The very idea of a global democracy beyond the Westphalian world of nations but without the support of a global state is no longer a utopian fantasy. In particular, two claims of potentially far-reaching importance are advanced in current debate. The first is that to a substantial and growing extent, rule-making directly affecting the freedom of action of individuals, firms and nation states (and the making of rules to regulate this rule-making) is taking place, undemocratically but not entirely unaccountably, in global settings created by the world's nations but no longer under their effective control. Call this the global administration in the making claim. The second claim is that ensuring the accountability of this emerging global administration will require the elaboration and diffusion of new forms of governance. Because global rule-making does not operate in the shadow of a state and is not subject to an encompassing authority, its accountability cannot be understood as a matter of strengthening the incentives of rule-making agents to implement the plans of an authorizing principal. In general, the principal-agent models that deeply shape our ideas about the effective and legitimate delegation of such authority seem irrelevant to the global administrative space. Call this the new accountability thesis.
This class investigates the above claims and finding them plausible goes on to assess two potentially far-reaching implications. One is that establishing new forms of accountability at the global level will (because of the way that the nature of global administration connects it with national rule-making) reshape national politics, perhaps helping to re-invigorate democracy there by opening areas of domestic rule-making to a wider range of information, experience and argument. The second is that those same accountability-enhancing measures have the potential to democratize emergent global administration itself, not by creating institutions of electoral accountability, but by forming the people and public sphere that lie at the heart of democracy. To be sure, if the accountability of global administration depends on arrangements that are elsewhere anomalous and exceptional, then the demos to which it is ultimately accountable may be comparably anomalous global demos not comprised of the members of a single ethnically defined people or nation or state. Still, the anomalous demos may be sufficiently familiar to give substance to the now-fugitive idea of a global democracy without a global state or nation.
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