be willing to participate as members of a global public.9 The number of participants would have to be sufficiently large and representative, and the means of participating sufficiently open, that the views of the active public could be seen as reflective of the opinions of people in the world as a whole to a significant extent. Whether such conditions could ever be met or whether the problems of scale render global democracy impossible or even undesirable will continue to be highly contested questions. What we can say with certainty is that, today, while there are fragmentary global publics, a genuine global public comparable to publics in well-established democracies does not exist.
Another way of making this point would be to say that world politics today lacks a public in two distinct senses. There is no juridical public on a global level, since no legal institutions define a public with authority to act globally. There is no sociological global public, because only a very small minority of people in the world identify and communicate with other people on a global basis, or even follow world events very closely. This analysis suggests that proposals for global participatory institutions, such as that of Richard A. Falk and Andrew Strauss (2000) are premature at best. There is no global demos, and “if there is no demos, there can be no democracy” (Weiler 1999: 337). 10
9 The World Values Survey, taken in 70 countries at two different periods of the 1990s, indicated that only fifteen percent of respondents viewed themselves as identifying primarily with their continental regions or the world as a whole. 47 percent had principally local and regional attachments, while 38 percent listed their nation-state as their principal affiliation (Norris 2000: 161-166).
10 David Held (1995: 232) has notably made the case for “cosmopolitan democracy” as an ideal, in which associations of democratic states would lead to people learning “the theoretical lesson that democratic legitimacy can ultimately only be redeemed transnationally.” We are more sympathetic with Held’s argument for an eventual cosmopolitan democracy than with the institutional proposals of Falk and Strauss.