The West, democracy, free markets: these three items are often directly associated to each other in our everyday experience. This had led some people to infer that the westernisation of the world and the establishment of a single world market promoted by globalisation are in themselves a victory for democracy and, indeed, somehow encourage the introduction of democratic regimes. Others, on the contrary, feel that the increasingly complex network of regional and global ties is undermining the bases of democratic thought and procedures, in that it deprives national states of full control over their domestic affairs. This text argues that economic globalisation does not automatically imply the globalisation of democracy, nor of rights, nor does it constitute a threat for democracy; rather, it sets the conditions for a "world-scale democracy". In order to further this aim, it is necessary to create a minimal vocabulary, shared by all and from which different ideas of human development can draw inspiration. Borrowing from Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum's capability theory, the author describes an approach in which individuals can emancipate and make the most of their life projects within a framework of universal citizenship, coupled to specific cultural contexts.
Edoardo Greblo teaches in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Trieste.