BREAKING THE WALLS OF THE NATION-STATE THROUGH INTERDEPENDENT CITIES. How a Global Parliament of Cities Can Establish a Sustainable Democracy
Benjamin R. Barber
Founder and President, Interdependence Movement and Senior Research Scholar, Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, CUNY Graduate Center, City University of New York
With the growing recognition of cities as powerful engines of global cultural, social, and political innovation, urban studies and planning are the object of unprecedented attention, sourcing new findings from the most diverse fields of research. At the same time, the influence of megacities such as Tokyo and New York has long transcended regional and national borders. In this context, political theorist Benjamin R. Barber, adviser to former US-President Bill Clinton and political leaders in the US and abroad, and a bestselling author on the topics of citizenship and democracy, proposes a new global model of governance in which interdependent cities are the key players. Barber’s concept, a “parliament of mayors” stands for a worldwide, borderless democracy which has the potential to replace the concept of nation-states – “political institutions designed 400 years ago”, and unable to provide answers to the globalised problems of the 21st century. Barber's studies show the cities’ superior capacity to deal with internal and external issues: on the one hand the non-partisan and pragmatic style of governance of mayors and local administrations; on the other hand the consolidated practice of engaging in partnerships with other cities to tackle common problems. The parliament of mayors would give cities the voice to face priorities such as terrorism, economic inequality or epidemics. At Falling Walls, Benjamin Barber explains how a worldwide network of cities could effectively react to global challenges which are not going to be solved by individual, uncooperative nation-states.