This chapter describes the romanticization of democracy. As democracy has become more prevalent and more successful, it is seen as superficial and unsatisfying. The current romanticization of democracy is closely tied to the development of the concept of autonomy. The German Romantics discussed autonomy and individual liberty without reference to democracy, while Jean-Jacques Rousseau discussed autonomy with reference to democracy, but at the expense of individual liberties. The best form of democracy for a globalized world is one in which clear and impartial institutions permit individuals enough room to sort out subjective issues like ‘meaningfulness’ in their own way. The cultural rights are necessary to address power imbalances. ‘Democracy’ must ensure a clear measure of the diffusion of power within states; but recognition of ‘state sovereignty’ does not require that states be seen as democratic.
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