Cosmopolitansim After Globalization

Gianpiero Petriglieri’s thoughtful essay makes a helpful distinction between cosmopolitanism and globalization. He argues:

If we want to fend off the globalization of ultra-nationalism, now is the time to take a stand for cosmopolitanism—extricating its broadminded attitude from its elitist parody, and putting it to work to temper nationalism and humanize globalization.

In the technologically ‘shrunk’ globe of the 21st century, it is challenging but important to re-imagine the ways in which humankind does not need a ‘global village’ to be ‘one’.

Event: The Defeat of Hillary’s Globalist Vision

The defeat of Hillary Clinton brings down many things and people. Amongst them is the neoliberal vision of a global society. Nationalist, racist, and prejudicial politics will square off against alternative and new visions of global solidarity, but the last and greatest defender of the globalist neoliberal brand of cosmopolitanism, HR Clinton, has been defeated.

Trade will continue, on new terms perhaps, but the neoliberal vision of a global village of entrepreneurial individuals has been denied power. The liberal social imaginary of ‘atomistic’ global individuals was always gendered and racialized, but the revival of xenophobic politics has triumphed over the liberal vision of a global society.

With roots reaching to the 19th Century’s Richard Cobden, the vision will likely be reformulated and resuscitated again, sometime in future, but the present force of its neoliberal form is spent. What we are approaching is a post-liberal era of global disorder, a moment perhaps, but a post-liberal shift in world politics overall, where neoliberal internationalism has been knocked-out.

By post-liberal, I mean both an era in world politics where many liberal principles are challenged, overturned, and rejected, as well as an era marked by the trace of the former ascendance of those principles. Liberalism, in a broad sense, has a kind of way of life to be defended in Western democracies, but the US-centric world order hallmarks of democracy, human rights, global trade, and so on are hollowed-out, their neoliberal content is sapped. What will fill them is the contest between the revived illiberal vision of a racially, religiously, nationally divided humankind, and alternative, as yet unclear, unannounced, post-liberal cosmopolitanisms.

Encounter II & III: Kwame Anthony Appiah

Professor Appiah’s masterful Reith Lectures are amounting to a question, one the late Jacques Derrida put best: what is the meaning of “living together well”? Like his first lecture on religion, Appiah’s second and third lectures on the nation and race raise this question, but in a preliminary way, leaving the question itself untouched. In each lecture he argues these ideas are incoherent and he suggests we might find more open and less prejudicial ways of living together, without saying much about what that entails, beyond the vague notion that, as he puts it at one point, we can work it out.

Continue reading “Encounter II & III: Kwame Anthony Appiah”

Encounter I: Kwame Anthony Appiah

In a time when religious fundamentalism, nationalism, and xenophobia are enjoying a revival in global politics, the cosmopolitan thinker Kwame Anthony Appiah has come to show us how confused we are about what these things are and how they shape our identities. In the first of a series of lectures, to be aired on BBC Radio 4 and the World Service, Appiah tackled the question of religion and identity. His argument is that religious identity is not so much constituted by a set of creedal beliefs or orthodoxies, as it is a set of evolving religious practices performed in a community. The idea that religion is not something that we have but is something we do is appealing and I appreciate Appiah’s cosmopolitan live and let live attitude, but I am not convinced his argument leads us down a coherent or entirely helpful path. Continue reading “Encounter I: Kwame Anthony Appiah”

The Beyond Babel Project: Opening Statement

The Beyond Babel Project aims to publish and curate thought concerning the idea of a global society in an era of global disorder. It will mostly host my own thought, as I work on a larger project on this topic, but I will also be inviting a number of guest contributions, be accepting content, and will gather content on this topic posted elsewhere, as it emerges. In this opening statement, I want to set out the goals and justifications for this project.

The project has two major goals. 1, to gather the disparate currents of thought concerning the idea of a global society. If there is a big question behind this project, it is: what does it mean to form a community of all humankind? What does it mean for humankind to be together, as ‘one’, and not apart? Does that mean going beyond cultural incomprehensions, or beyond a diversity of goals and ideals, or does it mean cosmopolitan solidarity? The vision of human unity and division is conceived in diverse ways that are scattered across theory and practice. Continue reading “The Beyond Babel Project: Opening Statement”