Given the antagonism between rights-based claims to sovereignty and democratic self-determination by groups of people and similarly rights-based claims to human rights by individuals, can Habermas’ theory of cosmopolitan law offer a solution which does not jeopardize the construction of a political community that regulates itself through the control of relationships between the interior and the exterior?
Jürgen Habermas’ notion of a cosmopolitan democracy conceptualizes a legalized regulation of world politics through the formulation of a collected system of mediated institutions, transnational organisations and regional economics in such a way as to promote the individualistic, cosmopolitan rights of the individual as well as the strengthening of the democratic processes within the state itself. This paper will attempt to show, however, that such a framework is largely unsuccessful because it is incapable of legitimating the internal and external democratic structure through the creation of a shared political and social culture. This seems to depend, for the most part, on the nature of the democratic ideals towards which the cosmopolitan order would have to lend itself.
Democracy appears to necessitate the constitution of the person as part of a demos; that is to say, as an individual within a meta-community whose functional capacities are governed by identifiable rules establishing the relational modes that exist between those on the inside and those on the outside, which for Habermas represents the construction of a system for the exclusion of the other (reference). This system of exclusion, which can be understood with reference to the rule of law - that which governs the relationships of all parts of a demos - is authored, addressed and accepted by the democratic people. On this account, the members of a democracy - the citizen body - are not citizens of the world, but rather are members of geographically, politically and legally distinct communities. However, as it becomes increasingly difficult to differentiate between the internal and the external – between the foreign and the domestic – the existing model of states with self-styled sovereignty existing independently from external control has become increasingly questionable. This being said, the outcomes of a process of globalization such as the rapid growth and accelerated dispersal over international borders of the political, economic and cultural influences does not necessarily contradict the democratic practice nor the nation state, and clearly neither look ready to collapse. If, however, globalization is to continue in the face of an ever-narrowing space for a feasible popular input into the political, without deleteriously reducing the ability for states to retain legitimacy in decision-making, then alternative structures for a democratic process needs to be developed.
The cosmopolitan democracy offered by Jürgen Habermas may offer a structural and ethical solution for a world...