Thomas PM Barnett, Rule-Sets, and Democratic Sovereignty

In a recent post on the Thomas PM Barnett Weblog, Tom laments the Irish people voting against the Lisbon Treaty:

It is weird how the EU can let one country decide to run a plebiscite and then kill a treaty. Better is majority like we did with the Constitution.

(I might add that the Constitution wasn’t adopted by the United States by way of a majority; it required consensus of all thirteen states under the Articles of Confederation. Tom is correct, however, in that Treaty ratification today requires the consent of the Senate, which is not unanimity. But I digress…)

Tom’s view seems to fall in line with his views on forms of governance around the world: In the first of his books he discusses the concept of the Rule Set:

A collection of rules (both formal and informal) that delineates how some activity normally unfolds.

In his post Tom made a comparison between the treaty ratification Rule Sets of two world powers, the US and the EU. His criticism was that a democratic majority in a given EU member state was able to parry an attempt by the cloistered bureaucratic and political classes of the EU to seize the sovereignty of a nation state, while the other states that made up the EU avoided such referenda to preclude the possibility that (gasp!) the people might like to retain their sovereignty. Based on this, it would appear that Tom prefers more bureaucratically-acceptable Rule Sets to democratic Rule Sets. (It is true that the American treaty-ratification Rule Set does not require unanimity in the Senate, but the reality of the Senate being an elected body renders that fact moot. Few democracies in Europe are remotely as democratic as the Senate, as generally cloistered political parties hold the seats, not elected politicians).

So, on one hand we have a democratic Senate in the US that ratifies treaties. And on the other we have the EU with its highly-insulated political parties in the business of treaty ratification, with the sole exception being the democracy in Ireland. Tom seems to disapprove of the will of the Irish people when it comes to their own sovereignty.

In this is one of my criticisms of Barnett’s thoughts: Sometimes his Rule Sets are anti-democratic. Tom seems to prefer only sufficient Rule Sets for the given tasks of governance, but does not seem to care much about the nature of those Rule Sets, specifically, are they democratic in nature?

Cross posted at ChicagoBoyz.


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