Democracy can be defined and described in different ways. One way could be to say that democracy is the political expression for the equal value of all human beings.
The idea of universal equality has deep and widespread roots that go far back into human history. I would even go so far as to guess that it is an idea that has been supported (and contested) for about as long as our human species has inhabited this planet.
This idea probably made some of its biggest progresses (although unfortunately also met strong resistance) during the 20th century. I especially have in mind the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted in 1948 by a large majority of the UN member states at that time.
The very first sentence of this declaration’s first article reads: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”
If democracy can be described as the political expression of this idea of universal equality, then just as all human beings have an equal value, in a democratic society all human beings should also have an equal voice, to be expressed, for example, through general parliamentary elections.
But now, let’s think carefully… “All human beings”, is that really true? Don’t most, or even all, democratic nation states exclude many people from expressing their voices in an equal way? People, who are not allowed to vote? People, who even though they live, love and labour in our cities, are still not considered as our fellow citizens? I am thinking in particular of those immigrants, who even though they often fled from war or extreme poverty, to find a new home in our societies, too many times were left standing as strangers in the doorway. If the door was opened at all. Or of those minority groups, who even though they might have lived next to the majority group for many generations, too often are still excluded from the rooms of opportunity.
The exclusion of people from taking equal part in the life and decision making of society, seems even more obvious at the global level of our human society. Quite the opposite from allowing “all human beings” to their right to a say in global governance, as a matter of fact, almost all human beings are excluded. Global governance is not based on right but on might. The mightiest military nations and capital holders take almost all key decisions even without a possibility for the global public to see or hear anything from these negotiations. Even less then, of course, to influence them.
A World Parliament would, for the first time in human history, make political sense of the idea of universal equality. Through a World Parliament, ALL adult human beings would be able to express their political voices and vote as world citizens.
So, from this perspective, I would like to suggest the following definition and description of what democracy could be:
If democracy is the political expression for the equal value of all human beings, then GLOBAL democracy is the political expression for the equal value of ALL human beings. Or to put it the other way around: as long as we don’t have global democracy, there will be no political expression for the equal value of all human beings.
Let’s unite in our support for human rights for all. A World Parliament for universal equality.