Global Leviathan Rising: The Emergence of a Transnational Demoi’s Corporeal Form

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This argument is based on two specific works. The first is a review essay of Noam Chomsky’s monograph entitled Hopes and Prospects (2010, Chicago: Haymarket). Therein I began trying to explain a new Leviathan which is growing in this world – one that is meant to establish the hegemony of democracy in global governance (i.e. the much greater influence of citizenries in the running of the world).

By Dr JEAN-PAUL GAGNON | July 2012

Democratization Arab World 1

The realization that this body exists, or is coming into existence, was sparked by wondering how the demoi in this world could bring international rogues and bandits to heel. These rogues can include, for example, certain administrations or individuals from or working on behalf of the USA, Israel, Syria, Zimbabwe or Australia among many others. In short, it was an attempt to describe a paradigm that is fighting or starting to fight against the abuses of states, corporations, and criminal powers – many of which Chomsky impressively catalogued, described, and normatively argued against. The second work which completes the foundation of this piece is an interview with Noam Chomsky, recorded May 8, 2012, and appearing in theJournal of Democratic Theory’s 2nd volume, 2012. Therein, over approximately twenty precious minutes, Chomsky and I discussed the global Leviathan. He did not deny the existence of this sacred being – the Leviathan is rising. But, as Chomsky argued, she has clay feet. This Leviathan, bringing the hegemony of democracy well into global governance, is fragile. She is only recently born and still very much in development.

The aim of this article is to try to explain the origins of the global Leviathan. It will also try to analyse how she is rising and finally will offer certain points that must be remembered by the citizens of this world should this global Leviathan expect to come into maturity. That is a lot of ground to cover in a short piece which is why I will have to resist plunging into depths – that I shall try to reserve for the research monograph on this very subject.

Through my own rationalisations, it has taken the age of communicative abundance (proliferation of information, media, and inter-personal communication exchanges for example) to produce the necessary conditions that would allow for a global Leviathan to be born. Given that there are already many Leviathans in different states of strength which exist at both the union-state and sub-state levels – at times composed of one or more demos – it is not a stretch of the imagination to understand the inevitability of these smaller Leviathans and their composing demoi uniting to form a global giant. Like atoms, the demoi of this globe and their own Leviathans come together to form a greater power. The technologisation of communication has, via the internet for example, permitted a demos to be aware of many other demoi, states, corporations, and of course global issues which has driven a specific type of reflexive modernisation within that demos. Individual citizens are now concerned not only with local, local-regional, territorial-provincial-state (sub-national), and union-state politics, but also transnational-region (e.g. the European Union, African Union, and ASEAN), continental and intercontinental as well as global politics. That has created the late 20th century phenomenon of particularistic protests at or against global summits. These protests are very often comparable in wants, demands and behaviours wheresoever they have occurred internationally.

The above is naturally not confined to one specific demos, but is a growing observable reality across a large number of demoi throughout this world – namely those that can communicate with or be communicated at by other transnational information creators, providers and analysers. This, I argue, is primarily how global political issues have come to be issues for the attention of most demoi. Nuclear non-proliferation, nuclear power, terrorism, the Israel/Palestine debacle, regulating financial markets and environmental concerns are a few examples. That commonality of political concern forms a type of platform that is influencing global governance. And it is that particular influence, namely how it gradually began to form, which can be directly translated into the metaphor of a fertilized embryo that matured and was born into the complicated world of democratically governing global politics.

As mentioned above, Chomsky, I think rightly, argued that this Leviathan has clay feet (i.e. she is fragile and thus weak – she has both observable and hidden weaknesses). My view is that this Leviathan is a child. She is developing into the powerful woman, a champion, that I and hopefully many others want her to be. Given that this child is composed of the demoi of this world (she would not otherwise exist without us), she requires the constant attention and support of her makers. This is comparable to parenting. In essence, she must be raised. And as raising any child – this requires constant attention, care, affection, and unconditional love. This child, the youth of a powerful global Leviathan, is I argue something sacred. She has the potential to grow into a powerful champion of democracy and can ensure that the hegemony of this world’s demoi will be established in global governance.

The hegemony of citizens through democracy in global governance is essential as it not only increases the ethics of global politics but also brings the positives associated with normative democracies into action. There would be less scope for human fallibility, there would be greater scope for better decision-making, the participation of the world’s population in said decision-making would ensure stronger outcomes for public policies, and most importantly there would be far less scope for violence to be sanctioned.

And I see this process as already in action. The United Nations, the multifarious network of international non-governmental organizations, the increasingly toothy international criminal courts system and all of its brilliant associates (such as Interpol), and naturally the growing existence of a transnational civil society form both the body and movements of the global Leviathan. We see for example her weak presence in the decisions of how to handle the internal strife of Syria, we saw her confused over how intervention should have occured in Libya, and we saw her weep over the violent fates of Yugoslavia, Rwanda and East Timor among others.

© Copyright 2012 by CESRAN

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