottom line going something like this: Rule by the people is advanced through consumer’s choice. Viewed in this light, global democratic institutions combined with strong legal regulation of the global economy would be damaging to market democracy, which can only function within a system of competition between nations. In opposition to this neoliberal conception, which usually neglects the difference between private and political preferences of individuals, I maintain that strong supranational institutions exerting democratic control of economic forces prove to be perfectly sound and coherent if we employ a more comprehensive conception of autonomy, a doctrine that puts stronger emphasis on the positive dimensions of freedom.
KeywordsEconomic Freedom Liberal Democracy Political Order Democratic Politics Trips Agreement
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