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Commissioned Essay: Global Governance Vs. The Liberal Democratic Nation-State: What Is The Best Regime?

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Publication Date: May 2008

Publisher(s): Hudson Institute

Author(s): John Fonte

Funder(s): Hudson Institute

Funder(s): Hudson Institute

Topic: Government (Nation state)

Type: Report

Abstract:

In the coming years of the twenty-first century the ideology, institutions, and forces of “global governance” will directly challenge the legitimacy and authority of the liberal democratic nationstate and American constitutional sovereignty. What is this ideology, what are these institutions and forces, and how do they challenge liberal democracy and American sovereignty? To begin to examine these issues let us start with the primary questions of politics.

Who governs? To whom is political authority responsible? How are rulers chosen? How are rulers replaced? How is the power of rulers limited? How are laws made? How can bad laws be changed? These are the perennial questions of politics. As Plato and Aristotle inquired: what is the “best regime”?

In this first decade of the twenty-first century, has the question of what is the best regime been settled? For many throughout the developed world the answer is yes. Liberal democracy, that hybrid combination of liberalism and democracy, is the “best regime.”

Liberalism in traditional political theory means an emphasis on individual rights, free institutions, the impartial rule of law, freedom of speech and association, private property, and freedom for religion, commerce, culture, and educational institutions. Under liberalism, equality of individual citizenship is the norm.

Democracy means rule by the “demos,” the people. At the heart of modern democracy is the doctrine that governments derive their powers from the “consent of the governed,” as famously put in the American Declaration of independence. National self-government, popular sovereignty, and majority rule (within constitutional limits, i.e., limited by liberalism)