Falk and Strauss Reply

Article excerpt

Santa Barbara, Calif.; Wilmington, Del.

* Anders Johnsson contends that our proposal for a global parliament is unrealistic because many countries do not yet have authentic national democracies. He assumes that democracy can proceed only in one specifically prescribed linear fashion, from local to global. We do not agree.

In the days when many of America's biggest cities were still run by antidemocratic political machines, no one would have claimed that the United States should abandon democracy at the national level because, as Johnsson asserts, it always starts at home.

In fact, beginning to establish democratic practices globally promotes democratization locally. If there existed a global parliament whose membership was restricted to freely elected parliamentarians, authoritarian leaders would be under pressure to choose: Either hold fast to the politically embarrassing option of denying their people the right to be represented in the world's only globally elected body or allow the introduction of democratic practices along with the emergence of a democratically legitimized leadership. As globalization proceeds and as decision-making power is increasingly situated at the international level, Johnsson asks us to wait indefinitely for global democracy until all countries are democratic. But for those of us in more democratic countries, to wait is to watch as our own hard-won democratic space becomes more and more restricted.

Johnsson is right, though, to put an emphasis on being realistic. Too often in the past, discussions of fundamental world-order reform have been too easily dismissed as utopianism. But, what is, after all, so unrealistic about our proposal? Is it unrealistic to suppose, as we suggest, that twenty or thirty more enlightened governments might agree to a treaty creating a stand-alone advisory parliament with very limited initial legal powers? …