representative, and well-defined global public. At the domestic level, those affected by the power-wielders are generally understood to be those subject to the laws of the polity, so it is fairly easy to determine who has a right to participate. But having the right to participate in politics as an affected party is ambiguous at the global level. For example, if being affected by a decision were sufficient to support a right to participate in decision-making, anyone who buys gasoline would be entitled to participate in OPEC’s deliberations, and anyone affected by world interest rates to participate in discussions at the Federal Reserve or the European Central Bank. In the absence of a public whose boundaries are defined by participation in a polity, it is very difficult to specify either who should be entitled to participate or how they would do so.
Today, there is no large and representative global public, even in the relatively weak sense of a global “imagined community” (Anderson 1991) – a transnational community of people who share a sense of common destiny and are in the habit of communicating with one another about issues of public policy. Particular global publics are indeed emerging – for instance, in issue-areas such as human rights and environmental protection (Keck and Sikkink 1998) – but they surely are not representative of the world’s people, and they are by no means coterminous with the sets of people affected by the policies of states, multinational firms, or multilateral organizations.
In order for a global public to function politically, there would need to be some political structure that would help to define who was entitled to participate, and on what issues. In addition, many more people would have to identify transnationally and