The Global Covenant: Human Conduct in a World of States

By Robert Jackson | Go to book overview

13 Democracy and International Community

This chapter addresses some questions that arise in connection with democracy as a basis of international community. It opens with a brief inquiry into the idea of community in world politics, and several of its manifestations. It proceeds to examine a debate on the European Union as a political community and goes on to look at the international community of the West, focusing particularly on NATO. It reviews a noteworthy speech by the leader of a major Western power who advocates a 'doctrine of international community', which would involve making democracy and human rights a global standard of conduct. These different strands are brought together by joining the debate whether democracy ought to be the foundation of a global universitas, in place of the existing societas of states.


Community in World Politics

'Community' usually signifies a form of human relations in which fundamental goals and values are affirmed by those involved as their guiding light; communities are about unity in the pursuit of a joint purpose: a universitas. 1 Communities have a teleology which societies lack. A society is like an electoral system, but a community is like a political movement or party. A political community expresses a belief system or ideology that affirms a self-styled superior way of life; it captures the identities and loyalties of its members and mobilizes them into ideologically correct action. Political communities define members as adherents to their values and supporters of their aims. They require conformity on the part of their members. They are politically and ideologically exclusive. Many different kinds of political community have existed historically. But undoubtedly the most important in recent centuries are nation-states. They are the primary political communities of the modern world. There is not one political universitas; there are many of them at the present time. 2

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