ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The State, Democracy and Global Justice

One of the striking features of classical political philosophy until recently was that it assumed that principles of rights, sovereignty and distributive justice should operate at the state level. Global changes have not only questioned this dichotomy between domestic and international affairs but also raised concerns about the moral basis of politics at the international level. This paper argues that much of the confusion surrounding the analysis and justification of the need for global justice arises from the disparity between the wide usages of the term justice as it occurs in ordinary discourse related to humanitarianism and the way it has to do with the basis for making distribution of goods among citizens. It broadly proposes the need for reassessing concepts like state, democracy and sovereignty; to question membership-based sovereignty as the decisive determinant of democratic participation while working towards devolving decision-making to regional and local levels.

R ecent years have witnessed momentous political transformations across the world. It is a moment when fundamental religious and cultural conflicts emerge as the main point of contest within political debate and action. Along with these conflicts, the end of cold war bipolarity has brought about a debate on the future of world politics and among other things the need to rethink the moral basis upon which a new international coexistence could be based. Beyond the worldwide economic and political changes, the undoing of socialism, the weakening of national self-determination, lies the conceptual problem of envisioning the way forward beyond the current impasse. The conceptual gap comes into focus when we revisit some of the views on democracy written four decades ago. Some scholars argued against the cold war dogma that all democracy is liberal democracy and proposed that there were three conceptions of democracy in the world: the socialist conception, national liberation model and the liberal conception.1 Many of the ideas of socialism, national liberation, and liberalism referred to then have now been radically transformed.2

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