500BCA democratic system of governance is firstrecorded in Athens. Decisions are made by ashow of hands – a unitary or direct democracyin which everyone takes part.
A.D.1648The inviolability of the ‘nation-state’ is createdby the Treaty of Westphalia. Monarchs agreeto recognise each others’ sovereignty. This locksdown the global governance structure for 365years, and counting.
A.D.1795In Perpetual Peace, Immanuel Kant proposes whatbecomes liberal orthodoxy: republican states,federated under international law, with one worldcitizenship law.
‘Originally, no one had more right than another to a particular part of the earth.’
1860s+Political internationals unite labour activists acrossborders – an early global political movement.While they have some success, notably the eight-hour day, nationalism proves a stronger bindingforce, and the International collapses by 1914...
1918. 1945.The world wars are followed by grandchanges to the international governancestructure - always in the form of newinstitutions.
1945‘We the peoples of the United Nations...’ [not nations] Preamble to the United Nations Charter
Postwar periodThe objective of world peace drivesidealistic thinkers to consider worldfederalism. In the US, a ‘Sense of Congress’motion is passed for ‘strengthening the UNand seeking its development into a worldfederation’.
1950sThe Cold War kills that idea.McCarthy associates worldfederalists with communists.
60s, 70s, 80sSo world federalism fails. But globalisation takesoff: neoliberal economic ideas and powerfulmultinationals open up the world to marketforces, encouraged by international financialinstitutions.
60s, 70s, 80sIn three decades, the world sees theinvention of satellite TV, Eurobonds, oilcrises, special economic zones, booms in jetflights, international finance, shipping, andgrowing cultural hegemony...
1990sGrowing concern about globalisation burstsinto public consciousness at the ‘Battle ofSeattle’ in 1999.
2011A global financial crisis, high unemployment,and anger at political leaders results inrevolutions and protests around the world.
In the 21st century, policies must be sought todeal with climate change, economic shocks,pandemics, terrorism, financial risks, tradebarriers, transnational crime (human trafficking,drug trafficking, money laundering), poverty andinequality.The success and democratic nature of thosepolicies can no longer be guaranteed by nationalinstitutions. Too many variables lie outside thescope of the nation state.
“Everything has been globalizedexcept our consent. Democracyalone has been confined to thenation state.”George MonbiotAuthor, Columnist
“Ours is a world in which noindividual, and no country, existsin isolation. Pollution, organized crime,and the proliferation of deadly weaponslikewise show little regard for the nicetiesof borders; they are problemswithout passports...Kofi Annan(Then) UN Secretary General
“designing effective andlegitimate institutions is [the]crucial problem of politicaldesign for the twenty-firstcentury” Joe Nye and Bob Keohane Professors at Harvard and Princeton
One idea is global representative democracy – alogical next step from having a local representative,a national representative and, in some cases, aregional representative (as in Europe, andproposed in South America and Africa).
There’s already a Campaign fora UN ParliamentaryAssembly – and the idea hassupport from the European andAfrican Parliaments.
But could a system ofrepresentatives really bedemocratic for 7bnpeople?
1. How would such an assembly beelected? A location-based constituency,repeating the national system? Party lists?Global political parties?
2. How could such a parliament remain closeto the people? How could it deal with thecomplexity of global policy? How could itpossibly represent all views?
3. Is a hierarchical structure – in whichvotes flow upwards and decisions flowdownwards - best for global democracy?
4. Do existing representative democracyinstitutions work satisfactorily? Does theEuropean Parliament democratise Europeangovernance?
Advocates of global democracyshould abandon domesticanalogies. Instead, they shouldimagine a ‘non-centralised, non-territorial, non-exclusivesystem’ of governance. Heikki Patomaki (adapted) Professor of World Politics, Helsinki
What delivers such a‘non-centralised,non-territorial,non-exclusive system’of governance?Digital democracy.
“Global democracy canonly emerge from a‘rupture’ in globalsociety.” Richard Falk Prof. Emeritus of International Law, Princeton
That rupture is the information revolution:a revolution in access to information andin transparency. It creates new possibilitiesof global participation, collaboration andco-creation.
Global digital democracy doesn’t need a topdown institution. Instead, it benefits from aflexible distribution of power.
“The first basic principle toensure an inclusive, tolerant,respectful and decentralisedworld order is globaldeliberative equality” Anne-Marie Slaughter Professor of Politics, Princeton
“Democracy is about communication aswell as voting - about social learning aswell as decision making. It is thecommunicative aspects that for themoment can most straightforwardly bepursued in the international system.” John Dryzek Professor of Social Theory and Political Theory, Australian National University
3G will cover 85% ofthe world’s populationby 2017(Ericsson)
A perfect deliberative environment would bewhere everyone can access any information.And anyone can converse with anyone else.Where everyone has the power to produceinformation that can be shared instantaneouslyanywhere in the world.
Huge population figures are a problem forrepresentative democracy (and hierarchicalorganisations in general) – but they strengthenglobal deliberative networks, creating broaderand deeper conversations.
“Global democracyis only as good asglobal media” Johan Galtung Founder of Peace and Conflict Studies
Western countries produce the vast majority ofglobal information. English is the most popularlanguage for books, journals, newspapers and film.
As the Internet opens publishing,this is changing. Global informationproduction is becoming broader.
The microblogging platformTwitter shows examples of this.The next slide shows shows thelocation of tweets during one weekof 2012.
Jakarta Tokyo London Sao Paulo New York Bandung, Indonesia Paris Los Angeles Chicago Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Singapore Istanbui Osaka Toronto Madrid Rio de JaneiroSeoulMiamiAtlantaHouston
In their idealised* form, microblogsspread information meritocratically(with varying understandings ofmerit).Everyone has the same format touse, the same ability to mentionothers or repost others’ posts. *problems discussed later
In existing democracies, deliberation happens inthe media and in institutions like parliaments.Political representatives turn lobbying into law.Without a world parliament, how does debateturn into action?
With no global government,global democracy has to betruly participative: peoplemust collaborate digitally todeliver the projects theywant to see.Three examples:
Global disease information used to be sharedbetween governments via the World HealthOrganisation (WHO). But this meant thatgovernments could hide embarrassing or trade-threatening outbreak information.
ProMED-mail was a simple email list forepidemiology practitioners to share worldwidedisease news, set up in 1994. It created a networkof professionals who shared the latest diseaseinformation from across the world.
As a result, the nation-state members had tochange WHO’s rules to allow it to share non-stateproduced information. ProMED-mail ended amonopoly on disease information. It provides morepeople with access to better information, leadingto a safer world.
The Sistema de Alerta de Desmatamento(Deforestation Alert System) connects activists tomonitor satellite data on rainforests. It has thepotential to become a mass collaborative anti-deforestation effort with global benefits.
The project was created by Imazon, a BrazilianNGO, now supported by Google. As Google’s leadmapper said: “a collaborative monitoringcommunity, powered by the internet, [has] neverbeen possible before.”
Ushahidi (testimony or witness in Swahili) is a publicmonitoring platform that crowdsources itsinformation. It was invented in Kenya to map election-related violence. Citizens could send SMS and emailupdates to be published on the map. It’s now in usefor all kinds of projects across the world.
This kind of conflict data used to be the preserve ofintelligence agencies, the United Nations or nationalgovernments. Once anyone anywhere can use thisplatform to contribute information, power shifts tothe information-producing public.
All three examples are really about participativecreation of knowledge. If knowledge is power, thismatters. But what if you wanted to act on thatknowledge? How does digital democracy result inparticipative solutions or service delivery?For example, the activists monitoringdeforestation can’t actually do anything about itsincrease, right? Because digital collaborationdoesn’t create enforcement mechanisms...
Even this is changing. At one extreme there isdigital vigilantism: the enforcement of global normsby private actors. ‘Anonymous’ hacked Israeliwebsites in response to the government’s threat toshut down Gaza’s internet access.
Less drastically and with significantly more activity:offline commitments are inspired by digitalnetworks. Digital communities are funding andsupporting direct action around the globe. A rangeof new platforms is making this easier than ever.
3. Internet ascreator of globaldemocraticcommunity:
The classic ‘earthrise’ image is thought to haveboosted ‘global’ movements. It helped peoplevisualise themselves as members of one home –a single shared space, without borders.
Now, with digital social networks, we canvisualise not only the shared space, but ourconnections with people. There are one billionpeople on Facebook. The average path betweenany two of them is just 4.3 friend ‘hops’.
That is, you are connected to almostone billion people via your friend’sfriend’s friend’s friend. It’s a smallworld.
Take three problems:• existing power structures,• tyrannies of those who show up,• a global digital divide.
Powerful nations and companies are prosperingin a non-democratic system. Global democracywould threaten those who wield illegitimatepower at the global scale.
The World Economic Forum helps the wealthyset the agenda – the World Social Forum barelygets media coverage.
Most social media relies on private companies:Twitter, Facebook et al aren’t here for the lulz.
But private companies will have to be moreopen too. They are increasingly subject toconsumer control. “social production is reshaping the market conditions under which businesses operate.” Yochai Benkler Professor, Harvard Law School Author, ‘The Wealth of Networks’
Digital democracy might suffer from a tyranny ofthose who show up. Who really has the timeand energy for this stuff? Is Wikipedia ademocratic information platform when only0.13% write it?
But the transparency afforded by digital mediaenables a record of who did what. The nature ofdigital communications makes it easy to keepcommenting, debating, editing and re-editing.Reputations matter.
Two global digital divides: 1. poverty 2. censorship
It’s only a minority of the world’spopulation that has Internet access.
But smartphone ownership is growing rapidly, andmobile internet coverage is increasing. Perhapswithin ten years this will cease to be seen as aproblem.
Censorship, on the other hand, is practised bya large number of governments, and isn’t likelyto go away quickly. Or at all.
But smart users can get around censorship usingproxy servers. And ‘netizens’ will develop simpleacts of ‘everyday resistance’ – vocabularies ofdissent, codewords and underground discussions.There have been, and always will be, ways toescape censors.
Ultimately, it’s the numbers. China might call in thearmy to monitor microblogs, but they’ll still nevercontrol hundreds of millions of internet users. Inthe long run, the people win.
Do notions of solidarity or allegiance change in the digital space? Do digital social networks reduce a sense of otherness and boost cosmopolitan identity?
Do notions of solidarity or allegiance change in the digital space? Do digital social networks reduce a sense of otherness and boost cosmopolitan identity?How are all languages and cultures engaged in a global deliberation and participation space?
Do notions of solidarity or allegiance change in the digital space? Do digital social networks reduce a sense of otherness and boost cosmopolitan identity?How are all languages and cultures engaged in a global deliberation and participation space?Can open internet access, literacy and a robust digital infrastructure be ensured for all?
“This is for everyone” Tim Berners-Lee Inventor,World Wide Web
The Internet was developed in the 1960s. TheWorld Wide Web, which allows information to belinked globally and viewable through a browser -was only created in 1991. In the two decades since,we’ve experienced a slow-burn revolution. Imaginewhat another two decades might do.
Thanks for reading.Want references? Fewer pictures, more words? Something missing? Go here.
Earth sunrise/Moon earthrise: NASA Tahrir Facebook: rouelshimi Imazon screenshot: GoogleProtestor: murplejane All-seeing eye: cobalt123 Frog silouhette: ggaliceUNPA emblem: UNPA Notepad: melstampz Amazon rainforest: CIFURStarlings: Elsie Esq. Chain link fence: Thomas Hawk Network: sjcockellStopwatch: wwarby Euro Parliament: Xaf Security Council: riacaleAthens/Pnyz: : qwqchris Mathematical shape: Melisande World Economic Forum: WEFWestphalia: Gerard Ter Borch Napster: pasa47 Yochai Benkler: arcticpenguinKant portrait: v Wikipedia A-M Slaughter: personaldemocracy LazyCat: Nicola AlbertiniThe Crucible: drurydrama H1N1 Virus: AJCann (CDC) Internet World Map: Jeff Ogden1914-1918: yeowatzup Avian Flu Sign: Incessant Flux Internet truck: ALEMUSH1939-1945: Kaptain Kobold WHO speaker: US Missn Gva Internet switch: Mike LichtUN Charter: UN Photo Facebook world; Facebook via dullhunk1999 Battle in Seattle: Steve Kaiser Love(Heart)Peace: israellovesiran.com Number on wall: Pink SherbertPosters: Freestylee Library: 96dpi Incoming tide: Tim DonnellyOccupyResist: Devon Shaw Crowd: Alex Kess Olympic Stadium: Nick WebbGeorge Monbiot: v Wikipedia Lobby: SEIU International CERN NeXT: coolcaesarAnnan TV: Dark Inertia Johan Galtung: Manipulating LightJoe Nye: dsearls Wall St English: futureshapeRichard Falk: UN Geneva
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