Being a Global Citizen (or The “Demos” Problem)

The two components of the word democracy are “demos” and “kratia”, in ancient greek: people and power/authority.

The authority existing -in greater or lesser degree- in international organisations is nowadays indisputable, but to have it exercised in the interest of the people, or legitimized by the people we need…. the people!

And therein lies the problem.

Many excellent scholars tried to build theories to frame global democracy: transnational democracy, cosmopolitan democracy, post-modern democracy. An important contribution was offered by legal theories such as global constitutionalism and global administrative law but….still nobody recognizes as certain the existence of a global population, a “demos” giving to these theories a necessary factual substrate.

There are several good reasons to explain why the very existence of a global demos is still controversial: the dubious legal capacity of individuals in international law; the distances; the deep cultural and linguistic gaps. A people is made so by a number of common features: cultural, linguistic, religious; it is the product of a common history and of shared values and traditions; it shares a sense of belonging. This is what we study at school and, later on, at university.

But is it still so?

I think I am a global citizen. If you are reading this post, chances are that you are too.

The social fabric is rapidly evolving, what has held true ten years ago -or even one year ago- no longer corresponds to reality.

Two indicators are essential to tell you if you are part of the emerging global demos:

1) you feel a citizen of the world, a human being inside humanity. Internet and social networks allow you to connect to people living in different countries, cultures, mindsets. The low cost travelling companies, the decrease in communication costs and the sharing economy had an impact on your life, encouraging your mobility and your opennes to new experiences and people.

2) you know that what happens in other areas of the world affects your reality, be it for good or for bad. You care about global problems and global public goods, you sign global petitions and get involved in global discussions, you visit websites as Avaaz or change.org, maybe you even join some NGO operating globally.

We are still a minority right now. Too many obstacles prevent most of the citizens to be global citizens: poverty, digital and cultural divide, ideology. But the number is growing. Daily.

For this reason, those who mantain that a global demos is still missing are right, but stating the contrary is not entirely wrong. There is a global demos in the making. And we are part of it.

Somebody saw this coming, some time ago 🙂

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