So when I speak of a ‘democracy to come’, I don’t mean a future democracy, a new regime, a new organisation of nation-states (although this may be hoped for) but I mean this ‘to come’: the promise of an authentic democracy which is never embodied in what we call democracy. This is a way of going on criticising what is everywhere given today under the name of democracy in our societies. This doesn’t mean that ‘democracy to come’ will be simply a future democracy correcting or improving the actual conditions of the so-called democracies, it means first of all that this democracy we dream of is linked in its concept to a promise…That is why it is a more historical concept of the political - it’s the only concept of a regime or a political organisation in which history, that is the endless process of improvement and perfectibility, is inscribed in the concept…’to come’ means also not a future but that it has ‘to come’ as a promise, as a duty, that is ‘to come’ immediately. We don’t have to wait for future democracy to happen, to appear, we have to do right here and now what has to be done for it. That’s an injunction, an immediate injunction, no delay. Which doesn’t mean that it will take the form of a regime; but if we dissociate democracy from the name of a regime we can then give this name ‘democracy’ to any kind of experience in which there is equality, justice, equity, respect for the singularity of the Other at work, so to speak - then it’s democracy here and now; but of course this implies that we do not confine democracy to the political in the classical sense, or to the nation- state, or to citizenship.
We have today, for many reasons that we all know, to think of a democratic relationship not only with other citizens but also with non-citizens. That’s a modern experience; you know that between the wars, after the first World War, already there were in Europe - Hannah Arendt paid special attention to this - huge crowds of people not even in exile, not even deported but displaced persons who were not considered citizens…This non-citizenship of people we have to care for, to welcome, urges us, compels us, to think of a democratic relationship beyond the borders of the nation-state. That is the invention of new practices, new international law, the transformation of the sovereignty of the state. We all have examples of this situation today with what are called non- governmental interventions, everything which calls for interventions, for political initiatives, which should not depend on the sovereignty of the state, that is, finally, citizenship. In fact we know - that’s why the task is so enormous and endless - we know today that even within international organisations and institutions, the sovereignty of the state is a rule, and that in the name of international law some nation-states more powerful than others make the law. Not only because this international law is basically a European law in the tradition of Europe and law, but because these more powerful nation- states make the law, that is they in fact rule the international order. So, there are a number of urgent problems which require precisely this transformation of the concept of the political, of the concept of democracy, and of the concept of friendship.