Habermas was optimistic about the prospects for a global political order as the continuation of the form of democracy based on human rights typical of nation states. Democracy on the nation-state model connects three central ideas: that the proper political community is a bounded one; that it possesses ultimate political authority; and that this authority enables political autonomy, so that the members of the demos may freely choose the conditions of their own association and legislate for themselves. The normative core of this conception of democracy lies in the conception of freedom articulated in the third condition: that the subject of legal constraints is free precisely in being the author of the laws. Earlier we introduced Habermas's argument for “decentering” democracy under the conditions of pluralism and complexity. If this applies to the modern state, then it would seem that cosmopolitan democracy would take this trend even further. Yet, when discussing “post-national” legitimacy, Habermas clearly makes self-determination by a singular demos the fundamental normative core of the democratic ideal.
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