Globalization means change to the system of coordinates within which theoretical political projects are performed or within which people organize their work and daily life. The conditions of economic globalization cause diffusion of the political space within which democratic deliberations and procedures can be carried out and governability secured; that is, effective regulation of economic processes by government institutions on different levels or by central banks. This is the main reason for the crisis of the Keynesian paradigm and for the predominance of neo-liberal thinking in scientific as well as in political discourses.
Neo-liberals are theoretical and political promoters of deregulation, of limiting the regulative power of the nation state. The dissolution of state borders is the consequence of globalization. Moreover, sensitive observers have noticed for some time the appearance of new ecological limits on the far horizon. Until recently this observation had not touched popular consciousness. Now a new term for these limits of globalization has been coined: the limit of the ‘carrying capacity’ or ‘environmental space’ of planet Earth (e.g. Opschoor, 1992; BUND/Misereor, 1996). As long as the ‘limits to growth’—to employ the discourse of the Club of Rome (Meadows et al., 1973)—are far distant, the constraints of nature can simply be neglected. Approaching the limit, however, is coming to be recognized as a global environmental crisis. Resources are limited in an objective way by the bounds of planet Earth, even if the limits are politically constituted by people’s discursive practices.
In the following it is not possible to address the whole range of problems associated with the paradigmatic crises of economic globalization and political and ecological limits. In the first part of this chapter I discuss the challenges of globalization and the consequences of dissolution of national sovereignty for democracy and theories of democracy. In the second part I touch upon the question of the constitution of a new place for democracy in the context of new