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Thomas W. Pogge

Winston Churchill is quoted as saying that “democracy is the worst possible form of government except – all the others that have been tried”. This thought may stimulate efforts to overcome the defects of democracy through the exploration of as yet untried alternatives superior to democracy. In our time, however, an effort to overcome these defects through the exploration of as yet untried superior forms of democracy seems far more promising. Despite their multi-dimensional diversity, existing democratic regimes are scattered over a minuscule sector of the space of possible democratic structures. It cannot be said that experience and reflection have produced convergence upon this sector. Most of the other possibilities have never been tried or discussed. Indeed, many could not have been tried or discussed because they are becoming feasible only now, in the dawning information age. It is not, then, good reasons that keep practice and reflection within the narrow sector, but habit and entrenchment. We are deeply accustomed to the conventional forms of democracy. And politicians successful under prevailing rules tend to be hostile to any significant reforms. But this should not stop the rest of us from at least thinking about alternatives.