The Retreat of Global Democracy

A nasty, unintended side-effect of globalization is its corrosive effect on democracy. Even if individual countries are becoming more democratic, it seems, the sum of global democracy is shrinking thanks in no small part to globalization.

Democracy means many things, but at its core it requires that people choose their rulers and that votes be weighted equally. But globalization means that nations and peoples can exert an asymmetric influence. America can cut off trade with Cuba not only by curtailing its own trade but by threatening punitive action against others who trade or invest in Cuba. Cuba, however, can do little to hurt America's economy. Likewise, China can injure Taiwan in ways that Taiwan cannot reciprocate.

Of course, the powerful have always encroached on the sovereignty of others. Take the story, perhaps apocryphal, of an Indian diplomat showing a map of South Asia to Stalin. "India is a very big country," Stalin observed, and then pointing to Sri Lanka said, "What is the name of this little Indian island?" "That is not an Indian island, sir," the diplomat replied, "it is a sovereign nation." "Why? "Stalin asked.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To continue reading, please log in or register now. After entering your email, you'll have access to two free articles every month. For unlimited access to Project Syndicate, subscribe now.

required

By proceeding, you are agreeing to our Terms and Conditions.

Log in

http://prosyn.org/fvtGnDd;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.