What are the likely consequences of globalization for democratic theory and practice? In a series of pathbreaking publications that have garnered a remarkable amount of scholarly attention in a brief span of time, the political theorist David Held and a group of interlocutors (most important, Daniele Archibugi and Anthony McGrew) have tackled this question by means of an audacious model of “cosmopolitan democracy,” according to which the democratization of transnational politics now belongs at the top of the agenda.1 Held and his intellectual compatriots argue that the ongoing globalization of key forms of human activity calls out for the development of no less transnational modes of liberal democratic decision making.2 A host of recent social trends (the globalization of the economy, for example, as well as the growing signifi cance of cross-border environmental problems) demonstrates not only that the existing nation-state is ill-prepared to deal with the regulatory imperatives of our times but also raises fundamental questions about the traditional attempt to weld liberal democracy onto the framework of the modern nation-state. Modern liberal-democratic theory typically presupposed the existence of substantial symmetry and congruence between citizen-voters and decision makers at the national level, and the key categories of consent, constituency, participation, and representation were accordingly conceived within the parameters of the nation-state. As national borders become ever more porous, however, a series of diffi cult and thus far unanswered questions force themselves onto the agenda of democratic theory: “What is the proper constituency, and proper jurisdiction, for developing and implementing policy issues with respect to…the use of nuclear energy, the harvesting of rain forests, the use of non-renewable resources, the instability of global fi nancial markets, and the reduction of the risks of nuclear warfare” in light of their profound cross-border consequences?”3 Their answer to this question is that we need to update the liberal-democratic vision by undertaking a series of dramatic institutional reforms. Stated in the simplest terms: those policy arenas whose transnational scope overwhelms existing nationally based liberal democratic institutions require a dramatic strengthening of nascent forms of transnational liberal-democratic authority (under the auspices of the UN but also regional organizations such
as the EU or NAFTA) along with the establishment of new forms of transnational decision making (for example, cross-border popular referenda).