Radical Cosmopolitics: The Ethics and Politics of Democratic Universalism 9780231536417

Reconfiguring cosmopolitanism to adapt to the moral and political challenges of globalization.

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Radical Cosmopolitics: The Ethics and Politics of Democratic Universalism

Table of contents :
The Cosmopolitan Revival and Its Reversals
From Cosmopolitanism to Cosmopolitics
Cosmopolitanism as a Problem in Practical Philosophy
Kantian Conundrums and a Critical-Democratic Alternative
1. Universalism in History
A Short History of Western Cosmopolitanisms
A Fin de Siecle Renaissance
2. Cosmopolitanism in Ethics: Tensions of the Universal
The Problem of the Human: Anthropological Universalism
From the Standpoint of Redemption: Procedural Universalism
3. Cosmopolitanism in Ethics: Realizing the Universal
Achieving Perpetual Peace: Right, Progress, Publicity
Cosmopolitan Democracy, Cosmopolitan Dilemmas
4. Rethinking Ethical Cosmopolitanism: From Universalism to Universalization
Universalism as the Critique of False Universals
The Measure of Equality
5. Rethinking Political Cosmopolitanism: From Democracy to Democratization
Democracy as Political Action
Democratic Universalism as Cosmopolitics
6. Cosmopolitics in Practice: The Politics of Human Rights
Human Rights Politics as Implementation
Human Rights Politics as Democratic Action
Three Realisms and Their Lessons
A Realism of Possibility
Works Cited

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Radical Cosmopolitics

New Directions in Critical Theory

New Directions in Critical Theory Amy Allen, General Editor New Directions in Critical Theory presents outstanding classic and contemporary texts in the tradition of critical social theory, broadly construed. The series aims to renew and advance the program of critical social theory, with a particular focus on theorizing contemporary struggles around gender, race, sexuality, class, and globalization and their complex interconnections. Narrating Evil: A Postmetaphysical Theory of Reflective Judgment, María Pía Lara The Politics of Our Selves: Power, Autonomy, and Gender in Contemporary Critical Theory, Amy Allen Democracy and the Political Unconscious, Noëlle McAfee

The Force of the Example: Explorations in the Paradigm of Judgment, Alessandro Ferrara Horrorism: Naming Contemporary Violence, Adriana Cavarero

Scales of Justice: Reimagining Political Space in a Globalizing World, Nancy Fraser

Pathologies of Reason: On the Legacy of Critical Theory, Axel Honneth States Without Nations: Citizenship for Mortals, Jacqueline Stevens

The Racial Discourses of Life Philosophy: Négritude, Vitalism, and Modernity, Donna V. Jones Democracy in What State? Giorgio Agamben, Alain Badiou, Daniel Bensaïd, Wendy Brown, Jean-Luc Nancy, Jacques Rancière, Kristin Ross, Slavoj Žižek

Politics of Culture and the Spirit of Critique: Dialogues, edited by Gabriel Rockhill and Alfredo Gomez-Muller The Right to Justification: Elements of Constructivist Theory of Justice, Rainer Forst

The Scandal of Reason: A Critical Theory of Political Judgment, Albena Azmanova The Wrath of Capital: Neoliberalism and Climate Change Politics, Adrian Parr Social Acceleration: The Transformation of Time in Modernity, Hartmut Rosa

Radical Cosmopolitics The Ethics and Politics of Democratic Universalism

James D. Ingram

Columbia University Press     New York

Columbia University Press Publishers Since 1893 New York Chichester, West Sussex cup.columbia.edu Copyright © 2013 Columbia University Press All rights reserved Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Ingram, James D., 1972– Radical cosmopolitics : the ethics and politics of democratic universalism / James D. Ingram. pages cm — (New directions in critical theory) Includes index. ISBN 978-0-231-16110-7 (cloth: alk. paper) 1. Cosmopolitanism. 2. Cosmopolitanism—Philosophy. I. Title JZ1308.1464 306.2—dc23

2013 2013002293

Columbia University Press books are printed on permanent and durable acid-free paper. This book is printed on paper with recycled content. Printed in the United States of America c 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 p 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Jacket design: Noah Arlow References to Web sites (URLs) were accurate at the time of writing. Neither the author nor Columbia University Press is responsible for URLs that may have expired or changed since the manuscript was prepared.


Acknowledgments vii

Introduction 1 The Cosmopolitan Revival and Its Reversals 1

From Cosmopolitanism to Cosmopolitics 5

Kantian Conundrums and a Critical-Democratic Alternative 14

Cosmopolitanism as a Problem in Practical Philosophy 9

Part 1. Cosmopolitanism from the Top Down 1. Universalism in History

A Short History of Western Cosmopolitanisms 26 A Fin de Siècle Renaissance 45

2. Cosmopolitanism in Ethics: Tensions of the Universal


The Problem of the Human: Anthropological Universalism 68

From the Standpoint of Redemption: Procedural Universalism 84

3. Cosmopolitism in Politics: Realizing the Universal


Achieving Perpetual Peace: Right, Progress, Publicity 106 Cosmopolitan Democracy, Cosmopolitical Dilemmas 122


vi  c on t e n t s

Part 2. Cosmopolitics from the Bottom Up 4. Rethinking Ethical Cosmopolitanism: From Universalism to Universalization

Universalism as the Critique of False Universals 151 The Measure of Equality 170

5. Rethinking Political Cosmopolitanism: From Democracy to Democratization


Democracy as Political Action 189

Democratic Universalism as Cosmopolitics 204

6. Cosmopolitics in Practice: The Politics of Human Rights


Human Rights Politics as Implementation 229


Human Rights Politics as Democratic Action 245

Conclusion 263

Three Realisms and Their Lessons 265 A Realism of Possibility 269

Notes 273

Works Cited 305 Index 323


Like all attempts to say something about the universal, this book grew out of particular times, places, and conversations. Along the way I have been assisted in ways large and small, direct and indirect, by many people, only a small fraction of whom I can recognize here. This book was first written as a dissertation at the New School for Social Research. I want to thank my advisors Jay Bernstein and Andreas Kalyvas and especially my supervisor, Nancy Fraser, for her tough questions, timely suggestions, and her wisdom and patience in allowing me to find my own way. I want to thank the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) for supporting the early stages of my doctoral research and the New School for Social Research for its Arnold Brecht dissertation fellowship. I want to thank my New School political theory comrades, especially Kyra Holland, Adam Lupel, Mariela Vargova, and Ernesto Verdeja, for their solidarity, as well as my writing companions at Butler Library, especially Alex Gourevitch and Ian Zuckerman, for their fellowship and comments on various drafts. I owe an incalculable debt to Gil Anidjar, Nauman Naqvi, and above all Nermeen Shaikh for their friendship, support, and intellectual stimulation over many years.

viii ac k no w l e d g m e n t s

I want to thank the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD), as well as my sponsor at Potsdam University, Christoph Menke, for making possible an extended stay in Berlin, where the general outlines of this project took shape. Thanks to Rahel Jaeggi, Ina Kerner, Hartmut Rosa, and Martin Saar for making me feel intellectually at home in Berlin; to Arnd Pollmann for listening to my first sketch of the argument (and then suggesting that I write on Hegel instead); and to Robin Celikates and Felix Koch for many years of conversation and feedback on various ideas and eventually drafts. In my postgraduate years, I want to thank my colleagues at the University of Oregon, especially Joe Lowndes and Priscilla Yamin, for their warm welcome. I have been very fortunate to find a congenial academic home at McMaster University, where I want to thank Robert O’Brien, Tony Porter, Peter Nyers, Peter Hallberg, John Seaman, and Catherine Frost. In returning to Toronto, I was lucky to join friends who are also valued interlocutors and readers, notably Phil Triadafilopoulos and Inder Marwah, as well as no doubt my longest-standing Gesprächspartnerin, my sister Susan. I owe a particular debt to Sylwia Chrostowska, without whose support and critical suggestions this book would not have attained its present form. In the final stretches of this project I benefited from three exceptional opportunities. The first was a workshop on “Cosmopolitanism and Postcolonialism” at the University of Warwick, for which I am grateful to Gurminder Bhambra, Robert Fine, and John Holmwood. The second was a summer with the University of Frankfurt’s Justitia Amplificata group. My thanks to Rainer Forst, Stefan Gosepath, and those at the center for their invitation and for creating such a rich academic environment. The third was a workshop by the Groupe de recherche interuniversitaire en philosophie politique de Montréal. I want to thank the participants, Delphine Abadie, Ryoa Chung, Jacob Levy, Dominique Leydet, Will Roberts, Hasana Sharpe, and especially Arash Abizadeh and Pablo Gilabert for their hospitality and intellectual generosity. I am grateful to Amy Allen for finding a place for this book in her series and to her and Wendy Lochner of Columbia University Press for persevering through the publication process. Wendy found three excellent anonymous reviewers whom I thank for challenging me from three very different perspectives. Thanks to Tony Porter, Charlotte Yates, and

ac k no w l e d g m e n t s  ix

the McMaster Arts Research Board for their last-minute support. Thanks finally to Susan Pensak for her sensitive editing, to her and Christine Dunbar for the seeing the book through to completion, and to Noah Arlow for his wonderful image. Parts of chapter 6 appeared as “What Is a ‘Right to Have Rights’? Three Images of the Politics of Human Rights,” American Political Science Review 102, no. 4 (2008): 401–416. They appear here with permission. I dedicate this book to my parents.

Radical Cosmopolitics


The Cosmopolitan Revival and Its Reversals

Throughout its long history the idea of cosmopolitanism has never known such success as in the last two decades. We can postulate four reasons for this. The first was a widespread sense, captured in the word globalization, that the accelerating movements of people, money, goods, technologies, images, and ideas beyond national frontiers had crossed a threshold. Nearly all observers perceived a qualitative change in the way and the extent to which people related to, affected, and depended on one another across borders: the world seemed to be becoming “more global”— interconnected, interdependent, and, in this sense, unified. The second, closely related reason for cosmopolitanism’s appeal was what seemed like an inexorable rise of multilateralism, international coordination, and global governance. This trend had been widely remarked on earlier under the heading of “complex interdependence,” but it now emerged as a dominant trend. The third reason, in a sense setting the stage for the first two, was the end of Cold War geopolitical dualism. Even if the euphoria of 1989 faded with the proliferation of new conflicts and inequalities, it remained the case that the world was no longer divided along a single

2  Introduction

axis. And, emerging from this, was, fourth, the rise of human rights and democracy as a universal language of political justification. While this too began earlier, be it in the 1970s with the Helsinki Accords or even as early as the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it peaked in the 1990s. Everyone everywhere now seemed to appeal to the same values, which decisively shunted aside those of socialism and Third World liberation. As on the geopolitical front, competing universalisms (state socialism and liberal capitalism) gave way to one (democracy and human rights), juxtaposed, if at all, to particularistic challengers whose claims were strictly local. The result was an optimism across broad swaths of the commentariat not seen since the end of World War II. Even many of those who were reluctant to see triumph of American-led capitalist liberal-democracy as the “end of history” nevertheless saw reason for hope in redirecting globalization toward more progressive ends. All this can seem slightly unreal as we settle into the twenty-first century, when it might seem that the fin de siècle cosmopolitan tide has turned. Whereas just a few years ago cosmopolitanism connoted multilateralism, cooperation, and consensus, today the term seems more ambiguous. Of course, the financial bubble on which the more naive globalization boosterism of the nineties floated has burst and burst again, but it is above all in the political realm that the situation has changed beyond recognition. Although the centrality of the United States to the globalism of the nineties did not escape critical commentators, its full significance only seems to have become clear when the hyperpower shrugged off this role—or radically reconceived it—in favor of self-reliance and muscular unilateralism. This development, in turn, threatened to throw the only universalistic political project left standing after the collapse of actually existing socialism into confusion if not disrepute. Even among their proponents, there had already been talk of human rights and democracy as civilizationally specific values, born of, uniquely suited to, and likely to remain for some time confined to the “advanced” countries. Radical critics, meanwhile, had always suspected this language of being ideological. Both tendencies were reinforced as these values were invoked to defend what was discussed even by some of its supporters as a renewed imperialism. The discourse’s apparent hypocrisy became a rallying point in parts of the world aggrieved at the hegemon’s naked indifference to their dignity, autonomy, and interests, while, partly in response to this turn, the fissures between different

Introduction  3

branches of capitalist liberal democracy—notably within the “divided West”—widened. These developments opened up fault lines within what had previously appeared a more or less unified, if plural, field of progressive cosmopolitanism. The fates of three tendencies in particular bear mention: • Some intellectuals and politicians who rallied around the universal values of human rights and democracy and its leading latenineties expression, humanitarian intervention, found themselves defending these same values in the form of a reinvigorated Anglo-American imperialism. The effortless transition of many who advocated liberal cosmopolitanism in the 1990s to the selfconscious defense of “empire lite” in the 2000s—from Tony Blair to Michael Ignatieff—reflects the discomfiting fact that it was not the central values and arguments that changed, only their breadth of reference. • Meanwhile, social-democratic cosmopolitanism, represented, for example, by Jürgen Habermas, David Held, and Mary Kaldor, and based largely on hopes for international law and multilateral institutions, found its resonance increasingly limited to Europe, at odds not only with its traditional Atlantic partner but also with Europeans’ growing determination to erect walls against the extra-European world. Even as they clung to their Kantian hopes, it became more and more difficult for cosmopolitans of the center-left to connect their designs with any observable trends, and they downscaled their globalism first to European regionalism, then to a desperate defense of Europe’s social-democratic potential even as it threatened to collapse. • Finally, the nascent bottom-up, left cosmopolitanism born in the jungles of Chiapas, the streets of Seattle, and the plazas of Porto Alegre appeared to have lost much of its momentum. In part this was because of its absorption into the global movement against the US-led war, in part because it all but disappeared from the Western media in the years immediately after 9/11. If flashes of democratic political energy continued to appear, from the electoral successes of the Latin American left to the Arab Spring, they seemed to represent a rejection of the main trends of globalization at least as much as its possible expressions.

4  Introduction

In all three cases, then, what seemed like a universalistic advocacy of democracy and human rights was revealed to be all too particular in its conception, its social-political bases, and its effects. If one consequence of these developments was to scramble the geopolitical-ideological matrix in which cosmopolitan visions had perhaps been too easily discerned, another was to refute the idea that cosmopolitanism be understood simply as the working out of (the progressive side of) the tendencies of late modernity. To this extent, one option commonly taken up even by critical commentators in the late nineties has now been definitely ruled out: the notion that the realization of the cosmopolitan ideal could be imagined in terms of convergence, as a vanishing point at which the gradual enlightenment of the powerful and the rightful claims of the powerless, the reform potentials of international institutions and the problems to which they had to respond, would someday meet. Unlike in the 1990s, when cosmopolitans could find at least intimations of their designs in the words and actions of the powerful, today a democratic, egalitarian universalism can only be conceived as counterhegemonic. And, if we are to learn from and profit by the reversals of the recent past, then it seems to make sense to construct such a new universalism precisely out of a critique of what was self-defeating in the earlier cosmopolitanism. In this book I try to rethink the emancipatory idea of cosmopolitanism in light of this constellation, in a way that is cognizant not only of the challenges to progressive universalism but also of the endless lures for which it has fallen—of which the liberal-capitalist globalism of the 1990s or the revived civilizationalism of the 2000s were only the latest. I want to absorb the lesson that cosmopolitanism is only ever contextual and conjunctural, that it always responds to particular challenges, constraints, and possibilities, but, at the same time, that it can be defined by the stubborn will to preserve universalistic aspirations. I propose to do this by reimagining cosmopolitanism as first and foremost a politics. There is a large literature—arguably as old as the genre itself, but whose paradigmatic modern figure is Immanuel Kant—that approaches cosmopolitanism in terms of the principles and institutions required for peace and justice on a global scale. This literature reflects a pervasive and largely taken-for-granted division of labor between ethics and politics: first we decide by means of ethics what we should aim at, then we turn to politics to accomplish it. I believe this approach is mistaken, that it does not and cannot work, that it results in a pervasive unreality concerning both

Introduction  5

ethics and politics, and, as so spectacularly in the early years of the new century, that it ends up undermining the very ideals it seeks to advance. This book tries to offer an alternative. Instead of pursuing cosmopolitanism first in ethics and then in politics, I seek to treat the ethical and the political together. Instead of approaching cosmopolitanism first in theory and then in practice, I seek a theory of its practice. For cosmopolitan ethics, this means a shift from the search for universal values on the basis of which particular judgments can be made to locating these values in the particular conflicts through which universals are articulated. And it requires seeing cosmopolitan politics not as a series of steps toward a goal that defines the enterprise as a whole, but rather as located in the contestatory practices that make up those steps. What follows from this is a conception of cosmopolitanism as a politics of freedom and equality, one that is critical, reflexive, democratic, and squarely in line with the Enlightenment ideal—although, as will emerge, at some distance from its more familiar versions. This conception emerges primarily through a consideration of how cosmopolitanism as it is usually understood goes astray, so that much of the book is given over to showing how and why it must be radically reformulated. The book’s first half is accordingly devoted to exploring the ambiguities and contradictions, first of cosmopolitanism in general, then of the specifically modern version we find in Kant and his followers. The second half then seeks to develop an alternative by rethinking cosmopolitanism as what I call a critical-democratic politics of universalization, finally illustrating this approach by using it to rethink the politics of human rights. From Cosmopolitanism to Cosmopolitics

Since its invention some twenty-five hundred years ago, cosmopolitanism has come and gone repeatedly in Western thought and can be discovered in other intellectual traditions as well.1 While the meaning of the term has varied considerably, its central proposition, embedded in its etymology, is that one is, or can and should be, a citizen of the world. Cosmopolitanism thus expresses the fact, possibility, or imperative of a certain universality, an actual or potential oneness of humankind. At the same time, as the word’s second half indicates, it has never ceased to be a political idea. It points out, recommends, or demands that one is or should be not merely part of the world or some

6  Introduction

larger whole (the kosmos)—a child of the universe or some such notion— but its citizen (politĕs), a Weltbürger.2 Here we encounter the idea’s central difficulty: citizenship and politics itself sprang from the ground of the polis, a much smaller unit than the world, at a time when the world had not yet been compassed. As Hannah Arendt pointed out, “nobody can be a citizen of the world as he is the citizen of his country.”3 The world is not, never has been, and shows no immediate prospect of coming to be organized such that one could be a citizen of it in any straightforward way. The question posed by cosmopolitanism, then, is the following: what is the meaning of this insistence on the political nature of our relation to humanity or the world as whole—an insistence that, despite its myriad difficulties, has persisted over two and a half millennia? And how should we understand it today? A brief survey of the idea’s history, which I undertake in the first half of chapter 1, leaves us with no dearth of options. Should we understand cosmopolitanism as it seems to have been meant by its (imputed) inventor, Diogenes the Cynic—that is, negatively, as a denial of the exclusivity and binding nature of all memberships smaller than humanity and, in particular, the specifically political ones of city, empire, kingdom, or state? Should we understand it as a sort of metaphor, one positing that we are all members of some virtual political realm above and beyond the polis? As an ethical ideal, an attitude or way of life distinguished by its openness to all the world’s cultures and peoples and a refusal to be enclosed within any of them? As an expression of moral universalism, of the idea that all human beings are subject to a single moral code or that all of them—including the most distant—deserve our consideration and respect? Or as a practical imperative, a demand for universal institutions that would enable us to be world citizens in something approaching the full sense of the word? And therefore as a political project, a task to be pursued by political means (whatever we take these to be)? This book focuses on the last four of these meanings, which together map the frontiers of moral-ethical and political cosmopolitanism. Before turning to this critical and reconstructive task, there are important lessons to be learned from the idea’s history. As the roster of options just invoked and chapter 1 make clear, one thing this history shows is that the nature and implications of cosmopolitanism never go without saying. Cosmopolitanisms, like universalisms, have been moral and political, but also religious, cultural, economic, etc.—in each case conceived against a

Introduction  7

historically specific matrix of social, ethical, cultural, and institutional conditions that these very qualifiers only very roughly and anachronistically approximate. Another thing this review shows is the manifest failure of every cosmopolitanism to date to live up to its universal vocation. As Timothy Brennan puts it: “If we wished to capture the essence of cosmopolitanism in a single formula, it would be this. It is a discourse of the universal that is inherently local—a locality that’s always surreptitiously imperial.”4 All ethical and political visions that have aspired to universality have ended up betraying it. Cosmopolitanism has been intimately tied to world-spanning empires and proselytizing religions; it has been carried by a stubborn elitism that runs from its classical origins to today’s globe-trotting elites; it has inspired and justified many of history’s most devastating projects, from holy war through colonialism and Communism to capitalist globalization. Yet it is equally clear that, despite all these disappointments and reversals, universalistic aspirations persist—in large part, I will argue, because experience has shown that perversions of the universal are most effectively fought on the ground of the universal. Between a panorama of the cosmopolitan tradition and a close reading of a recent debate that revived it as a response to globalization, then, chapter 1 tries to outline the generic character of cosmopolitanism. I want to insist that while cosmopolitanisms, like universalisms, are always particular, there is a logic that unites them. Although each cosmopolitanism arises within and against a particular context, what all of them share is a way of relating to these contexts. What Diogenes the Cynic has in common with Cicero, Saint Paul with Kant, Marx with Martha Nussbaum, in other words, is not best pursued at the level of the content of their respective ideas, though there are naturally points of overlap as well as differences. It is rather the kind of interruption they introduce into their respective discursive and political situations. Cosmopolitanism, I propose, can to this extent be generally identified by its formal features, by the way it differs from and the kinds of objections it makes against what is. It is—to anticipate— a way of posing specific, local, morally and practically motivated challenges to particular denials of the logic of universality. This is the key to how I think about universalism in this book. The universal, I argue, cannot be articulated directly. It is better conceived as a particular kind of disruption of and challenge to existing ideas, institutions, and allegiances. Cosmopolitanism, on the view I put forth

8  Introduction

here, should not be understood in terms of its content, as a blueprint, a roadmap, or a design, but as an ideal and a project. It is an ideal that can be and has been invoked from a wide range of historical, social, political, and cultural locations, each time reflecting those specificities while also seeking to transcend them. Its unity therefore lies in the form or direction of these attempts, in their efforts to transcend rather than in the precise aim of transcendence, in the valence of their seeking more than in what specifically is sought. Moreover, the cosmopolitan impulse to universalization gives rise to a political demand and therefore also a project: to overcome the obstacles to realizing the equal freedom and dignity of every human being everywhere. I argue that we can best affirm cosmopolitanism today as a critical politics of universalization, a practice that asserts universal values against what denies them here and now. It is such a cosmopolitics, rather than another utopian vision or doctrine of cosmopolitanism, that I seek to articulate here. I am not the first to propose a shift from cosmopolitanism to cosmopolitics. Daniele Archibugi, for instance, uses the latter term to point out that the scope of politics has long been global: “‘Cosmopolitics’ already exists, but it is still confined to too narrow a group of institutions, as the protests of new mass movements continually remind us.”5 What remains, for him, as for many cosmopolitan moral and political theorists, is to figure out how this politics can be made to serve justice. Bruce Robbins employs the term to call attention to the fact that universalism is a “domain of contested politics,” a field of diverse and highly particular struggles that must be understood “not as universal reason in disguise, but as one on a series of scales, as an area both within and beyond the nation (and yet falling short of ‘humanity’) that is inhabited by a variety of cosmopolitanisms.”6 For him as for many in the cultural sciences, the theoretical task is to map the diversity of these manifestations and the possible relations between them. Étienne Tassin uses the term cosmopolitics to characterize “the politics of a common world,” understood as “a reorientation of political actions conducted within various public spaces yet aiming at the world.”7 He thus joins many political theorists in reminding us that although this politics goes on within a global horizon, it is always irreducibly local. And for Jacques Derrida the term indicates that, although fueled by universalistic aspirations, cosmopolitanism must play out in the world of dilemmas and hard choices, from cultural and institutional starting points and with philosophical and political tools that are never

Introduction  9

equal to its aspirations. As he put it in the title (lost in translation) of a 1996 lecture, “Cosmopolites de tous les pays, encore un effort!”8 cosmopolitans often (though not always) have a country and with it a particular place in and way of looking at the world. They aspire to, but can never occupy, the place of the universal. Thus, like the French revolutionaries to whom the rallying call “Encore un effort!” (Try again!) was famously addressed, they can only do so by constantly renewing their efforts, all the while knowing that those efforts may be perverted.9 Cosmopolitanism as a Problem in Practical Philosophy

While I want ultimately to locate cosmopolitanisms in the world of political practice, in a paradox appreciated by Derrida no less than by other central figures in this study—Arendt and Marx, Judith Butler and Pierre Bourdieu, Étienne Balibar and Jacques Rancière, even Kant himself—I seek to articulate it in theoretical terms. As I have indicated, the cosmopolitanism I consider here is a discourse in normative practical philosophy, the subfield of practical philosophy (reflection on action) that considers what we should do.10 Within this realm, it is conventional to distinguish between two different types of inquiry: ethics and morality, on the one hand, and politics, on the other. Ethics and moral theory take up questions of individual life and action, the good life, permissible and impermissible action, duties and obligations, and so on.11 Political theory, by contrast, takes up questions of collective life and action, justice and order, freedom and authority, legitimacy and power, etc. While analytically the moral-ethical and the political can be distinguished, when we consider the practical domain from a normative point of view, in terms of what we ought to do, they turn out to be deeply intertwined. Good or right actions might be necessary to—or, alternatively, in tension with—achieving a just society; a just society might be regarded as the precondition or measure of a good life or right action. The moral-ethical and the political condition and impinge on one another. Analytically, however, they can be distinguished: morality and ethics concern individual life and action; politics concerns collective life and action. If I dwell on this distinction, it is because the relation between the moral-ethical and the political—and moral-ethical and political theory—will be central to my concerns. Cosmopolitanism begins as a

10  Introduction

moral-ethical position. As such, it insists that we take everyone else into account, regardless of whether we happen to share a political (social, cultural, etc.) community with them. How precisely we should do this, what exactly it is that is to be extended to everyone, varies according to one’s moral-ethical perspective. It can be charity or benevolence, assistance or solidarity, consideration or respect, concern or regard— whatever expresses moral-ethical attention within a given framework. What counts, and what unites moral-ethical cosmopolitanisms, is their scope: they are universal. On this point the differences between cosmopolitan moral-ethical frameworks—between Peter Singer’s utilitarianism, Onora O’Neill’s Kantianism, or Martha Nussbaum’s Aristotelianism12— are less significant than what they have in common: the principle that culture, creed, sex, age, and, above all, political membership cannot justify a failure to grant another human being full moral attention, concern, or respect. In this, cosmopolitan ethics often has an air of platitude, since a hallmark—on some accounts, a defining characteristic—of morality is generality. We do not say, “Do unto others . . .” “Maximize the happiness of the greatest number . . .” or “Respect the humanity of every person . . . unless they carry a different passport (or none at all), speak another language, or live more than a certain distance away.” Moral-ethical cosmopolitanism is simply affirmation of the elementary inclusiveness of the moral universe. For this reason, it generally takes the form of pointing out arbitrary limitations on the scope of our moral concern, which ordinarily have not been registered as limitations prior to being pointed out. Political cosmopolitanism is a more difficult matter, for its question is what this basic moral-ethical starting point—the idea that everyone should be the object of our concern, respect, attention, etc.—implies for politics, the domain of collective action and organization. The short answer is almost nothing, or nothing directly. A longer answer is that the implications can be extremely far-reaching, overturning most of our assumptions about citizenship, legitimacy, justice, and all the other central concepts of political reflection, but they are almost totally indeterminate. Although it is hard to imagine a political cosmopolitanism that makes no reference to the imperative of universal moral-ethical concern, the imperative itself does not take us very far. Like moral-ethical cosmopolitanism, political cosmopolitanism begins by pointing out an exclusion that has been overlooked. The starting point

Introduction  11

of cosmopolitan political theory in the 1990s was the (re)discovery of the inadequacy of the state as a container of politics and justice. This was revolutionary insofar as political philosophy (as the name suggests) almost invariably assumes a polis—or its contemporary analogue, a state—as its field of reflection. It is only a small exaggeration to say that all the classics of Western political theory, from Plato to Rawls, address the questions of justice, order, authority, legitimacy, etc. within a bounded community. As with statistics in newspapers, this arbitrary restriction so often goes without saying that when a philosopher calls attention to it—when Plato recommends a city of 5,040 adult men or Rawls stipulates “a complete and closed social system,” “self-sufficient,” with “a place for all the main purposes of human life”13—we cannot but be struck by the failure of the restriction to correspond to the obvious fact that people seldom fit neatly into a single community and that their interactions and above all the effects of their actions on others endlessly confound boundaries. To this extent, as soon as such restrictions on the scope of politics and justice are called into question, they are found wanting. The indeterminacy of the transition from moral-ethical to political cosmopolitanism makes itself felt, however, when we move beyond pointing out the arbitrary limitation (of the state or the bounded political community) and try to specify positively what a universalistic politics would be. Shifting from ethics to politics is usually taken to involve asking what (rights, resources, responsibilities, etc.) should be extended to whom. In short, it asks how a more just world would be organized. Here it is typically a matter of deducing, in light of what we know about social and political organization, the implications of indefinitely expanding the scope of rights, duties, institutions, and so on so as to conform to cosmopolitan morality—questions that might arise in ethics or moral philosophy and are far from easy. This corresponds to what political theorists usually call ideal theory (even if they disagree about how ideal this theory should be). This is sometimes, though less often, accompanied by another form of investigation, nonideal or applied theory, which asks to what extent the imperatives discovered or developed by ideal theory could be realized. But even this does not broach politics as such, for it still seeks to simply transfer the insights of moral or ethical reflection onto the world. This is what R. B. J. Walker has in mind when he reproaches cosmopolitan theorizing for avoiding the transition from the ethical to the political, “affirming the priority of universality over particularity, and . . . appealing

12  Introduction

to traditions of humanitarian ethics rather than to questions about the possibilities of politics.”14 To seriously consider the politics of universalism, I will argue in this book, we must go further and ask how these rights, resources, etc. are to be redistributed, by whom, and what the practical consequences and implications of doing so are likely to be. These latter questions require us to assess present potentials and possibilities in order to say how such a world might be realized—a matter of strategy, agency, and probable or foreseeable consequences. Especially in recent decades, political theory has tended to focus on the first set of questions to the neglect of the latter. A central argument of this book is that this metatheoretical preference has tended to subvert the very universalism cosmopolitanism is committed to advancing. This is the problem, so built into the dominant forms of political reflection that it is seldom even identified as such, that I try to respond to in the book’s second half. I do so by mobilizing the insights of a minor tradition within political theory to overcome the rift between the ideal and the political, as well as the subordination of the latter to the former. First, however, let me explain why I see cosmopolitanism as a privileged place for interrogating the relation between ethics or morality and politics. It is when we turn our gaze abroad, beyond our communities, nations, and accustomed frames of reference, that the appalling state of our social organization becomes most glaring. The inequities that emerge when we broaden our view to the global level are so indisputable, the violence and degradation they cause so overwhelming, that one is tempted to see such injustice not as relative but as absolute. One staple of cosmopolitan writings, whatever their philosophical stripe and specific provisions, is a catalogue of outrageous instances of global wrongs. Martha Nussbaum, drawing on the UNDP’s 2003 Human Development Report, furnishes a typical example: A child born in Sweden today has a life expectancy at birth of 79.9 years. A child born in Sierra Leone has a life expectancy at birth of 34.5 years. In the United States, gross domestic product per capita is $34,320; in Sierra Leone it is $470. Twenty-four nations among the 175 surveyed by the United Nations Development Programme have GDP per capita over $20,000. Sixteen nations have GDP per capita under $1,000. Eighty-three nations are under $5,000, and 126

Introduction  13

nations are under $10,000. Adult literacy rates in the top 20 nations are around 99 percent. In Sierra Leone the literacy rate is 36 percent. In 24 nations the adult literacy rate is under 50 percent.15 We might consider the staggering wrongness of the world this way: justifications are often proffered, by political theorists as well as governments, for the general state of affairs within particular countries. No one attempts this with the world as a whole. This is not only because the organization of the world is so manifestly unjustifiable. It is also because, whereas particular people (in some places, “We, the People”) are in principle responsible for what happens within a particular country, no one bears this responsibility globally. It is on the global level that moral failure and political incapacity are at their apogee. But there are also historical-philosophical reasons for seeing cosmopolitanism as a privileged vantage point for considering the intersection of morality and politics, which arise from the modern self-understanding. It is characteristically modern to think of our ideas and aspirations as unconditional, unlimited, and independent of anything outside of them- and ourselves.16 Captured in different theoretical idioms by the idea that modernity is autonomous, reflexive, or postmetaphysical, this means that modern philosophy, like modern politics, is condemned to be responsible for and to itself and only itself, to respect no limits other than those it sets for itself. In philosophy this means that critical reflection can find no resting place in nature or tradition, religion or metaphysics, but must in the end answer to what Kant called the tribunal of reason, which is to say to nothing other than rational reflection itself. In practical affairs it means that concern for others, like demands for equal freedom and dignity, variously expressed by political movements for liberalism, democracy, and socialism, is equally unlimited, so that there is no internal limit to what these principles should mean or to whom they could apply. In this sense, modernity, in thought as well as in politics, is condemned to be both critical and universalistic—and indefinitely so. Cosmopolitanism, as I understand it, is a central expression of this tendency. It may seem to follow from this that the task for cosmopolitans is to embrace the tradition of emancipatory, egalitarian universalism, often promoted in recent discussions under the banner of “Enlightenment” or “the project of modernity.” The lesson of my examination of the history of cosmopolitanisms, however, is that this cannot suffice. Even the

14  Introduction

best-intentioned universalisms, we will see, have a way of turning into their opposite, of proclaiming a highly particular project or set of values as universal, and on that basis justifying violence against or rule over others. Indeed, avoiding what Foucault called “Enlightenment blackmail” is not only a matter of intellectual scruple;17 it is a matter of political urgency. Terms like Enlightenment, modernity, civilization, reason, and indeed cosmopolitanism have long been used to justify the exercise of power. Today this dynamic has once again become central to the rhetoric of world politics. The irony is that this effectively reduces these ideals, which for their advocates are the very essence of universalism, into a sort of identity politics, a set of historically and culturally specific values possessed by some and not by others, to be imposed by the strong on the weak. Such an appropriation makes universalism not only particularistic, but an ideology of domination. If we allow ourselves to become trapped in this game, democracy, equality, and human rights come to mean taking the side of that which we should ordinarily be most suspicious, namely, those who already enjoy an unjustifiable share of the world’s power and resources. If democracy and human rights are to be truly universal, they must be appropriable from anywhere, by anyone. Above all, they must not become the property of some particular community or tradition. May aim is therefore to redeem what is worthy and enduring in universalistic emancipatory struggles—liberalism, democracy, socialism, anticolonialism, feminism, antiracism, etc.—without allowing them to be used for the legitimation of power. In this sense, this book can be understood as an attempt to rescue cosmopolitanism from cosmopolitans. Kantian Conundrums and a Critical-Democratic Alternative

Aside from a negation of the negation of moral and political particularism and a call to indefinitely broaden the scope of our moral-ethical concern and political responsibility, what is cosmopolitanism? In line with most commentators, I take its content first and foremost from the thinker who remains its single most important inspiration and model, Immanuel Kant. Not only is Kant a central author of the expansive vision of modernity I just evoked; he is also the most common source, though by no means the originator or sole inventor, of three key elements of nearly any contemporary cosmopolitanism (moral-ethical as well as political).

Introduction  15

The first is the idea of practical universalism as an open-ended concern for the equal freedom and dignity of each and every person. The second is an understanding of this unconditional and unlimited imperative in terms of autonomy, that is, as a demand for individual and collective selflegislation. And the third is a “realistic utopia” of republican (we can read: liberal-democratic) peoples living in a condition of “perpetual peace.” Yet if we inherit the parameters of cosmopolitanism as well as moral and political modernity from Kant, we inherit them as a problem, one that nearly the whole of modern practical philosophy has struggled to solve. Like the tradition of cosmopolitanism as a whole, but to an extent heightened by the scope and ambition of his thought, Kant was a very imperfect universalist. His commitment to the equal freedom and dignity of every human being is compromised at nearly every turn as he elaborates his thought: in his applied ethics (his theory of virtue) as well as his theory of law and politics (his theory of right), his theory of human differentiation (his anthropology) as well as his speculations on human development (his philosophy of history). This should not come as a shock. Kant wrote more than two hundred years ago, and it would be more surprising if his work were not infected by the prejudices and blindnesses of his time and place. Beyond this, his thought is based on a metaphysical structure no part of which has escaped challenge. Moreover, as his champions have long insisted, one of the hallmarks of his thought is its indefinite provision of resources for its own revision: a basis for the critique and correction of what we find problematic in Kant is almost always available in Kant, which is why he is usually situated at the beginning of a specifically modern tradition of critical-reflective philosophy—along with the ideas of modern universalism and moral-political autonomy, his greatest legacy. The following is not, however, a study of Kant. What the balance of part 1 seeks to show is that contemporary cosmopolitanism in general is afflicted by internal difficulties, tensions, dilemmas, and contradictions for which Kant’s pioneering efforts are paradigmatic. On my reading, these difficulties and tensions reside less in Kant’s particular theses, or his prejudices, oversights, or errors, than they arise from the form of his thought. And to the extent that Kant is the founder of cosmopolitan practical philosophy, they reappear in different ways in the work of others who think along similar lines, no matter how much they tweak the details of his arguments. For, more than a set of theses, Kant establishes a style of thinking, a conceptual architecture that remains in important ways unsurpassed in normative-critical

16  Introduction

theory. His difficulties, then, variously transposed, recur in the writings of contemporary cosmopolitans. In other words, my interest in Kant is diagnostic: I argue that the tensions within his cosmopolitanism are exemplary of modern universalism. To show this, I read a number of Kant’s followers who have tried to update his insights and extend them in different directions only to run into the same difficulties in different forms. Chapter 2 takes up the problem of moral or ethical cosmopolitanism, the idea that we should act so as to respect the dignity of each and every other person and that this means respecting their autonomy. This idea is the core of cosmopolitan ethics, and, as a general principle, I take it to be unassailable. Yet elaborating it turns out to be endlessly problematic. One source of difficulty emerges when we consider substantive or what I call, following Étienne Balibar, “anthropological universalisms,” which try to base a universal, cosmopolitan morality on an account of the human. The problem, as I show in the cases of Kant and Martha Nussbaum, is that such an account cannot avoid certain hierarchies and exclusions of which they cannot, in principle, be fully aware. The usual remedy, for which Kant’s name is virtually synonymous, is proceduralism, but it turns out to encounter difficulties of its own. Proceduralism pursues the universal by way of generality and impartiality, by abstracting from particular moral-ethical standpoints. As I show in the case of its leading recent practitioner, John Rawls, however, this abstraction results in indeterminacy, as it tries to escape from, but remains inevitably bound to, its particular points of departure, making it oscillate between utopia and apology, in an influential recent formulation. In chapter 3 I explore the tension between the universal commitment to equal freedom at the heart of Kant’s practical philosophy and the obstacles to realizing it in his political theory. Starting with Kant’s 1795 essay “On Perpetual Peace,” I show that although Kant offered a prescient normative vision, he had different and conflicting ideas about how it might be realized. One feature common to all these visions— articulated in his theory of right, his philosophy of history, and his notion of Enlightenment—is that none of them is able to harmonize the end of equal freedom with a politics capable of achieving it. I then turn to the efforts to update Kant’s ideal that have sprung up since the mid-1990s under the banner of “cosmopolitan democracy.” While this theoreticalpolitical project revives and revises Kant’s ideal, promoting a global order based on respect for human rights, the rule of law, and democracy at the local, national, and global levels, I argue that it too stumbles on the

Introduction  17

challenge of realization. Here also, the politics that would be necessary to bring cosmopolitan institutions into being contradict the principles on which those institutions are based. This is because, for Kant as for his followers, the only political agents available to bring about global institutions are those that profit from current global injustices, contradicting in practice the egalitarianism they proclaim in principle. The common thread that runs through part 1 is that cosmopolitanism and its universalistic ambitions, in theory as well as in practice, are constantly vulnerable to compromise or capture by the world as it is—both the limits on our conceptions of the human, the good, or the just and the power relations that underlie and reproduce global injustices. In political terms, I suggest, this reflects the fact that on the decisive political question, from whence progress can be expected, Kant’s answer—“from the top downwards”18—was exactly, theoretically as well as practically, inverted. Part 2 is devoted to looking in the opposite direction. This means insisting that the principle of freedom equality be realized directly, by the affected individuals and groups themselves, when necessary against hegemonic understandings and institutionalizations of the universal. This, I argue, is the immanent solution to the impasses into which Kant and his cosmopolitan followers became trapped: the only way to satisfy the imperative of moral and practical equality while circumventing the paradoxes of paternalism is to say that everyone should have a fair—prima facie equal—say in the rules and arrangements that affect them. Chapter 4 returns to moral-ethical universalism and the problem that any universal norm or idea turns out to be particular in its conception or application. Proceduralism, I argue in chapter 2, is both a recognition of and a remedy to this problem, but it suffers from an important limitation. Since the ideal conditions it appeals to never in fact obtain, it remains counterfactual and to that extent indeterminate. I turn for a solution to Judith Butler’s work on universalism. Providing a left-Hegelian rejoinder to Kantian approaches, Butler argues that we cannot articulate the universal as such. It is best advanced not by discovering ostensibly universal foundations or constructing universal procedures but rather through the critique of false universals. Moral-ethical universalism can thus be understood as a process through which particular actors challenge particular false universals. Rather than regard universalism abstractly, formally, hypothetically, sub specie aeternitatis, then, with Butler we can see it as a dynamic of contestation. But while Butler suggests a mechanism by which

18  Introduction

the critique of false universals can progressively articulate the universal, she does not articulate its normative bases—how, that is, this critique could itself be oriented by the ideal of equal freedom. For a corrective I turn to Pierre Bourdieu, who shows how the critique of exclusion and discrimination is implicitly oriented toward the ideal of equal inclusion in social life. The aim of the universalistic critique of false universals, in other words, boils down to the Kantian one of political equality. Chapter 5 adopts a similar approach to show how we can conceive of cosmopolitics, a politics of universalism, as a principle of democratic contestation. Again, the key is to understand universality as emerging from the bottom up through challenges to denials of universal values, first and foremost that of equal freedom. Expressing this idea in political terms, however, requires a basic shift in the perspective of democratic theory. Rather than understanding democracy as a regime or a set of institutions, we need to see it as a principle of action, an aspiration and source of political claims, an open-ended logic of transformation that seeks to realize the promise of political equality, sometimes against the very institutions that claim to embody it. With Hannah Arendt and certain of her interpreters, I reinterpret the idea of radical democracy as a type of political action and logic of social transformation, a struggle against particular obstacles to acting as an equal participant in social life. I then return to the account of universalization developed in chapter 4 to show how such democratic struggles can help realize the universal. With Étienne Balibar and Jacques Rancière, I argue that we can see the demand for equal freedom as the basic claim of emancipatory politics, a claim that is by nature indefinitely expansive. On this view, democratic politics can be seen as the realization of the universalistic content of modern democracy through always particular struggles, an infinitely repeatable process by which people struggle to expand their autonomy to match the scale of the forces that determine their lives. Finally, chapter 6 illustrates the view developed over the course of book in the case of human rights. The final chapter uses the insights accumulated throughout the previous ones to criticize some common understandings in the politics of human rights and to show the benefits of thinking about them as a critical-democratic politics of universalization. Hannah Arendt’s famous but enigmatic call for a “right to have rights” serves here as a red thread through different conceptions of human rights politics. A first, liberal conception understands these rights as protection from political power, yet can only call upon the same kind

Introduction  19

of power for their enforcement. With the best of intentions, this view authorizes efforts whose presuppositions and effects all too often disempower those whom it means to help. A second, deliberative conception figures the human rights politics in Kantian terms, as the institutionalization of right by legal means. This view inherits the defects of its model: while it can posit a better state of affairs, it has difficulty accounting for how it might be achieved. The framework does, however, point the way to a more robustly democratic alternative. The last conception, a radically democratic model of human rights as an open-ended right to political participation activated by rights-claimants themselves, puts concrete struggles at the center of human rights politics. In this, I argue, the third interpretation remains truest to Arendt’s intuitions, which show that rights cannot be understood only as protection from or channeling of power, but as its generation in the form of counterpower. t



This book seeks to offer a vision of cosmopolitanism that is robustly egalitarian and democratic, yet avoids the pitfall of false universalism into which so many of its predecessors have fallen. First of all, this cosmopolitanism would refer to the critical imperative of recognizing that all politics is now in fact global, that the chains of interdependence increasingly defining our world—often grossly asymmetrical, so that they can only be characterized in terms of exploitation and domination—must inform all moral and political reflection. In this sense, cosmopolitanism would refer to the endless task of exposing the prejudices, ideologies, and ruses that prevent us from seeing the global implications of apparently national or local relations and decisions. Second, it would refer to the ethical imperative of recognizing and promoting the equal moral worth of each and every human being, while at the same time being sensitive to the strong possibility that our efforts to do so will founder on, even reinforce, the world’s inequalities. The solution to this paradox, which plagues even the best cosmopolitanisms, lies in the fact that it is nevertheless possible to discover particular cases where this ethical imperative is denied and to combat the false universals on which this denial is based. Finally, cosmopolitanism should refer to the political imperative of promoting the equal freedom and dignity of each and every individual everywhere. This is best done, I argue, by supporting the struggles of individuals for an equal

20  Introduction

say in the decisions that affect them where they are, against the myriad forces, there and everywhere, that prevent them from having this say. The point of the positive reconstruction of cosmopolitics in the second half of this book is thus to consider democratic universalization from the bottom up, in particular cases, from a political rather than simply a moral-ethical point of view. Universality, be it in ethics or in politics, is best thought negatively, as the negation of particular exclusions, inequalities, and false universals. In a Hegelian formulation that chapters 4 and 5 try to elucidate: universality becomes actual the moment a historically given universal is contested in the name of the universal value it betrays. (With an essential democratic, even revolutionary, proviso: from below.) Cosmopolitics, then, is the unpredictable process through which universalization happens again and again, the form of political action by which the universal is conflictually asserted and reinvented in and against its particular betrayals. The hopeful conclusion of the critical work carried out in the first half of the book is therefore that if the paradoxes of universalism outlined in the first chapters are inescapable, they are navigable and even corrigible, though never finally or entirely. If we cannot solve the paradoxes of the universal within the confines of the problem as it is usually framed, we can develop strategies and guidelines for judging and acting on a universalistic basis that take these paradoxes into account. The thrust of my argument is thus that dominant ways of thinking about the relationship between politics and morality, ideals, institutions, and action—not only in practical philosophy (political theory, ethics, moral philosophy) but also in everyday political reflection, even in practice—are seriously problematic and need to be rethought. While this is necessarily a somewhat abstract matter, my argument is practical, and the version of universalism developed here can provide a political orientation or standard by which different arrangements and courses of action can be assessed. Unlike most normative moral and political theory, the perspective I put forth here directs our attention toward the question not of what ought to be and why but of who ought to do what, where, and how in particular cases, affording a basis for making concrete judgments. This perspective has the further advantage of directly connecting the principle of equal freedom with the practice of striving for it, thereby aligning principle (theory) with politics (practice). A negative-processual view of cosmopolitics as a democratic, egalitarian politics from below is not merely the best we can do. It is the best expression of universalism as a moral-political idea.

Part One Co smopol i ta ni sm f rom t he Top Dow n

c h a pt e r one

Universalism in History

Cosmopolitanism is an attempt to realize the imperative of universalism— to grasp the human world as one and ourselves as, to at least some extent, connected to, and therefore at least to some degree responsible for, all of it.1 Cosmopolitics, as I will use the term, is the attempt to act politically in the world on the basis of this understanding. Our present interest in cosmopolitanism derives from the renaissance it enjoyed in the 1990s, when, in a way only partially anticipated in the high Enlightenment or after the Second World War, it struck many observers as imperative to “re-imagine the planet,” in Gayatri Spivak’s phrase, precisely this way—as a single object of reflection and field of action. From this vantage point, we might well conclude that today, as arguably since the eighteenth or even the sixteenth century, all politics has been cosmopolitics, even if its global dimension was often concealed, unconscious, or disavowed. This would not be incorrect; as I will argue in the second half of this study, the basic cosmopolitan claim is that more parochial perspectives in fact rest on and participate in a denial of the essentially global nature of morality and politics today. But here I want to examine cosmopolitanism as the conscious, deliberate, always

24 c o s mopol i ta ni sm from t he top d o w n

difficult task of self-consciously taking a more global view than the politics and culture of the day seem to allow. Understood simply as an orientation toward the global or the transnational, the recent cosmopolitan renaissance may arouse a number of suspicions. Take a typical definition: “cosmopolitanism,” writes Amanda Anderson, “endorses reflective distance from one’s cultural affiliations, a broad understanding of other cultures and customs, and a belief in universal humanity.”2 From this we might suspect that the idea is so widely embraced because it is so anodyne. Who is against being critical of oneself and one’s traditions, broad-minded and open toward others, and inspired by the underlying oneness of humankind? All praiseworthy, to be sure, but hardly a politics. Another suspicion might be that the term is deceptive. Cosmopolitanism might then appear as what Craig Calhoun calls “the class-consciousness of frequent flyers”3—a cipher for elites who embrace the world because they have done so well by it. The term’s humanitarian associations would then make it all the more insidious, allowing it to function as an ideology of domination, concealing its reality not only from the dominated but from the dominant as well. Our task would then be to pull the veil from this ideology, to expose the interests and realities behind it. Or we might suspect that cosmopolitanism has come to stand for so many different things that it means everything and nothing. We might then treat it as an essentially contested concept in W. B. Gallie’s sense, attending to the various uses to which it is put, rather than trying to fix a particular meaning to it, or we might simply consign it to the catalogue of once meaningful terms done in by their own success. As we will see, all these suspicions are warranted. Nevertheless, the intuition behind this book is that cosmopolitanism is worth hanging onto because the imperative it expresses—that we think and act at a global level—has become more urgent than ever. Suitably reframed, I will argue, cosmopolitanism can embody a spirit of critical universalism uniquely suited to our shrinking world. At the same time, we can ignore neither the idea’s history nor the variety of its contemporary uses, both because they contain resources we can draw on and because they offer lessons about how cosmopolitanism can go wrong. The present chapter surveys this history in order to arrive at a general conception of cosmopolitanism that will serve as a basis for subsequent reflections. It seeks to take a double perspective on cosmopolitanism. On the one hand, I claim that the cosmopolitanism I develop here emerges from and is consistent

Universalism in History  25

with (though not identical to) the idea as it has been handed down to us. On the other hand, to the extent that I develop this conception against received versions of the idea, I expose internal tensions that account for its potential having so often been betrayed. My aim is thus to show that the spirit of cosmopolitanism exceeds its letter and that the version I propose in this book is in fact truer to the idea’s deeper sense than its more common versions. I do this by developing a relational account of cosmopolitanism. By this I refer not to the internal relations among the idea’s elements but rather to its relation to its contexts. As we will see, cosmopolitanism has taken a wide variety of forms, each arising from and in opposition to a particular cultural, political, and philosophical background. One thing these different incarnations of the idea share above and beyond their content is a way of relating to these different contexts. I thus propose to treat cosmopolitanism as a way of relating to a given set of circumstances, rather than in terms of its propositional content. In other words, if cosmopolitanism always aspires to the universal, to framing and relating to the world as a whole, one way of understanding it is as a series of attempts to challenge and introduce a difference into how we relate to our contexts. It would then be the valence of this challenge, the nature of the difference it seeks to establish, rather than any specific propositional content, that can be described in general terms. My approach thus involves understanding cosmopolitanism not as a doctrine, a set of assumptions or imperatives, a body of ideas, or an evolving tradition whose content gets worked out over successive iterations but rather as a logic or process, a kind of action or move that has been made in different circumstances with significant variations through history. On the basis of such an understanding, I want to be able to say, not that a given text is cosmopolitan in the sense that it approximates or anticipates some ideal cosmopolitanism, but rather that in particular cases a cosmopolitan move is being made—a move that contains certain dangers, but also a certain promise. The title of this chapter, universalism in history, can be read in two different ways. On the one hand, cosmopolitanism has a long and complex history and only gradually became what it now is. The first section of the chapter accordingly offers a highly schematic and in some ways conventional survey of Western cosmopolitanisms, exploring the tensions that arise with attempts to achieve a universalistic view of the world and thereby exposing what Amanda Anderson calls the

26 c o smopol i ta ni sm from t he top d o w n

“divided legacies” their contemporary versions inherit. On the other hand, cosmopolitanism can only occur in history. This is the respect in which it can be distinguished not so much by its content as by what I called its logic—its relation to its context. In the second section of this chapter I examine one such occurrence: Martha Nussbaum’s relaunching of the idea in 1994. Proceeding retail rather than wholesale, attending to particular arguments rather than large-scale intellectual-historical developments, I then explore how the cosmopolitanism of the nineties related to its context, what issues and tensions arose, and what this says about the promise and limitations of the dominant conception of cosmopolitanism. These two perspectives, a wide-angle view of the tensions and contradictions that have accumulated around cosmopolitanism over the course of its history and a close-up of the questions and problems that arose with its most recent deployment, will then yield a rough outline of the idea that can serve as a reference point in the later chapters. A Short History of Western Cosmopolitanisms

As cosmopolitanism reached new heights of popularity around the last fin de siècle, philosophers and historians turned to the archives to make sense of it. What could it mean to be a citizen of the world? Those archives are large, however, and it is not obvious how best to approach them. One way is to proceed through the canon, identifying and comparing different historical cosmopolitanisms, inevitably guided by what is seen as most appropriate to contemporary circumstances and sensibilities. This tends to lead to a familiar kind of Whig intellectual history: various thinkers “approached” or “anticipated” an adequate understanding of cosmopolitanism, “adding” or “discovering” crucial elements. The search then conveniently culminates in the account we are now reading.4 Other historians, meanwhile, usually those who focus on a particular period, approach the task differently. While they too necessarily begin with a more or less ideal-typical notion of the idea they are investigating, they tend to treat its development more as the expression of certain tensions than as the unfolding of an essence or the approximation of an ideal.5 In this survey I hew closer to the second model, exploring the tensions that inhabit the idea of cosmopolitanism in its various incarnations as they have emerged through its long history. In this brief tour d’horizon I try, in accord with the understanding of cosmopolitanism as a logic and a process, to identify elements that recur

Universalism in History  27

with such regularity that we can speak of them as tendencies of cosmopolitanism as such. Although cosmopolitanism has been consistently motivated by certain aspirations, preoccupied with certain themes, and riddled with certain tensions, the concept has changed significantly over the last twenty-five hundred years. It did not mean the same thing to try to express or aspire to the universal in the Greek polis that it did in the Roman Empire, under the medieval Church or European colonialism, in the context of the modern nation-state or expanding global capitalism. Each of these configurations not only presents different possibilities for imagining the oneness of the world; it also carries a distinctive conception of time, order, human nature, and political possibility. Within the compass of a few pages, then, I seek to extract from this history both the tensions that continue to inhabit invocations of cosmopolitanism and the key innovations that have made cosmopolitanism what it now is.

Cynic/Socratic Origins According to Diogenes Laertius, the term cosmopolitan was coined by Diogenes of Sinope (c. 404–323 bc), founder of the Cynic school, at the time of Alexander the Great. By reportedly claiming, in response to a question about his origins, to be a kosmopolitĕs, a citizen of the world, Diogenes “refused to be defined by his local origins and group memberships  .  .  . instead, he defined himself in terms of more universal aspirations and concerns.”6 This, like his provocative behavior—living in a barrel, performing private functions in the marketplace, demonstratively searching for a “real man”—has been interpreted as a principled rejection of the claims of society, politics, and convention, a way of opposing, as Diogenes Laertius puts it, “confidence to fortune, nature to law, and reason to suffering.”7 Diogenes’ Cynicism, however, was an ethos rather than a doctrine. It is clear that he put the highest value on nature, wisdom, and honesty, but his riddling, deflationary remarks, like his antisocial conduct, were entirely negative. For this reason, H. L. Baldry warns against looking to him for a view of world citizenship: “Kosmos means the universe, the whole of nature, not mankind, and kosmopolitĕs is a long way from ‘cosmopolitan’: far from suggesting that the Cynic is at home in every city, it implies he is indifferent to them all.” At most, the Cynics saw themselves as constituting a polity of the sophos, the wise—themselves. “But this united politeia of men of wisdom is nothing like an all-embracing society of all mankind.

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If it can be described as a state at all, it is a super-state, a state outside all states, the members of which are cut off from the mass of humanity.”8 Also worth noting is the frequency with which later writers—Cicero, Plutarch, Epictetus—(mis)attribute Diogenes’ (alleged) line to a slightly earlier and much better-known philosopher, Socrates.9 After crediting Socrates with the coinage, for instance, Montaigne writes: “he embraced the whole world as his city, and extended his acquaintance, his society, and his affections to all mankind.”10 Socrates had indeed inspired the Cynic, who simply took his ideas to the extreme; Plato reportedly referred to Diogenes as “a Socrates gone mad.”11 Since there is no basis in Xenophon, Aristophanes, or Plato himself for attributing the line to Socrates, we might consider this tendency to do so as a comment on the character of philosophical reflection itself. Since the philosopher’s vocation is universal, even Socrates, who took hemlock out of fidelity to his polis and its laws, must in some sense have been cosmopolitan. This interpretation would then reflect a classical division of activities. In his practicalpolitical life, his vita activa, Socrates fought bravely in Athens’ wars and submitted to its death sentence. Only as a philosopher, in the vita contemplativa, the life of thought, could he transcend the divisions that structure political life. The alternative to accepting these divisions, personified by the Cynic, would be to forsake not only politics but civilization (derived from the Greek polis via the Latin civitas)—to live, as Aristotle put it, as a god or a beast (in Diogenes’ case, a cynos, a dog).12 Philosophy provides a distance from practical life from which a more general, inclusive, cosmopolitan view is possible. Yet this freedom is only ideal and finds no ready expression in the entanglements of practical life. Cosmopolitanism can therefore be realized only in the world of ideas; its implications, if any, are sharply tempered by practical realities and existing obligations.

Stoicism The next station in cosmopolitanism’s history comes slightly later, when certain other Socratics, notably Zeno of Citium (c. 336–254 bc), developed an idea of universal natural law. This line of thinking came to be known as Stoicism, and cosmopolitan sentiments run throughout its Hellenistic, early Roman (Cicero), and late Roman (Seneca, Marcus Aurelius) phases. The importance of this second type of cosmopolitanism lies in its attempt to relate the otherworldly cosmopolitan ideal to political life. Stoic

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cosmopolitanism was first set out in Zeno’s now lost Politeia, which according to Plutarch bade us “consider all men to be of one community and one polity” with “a common law and an order common to us all.”13 Stoic ethics drew heavily on Cynicism, but smoothed out its radical iconoclasm. The Stoics strove to live according to duty, to serve all humankind, and to obey natural law, which they held to be the same everywhere and to reveal itself to reason. Unlike the Cynics, however, they saw this ethos as compatible with participation in political life, even if the latter is necessarily local and particular. In this sense, as Otfried Höffe notes, the Greek Stoics failed to draw any institutional conclusions from the unity of rationalnatural law: “Political thinking flourishes with Plato and Aristotle, but without any international, let alone cosmopolitan perspective; the Stoa, in contrast, cultivate cosmopolitanism, but overwhelmingly apolitically.”14 Thus, while the Greek Stoics affirmed the oneness of the world, this affirmation did not have any specifically political consequences. Those in search of a Stoic political philosophy therefore tend to move on to the Romans. As Martha Nussbaum enthuses: “if we want to give the world a paradigm from the ancient Greco-Roman world to inform its engagement with the political life . . . it is [Cicero’s] we should select.”15 Roman Stoicism, however, is not without difficulties, first and foremost its own political indeterminacy. As the juxtaposition of a republican martyr (Cicero) and an emperor (Marcus Aurelius) suggests, it turns out to have been amenable to incompatible political commitments. Another, still more serious problem for contemporary cosmopolitans is that, from the beginning, all its versions were associated with a less attractive universalism, namely, imperialism. According to Anthony Pagden: “Zeno’s ‘Cosmopolis,’ the world which is all one city, was, seemingly for Zeno himself and certainly for most other Greeks, the Greek polis extended to non-Greeks. Insofar as it had any content at all, the common law for all humanity, the koinos nomos, was a Greek law.  .  .  . Similarly for the Romans, the world, the orbis terrarium, was the Roman civitas extended to non-Romans.”16 The inspiration and material precondition for classical cosmopolitanism, Pagden concludes, were conquest and domination, first with Alexander, then under the pax romana. The underlying logic is simple enough: since there is only one natural law, it does not matter who enforces it or by what means. Diogenes the Cynic took this lesson negatively, through indifference to human law, Cicero and Marcus Aurelius positively, by treating Roman dominion as a vehicle for the universal.

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These two possibilities would shadow the idea of cosmopolitanism: either it is equally compatible (or incompatible) with everything—all laws, ways of life, and systems of belief—in which case its political value is hard to see and it is at most a personal ethos; or it is identified with one of them, in which case it can easily become an aggressive chauvinism, justifying its supremacy over all others. As soon as it moves beyond its otherworldly, a- or antipolitical Cynic and Socratic origins, it seems, cosmopolitan universalism is suspended between indeterminacy and domination. “Universal citizenship” emerges, as Scott Malcolmson puts it, “as a license either to withdraw from the world or to master it.”17 Costas Douzinas, in contrast, presents the two attitudes as straightforward political alternatives: either “the spirit of the cosmos is mobilised against the order of the polis” or imperial cosmopolitanism “elevates the law of the polis to the status of the law of the cosmos.”18 And even when cosmopolitanism calls for a more enlightened universalism—as, for example, Marcus Aurelius sought an empire that was more humane—it does so only by accepting the imperium as the precondition for the good it promotes. More generally, we see from this that cosmopolitanism, the effort to see and act in the world as essentially one, is not simply a matter of doctrines or values. It is always bound up with a specific constellation of worldly relations, whether it rejects these relations, like Diogenes or Plato, or embraces them, like the later Stoics. To understand and assess a given cosmopolitanism, then, it is not enough to spell out its values and ideals; they must be set against and seen in light of its actual entanglements.

Christianity It may not be immediately obvious why Christianity should be singled out as the first cosmopolitan faith, since any of the universalistic worldviews that for Karl Jaspers were characteristic of the “Axial Age” seem to qualify.19 Nevertheless, whether owing to the parochialism of Western historians or the verdict of history (insofar as Christianity, via European conquest, formed the template for modern universalism), Christianity is always accorded a starring role. Its novelty is said to reside not in its belief in the unity of God or the cosmos, which it shared with other belief systems, nor in its claim to a single, exclusive truth, repudiating all others, which may be a general feature of monotheism. What is said to set

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Christianity apart, especially in its Pauline version, is that it welcomes all as equals, setting itself above all other forms of identification.20 For Paul’s God, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male not female” (Gal. 3:28); “God shows no partiality” (Rom. 2:10). In Alain Badiou’s terms, it addresses humanity as a single subject, transcending all merely local identities; in Julia Kristeva’s, Paul’s ekklesia is “a messianism that includes all of humankind,” embodying “the universality of the ‘people’ beyond peoples.”21 Like philosophy, religion thus makes it possible to encompass the world by rising above worldly involvements. Yet, beyond philosophy, it holds this to be a matter not simply of recognizing an underlying order, but of participating in a community and a way of life that can be indefinitely generalized. Of course, with Constantine’s union of faith and empire Christianity soon inherited a real, institutionalized universality. The idea of one Church, catholic and universal, is obviously cosmopolitan, and writers through the first Christian millennium adopted the Roman (and perhaps universal) habit of referring to their own Christian world as the world per se. By becoming an empire, however, the Church confronted a difficulty common to all universalisms that seek to move beyond the merely ideal: though universal in potentia, principle, and aspiration, the burgeoning religion was by no means universal in fact. Early Christian doctrine tended to finesse this problem by deferring the actual unity of humankind to the end of history, as in the apocalyptic tradition, or displacing it to another metaphysical realm, as in Augustine’s City of God (bk. 19). Whereas for the ancients ideal unity was accessible only through philosophical insight, Christianity insisted that it would in fact come to pass, if only in a time superseding that of our fallen world. This displacement can be seen as a way station between the transcendent universal community of the Stoics and the futural universal community that would emerge with the Enlightenment. With Christian universalism we thus encounter a new figure of cosmopolitanism for which the achievement or nonachievement of a universal order becomes a practical problem. By combining worldly rule with a universalistic vocation, Rome and Christian Europe faced two general problems we could call the problem of the outside and the problem of the center. On the one hand, some of the world always remained outside the fold; more seriously than for a mere empire, its universality could only be vouchsafed by explaining how this remnant would ultimately be

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incorporated. On the other hand, and more strictly politically, it became necessary to determine the content and locus of the order’s universality. Externally, Europe wavered between denying the existence of the rest of the world, consigning it to irrelevance, and trying to drag it into the circle of civilization. Internally, custodianship and promotion of Christianity’s universalistic idea became a key stake in political struggles. The Crusades have thus been understood both as a strategy to unify Christendom by opposing it to a Muslim Other and as a means for kings and popes to claim primacy within European politics.22 Similarly, Dante’s On Monarchy, the literary-philosophical capstone of late-medieval cosmopolitanism, is both an argument for seeing the world as an organic totality and an effort to strike a balance between the spiritual authority of the Church and the temporal power of the Emperor. As soon as the universal becomes entangled in social-political reality it becomes a way of compelling compliance or legitimating action, a stake in power struggles that inevitably narrow it, subject it to controversy, and expose its particularity.

International Law One outgrowth of these late-medieval and early-modern struggles illustrates some further difficulties of political cosmopolitanism. As the Church’s power waned while that of Europe’s kingdoms waxed, and with the discovery of distant peoples easier to conquer with Europe’s rapidly advancing military technologies (and microbial advantages) than its Muslim neighbors, the Crusades gave way to overseas conquest. The rapid expansion first of the Iberian, then the northwestern European empires into the New World and beyond meant that Christendom was pushing outward at an unprecedented rate, but it was doing so neither under Church authority nor by obviously Christian methods. This was widely seen to require authorization and justification. One response was a revival of the Roman ius gentium, the law of peoples—the application of lightly Christianized, Stoic-style natural law to relations between different peoples. Historians now regard this as the genesis of modern international law—a signal step in displacing the Church’s claim to universality by creating a framework that could incorporate all the world’s peoples on formally equal terms. The invention of international law was in this sense an attempt to erect an institutional basis for cosmopolitics.

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The ambiguities of this development emerge, however, when we consider two writers generally seen as cosmopolitan voices in European debates over the new colonies.23 When Vitoria argued, against the weight of Spanish interest and opinion, that the pope’s writ did not run as far as the Andes, he did so in a Christian idiom; if he refused to countenance dispossessing and enslaving the native inhabitants, he nevertheless justified converting them to the true faith. Similarly, when Las Casas protested against the Spanish abuse of the Indians, he took it for granted that they should eventually be “civilized,” and he was happily invoked by those who sought both to convert the Indians and to put them to work in plantation agriculture.24 In both cases the presuppositions of an expansive and absorptive Christian universalism were relaxed but not abandoned, transformed but not superseded. This established a durable pattern whereby international law not so much replaced as grew out of Christian-imperial doctrine. From Vitoria, Suarez, and Gentili through Grotius, Pufendorf, and Vattel, international law became progressively less Christian—the latter three in particular furthering this project by, like Thomas Hobbes, giving natural law an independent foundation in universal reason.25 Yet, be it via religion, forms of political organization, or settlement and possession of the land, theologians, jurists, and philosophers always found ways to situate some outside the ostensibly universal law—most often to justify dragging them under it. The others were included, as Antony Anghie puts it, but only as subordinate and subject to the claims of the superordinate West.26 Without tracing this long and complex history, we can note that it was only at the turn of the twentieth century that more than a handful of non-European polities were recognized as subjects of international law. All became eligible for this status only after World War II, but most did not receive it de facto before the 1960s. Moreover, these new legal subjects were recognized only when and to the extent that they assumed the traits of European modernity, specifically the nation-state. The League of Nations’ mandate system, by means of which “backward” peoples were put under the temporary stewardship of European powers—a status some see revived in today’s creation of international protectorates in “failed states”—was exemplary of this tendency.27 The underlying issue is what Derrida points to with his coinage mondialatinisation, or globalLatinization: the spread of international law, even of political modernity per se, can be understood as a process of inclusion, incorporating

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ever-increasing expanses of the Earth, but must also and at the same time be seen as a process of subsumption under and assimilation to European, Roman-Christian norms.28 The universalization of existing forms, usages, and institutions—not only international law and the state-system but calendars and customs, technical standards, weights and measures, Hollywood and English—can never entirely overcome the particularity of their origins or the hegemony of their center.

Enlightenment The direct ancestor of present-day cosmopolitanism was the eighteenthcentury cosmopolite. At the time, this was less a political or philosophical category than a sociocultural one: the cosmopolitan was a familiar type in the “culture wars” of the day, a character usually described in terms of what I earlier called the anodyne definition—at home everywhere, tolerant, liberal, weltoffen. Enlightenment cosmopolitanism possessed a thin philosophical content as well, taken mostly from Stoicism. Diderot defines the cosmopolitain ou cosmopolite in the Encyclopédie by the Stoic maxim “I prefer my family to myself, my country to my family, the human race to my country.”29 In this guise, cosmopolitanism became an identity assumed by a self-conscious, transnational literary-philosophical elite. This elite was recognized even when it was not loved. The Encyclopédie’s conservative rival, the Dictionnaire de l’Académie française, sniffed that a cosmopolitan “is not a good citizen,” while Rousseau declaimed that cosmopolitans “boast that they love everyone, to have the right to love no one.”30 Here, as with the Stoics, we find an identifiable group that understood itself as articulating and incarnating a universal ideal, yet depended on a system that rested on a different set of principles, namely, those of imperialist absolutism. The philosophes’ transnational republic of letters was universalistic, rationalistic, progressive, in principle open to all, devoted to the critical exchange of ideas and the freedom and good of all humankind. Yet it was also elitist and conspiratorial, a self-appointed avantgarde alienated from society and marginalized by the powers on which it nonetheless depended. It is thus hardly surprising to find the philosophes characterized then and since as egalitarian snobs, intolerant preachers of tolerance, sectarian denouncers of faction, restive agents of the states they served and depended on.31 To be sure, their politics were scarcely

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less diverse than those of their ancient forebears. Ranging from monarchists to republicans, from Jansenists to Pietists to atheists, they shared little beyond a commitment to reason and liberty and an antagonism to prejudice and despotism. Why, then, is the cosmopolitan label attached to the Frenchifying literary elites of the eighteenth century and not, say, the Latinized literary elites of the sixteenth or seventeenth? Why Voltaire, Hume, and Franklin and not More, Erasmus, and Leibniz? Thomas Schlereth suggests that the concept’s currency in the eighteenth century rested less on its advocates’ politics than on a neo-Stoic worldview permeating the eighteenth century and marked by crucial differences from the one that prevailed under the Roman as well as the Holy Roman Empire: “the individual at one extreme and human kind at the other were the two basic social realities; [the philosophes] did not find the origins of nation-state in the ties of the hoary past or in prehistoric biological factors, but rather in the rational, expedient will of autonomous individuals expressing their enlightened self-interest.”32 Here we see a deeper harmony between the Enlightenment’s core values— individualism, rationality, science, commerce—and functional imperatives that were already, along with capitalism and the state system, unifying the world. In taking the side of the individual, the state, and the market against the estates, the Church, and feudalism, the philosophes put themselves on the right side of history. They were, in their values as in their relation to the world, if not in their explicit political ideas, heralds of the rationalized, statist, commercial world then emerging.

Economic Cosmopolitanism So much to say that eighteenth-century cosmopolitanism had a hidden basis in underlying trends of the day: European colonial expansion, the rise of science, legal and administrative rationalization, and, perhaps above all, commerce. More than a century before Marx and Engels observed that the bourgeoisie had “given a cosmopolitan character [kosmopolitisch gestaltet] to production and consumption in every country,”33 trade seemed to many to be what was uniting the world. The Montesquieuian motif of le doux commerce runs throughout the Age of Reason, lying as much at the heart of Kant’s hopes for perpetual peace as Gibbon’s fears of civilizational decline. By the last quarter of the eighteenth century, the time of Adam Smith, “economic cosmopolitanism” had become an explicit position in

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the rising science of political economy, and for the next two hundred years laissez-faire cosmopolitans would be pitted against those who argued that global interdependence requires a more deliberate approach to the global commons. But the more important phenomenon from our perspective is that, from this point on (Immanuel Wallerstein would say from the sixteenth century), cosmopolitanism comes to rest on what Étienne Balibar calls “real universality”34—the objective, political, cultural, and economic unification of the globe or what we now call globalization. The combination of scientific development, the growth of commerce, and the apparently inexorable shrinking of the globe led in the high Enlightenment to a development in European self-understanding that would eventually be universalized: from the cyclical, epochal, or apocalyptical visions of history Europe had inherited from the Middle Ages, the unification of the globe under the aegis of capital and the state system, science and technology, now made it possible, and soon irresistible, to think of history in terms of progress. Most commentators point out that this conception grew out of earlier intellectual frameworks. Many follow Karl Löwith in thinking of progress as an incomplete secularization of Christian eschatology; Reinhart Koselleck refers instead to a “temporalization of utopia” whereby ideal worlds that used to be situated on the other side of the globe or in the distant past were transposed to future.35 Koselleck observes that the modern conception of progress established by the early nineteenth century rested on two internal tensions that would continue to inform modern cosmopolitanisms. The first is that, whereas in the modern conception of progress the outlines of a more advanced future can be glimpsed through present developments, the tendency of the present constantly to outstrip the past means that this future will exceed anything imaginable today. And the second is that while progress turns history into a field for human action, it also consists of processes beyond anyone’s control. The future is in one respect opened, but in another respect closed, to human understanding and agency. But most crucially it becomes realizable, a site of investigation and intervention and the main field for cosmopolitical visions and actions.

Perpetual Peace One expression of the dawning age of progress was a vogue of proposals for overcoming war. Rather than sift through these—by Sully, the Abbé

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Saint-Pierre, Penn, Wieland, Bentham, and many others—let us consider them collectively as a genre that gathers momentum through the eighteenth century, culminating in the period of the French Revolution and Kant’s famous essay (discussed in detail in chapter 3).36 These texts share certain features. Reflecting the now established plurality of states, they tend, in contrast to Dante’s universal monarchy, to be federal. Yet their pluralism has limits. Without exception, these proposals are Eurocentric: many include only Christendom; a few, like Penn’s, extend to the Ottomans; only the most visionary, like Kant’s, imagine Europe legislating or supplying a model for the rest of the world. Another feature of this genre is its entanglement in the geopolitical concerns of the day, from Sully writing for the Bourbons against the Habsburgs to Bentham seeking a British accommodation with revolutionary France. In different admixtures, these writings combine utopian idealism with prejudices, interests, and concessions to the present. In this they anticipate the League of Nations and the United Nations: like these institutions, they are forced— by the conditions of their creation, by the constraints of Realpolitik and political imagination—to straddle the ambitions of universal principle, the realities of power and interest, and the invisible constraints that come with being situated at a particular time and place. Sophia Rosenfeld alerts us to another aspect of these texts: “they encourage us to rethink our often resolutely presentist assumptions about the connection between geographical or familial rootedness, on the one hand, and the political identity associated with citizenship, on the other.”37 Under European absolutism, Rosenfeld argues, the republic of letters offered a space for politics that the formal political sphere did not: imagining perpetual peace was a surrogate mode of political practice, a virtual form of universal citizenship. “In the years immediately preceding the French Revolution, before the nation-state had become an entirely hegemonic paradigm even in Western Europe, it appears that the idea of political engagement was not yet necessarily dependent on one’s sense of belonging to a distinctive subgroup of humanity. Rather . . . public action often depended upon the opposite: deliberate deracination and namelessness on the part of the individual subject.”38 In the utopianism of the pamphleteers, Rosenfeld discerns a new kind of political agency— one based on classical and Christian models, but that displaces them from any given community and gives them a distinctly modern orientation. With Koselleck’s “temporalization of utopia,” it becomes possible to be a

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utopian activist, a partisan of a cause that will only achieve concrete form through the very activity of pursuing it.

Revolutionary Cosmopolitanism With this we arrive at a form of political agency dimly foreshadowed by the early Christians: cosmopolitanism as the anticipation and even production of a radical, global transformation. The historical watershed of this tendency was the French Revolution, with which histories of cosmopolitanism usually culminate. Even more expressive of the Revolution’s ambiguities than Kant’s cautious approval, not of the Revolution but of the enthusiasm it aroused, is the bathetic story of Anarcharsis Cloots.39 Cloots was a DutchGerman nobleman whose participation in the Revolution included voluble calls for a “universal republic” that would extend republican liberty to all humankind by force of arms, as well as the oddly forward-looking political theater in which he dressed the rabble of Paris in costumes from around the world, celebrating the Revolution’s universality for a bemused Assembly. But the Revolution’s cosmopolitan spirit was short-lived, and Cloots’s revolutionary ardor, which won him honorary citizenship in 1792, soon proved his undoing. As France found itself at war with its absolutist neighbors, the inclusiveness of the Convention gave way first to crusading adventurism, then to the defensive nationalism of the Dictatorship of Virtue. By 1793 Robespierre found Cloots’s radical universalism not only politically inconvenient but suspicious, and the self-proclaimed “orator of the human race” was executed as a spy in March 1794. After Thermidor and Waterloo, the revolutionary tradition continued to be cosmopolitanism’s principal redoubt. On a common view expressed by J. A. Hobson: “This early flower of humane cosmopolitanism was destined to wither before the powerful revival of nationalism which marked the [nineteenth] century. Even in the narrow circles of the cultured classes it passed from a noble and passionate ideal to become a vapid sentimentalism, and after a brief flame of 1848 among the continental populace had been extinguished, little remained but a dim smouldering of embers.”40 These embers can be seen in the deep cosmopolitan current that runs through modern radicalism: the various Internationals, the profound transnationalism of turn-of-the-twentieth-century anarchism, the international brigades that rallied to the defense of the Spanish Republic, the cooperation among national liberation movements in anticolonial

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struggle, the counterglobalization movement of today. This is not to deny the opposite, more familiar phenomenon, evinced not only by the admonitory fates of Cloots, Paine, or Trotsky, but most notoriously by the failure of the workers of the world to unite in 1914. Again and again, radical cosmopolitanism collapses under more local political pressures and imperatives. Still, movements based on the universal principles of freedom and equality tend to seek to spread, and often find takers. The utopian universalism that on Rosenfeld’s telling fueled the eighteenth-century politicalliterary imagination has never ceased finding political expression. It is important to note, however, that this popular-revolutionary current has often distanced itself from cosmopolitanism strictly speaking. Timothy Brennan points out that for Gramsci, writing in interwar Italy, cosmopolitanism was an ideology of domination, the pseudo-universalism of the Church and the ruling classes. The emancipatory, egalitarian globalism of the popular classes, in contrast, went by the name of internationalism.41 Similarly, for Micheline Ishay cosmopolitanism is “inextricably associated with Greek and Roman antiquity,” from which it inherits an irremediable individualism, elitism, and imperialism; universalism, meanwhile, is bound to the Catholic Church, taking over its traditions of hierarchy and intolerance.42 For her, too, “internationalism” harkens back instead to the republicanism and egalitarianism of the Enlightenment, which are free from such blemishes. Such writers favor internationalism for recalling the workers’ and anticolonial movements. In contrast to cosmopolitanism’s idealism and abstraction, they argue that internationalism recognizes the need for a focus of solidarity and collective agency in the face of oppression. Thus, on Fanon’s classic analysis of anti-imperialist struggle, it is only after the victims of the colonial encounter have secured this solidarity by means of a national liberation movement and rebuilt their self-confidence and autonomy in the form of a delimited collective project that their attentions can turn outward.43 By this means, however, internationalism resolves, if only provisionally, into nationalism,44 with its attendant particularism and dangers—not only to cosmopolitans like Cloots, but to all those who found themselves regarded as obstacles to the national destiny.

High Imperial Cosmopolitanism As noted, historians of cosmopolitanism usually follow Hobson in writing that the march of cosmopolitanism breaks off around the time of the

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French Revolution, when it fell victim first to Romanticism and nationalism, then later to racism and imperialism.45 This interpretation is only viable, however, as a way of insulating a “humane” (in Hobson’s phrase) egalitarian cosmopolitanism from its world-conquering doppelgänger. In fact, in the nineteenth century the core of Enlightenment cosmopolitanism— a belief in the underlying oneness and progressive unification of the world—was embraced across the ideological spectrum. There were of course exceptions, doctrines of racial superiority being the most spectacular, but for the most part modern ideologies are universalistic per se. A basic feature of the nationalist imaginary, for instance, is that although each nation is unique, all are essentially alike—a serialism evident in the Wilsonian vision, now mostly achieved, of a world full of formally identical nation-states.46 By the nineteenth century even imperialism came to rest officially on the view that it was necessary to spread the fruits of enlightenment by colonial means so that subject peoples could be led (or dragged) into modernity—a belief Marx shared with both Mills and Macaulay.47 Rather than saying, then, with the conventional narrative, that cosmopolitanism went underground during the nineteenth century only to emerge transformed in the middle of the twentieth, I find it more persuasive to speak of a fragmentation of the cosmopolitan spirit. If capital, as Marx and Engels observed, has no country, the tendency of imperialism, as Arendt notes in The Origins of Totalitarianism, is to extend the nation’s limits to infinity. If the dominant powers—from the Concert of Europe to the Congress of Berlin to the League of Nations—increasingly saw themselves as entrusted with global guardianship, the literary, philosophical, and political opposition to them, be it anarchist, Communist, or anticolonial, was compelled to think on the same scale.48 It is true that during this period the nation-state came to dominate the European political imagination, whence it spread first ideologically and then practically around the world, and that there was a corresponding downturn in advocacy for world government. To this extent the nineteenth century indeed saw a decline in cosmopolitanism in the high Enlightenment sense. But the conjunction of globalization and progressivism, increasingly assumed even by the most radical opponents of the reigning powers, meant that what had always been true of the vita comtemplativa came to hold for the vita activa as well: in modernity the field of theory as well as practice becomes at least implicitly and tendentially universal.

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The Postwar Revival The gradually mounting developments that culminate in the most recent cosmopolitan renaissance are sufficiently familiar that I will only briefly recall them here. On the conventional narrative, it took the shock of total war to rekindle the cosmopolitan ashes evoked by Hobson, tentatively and abortively after the First World War with the League of Nations, then more resoundingly after the defeat of fascism and Nazism, the most virulent species of modern anti-universalism to date. The end of World War II is usually identified as the inaugural moment of modern political universalism: the founding of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Nuremberg trials, and so on. True to the history of cosmopolitanism, at least on this telling, it was thus a quintessentially European event, the Nazi Holocaust, that is retrospectively seen to have called “the world” to its conscience, giving birth (or rebirth) to a humanist universalism that would serve as a comprehensive moral and political template, soon to be generalized as the rest of the world threw off its European overlords. This new cosmopolitan flame was to some extent dampened by geopolitical bifurcation of the Cold War. Nevertheless, it is possible to tell the story of postwar cosmopolitanism as one of gathering momentum. International movements of goods, money, technology, information, and people resumed their expansion after the collapse of the 1930s. The network of international institutions, agreements, and regulations grew steadily denser in areas as diverse as trade and finance, the management of the seas and the Antarctic, civil and now criminal law. The constantly accelerating exchange of images and ideas through global communications networks made the “global village” a cliché long before the recent discovery of globalization. Still, on the usual story, the division of the world into two well-articulated political-ideological blocs— two cosmopolitan universalisms—stood in the way of the full unfolding of the cosmopolitan ideal. Only in the epochal year 1989, when this division was finally overcome, could the age-old dream fully blossom. Yet, despite passing fancies of an “end of history,” few cosmopolitans— none I discuss in the following pages—believed that with this the world had achieved a cosmopolitan condition. What they did and do believe is that the world is more interconnected and unified than ever before, that the most important practical and ideational barriers to the general

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recognition of this fact have been or are being overcome, and that for the first time the preconditions exist for cosmopolitanism to be a serious political possibility. t



While I have followed the general outlines of the conventional narrative of cosmopolitanism, in this brief sketch of its history I have been most concerned with its internal tensions. These tensions persist, but take different forms in different periods. The most general, announced in the introduction, is that cosmopolitan universalism occurs only in the particular and thus reflects the conditions of its emergence and growth. At the same time, however, these forms share certain features. They have tended, from their origins, to waver between impotence and imperialism, between the anti- or suprapolitical transcendence of Diogenes or Socrates and the collusion in empire of the later Stoics. Further, cosmopolitanism always stands in some relation to the real-world institutions and tendencies that appear to be unifying the world at a given moment, be they Macedonian or Roman conquest, Christianity, colonialism, or capitalism. This renders these cosmopolitanisms inherently ambiguous, since in different mixtures they support and are supported by these institutions and tendencies (from Roman natural law to contemporary liberal internationalism) even when they seek radical alternatives to them (from early Christianity to Communism to anticolonialism), taking on key features of the order they oppose. More specifically, I want to call attention to three motifs that run through the history of cosmopolitanism. The first, noted by Amanda Anderson, is a tension between exclusionary and inclusionary cosmopolitanisms. Exclusionary cosmopolitanism, exemplified by the Diogenes the Cynic, is aloof, “eschewing petty allegiances in favor of a universal standard,” whereas in inclusionary cosmopolitanism “universalism finds expression through sympathetic imagination and intercultural exchange.”49 While Anderson, writing from a cultural and ethical perspective, offers these as contrasting types, I suggest that they are better seen as complementary, even convergent tendencies. Exclusionary cosmopolitanism constructs the ideal unity of humankind against others—barbarians, infidels, savages—whom it deems incapable of the cosmopolitan standard. It is but a small step from this to the belief that the outsiders must

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be brought into the circle of civilization, be it through incorporation under the lex romana, conversion to the one true faith, or submission to the imperatives of development and modernization (or democracy and human rights). Inclusion appears unambiguously positive to Anderson only because she does not consider it in political terms. Most cosmopolitanisms, to be sure, call for tolerance and equality. But inclusion has just as often taken the form of subordination or absorption—including and perhaps especially among the champions of tolerance and equality, as the last two centuries have richly demonstrated. A related tension Anderson points out is between elitism and egalitarianism.50 Again, rather than seeing them, as she does, as two different strands of cosmopolitanism, I suggest that they go hand in hand. From its beginnings, cosmopolitan universalism has had an affinity with elitism. The ability to take a general view of things, to sympathize with all humanity, bespeaks a privilege that the Cynics and Stoics, no less than the cosmopolites, felt could only belong to an enlightened few. While this was taken for granted in the ancient world, where the subphilosophical hoi polloi were categorically excluded from such insight, as time went on, and universalism came to be seen as involving actual acceptance of the faith, inclusion under the law, or participation in the community, it came to present a problem. Here we can trace a broken line of development from the proselytizing zeal of the early Christians to the educational schemes of the Enlightenment via the propaganda activities of modern revolutionaries to the “education for development and democracy” of modern liberal (or, formerly, socialist) internationalism. The decisive change with the advent of modernity is the tendency of literary-philosophical or political-ideological vanguards—whether allied with the dominant forces or opposed to them—to imagine themselves as “ahead of ” rather than simply “above” everyone else, as representing an order that should, and eventually will, include everyone. And this is no mere delusion; as we have seen, since the eighteenth century it has corresponded to the expansion of a logic— capitalism, scientific-technological progress, the state system—that has pulled everything into its orbit, establishing a hierarchy that tends to reflect how and when people and peoples were incorporated. To these two tensions I would finally add a more abstract one between the ideal and the actual, between how the world should be and how it is. While inherent in any normative scheme, this juxtaposition takes a particular form in the history of cosmopolitanism. Here again we can mark a

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contrast between the ancients and the moderns. A universal cosmopolitan condition, which some Greeks saw as a personal aspiration, certain Romans expanded into an ethic of public service, and many Christians passionately anticipated as the culmination of and escape from history, becomes for the moderns a practical challenge: by the high Enlightenment, universalism is understood as an ideal that can and should be deliberately realized in the world. This gives rise to a necessary, acutely practical tension between the City of Man and the City of God, the lex romana and the ius naturae, the world of states and the kingdom of ends. Rather than simply juxtaposing the ideal to the real, in a progressively unifying world we have to imagine the ideal arising out of the actual, in part through human agency. This produces a new set of theoretical and practical problems. Theoretically, we must now ask how the actual, the world’s current condition, colors or inflects our vision of what is possible and desirable. To what extent does cosmopolitanism represent the realization of existing potentials—for good and for ill—and to what extent should it oppose and seek to transcend them? And, in the practical domain, how are we to achieve this more desirable condition starting from and using the very imperfect resources of the present? I submit that these tensions—between exclusion and inclusion, elitism and egalitarianism, the actual and the ideal—are internal to any cosmopolitanism; they are part of the logic of universalism. In modernity, however, the cosmopolitan ideal takes on a new guise in three important respects: it can no longer be straightforwardly derived from nature; it becomes understood as realizable in history; and its realization becomes a matter of human agency, a political project. I will return to the internal tensions of cosmopolitanism as features of modern practical universalism in chapters 2 and 3 by exploring how they are negotiated in the ethical and political cosmopolitanisms of Immanuel Kant and his successors. But first I want to consider cosmopolitanism from another perspective. To this point I have treated cosmopolitanism as a series of intellectual and political moments, movements, or tendencies. As I explained at the beginning of this chapter, however, this is not the only way to understand “universalism in history”; cosmopolitanism may also be considered as a distinctive discursive or political move, a specific kind of interruption in a given discursive field. In the next section I seek to uncover something of the logic of this move by turning to a single example—one that, as it happens, leads directly to our present interest in the term.

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A Fin de Siècle Renaissance

Exaggerating only slightly, we can trace the reemergence of cosmopolitanism in the English-speaking academy to a single event: the 1994 publication of a short essay by Martha Nussbaum in a fledgling American cultural journal, the Boston Review.51 Despite its modest dimensions, Nussbaum’s “Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism” touched a nerve; dozens of noted intellectuals from various ideological and disciplinary quarters rushed to respond. In the introduction I suggested a few reasons for the timing of this cosmopolitan renaissance: growing awareness of economic and cultural globalization, the end of the Cold War, the discursive hegemony of human rights and democracy, the growing importance of international law and institutions. To these we can add some factors that made the US academy of the nineties especially ripe for Nussbaum’s intervention: a sense that recent battles—liberals versus communitarians, modernists versus postmodernists—had run their course; the rise of interdisciplinarity, and with it the attractiveness of themes that spanned specializations; the globalization of the academy, with mounting criticism of Eurocentrism and the “epistemic nationalism” of most scholarship; and pervasive uncertainty about the role of progressive intellectuals at a time when the traditional vehicles of their advocacy were severely weakened, increasingly disdained their help, or both.52 I take the debate around Nussbaum’s essay as a point of departure because it contains in a nutshell much of recent debates about cosmopolitanism in moral and political philosophy—its central themes, arguments, and perspectives. The debate’s lack of detail, a consequence of its being most writers’ first engagement with the topic, is in this respect an advantage: the form of the interventions is easier to make out when their substance is relatively underdeveloped. As I have suggested, this suits my purpose of considering Nussbaum’s intervention and the debate it provoked primarily in formal terms, as a distinctive kind of discursive move. By combing it for features that are, to some degree, common to all cosmopolitanisms, I propose to treat these features as formal or generic properties of cosmopolitanism per se, considered not as a family of theories or ideas but as a logic and a process. This logic would then be characteristic of any cosmopolitan intervention. In this sense I take Nussbaum’s cosmopolitanism, like Kant’s—both of which I return to in later chapters—as a phenomenon of more general interest. I thus seek to consider this debate

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as one in a long series of discursive events that, taken together, are coeval with the idea itself. Nussbaum’s intervention was provoked by an essay Richard Rorty had published in the New York Times a few months earlier. There Rorty had taken advantage of that unusually visible forum to upbraid the US intellectual left for its obsession with multiculturalism and identity politics. Taking aim at his fellow tenured radicals, he argued that progressive US academics had cut themselves off from the mainstream of American society. The academic left, he complained, “repudiates the idea of national identity, and the emotion of national pride,”53 needlessly forfeiting its ability to speak to the majority of Americans. Rorty’s argument rested on his long-standing conviction that the central factor in morality and politics is not a sense of justice but solidarity and sentiment. I return to the implications of this for cosmopolitanism further on. Worth noting here is that Rorty’s perspective was essentially strategic: by being too critical of American culture, history, society, and politics, by failing to appeal to the pride and fellow feeling of their compatriots, America’s intellectual left had condemned itself to political irrelevance. It would do better to focus not on past and present injuries and divisions, but on building solidarities that could include all Americans. Nussbaum sought to shift the terms of debate—in Rorty’s idiom, to change the subject. Where he had fired a salvo into a long-running debate between “multiculturalists” and “nationalists,” associating the former with narrow group interests and the latter with broader, more inclusive solidarities, Nussbaum pointed out what the two sides had in common—their myopic focus on the United States. Responding to a presentation by Amy Gutmann on “Multiculturalism and Democratic Education,” Nussbaum took the opportunity to criticize Rorty’s essay and a similar intervention by National Endowment for the Arts Director Sheldon Hackney. Nussbaum observed that “the primary contrast” in Rorty’s essay “was between a politics based on ethnic and racial and religious difference and a politics based on a shared national identity. What we share as both rational and mutually dependent human beings was simply not on the agenda” (5). Against this parochialism, Nussbaum sought to articulate an alternative to both identity politics and nationalism: “allegiance to what is morally good,” to humanity at large. With this move, Rorty, Hackney, and others who had called for a more inclusive, universalistic American identity suddenly found themselves outflanked by a still more embracing universalism. Like

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the “liberals” in the liberal-communitarian debate of the previous decade, it seems not to have occurred to them that the principles they defended might be universal not only in their validity but also in their extension.54 Drawing on the ancients, Kant, and Rabindranath Tagore, Nussbaum argued that “we should give our first allegiance to no mere form of government, no temporal power, but to the moral community made up by the humanity of all human beings” (7). Rather than think of themselves first and foremost as Americans, she called on her readers to identify with a “worldwide community of human beings” (4). She allowed that, in particular cases, we might give special attention to our families, communities, or states. “Politics, like child care, will be poorly done if each thinks herself equally responsible for all, rather than giving the immediate surroundings special attention and care” (13). Yet this concession can and should be made for universalistic reasons: all are better off when each attends to what is nearest at hand. The important thing, she insisted, is to recognize that particular forms of belonging, based as they are on mere accidents of birth, are “morally irrelevant” (5). While we can justifiably direct our energies to where we can do the most good, “we should also work to make all human beings part of our community of dialogue and concern, base our political deliberations on that interlocking commonality, and give the circle that defines our humanity special attention and respect” (9). Invoking the Stoic image of our affiliations as a series of concentric circles, Nussbaum quoted Hierocles: “Our task as citizens of the world will be to ‘draw the circles somehow toward the center.’” As these concessions suggest, the practical stakes of Nussbaum’s plaidoyer were anything but clear. This was partly because the original question was multiculturalism and education, not, as many respondents seemed to take it, politics in general. But, even at this level, everything would seem to depend on the weight of Nussbaum’s “also,” on spelling out Hierocles’ question-begging “somehow.” Just what do “allegiance” and “special attention and respect” entail?55 What would drawing these circles closer to the center mean concretely? Nussbaum did not say. She acknowledged that cosmopolitanism demands sacrifice, which she depicted in a heroic light. Referring to Tagore’s 1915 novel, The Home and the World, in which a young wife is tempted away from her enlightened cosmopolitan husband by a fiery nationalist, she conceded that cosmopolitanism could appear colorless. As Diogenes discovered, being a cosmopolitan may be “a lonely business . . . a kind of exile—from the comfort of local truths, from the

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warm, nestling feeling of patriotism, from the absorbing drama of pride in oneself and one’s own” (15). What she did not mention is any of its practical costs. She offered no examples of hard choices that might arise between patriotism and cosmopolitanism—an omission that allowed several of her respondents, following Anthony Appiah’s invocation of “cosmopolitan patriots,” to deny that any were necessary. Yet despite Nussbaum’s failure to explain how cosmopolitanism would concretely affect other memberships and obligations, her manifesto proved highly effective in a rhetorical sense: it elicited an enormous response. The Boston Review published twenty-nine replies, all by notable intellectuals. Scores, likely hundreds, followed elsewhere. Strikingly, the large majority were defenses of patriotism and the priority of the nation. For cosmopolitans like Bruce Robbins, this was “surprising and dispiriting evidence of how much any would-be internationalist is up against.” As Robbins went on to note, “with a few exceptions, liberals and conservatives join in a shockingly smooth bipartisan consensus against this or any challenge to the American nation.”56 More than anything, it is this disproportion between Nussbaum’s proposal and the ire it aroused, between the unclear stakes of the argument and the passion with which they were contested, that makes the discussion an exemplary cosmopolitan event. What, then, can we learn about cosmopolitanism from this debate? t



The first thing to note is that Nussbaum’s essay is intelligible only as an intervention in a particular debate at a particular time and place. Despite its desire to abstract, generalize, and transcend, cosmopolitanism is always contextual, defined through its juxtaposition to a given particularism or parochialism. It would not occur to anyone to advocate cosmopolitanism except in response to some narrower claim—that of a tribe, polis, community, or state. In this sense, David Hollinger is not wrong to apply the term even to a specifically American political identity.57 Relative to the closed, chauvinistic nationalisms it opposes, Hollinger’s Americanism, like Rorty’s or Hackney’s, is inclusive and open to the world and, to that extent, cosmopolitan. As Nussbaum’s intervention illustrates, however, such uses of the term invite rejoinders by those who insist on a broader frame. In this case, but also in general, what cosmopolitanism is is a local, contextual matter.

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We also see at once that cosmopolitan’s assertion of a common humanity is first and foremost negative. We identify with the universal first of all by not identifying with—by disidentifying from—the local. Diogenes, as Nussbaum puts it, “refused to be defined by his local origins and group memberships” (6); his cosmopolitanism consisted of a disidentification from Sinope, Athens, Corinth, and the Greek ideal of citizenship. Nussbaum’s essay, and above all its impact, likewise makes sense only in relation to Rorty’s patriotism; her cosmopolitanism takes its form and force from a judolike redirection of his nationalism. This reflects the general if seemingly paradoxical truth that the Spinozian formula “no determination without negation” also applies to determinations of the universal: a universal is always the negation of a particular—not “the particular” in general, but a particular particular. We can, with Amanda Anderson, trace this dynamic through the term’s history: “In antiquity, with the initial elaborations of cosmopolitanism by the Cynics and Stoics, cosmopolitan detachment was defined against the restricted perspective and interests of the polis. In the Enlightenment, it was defined against the constricting allegiances of religion, class, and the state. In the twentieth century . . . it is defined against those parochialisms emanating from extreme allegiances to nation, race, and ethnos.”58 On this level, then, cosmopolitanism emerges as a negative identity politics, a politics of disaffiliation, always defined first and foremost by what it opposes. This finds expression in the type of politics to which cosmopolitanism gives rise. We saw that Diogenes’ eccentric conduct is interpreted as conveying his disdain for the laws and customs under which he lived. We might also recall in this context his most famous (quasi-)political gesture: his request, in response to Alexander the Great’s offer of some favor in homage to his wisdom, that the Emperor get out of his sun. Cosmopolitanism can be refractory toward, disrespectful of, even rebellious against constituted political authority. Even where it does not rebel—as neither Socrates, the Stoics, Saint Paul, nor Kant ever did—it arouses suspicion simply by the critical distance it implies from things as they are. This suspicion may incur sanctions even where it is unfounded, as the unfortunate Anarcharsis Cloots discovered. By entertaining the possibility of other objects of allegiance and other sources of legitimacy (humanity, morality, nature, God, reason), it undermines the self-evidence of established authority. One can hardly imagine a gentler challenge than Nussbaum’s, remote as it was from any specific call for action, yet it unleashed a torrent

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of defensive nationalism. The force of Nussbaum’s “also,” then, lies in its opposition to the idea that we should think morally and politically only or even principally as nationals. However obliquely, cosmopolitanism represents a challenge to constituted forms of legitimacy, authority, and belonging. In this light, we can observe that the effect of Michael Walzer’s response to Nussbaum is simply to discount the possibility that things could be otherwise. In what became the debate’s most-cited passage, Walzer struck a pose of bewildered innocence: “I am not even aware that there is a world such that one could be a citizen of it. No one has ever offered me citizenship, or described the naturalization process, or enlisted me in the world’s institutional structures, or provided me with a list of the benefits and obligations of citizenship, or shown me the world’s calendar and the common celebrations and commemorations of its citizens” (125).59 The debate saw more straightforwardly conservative variations on this theme, with Gertrude Himmelfarb defending “the givens of life: parents, ancestors, family, race, religion, heritage, history, culture, tradition, community—and nationality” (77) and Michael McConnell entering a plea on behalf of Burke’s “little platoons” and the “renewal of our various intact moral communities” (84).60 But Nussbaum had not argued for giving these things up; she had merely insisted that taking them as exclusive or definitive “is both morally dangerous and, ultimately, subversive of some of the worthy goals patriotism sets out to serve”—most importantly “justice and equality” (4). What cosmopolitanism seeks to undermine, then, is the intuition on which Walzer had based his Spheres of Justice— the idea that conceptions of justice arise from, and can exhaustively be traced back to, the understandings that “constitute a shared way of life,” and that “to override those understandings is (always) to act unjustly.”61 Cosmopolitanism interrogates these given understandings, insisting on a more rigorous, because more general, perspective. Walzer’s response is also noteworthy in its attention to political form. Like many of Nussbaum’s respondents, he assumes that an object of political identification must come equipped with the hallmarks of a modern state, from passports to public holidays. Indeed, despite Nussbaum’s express denials, several of her respondents read her essay as advocacy of world government. When Amy Gutmann wrote, “we can truly be citizens of the world only if there is a world polity” (68), for instance, she presupposes that citizenship is defined by a state. Several respondents associated with left republicanism, such as Charles Taylor and Benjamin Barber,

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offered variations on this theme: democracy and the welfare state (and therefore social justice per se) require a willingness to make sacrifices for the sake of strangers; as this is only possible within a bounded political community, we need to identify primarily with a nation-state. From Nussbaum’s perspective, this is fetishism: mistaking the historically contingent relation between various public goods and virtues and the modern nation-state for a necessary one, it “substitutes a colorful idol for the substantive universal values of justice and right” (5). Our allegiance should be to the values themselves, not to their contingent vehicles. For Nussbaum, it seems, cosmopolitanism calls for another form of politics, one yet to be invented. Whatever this politics would be, it would be unlike that defined by the nation-state (or whatever unit defines the nature of politics at a given place and time), directed towards a higher standard of justice. But what sort of politics and community? If this is obvious in, say, Rorty’s, Hackney’s, or Hollinger’s case (a more inclusive United States, still defined by its present values, frontiers, and institutions), what would it be in Nussbaum’s? How can we characterize “the moral community made up by the humanity of all human beings” (7)? Since we receive as little guidance on this matter from Nussbaum as we do from Diogenes, let us consider the matter abstractly. Formally speaking, we can first of all note that cosmopolitanism is never symmetrical to the identity or community it opposes. Like the Stoics’ community of natural law, the early Christians’ community of faith, or the cosmopolites’ rational utopias, Nussbaum’s cosmopolitan community is situated on another level, accessible only via abstraction and reflection, or in another time, in a future that cosmopolitan politics aims to construct. Cosmopolitanism thus imagines what could perhaps be, but is not yet. For this reason, cosmopolitan community is relatively underdetermined: it is never as well defined as actual communities for the simple reason that they already exist and it does not. Cosmopolitanism is futural and utopian, by its very nature exceeding what exists. Many of Nussbaum’s respondents seized on her concession that this futural community cannot inspire passion. Future-US poet laureate Robert Pinsky, appropriately enough, dismissed cosmopolitanism as a kind of Esperanto, incapable of inspiring love like that for one’s own language, history, and nation. For Benjamin Barber, “the idea of cosmopolitanism offers little or nothing for the human psyche to fasten on” (33). As the debate widened, this point was often made with a quip from Benedict Anderson: “Who

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will willingly die for Comecon or the EEC?”62 Perhaps no one, we might reply, but only because these acronyms were the economic-administrative complements of undeniably political, though supranational, formations on whose behalf hundreds of thousands of heavily armed men were, as Anderson wrote this line, poised to destroy each other. Moreover, this point holds not only for existing political entities but also for the sorts of movements associated with cosmopolitanism in its futural utopian sense. Here we see the beginnings of an elaboration of Nussbaum’s suggestion that instead of “his local origins and group memberships,” Diogenes “defined himself in terms of more universal aspirations and concerns” (7). Cosmopolitanism defines itself in relation not to what is—a given social, geographical, historical entity—but to a project, ideal, or aspiration. If these projects and ideals seem less tangible than Walzer’s or Himmelfarb’s alternatives, it cannot be denied that they can inspire devotion and sacrifice. But they create very different kinds of identities and solidarities than those defined by existing groups or institutions—identities exemplified by Rosenfeld’s eighteenthcentury utopian pamphleteers or those who marched into harm’s way singing that paradoxical anthem, “The Internationale.” The community and identity invoked by cosmopolitanism, then, refer at once to a present struggle and a future ideal; they are defined by their engagement in the very project of constructing them. At the same time, some of Nussbaum’s respondents took an opposite tack, suspecting that the species-wide community she evokes, far from being a will-o’-the-wisp, is neither as virtual nor as aspirational as she lets on. As we saw, the Cynics have been read as basing their vision on a highly specific community—the community of the wise, namely, themselves—while many commentators have noted the Stoic affinity with the Roman Empire. Echoing such critics, Pinsky insinuated that Nussbaum rhetorically convenes a particular community. Her over-general language, he wrote, is that of a “particular province”: “happily situated members of large, powerful nations, prosperous and mobile individuals, able to serve on UN commissions, who participate in symposia, who plan the fates of other peoples while flying around the world and staying in splendid hotels”—in short, the “liberal managerial class” (87), the public-sector fraction of Calhoun’s frequent flyers. To this extent, Pinsky insisted, Nussbaum’s cosmopolitanism is provincial. Amy Gutmann likewise suggested that if Nussbaum’s cosmopolitanism were to have real effect, overriding locally or nationally secured rights, it would amount to

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“another parochial form of nationalism, this time on a global scale” (70).63 This, we can assume, is a suspicion any cosmopolitanism will face, often rightly: that it presents a merely particular identity or interest as universal. Nussbaum’s rejoinder would presumably be that these objections at the level of identity miss her point. The aim of cosmopolitanism is neither simply to negate a particular identity nor to create a new one. In changing the subject of the debate about nationalism and multiculturalism, she sought to shift the register from tactics to principles, from efficacy to right, from politics to morality. She signals this in her essay with a variety of phrases—“worthy moral ideals of justice and equality” (4), “substantive universal values of justice and right” (5), “justice and mutual respect” (6)—that amount to the claim that cosmopolitanism is not about identity and identification but justice. It is not a matter of trading one identity for another but an assertion of morality against politics, the ideal against the actual, the ought against the is. It is this shift that accounts for the disproportion between cosmopolitanism and its opponents, situating them, in a sense, on different discursive levels. To this extent, as I suggested in the introduction, the defining properties of cosmopolitanism are more or less those of morality itself: it is indefinitely inclusive or expansive, egalitarian, and impartial. What, then, is at stake in this moral challenge to the status quo? Here we can return to Richard Rorty, for whom this was the debate’s central issue. Rorty did not join the controversy he had inadvertently touched off in the Boston Review, but his contribution to a later collection can be read as his considered response. In “Justice as a Larger Loyalty,” Rorty took the step Nussbaum had avoided: he described cases in which we face hard choices between those who are nearer to us and farther from us and noted our tendency to favor those who are nearer. Only then did he proceed to what for him is the underlying issue: “Would it be a good idea to treat ‘justice’ as the name for loyalty to a certain very large group, the name of our largest current loyalty, rather than the name of something distinct from loyalty? Could we replace the notion of ‘justice’ with that of loyalty to that group—for example, one’s fellow citizens, or the human species, or all living things? Would anything be lost by this replacement?”64 His answers, in short, were yes, yes, and no. “Kantians,” he wrote (among whom he counted Nussbaum), “typically insist that justice springs from reason and loyalty from sentiment. Only reason, they say, can impose universal and unconditional moral obligations.”65 Since

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“morality” cannot ultimately be grounded and has at best a limited ability to resolve concrete dilemmas, Rorty argued, we should give this up. Loyalty will serve better in its place.66 The argument, however, is strangely off-point. For, although she repeatedly invoked “reason,” nowhere did Nussbaum claim that it is the exclusive basis of morality. Indeed, she did not discuss meta-ethics at all. And, while she referred to Kant’s kingdom of ends, she did so only with regard to its “function,” namely, “inspiring and regulating moral and political conduct” (8). At issue then is not the source of morality, but its nature; not where it comes from, but what it consists in; not whether moral obligations should be based on reason or sentiment, but whether we should be constrained and inspired by them and whether they should be bounded or universal.67 We can concede to Rorty that in time of dearth we are likely to feed our child before the neighbor’s child and the neighbor’s child before a child halfway around the world, just as we can concede to Adam Smith that the average person will be troubled less by the “ruin of a hundred millions of his brethren,” provided they are in China, than the loss of his little finger.68 The question is whether there is any point in exposing and arguing against this tendency, however uphill the struggle might be. By simply accepting it, there is a sense in which Rorty, like Walzer, allows fact to slide into norm, is into ought, the actual into the ideal. The very existence of what Rorty himself calls “moral dilemmas” indicates space for reflection, criticism, and choice. Where cosmopolitanism departs from Rorty, then, is where morality presents a radical challenge to practice. But we might also consider Rorty’s doubts about Nussbaum’s invocations of “reason” in another light, along the lines of Pinsky’s suspicion that her universalism harbors a hidden particularism. For the effect of these appeals to reason is to qualify her commitment to universal “humanity.” Paraphrasing Kant, Nussbaum avers: “One should always behave so as to treat with equal respect the dignity of reason and moral choice in every human being” (8); cosmopolitanism, she says, “recognizes in people what is especially fundamental about them, most worthy of respect and acknowledgment: their aspirations to justice and goodness and their capacities for reasoning in this connection.” It turns out, then, that the “humanity of all human beings” is not, as one might expect, identical with “all human beings.” It seems that one need not respect “humanity” or “every human being,” but only a subset thereof—some but

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not all human beings and/or some but not all aspects of human beings. To the extent that people do not exhibit “reason,” “moral choice,” and/or an “aspiration to justice and goodness and their capacities for reasoning in this connection,” they forfeit their claim to our “respect and acknowledgment.” And, in fairness to Nussbaum, it could hardly be otherwise. If cosmopolitanism, like any normative view, is to be practical, to guide thoughts and actions, it must be capable of discrimination, of judging some things better, more just, more useful, etc., than others. What, then, would be the effect of Nussbaum’s qualification? On the basis of her essay, it is impossible to say.69 Her few positive statements, however, could give some cause for concern. She characterizes the Stoic ideal as “making all human beings more like our fellow city-dwellers” (9). No doubt she means making them like us imaginatively, for purposes of moral reflection, but her formulation conveys the worrying possibility—supported, as we have seen, by abundant historical precedent, which she in no way acknowledges—that it would involve making them more like us by assimilating them to our way of life.70 But if we can only guess who might be excluded by this criterion, it is clear how they would be excluded: they would be deemed less than rational. The lesson we can take from this, then, is that to the extent that normative ideas are abstract and indeterminate, their criteria and effects may not reveal themselves at once, but only through application. As we will see in the next chapter, history suggests that such discriminations—more often than not in the name of reason—are seldom made in a fully self-conscious or evenhanded way. But made they always are, for without discriminating and excluding they would have no critical or normative force. Nussbaum is in fact highly sensitive to the dangers of prejudice and exclusion and sees cosmopolitanism as the solution. “One of the greatest barriers to rational deliberation in politics,” she writes, “is the unexamined feeling that one’s own preferences and ways are neutral and natural” (11). Cosmopolitans, she suggests, can ward off this danger by exposing themselves to the world’s diversity and thereby coming to appreciate the relativity of their own ways of seeing and doing things: “By looking at ourselves through the lens of the other, we come to see what in our practices is local and nonessential, what is more broadly or deeply shared.” Cosmopolitan education, she insists, should teach people “to recognize humanity wherever they encounter it, undeterred by traits that are strange to them, and be eager to understand humanity in all its strange

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guises. They must learn enough about the different to recognize common aims, aspirations, and values, and enough about the common ends to see how variously they are instantiated in the many cultures and their histories” (9). The question this begs, however, is how we are to “recognize humanity” if its “guises” are as “strange” as she suggests. As Judith Butler pointed out in her response, Nussbaum seems to presuppose that we already know what “humanity” is: Nussbaum “imagine[s] the scene of culture as one that one might enter to find bits and pieces of evidence that show an abiding faith in an already established notion of universality” (51). The danger of this view, Butler warned, is that we will “reduce every cultural instance to a presupposed universality.”71 In order to make the effort Nussbaum calls for fruitful, Butler argued, we would do better to assume “that the universal is only partially articulated, and that we do not yet know what forms it may take” (45). Rather than speaking of a “universal moral attitude,” Butler would have us consider cases in which “the meaning of ‘the universal’ proves to be culturally variable, and the specific cultural articulations of the universal work against its claim to a transcultural status” (44). Butler did not thereby argue for cultural relativism; indeed, in a sense she took the challenge of universality more seriously than those who assume they know the universal when they see it. By treating any articulation of the universal as provisional, on her view, we will be more cautious about claiming universality for ourselves and presuming that we know how to identify it in and for others. Butler’s alternative is thus to regard the universal not as given but emergent. Rather than trying to spell it out in advance, we should attend to unexpected challenges to its given forms as they arise: “exposing the parochiality and exclusionary character of a given historical articulation of universality is part of the project of extending and rendering substantive the notion of universality itself ” (47). From this perspective, the universal, “far from being commensurate with its conventional formulation, emerges as a postulated and open-ended ideal” (48). Universalism would then serve not as a criterion but as the regulative aim of an ongoing effort of intercultural translation, where different notions of the universal expose one another’s particularity. I will return to Butler’s sophisticated view of universalism, which identifies it with challenges to existing universals, at some length in chapter 4. For now I want to point to a peculiarity of her intervention: her focus on culture, which she then immediately relates to morality. This is an

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emphasis she shares not only with Nussbaum but also with Rorty, who joins Butler in calling on us to acknowledge the cultural specificity of our ostensibly universal commitments. For Rorty, this is a pragmatic move, undertaken in a spirit diametrically opposed to Butler’s: rather than a means of correcting our own possible misunderstandings of the universal, Rorty sees this as the best way of ensuring that our view prevails. Instead of trying to convince others that universal reason commands them to respect human rights, Rorty argues we will do better with a “frankly ethnocentric” argument like the following: “Here is what we in the West look like as a result of ceasing to hold slaves, beginning to educate women, separating church and state, and so on. Here is what happened after we started treating certain distinctions between people as arbitrary rather than fraught with moral significance. If you would try treating them that way, you might like the results.”72 Setting aside the fact that Western officials and commentators often do tend to say something like this to the rest of the world,73 to decidedly mixed effect, we can note that Butler and Rorty share a central premise. Although her position is in a sense the opposite of his—her priority is self-criticism, his selfaffirmation and self-assertion—both assume the main obstacle to universal morality is cultural difference, so that the main problem with a position like Nussbaum’s is its cultural particularity. Since the debate began with the issue of multiculturalism and education, this emphasis is perhaps understandable. But Nussbaum had also invoked universalism in another, much more straightforward sense, for example by asking: “What are Americans to make of the fact that the high living standard we enjoy is one that very likely cannot be universalized?” (12). Nussbaum suggests that this should bother us as Kantians, but—to the extent we consider not simply global inequality but the misery of billions may be related to the prosperity of a few—it would seem to be troubling on any rudimentary sense of decency. Indeed, recognizing the wrongness of global inequalities and injustices does not seem to depend on subscribing to any particular school of moral philosophy. Regarded from a general, and to that extent cosmopolitan, point of view, the world’s distribution of resources and opportunities, power and vulnerability is intolerable on any plausible view of justice. Culture, then, is not the only or even the most obvious basis on which to interrogate the specificity of a given universalism. Another way of doing so would be in terms of its location—where one is situated in the world and what practical consequences this might have.

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Strangely, in the whole debate, only Immanuel Wallerstein makes this point. “The merits of patriotism and cosmopolitanism,” Wallerstein argues, “are not abstract, and certainly not universal” (122). By this he means not, like Butler, that one’s cultural location affects one’s interpretation of the universal, but rather, more simply, that one’s social and geographical location affects the significance and implications of what one thinks and does. Cosmopolitanism, for Wallerstein, has practical preconditions: “Those who are strong—strong politically, economically, socially—have the option of aggressive hostility toward the weak (xenophobia) or magnanimous comprehension of ‘difference.’ In either case, they remain privileged.” Patriotism and cosmopolitanism, then, do not have the same significance in the United States that they do in Argentina or Ghana. US patriotism and cosmopolitanism can have enormous effects on Argentines and Ghanaians—US patriotism, for example, by maintaining self-interested trade barriers that deny poorer countries the same access to Western markets that the West demands as a matter of right and secures as a matter of course; US cosmopolitanism, by using the hugely disproportionate US influence on international institutions to impose one-size-fits-all policies that may or may not contribute to American prosperity, but can and do ruin weaker economies. What Argentines or Ghanaians think or do, in contrast, is unlikely to have any impact at all on most Americans. For Wallerstein, this has ethical and pedagogical implications: “What is needed educationally is not to learn that we are citizens of the world, but that we occupy particular niches in an unequal world, and that being disinterested and global on one hand and defending one’s narrow interests on the other are not opposites but positions combined in complicated ways. Some combinations are desirable, others are not. Some are desirable here but not there, now but not then” (124). Wallerstein’s point is not only that who and where one is matters, but that the same ethical and political choices look different in different places. With those who take the side of “internationalism” against cosmopolitanism, he argues that “those who are weak, or at least weaker, will only overcome disadvantage (even partially) if they insist on the principles of group equality. To do this effectively, they may have to stimulate group consciousness—nationalism, ethnic assertiveness, etc.” (122). He illustrates this by picking up Nussbaum’s reference to Tagore. “Had there not been swadeshi”—Gandhi’s strategy of economic self-reliance to undermine British rule in India, espoused by the nationalist politician Tagore

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and Nussbaum contrast unfavorably to the cosmopolitan husband in The Home and the World—“India would still be a British colony. Would this have served Kantian morality more? This Gandhi understood, but Tagore did not.” By adverting to the political failure of Tagore’s moral cosmopolitanism,74 Wallerstein reveals an apparent paradox: the nationalist’s actions did more to realize the Kantian aims of equal freedom and dignity than the overt universalism of the cosmopolitan intellectual (either Tagore or his protagonist). Whether or not we follow Wallerstein in drawing nationalist conclusions from this, his intervention injects some political specificity into the debate. Cosmopolitan principles are all very well, but their practical implications still need to be specified. And this specification can only begin with critical reflection on one’s own place in existing social, economic, and political relations. It is important to see that Wallerstein is not, any more than Butler, defending cultural relativism against moral universalism, difference against equality, or collectivism against individualism (except, in this instance, for strategic purposes). His moral position is as egalitarian, as universalistic, and as oriented toward justice as Nussbaum’s. Moreover, unlike Butler, he seems not to see any insuperable interpretive problems tied up with universalism; to the contrary, he seems to assume that it will be relatively easy to recognize gross injustice when we see it and that this will be a sufficient basis on which to make practical judgments. His intervention serves rather to highlight a gap between ethics and politics. This gap emerges when Nussbaum writes in her reply to her commentators that “life expectancy at birth ranges from 78.6 years in Hong Kong and 78.2 years in Iceland and Sweden to 39.0 years in Sierra Leone. This is not just, and we had better think about it. Not just think, do” (135). But do what? Nussbaum suggests joining or giving to international nongovernmental organizations (which?), pressuring national governments (to do what?) and participating in deliberations about the welfare of women and children (which? how?). While Nussbaum clearly and rightly sees the existing organization of the world as a moral catastrophe, this recognition only takes us so far. The effect of Wallerstein’s intervention is to point out that, although it provides a moral orientation, cosmopolitanism does not translate directly into a politics. Its practical implications remain to be worked out. This is not to deny the moral imperative of, as Nussbaum puts it, “view[ing] the equal worth of all human beings as a regulative constraint

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on our political actions and aspirations” (133)—especially if the alternative is restricting our concern to our co-nationals. But once we enter the world of practice—which is, after all, what ethics and moral and political theory purport to address—statements of general principle may be little help. “The stance of ‘citizen of the world,’” Wallerstein argues, “is deeply ambiguous. It can be used just as easily to sustain privilege as to undermine it” (124). Richard Falk echoes this sentiment, though his own alternative falls more on the cosmopolitan than the internationalist side of radical universalism. “A credible cosmopolitanism,” he writes, “has to be combined with a critique of the ethically deficient globalism embodied in neoliberal modes of thought” (57). For Falk and Wallerstein, one’s ethical stance, principles, allegiance, or identity count less than the effects of one’s actions, which depend on analyzing the world and one’s place in it and formulating a morally and politically appropriate response. For both of them, moreover, cosmopolitanism means not simply assuming the plurality of states and cultures implied by Walzer or Rorty but recognizing that we already live in a world of global politics, that we have had and continue to have large and asymmetrical effects on one another, and that these relations demand not only an ethical but a political response. As Wallerstein concludes: “the response to a self-interested patriotism is not a self-congratulatory cosmopolitanism. The appropriate response is to support forces that will break down existing inequalities and help create a more democratic, egalitarian world” (124). Cosmopolitanism cannot remain a posture of generalized beneficence; it demands a politics. t



Let me now summarize the lessons I take from the debate around Nussbaum’s essay. Cosmopolitanism, we saw, is first of all negative and critical, the rejection of a given identity, the bounded community, and the limited understandings of justice and obligation attached to it. It is to this extent defined by what it rejects, much as the cosmopolitanism of the 1990s mainly took the form of antistatism or antinationalism. Cosmopolitanism can on this level be understood as an identity politics, but in a negative sense—a politics of disaffiliation. Yet, along with this negative, critical function, cosmopolitanism is also the articulation of an ideal or aspiration. It projects a better, more just, more inclusive community beyond existing ones, even if this coming community is much less well

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defined than the reality it is set against. This community can come into being only through the pursuit of cosmopolitan ideals and aspirations; it is best understood as a project or movement that opposes and transcends given forms of political organization. To this extent, neither its form of community nor its mode of politics can be understood by analogy to those defined by the state. They will seem relatively underdetermined and insubstantial, and the orientation and identity of cosmopolitanism essentially active and futural. This is not to say, however, that they can be dismissed. Christianity, liberalism, and communism existed as aspirations long before they became they became movements—or the bases of empires. We have also seen that cosmopolitanism is first and foremost a moral position: it consists in a principled demand for a better, more equitable and inclusive world. This demand too is necessarily underdetermined— and not just because this better world does not yet exist. There is the danger, and there will always be the suspicion, that the general interest it claims to speak for merely cloaks a particular interest. As we saw in the first half of this chapter, the history of cosmopolitanism provides ample support for this suspicion: practical universalisms have always been inhabited by the tensions between exclusion and inclusion, elitism and egalitarianism, the tensions of grasping the ideal out of the teeth of the real. The suspicions cosmopolitanism gives rise to will be nearly impossible to refute, not simply because cosmopolitanisms are inevitably particular but also because any critical or normative position must discriminate between better and worse and because the implications of any standards or criteria it puts forward will only become clear as they are applied and put into practice. Cosmopolitanism must therefore always be not only critical but self-critical, and in this sense reflexive. The closest it can come to an assurance of its own adequacy is constant exposure to criticism of its limits. At the same time, however, it cannot give up its critical and normative orientation without abandoning the imperative that gave it life to begin with. When we turn to politics, finally, things become even more uncertain. To be sure, our discussion has suggested that in one sense they may become simpler: at least from Wallerstein’s perspective, the objectivity of practical relations provides a handy metric—equality or inequality of condition or effect—that promises to cut through some of the questions of culture and identity in which the ethical debate has threatened to become mired.

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But, at the same time, the appearance of the practical question, what is to be done?, hints at difficulties we have not yet begun to explore. This much seems clear: the simple and admirable commitment to the moral standing of each and every other human being does not in itself even begin to address the question of politics. It tells us that something must be done, but not what, let alone by whom. This difficulty of the transition from ethics to politics will emerge as one of the central concerns of this book. In the next chapter, however, I remain on the ground of ethics and morality, deepening some of the problems raised in this chapter and pursuing one of the most influential expressions of and lines of response to them: that of Immanuel Kant.

c h a pt e r t wo

Cosmopolitanism in Ethics Tensions of the Universal

At its classical origins, we saw in the last chapter, cosmopolitanism was first of all matter of consciousness and conviction. Even today, it belongs first and foremost to the field of ethics, especially if we take the latter in its etymological sense. As among the eighteenth-century philosophes, the most common use of the term cosmopolitan today is to describe how people live (or aspire to live)—their ethos, culture, worldview, or way of life. The rise of cosmopolitanism in this sense was seized on in the 1990s as one of the most striking facts about the contemporary world, and the term employed as a shorthand for the lived experience of globalization. “The world of the late twentieth century,” Arjun Appadurai and Carol Breckenridge wrote introducing Public Culture, a self-consciously global journal for the 1990s, “is increasingly a cosmopolitan world. More people are widely traveled, are catholic in their tastes, are more inclusive in the range of cuisines they consume, are attentive to worldwide news, are exposed to global media-covered events and are influenced by universal trends in fashion.”1 This remains the primary meaning of cosmopolitanism in the cultural sciences (cultural studies, sociology, anthropology, literary studies), where it was deployed to mark an epochal disruption of closed, local, and especially nation-based identities and frames of reference.

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Along with money and goods, cultural artifacts, values, ideas, and lifestyles were finding borders increasingly porous, allowing the eclectic experience once restricted to imperial capitals and entrepôts to reach more and more of the world’s population. This cultural cosmopolitanism has not only been observed as a fact, however, but also advanced as a norm—an identity to assume and a set of values to uphold. Cosmopolitanism in this sense has been promoted in recent debates in ethics and political theory as an alternative to nationalism—the term’s next most common use. Martha Nussbaum’s intervention against Richard Rorty’s liberal nationalism, discussed in the last chapter, is one example of this. Another, more elaborated one came from Jeremy Waldron. Against Will Kymlicka’s claim that individual autonomy requires a nation-state-sized and -shaped “societal culture,” a group whose language, culture, and frames of value one shares, Waldron advanced what he called “the cosmopolitan alternative.” Rather than defining people in terms of their communities, Waldron argued, cosmopolitanism allows them to pick and choose from what the world has to offer. The cosmopolitan, he insisted, “refuses to think of himself as defined by his location or his ancestry or his citizenship or his language. Though he may live in San Francisco and be of Irish ancestry, he does not take his identity to be compromised when he learns Spanish, eats Chinese, wears clothes made in Korea, listens to arias by Verdi sung by a Maori princess on Japanese equipment, follows Ukrainian politics, and practices Buddhist meditation techniques.”2 As with the similar ideals advocated in a postmodern spirit by Appadurai or a liberal one by Anthony Appiah,3 Waldron offers a paean to tolerance and diversity of the kind we find among nineteenth-century liberals from Wilhelm von Humboldt to John Stuart Mill. A broad spectrum of social-cultural variety offers individuals a wider range of options, expanding choice, freedom, and opportunities for self-development. At the same time, Waldron uses this ideal to reject communitarian and nationalist arguments, like Kymlicka’s, that autonomy requires a limited, communitybased sphere of action and identification. Cosmopolitanism can meet these needs as well as nationalism, while at the same time fostering openness to difference and mutual understanding.4 Indeed, in view of the diversity of contemporary societies, liberal cosmopolitans argue that theirs is the only vision appropriate to the modern world. But we can hardly help but notice that the lifestyle Waldron evokes is available to relatively

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few and made possible only by their relations to others. The Koreans who make the cosmopolitan’s clothes and the Chinese who cook his meals may not enjoy his degree of “cosmopolitan freedom,” yet the fact that his position is connected to and dependent on theirs does not attract his attention. We might to this extent suspect this liberal cosmopolitanism of being an individual ideal or aspiration with little— and certainly nothing critical—to say about the social, political, economic, and cultural relations that sustain it. Its tolerance, openness, and inclusion come very close to those of globalized consumer capitalism, as seen from the top. For some critics, Waldron’s choice of Salman Rushdie to embody this ideal exemplifies the blind spots of liberal cultural cosmopolitanism. Especially in his early novels and essays, Rushdie distinguished himself as a spokesman for a liberal-pluralist vision of India and the hybrid experience of migration. Yet, as Timothy Brennan, among others, pointed out, Rushdie’s vision of India and the world, and its resonance in the Anglophone metropole, have a very particular social-cultural location.5 Rushdie’s success as novelist and commentator, they argued, depended on his cultural and linguistic position relative to those he depicts and on communicating this vision to an Anglo-American audience in the language and from the secular-metropolitan perspective he shares with them. It is an elite vision that relies on its distance from those it describes, a distance it shares with English-speaking elites in South Asia and cosmopolitan audiences in the West. And, although the early Rushdie was critical of the legacies of empire, his vision seemed to favor migration to the metropole over empowerment from the periphery. In the Kantian terms invoked by both Nussbaum and Wallerstein in the last chapter, Rushdie’s position, like Waldron’s or Appiah’s, is not universalizable. It participates in and reinforces deep asymmetries in the domestic and international cultural, economic, and political order— asymmetries of which author and audience seem quite unaware and which these critics criticize on universalistic-egalitarian grounds.6 To do so is not to oppose Rushdie’s (or Waldron’s) liberal pluralism or to side with its enemies; nor is it to deny that a similar case for tolerance could be made from the bottom rather than the top, from the periphery rather than the center. It is rather—along the lines of Wallerstein’s intervention at the close of the last chapter—to take the universalistic commitment to inclusion and equality seriously and extend it to a

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critical self-reflection on the position from which one speaks and the broader field of relations in which one is involved. My focus in this chapter will not be on ethics in the classical sense of way of life and identity but rather in the narrower sense laid out in the introduction: the branch of normative practical philosophy that takes up the question of what we should do in matters that concern others. I nonetheless begin with these debates about cultural cosmopolitanism because they highlight suspicions with which, as I insisted in the last chapter, any cosmopolitanism will have to contend. Is a given cosmopolitanism really universal? Or is it, like Waldron’s or Rushdie’s, very specifically located in ways that call into question the universalism of its explicit moralethical commitments—ways that it is, moreover, predisposed to take for granted? Does the dominant strain of present-day cosmopolitanism, which many suspect of being that of global elites, presuppose, reflect, and reinforce unjustifiable privileges, relations of inequality, and systems of domination, contradicting the very values it claims to advance? And if so, what, if anything, can be done to redeem its universalism? As we saw in the last chapter, cosmopolitanism has always been inhabited by a tension between inclusion and exclusion, elitism and egalitarianism, seeking to articulate and realize the ideal and having to grapple with the actual. In this chapter I explore how these tensions find expression even in cosmopolitanism’s most pristine philosophical forms. Moral-ethical cosmopolitanism as I understand it here is the simple and ancient idea that each and every human being, including those with whom we do not share a political, cultural, religious, or other community, should count as objects of moral concern. On Thomas Pogge’s now-classic account, cosmopolitan ethics can be broken down into three principles: individualism, meaning that “the ultimate units of concern are human beings”; universality, meaning that “the status of the ultimate unit of concern attaches to every living human being equally”; and generality, meaning that “this special status has global force.”7 While geared to contemporary debates, these principles are as applicable to the Cynics and Stoics as to contemporary liberal cosmopolitans. I take it that they are, on the level of pure principle, beyond contest.8 Indeed, most advocates of ethical cosmopolitanism understand themselves as defending a principle inherent in the very idea of morality. On what basis, they ask, could one argue that we should in principle be indifferent to the fate of other human beings simply because they live far away or differ from us in some respect? The “moral

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communitarianism” that Kimberly Hutchings opposes to cosmopolitanism—the idea that morality obtains first and foremost within delimited communities—is therefore not, strictly speaking, any such thing.9 It does not argue, as certain premoderns still could, that morality pertains only to relations within bounded communities, but rather that there are certain justifiable exceptions from or qualifications of the presumptively universal scope of morality. Even the most adamant anticosmopolitan is, in this small but important way, a moral cosmopolitan.10 Recent debates about moral cosmopolitanism have accordingly tended to revolve not around the question of whether we have any duties to distant strangers, but of whether there are grounds for regarding these duties as less pressing than those we have to people who are nearer. Despite the presumably universal scope of morality, noncosmopolitans argue, in practice we require what Samuel Scheffler calls an “infrastructure of responsibility” to direct our limited powers in ways that can do the most good.11 Thus, while we have general duties to all human beings, we only have stronger, reciprocal duties vis-à-vis fellow citizens. Even strong cosmopolitans like Nussbaum or Pogge grant this point: for practical purposes, proximate duties may sometimes override more distant ones. But cosmopolitans insist that the proximate do not cancel out the distant. Precisely because it is generally conceded that in principle the scope of moral concern is universal, debates between cosmopolitanism and nationalism turn mostly on differences of emphasis, degree, and, above all, perspective. Cosmopolitans generally take a more ideal perspective and treat questions of principle, while nationalists take a more pragmatic perspective and treat questions of value and motivation. This has led to a proliferation of distinctions between “strong” and “weak,” “extreme” and “moderate” cosmopolitanisms, depending on how far the exceptions go, with the strong versions tending to be impossibly idealistic and rigoristic, the weak ones self-evident or platitudinous. To this extent, the debate between cosmopolitanism and nationalism, as Charles Taylor observed of the liberalcommunitarian debate that preceded it, has often been at cross-purposes, with ostensibly contending positions addressing different questions.12 In the following I wish to avoid arguments for cosmopolitanism versus other possible viewpoints and efforts to establish which exceptions to the presumptively universal scope of morality are justified. Instead, in this chapter, as in this book as a whole, I examine attempts to say what these commitments and obligations consist in. From that perspective,

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the question of moral-ethical cosmopolitanism is the question of moral universalism; it tries to explain what it would mean to universalize the scope of moral concern and respect, to accord each and every human being proper consideration. Once we have granted that morality is universal in its extension, what does it entail? My contention in this chapter is that even if we find the cosmopolitan aspiration to moral universalism unimpeachable, its inner logic is such that attempts to specify it always end up frustrating its universalistic aspiration. I thereby seek to point out how cosmopolitan approaches to ethics necessarily—for reasons internal to their own logic—compromise their own universality and thus undermine their own praiseworthy ambitions. There are, very broadly speaking, two approaches to moral-ethical universalism. Rendering the world’s evident diversity amenable to a single set of principles, rules, standards of judgment, or ethical guidelines requires a considerable effort of abstraction. This work of abstraction may, metaphorically speaking, work “up” or “down.” Working down, one may strip off the inessential ways in which people differ until one arrives at a basic, universal set of human needs or attributes. This approach is substantive and seeks to determine what is good for human beings as such. Following Étienne Balibar, I will refer to this as anthropological universalism, to which the first of half of this chapter is devoted. Alternatively, working “up,” one may try to transcend all this evident diversity until one arrives at certain values or moral truths that are, at least implicitly, shared by them all. Rather than focusing on the object of morality, the human being as such, in this case one focuses on morality itself or, more precisely, what is involved in formulating moral principles, rules, and judgments. This approach is formal and today is usually identified with proceduralism, the subject of this chapter’s second half . As we will see, the two approaches converge, and in the end I will conclude that both are necessary moments of moral-ethical abstraction; each, in a sense, arises as a correction of, even requires, the other. Nevertheless, each strategy implies different types of criticism and modes of justification, and each gives rise to distinct problems. The Problem of the Human: Anthropological Universalism

I begin with approaches that focus on the object of morality. Through this lens, if the problem of cosmopolitanism is the problem of the univer-

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sal, the problem of moral-ethical cosmopolitanism is the problem of the human.13 In order to accord each and every human being proper moral attention and respect, we must know what a human being is and how one should be treated. This implies a turn to philosophical anthropology, to the question of what humanity is beneath all its apparent variation. More precisely, since our aim is practical, it requires a normative vision of the human, insight not so much into human nature as into human potential. In the first section of this chapter I show how this effort, however necessary, inevitably runs into certain difficulties. The first difficulty, which I discuss in the case of Immanuel Kant, is that to do any critical work, a normative notion of the human must be based on certain hierarchies and exclusions. These, in principle, cannot be transparent, but emerge only through specification and application (a). The second difficulty, which I discuss in the case of Martha Nussbaum, is that the very attempt to articulate a universal ethics entails occupying an elevated position that seems to contradict the egalitarianism on which cosmopolitan universalism is based (b). These two difficulties thus lead to the second version of moralethical universalism, to which I turn in the chapter’s second section. (a) Kant’s ethics have been criticized on many grounds: their putative individualism, which causes them to overlook the concrete relations in which moral-ethical duties acquire content and make sense (Hegel); their putative legalism, which adapts them in advance to a contractualcommercial, statist, liberal-individualist framework divorced from underlying social realities (Marx); their putative rationalism, which, on the one hand, neglects possible non- or prerational sources of ethical motivation (Kierkegaard), while, on the other, subsuming the needs, interests, and desires of specific, concrete individuals under the claims of impersonal generality (Adorno)—to name but a few. Rather than rehearse these objections, here I read the kernel of Kantian morality as I believe it was intended, as the expression of a cosmopolitan commitment to the autonomy of each and every human being. I do this in order to show that, even on this favorable construal, this commitment cannot escape running aground in the articulation of Kant’s practical philosophy—most significantly on the problem of the human. While the importance of Kant’s ethics as an inspiration and model for cosmopolitanism is asserted so often as to seem self-evident, we should first specify wherein its cosmopolitanism lies. Consider the famous

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formulations of the categorical imperative in the Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals. Kant’s first statement of the moral law—“Act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law”14—already makes evident its universal ambition. But what is universal in this formulation is the form of any moral rule or judgment: what is right must be right for everyone. The emphasis, then, is on morality being the same for all, not on it extending to everyone. It is a statement about the nature of morality rather than its scope or field of application. It is rather the second formulation—today the most popular and the one Kant himself relied on when he went on to deduce moral-ethical duties in The Metaphysics of Morals—that establishes the universality of his morality in a cosmopolitan sense. “Act in such a way,” this formulation stipulates, “that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end.”15 What is significant here is that “any other” also means “every other”: insofar as my actions affect anyone, anywhere, regardless of where they are or what I have in common with them, I should treat them (or the humanity in them) with moral respect. Without further qualification, then, Kant’s ethical universalism is indefinitely, we might even say absolutely, inclusive and, in this sense, cosmopolitan.16 It is clear, however, that the meaning of this principle will depend on what we understand by “humanity.” As I suggested in my discussion of Martha Nussbaum in the last chapter, in order to “treat humanity, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end,” we must know what “humanity” is. Kant obligingly provides a definition: “humanity” is the capacity to rationally set and pursue ends. It is thus broader than what he calls “personality,” the capacity for insight into the moral law and true autonomy.17 Humanity encompasses the whole realm of distinctly human (as opposed to animal) activity, such as the arts, sciences, and culture broadly understood.18 This implies that we need not respect people only to the extent that they respect us or are themselves moral, but to the extent that they are “human,” which for Kant means purposive and rational. As Onora O’Neill glosses this formulation, in my dealings with all others, I must take into account that, however they differ from me, they are agents like myself and therefore treat them not as things but as beings with projects and interests of their own.19 An essential element of this formulation from a cosmopolitan perspective is that it does not

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predetermine the content of what we owe others, which may be colored by our own preferences and prejudices. Instead, the principle recognizes their ability and right to decide what is important for themselves and thus implies the principle of equal freedom. Kant indeed further broadens this criterion by sometimes insisting that we have a duty to promote not the freedom or virtue but the happiness of others, quite apart from our evaluation of their ends.20 People must be respected simply because they are human. All the same, as soon as this minimal qualification is introduced, as soon as a particular aspect of human existence is elevated above others, the ostensible universality of moral respect is necessarily restricted. “Humanity” is something people possess to varying degrees, at some moments and in some respects but not others. By identifying “humanity” with rationality and purposefulness, Kant implies that their opposites (aor irrationality, purposelessness) are not worthy of respect. This is, in a nutshell, the basis for the various criticisms of the one-sidedness of Kant’s ethics—that it is rationalistic, individualistic, repressive, bourgeoislegal-commercial; that it neglects or even suppresses passivity, sensuality, emotion, community, etc. Critics argue that the narrowness of this understanding of what it means to be human leads, for instance, to Kant’s notorious thoughts on sexuality (degrading to oneself and the other(s), shameful and even punishable in any slightly unconventional form), his disciplinarian construal of the duty to cultivate one’s talents (sloth is immoral, enjoyment irrelevant), his absolutist conception of property (which must be respected without regard to need or desert), his draconian views on crime and punishment (one owes it to the criminal to punish him, in astonishingly many cases with banishment or death), and so on.21 Taken to its extreme, as by Adorno, in binding humanity—and thence morality and freedom—to the rational, subjective will, Kant makes morality a principle of mastery and repression of other, “less human” aspects of oneself and of others.22 To these explicit, internal restrictions on the idea of “humanity” we can add another, further-reaching implicit and extensive source of restrictions. Toward the end of the “Doctrine of Virtue” in The Metaphysics of Morals, Kant explains that, although he has not taken up this question in the metaphysics, which by definition is independent of experience and treats only human beings “as such,” applying the principles he has developed would require adapting them to the needs, capacities,

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and circumstances of particular people. The transcendental principles of pure practical reason, that is, must be specified in order to be used. “How should one behave,” Kant asks, “toward human beings who are in a state of moral purity or depravity? toward the cultivated or the crude? . . . How should people be treated in accordance with their differences in rank, age, sex health, prosperity or poverty, and so forth?”23 The answer, of course, is differently. With this we move from the “pure” ethics of the Groundwork, The Critique of Practical Reason, and The Metaphysics of Morals to what Robert Loudon calls Kant’s “impure” ethics: the studies of culture, education, aesthetics, history, religion, and anthropology—in the end greatly outweighing the pages he devoted to pure practical reason—in which Kant sought to investigate human beings, not “as such” but in all their diversity.24 Kant’s views on human differentiation, which have only recently attracted scholarly attention,25 appear mainly in his Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View and his extensive lectures in what we might now call the soft sciences (he taught anthropology every year and related subjects such as geography regularly). They are, for contemporary Kantians, deeply embarrassing. Women are less capable of reason than men and therefore unfit not only for public life, but for full autonomy.26 If Kant’s catalogue of national stereotypes in the Anthropology now seems quaint— passionate Italians, haughty Spaniards, canny but chilly Anglo-Saxons, etc.—his racial theory, which divides humanity into four biologically based and hierarchically ordered races (white, yellow, black, and red), is irremediably noxious.27 Thus, although humanity is in principle one, to the extent that the characteristics definitive of it are variably inherited— in our terms, genetic—racial difference represents a permanent obstacle to the participation of different parts of “empirical” humanity in “normative” humanity or the positive fields of activity (culture, morality) by which Kant defined it. The particulars of Kant’s discussions of race, gender, etc., which, in effect, synthesize the stereotypes of his day, may not seem to merit sustained attention. That Kant was, in our terms, a “racist”—even, as Eze and Bernasconi have shown,28 that he played a major role in the development of modern race theory, which would have such devastating consequences in the following centuries—may not be particularly interesting. Certain of his near-contemporaries, like Diderot, Herder, and Forster, may have done better on this score, but it is a sad and now widely acknowledged

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historical fact that, by and large, according to Charles Mills’ hyperbolic but not unfounded formula, “European humanism usually meant that only Europeans were human.”29 Little of this may matter insofar as from our present perspective it seems easy enough to purge Kant’s philosophy of these unfortunate lapses: we can keep, as it were, the categorical imperative and theory of republican government while discarding Kant’s theories of human differentiation and development. Such is the course recommended, for instance, by Loudon, who allows that “Kant’s writings do exhibit many private prejudices and contradictory tendencies,” but insists that “Kant’s theory is fortunately stronger than his prejudices, and it is the theory on which philosophers should focus.”30 The problem with this interpretive strategy is that on Kant’s own account of practical reasoning such empirical considerations must influence practical judgments. As Thomas McCarthy explains, “the laws of freedom can be put into effect only if they are ‘schematized’ in some sense, so that purely ‘formal’ principles can be applied to the ‘material’ of experience. Impure ethics is not, then, merely a convenient but unnecessary addition to pure ethics; it is, as Derrida might say, a necessary supplement, if morality is to have any purchase at all on human life. And this means that however ‘purely rational’ the derivation of first principles may be, their application will require ongoing ‘modification’ to deal with the impurities of experience.”31 Kant’s “empirical” philosophy, in other words, necessarily affects his moral-ethical judgments, which can only ever concern particular cases. Consider in this light his political philosophy. While Kant’s philosophy of right stipulates that everyone should be equal before a law that itself should be such that all could assent to it, women and the unpropertied are excluded from the potential community of citizens on the grounds that, as dependents, they are not autonomous.32 An empirical discrimination, that is, leads to and justifies exceptions from the universal principle. As I discuss in the next chapter, the belief that different races have different capacities, and that these are inherited, turns out to have large implications for who should establish a cosmopolitan order and by what means. The empirical ends up impinging on the ideal in very concrete ways, but this only emerges when we set about specifying and applying the principle. But now that the intervening generations have corrected Kant’s more appalling prejudices, can we not consider the problem solved? Only, I suggest, if we feel certain that we have no such prejudices of our own, and we

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have no grounds for such certainty. For the more general problem suggested by Kant’s humanism is that, for a transcendental ethics to apply to humanity in all its diversity, what McCarthy follows Derrida in calling a supplement is necessary: not this supplement (Kant’s anthropology) but some such supplement is required to give moral concepts purchase on reality. A glance back at Stoicism, recommended by Nussbaum as a key source of Kant’s cosmopolitanism, and a model of humanist universalism in its own right,33 indicates the generality of the problem. While any free man can aspire, for example, to the Ciceronian ideal of humanitas, the ideal itself is closely modeled on the Roman gentleman. “By humanitas,” according to Baldry, “Cicero does not normally mean ‘humanity’ in the sense of ‘mankind.’ . . . Members of the human species are not necessarily humani or possessed of humanitas, but can become so if ‘their minds are turned toward humanitas.’” As for the Stoics generally, “only those who conform to certain standards are really men in the full sense.”34 The practical conclusion that followed for the Stoics, I noted in the last chapter, was that the best thing one could do for those outside the Roman orbit was include them within it. On the logic McCarthy invokes, this is true of concepts generally: their meaning always depends on a background of examples, preconceptions, and connotations. But it is especially true of normative-evaluative concepts, which must allow different traits, conditions, or members of the species to be ranked. Any normative conception of “humanity,” then, will regard some humans as more “human” than others. Étienne Balibar suggests how this dynamic pertains to philosophical universalism in general in the form of what he calls “anthropological universals.” “As soon as universalism ceases to be a mere word, a would-be philosophy, and becomes an effective system of concepts,” Balibar explains, “it necessarily incorporates in its very center its opposite.”35 To be effective—to do something: rank, criticize, recommend— a universal standard must stand in relation to an opposite value against which it is defined. In our present case, for Kant to be able to relate the realm of freedom and morality to the realm of nature and causality, he must negatively define freedom in terms of nature, which, it then turns out, is disproportionately expressed in the person of the woman or the nonwhite. Commenting on Aristotle, Balibar observes: “no definition of the human species, or simply the human—something which is so crucial for universalism, or universalism as humanism—has ever been proposed [that] would not imply a latent hierarchy.”36 Critical conceptions

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of the human must discriminate; to be able to say how people should act or live, they must rank some types of people or lives above others. And, as with Kant, their criteria for doing so emerge only with the empirical elaboration of the system of which they are a part. It is not evident in the Groundwork, for example, precisely what will be deemed “human,” which empirical humans will possess more or less of it, and what the practical implications of this will be. Prima facie, it applies equally to all. Only by applying the concept, by filling it in, usually with tacit, culturally ambient understandings, will its underlying hierarchies and exclusions come to light. The lesson of Kant’s humanism, then, is that ostensibly universalistic principles or theories always harbor hidden hierarchies and exclusions—some internal to the concepts themselves, others that arise through their application. In practice, criticism and revision must therefore extend to the concept and to each of its applications, ad infinitum, lest we act on the basis of conceptions that are as exclusive and prejudicial as, it now seems, Kant’s was. In its better versions, the type of moral theory I turn to in the next section explicitly recognizes and incorporates this step. But it is important to see that this does not solve the problem, since the concepts and categories available to us at any given moment must always be presumed to be colored and inflected in ways that necessarily exceed our present capacities for self-reflection and critique. If, for example, in certain contexts people have recently become more attentive to hierarchies and exclusions involving race, gender, and sexuality, it now appears that much of the implicit ranking and excluding formerly done in their name has shifted elsewhere, notably to class, culture, and religion.37 In liberal discourse, stereotypes and generalization that are now unthinkable when cast in terms of the former categories are now routinely made in terms of the latter. To be sure, any definition of the “human,” any set of prejudicial hierarchies and exclusions, is in principle contestable and corrigible. The problem is that the work of detecting, contesting, and correcting them is never done, so that these unrecognized prejudices and particularisms may—indeed, predictably will—inform and distort our present judgments. Critical awareness of the limits of our practical categories always comes too late.38 (b) This problem, what I will refer to in later chapters as the problem of false universalism, only assumes its true dimensions when it combines

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with another that is more practical than theoretical in nature. To uncover this second problem, what I will call the problem of position, I return to a more recent thinker who has sought to carry on the tradition of Kantian cosmopolitanism but to place it on a more robust footing, namely, Martha Nussbaum. A peculiarity of my discussion to this point, it may be noted, is that substantive, anthropologically based cosmopolitan ethics tends to be associated not with Kant, the consummate formalist, but, as by Balibar, with Aristotle. My point in beginning with Kant was to show that even he needs recourse to a notion of the human in order to bring his universalistic moral vision to bear on reality. Nussbaum, in contrast, does not shy away from making direct appeals to universal human nature and indeed from defending what she calls “Aristotelian essentialism.” Cosmopolitanism, Nussbaum insisted in her Boston Review essay, “recognizes in people what is especially fundamental about them”; its task is “to recognize common aims, aspirations, and values,” what is not “local and nonessential, [but] what is more broadly or deeply shared.”39 That essay turned out to be but the opening volley of a campaign that has ranged from ethics and law to education and aesthetics to economics and politics. In each area, Nussbaum is convinced, we can only promote the universal interests of people on the basis of a robust account of the universally human. Nussbaum’s account takes the form of what she has called “substantialist eudaimonian liberalism” or “Aristotelian social democracy,”40 a blend of Aristotle, Kant, Mill, and Rawls that seeks a core of fundamental human needs that can be used to determine what is good for human beings beyond their local particularities. Extending and revising Amartya Sen’s contributions to ethics and development economics (they collaborated through much of the period in question),41 Nussbaum argues that all human beings have certain “functions,” things they need to do in order to live or live well. These functions give rise to certain “capabilities,” the exercise of which constitutes human flourishing. All human beings, then, are entitled to the bases of full human functioning; the presence or absence of these bases may be used to assess their well-being—the intended application of the approach. Though “thick” or substantive, this conception of human nature and the human good is “vague,” meant to be adapted to various contexts and circumstances. And, while she asserts that these functions and capabilities are universal, Nussbaum insists that they are “neither ahistorical nor a priori”; rather, they are “the attempt to summarize empirical findings of a broad and ongoing cross-cultural inquiry.”42 Her account is thus meant

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to be “open-ended and humble; it can always be contested and remade.”43 Nonetheless, its rough-hewn generality is a sufficient for universal social criticism: to the extent that people are unduly denied the possibility of exercising these capabilities, and thus their basic human functions, they suffer harm and injustice. The heart of Nussbaum’s cosmopolitanism is a list of these “central human capacities.” First proposed around 1990, the list has expanded over the years and, she assures us, will continue to do so.44 It could not present a starker contrast to the minimalist account of “humanity” in Kant’s pure practical philosophy. Though general, Nussbaum’s list is as concrete and specific as she can make it, replete with details ranging from the expected (“Being able to have good health . . . ; to be adequately nourished; to have adequate shelter”; “Being able to move freely from place to place; to be secure against violent assault”) to the evocative (“Being able to use the senses, to imagine, think, and reason— and to do these things in a ‘truly human’ way”; “being able to love those who love and care for us,  .  .  . to grieve, to experience longing, gratitude, and justified anger”). Though meant to establish a minimum no one should be denied, much of the list is unabashedly utopian (“Being able to use imagination and thought in connection with experience and producing works and events of one’s own choice, religious, literary, musical, and so forth”; “having opportunities for sexual satisfaction”; “being able to laugh, to play, to enjoy recreational activities”). It is also strikingly particular: some capabilities assume a certain socialeconomic order (“Being able to hold property (both land and movable goods) . . . ; have the right to seek employment on an equal basis with others”), others particular ethical commitments (“Being able to live with concern for and in relation to animals, plants, and the world of nature”), while others seem mainly intended to absorb other moralethical theories (“being able to be treated as a dignified being whose worth is equal to that of others”; “Being able to form a conception of the good”; “being able to live for and in relation to others”; “to be able to imagine the situation of another”). What the list as a whole establishes—and the reason Nussbaum claims Aristotle as her inspiration—is a rich portrait of the good life. One effect of this richness is to avoid Kant’s tendency to conceal hierarchies and exclusions that emerge only with specification and application. Nussbaum’s list is commodious and explicit about its commitments. Similarly,

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drawing on her work in classics, literature, and the theory of the emotions, it embraces so many realms of experience—connectedness as well as individuality, emotion as well as rationality, sensuality as well as intellectuality, receptivity as well as autonomy—that it can hardly be charged with one-sidedness.45 The problem, I think, lies elsewhere. Nussbaum’s list is so detailed that it is very hard to make sense of her claim that its validity depends on its being widely shared.46 Beyond the particularities already noted, several items take strong stands on moral questions that are highly contentious even within her own culture—say, the University of Chicago Law School—from suicide (“not dying . . . before one’s life is so reduced as to be not worth living”) to abortion (“choice in matters of reproduction”). Indeed, it is hard to imagine a way of life or set of commitments that departs significantly from her own that would not fall afoul of its provisions. Her claim, then, cannot be that the values and preferences expressed by her list are widely shared, but rather that they should be. The striking peculiarity of Nussbaum’s project in today’s theoretical landscape and even in contrast to Kant, of course, is its perfectionism. Why set out an ideal of the good life rather than simply say that everyone should be free to determine it for herself? Nussbaum recognizes that the latter approach, based on freedom, self-determination, or autonomy, is that of her favorite modern philosophers—Kant, Mill, Rawls—and she regards it as the most serious contender. Most liberals articulate their philosophies around autonomy rather than the good life in order to avoid encroaching on individual freedom—to circumvent, in other words, the risk of paternalism. Nussbaum is unfazed by this danger. On the one hand, this is because she thinks she has defused it by speaking in terms of “capabilities” rather than “functions.” The awkward and in many cases apparently redundant preface to all the items on her list (“being able to . . . ”) represents her attempt to avoid telling people how to live. “Where adult citizens are concerned, capability, not functioning, is the appropriate political goal. . . . Citizens must be left free to determine their own course after that.”47 One ought to “be able to” have, say, adequate shelter; if one—Diogenes the Cynic, the Buddha—chooses not to, so be it. On the other hand, Nussbaum finds autonomy-based liberalism wanting because people’s choices can and do err. She describes her approach as “strongly universalist, committed to cross-cultural norms of justice, equality, and rights, and at the same time, sensitive to local particularity,

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and to the many ways in which circumstances shape not only options but also beliefs and preferences.”48 But here sensitivity to local particularity, contrary to what we might expect, means sensitivity to how contexts can deform beliefs and preferences. Paradoxically, Nussbaum’s “essentialism” grows out of a thoroughgoing social constructivism: we need a robust account of the human because culture and habit can make people accept and even desire just about anything. Inherited values, roles, and traditions lead people—usually the dominated—to accept a less than fully “human” life; social and cultural domination lead them to internalize norms that oppress them; destitution leaves them unable even to imagine a better life. Nussbaum gives the example of a women’s literacy campaign in rural Bangladesh. Initially run on liberal principles, it simply offered reading classes to women. Since most could not see the advantages of literacy in view of their meager circumstances and prospects, the campaign failed. Only by taking a more interventionist approach, showing the women how reading and writing could help them in their daily lives, were the project leaders able to persuade them to invest their scarce time and energy in education.49 The advantage of the capabilities approach for Nussbaum is that it allows us to subject preferences, desires, and choices to “critical scrutiny.”50 People have an objective interest in literacy, just as they have an objective interest in being healthy, appreciating music, being sexually fulfilled, concernedly enjoying nature, and so on. When she writes that “it is the disparity between humanity and its social deformation that gives rise to claims of justice,” she thus refers to humanity not as it is but as it should be.51 Like Aristotle or the early Marx, she is an essentialist about human potential; her conception of “humanity” is not descriptive but normative. Nussbaum is indeed pluralist enough to recognize that some people may choose to forego some of these things. But only when they make this choice in full awareness of the alternatives is she prepared to accept it. The result, as Anne Phillips points out, is an oddly “illiberal liberalism”: “Nussbaum finds herself in a position where she is simultaneously hooked on the idea of choice and critical of most people’s choices.”52 This principled rejection of antipaternalism seems to Nussbaum the price of normative force. And plausibly so: without discriminating, we can neither criticize nor advocate. As we saw in the case of Kant, normative ethical frameworks always rest on such commitments; they value and promote some things, some potentials or aspects of existence, above

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others. As with Kant’s unacknowledged particularism, then, I suggest that our assessment of Nussbaum’s list and broader project should depend on its implications. “Scrutiny” sounds harmless enough; what follows from it? How is Nussbaum’s list to be used? She hints at this in an early defense of her approach: “We cannot tell how a country is doing unless we know how the people in it are able to function in the central human ways. And without an account of the good, however vague, that we take to be shared, we have no adequate basis for saying what is missing from the lives of the poor or marginalized or excluded, no adequate way of justifying the claim that any deeply embedded tradition that we encounter is unjust.”53 This argument implies a situation organized around a number of assumptions: 1. that she, or someone like her, will apply her standards (for what purpose will emerge shortly); 2. that this evaluation will be conducted in terms of “countries”; and 3. that whatever deficiencies are found can be attributed to an “unjust,” “deeply embedded tradition.” The situation, then, is one in which a relatively disinterested outsider, who has the wisdom to judge and the power to intervene (otherwise why judge?), evaluates a “country” and its “tradition” with a view to helping its less fortunate members. This, in fact, describes the context for which the approach was conceived, development economics, which is charged with choosing between policies and projects, allocating resources, and reforming laws and institutions in poorer societies. Its mission is inescapably paternalistic: the knowledgeable (and powerful) act on the powerless with the aim of improving their lives. Nussbaum makes this explicit in Women and Human Development, where she recommends her approach as “capable of giving good guidance to governments and international agencies,” and her list as a basis for “basic constitutional principles that should be respected and implemented by the governments of all nations.”54 Countries that adopt her account of human capabilities should “commend this norm strongly to other nations,” if necessary using “economic and other strategies to secure compliance.”55 Nussbaum is aware of the danger of authoritarian imposition and favors working, first of all, with local civil society, women’s groups, and sympathetic political parties. But her project relies essentially on external assessment and pressure and ultimately seeks to shape binding public regulation.56 What is troublesome here, I suggest, is not so much her belief that she knows people’s interests better than they do; she may, after all, be right. It is this in combination with her position—in

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particular the power she assumes, which proceeds from outside to inside and top to bottom (from a Western government or international agency via a non-Western state to the ultimate beneficiary).57 Let us accept provisionally that, given the world’s massive inequalities, the task Nussbaum undertakes is unavoidable. How well does her framework perform it? In Cultivating Humanity, a brief for cosmopolitan-humanist education in the United States, Nussbaum writes: “Only a human identity that transcends  .  .  . divisions shows us why we should look at one another with respect across them.”58 The book accordingly argues for teaching in the humanities based on three imperatives: selfcriticism; identification with different others; and the cultivation of “narrative imagination” to broaden our capacity to understand others’ points of view. Yet her list and the “transcendent human identity” on which it is based point unmistakably in the opposite direction. For, in effect, they establish a metalanguage into which claims have to be translated in order to be assessed. While the observer, the potential agent of justice, should try to understand the perspective of the intended object of justice, she can only do so in her own terms, those of the universally “human.”59 The burden of justification falls on those who are to be acted upon, the objects of present oppression and hopefully of future justice. Any other language in which they might want to put their claims is ruled out from the start. It is likewise in view of this implied situation that Nussbaum’s assumptions about “culture” and “tradition” become troubling. The latter are assumed both to conceal hierarchical, patriarchal interests and to be definitive of the contexts in which Nussbaum’s list is to be applied. Local oppressor and local oppressed alike are imagined as captive to cultural blinders, which it is the task of the critic, armed with knowledge of the universally human, to overcome.60 Whether in the South or the West, the presumably culture-free expert faces off against a culturebound object of intervention. This scenario appears time and again in Nussbaum’s examples: “humanity” and “reasonableness” are wielded against oppressive elites in the non-West (husbands, fathers, bosses, landlords, officials) as well as their Western apologists (anthropologists, postmodernists), who defend their privileges on the spurious grounds of cultural authenticity.61 “Culture” and “tradition” are at the root of the injustices she finds, as opposed to, say, the international distribution of labor, commercialization, the state, or development—in which, in contrast to the local culture, the external expert may be implicated.

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The possibility that “culture” may not be simply “traditional” but may interact with other “modern” social logics in complicated ways, that it may offer critical resources beyond those available from an ostensibly objective account of the essentially “human,” or that it may in fact be incidental to the oppression or dispossession people suffer, is excluded from the start.62 This is not necessarily to deny that culture and tradition can play a large role in crushing lives and hopes, or even that intervention— resources, advice, pressure—can be beneficial. This is recognized by a thinker of a very different philosophical stripe with experience of the very same Bengali literacy program, Gayatri Spivak.63 Spivak too seeks to empower the disempowered, but has developed a vocabulary designed to highlight the moral and practical dilemmas this entails. We should regard such interventions, Spivak insists, at best as “enabling violations”— uses of power that inevitably involve a degree of violence, even if, in the end, we find them justified. Spivak’s most famous example of the dilemmas of intervention, the British campaign against sati, or bride immolation, in colonial India, showcases the ambiguity and motility of culture in its interaction with politics. Far from being a simple case of universal morality against tradition, the intervention helped solidify the practice it sought to prohibit while at the same time justifying imperial control.64 Most centrally for our purposes, Spivak warns against the epistemic privilege Nussbaum feels it necessary to claim over those she seeks to help. For Spivak, the educator can best minimize inadvertent harm and violence when working across gulfs of culture and privilege by “learning to learn from below,” allowing the others we wish to help to displace our horizons even as we seek to reshape theirs. At best, this pedagogy can take the form of a “non-coercive rearrangement of desires”—while ideally noncoercive, Spivak wants us not to forget that the object of education is to change people by our lights, not theirs. By focusing on the ambiguities, risks, and trade-offs involved in seeking the good of others, Spivak calls attention to the dimensions of power and potentially violence that remain unthematized and unacknowledged by Nussbaum. What is most problematic in the latter’s approach, I suggest, is not so much its prejudicial conception of the human as the point of view it assumes. Nussbaum’s perspective rests on an internal tension, even a performative contradiction: while she seeks to empower the oppressed and dispossessed, she does so by claiming epistemic privilege and exercis-

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ing power over them. While she seeks to promote their freedom, she does so by denying it, overriding their understanding of their interests and preferences. We might call this perspective legislative or administrative; it entails considering the other as the object of ethical-moral practice—not as an equal agent, but only potentially one. Hierarchy and paternalism, epistemic and practical asymmetry, are built into its perspective. Spivak provides a useful counterpoint because of her efforts to expose the tensions and dilemmas inherent in contexts of structural inequality—even if it is possible that, philosophical differences notwithstanding, she would opt for many of the same remedies. These tensions and dilemmas disappear from Nussbaum’s view, replaced by a claim to judge others based on superior knowledge and good intentions and backed by superior force.65 The result is to promote the equal humanity of the other only after first negating it. t



In this section I have considered two attempts to arrive at a universal morality by articulating the good for all human beings. Kant’s attempt to arrive at a scrupulously neutral and universal framework for moral reflection, I tried to show, turns out to be compromised in ways that are not initially apparent. Defining “humanity” implies a whole system of hierarchies—reason over emotion, activity over passivity, etc.—that turn out to map onto different kinds of people in highly prejudicial ways. Not only is none of this apparent in Kant’s pure practical philosophy; both qualifications of the universalistic spirit of his ethics seem to be unavoidable in principle—the first because any moral-ethical view must be capable of discrimination, the second because such a view needs to be applied to the empirical world and must rely on our tacit conceptions of the world to do so. These difficulties do not constitute an objection to universalistic morality per se but rather a warning that it can never quite be equal to its aspirations: a cosmopolitan commitment to moral universalism must always be critically and reflexively brought to bear on its own concepts and applications. My discussion of Martha Nussbaum sought to make another point. Nussbaum’s conviction that she knows better than others what is good for them may seem old-fashioned, but it reveals something about the situation of ethics in general and universalistic ethics in particular. Ethics

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seeks knowledge of the good life, of how one should live, in order to transform practice. When universal in its aspirations, and especially when it operates in a context of profound inequality, it can hardly avoid the position in which Nussbaum finds herself—relying on and reinforcing a position of epistemic and practical privilege by seeking to act on others, whose lives are to be improved by one’s own lights. The fact that Gayatri Spivak, starting from very different presuppositions, in the end faces the same dilemmas reflects the reality that this inequality is built into a world of complex asymmetrical interdependence. What appeared as a problem of content with Kant’s humanism thus emerges as a problem of position in Nussbaum’s: speaking on behalf of humanity assumes an epistemic and practical position above its concrete exemplars even as it seeks to correct this asymmetry. If the asymmetry between the agent and the object of ethics is implied by the very situation in which ethics finds itself, then ethical reflection must involve criticism of this situation. It then follows, as Adorno argues, that ethics must give rise to social and political criticism of the circumstances in which these problems arise.66 This, I suggest, is one way of understanding the move from substantive to procedural ethics. If the underlying problem with Nussbaum’s humanism is that the agent of morality must speak for (and over) her intended beneficiary, one solution would be to enable the latter to make her case for herself. One way of avoiding having some determine the good for others, in other words, is to insist that all have a say. By this route, morality is reconceived as the process of negating the asymmetry between the agent and the object of justice. This is one probably unfamiliar way of reading Kant’s first formulation of the moral law, which defines universalism as universalization: rather than specify what the universal is, we specify what would be involved in saying what it is. By this route, procedural universalism, to which I now turn, emerges as an immanent correction to the problems of substantive universalism. At the same time, as we will see, this construction of ethical universalism points beyond itself, from hypothetical to real equality. From the Standpoint of Redemption: Procedural Universalism

The second approach to moral universalism I consider here seeks to avoid imposing particular ethical preferences by framing moral reflection in

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such a way as to ensure its neutrality. This involves two theoretical shifts: a shift of focus from the object of morality (the human being) to morality itself (how it is formulated, constituted, or articulated), and from the substance of ethics (the good life) to its form and preconditions (how we arrive at it). These moves are paradigmatically associated with Kant, and especially with his first version of the moral law. By stipulating that a moral principle or maxim must be able to be willed as a universal law, Kant sought to avoid dictating the good for others. At the same time, he sought to universalize morality by tying it to generality and thence to equality and impartiality. What is right must be right for everyone, both as the subject and as the potential object of any actions that might follow from the principle in question. Thus all are treated as equals. Kant’s reinterpretation of morality thereby performs the work of universalization with two essential means: first, by rigorously insisting on the principle of equality and, second, by ruthlessly negating particularisms, privileges, or prejudices through a procedure of universalization. In these respects the procedural kernel of Kantian ethics is a fitting expression of a cosmopolitan perspective, understood as the abstraction, distantiation, and self-criticism inherent in trying to see and act in the world from the perspective and in the interest of everyone. In this section I explore the advantages and shortcomings of this approach to moral-ethical universalism. In formal or procedural universalism, I argue, we find two necessary components of a cosmopolitan ethics: first, the criticism and displacement of particularisms and parochialisms and, second, the expression of a utopian horizon in which all would be free and equal. Procedural ethics can be regarded an attempt to view the world from a position beyond the inequalities and injustices that now disfigure it. As we will see, however, this can only be accomplished incompletely. Reality inevitably disfigures this utopia, robbing it of critical force, while the more the moral perspective manages to free itself from this reality, the less bearing upon the world it has. Proceduralism is thus not immune to the deficits of substantive universalism. Indeed, procedural and anthropological universalisms go hand in hand: procedural approaches turn to anthropology for their substance while anthropological approaches turn to procedure for their generality. While the critical and utopian moments of proceduralism are indispensable, I will argue that they should be understood as always incomplete moments within critical reflection, eternally prone to two tendencies we saw in the case of cosmopolitanism in general:

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indeterminacy on the one hand and partiality on the other. In this section I first examine the limits of this approach as classically articulated by John Rawls in A Theory of Justice (a) before turning to how they reemerge in his treatment of cosmopolitanism (b). This leads me to conclude that we need to find ways of setting its dynamic to work in real contexts and thus, with Adorno, moving from ethics to the criticism of social and political life (c). (a) We find a familiar starting point in the most influential attempt to realize the spirit of Kantian universalism in Anglo-American philosophy, the work of John Rawls. Rawls, of course, understood himself as practicing political philosophy rather than ethics. This self-understanding was based on his concern with the organization of society, with institutions, and with the “right” rather than the “good” as opposed to questions of individual virtue or action. What is striking about his mode of theorizing, however, is that it is conducted almost entirely in view of moral entitlements. If this leads through aggregation to an image of how society as a whole should be organized, it systematically puts general, abstract, and ideal matters ahead of those concerning action, of who may or should do what. The questions of power, authority, jurisdiction, etc. that distinguish Kant’s theory of right from his ethics have few equivalents in Rawls; issues that have long stood at the center of political philosophy—above all who should rule and how—arise only on the margins of the theory.67 In these ways, for Rawls as for so-called ideal theory in his wake, political theory slides imperceptibly into moral theory or, more precisely, into an intermediate genre: a moral theory of social-political order. For these reasons I treat Rawls’s political theory as a moral-ethical theory of social organization rather than political theory strictly speaking, to which I will turn in subsequent chapters. The main reason for nonetheless treating Rawls as a leading inheritor of Kantian morality is what he came, after A Theory of Justice, to call his “Kantian constructivism”—his attempt to derive a conception of justice from a procedure.68 This procedure, the famous original position, follows Kant’s first formulation of the categorical imperative: it seeks to arrive at objective moral principles via a universalization test. According to this ingenious device, imaginatively setting individuals behind a veil of ignorance in order to deprive them of knowledge of their social position forces them to consider society and justice from a general, impartial point of view. Like the categorical imperative, the veil of ignorance cancels out

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not only their particularities—class, gender, race, age, ability along with the associated advantages and disadvantages—but also their prejudices and preconceptions. Rawls’s design is not strictly Kantian.69 If denying the agents in the original position knowledge of their circumstances parallels Kant’s desire to work out an ethics for human beings “as such,” even in A Theory of Justice Rawls draws on existing values and confines his reflections to a society like his own. To this extent his project is less ambitious than Kant’s, who sought the nature of morality per se. Nevertheless, insofar as Rawls seeks morality through generality, by overcoming particular interests and prejudices, his aim and approach are universalistic in a specifically Kantian-procedural sense. Rather than explore the intricacies of Rawls’s theory (a task that occupied an entire generation), I confine myself to some of its more general features in order to make a more general point, parallel to the one I made with regard to Kant in the last section: the source of the critical strength of Rawls’s conception, its abstraction, is also the source of its weakness, making it waver between indeterminacy, on the one hand, and hidden particularism, on the other. Consider the difference principle, Rawls’s rightly famous argument that “social and economic inequalities . . . are to be to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged members of society.”70 This might strike the reader as wildly radical. Most modern democracies, after all, ostensibly aim to arrange things for the benefit of the majority, with protections for the worst off. Even radical socialists proposed organizing society for the benefit of the popular classes while alleviating the suffering of the least fortunate. Requiring all inequalities to be justified in terms of the least advantaged seems to entail a redistribution of wealth and power that would shake the very fundaments of society. Yet this turns out not to be so clear. In ordinary political debate, conservatives and libertarians do not argue, for instance, that the tax code should be rewritten to benefit the wealthy because they are morally superior or, à la Robert Nozick, because the individual has an absolute right to her property, but, along Rawlsian lines, because this “reform” would generate investment, growth, and thereby maximize benefit to the poor.71 In part this indeterminacy stems from the restrictions Rawls puts on the difference principle. He specifies that it is to be strictly (“lexically”) subordinated to equal basic rights and liberties and equal opportunity. Further, it is meant only as a regulative idea, to be related to our given views by means of a “reflective equilibrium” testing the results of the theory against our

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convictions and our convictions against the theory. These methodological restrictions are accompanied by further substantive considerations. No less than Kant, Rawls begins from an account of the “person” (his normative account of the human) defined by the ability to rationally set and pursue ends (Rawls’s “rational,” Kant’s “humanity”) and to regard others as deserving of respect (Rawls’s “reasonable,” Kant’s “personality”)—implying, though never specifying (since Rawls never wrote a “Doctrine of Virtue”), many of same predilections. Nor can Rawls’s theory get by without a “thin” but substantive conception of the good, provided in A Theory of Justice by “primary goods,” in particular the “social bases of self-respect.” Moreover, deliberations in the original position are to be based on an indeterminate body of “general facts about human society,” which are never spelled out but would include information about “political affairs and the principles of economic theory” as well as “the basis of social organization and the laws of human psychology.”72 The general problem all this creates for Rawls’s theory parallels that of the relation between Kant’s ethics and his anthropology. The “lexical” priority of the basic liberties could rule out redistribution that would infringe on anyone’s freedom in any way, which is to say any redistribution at all. “Reflective equilibrium” could mean submitting the difference principle to prevalent understandings of the meaning and limits of freedom and equality—notoriously restrictive in the American case. What is included among the “social bases of self-respect” will depend on what counts as “self-respect” and what is held to belong to the social realm, while the social, political, and psychological laws Rawls provides his deliberators will have a large impact on what they regard as desirable and feasible. None of these things could be uncontroversial, yet none is spelled out in A Theory of Justice. In an inversion of Nussbaum’s case, then, Rawls secures generality at the price of indeterminacy: just as she gestured toward deliberation to establish the general validity of her proposal, he gestures toward substantive notions of the human, the good life, and social organization to fill out the substance of his own. This reflects the deeper truth that the work of abstraction performed by the original position, like Kant’s universalization test, can only be abstraction from and on the basis of certain substantive horizons—ideas of the good, of the human, of social and political possibility.73 Rawls recognizes this, but he leaves these matters to the secondary realm of application or “non-ideal theory.” The “supplement” that McCarthy argued is

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required to “schematize” Kant’s abstract formulations thus turns out to be equally necessary for Rawls’s and could end up undermining it in very much the same ways. As McCarthy puts it: If political theorists do not dispose of interpretation-free “facts” in the way that Rawls intends, neither do they have conflict-free “values” at their disposal. Rawls himself explicitly characterizes the political values that his conception of justice seeks to articulate as belonging to the public political culture of a particular historical society. . . . But then it follows that, as such, they do not come with fixed, clear, uncontested meanings; rather, they have to be interpretively worked up from the variable, particular, often conflictual political contexts in which they figure. As a result, the basic terms of his political conception cannot but reflect and project the particular forms of life and situations of conflict from which they are prepared.74 The theory, then, cannot replace these arguments over facts and values. Rather, it is best understood as an account of the form these arguments should take if they are to be universalistic. This is illustrated by the course of objections to A Theory of Justice. As critics like Susan Okin and Carole Pateman pointed out, although Rawls wrote A Theory of Justice during the rise of the feminist movement, he assumed that equality was to be achieved among “households” represented by “breadwinners.”75 This does not vitiate the spirit of his design, since if generic individuals rather than households were represented behind the veil of ignorance and made aware that women enjoy substantially fewer rights and resources than men, they would no doubt choose to abolish these inequalities—as Rawls (much) later affirmed.76 Charles Mills has likewise noted that that although Rawls was in part inspired by the civil rights movement, there is very little on race in A Theory of Justice.77 In this case, it is not because Rawls was indifferent to racism or blind to its effects, but because from a normative point of view racism is so obviously wrong that there was little for him to say: in a just society race would not be a consideration, period. The difficulty in these cases is not that the theory reflects sexism or racism, which Rawls recognized and opposed; it is that his vantage point is too high to get any purchase on them. Although his approach can in principle be deployed

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against any denial of equality—and Okin, Pateman, and Mills all deploy Rawlsian arguments—it does not apply itself. It can only be brought to bear on particular inequalities if they are exposed to it, and nothing in the theory itself guarantees this. (b) Let us now turn to how these limitations manifested themselves when Rawls turned to the question of moral-ethical concern beyond the state. Rawls was long chastised by cosmopolitans for limiting his reflections, both in A Theory of Justice and in Political Liberalism, to a closed, autarkic society. In fact, he did address the international realm in A Theory of Justice, laying out a strategy he would return to more than three decades later in The Law of Peoples. In the course of a discussion of civil disobedience, Rawls explains that, to arrive at a conception of international justice, “representatives of different nations” would meet in their own original position, which “nullifies the contingencies and biases of historical fate.” As for what they would decide, he assures us that “there would be no surprises, since the principles chosen would, I think, be familiar ones”—equal state sovereignty, self-determination, noninterference, and the other core features of the modern international order.78 In 1971 Rawls did not consider the possibility that individuals rather than nations be represented behind a global veil of ignorance or that his egalitarianism might have distributive implications at that level—let alone that few things are as “contingent” or “biased by historical fate” as a nation-state. Nor did this section inform the rest of A Theory of Justice; it remained a passing example of how his thought experiment might be applied in other contexts. When Rawls returned to these questions twenty-two years later, he saw no reason to revise his approach.79 He did, however, need to defend it, for, in the meantime, some of his ablest students had called his “methodological nationalism” into question, turning his approach in a radically cosmopolitan direction. Charles Beitz and Thomas Pogge, for instance, argued that the arguments of A Theory of Justice would logically apply at the international level as well: liberal principles of political order, individual rights, and, above all, the difference principle should hold globally.80 Some went still further. Using the original position to assess the legitimacy of a world divided into states such that the accident of being born into one rather than another means the difference between security and surfeit, on the one hand, and fear and want, on the other, Joseph Carens concluded: “Citizenship in Western liberal democracies is the modern

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equivalent of feudal privilege—an inherited status that greatly enhances one’s life chances.”81 As such, this state of affairs (concretely, immigration controls, but, by extension, the state system) is unjustifiable on Rawlsian grounds. It is notable that many of the strongest cases for moral-ethical cosmopolitanism have been inspired, despite his own conclusions, by Rawls himself82—further evidence of the critical potential, but also the fundamental indeterminacy, of his approach. But here I want to examine Rawls’s grounds for resisting this extension with a view to their more general significance for moral-ethical universalism. On the one hand, in light of what we have seen of the role of supplementary, substantive, yet often unarticulated assumptions in A Theory of Justice, it is not surprising that the core of Rawls’s case against global egalitarianism is empirical. An especially telling example is his argument against Beitz and Pogge’s call for global redistribution. “The causes of the wealth of a people and the forms it takes,” Rawls writes, “lie in their political culture and in the religious, philosophical, and moral traditions that support the basic structure, as well as in the industriousness and cooperative talents of its members.”83 As if in deliberate parody of the very worst of liberal contractualism, centuries of conquest, domination, and exploitation disappear beneath the assumption of fair competition, choice, and consent. Abstraction is used not to gain a critical distance from what exists, but to conceal and rationalize it.84 We should note, however, that this reliance on (pseudo-) empirical arguments is far from unusual in debates about cosmopolitanism. Often, controversies about what we owe distant strangers turn less on “philosophical” arguments than on practical ones: restrictions on the scope of justice tend to be made not for philosophical reasons (the definition of a person, the sources of value, etc.) but empirical ones (the link between our consumption and their misfortune, whether assistance will reach its intended recipients, etc.).85 Philosophers thus don the mantles of economists, demographers, and sociologists to ponder international trade and finance, public health, or ecology.86 In such cases “ought” hangs to a very large extent on assessments of “is” and “can.” On the other hand, Rawls has principled reasons for rejecting robust global redistribution and offers an alternative: “The long-term goal of (relatively) well-ordered societies should be to bring burdened [i.e., poor] societies  .  .  . into the Society of Well-ordered Peoples.” There is thus a “duty to assist burdened societies,” though only up to “a defined goal,

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aim or cut-off point”—that necessary “to establish (reasonably) just basic institutions . . . and to secure a social world that makes possible a worthwhile life for all its citizens.”87 This provision obviously leans heavily on the (pseudo-)empirical argument just noted and would, moreover, depend on the parenthetical “relatively” and “reasonably,” which Rawls fails to specify. But I want to call attention to the structure of the argument. If each society could provide basic justice to its members, there would be no need for egalitarian redistribution. Elsewhere in The Law of Peoples Rawls likewise argues that if nonliberal “peoples” are organized “decently,” there is no basis for objecting to their restrictions on equality or rights. On this argument, an ideal, hypothetical state of affairs is used to rule out actual or potential claims. It has rightly been doubted whether Rawls’s Society of Peoples can be called a “realistic utopia.” “By calling it a ‘utopia,’” Simon Caney points out, “Rawls is committed to saying that any international order that meets his standards of decency is an ideal that cannot (morally speaking) be bettered,”88 which hardly seems appropriate for a world potentially marked by gross material inequalities and unevenly distributed rights. But what is notable is how this ideal, itself heavily qualified, is deployed to preempt criticism of the status quo. The Law of Peoples was a disappointment to many Rawlsians, who felt it betrayed the critical-utopian spirit of A Theory of Justice, itself already compromised in Political Liberalism. What I have tried to show is that the shortcomings of the later Rawls stem from—though, as the many Rawlsian cosmopolitans demonstrate, do not inevitably follow from—his point of departure. The strength of his approach turns out to be its weakness: its abstraction, the source of its radicalism, is also at the root of its indeterminacy, its impotence, and even its perversions. This is not to deny its critical potential. Even Rawls’s ludicrous suggestion that different “peoples” enjoy different levels of prosperity because of their culturally determined choices—as if they had never interacted politically and economically and had no such relations today—can be given a utopian reading as a call to imagine a world in which differences in wealth and opportunity really did reflect their own choices. This could then serve as a basis for criticizing the existing world system. However, as Rawls’s own use of this thought shows, this depends on empirical analysis and critical argument. As demonstrated not only by cosmopolitans like Beitz and Pogge but also by scholars like Okin and Mills, the Rawlsian principle of universalization can be a powerful resource for broadening and deepening our view of

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justice. It is not, however, self-sufficient, let alone “free-standing.” It must be put to work in particular arguments that contest particular injustices, and this is something that the kind of theory Rawls pursued did not and cannot do. (c) I would finally like to consider another version of moral-ethical universalization that, in a sense, responds to these deficits. Much as the shift from substantive to procedural universalism can be seen as an answer to the difficulties that emerged with substantive universalism, there is an immanent solution to the indeterminacy of Kantian or Rawlsian universalism. If the problem with abstract proceduralism is that it cannot itself determine which contexts or assumptions should be subject to the test of universalization, one solution is to rely on the objections that are in fact made against them. If the problem is that ideal theory cannot adjudicate between different values or basic assumptions, one solution is to put them up for debate. And if the problem is that such a theory does not tell us who should implement its conclusions or how, one solution is to see this deliberation itself as political, as concerned not only with determining rules, values, and institutions but also with how they should be implemented and by whom. With this, we shift from the subjective deliberation of Kantian practical reason and the hypothetical deliberation of the Rawlsian thought experiment to political deliberation. As we will see, this does not solve all the problems of proceduralism; in some respects, it reproduces them in different forms. Nonetheless, it suggests a different understanding of universalism that will form the basis for my own approach in the next chapters. The shift from ideal or hypothetical deliberation to real deliberation is the central idea behind the turn proposed by Jürgen Habermas in the 1970s and ’80s under the headings of “discourse ethics” and “communicative rationality.” Most discussion of Habermas’s work has focused on its ideal side—its claim that coercion-free discourse can serve as a guiding principle in debates about truth, morality, and legitimacy. I want to consider instead another aspect of his work that emerged especially in his exchange with Rawls—its “pragmatic” rather than its “transcendental” side, its application rather than its justification. For although the justification of Habermas’s theory depends on its appeal to the counterfactual of ideal deliberative conditions—and thus to something like Rawls’s original position—its effects depend on its being realized through actual

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discourses. While the claims of social actors or even regimes implicitly appeal, on Habermas’s theory, to the assent they could receive under ideal conditions, the immediate point is that these claims are made here and now, from particular social-historical locations they nevertheless seek to transcend. The ideal is thus not, as for Rawls, a transcendental vantage point from which to assess actual arrangements and arguments; instead it is part of the syntax of argumentation, a way of spelling out what is involved in asserting that something is or is not valid or just. In Habermas’s exchange with Rawls, the implication of this turned out to be that, rather than designing a counterfactual procedure to decide the limits of public deliberation, constitutional essentials, or basic principles of justice in advance, we should leave such matters to the give-and-take of real practical discourses.89 The procedure is not to determine the results in advance or even to fix the rules of the game, but rather to justify, motivate, and set out the trajectory of an ongoing deliberation to be carried out by those actually affected. This move—variously characterized as a shift from the standpoint of the observer to that of the participant or from the vertical to the horizontal—has several advantages. First, it places concrete disputes over facts and values—pushed to the side in Rawlsian ideal theory even though, as we saw, they do most of the real work of determining the scope and nature of justice—at the center of the theory. In addition, Habermas’s rewriting of the categorical imperative—“only those norms can claim to be valid that meet (or could meet) with the approval of all affected in their capacity as participants in a practical discourse”90— has the effect of politicizing morality in three senses: it submits morality to the cut-and-thrust of real arguments that arise from felt injustices; it brings morality very close to democracy, understood as equal authorship of the norms, institutions, and arrangements under which one lives;91 and it understands the unfolding of morality and justice in a specifically cosmopolitical way, as a process of universalization.92 Habermas’s framework is thus, as the late Rawls claims of his own, “political not metaphysical”—not, as for Rawls, in the sense that it is restricted to a reified political domain (which, for Rawls, is set out philosophically in advance), but in the sense that the process by which it is meant to be realized is, at least potentially, itself political. Rather than focus on Habermas, whose work on cosmopolitanism has tended more to pragmatic, mid-level theory and is addressed in the next

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chapter, here I take up the work of one of his (and Rawls’s) leading successors, Rainer Forst, who has proposed a version of discourse ethics specifically for matters of global justice. Forst’s approach is based on what he calls “the right to justification,” which he defines as “the right to be respected as a moral person who is autonomous at least in the sense that he or she must not be treated in any manner for which adequate reasons cannot be provided.”93 The critical standard we should deploy when considering the justice of social arrangements, be they local, national, or global, is whether they could be justified to those subject to them. What reasons, then, are “adequate”? Following Habermas, Forst insists that demands for justification must be made and evaluated by participants themselves, subject to a universalization test: a justification is adequate if it is “reciprocal” and “general,” i.e., if it could be accepted by all those affected for reasons that themselves meet the test of reciprocal justifiability. On this basis Forst argues—plausibly, I think—that the principle of justification is not culturally specific and, further, that it does not sneak in the kinds of factual or value considerations we saw in the case of Kant, Nussbaum, or Rawls. Moreover, Forst reinforces the Habermasian relationship between morality, justice, and democracy: if equal moral consideration is analogous to an equal say in the institutions and rules under which one lives, injustice amounts to the lack of such a say—namely, domination. As Forst therefore concludes, “the question of power is the first question of justice.” Ultimately, this means that, on the principle of justification, “all social relations . . . that can be changed by political action are to be justified reciprocally and generally to all those affected in a relevant way—be they economic relations or relations of political authority.”94 Despite these strengths, however, there is a systematic ambiguity in Forst’s presentation that echoes the “meet (or could meet)” of Habermas’s discourse principle. For the principle of justification can be construed as saying that if people accept their conditions they are acceptable. The problem then comes, as Nussbaum pointed out, when people accept things they should not. Preferences, economists and social psychologists have long observed, tend to conform to expectations; change, if it can be imagined at all, almost always looks riskier than the status quo. If battered-wife syndrome is a striking though shockingly common example of this, more generally we may observe that people often accept situations because they have no way of questioning them or of knowing that better ones are possible. Consider Forst’s example of “economic

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relations.” From the perspective of liberal political economy, children who sew shirts for pennies an hour, the companies that sell those shirts, and the consumers who buy them are all acting freely and rationally, their actions coordinated in a neutral and impartial way. Their relations are seen either as justified on this basis or as an unfortunate but quasinatural fact and therefore not in need of justification. Reimagining these relations as “circumstances of justice” (Rawls), as “relevant contexts of justice” that can be “changed by political action” (Forst), has required a vast theoretical, rhetorical, and political struggle that has extended over nearly two centuries and continues today. This point is general and applies to innumerable situations and spheres of life, from the family to education to religion: what exists has a tendency to appear justified, if only because it exists. Social selfunderstandings more often than not take the form of what Pierre Bourdieu (borrowing Raymond Aron’s coinage) called sociodicies— stories that explain why ours is, if not in the best of all possible worlds, then the only one possible. By the same token, the securest forms of domination are those that do not appear as domination at all and therefore never give rise to calls for justification. Bourdieu refers to this tendency for asymmetrical relations to appear natural or self-evident as “symbolic violence,” the everyday violence that comes from the fact that perceptions and realities are organized to the advantage of some over others: “The form par excellence of symbolic violence is the power which  .  .  . is exercised through rational communication, that is, with the (extorted) adherence of those who, being the dominated products of an order dominated by force armed with reason . . . cannot but give their acquiescence to the arbitrariness of rationalized force.”95 As I will show in chapter 4, much of Bourdieu’s work can be read in this light—as a redescription of what seem to be natural or justified social relations as relations of power. It is thus an exemplary version of what Paul Ricoeur famously called the “hermeneutics of suspicion”—a form of radical redescription that casts a harsh new light on taken-for-granted social realities.96 The function of such theories could be described in the present context as exposing hidden forms of domination in order to open them to demands for justification. Marxism is one such way of seeing the world anew, feminism another. Cosmopolitanism is yet another—a way of disrupting the prejudice of “epistemic nationalism” and unveiling new contexts of justification.

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But the point I want to emphasize here is that the principle of justification does not solve the problem of justice by itself. In part this is simply because any society includes various practices of justification—more or less shared notions of what constitute good reasons, appropriate standards, convincing evidence, etc.—that are always changing.97 But, more basically, the principle of justification does not solve the problem of justice because the principle itself is fundamentally ambiguous: it can refer either to what is accepted or to what should be accepted. For many critics, this marked a major regression from the early to the late Rawls. While A Theory of Justice, dominated by the thought of the “original position,” rests on an ideal deliberation, opening up a critical distance from society, Political Liberalism, dominated by the idea of an “overlapping consensus,” a concern for stability, and factual acceptance, closes this distance, coming perilously close to saying that acceptable justifications are justifications that are accepted. Here we see the indispensable role of the “ideal speech situation” in Habermas’s theory. By imagining discourse free from coercion, unfair advantages, or exclusions, open to anyone and to any objection, in which everyone has full information as well as all the time needed for the better argument to prevail, we are invited to explore the ways these conditions are denied in reality. Of course, to the extent that these conditions are always absent, it is impossible to say how such a discourse would turn out. The concrete considerations that would give this hypothetical conversation critical bite could come only from the participants and from attempts to critically reimagine the social world. This is why we should understand the universalization test not, like the original position, as a means of arriving at conclusions, but rather as the form of arguments against inequalities, exclusions, and particularisms. The normative, critical-utopian moment of the universalization principle, the original position, or the ideal speech situation is thus irreducible although it is indeterminate. This indeterminacy is by no means fatal to the project of procedural justice, but it does require that we differentiate two uses of universalizing theory. Forst helpfully distinguishes between “minimal” and “maximal” justice: “minimal” justice describes a situation in which people are in a position to demand justification for arrangements or practices to which they object, while “maximal” justice refers to a situation in which all basic arrangements can be justified to all those affected.98 Likewise, applying

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his framework to human rights, Forst distinguishes between their “negative” and “positive” meanings: “On the one hand, [human rights] raise objections to specific unjustifiable social developments and injustices; on the other hand, they are constitutive and constructive components of the common project of establishing just social relations.”99 “Negative” human rights would then be an engine of “minimal” justice, a way of pointing out and challenging violations of the principle of equal freedom. On the reading I am suggesting, the point of specific claims, objections, and demands would be the ongoing expansion of “minimal” justice, continually opening up new “contexts of justification.” Again, as we saw with respect to gender and race in Rawls’s A Theory of Justice, the critical work here is done, not by the universalization test itself (the categorical imperative, the original position, the ideal speech situation, the principle of justification), but by substantive arguments that use this structure to reveal and contest particular dimensions of domination and inequality. What then of “maximal” justice and the “positive” notion of human rights that would go along with it? If we assume, with Forst, that the world’s basic structure is one of multiple and overlapping relations of domination, that many of these are invisible, and that “in a context of justice a critical theory regards no social relations as ‘beyond justification,’”100 it seems clear that, for practical purposes, there is and probably can be no “maximal justice.” Indeed, from Bourdieu’s perspective what might appear as maximal justice could just as easily be total domination—a situation in which no demands for justification are made because none can even be formulated. Maximal justice, the “positive” side of this project, should thus be understood as a utopian vanishing point rather than as an actual or even potential state of affairs, a regulative idea—a focus imaginarius, as Bourdieu puts it—in which everyone would have a fair say in all rules, institutions, and practices that affect them. To the extent that this condition is not only very far away from but literally unimaginable from any actually existing social situation, the effectivity of this idea is almost entirely negative.101 There is a temptation to falsely concretize this utopia by imagining an idealized version of existing arrangements as fully justified. Such a “justificatory” rather than “critical” use of procedural arguments is evident not only in Political Liberalism and The Law of Peoples but also in Habermas’s Between Facts and Norms: from the idea that the law or the basic structure of society should be justifiable we risk sliding into the complacent belief that it is or at least that an improved

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version of current arrangements could be. Such arguments may be warranted when it is matter, say, of defending the idea of constitutional democracy or international law against challengers. The danger lies in confusing the justification with the reality and on this basis foreclosing the possibility that our starting point—the state or the state system, the market—is itself a cause of injustice. Cosmopolitanism is itself a corrective to this danger. The actual distribution of resources, opportunities, and most fundamentally power on a transnational or global level are, from almost any angle, unjustifiable. Indeed, cosmopolitanism, as an objection to any limit on the scope of moral concern or justice, may itself be regarded as a critical tool addressed to precisely this problem. On this basis, Forst argues that a critical theory of transnational justice would have four elements: (a) “an analysis of given social relations . . . especially the inequalities and power asymmetries they contain”; (b) “a critique of false justifications for these relations  .  .  . false justifications that hide social contradictions and relations of power”; (c) some indication of “the necessity and possibility of justifications that can stand the test of reciprocity and generality. . . . This has to be a real and not merely hypothetical test: ultimately, only those affected themselves can carry out the justification of their own basic social structures”; and (d) a call “not only for justifiable social relations, but for a practice of justification.”102 Filling out this program would, as Forst recognizes, be an immense task, but for now let me raise a possible objection to my reading of it. Does not my negative interpretation of “maximal justice” as unthinkable and probably unachievable undermine “the necessity and possibility of justifications which can stand the test of reciprocity and generality” and thus the possibility of “justifiable social relations”? From the standpoint of a critical theory—and I offer this as a final advantage of a pragmatic-critical version of procedural universalism— there is no need to specify what final or full justification might entail. As Amartya Sen argues, we do not need to know what “perfect justice” is in order to make judgments about what would be more just or less unjust.103

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By focusing instead on particular claims, this approach suggests a middle way between merely local or piecemeal criticism and the (always falsely) universal pronouncements of ideal theory, for the framework contains a second-order imperative: “minimal justice,” or the ongoing and ever expanding “practice of justification.” We are not faced with the impossible task of determining what everyone everywhere would agree to under ideal conditions so as to then have a basis on which to criticize existing arrangements and propose alternatives. Here and now, we can seek to support, expand, and, where possible, transform existing discursive contexts in which decisions are taken so that all affected have a fairer or more equal say in them. We need not, from this perspective, determine what would be just, only what would be less unjust, recognizing every result as provisional. If this strategy does not provide us with an ultimate design, it does provide us with a project and a trajectory. The critique of the denials of equality—the principle that all should have a say in what affects them, the principle of equal freedom—is thus endless, but not, for that reason, arbitrary or indeterminate. It is, to anticipate the coming chapters, at once the moral and the political core of a criticaldemocratic cosmopolitics. t



In this chapter I have explored two ways of giving expression to the cosmopolitan imperative of generalizing the scope of moral-ethical concern: substantive and procedural universalism. Substantive universalisms, whether based on an account of the human or of the good life, are often criticized for their particularism, for unreflectively favoring certain kinds of people or ways of life over others. Procedural universalisms, conversely, tend to be criticized for their indeterminacy. In this chapter I have found that both criticisms are warranted and that both tendencies are inescapable. On the one hand, no normative or critical concept can avoid substantive bases if it is to have any purchase on reality; these bases always carry certain hierarchies and exclusions that escape selfcritical scrutiny. On the other hand, the very abstraction and distantiation that allow procedural morality to achieve a distance from reality also deprive it of bases for taking a critical view of that reality. The solution to this impasse, I have tried to suggest, lies in the relation between the two moments: the form of moral universalism (its universality) can always

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be brought to bear against hidden particularisms. It is not, however, the theory itself that does this; indeed, as we saw in Rawls’s case, normative theory can become an obstacle to universalization when it is made to justify denials of its own universal principles or values.104 Rather, it is the possibility of using some version of the universalization test to make specific objections against given arrangements or assumptions that gives it its critical edge. The universalizing form must be the vehicle of particular criticisms; what counts is how it is brought to bear against specific hierarchies or exclusions. This reflects a feature of cosmopolitanism we saw in the last chapter: universal claims are always made in a specific context, against particular limits on or denials of universal principles. Such claims can be understood as the negation of particular negations of a universal principle, the contestation of specific denials of the universality of moral principles. I will elaborate this conception of universalism, based on a shift from trying to explain what the universal is to describing how it comes about, in chapter 4. On this view, both the theory and its applications must always be regarded as provisional, always subject to challenges that are at once specific and universalizing. Further, although this particular version of procedural universalism may appeal to an ideal of agreement, here and now it always seeks to disrupt agreement. This process is in principle endless, since in every case it has the potential to overturn the currently accepted parameters of justification and deliberation. On this view, then, the pursuit of universalism consists in an endless assault on the limits of the accepted and the thinkable, always in the name of the universalization of freedom and equality. None of this, to be sure, disqualifies the sort of abstract normative theory that has tended to predominate in discussions of cosmopolitan political philosophy, though it might lead us to regard it as less useful and more dangerous than its practitioners tend to assume. In this chapter I also encountered another kind of problem, however, with much more serious implications for at least some kinds of normative theory. Especially in the case of Martha Nussbaum, I showed that a critical and prescriptive moral-ethical perspective seems to imply an asymmetry between the subject and object of ethics, the agent of moral practice and its intended beneficiary, that in itself violates the principle of equality. As I argued in the context of Wallerstein’s reply to Nussbaum in chapter 1, this raises the possibility that universalism can be betrayed not so much by its content as by its position, the practical relations on

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which it rests. In this chapter I took this problem as a basis for preferring procedural approaches to ethics, where the principle of universality is expressed by its generality and impartiality, over substantive ones: what is right is what could be agreed to by all those affected. As we saw, this principle translates immediately into political terms: all should have a fair or equal say in the decisions or arrangements that affect them; when they do not, this constitutes an injustice we should oppose. Yet it will not suffice to assert this simply as a hypothetical basis for theoretical reasoning since, as we have seen, we may always be deceived not only about what they might agree to but also about the obstacles to achieving a fair and equal basis for such a deliberation. Taken in more practical terms, then, the aim of cosmopolitics would be to change the conditions themselves, to expand the realm of equal freedom through the contestation of specific obstacles to it. One name for this contestation, I will argue in chapter 5, is democracy. But first I want to explore how political versions of cosmopolitanism, from Kant to the present, have suffered from variations of Nussbaum’s problem: although they seek to realize a more equal distribution of power and resources, the ways they envision pursuing this aim end up violating the principle itself.

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Cosmopolitanism in Politics Realizing the Universal

Cosmopolitanism, I have claimed, is, first of all, a moral-ethical matter— the idea that every person, wherever they live and whatever citizenship they hold (or do not hold), commands our respect and moral concern. This imperative can be formulated in various ways, some of which I explored in the last chapter: that we should recognize the humanity of others as deserving of fully human lives, as having equal moral standing, or as if they had equal say in the rules and institutions that govern our interaction. All these formulations have the effect of expanding the scope of our moral concern so that it in principle acknowledges the equal worth of each and every human being. I also noted that especially the last, pragmatic-procedural formulation of the cosmopolitan imperative leads, more or less directly, to politics: it turns out to be a small step from saying that we should act as if we lived in a world in which everyone had an equal say in the terms of our interaction to saying that the world should be organized so that everyone in fact does. In this sense the cosmopolitan moral-ethical imperative simultaneously implies a political project. In this chapter I turn from moral cosmopolitanism to political cosmopolitanism, which seeks to translate the imperative of moral-ethical universalism into practical-political terms. A preliminary question,

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however, is what is meant by political in this context. Though often taken for granted, this is anything but self-evident. It is easy to narrow the field negatively, by saying what politics is not. It seems clear, for instance, that arguments like Peter Singer’s for giving what we don’t need to the less fortunate, or Martha Nussbaum’s for according all humanity our moral attention and respect, fall into the province of ethics rather than politics: they concern only the duties of individuals and have little to say about how we should organize collective life. But, beyond this, politics can be understood in a variety of different ways. For the purposes of this chapter I will discuss politics in what I take to be the most conventional sense, as having to do with government, the state, and the organization of public affairs. This definition will turn out to be questionable, and chapters 4 and especially 5 will be devoted in part to rethinking it. But, for now, I simply assume it in order to focus on how common assumptions about politics and political theory are challenged by cosmopolitanism. The starting point for all political cosmopolitanism is the observation that political thought has overwhelmingly assumed that reflection on justice stops at the borders of a given political community, be it the ancient polis or the modern state. From a cosmopolitan perspective, this is already a grave injustice. Once we have determined that everyone should count, the inherent particularism of the nation-state, even where the state in question is internally just, inclusive, and democratic it may still be exclusionary, self-interested, and predatory with regard to outsiders. This was Martha Nussbaum’s point in challenging Richard Rorty’s liberal nationalism in the debate I reviewed in chapter 1, and it has given rise to an extensive debate between cosmopolitans and nationalists. As I did in chapter 2, I will set this debate aside in order to focus instead on the meaning of cosmopolitanism. What does a universal commitment to the equal moral worth of each and every person entail politically? Cosmopolitan political theory has generally answered this question by giving an account of the institutional conditions under which cosmopolitan ethical-moral aims could be achieved—the form justice could take beyond the state. And, in the case of political cosmopolitanism as in that of ethical cosmopolitanism, the most relevant model is generally agreed to be that set out two centuries ago by Immanuel Kant. Yet politics can be understood in another sense. In ordinary usage, politics can refer not only to an order or regime, but to an activity. In the context of cosmopolitanism, this would imply asking not simply

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what a just world order would be, but how one could be brought about, what actions would promote universal, cosmopolitan ends. On this level, Kant’s proposal fares less well. Attractive as his cosmopolitan vision is, his account of how it might be realized is far less satisfactory. My main claim in this chapter is that contemporary political cosmopolitanism inherits from Kant a deep tension between the ends it seeks and the means it envisions for achieving them. For Kant, morality requires that the world be organized in a cosmopolitan fashion—lawfully, equitably, and (we can extrapolate within the spirit of his reflections) democratically, on a global scale, according to the principle of equal freedom. To be sure, Kant is no more faithful to this commitment in his politics than in his ethics and loses little time in disqualifying most of humanity from effective citizenship. But here I want to focus on a different problem. At the same time that Kant prescribes a just and inclusive cosmopolitan order, he proscribes the very steps by which he imagines it might come about. Worse, the means by which he envisions cosmopolitan principles being realized directly contradict those principles. As I will show, this problem recurs mutatis mutandis with those who inherit his cosmopolitanism: while they articulate an attractive alternative to the current global order, they are unable to account for how it might be achieved. This chapter begins by outlining Kant’s project for perpetual peace. Beyond the features that account for his essay’s enduring popularity, I focus on internal tensions that most readings tend to smooth over. These tensions, I argue, point to deeper difficulties with Kant’s cosmopolitanism—indeed, with his practical philosophy as a whole—that make it nearly impossible for him to explain how his vision could be achieved, except by means that contradict its basic values. Despite the attractiveness of his vision, then, Kant turns out to be a very unreliable guide to cosmopolitics. The chapter’s second section turns to how this model has been recently reinvigorated under the banner of “cosmopolitan democracy.” I affirm that this ideal is desirable and even, in principle, possible. However, the structural deficits in Kant’s model of practical philosophy lead his successors into similar impasses, as I demonstrate by considering their reflections on contemporary politics. I conclude by showing, however, that in the work of contemporary cosmopolitan democrats we also find hints of a cosmopolitics that could more directly express and pursue the universalistic aspirations of cosmopolitanism. These will then form the basis for rethinking the politics of universalism in part 2.

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Achieving Perpetual Peace: Right, Progress, Publicity

Today the favorite starting point for reflection on how the cosmopolitan ideal can be given political expression remains Kant’s 1795 essay “On Perpetual Peace.” The occasion for the essay was the Peace of Basel, which increased France’s global holdings while authorizing Prussia to carve up Poland with Austria and Russia. Kant was disgusted by this cynical bargain, which in his view served neither justice nor peace—as the coming years would confirm. Nevertheless, he saw it as typical of interstate relations under what we now call the Westphalian system of sovereign states. As a response, he used a hypothetical peace treaty—a device familiar from the Abbé de Saint-Pierre’s 1713 proposal for a European peace—to outline an alternative, distilling the thoughts on global order he had been developing since the mid-1780s. “Perpetual Peace” mostly avoids the metaphysical concerns that frame Kant’s other accounts of cosmopolitanism. Focusing on the perennial problem of war, Kant recommends practical ways of overcoming it. This tightness of focus no doubt helps account for the essay’s enduring popularity. Not only does Kant’s model anticipate the League of Nations and the UN; it remains the basis of the “idealist” or “liberal” school of international relations and, of greater interest to us here, today’s leading brand of progressive political universalism, cosmopolitan democracy. As I observed in chapter 1, Kant’s essay can be seen as the culmination of a long tradition. One respect in which Kant surpassed his predecessors is that the scope of the pacific order he promotes is universal. Such proposals were typically limited to Europe and were predicated on defending Christendom from actual or potential enemies, usually Islam. Kant does not even consider such a restriction—an expression of the universalism of his philosophy as a whole. Moreover, he roundly condemns all forms of aggression and domination (106–7): a cosmopolitan order must come about consensually, “extending gradually to encompass all the states and thus leading to perpetual peace” (104).1 The alternative, he warns, would be “an amalgamation of the separate nations under a single power which has overruled the rest and created a universal monarchy” (113)—a despotic and inherently unstable arrangement. By the same token, Kant calls not for a world government (Völkerstaat) but only a federation of peoples (Völkerbund). “This federation,” he writes, “does not aim to acquire any power like that of a state, but merely to preserve and

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secure the freedom of each state in itself, along with that of the other confederated states” (104). Kant does not grant this central authority any specific powers or means. Instead he relies on the combined power of its members to keep the peace. Nevertheless, he is convinced that, under specific conditions, it could be sufficient to achieve both international right, regulating the conduct of states with regard to one another, and cosmopolitan right, directly securing the rights of individuals as citizens of the world. Kant had endorsed the idea of a world state in his earlier “Idea for a Universal History” (1784) and again with some misgivings in “Theory and Practice” (1793). In these essays he was convinced that the horrors of war and the lawlessness of international relations require that states, like individuals, should “abandon[] a lawless state of savagery and enter[] a federation of peoples in which every state . . . could expect to derive its security and rights not from its own power or its own legal judgment, but solely from this great federation  .  .  . from a united power and the law-governed decisions of a united will.”2 In 1795, however, he concluded that, although an “international state (civitas gentium)” or “world republic” is the “only one rational way in which states coexisting with other states can emerge from the lawless condition of pure warfare,” not only “the will of the nations” (105) but also other, more philosophical considerations speak against it. On the one hand, world government would entail dissolving existing states, in which right already exists. To the extent that these states “already have lawful internal constitutions,” they have “outgrown the coercive right of others to subject them to a wider legal constitution” (104, cf. 102). On the other hand, a universal state would simply be too large to govern lawfully or equitably; it would inevitably degenerate into “a soulless despotism,” then “finally lapse into anarchy” (113–14).3 Thus, while a global federation is second-best, a “substitute for the union of civil society” (104), it is the most Kant feels can be achieved. Probably the most celebrated argument of “Perpetual Peace” comes in its “First Definitive Article,” where Kant announces what has come to be known as the “democratic peace hypothesis”4—the claim that republics would foreswear war (at least against one another, as the thesis was subsequently refined). Despite his misgivings about the Peace of Basel, Kant seems to have seen hope for this prospect in the appearance of republican France on the world stage: “if by good fortune one powerful and enlightened nation can form a republic  .  .  . this will provide a

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focal point for federal association among other states” (104). But Kant was not a democrat in our sense. Like nearly all pre-nineteenth-century thinkers, he took a dim view of the rule of the people: “democracy, in the truest sense of the word, is necessarily a despotism, because it establishes an executive power through which all the citizens may make decisions about (and indeed against) the single individual without his consent” (101). Kant thus distinguishes between a democracy and a republic, defining the latter by two criteria. The first, which he foregrounds, is roughly what we now call constitutionalism: a republic is based on the separation of executive and legislative power, legal equality, and the rule of law. It is not clear how any of this would prevent war, however, and Kant does not claim it would. This function falls to the second criterion: a republic requires “the consent of the citizens,” who “will have great hesitation in embarking on so dangerous an enterprise” (100). What is odd here is that this regime’s defining feature, constitutionalism and more specifically the separation of powers, cannot ensure his larger purpose. Perpetual peace would result from the will of the people, but Kant provides no institutional guarantee that they will have the final say. Indeed, on his view, the “spirit of a representative system” is better served by an aristocracy or, best of all, a monarchy than by actually giving the people effective power (101).5 This may have been the author’s concession to political reality. Kant lived under an absolutist monarch, the wrath of whose censor he had felt just months before. A case can thus be made that Kant’s remarks on republicanism should be read as “exoteric” in Leo Strauss’s sense: Kant could not publicly challenge the Prussian state. This could help account for the two appendices that conclude “On Perpetual Peace”: the first explaining why the “moral politician” should do his moral duty (“all politics must bend the knee before right” [125]), the second calling for the abolition of arcana imperii and the introduction of transparency into public affairs (“All actions affecting the rights of other human beings are wrong if their maxim is not compatible with their being made public” [126]). It would also help explain the “Second Supplement,” the sole addition to the essay’s second printing a few months after the first. Here Kant adds a “Secret Article” (a joke, since he has called for the abolition of secret diplomacy) to his hypothetical treaty: “The maxims of the philosophers on the conditions under which public peace is possible shall be consulted by states which are armed for war”

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(115). Since rulers will find it beneath their dignity to consult philosophers directly, the medium for this communication is the public sphere; hence the state should “allow [philosophers] to speak freely and publicly.” Kant thereby reassures his presumed audience, Friedrich Wilhelm II— who in his person violates the “First Definitive Article” on republican government—that open public debate can foster enlightenment without threatening stability (ibid.; cf. 93). In effect, the ruler need not fear the public sphere because it is harmless, but should heed it because it is likely to be right. A final innovation of “Perpetual Peace” comes when Kant points to objective trends that support the plausibility of his proposal. Aside from the spread of republican government (a distant prospect in 1795), Kant pins his hopes on the spread of the “spirit of commerce,” which “cannot exist side by side with war” (114)—the basis for his famous observation that “the peoples of the earth have thus entered in varying degrees into a universal community, and it has developed to the point where a violation of rights in one part of the world is felt everywhere” (107– 8). These comments are echoed in his “Third Definitive Article,” which explains that “cosmopolitan right” requires states to grant individuals a “right to hospitality” (though not to settlement) in order to promote trade and communication. But the argument then takes an unexpected turn. For, beyond supplying evidence that his vision “is not just an empty idea” (130)—in Habermas’s paraphrase, that “naturally occurring tendencies . . . meet reason halfway”6—the “First Supplement” abruptly announces that “perpetual peace is guaranteed by no less an authority than the great artist Nature herself ” (108), by which, he explains in a footnote, he means God. Nature has done this by creating conditions that push human beings to do out of self-interest what they should do out of duty—first create a plurality of states, then establish international and cosmopolitan right. Strikingly, nature’s tool for this is nothing other than what Kant seeks to abolish, namely, war. Competition and specifically war create the impetus for law and civil order, the arts and sciences, public spiritedness, and the spread of civilization (109–12). As Kant affirms, “nature comes to the aid of the universal and rational human will, so admirable in itself but so impotent in practice”; “nature does it herself, whether we are willing or not” (112).7 What is strange here is that the essay as a whole presents the abolition of war as a moral duty, a practical task. Does not this guarantee make the task redundant,

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especially since its nonfulfillment—indeed, its violation—turns out to promote, even “guarantee,” the very same end? In sum, Kant’s “On Perpetual Peace” describes a peaceful global order built on the rule of law, human rights, and representative government, based on the consent of states to the federation and of citizens to each state. In this respect, he expresses the commitment to universal freedom and equality that underlies his philosophy as a whole. But this vision is no mere utopia; Kant means to outline a project that can be realized. And while his followers have amended his model in various ways, they continue to seek such a balance between moral ambition and feasibility. Yet it is precisely Kant’s efforts to strike such a balance, to account for how his model might emerge from existing institutions and practices, that lead to the essay’s deeper peculiarities. In laying out Kant’s vision I have emphasized three: • the form of republicanism Kant prescribes (the separation of powers and the rule of law) seems unequal to accomplishing the task he sets for it (abolishing war because the people will be against it); • the practical task he prescribes (peace) is guaranteed by a plan of nature that proceeds by precisely the means he hopes to abolish (war); and • he otherwise relies for the sweeping change he seeks on a mechanism he insists is without political force of its own (publicity). All three of these difficulties, I will now show, express tensions that grow out of Kant’s attempts to bridge the two worlds of his metaphysics. In Kant’s ethics, we saw in the last chapter, this gave rise to tensions between form and substance, on one level, and justification and application, on another. A happy consequence of this, it turned out, was that Kant’s ethics could be saved from its limitations by turning its form (its universality) against its substance (the limits on its scope or application). Kant’s politics face similar difficulties negotiating between the realm of freedom and the realm of nature. For Kant, the realm of freedom, the noumenal or intelligible realm, is the domain of the will—the sphere of reason, accessible only to the intellect. On this level, reason determines what we ought to do. The realm of nature, on the other hand, the phenomenal or sensible realm, is the domain of cause and effect. On this level, Kant’s challenge is to explain how we can imagine the moral destiny of

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the human race—a cosmopolitan world—actually coming into being. The central problem of Kant’s practical philosophy is that the two levels are in tension, so that although he can describe a just world, he has serious difficulty imagining how it could be achieved. Kant connects these realms in three ways, corresponding to (a) his theory of right, (b) his philosophy of history, and (c) his view of publicity. As we will now see, none of them successfully reconciles his moral aspirations with the challenges of politics. (a) The first peculiarity I noted in “On Perpetual Peace” is that, although Kant posits the spread of republican government as the foundation of perpetual peace, he defines republicanism in such a weak form—as constitutionalism (the separation of powers and the rule of law) and the ruler’s voluntary compliance with the will of the people—that it cannot, by his own reckoning, have the desired effect. While he believes the people will reject war, he fails to equip them with the power to turn this rejection into state policy. This reflects a deeper tension in Kant’s political theory that is most familiar from his writings on revolution. Kant was a convinced (if, as we have seen, not entirely consistent) moral egalitarian, a passionate devotee of Rousseau, and enough of a partisan of the French Revolution to earn a reputation as an “Old Jacobin.” As he writes in “The Contest of the Faculties” (after the events of the Terror were well known), “this revolution has aroused in the hearts and desires of all spectators who are not themselves caught up in it a sympathy which borders almost on enthusiasm,” which “cannot . . . have been caused by anything other than a moral disposition within the human race.” But Kant applauds this “passion or enthusiasm” only insofar as it is disinterested, “directed exclusively towards the ideal,” “without the slightest intention of actively participating in [revolutionary] affairs.”8 Kant can applaud republicanism but not republican revolution because throughout his political writings he maintains that “all resistance against the supreme legislative power, all incitement of the subjects to violent expressions of discontent, all defiance which breaks out into rebellion, is the greatest and most punishable crime in a commonwealth. . . . This prohibition is absolute,” he insists, “even if the power of the state or its agent, the head of sate, has violated the original contact by authorizing the government to act tyrannically.”9 Kant is led to this conclusion by his theory of right. Kantian ethics, famously, focuses on intentions: the only unqualified good is a good

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will. This follows from his view that freedom and morality exist in the noumenal realm and must be grasped from the perspective of reason. A good will can be determined apart from any of its empirical influences or consequences; the moral law (the categorical imperative) is nothing other than the form of a good will. Since intentions are invisible, however, they cannot serve as a basis for law and government. Right is Kant’s way of translating the requirements of morality into external, objective terms. Like the categorical imperative, right can be known a priori. It is formal, not prescribing any specific action (or law), but providing a test of whether an action (or law) is permitted. Nevertheless, it allows us to determine how a state should be organized: “Every action which by itself or by its maxim enables the freedom of each individual’s will to co-exist with the freedom of everyone else in accordance with a general law is right.”10 And, in order for such a law to be compatible with everyone’s freedom, right “requires no less than the will of the entire people (since all men decide for all men and each decides for himself).”11 As an ideal, then, right amounts to the unlimited generalization of private and public freedom: everyone should be an equal author of laws that are themselves limited only by the equal freedom of each individual—or, in a Habermasian paraphrase: democracy should be limited only by the rights required to ensure that it is equally effective for every citizen. Like many key Kantian concepts, however, right is amphibolous; it plays two roles at once. Thus, while right commands that the law maximize individual and collective autonomy, it also “entails the authority to apply coercion to anyone who infringes it.”12 While it prescribes a republican constitution, it also authorizes whatever state happens to exist, however little it approximates the ideal. This is because the condition of possibility of right is a social contract, an effective system of law and government. For Kant as for Hobbes, the people exist as a community only when they are represented as such, when they are united under a sovereign: “a state of right becomes possible only through submission to his universal legislative will.”13 To challenge the ruler is thus to challenge the very basis of right: rebellion breaks the contract that makes the people into a people in the first place. This is why for Kant “any legal constitution, even if it is only in small measure lawful, is better than none at all” (118n). Rebellion is thus, in a sense, logically prohibited: “it would be an obvious contradiction if the constitution included a law for such eventualities, entitling the people to overthrow the constitution.”14 The

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bivalence of right, however, means that this prohibition is not only legal but also moral: while right calls for the universalization of freedom and equality, it also affirms an absolute duty of obedience. The difficulty with Kantian right is thus that while in principle it opens law to morality, in practice it reduces morality to law. As an insistence on morality, right serves as a basis for orientation and criticism. It allows us to argue that an existing constitution should be changed to approximate the ideal. As a theory of political obligation, however, right justifies the law and the state as they are. In this it unites two opposing functions of social contract theory. Rousseau, for instance, offers what could be called a critical contractarianism: he describes a perfectly legitimate democratic order no real state could achieve. The main function of Hobbes’s contract, in contrast, is to justify political order per se, explaining why the citizen must obey the ruler (except, famously, on his way to the scaffold—a concession Kant does not make).15 Kant, in effect, grafts Rousseau onto Hobbes, establishing an absolute duty to obey, yet attaching to it an ideal vision of republican government based on popular sovereignty and the rule of law. A hypothetical contract thereby establishes the legitimacy of a real political order: an ideal of justice and equal freedom confers legitimacy on even an absolutist state. How then does the normative account bear on politics? The answer is likewise to be found on the moral level. Just as right gives the subject the duty to obey, it gives the ruler the duty to reform the state so as to approximate a republic: “even if this cannot be done all at once, [the ruler] is under obligation to change the kind of government gradually and continually so that it harmonizes in its effect with the only constitution that accords with right, that of a pure republic, in such a way that that the old (empirical) statutory forms, which served merely to bring about the submission of the people, are replaced by the original (rational) form, the only form which makes freedom the principle and indeed the condition for any exercise of coercion, as is required by a rightful constitution in the strict sense of the word.”16 Kant thus insists that “the people too have inalienable rights against the head of state, even if these cannot be rights of coercion,” and on this basis sees himself as refuting Hobbes. Although he does not contest Hobbes’s theory of obligation, Kant finds the idea of putting it forth without at least trying to convince the ruler that he should limit his powers “quite terrifying.”17 Kant’s views on rebellion have been controversial because it is hard to imagine—or to imagine

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Kant imagining—a ruler doing as morality prescribes, surrendering his power out of duty. The same logic holds at the level of states. Why would rulers (or powerful states) give up the advantages they enjoy under the current system in order to create a new, more rightful one? Kant’s answer is straightforward: because they should. Morality thus carries not only the justificatory but also the practical burden of the theory. As we will see, however, Kant does not leave it at that. Rather than rely on duty to carry out the dictates of right, he turns to nature to lend it a hand. (b) The second peculiarity I noted in “Perpetual Peace” is that although Kant presents a cosmopolitan order as an aspiration and a duty, its realization turns out to be “guaranteed.” Not only does “nature do it herself, whether we are willing or not”; she does so by the very means she seeks to overcome, namely war. Competition, conflict, and in the last instance war push people to join political associations, develop arts and sciences, and ultimately establish international and cosmopolitan right. This curious turn reflects a tension on another stratum of Kant’s thought: between morality and history. In historical perspective, there is nothing unusual about Kant’s two-world view. His doctrine of the “Kingdom of Ends,” the realm of which we are all virtually a part and in whose light we should act, can be regarded as a version of natural law or the City of God. What sets Kant apart is that he is also a pioneer of a new understanding of history, progressivism. As we have seen in chapter 1, according to progressivism, a view that took hold in the late eighteenth century, humanity advances through stages toward ever higher forms of civilization. The conjunction of a two-world view of morality and the doctrine of progress means that Kant’s ideal is neither an abstract guide for action nor deferred to another world or the end of history. It can, should, and will be realized on Earth.18 The peculiarity I have noted is that Kant believes that this will occur not through human agency alone, but is guaranteed by providence. The kernel of Kant’s philosophy of history is sketched in his “Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose” (1784), where his question is how history can be regarded as meaningful, as moving toward what he described in the Critique of Pure Reason as the “highest good”— the point at which duty and happiness coincide and a Kingdom of Ends is established on Earth. It is important to note that for Kant this is not an immediately practical question. Practically, one should act according

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to duty and follow the moral law, come what may. Kant’s reflections on history rather seek a basis for thinking that moral action will not be in vain—only a practical matter to the extent that the individual may not be motivated to act at all if she sees the world as hopeless.19 To see the world optimistically, for Kant, is to see it teleologically. We do this by positing that “all the natural capacities of a creature are destined sooner or later to be developed completely and in conformity with the end.” To be sure, this will not happen all at once: “in man . . . those natural capacities which are directed towards the use of his reasons are such that they could be fully developed only in the species, but not in the individual.”20 The engine of this development is “antagonism” or “unsocial sociability.” Nature has implanted certain vices in humankind in order to ensure that it progresses. Thus, “the desire for honour, power or property” “drives [man] to seek status among his fellows, who[m] he cannot bear yet cannot bear to leave.” This less than admirable side of human nature “awakens all man’s powers and induces him to overcome his tendency to laziness.” “Unsocial sociability,” like Hobbesian Vainglory or Rousseauian amour propre, is at the root of oppression, organized violence, corruption, luxury, and decadence. Yet without “social incompatibility, enviously competitive vanity, and insatiable desire for possession or even power,” “all man’s excellent natural capacities would never be roused to develop.”21 Kant’s philosophy of history thus picks up a common eighteenthcentury paradox probably most familiar from Rousseau: not only do humanity’s vices—violence, greed, pride, hypocrisy—advance with civilization (culture, the arts and sciences); they are its principal engine.22 Yet Kant takes over this paradox only to introduce a saving turn at the end. After competition and conflict see to it that civilization advances to a certain level, morality will take over from nature. Duty will replace pride, greed, and self-interest, reconciling civilization with morality and retroactively redeeming history. But Kant specifies that it is only after unsocial sociability sees to it that human beings cultivate their abilities, join civil society, and establish (outward) “right,” first nationally, then globally, that the preconditions will be established for the moralization of human affairs. As he explains: “nature within man tries to lead him from culture to morality and not (as reason prescribes) from morality to law.”23 In other words, first comes culture, by which humankind develops its capacities, though not necessarily its morality; then right, which can coordinate the actions even of “a race of devils”; and only then the Kingdom of Ends, the

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generalization of morality. Even the relatively advanced condition of his own civilization, Kant thought, would remain morally abject— “nothing but illusion and outwardly glittering misery”—until it undergoes this saving transformation: “The human race will no doubt remain in this condition until it has worked itself out of the chaotic state of its political relations.”24 For Kant, then, it is not morally inspired human action that will realize perpetual peace, but nature working through unsocial sociability. This is why, although Kant condemns European imperialism on moral grounds, he concedes that Europe “will probably legislate eventually for all other continents.”25 Indeed, to the extent that, as we saw in the last chapter, he regards non-Europeans as incapable of progressing on their own, it is hard to see how else his cosmopolitan order could be achieved. Here Kant’s restriction of the principle of “humanity” to rational, purposeful activity, which I discussed in chapter 2, reveals its significance: the more cultured, and therefore more human, must spread civilization to the less human. Gayatri Spivak dramatizes the issue nicely.26 She notes that in the course of arguing for a teleological view of history in The Critique of Judgment, Kant adduces two examples. When he considers the Firelander or New Hollander (the aboriginal inhabitants of Tierra del Fuego or Australia), neither of whom exhibit any tendency to progress on their own, it is not obvious to him “why it is necessary that man should exist.”27 As Spivak points out, in fact these particular men wouldn’t exist much longer: the Fuegans were wiped out in the nineteenth century; Australia’s native inhabitants fared somewhat better, though a similar genocide eliminated the entire aboriginal population of Tasmania. The examples are of course incidental, and no one suggests that Kant would condone, let alone justify, them. Indeed, within the terms of his moral and political philosophy, Kant, unlike liberals such as Locke or the Mills, who justified the dispossession of “less civilized” peoples, was a passionate anti-imperialist and argued forcefully that more powerful and advanced peoples had no right to encroach on less advanced ones.28 Nevertheless, on Kant’s view, for humanity to achieve its vocation, it must somewhat be brought up to higher levels of culture or civilization. This tension within Kant’s thought reflects the fact that for him, no less than for Hegel, progress is forged on the slaughterbench of history. As Kant warns in his Anthropology, “education from [providence] is salutary but

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harsh and stern; nature works it out by way of great hardships, to the extent of nearly destroying the whole race.”29 “The core value of universality in Kant’s ethics,” writes Robert Loudon, the leading commentator on Kant’s “impure ethics,” “refers to the hard and painful work of making the world moral—of figuring out what changes in human institutions and practices need to be made so that all members of the species will be brought into the moral community.”30 We might ask on behalf of Spivak’s Fuegans: hard and painful for whom?31 Yet we should also note that Kant’s philosophy of history raises the possibility of another reading of his remarks on rebellion. As mentioned earlier, when he looks for “an event which has actually occurred [that] might suggest that man has the quality or power of being the cause and . . . author of his own improvement,” he singles out the French Revolution.32 From the standpoint of right, he can endorse only the event’s spectators, who applaud the idea rather than the fact of the Revolution, not its actors, who are guilty of a terrible crime. But, from the standpoint of history, the Revolution can be seen as evidence of progress—a “historical sign” of the “hope” that “after many revolutions, with all their transforming effects, the highest purpose of nature, a universal cosmopolitan existence, will at last be realized as the matrix within which all the original capacities of the human race may develop.”33 In “On Perpetual Peace” Kant even suggests that the Revolution may be nature’s way of prodding Europe’s rulers to do for pragmatic reasons what they should do out of regard for right: “political prudence, with things as they are at present, will make it a duty to carry out reforms appropriate to the ideal of public right. But where revolutions are brought about by nature alone, it will not use them as a good excuse for even greater oppression, but will treat them as a call of nature to create a lawful constitutions based on the principles of freedom” (118–19n). Kant does see a role for democratic revolution, then, but only in the same sense that he sees a role for imperialism as civilizing mission—as the immoral means by which nature realizes the destiny of our species behind our backs. The two cases are in fact precisely parallel: in the case of right as well as that of history, reason prescribes an end (a republic, a cosmopolitan order), but morality proscribes the likeliest means of attaining it (revolution, imperialism). It is then up to providence—nature working through history—to make up the difference, by means to which morality could never consent. However deplorable the concrete manifestations

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of the ruthless workings of progress—and in flat contradiction with the prescriptions of morality and right—they are the vehicle for the eventual redemption of the species. I will indicate further on how the tension underlying this scheme returns in contemporary cosmopolitanism. But, before I do, first let me turn to a possible way out of this dilemma. (c) We glimpsed this alternative at two places in “Perpetual Peace”: in the “Second Appendix” and the “Second Supplement,” where Kant calls for transparency in politics and freedom of speech. The principle underlying them is usually taken to be Kant’s via media between the impotence of morality and the harsh tutelage of nature. For Kant, unlike Hegel, reason does not work itself out only behind actors’ backs; it also does so publicly, through debate and deliberation. Here the agent of progress is neither the conscience of rulers nor the “ruse of nature” but enlightenment. Indeed, the best-known sentence of “On Perpetual Peace” points to the effects of a nascent global public sphere, for which trade serves merely as a material basis: it is because “the people of the earth have thus entered in varying degrees into a universal community”—through communication, cosmopolitan fellowship, a growing awareness of right—that “a violation of rights in one part of the world is felt everywhere” (108). Today it is this aspect of Kant’s thought, rather than his theory of right or history, that is celebrated as his central legacy, by some commentators even as the key to his philosophy as a whole.34 It also exerts the greatest influence on contemporary cosmopolitanism. My question is whether enlightenment really is able to bear the weight contemporary readers assign it, namely, of mediating between Kant’s theories of right and history. What, then, is the political content of Kantian enlightenment? In “What Is Enlightenment?” (1784, the same year as “Idea for a Universal History”) Kant heralds the process by which humanity educates and improves itself through the public use of reason. Kant argues that “the public use of man’s reason”—the use of reason “as a man of learning addressing the entire reading public”—“must always be free.” The “private use of reason,” in contrast—“in a particular civil post or office”—“may quite often be very narrowly restricted . . . without undue hindrance to the progress of enlightenment.”35 As long as I dutifully serve the system as it is, I should be free to argue hypothetically about how it could be improved. I thereby cultivate my own and others’ reason, raise the general level of debate, and help generate ideas for reform. This hope for

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moral-intellectual improvement through open public discussion, we may note, runs through the history of liberalism, but it may be that in this case its deeper roots lie in Kant’s dualism: only in the republic of letters, the terrestrial analogue to the noumenal realm, am I truly free.36 And since the public realm embodies a principle of rationality, it can serve as a means of discovering and promoting “right” in the conduct of government and the design of legislation. The limits of this position become clear, however, as soon as we ask how, practically speaking, the conclusions of this public use of reason are to take effect. While Kant requires that “the citizen must, with the approval of the ruler, be entitled to make public his opinion on whatever of the ruler’s measures seem to him to constitute an injustice against the commonwealth,” the citizen enjoys this freedom only because and to the extent that he does not act on his opinions. While the “freedom of the pen is the only safeguard of the rights of the people” (since other, more direct means have been ruled out), “it must not transcend the bounds of respect and devotion towards the existing constitution.”37 The public’s use of reason, that is, can only indirectly affect politics; it is up to the ruler whether to accept the results of public deliberation. Reason remains subordinate to power; the freedom of the public sphere is conditional on its having no direct impact on politics. Indeed, insofar as “the possession of power inevitably corrupts the free judgment of reason” (115), the public sphere can only fulfill its truth-and-morality-generating function if it is not burdened by the need to make decisions. What enlightenment concretely entails for Kant is thus an educated public debating the general interest, then submitting its conclusions for the ruler’s consideration. Enlightenment is not an alternative to the theory of right, but a mechanism for discovering and encouraging it. It is finally worth noting that, his carefully qualified enthusiasm for the French Revolution notwithstanding, Kant finds this situation— where, from a political perspective, the use of public reason informs but narrowly concentrated power chooses—fully in order. Kant’s enthusiasm for public debate should not confused with a desire for broad political participation, let alone a commitment to what would now call equality or democracy. Though pleased to “live in an age of enlightenment,” Kant emphasizes that he does not yet “live in an enlightened age.” Owing to “laziness and cowardice”—as well as civilizational difference and even genetic predisposition—most people are in his view not ready to emerge

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from their “self-incurred immaturity.”38 Pushing them prematurely along the path to freedom is only likely to lead to new forms of despotism. This elitism and conservatism is doubled and redoubled in Kant’s theory: just as reform depends on the ruler, progress depends on Europe; just as citizenship should be restricted to economically independent men, the public sphere is the preserve of an educated elite. In all these ways, the theory is consistent with Kant’s answer to the question, “What sequence can progress be expected to follow?”: “not the usual sequence from the bottom upwards, but from the top downwards.”39 t



In Kant’s accounts of right, history, and enlightenment we find an acute tension. While his practical philosophy can determine what ought to be—a republican constitution, a cosmopolitan world order—Kant offers conflicting accounts of how it might come about. Either, on the theory of right, rulers will act out of duty, without regard to advantage or inclination (supported, on the theory of enlightenment, by public discussion)—a prospect in which he seems to set little stock—or, on the theory of history, providence will ensure that, although everyone acts contrary to right, their actions will turn out to have the desired effect. Let us further note that in all three accounts the agent of transformation is the same: those who benefit from present injustice (rulers, imperialists) will, knowingly or unknowingly, bring about a republic, then a pacific federation, then finally a moralized cosmopolitan condition. In short, the perspective of right and duty, on the one hand, and that of progress and hope, on the other, are in hopeless contradiction, and the only mechanism for bridging them, publicity, lacks any force of its own. This tension runs through the heart of Kant’s cosmopolitanism. Thus, while he passionately denounces European expansionism, he seems regards it as necessary to create a universal human community. In view of actual European practices, for example, he sympathizes with China and Japan for closing their borders (106–7). Their doing so, however, violates the sole principle of cosmopolitan right, the right to hospitality, and thereby blocks the diffusion of European norms and practices on which his cosmopolitan hopes ultimately depend. Thomas McCarthy aptly sums up Kant’s logic here as a “dialectic of progress” that operates through “developmentally functional evil”: “[Kant] sharply condemns the con-

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temporary forms of European settlement and colonization on grounds of morality and right. And yet, it seems that he cannot but rely on them for teleological purposes, that is, precisely as the vehicles at that time for the spread of European culture and civilization, law and religion throughout the world.”40 Much as, according to Adorno, wrong life cannot be lived rightly, in a “wrong,” unjustly organized world, doing the right thing (respecting the universal right to hospitality) will have the wrong effect (facilitating European imperialism).41 Yet—and this is the deeper paradox of Kantian progress—precisely this wrong, by spreading the principles and practices of civilization, paves the way to perpetual peace. This tension between Kant’s theories of right and politics recalls his ethics insofar as he prescribes a condition that would respect the equal freedom and dignity of all, but betrays it in the execution. And, to a certain extent, as with his ethics, the deficits of Kant’s political theory are corrigible within the terms of his theory. It is possible to replace Kant’s notional republic, in which the ruler is only morally obliged to respect the will of the people, with a real republic, in which they retain the final say through representative institutions; to replace his public sphere, in which a cultivated minority debates the common good, with an inclusive public sphere, in which all can participate; to read into Kant’s insistence on the consensual expansion of the Völkerbund the principle of the equality of states. But whereas Kant’s ethics is compromised by his prejudices (concerning race, sex, etc.), his politics founders on the problem of realization. If the principles of justice call for states and a global order in which each can see herself as author of all the laws that affect her, what are we to do when this condition is not even approximated, within states or between them? What is the Kantian response when citizenship and the public sphere are closed to all but a few? When the global federation of peoples or international and cosmopolitan law are dominated by powerful interests? We will not find answers to these questions in Kant—mainly, as Marx argued, because Kant’s main bridge between how the world is and how it should be is a matter of interpretation rather than action. In Kant’s ethicalpolitical system all the actor needs to know is her duty; she need not concern herself with the consequences of her actions, only with whether they are right.42 Today those who embrace Kant’s universalistic morality and political aims (republicanism and cosmopolitanism) are unlikely to join him in wanting to act rightly even if the hope of a positive outcome

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depends on everyone else acting wrongly. Contemporary cosmopolitans will want to know how the ends normative theory prescribes can be achieved—not by providence, but by human action. Precisely this question of realizing cosmopolitan goals—of who should do what to achieve them—marks the distinction between what I have called an ideal mode of political reflection and a more practical and political one. The first looks into the future and inquires into aims; it asks, as Kant put it in the first Critique, what we can hope for. The second stands in the present and asks what we should do. It is from the latter perspective that Kant’s legacy for contemporary cosmopolitanism becomes problematic. In the case of his politics even more than his ethics, the difficulties with Kant’s theory lie not simply in his regrettable views about women or non-Europeans or his limited conception of democracy, sovereignty, or justice, all of which are more or less easily corrected. The problem rather lies in the form of the theory. Kant’s theory of right provides a basis for criticizing existing states of affairs and setting long-term goals— indispensable moments of political thinking, but not sufficient in themselves. Just as ethics cannot be content to elaborate general principles but ought to provide guidance in concrete situations, politics cannot concern itself merely with how the world should be without also concerning itself with what should be done. Thus, in the case of Kant’s politics even more than his politics, it is more instructive to understand the reasons for his impasses and try to learn from them. For, as I will indicate in the second half of this chapter, contemporary cosmopolitans who no more share his Eurocentrism than his racism or sexism encounter precisely the same sort of problems he did, for formally identical reasons. It is at this level that contemporary cosmopolitanism inherits not only Kant’s laudable aspirations but also, as we will now see, his practical dilemmas. Cosmopolitan Democracy, Cosmopolitical Dilemmas

Few philosophers today embrace Kant’s metaphysical dualism, his rigoristic conception of duty, his absolutist theory of political legitimacy, or his providential view of progress. Just as neo-Kantian ethics has cleared away the layers of cultural and anthropological prejudice to find the core of Kantian universalism, thinkers associated with cosmopolitan democracy have updated his political theory to produce a vision of global order

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in tune with today’s assumptions and concerns. It is in this revised form that the Kantian model inspires today’s cosmopolitans. Yet they also follow his example in seeking at once a counterfactual ideal against which current institutions can be criticized and an aim toward which we should strive. The question this theory fails adequately to address is who should strive how—or, on a more Kantian register, how we can envision a better world coming about. As we will see, it is on this level, when it comes to judging political situations and choosing courses of action, that the deeper tensions of Kant’s model return in today’s cosmopolitanism. The balance of this chapter seeks to show that today’s cosmopolitans encounter similar practical difficulties, not only leaving us without a plausible account of a more cosmopolitan future, but, like Kant, contradicting the very principles on which their designs are based. I therefore begin by surveying the ways in which Kant’s political theory has been updated by contemporary theorists before turning to the means by which political cosmopolitanism helps us judge present problems. Cosmopolitan democracy is the umbrella term for a family of political theories of Kantian inspiration that have grown up since the end of the Cold War. Together, I take them to be contemporary political theory’s leading response to the cosmopolitan imperative. Advocated in broadly similar forms by David Held, Daniele Archibugi, Jürgen Habermas, Mary Kaldor, and Richard Falk,43 this paradigm builds on Kant’s legacy by calling for a just and peaceful global order based on the rule of law, respect for human rights, and liberal democracy. In the words of the editors of a trailblazing collection: “Cosmopolitan democracy is a political project which aims to engender greater public accountability in the leading processes and structural alterations of the contemporary world.”44 As an overarching project, cosmopolitan democracy is, like Kant’s proposal, at once utopian and modest: while it calls for an epochal break with the lawlessness that plagues international politics, it grounds the possibility of doing so in existing trends—even, as Kant could not, on existing institutions. Yet while the cosmopolitan democrats take up key elements of Kant’s vision—global federalism, international and cosmopolitan right, the pacific potentials of democracy, trade, and publicity—they also take significant steps beyond it. Cosmopolitan democrats inherit Kant’s desire to overcome war and the anarchy of international affairs. Unlike Kant, they take as their starting point the fact that states already have outlawed wars of aggression,

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first in the Kellogg-Briand Pact, then in the UN Charter. But cosmopolitan democrats go further. In a way that was not yet evident in Kant’s day, they argue, objective developments—economic, political, technological, cultural, demographic, ecological—now force us to think as citizens of the world: politics must become global because humanity’s most pressing challenges can only be met on a global level.45 Under the pressures of globalization, they argue, states can no longer fulfill the functions that have been their raison d’être. With a handful of exceptions, they can no longer effectively guarantee the security and well-being of their citizens and are helpless against new challenges ranging from mass migration to environmental degradation to organized crime to infectious disease to terrorism. Meanwhile, the last century showed that an international economy, which for Kant figured simply as a disincentive to war and a possible basis of global community, requires regulation. Already recognized at the end of World War II,46 this need is all the more obvious today. Aside from these functional imperatives, contemporary cosmopolitans also update Kant’s vision on the level of principle. Kant, for instance, limited “right” to the formal equality of citizens before the law; if it can be argued that he implicitly includes political rights, the right to a say in legislation, he specifically excluded what we now call social rights. Today, international recognition of social and even cultural rights has moved far beyond this classically liberal conception. Meanwhile, the rights set out in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and extended in subsequent agreements, even if for now only declarative, show that it is possible to extend such rights transnationally.47 Today’s cosmopolitans likewise go beyond Kant by insisting that global justice must have a material dimension and call for redistribution on a global scale, be it to satisfy a minimal threshold or a more egalitarian standard.48 Finally, the existence not just of the Bretton Woods institutions but the thick network of interdependence and governance shows that economic globalization and international arrangements are neither natural nor inevitable. To the extent that they are subject to political control, they can reasonably be subjected to considerations of justice.49 Today’s political cosmopolitans, in other words, argue for a conception of justice that is both wider (encompassing all the world’s people) and deeper (including political and social rights) than Kant’s. As noted, Kant regarded “a civil society which can administer justice universally” as desirable but impracticable. Cosmopolitan democrats

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argue that this constraint has been overcome, relying in particular on two innovations that, in a sense, postdate Kant: representative democracy and dispersed sovereignty.50 Where for Kant democracy meant despotic majoritarianism, today we take it for granted that the people can be represented in elected, law-governed institutions. Likewise, the alternative Kant wrestled with—between a world republic, mandated by right but inherently dangerous, and a federation of peoples, less dangerous but fragile and toothless—arose from his unitary conception of sovereignty.51 Just as we now have experience with liberal democracy, we can now call on models of divided or disaggregated sovereignty. This allows cosmopolitan democrats to push Kant’s federalism much further, dividing responsibilities between different levels of government—local, state, interstate (treaties), regional, global.52 Here they most often appeal to the principle of subsidiarity, a model for which exists in the EU: where possible, matters should be decided by local representatives; where functional imperatives or considerations of justice require national, regional, or global norms, they should be framed in general terms and their implementation left to lower, more accountable levels.53 To the extent that each level is organized as democratically as possible, the result would approximate the ideal on which all citizens could be regarded as the authors of the laws under which they live. At the same time, the possibilities of federalism and multilevel governance also allow cosmopolitan democrats to propose much more effective central authorities than Kant imagined. While Kant’s federation of peoples was merely a forum of states, they assign it a wider range of functions and equip it with institutions corresponding to the traditional three branches of government.54 Models vary, but most cosmopolitans agree that there should be some kind of global legislature that is more democratic than today’s UN General Assembly;55 a more accountable and effective executive, perhaps based on the Security Council and Secretariat, with independent sources of revenue and even its own armed forces;56 and an expansion and deepening of the existing international justice system.57 Here they note that the growth of international law and the creation of the UN and the International Court have produced a weak but operational form of Kant’s “international right,” while the rise of human rights norms and the nascent system of international criminal law form the germ of a “cosmopolitan right” that would directly protect individuals, against their own states if necessary.

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One thing that unites the proposals of the cosmopolitan democrats is that, although they call for much stronger central authorities than Kant, they follow him in not advocating a global state. They typically accomplish this by assigning this power not to what could be called a political institution strictly speaking, equipped with specific powers, but to international law, global constitutional procedures, the “community of (democratic) nations,” or “global civil society.” “The state in its modern form,” claims Habermas, who has gradually relaxed his position on the concentration of powers necessary to achieve cosmopolitan ends, “is not a necessary precondition of a constitutional order.”58 Accordingly, on his proposal central authority need “only” be responsible for keeping the peace and enforcing human rights, which he envisions as the application of treaty-based law. Other tasks, from economic regulation to environmental protection, can be handled by global and regional coordinating bodies. More ambitious proposals, like David Held’s, place more statelike functions at the center of a web of global institutions, but they too call for sovereignty to be dispersed throughout the system. Although these various global structures would not be a state, however, on all accounts they would significantly limit states’ sovereignty, regulating them and intervening into their affairs—with force if necessary. In sum, while cosmopolitan democrats argue over details—to what extent a cosmopolitan system would require statelike institutions at the global level, how democratic it could be at the highest levels, how exactly its powers would be organized—they agree on the broad outlines of a more desirable world order. Like Kant’s ideal, it would be universal, consensual, lawful, and federal, based on the rule of law, representative democracy, and human rights. Like cosmopolitan ethics, this program goes beyond Kant’s vision but remains within its orbit—and, indeed, is arguably truer to the spirit of his universalism than his own proposal. On this ideal level, then, the main objection to cosmopolitan democracy is that it is inherently impossible or undesirable. Some critics insist that democracy can only function on a certain scale; beyond it, the concentration of power at the global level would inevitably come at the expense of elected national governments and produce the “soulless despotism” of which Kant warned.59 Cosmopolitans reply that even if their proposals created something like a world government, it would be supple and selflimiting enough to avoid becoming a global Leviathan.60

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Let us assume that they are right and that cosmopolitan democracy, whatever form it might take, is both desirable and in principle achievable— in Rawls’s phrase, a “realistic utopia.” Quite a different concern is that this vision might be subject to tensions and paradoxes like those we saw in the case of Kant— that although cosmopolitan democracy may be desirable and even feasible, the effort to implement it would necessarily undermine the values on which it rests. As Heikko Patomäki observes, “Held is concerned with detailed prescriptions about how global governance should be organized but has very little to say about who could (or would like to) realize his vision, under what circumstances, and with what consequences.”61 Chantal Mouffe makes a similar point when she allows that Held’s project “might look like an attractive prospect,” but asks, “how is it to be done?” Her answer: “given the enormous disparity of power among its members, it is completely unrealistic to believe in the possibility of reforming the United Nations in order to simultaneously strengthen them and to make them more democratic. . . . Whatever its guise, the implementation of a cosmopolitan order would in fact result in the imposition of one single model, the liberal democratic one, onto the whole world. In fact it would mean bringing more people directly under the control of the West, with the argument that its model is better suited to the implementation of human rights and universal values.”62 With these objections we shift from the first, ideal type of political theory to the second, practical one. Patomäki and Mouffe’s contention is that none of these proposals squarely confronts the problem that cosmopolitan democracy calls for a massive transfer of rights, resources, and power from existing institutions to more inclusive and egalitarian ones, from those advantaged by current arrangements to those disadvantaged by them. States, above all the most powerful, would have to surrender many of their prerogatives, the citizens and beneficiaries of these states many of their privileges. Cosmopolitan democracy is a hugely ambitious undertaking, one that begs large practical questions. Who or what could bring such institutions into being and how? What does the cosmopolitan ideal authorize or prohibit? Who should do what in its name? What is to prevent it from being co-opted by the dominant powers and interests? Questions of this order, as we have seen, are at the root of the problems with Kant’s own cosmopolitics. I now turn to how leading cosmopolitans have answered them in concrete cases that have arisen since the end of

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the Cold War. As we will see, their answers echo the structural problems of the Kantian model. (a) The first problem I noted in Kant’s practical philosophy concerns his primary bridge between morality and politics, his theory of right. It is essentially a moral vision of politics, a blueprint for institutions as they should be according to the principle of equal freedom. The theory’s ambiguity arises mainly from the fact that is made to do double duty: on the one hand, right provides a normative standard for the criticism and possible reform of existing arrangements; on the other, it provides a justification of their legitimacy. One problem with this is that it can easily become a defense of the status quo: even arrangements that are transparently unjust can be defended on the grounds that they establish the preconditions for justice. The theory, that is, can encourage us to confuse what is with what ought to be: by understanding institutions first of all in terms of their justifications, we risk confounding their ideal with their actual operation. But probably the theory’s greatest deficiency concerns action. To the extent that Kantian right defends the legitimacy of existing arrangements, it is obliged to leave the changes it advocates to those in power. What are the implications of this model for concrete political judgments? One possible application of the theory of right is that, by emphasizing the normative-critical moment, we remain in the realm of the ideal, condemning reality for its failure to live up to the model. Of the theorists discussed, this tendency is, I think, most evident in the work of Daniele Archibugi, through it runs through that of other cosmopolitans as well. Take an example to which I will return: the 1999 Kosovo crisis. When reports began to circulate in the Western media that Slobodan Milošević was planning to revisit the Bosnian horror on the Albanian-speaking majority in Kosovo, Western intellectuals and governments saw a chance to redeem their earlier failures. New center-left governments in London and Berlin were eager to take up the challenge and were soon joined by Bill Clinton’s White House. The Chinese and Russian governments took a different view, however, and Security Council approval was not forthcoming. In the end, NATO acted where the UN would not, the rump Yugoslavia was bombed, mass persecution and flight ensued in Kosovo, and the Kosovars were finally returned to what remained of their homes under NATO and subsequently UN protection, displacing much of Kosovo’s Serbian population.

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The construal of the situation that led to NATO’s intervention was and is controversial; whether NATO’s action prevented a catastrophe or precipitated one remains contested.63 But for now let us take this depiction at face value and consider the dilemma it posed. For cosmopolitans, morality and law seemed to be at loggerheads in Kosovo: they had to choose between respecting international law and possibly allowing ethnic cleansing or overriding international law and intervening militarily, as NATO did. Most of the cosmopolitans discussed here favored the second option, though not without misgivings.64 Only Archibugi firmly opposed it. Commenting on Tony Blair’s claim that “‘it’s right for the international community to use military force to prevent genocide and protect human rights,’” Archibugi noted, “[Blair’s] argument  .  .  . says nothing about which authority may use force to violate state sovereignty, who such an alternative should be used against or which human rights have to be protected.” Archibugi insisted that “it is necessary for intervention to be legitimated by new, meta-state institutions, to prevent the slogan “humanitarian intervention” being used as a cover for narrow geopolitical interests.”65 As a general principle, then, “genuine humanitarian interventions . . . could only be carried out by the institutions and organizations that have the vocation and competence to do so.”66 The obvious problem with this position is its lack of application. Even if practicable in this case—or generally, if we judge that on balance humanitarian intervention in the absence of such institutions is likely to do more harm than good—it amounts to a strategy of indefinite deferral. Such interventions could be permissible, but only under circumstances that do not prevail and are unlikely to anytime soon. Archibugi’s approach to secessionist claims is the same: competing nationalisms could only be adjudicated within a just global order.67 This tendency to make concrete problems into arguments for a (more) just world order is widespread in cosmopolitan writings. Contemplating the problems of contemporary human rights politics, for instance, Habermas argues that “fundamentalism about human rights is to be avoided not by giving up on the politics of human rights, but rather only through the cosmopolitan transformation of the state of nature among states into a legal order.”68 And Held responded to 9/11 and the US response to it by calling for a comprehensive reform of international law and institutions.69 Such longterm remedies may indeed be the only real solution to the challenges

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of globalized politics, but they fail to address the question of what to do here and now. Could such interventions ever be warranted in the absence of such an order? How just would this order have to be? And how is it to be achieved? The Kantian approach to these matters, at least on the theory of right, would be Archibugi’s: for the time being we should accept the verdict of the constituted authorities, international law, and the UN, but at the same time we should encourage the reform of these institutions. The problem with this is that, as cosmopolitan critics—Archibugi foremost among them70—have long argued, this system leaves much to be desired, and their internal capacity for reform is anything but clear. Far from embodying the principle of equal freedom (of states, let alone individuals), today’s international institutions reflect the interests of the powerful. They were created with this in mind, incorporating devices such as the veto of the permanent Security Council members in order to secure the active cooperation of the great powers and thus avoid the irrelevance into which the League of Nations sank as soon as it was created.71 This means that the UN system, like international law in general, is to a large extent based on the facticity of power, allowing great powers—especially the great power—to use it for their own purposes, even as it struggles to constrain them. And if accepting the legitimacy of existing institutions is problematic in a case like the UN, it is little short of ludicrous in the case of institutions like the IMF and the World Bank, whose service of dominant interests is transparent. The difficulty with at least provisionally relying on institutions as they are, as Kant would have us do, is thus that they always have a Janus face: such institutions represent the instantiation not only of principles of justice but also of prevailing power relations. It must be allowed that the very existence of such institutions is usually an improvement over the simple rule of the stronger. Echoing Kant’s claim that “any legal constitution, even if it is only in small measure lawful, is better than none at all,” Archibugi argues, “The strongest have no need for legality; all they need is force. It is the weakest who need to seek protection under the wing of law.”72 Moreover, to the extent that these institutions seek to secure general compliance on the basis of a claim to legitimacy, they are always based in part on a notion of justice that transcends given power relations. Étienne Balibar makes this point with a neat reversal of crude Marxian theories of ideology: if “domination by an established order does indeed rest . . . on the

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ideological universalization of its principle . . . the ‘dominant ideas’ cannot be those of the ‘dominant class.’ They have to be those of the ‘dominated,’ the ideas which state their theoretical right to recognition and equal capacity.”73 Yet at the same time these institutions seek to tame power, they always reflect and reinforce it, legitimize and naturalize it. This is why those who set their hopes in international law and institutions seldom have in mind in law and institutions as they are. The world order Archibugi, Held, and Habermas invoke against presentday imperialism is not the existing one, where institutions are often the tools of dominant interests, but the version of it they would like to bring into being. It is easy to see how this leads to dilemmas. By condemning the 2003 invasion of Iraq on the basis that it was a violation of international law, for example, we run the risk of forgetting that the decadelong strangulation of that country at US and UK insistence—a massive act of violence against the people of Iraq possibly more destructive of life than both Gulf Wars combined74—was perfectly legal, carried out with UN imprimatur because no major power had an interest in preventing it. “Rightful” institutions of the world order are not only a solution to the violence and injustices of that order; they are also, in their existing forms, an essential part and cause of it.75 The standpoint of right, then, can lead us to confuse institutions as they are with institutions as they should be, their normative justification with their actual operation. In appealing to utopia, to adapt Martti Koskenniemi’s formula, they amount to apology.76 While the intention is to submit facts to norms, this perspective risks, as Perry Anderson puts it, “norming facts”77—by considering actions or institutions from the standpoint of their normative justification and potential, conferring on them a legitimacy they do not deserve. Kantian right recognizes this by allowing any institution to be seen from two different perspectives: on the one hand, in terms of its justification; on the other, in terms of how it fails to realize the ideal to which this justification appeals. A careful balance between these two perspectives can point out what is wrong with present arrangements and suggest better alternatives. What it cannot do, however, is explain how these alternatives might be realized. Within the terms of philosophy of right, we saw, Kant was ultimately forced to appeal to the conscience of the king. Cosmopolitan democrats face a similar difficulty. To whom are their proposals addressed? This is typically unclear. Candidates include reformist tendencies within the UN, progressive forces within Western

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publics, parties, and governments, and “global civil society” (as we will see shortly); with few exceptions, however, their proposals are just that. Remaining on this Kantian terrain, it is unsurprising that the cosmopolitan democrats find themselves in his position: able to recommend attractive alternatives but unable to come up with a plausible account of how they might come about. Commenting on the wave of counterglobalization demonstrations that saw in the new millennium, Archibugi noted: “American settlers learnt first-hand that their political battle could not only be won by revolt. To free themselves from the British crown, they had to draw up a charter of rights and a constitution.”78 This is evidently the role Archibugi sees for cosmopolitan democrats: drawing up the institutions for a more equitable and democratic world. (They would then join the ethicists we met in chapter 2, who supply moral arguments for implementing these designs.) But the efficacy of the American founders’ work depended on a radical shift of political circumstances. Had they merely petitioned the king and Parliament with their designs, had Philadelphia not been accompanied by Lexington and Concord, Jefferson, Madison, and the rest would be remembered, if at all, as minor colonial reformers. This indicates the step that is missing from cosmopolitan democracy, leaving its proposals at a critical but ineffectual distance from reality, either protesting impotently against what is or inadvertently justifying it. The most common response to this problem, we will see shortly, is analogous to the Kantian principle of publicity. But first I would like show how some cosmopolitan democrats covertly borrow from his philosophy of history as well. (b) We saw that Kant’s attempt to solve this practical problem, his second bridge between “is” and “ought,” was a theory of progress. This led to his paradoxical hope that existing trends, through in themselves illegal, immoral, and at times horrifically destructive, could lay the basis for a cosmopolitan future. It is important to note that, unlike earlier theodicies (Leibniz) or later philosophies of history (Hegel), Kant’s theory of history in no way seeks to justify injustice. It does, however, rely on injustice to explain how a better world is possible. Of course today’s secular, postmetaphysical cosmopolitans do not argue for a providential redemption of history. All the same, the problems to which Kant’s reflections on history responded recur, often in very practical forms. How are cosmopolitan institutions to be established? How are democracy, human rights,

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and the rule of law to reach parts of the world now under tyranny? The greatest danger Kant’s view of history bequeaths to present-day cosmopolitanism, I suggest, is a belief in progress that can lead to the justification and even authorization of crime, violence, domination, and injustice in the name of the future they seek to create. Let us again consider this in terms of concrete questions of war and peace, focusing on the cosmopolitan democrat with the broadest and most serious philosophical and historical vision, namely Jürgen Habermas. The first major post–Cold War conflict in which the West was involved, the 1991 Gulf War, was an easy case for cosmopolitans of all stripes. Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait was a clear violation of international law, and the United States, stepping into the role of global hegemon conferred upon it by the collapse of its rival—and quite apart from the geostrategic interests that may have in fact motivated the intervention—had little difficulty securing broad support to restore Kuwaiti sovereignty. Yet Habermas saw in this episode something more than merely upholding international law (let alone pursuing geopolitical interests): “for the first time the United States and its allies were offered the objective possibility of temporarily assuming the role of police force to the United Nations”79— a “sign in history,” it seems, of the possibility of law-governed politics and thus a state of right, on a global level. The war could be endorsed not only from the standpoint of international law but also prospectively, in light of the cosmopolitan progress it represented. The following years saw a steady rise both in outbreaks of violence unleashed by the thawing of the Cold War order as well as efforts to contain them. The latter were greeted enthusiastically by cosmopolitans as the beginnings of a multilateral system that would restrict state sovereignty, protect human rights, and establish a Kantian peace.80 The decade’s horrifying failures, meanwhile—Somalia, Bosnia, Rwanda—only increased their resolve to bring such an order into being. It became a staple not only of cosmopolitan moral and political philosophy but also of a large fraction of liberal internationalist opinion that the prerogatives of state sovereignty must be relaxed—or, in one influential proposal, reinterpreted as “responsibility” to the inhabitants of a territory—and the prerogatives of the UN, the “international community,” or any wellintentioned outsider to intervene on behalf of human rights, expanded.81 I have already outlined the event in which this trend in a sense culminated, the Kosovo crisis, and noted that, with the exception of Archibugi,

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the cosmopolitan democrats discussed here approved NATO’s invention. What interests me now are the grounds on which they did so. I noted earlier that the Kosovo crisis is instructive because it set the key elements of Kantian cosmopolitanism, law and morality, against each another. On the one hand, NATO’s action was illegal; on the other, for those convinced that catastrophe was imminent and preventable, it seemed morally imperative. But there was a third consideration, which at least for Habermas seems to have tipped the scales. This emerges in an interview he gave four years after the Kosovo crisis, shortly after the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, which he vigorously opposed. Having endorsed the violation of international law in Kosovo, he was asked, how could he invoke it to condemn the second Gulf War? Habermas responded by identifying four factors that distinguished 1999 from 2003.82 The first was the lack of “any discernable self-interest” on NATO’s part in Kosovo—presumably demonstrating its “good will.” The second was the (alleged) incipient genocide in Kosovo, which he claims created a general obligation to intervene under international law. Since Kant would reject the first argument on the basis that right, not morality, is the test of political action, while the second is empirically as well as legally highly contentious,83 let us turn to the third and fourth. The third factor that distinguished Kosovo from Iraq, Habermas argued, is that NATO, as an alliance of liberal democracies, is a more legitimate actor than the motley “coalition of the willing” the United States assembled to invade Iraq. The fourth difference, finally, was NATO’s “expectation of retrospective confirmation” in Kosovo, since they “understood this intervention as an ‘anticipation’ of effective international civil law.” Back in 1999 Habermas had characterized NATO’s predicament in Kosovo as the “dilemma of having to act as if there were already a fully institutionalized cosmopolitan condition, when its achievement is the ultimate aim.”84 Not only the looming humanitarian disaster, then, but also progress toward a cosmopolitan order demanded action. Perry Anderson captures the logic of this move by tracing Habermas’s allusions to a thinker whom Habermas often cites as the antithesis to Kant, Nazi jurist Carl Schmitt. Habermas had titled his essay on Kosovo “Bestiality and Humanity,” evoking Schmitt’s formula for moralistic wars waged on behalf of “humanity”—“humanity, bestiality.” Schmitt famously argued, with reference to the punitive peace imposed on Germany by the Treaty of Versailles, that this “humanity” could only ever be partial, invoked to

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deny a political adversary any rights by transforming him into an absolute enemy, outside humanity itself. Habermas cites this danger in order to defuse it: “Once we conceive the ban on war as a step toward the ‘juridification’ of international relations,” he argues, “it becomes apparent that Schmitt’s complaint about the ‘moralization’ of war is beside the point.”85 NATO’s action should be viewed not as exclusively moral, according to Habermas, but also as (proto-)legal. Anderson glosses this argument by pointing to another, presumably inadvertent but more telling allusion to Schmitt in Habermas’s Kosovo essay. In his final sentence, Habermas warns that “NATO’s self-empowerment should not become the rule.”86 For Anderson, this oblique invocation of Schmitt’s formula for sovereignty— “Sovereign is he who decides the exception”—reveals what is at stake: in the interest of strengthening international law, Habermas authorizes NATO to act as global sovereign, entitled to make law through the lawless exercise of force.87 The underlying dilemma to which Habermas responds in this case is essentially Kant’s. For cosmopolitans the challenge is to achieve political progress by building international institutions capable of regulating practices between and within states. David Held, echoing Kant’s image of a pacific federation led by a republican avant-garde “extending gradually to encompass all the states,” suggests that “cosmopolitan democratic law could be promulgated and defended by those democratic states and civil societies that are able to muster the necessary political judgement and to learn how political practices and institutions must change and adapt in the new regional and global circumstances,” which “might draw in others over time.”88 For cosmopolitan democrats like for Kant, then, a vanguard is needed to spearhead cosmopolitan development and serve as a model for others, and, as on all progressive schemes, some states and peoples are further along than others. Now as then, this vanguard can only be “the West.” As Habermas observes: “The First World constitutes the temporal meridian . . . by which the political simultaneity of economic and cultural nonsimultaneity is measured.”89 By authorizing NATO not only to “anticipate” progress but to produce it, however, Habermas exceeds his Kantian warrant. While Kant thought that Europe would “probably legislate eventually for all other continents,” he condemned its overseas adventures. The end of progress, for him, could not justify violent and illegal means. Of course Habermas is sensitive to the danger of Eurocentrism where Kant was not and would

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never endorse what he perceived as imperialism. All the same, he not only retroactively but prospectively endorses the advanced states’ implementation of right by means of might. For if this vanguard—which alone has not only the “necessary political judgement” but also the means— will not act, who will? What troubled Kant about the unlovely march of progress, however ultimately salutary, was not just its illegality and its violence, but its denial of the equal autonomy of the “objects” of progress and civilization. Despite his lapses, Kant was fiercely (if, as we have seen, ambivalently and inconsistently) antipaternalistic, and this antipaternalism is at the root of his anti-imperialism.90 Today the tension between progressivism and antipaternalism has lost none of its currency. Even if cosmopolitans want to help create a world in which all are free and equal, the only party whose freedom is directly enhanced here and now is that entrusted with producing progress. Accordingly, even if undertaken in the name of freedom, equality, and selfdetermination, NATO’s action in Kosovo embodied precisely the opposite: it was, Habermas admits, an exercise in what he hoped would be “transitory paternalism”91—as, of course, has been every “civilizing mission” from Kant’s day to our own. The lesson is that when a theory of progress becomes a justification for action, cosmopolitan hopes rest on the fact that the world’s models and leaders also happen to be the strongest, buttressed by the hope that their wills are good. If right, on the Kantian conception, favors the powerful, progress, at least the version on display here, authorizes them to act even beyond the warrant of the institutions they themselves have created. (c) What, then, of the third arrow in the Kantian quiver, namely publicity? As I have already suggested, of Kant’s three mechanisms for building a cosmopolitan order—right, nature, publicity—the third now enjoys the greatest popularity. Publicity, like the closely related notion of civil society, promises to bypass the limitations of right and the dangers of progress, providing a means by which individuals themselves can promote the moralization, pacification, legalization, and democratization of politics. In its Kantian version, however, we found that publicity suffers from at least two significant deficits: it tends to follow the lines of social and cultural hierarchy and, more seriously, it possesses no force of its own. As I observed in chapter 1 of cosmopolitanism in general, publicity

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tends toward elitism, on the one hand, and impotence, on the other. My contention here is that, despite the current enthusiasm for global civil society and the global public sphere, neither of these deficits has been satisfactorily addressed by today’s cosmopolitan democrats. Contemporary readers of Kant tend to explicitly cast publicity as the agent of historical progress, a solution to the deficits of Kant’s practical philosophy. James Bohman, for instance, places the whole burden of Kant’s argument for perpetual peace on the global public sphere, depicting “various social and historical processes of globalization,” above all those that allow diverse people to work out their differences and address international challenges, as “substitutes for Kant’s natural teleology.”92 Habermas likewise concludes on the basis of the rise of the global public sphere that “Kant did not really need to retreat to some metaphysical ‘intention of nature’ to explain how a ‘pathologically enforced social union can be transformed into a moral whole,’ since the gradual convergence of interests and values through ever wider public discussion can achieve the same end.93 In these scenarios the “public sphere,” mediated or mass-mediated communication, is typically joined by “civil society,” the activities of nonstate groups, as the popular-democratic engine of cosmopolitics. Richard Falk, for instance, sees humanitarians and INGO activists—those he elsewhere calls “citizen pilgrims”—as the forerunners of “a nascent global polity.”94 Responding to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Mary Kaldor went so far as to entitle a book on the topic Global Civil Society: An Answer to War. Kaldor’s book is in fact soberer than its subtitle. In it she notes that invocations of civil society often blend different understandings of the term, from the classic Hegelian sense of an intermediate sphere between the family and the state to neoliberal conceptions that laud apolitical groups as complements of the unfettered market to the sorts of civic initiatives associated with Eastern Europe’s anticommunist opposition or today’s counterglobalization movement. She warns that there is “bad civil society” (exclusionary or repressive projects) and is frank about civil society’s limitations insofar as civil society actors are typically neither representative nor accountable nor effective. Global civil society, she writes, is more about deliberation than representation; it involves giving people “a voice not a vote.”95 Nevertheless, it can be an “answer to war” inasmuch as it helps temper the aggressive inclinations of governments through pressure, exposure,

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and criticism, on the one hand, while providing an outlet for grievances that might otherwise find expression in terrorism, on the other. Although civil society cannot replace institutional politics, it can “supplement” it, fostering morality and civility while broadening and deepening public debate within and across countries. If Kaldor, in the end, gives global civil society a relatively circumscribed political role, other, more systematically minded cosmopolitans go further. Habermas’s later proposals for global constitutionalism, for instance, accord a central place to the “auxiliary role of a supportive global public sphere, though it can exercise only indirect influence: the spontaneous activity of a weak public sphere that does not have formal legal access to binding decisions at least makes possible a form of legitimation via a loose linkage of discussion and decision.”96 In Held’s and Falk’s proposals, similarly, the movements of global civil society provide popular impetus for reforms and can represent different interests in a prospective global parliament. This surrogate is required because political cosmopolitanism envisions moving many decisions from (at least nominally or potentially) democratic national bodies to unelected international institutions. This process, evident in the transfer of broad swaths of jurisdiction to bodies like the WTO, NAFTA, and the EU, entails a massive loss of democratic self-determination. Cosmopolitans tend to argue that under globalization these transfers are inevitable and, in the form of international agreements on human rights, labor standards, or the environment, even desirable—even as they deplore these institutions’ democratic deficits. Whether, how, and to what extent the latter can be democratized remains to be seen. In the meantime, on Habermas’s argument, the global public sphere can serve as a replacement for the legitimacy that could otherwise only come from democratic institutions. Even taken on their own terms, however, civil society and the public sphere have limitations that should make us hesitate to have them to stand in for democracy. Consider first the public sphere, the realm of free discussion that offers the closest analogy to Kantian publicity. One difficulty stems from the function it is meant to fulfill: to the extent that the public sphere is understood as a process of collective reasoning and thus charged with improving rather than simply representing its participants, it is inherently inegalitarian. Like its Kantian precursor, it is the natural preserve of cultural, economic, and cognitive elites. As opposed to “official” or “strong” publics like legislatures and mass movements, it has no

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mechanisms to ensure accountability to those it claims to represent.97 Moreover, as Habermas pointed out early in his career, it is hard to see how the deliberative properties of eighteenth-century salons and Tischgesellschaften could carry over to a world of massive, centralized media concerns.98 The social and technological structure of a modern public sphere tends to amplify these counteregalitarian effects while at the same time undermining the public sphere’s original moral and cognitive advantages. On the one hand, the rich have far more access than the poor, the educated more than the uneducated, city dwellers more than country dwellers; on the other, the need of modern media to reach the broadest possible audience inevitably leads them to reach for the lowest common denominator. The specificities of a global public sphere, meanwhile—vast numbers, deeply rooted inequalities, and immense geographical and cultural distances—can only exacerbate these tendencies. All this is equally true of global civil society, the diffuse collection of INGOs that has sprung up in the last decades to advance causes ranging from human rights to the environment to international development and social justice. It too tends to be elitist in its composition and centralized in its operation. The basic function of the groups that make up global civil society is to make moral appeals to those in power by those with some power on behalf of those with no power.99 As the paradigm examples (Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Médecins sans Frontières) illustrate, for all the good they do, the groups of global civil society are generally composed of wellsituated people from the metropole who seek to represent the interests of large numbers of voiceless people on the periphery to even bettersituated people in the metropole. This is the case whether their addressees are international organizations, governments, corporations, or the “general public”—inevitably meaning publics in wealthy, powerful states.100 Many of the reservations expressed by critics of global civil society reflect these realities. They note that INGOs often find it easiest to deal with undemocratic organizations, where they can focus on a small number of decision makers who have more discretion than elected officials. Decision makers, for their part, often find it useful to include representatives of civil society, especially when their decisions lack democratic legitimacy and appeal to “consultation” as a second best.101 In such cases the “legitimation” provided by a “loose coupling of discussion and decision” can easily serve as cover for the exercise of arbitrary, unaccountable power.

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The political consequences of these structural limitations of the global public sphere and civil society mirror those of Kantian Enlightenment. Just as Kant’s “What Is Enlightenment?” depicts an intellectual elite debating morality and the general good then submitting its conclusions to the monarch, most civil society associations exist to press moral claims on decision makers rather than to challenge the underlying asymmetries that make these claims necessary in the first place. Kaldor gives the game away when she argues that, “through access, openness and debate, policymakers are more likely to act as a Hegelian universal class, in the interests of the human community.”102 The point is not to change who governs or on what terms, but rather, in Kantian fashion, to persuade them to govern in a more enlightened and humane manner—a reality betrayed, some suggest, by the ubiquitous recourse to the term governance in the cosmopolitan literature.103 As David Chandler sums up these objections: “The normative project of global civil society ends up rejecting democratic accountability for the courtier politics of elite advocacy.”104 By accepting an advisory rather than a decision-making role for the people, and by associating them with moral “antipolitics” (Kaldor) rather than with the struggle for power, the advocates and activists of global civil society may point us toward a more humane world, but not toward a more just, equal, or democratic one. They fail, in other words, to imagine a cosmopolitics that could realize their moral and political aspirations. There is, however, one strand of appeals to global civil society that points, I think, in a more promising direction. Richard Falk, for instance, insists that “if there is to be a more benign world order enacting a transformed politics of non-violence and social justice, it will be brought about by struggles mounted from below based on the activities of popular movements and various coalitions.”105 Jürgen Habermas made a similar point in a comment on the situation in Iraq after US-led forces had deposed the old regime but before the gravity of the ensuing chaos became fully evident. Observing the still peaceful rallies against the occupation in 2003, he observed: “When thousands of Shiites in Nasiriya demonstrate against both Saddam and the American occupation, they express the fact that nonWestern cultures must appropriate the universalistic content of human rights with their own resources and in their own interpretation, one that establishes a convincing connection to local experiences and interests.”106 From a democratic-egalitarian perspective, Habermas suggests, the only practical expression of the universality of human rights and democracy

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would be their being actively taken up by those they are meant to benefit. In other words, if ostensibly universal values are to be the reality of a new order rather than a justification for the exercise of power (be it well-intentioned or cynical), these values must be not only embraced but realized by the agents themselves. For Habermas, as for Falk—and following the substantive notion of democracy Kant specifically disavows in “On Perpetual Peace”—the most reliable agent of peace, justice, human rights, and democracy is the power of those who suffer most in their absence. This is, of course, the cosmopolitan democrats’ ultimate aim: freedom and equality for all—through such indispensable institutions as selfdetermination, human rights, and the rule of law—on a global scale. The difficulty is that we are so far from this condition, both in our institutions and in the global distribution of wealth and power, as to make it seem all but unattainable. Global civil society or a global public sphere, like Kantian Enlightenment, serves for cosmopolitan democrats at once as a transitional device, a second best, and a stand-in for practices and institutions that would in fact give people a fair say in the decisions that affect them. Yet the analogy to Kantian publicity exposes their limit, for in their characteristic forms they are confined to the realm of influence rather than power, a “voice” rather than a “vote.” This is not to deny their importance. Local and global popular initiatives, advocacy on behalf of human rights and democracy, and greater communication and coordination among those seeking justice in different parts of the world is surely to be welcomed by all cosmopolitans. They are not, however, in themselves the movement toward cosmopolitan justice and equality they seek. This would require the step neither Kant nor his followers take—from the ideal to the real, from theory to practice, from morality to politics. t



Let me now sum up the lessons that have emerged from the cosmopolitical projects reviewed in this chapter. Contemporary political cosmopolitanism inherits from Kant not only an attractive vision of a future world constructed around democracy, the rule of law, human rights, and the principles of equal freedom and dignity, but also a highly ambivalent form of political reflection. Faced with the enormous gap between this ideal and the world’s existing inequalities and injustices, cosmopolitanism

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finds itself tempted by a number of lures. Following Kant’s theory of right, it can privilege the status quo as the potential basis for reform, leading us to take for granted or even reinforce existing power relations. Following his philosophy of history, it can go further and identify progress with the actions of the powerful, conferring upon them the status of an avant-garde empowered to bring about desired reforms. Or, following his vision of Enlightenment, it can identify agents of moral but not of political change, then rely on them to persuade the powerful to surrender some of their advantages in the interest of justice. In all three instances, the deficits of political cosmopolitanism echo those we saw in moral-ethical cosmopolitanism in the last chapter: while it can identify what is wrong with the present and even, if only very imprecisely, outline a more desirable future, it either fails to discover mechanisms for realizing that future or recommends measures—morally inspired reforms by the powerful—that contradict the very principle of equality on which its aspirations are based. In politics as well as ethics, I suggest, these reversals stem from a tendency to separate questions of morality and power, principle and practice, ends and means. By focusing first on the ideal, on what should be, and only then on how it might be realized, cosmopolitanism falls into a trap I noted in the case of Martha Nussbaum in the last chapter and Jürgen Habermas in this one: seeking to correct problematic asymmetries of power and influence, it in fact reinforces them. If moralistic cosmopolitanism tends to privilege the status quo and progressivistic cosmopolitanism tends to privilege the powerful, however, I also discovered in this chapter that a focus on civil society or the public sphere is more ambivalent: it can do both these things, but it can also suggest a different path, what Falk and others call “globalization from below.” In this view, rather than attempting to use the power of the powerful to help the powerless, the focus would be on the self-empowerment of the less powerful. Rather than considering justice and right as an end and then seeking the means to implement it, we would understand justice and right themselves in terms of equal power. If the contradiction within many cosmopolitanisms is that they pursue the end of equal freedom with means that contradict it, then the solution would be a form of cosmopolitics that pursues these values directly, i.e., with means that are in harmony with the end because they are themselves expressions of freedom and equality.

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What this shift of perspective entails is, as already indicated in the introduction, an inversion of Kant’s answer to the question “What sequence can progress be expected to follow?” In the remaining chapters I explore how we might rethink cosmopolitanism, not “from the top downwards,” but “from the bottom upwards.” The key to this, signaled by the terms critical and democratic, is to regard universality not as a plan or design but as emergent, a project and process that takes its shape and content from the contests in which it is fought for here and now. From this perspective, cosmopolitics can be redefined as action from below against particular denials of and obstacles to the universal principle of equal freedom. This requires a shift of focus from cosmopolitanism as an ideal, blueprint, or end state to cosmopolitics as the always partial struggles against particular forms of hierarchy and exclusion—a shift from procedure to process, from the standpoint of the future to that of the present, from the spectator to the actor. This shift, I argue, bears on theory as well as practice, on morality as well as politics. In the next chapter I turn to recent efforts to rethink universalism as the conflictual process through which new articulations of the universal emerge before exploring in chapter 5 what this implies for understanding democracy as a principle of cosmopolitical action.

Part Two Co smopol i t ic s f rom t he B ot tom Up

c h a pt e r fo ur

Rethinking Ethical Cosmopolitanism From Universalism to Universalization

To this point my discussion has been mainly negative, focusing on various ways in which the cosmopolitan commitment to egalitarian universalism goes astray. My survey of the history of Western cosmopolitanisms in chapter 1 showed how they have always reflected the conditions of their emergence, mirroring or reproducing the social, cultural, ideological, and political contexts from and against which they arose. In chapter 2 I depicted moral-ethical cosmopolitanisms as afflicted by a double bind. On the one hand, like Rawls’s theory of justice, they tend to lose their critical force by abstracting from existing social-political conditions and cultural values; yet, on the other, they tend to reinscribe those conditions and values, be it through their conceptual architecture or their practical application. The claims of normative universalism must thus steer a path between the Scylla of empty abstraction and the Charybdis of hidden particularity. I further argued, on a more practical level, that the very effort to transcend place and time tends to violate cosmopolitanism’s egalitarianism by presuming to occupy a position from which to judge and legislate for others. And in chapter 3 I showed how political cosmopolitanism in the tradition of Kant’s “On Perpetual Peace” does precisely this by implicitly or explicitly relying on the dominant to bring about

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a cosmopolitan future, usually by means that contradict the egalitarian principles on which cosmopolitanism is based. In this chapter I return to moral-ethical cosmopolitanism in search of a positive account of normative universalism. In ethics and moral philosophy, normative universalism is ordinarily identified with the idea that certain norms, values, or principles are or should be valid for everyone, everywhere. My investigation so far has shown, however, that efforts to arrive at such norms, etc. can be paradoxical, and even self-undermining, for three main reasons. The first is that the universal has to be articulated from somewhere, against something; this necessarily renders it particular. To this extent, every actually existing universal must be presumed to be at least in some respect a false universal. The second is that if universalism is to be practical, critical, or normative—if it is to do anything—it must be able to discriminate, to judge some things better or more desirable than others. This becomes problematic when taken together with the first reason: if we cannot in principle be sufficiently aware of the blind spots of our own perspective, our bases for thinking, judging, and acting are always liable to turn out—like so many of those before them— to be prejudicial. The third reason is that universalism seems to presuppose superior knowledge of and power over how people should live, act, or think. Practical normative universalism not only rests on a pretense of knowing others’ interests better than they do; on this basis it then seeks to act on them, violating the principle of equality. It does this, moreover, even if it ultimately seeks only to include them on equal terms, since, like Martha Nussbaum’s cosmopolitanism or the neo-Kantian variations examined in the last chapter, it must act on them in order to achieve the equality at which it aims. On this basis, some conclude that universalism is oppressive per se and for this reason should be opposed. If in the 1980s this position was associated with “postmodernism,” today its leading expression is probably “pluralism.” In both cases, the underlying impulse is the same: the overweening universal claim (modernity, progress, reason, emancipation, democracy, human rights) is denounced while the particular—in some cases any particular—is affirmed. In current debates it is possible to distinguish between pluralisms of the right and left. Right pluralism is conservative; it seeks to defend existing particularities, most often understood as intact cultural communities. Left pluralism is radical; it seeks to promote the proliferation of new particularities—different ways

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of thinking, acting, and being.1 In both versions, however, “difference” is affirmed against a totalizing and suffocating “universal.”2 I will argue in this chapter and the next against this position, in part on the grounds that there is nothing good or bad in itself about difference (or, for that matter, sameness); they are morally and politically neutral categories that only acquire normative standing when expressed in terms of practical relations—equality and inequality, freedom and domination. Yet pluralism does seem to me worth considering because it poses a question that is seldom squarely confronted: why universalism? Why, that is, should we worry about whether our ideas, categories, or aspirations are or are not (or in what sense they are or are not) universal? I propose two answers to this question, both intimately connected to the idea of cosmopolitanism. The first is that, as I argued in the introduction, morality, at least in its modern versions, simply (or perhaps not so simply) is universal. The imperative underlying cosmopolitanism is that all human beings everywhere should count morally. In practice this amounts to identifying and contesting the reasons or prejudices that lead some to count less than others. Yet while this impulse—the egalitarian core of moral-ethical universalism—seems unarguable,3 the history of attempts to act on it has been less than auspicious, and could even be characterized as an unbroken record of failure. Normative universalism always seems to advantage some while suppressing others, to justify or enforce one set of interests or ideals at the expense of others—even, perhaps especially, when it wants to do just the opposite. From imperial Stoicism to proselytizing Christianity to the European civilizing mission, even as the cosmopolitan spirit aims to rescue the marginalized or the oppressed from one form of domination it seems fated to deliver them over to another. Yet in making this objection universalism inevitably returns; for how could we object to and oppose these new forms of domination except on some kind of universalistic basis? Even if the promise of universalism is eternally condemned to betray itself, there seems to be no way to oppose these betrayals aside from ever-new appeals to the universal. Now, pluralism, right pluralism in particular, offers an alternative: we could object to the imposition of a false universal on the basis that it violates the values or way of life of a particular individual, group, or community. And this in turn gives rise to an alternative higherlevel norm: people (and peoples) should be left, and leave one another, alone.4 Addressing this alternative brings me to the second argument for

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universalism. To see what is wrong with this pluralist position, we need to understand universalism in another sense: not as a moral commitment or a formal logic of generalization but as a fact about the modern world that has grown up over the last few centuries. Through the development of a world market, the explosive growth of humankind’s scientific-technological capabilities, and the European expansion that unevenly distributed certain political, legal, social, and cultural forms everywhere, everyone now affects, impinges on, and depends upon everyone else—most often in acutely asymmetrical ways. The point of cosmopolitan art and criticism, social science, and advocacy is typically to show that our actions and fates are in fact already interconnected in ways that urgently need to be brought to our attention.5 Whatever the attractions of pluralism, then, its viability is now sharply limited by the fact of general interconnectedness. Even if a group wanted only to be left alone to preserve its way of life and we endorsed this claim and made it into a general principle, it is untenable in a world of massive asymmetrical interdependence. As Immanuel Wallerstein puts it, “superparticularism [his name for radical pluralism] is nothing but a hidden surrender to the forces of European universalism and the powerful of the present, who are seeking to sustain their inegalitarian and undemocratic world-system.”6 Radical pluralism would amount in practice to generalized laissez-faire—a capitulation to the structures and processes that underlie the grossly unjust relations that now exist, and a way for the powerful and privileged to externalize the costs of their actions while the less powerful bear those costs without recourse or voice. These two perspectives on universalism—a theoretical or philosophical perspective that insists that the only answer to the deficiencies of universalism is universalistic claims from ever-new positions, on the one hand, and a material or “objective” perspective that insists on the normative importance of the relations between those positions, on the other— provide the bases for overcoming the paradoxes of cosmopolitanism outlined in the last two chapters. I argued in chapter 2 that one answer to the difficulties of universalism is to focus not on the positive content of what Rainer Forst called “perfect justice,” an ideal arrangement justifiable to all, but rather on “imperfect justice”—particular challenges to or demands for justification of the status quo. And I argued at the end of chapter 3 that one way to avoid relying on the powerful to implement cosmopolitan political designs, opening them to the strong likelihood of

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co-optation, was to emphasize not institutional designs to be put into effect from the top down, but oppositional projects that challenge the system from the bottom up. In the present chapter I explore how we can understand universalistic norms, and thus the content of moral-ethical cosmopolitanism, as a bottom-up process of challenge and contestation. Just as, in chapter 1, I sought to outline not the content but the logic of cosmopolitanism, not its basic features but its distinctive way of relating to its context, in this chapter I try to show how universal values can emerge through the contestation and displacement of false universals—a universalism that grows out of the critique of universalism. In order to spell out this shift from a theory of universalism to a practice of universalization, I first consider Judith Butler’s account of universals as emerging from a process of contestation in the first section before turning in the second to Pierre Bourdieu to see how this process can be oriented toward a politics of equal freedom. Universalism as the Critique of False Universals

As I have noted, the question of moral-ethical universalism tends to be equated with that of whether it is possible to arrive at norms, standards, or values that are valid for everyone. From this perspective, universalism faces the challenge of finding some way to bridge or transcend the world’s evident plurality. The difficulty with such efforts is that if we arrive at some values or principles (human rights, for example) we are prepared to accept as universally valid, they may nonetheless be based on undetected prejudices or exclusions, resulting in arbitrariness and injustice as they are applied in particular cases. And from this theoretical problem of interpretation or application follows a practical problem: the very positing of a location from which these values can be interpreted and implemented convokes a power and authority above those whom justice is supposed to benefit—in Nussbaum’s case, an external agent able to assess and redress injustices in “backward” countries, in Kant’s, and those of contemporary cosmopolitan democrats, a political avant-garde to spread democratic institutions. I propose a two-part remedy for this problem based on another view of how and whence norms come into being. Rather than seeing norms as timeless products of philosophical insight, I suggest we follow Kant in understanding them as authored by those who are to be subject to them and certain of his successors in viewing

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this as a process that unfolds over time. Thus we should interpret the challenge of universal values not as that of philosophically discovering or grounding them, but rather of developing an account of how they come to be articulated. In order see how this process can avoid the reversals I uncovered with Kant and proceduralism in chapter 2, I turn to a perhaps unlikely source: Judith Butler. Butler is not often read as a theorist of universalism. To the contrary, her work tends to be assimilated to two tendencies usually seen as diametrically opposed to universalism: poststructuralism and identity politics. Nevertheless, although universalism is a relatively minor theme in her work, the main line of which has been concerned with power, identity, and subjectivity, in a series of exchanges through the 1990s Butler developed an intriguing account of universalism as unfolding over time through challenges from its outside. Butler’s account is of particular interest insofar as it tries to salvage the idea of the universal through the critique of false universals; it explains, as she put it in the Boston Review debate discussed in chapter 1, how “exposing the parochial and exclusionary character of a given historical articulation of universality is part of the project of extending and rendering substantive the notion of universality itself.”7 After reconstructing Butler’s approach (a) and exploring some of its advantages and ambiguities in contrast to more familiar accounts of normative universalism (b), I argue that her account is nonetheless deficient in two important respects: it fails to provide sufficient orientation to be truly practical and, despite its valuable hints, misconceptualizes the moral and political problem of false universalism (c). This sets the stage for my turn to Pierre Bourdieu’s egalitarian universalism in the chapter’s second section. (a) Judith Butler first explicitly took up the question of universalism in the sense I discuss here—the possibility and uses or disadvantages of universal norms, principles, or values—in the 1994 debate around Martha Nussbaum’s cosmopolitanism, discussed in chapter 1. In the terms Nussbaum later applied to her own response to Susan Okin’s attack on multiculturalism, Butler’s intervention was “a plea for difficulty”8—a call for caution against a hasty position whose preconditions and implications had not been sufficiently thought through. Without challenging cosmopolitanism per se, Butler suggested that seeing, thinking, and acting as a “citizen of the world” might be more difficult than Nussbaum seemed to imagine

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and that its bases and implications call for critical reflection. How, Butler asked, could Nussbaum be sure she would know the universally human when she saw it? Could she not be mistaken, unwittingly relying on truncated or prejudicial notions of the universal to reject potentially valid claims or endorse unworthy ones? We saw in chapter 1 that the history of cosmopolitanism provides much support for such suspicions. Again and again, values, principles, and norms taken to be universal turned out to be parochial, so that an ostensibly universal project, on closer inspection is revealed to be Roman, Christian, European, etc. Why should it be different now? Butler’s concerns, which Nussbaum neither answered nor acknowledged at the time, arose not so much from the debates in philosophy or anthropology in which universalism was mooted through the 1970s and ’80s as from her engagements with feminist theory. More specifically, her intervention came in the course of elaborating the work that made her famous, her pathbreaking 1990 Gender Trouble. While unmistakably a feminist work, Gender Trouble was mainly concerned with probing the limits, blind spots, and exclusions of feminist theory. As Butler explained in a 1991 critique of leading feminist work, she was prompted by the suspicion “that some languages of liberation might be implicated in the very service of oppression, that the enfranchisement of ‘women’ as an unmarked constituency might require and institute a different set of hierarchies, that the legal reforms in women’s interests are, in the hands of the paternal state, turned against other marginal groups.”9 Gender Trouble accordingly sought to show how feminist theory reinforced the gender system it was committed to contesting and in so doing obscured and reinforced other injustices perpetrated by this system: “the identity categories often presumed to be foundational to feminist politics . . . simultaneously work to limit and constrain in advance the very cultural possibilities that feminism is supposed to open up.”10 Butler sought to challenge these limits in part by arguing that “sex,” which even feminists tended to treat as natural, was just as cultural as “gender” in the sense that its nature, boundaries, and significance were socially determined. She made this argument from the standpoint of sexualities that do not fit into the duopoly of heterosexuality, helping launch the field of queer theory while productively complicating that of feminism. But the problem she raised can be rephrased in more general terms as that of false universalism: how the hidden limits of concepts,

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categories, and modes of thinking can lead even critical and emancipatory approaches to ignore and reinforce other injustices. Butler’s worries about feminism thus parallel my own about cosmopolitanism, while her “immanent critique” of feminism maps onto the one I have made of various universalisms in the previous chapters. To understand Butler’s project as a critique of false universalism, I focus on her criticisms of Catharine MacKinnon. MacKinnon was a privileged target for Butler throughout the 1990s, not only because of her prominence but also because aspects of her thinking made it especially prone to the exclusions and reversals Butler sought to criticize.11 By reconstructing Butler’s critique of MacKinnon, I want to show how it also applies to universalisms like Martha Nussbaum’s and how Butler tried to fashion an alternative. The first step in Butler’s critique of MacKinnon’s feminism takes aim at its exclusivity and totalization.12 On Butler’s reading, MacKinnon unapologetically downgrades all injuries other than those of gender, explicitly establishing “woman” as a universal category by sidelining all others. At the same time, MacKinnon theorizes patriarchy as an all-encompassing system of domination that inexorably constructs women as objects of male use and control. While Nussbaum also found this depiction exaggerated and one-sided,13 we can nevertheless mark a parallel between her conception and MacKinnon’s. Much as MacKinnon claims that one is first of all a woman in a fixed system of patriarchy, Nussbaum claims that one is first of all a human being with certain needs and capabilities. In both cases, anything else one is or wants to be, anything else one might need or be able to do, is sidelined or excluded. For Butler, this is precisely the sort of reductionism that marginalized the claims and experiences of lesbians, poor women, or women of color within the women’s movement. Aligning herself with the thenpopular trope of “intersectionality,” Butler’s point was not to deny the reality of patriarchy. Rather, she insisted that “one can make the claim that women are subordinated without claiming that they are unilaterally and deterministically subordinated.”14 Hierarchies and oppressions are multiple and overlapping; the relative priority of each varies. Moreover, relativizing and pluralizing feminism could have political advantages, allowing a revitalized movement to “extend the very borders of feminist practice to engage with a wider political community.”15 Butler’s second step points out an epistemological-methodological problem with MacKinnon’s position. If patriarchy is as seamless as MacKinnon

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claims, Butler in effect asks, how can she theorize it with such confidence? Butler notes that “the thoroughgoing systematicity of domination,” “evidenced by the fact that it now constitutes the domain of what ‘is,’ renders it unclear where MacKinnon or any feminist might position herself within or outside of this totalizing oppression.”16 A similar question, it may be recalled, arose with regard to Nussbaum, whose account of fundamental human capacities was apparently articulated from somewhere outside the fog of culture that blinds those to whom it is to be applied. In Gender Trouble, Butler was especially critical of theories that seek “to establish a point of view outside of constructed identities” and deployed the rhetoric of anti-imperialism to nail the point home: “that conceit is the construction of an epistemological model that would disavow its own cultural location and, hence, promote itself as a global subject, a position that deploys precisely the imperialist strategies that feminism ought to criticize.”17 Imagining the critic outside the play of culture and interpretation, according to Butler, is “imperialist” both in the sense that it presumes, like Nussbaum, that one understands others better than they understand themselves and in the sense that it imposes certain categories on them that may not correspond to what they are or wish to be. If Butler’s reference to imperialism remains at this stage metaphorical, a third, political or strategic criticism connects this theoretical objection to a practical one. This emerges in Butler’s argument against MacKinnon in Excitable Speech.18 MacKinnon had long campaigned against pornography, with Andrea Dworkin pioneering laws that would allow women to sue for damages incurred as a result of pornography. As I noted of Nussbaum in chapter 2, Dworkin and MacKinnon thus sought to implement their normative insights in the form of binding public regulation. Butler argues that this project rests on a picture of social meaning and social control that is both misleading and dangerous. For Butler, MacKinnon— along with critical race theorists like Mari Matsuda and Richard Delgado who advocated legal remedies for hate speech—assumes that meaning can be controlled, be it by the pornographer, the racist, the legislator, or the judge. From Butler’s perspective, however, meanings can always be subverted, for example by courts or officials who use feminist laws to censor gay or lesbian expression. Parallel to her effort to conjure, out of thin air, an external standpoint from which to map the mechanisms of patriarchy, then, MacKinnon calls upon an external agency to correct its injustices: the state.19 Like Nussbaum, she imagines the critic surveying

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society and culture from above, then using her insights to program action from the same direction. Butler sums up this argument with a strikingly cosmopolitical image: “the subject in the position to effect this cataclysmic upheaval [i.e., one that would overturn sexual oppression],” “never accounted for” by MacKinnon but “everywhere presumed,” “is the one with a global view, capable of re-creating the globe.”20 A theoretical posture of omniscience convokes a practical posture of omnipotence. Since we know what to do, all we need is the power with which to do it. And since the critic and the interests she represents lack such power, this role falls, faute de mieux, to the state—much as, in the Kosovo case discussed in chapter 3, cosmopolitan action fell to NATO. If Butler rejects MacKinnon’s exclusive, totalizing depiction of male domination, her radically distanced epistemic stance, and her reliance on action from above, what is her alternative? Rather than, like MacKinnon or Nussbaum, imagining the critic in a position of “radical transcendence of social ‘reality’ as it ‘is,’” Butler envisions a criticactivist “struggling within the terms of that social fabric  .  .  . discerning the margins that escape the hegemonic imprint  .  .  . revaluating the positions of subordination as positions of socially constituted efficacy.”21 Rather than draw up standards that can then, in a second step, be implemented from above, Butler seeks to “affirm the local possibilities of intervention.”22 Underlying Butler’s critique of MacKinnon (and, by extension, Nussbaum), then, is a very different conception of theory and practice. Whereas MacKinnon and Nussbaum stand above society and denounce its injustices, then seek state power to correct them, Butler looks for ways to make claims and exercise agency from within a system that tends to exclude the very possibility of doing so. Much of Butler’s theoretical energy in this period went into elaborating strategies for accomplishing this, most notably what she termed “parody” or a “politics of the performative.” Rather than oppose existing norms or practices from the outside, Butler argued, we can resignify those norms or practices from within, borrowing their form while changing their meaning by performing them differently. Thus, in her best-known example, drag performs the conventions of gender while at the same time subverting them.23 This was the background, then, against which Butler encountered Nussbaum’s call to transcend our particularistic perspectives and loyalties and take a universal view. Her response follows from her objections

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to MacKinnon’s model of critique: “It would be a great consolation, I suppose, to return to a ready-made universal perspective, and to compel everyone to identify with a universal moral attitude before they take on their various specific and parochial concerns. The problem emerges, however, when the meaning of the ‘the universal’ proves to be culturally variable, and the specific cultural articulations of the universal work against its claim to a transcultural status.”24 Any attempt to assume a universal perspective without at least recognizing the pitfalls of doing so— and, as we saw in chapters 1 and 2, nothing in Nussbam’s essay or other writings indicated such recognition—was from Butler’s perspective likely to repeat the errors of MacKinnon’s feminism: to establish its universality only by subordinating and suppressing other claims and identities. But if for Butler the theoretical-political task is not to discover and articulate the universal, nor is it simply to overthrow it. Butler is not (usually) a pluralist or a postmodernist in the sense I gave these terms earlier. Rather, she called on us to “insist upon more expansive reformulations of universality,” which we cannot do “if we commit ourselves to honoring only the provisional and parochial versions of universality currently encoded.”25 In denying that the universal can be adequately captured by any set of norms, values, or standards, Butler does not mean to rule out the possibility of making universal claims. Rather, she seeks to set the idea of universality in motion, redefining it as, on the one hand, a claim and an ideal, and, on the other, the ongoing activity of making that claim and the process of realizing that ideal. For her, the critique of false universals is the best way to force the universal to become “more” universal: To claim that the universal has not yet been articulated is to insist that the “not yet” is proper to an understanding of the universal itself: that which remains “unrealized” by the universal constitutes it essentially. The universal begins to become articulated precisely through challenges to its existing formulation, and this challenge emerges from those who are not covered by it . . . but who nevertheless demand that the universal as such ought to be inclusive of them. The excluded, in this sense, constitutes the contingent limit of universalization. And the universal, far from being commensurate with its conventional formulation, emerges as a postulated and open-ended ideal that has not been adequately encoded by any given set of . . . conventions.26

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Thus, on Butler’s account universality emerges, only ever partially, by contesting and exposing the particularity of ostensible universalisms. A peculiar coda to the Butler-Nussbaum dispute also bears mention. Although, as noted, Nussbaum did not so much as acknowledge Butler’s comments at the time, a sort of belated response appeared five years later in the form of an apparently unprovoked attack in the New Republic.27 In a highly personal polemic, Nussbaum charged Butler with obscurantism, irrelevance, shoddy scholarship, lack of originality, and poor writing, but inveighed above all against Butler’s politics—or lack thereof.28 Nussbaum pronounced Butler a purveyor of “hip defeatism,” a narcissistic retreat from politics that undermines progressive politics and “collaborates with evil.” The ad feminem character of the attack and breach of academic decorum seemed to some commentators to call more for diagnosis than critical analysis.29 Still, we can imagine its reasons: Nussbaum had long championed the work of MacKinnon and Dworkin and criticized “postmodernists” and “poststructuralists.”30 Nor was she alone in seeing limits to Butler’s politics of parody, “a type of verbal and symbolic politics that makes only the flimsiest of connections with the real situation of real women.” But for Nussbaum the real problem was Butler’s “exasperating” insistence on questioning and criticizing universal values, which she claimed denied critic and activist alike the ability to pursue justice. Combating social ills, for Nussbaum, is a matter of “changing the law . . . feeding the hungry, or assailing power,” and for this we need precisely the kind of universal theory and politics Butler throws into question. Butler too did not respond directly to this attack, but the preface to the tenth-anniversary edition of Gender Trouble, dated four months later, can be read as a rejoinder. Butler points out that Gender Trouble arose out of a political movement and was, moreover, one of few recent works of high theory that, despite its admitted difficulty, was widely read by activists as well as academics. Citing concrete experiences—“an uncle incarcerated for his anatomically anomalous body . . . gay cousins forced to leave their homes . . . my own tempestuous coming out . . . and a subsequent adult landscape of lost jobs, lovers, and homes”31—Butler insisted that the injuries she sought to theorize were all too “real.” However, since they occurred in a social reality that rendered them trivial or invisible, they could not be contested by appealing to prevailing standards. As she explained, “the aim of the text was to open up the field of possibility for

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gender without dictating which kinds of possibilities ought to be realized.”32 Most of all she seems (understandably) to have taken offense at the allegation that her work was frivolous. Just as it arose out of real injuries, it had serious ethical and political stakes: the “denaturalization of gender was not done simply out of desire to play with language or prescribe theatrical antics in the place of ‘real’ politics, as some critics have conjectured. . . . It was done from a desire to live, to make life possible, and to rethink the possible as such.”33 (b) Butler’s notion of a universalism that emerges through successive challenges to false universals is, I think, very attractive from a cosmopolitan perspective. On the one hand, as I have tried to show, it responds directly to the theoretical and practical dilemmas of more conventional, top-down universalisms. On the other hand, it shows how universals can be progressively articulated over time through challenges from their outside. In this, it corresponds to the model of “imperfect justice”—justice pursued through successive demands for justification—I discussed with reference to Habermas and especially Forst in chapter 2. Yet important questions remain. If, as she insists, she encourages the marginalized and excluded to claim certain universal values, which values does she have in mind? In what sense is her work normative if it consists principally in criticizing any and all existing norms? These issues came into focus in Butler’s more differentiated exchange with Seyla Benhabib,34 who writes in the tradition of Habermasian critical theory. Despite Butler’s tendency to treat Benhabib and Habermas as if they were Nussbaum and MacKinnon, their brand of critical theory is careful to avoid naively positing its viewpoint or standards as universal. The exchange between Butler and Benhabib thus allows us to deepen our consideration of the roles of universality and normativity in cosmopolitical criticism, providing further grounds for Butler’s approach, but also exposing its limitations. A good point of entry into the debate is provided by Amanda Anderson, who suggests that we read the Butler-Benhabib debate as a disagreement about the nature and status of norms: “For Benhabib, a norm is a rule or principle that provides criteria for evaluating the rightness or wrongness of a rule or a practice. One might specify such norms as evaluative norms. . . . For Butler, by contrast, norms are mechanisms of social reproduction and identity formation internal to hegemonic social structures. One might specify these norms as functional or normalizing norms.”35 For

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Benhabib, the critic’s task is to articulate, justify, and refine “evaluative” norms; for Butler, it is to expose the limits and exclusions of “normalizing” norms and find ways of contesting them, opening space for different ways of thinking and being. In the 1999 preface to the second edition of Gender Trouble Butler notes that in the book she used the word normative “mainly to describe the mundane violence performed by certain kinds of gender ideals,” adding that “if there is a positive normative task in Gender Trouble, it is to insist upon the extension of this legitimacy to bodies that have been regarded as false, unreal, and unintelligible.”36 Yet it was obvious that, as she later wrote of Foucault, Butler had “strong normative commitments”—notably inclusion, freedom, equality, and democracy—even if, as she also suggests of Foucault, they “appear in forms that would be difficult, if not impossible, to read within the current grammars of normativity.”37 I think Butler exaggerates this difficulty, but to see why we first need to specify her view of universalism. Butler admits in the tenth-anniversary preface to Gender Trouble that in her earlier work she tended to “conceive of the claim of ‘universality’ in exclusively negative and exclusionary terms.”38 As her frequent citations of postcolonial critics suggested, the analogy between ideologies of empire and the exclusions created by hegemonic discourses had not escaped her: “The question of universality has emerged perhaps most critically in those Left discourses which have noted the use of the doctrine of universality in the service of colonialism and imperialism. The fear, of course, is that what is named as universal is the parochial property of [the] dominant culture, and ‘universalizability’ is indissociable from imperial expansion.”39 Still, as we have seen, her attitude toward universalism was not simply negative. As she put it in the first round of the debate with Benhabib: “The term ‘universality’ would have to be left permanently open, permanently contested, permanently contingent, in order not to foreclose in advance future claims for inclusion” (40–41).40 Significantly, Butler later attributed this shift to her political engagements, especially with the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.41 We can see her distinctively futural approach to universalism, then, as a compromise between her worry that universals can turn out to be false and oppressive and her experience that at times they can be politically indispensable. Precisely this tension between a theoretical suspicion of norms and a practical recognition of their utility, even their necessity, is what

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Jürgen Habermas, also referring to Foucault, famously called “cryptonormativism.”42 In appealing to principles and values they explicitly disavow, Habermas argued, poststructuralists find themselves in a “performative contradiction,” in effect trying to perch on a branch they have sawn off. Having undermined the value to which they want to appeal, they are able to justify neither it nor the specific claim they want to make under it. For Benhabib in the Feminist Contentions debate this was mainly a matter of operational concepts necessary to feminist theory and practice, such as woman, subject, and autonomy. As she asked with reference to Gender Trouble, “If [Butler’s performative] view of the self is adopted, is there any possibility of changing those ‘expressions’ which constitute us?” (21). We have seen that Butler has a response to this objection: performativity, or the practice of altering the meaning of norms by performing them differently. Yet this does not address the problem of cryptonormativism, for, as Nancy Fraser put it in the same exchange: “Butler has explicitly renounced the moral-theoretical resources necessary to account for her own implicit normative judgments” (162). What exactly is it about Butler’s position, then, that needs to be accounted for? For Benhabib it was a matter of “normative foundations,” as she clarified as follows: “By ‘normative foundations’ of social criticism I mean exactly the conceptual possibility of justifying the norms of universal moral respect and egalitarian reciprocity on rational grounds” (118). Yet hardly anyone—certainly none of the parties to these debates—argues against universal moral respect and egalitarian reciprocity. Everyone is for them. Arguments go on about their interpretation and application. Benhabib recognizes the danger of using such general norms to justify bad practices or the status quo rather than to demand something better, and enjoins us to “avoid two problematic alternatives”: “on the one hand, the placative use of certain norms and ideals to defend really existing capitalist democracies as if they were exempt from critique; on the other hand, the ‘gauchiste’ illusion of thinking that one can struggle for the rights of the ‘permanent minorities of liberalism’ on any grounds other the space created by the universalistic struggles of modernity since the American, French, Russian revolutions and various anti-imperialist struggles” (118). “In every culture which was in some ways touched by the process of modernity,” she concludes, “we find those who have fought for freedom, equality, and human dignity and those who have resisted such

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calls” (118). We need an account of such ideals, then, to know what side we are on and why. Of course the point about interpretation and application could be repeated with regard to freedom, equality, and human dignity. But I want to call attention to Benhabib’s correlation of these ideas with “liberalism” and “modernity”—a correlation that for centuries has justified the violent exercise of power by the more modern and liberal against the less modern and liberal. Benhabib is certainly alert to this danger, as she shows by invoking “various anti-imperialist struggles.”43 But the more general danger from Butler’s point of view is that Benhabib, like Nussbaum, will look for familiar tokens of the universal values she supports and miss less obvious candidates. The risk of confusing universal values and the particulars with which we associate them is precisely why Butler insists that “the universal is only partially articulated, and that we do not yet know what form it will take” (130). Her worry is that “to assume from the start a procedural or substantive notion of the universal is of necessity to impose a culturally hegemonic notion of the social field” (40). If, in contrast, we assume that every (actual) universal is at least in some respects a false universal, then the “true” or ideal universal can only be tendentially realized through the repeated displacement of what we take to be universal. Appropriating Habermas’s term (and thereby performing the politics of resignification) for attempts to claim the universal on behalf of what it has hitherto excluded, Butler goes so far as to claim that “performative contradiction is crucial to the continuing revision and elaboration of historical standards of universality proper to the futural movement of democracy itself.”44 Only by challenging existing understandings of the universal can we set it to work for emancipatory purposes. It must be noted that if demands for a grounding or accounting for her normative position do not have the intended force against Butler, her own argument against the proceduralism of Benhabib or Habermas could be said to rest on a caricature.45 Neither believes that perfect transparency or final consensus could actually be—let alone has been—achieved. The idea is rather that we need to have such idealizing notions for purposes of justification and orientation—as a counterfactual ideal to explain the normativity of certain values, principles, and practices; a critical standard against which to assess social and political practices and arrangements; and a utopian aspiration to motivate and guide action. Indeed, Benhabib by this time had already moved to a revised proceduralism, arguing for

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what she called an “interactive universalism” that shifted Habermas’s emphasis from justification and consensus to processes of dialogue and mutual understanding. On this view, “‘universality’ is a regulative ideal that does not deny our embodied and embedded identity, but aims at developing moral attitudes and encouraging political transformations that can yield a point of view acceptable to all. Universality is not the ideal consensus of fictitiously defined selves, but the concrete process in politics and morals of the struggle of concrete, embodied selves, striving for autonomy.”46 The point in this context of idealizing accounts of discourse, with their focus on openness, equality, and reciprocity, is precisely that, as Butler points out, discourse often needs to be opened to what it excludes. And in her final words in the debate Benhabib indeed affirmed that the “universalistic ideals” she associates with modernity “are continuously contested, evoked, challenged, and changed” (118). Thus the difference between Benhabib and Butler seems to be mostly one of emphasis—what Butler elsewhere characterized as “the distinction between an idealizing supposition of consensus that is in some ways already there and one that is yet to be articulated, defying the conventions that govern our anticipatory imaginings.”47 This proximity can be seen as a dilemma: idealizing suppositions must be “already there” lest we lack all orientation; but to the extent that they are mistaken, they can blind us to potentially valid claims.48 The difference between the two perspectives can be illustrated by an example Nancy Fraser introduces into the discussion, namely, Toussaint Louverture’s appeal to Jacobin principles in the struggle to free Haiti from slavery and French rule (69). The Haitian Revolution, a struggle for “freedom, equality, and human dignity” that appealed to the universalistic ideals of modernity if there ever was one, may appear to exemplify Benhabib’s view. For Butler, however, it shows both “that the narrative of modernity associated with European conceptions of emancipation . . . required and instituted slavery” and that the “struggle to overcome slavery makes important . . . use of that very emancipatory narrative.” This interpretation, which she takes from Paul Gilroy, “concedes the exclusionary force by which the ‘emancipatory’ narrative of modernity proceeds, but, on the other hand, insists that it is, as it were, open to a recontextualization and resignification that works to overcome that very exclusion” (128).49 Indeed, Orlando Patterson has shown in detail how the Western ideal of freedom evolved out of a contrast with slavery;50 few early-modern

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theorists saw the freedom of white males as incompatible with the servitude of others, and, aside from a brief moment during the most radical phase of the Revolution, the overwhelming majority of French revolutionaries refused to extend the rights of man to Haiti. Their failure to do so, Michel-Rolph Trouillot argues, did not arise simply out of self-interest or thoughtlessness, though they no doubt played a role, but from deep assumptions about human difference and what different groups are capable of. The claims of slaves, as well as the possibility that slaves might self-organize to assert them, were not something that the vast majority of whites in the late eighteenth century seem to have been ready to hear: “The Haitian Revolution did challenge the ontological and political assumptions of the most radical writers of the Enlightenment. The events that shook up Saint-Domingue from 1791 to 1804 constituted a sequence for which not even the extreme political left in France or in England had a conceptual frame of reference. They were ‘unthinkable’ facts in the framework of Western thought.”51 Relative to the overwhelmingly dominant view, then, Louverture and his comrades practiced a Butlerian politics of resignification, wrenching the terms of emancipation out of their accepted contexts. Even if the revolutionaries appealed, as Benhabib would insist, to context-transcending norms of freedom and equality, they did so against the conventions that governed their use at the time.52 Benhabib and Butler may thus be seen, not, pace Anderson, as articulating two different types or understandings of norms, but rather two different perspectives on one and the same kind of norms. It is not simply that norms are “good” (“evaluative”) for Benhabib and “bad” (“normalizing”) for Butler. Rather, Butler seeks to show how “good” norms can come to seem “bad”—and vice versa—over time. Indeed, changing ideas about race, gender, and sexuality indicate that this can happen quite quickly. However, if Butler is as disinclined to spell out norms that underpin her work as she is to justify them, we come to the limits of her position when we move beyond Anderson’s dichotomy of “evaluative” and “normalizing” norms and think of them in a third sense, as orienting. This is what Nancy Fraser does when, having on pragmatist grounds rejected Benhabib’s demand that norms be grounded philosophically (63–64), she nevertheless insists that we need at least some practical guidelines. “Resignification” and “subversion” are little help, Fraser argues, since they provide no hint as to what should be subverted,

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how, or why. She asks: “Can’t there be bad (oppressive, reactionary) resignifications?  .  .  . Can we distinguish legitimate from illegitimate exclusions, better from worse practices of subjectivation? . . . Can we overcome or at least ameliorate the asymmetries in current practices of subjectivation? Can we construct practices, institutions, and forms of life in which the empowerment of some does not entail the disempowerment of others?” (68). Butler allows that the last questions “are ones which I would happily adopt as my own” (139), but by now it should be clear why she is not in a position to provide what Fraser would regard as satisfactory answers. According to Butler, we have no way of knowing in advance where potentially valid claims will come from or what form they will take. All we can say, it seems, is that they will tend to defy and displace the conventions that at a given time govern appeals to the universal. (c) If Butler is right that the historicity of norms means that we cannot count on appropriate universals being available in advance, it is hard to deny the force of her critics’ complaint that we require at least some basis for making claims and choosing courses of action. For Stephen White her work is in this respect representative of a broad current of poststructuralist thinking: it “carries a persistent utopian hope of a ‘not yet,’ but by itself, it remains blithely unspecific about normative orientation in the here and now.”53 At times Butler grants that “in order to set political goals, it is necessary to assert normative judgements” (141), yet at others she seems to want to avoid such issues, portraying her theory as not participating in politics so much as opening space for it. If, as she writes with reference to Gender Trouble, the insight that “gender is, in fact, a changeable and revisable reality . . . does not in itself constitute a political revolution,” she nevertheless insists that “no political revolution is possible without a radical shift in one’s notion of the possible and the real.”54 Enabling such a “radical shift” by allowing new ways of seeing would then be prior, though essential, to struggling for social-political change. Here I want to argue that reflection need not and should not be so drastically separated from action. Against this, I will insist that a basis for political orientation can be found without committing ourselves to strong philosophical foundations, but that Butler has cut herself off from it by the way she makes her case against strong universalism.

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Butler is first of all unable to answer to the question of orientation because of her reluctance to drop her stance of generalized suspicion long enough to theorize her own, admittedly thin, normative commitments. It is odd that this was not thematized in her exchange with Benhabib, for a central part of Benhabib’s Habermasian framework is that certain normative commitments are unavoidable from a first-person, claim-making perspective. Now, to the extent that Habermas makes this move in order to justify general norms, it is clear why Butler resists it. But it is Butler’s refusal to take a first-person perspective that leaves her unable to articulate the values that orient her own work. That one can do so without committing oneself to any specific formulation of these ideals is illustrated by the fourth party to the Feminist Contentions debate, Drucilla Cornell. Cornell accepts the need for what Benhabib calls “regulative ideals,” but approaches them in Derridean rather than Habermasian fashion: rather than use such ideals to justify or deduce general norms, she understands them, like Butler, as forever subject to revision, while nevertheless allowing them to play an orienting function. As Butler elsewhere sums up Cornell’s position: “it is from [the] very difference, gap, incommensurability between the realizable and the ideal that a certain striving emerges, one that tries always to realize the idea but never can, one that takes that failure as the occasion to mobilize the effort to approximate the ideal again and again, indeed, infinitely.”55 This seems to be a fair paraphrase of Butler’s own attitude toward the ideals she is so reluctant to spell out, yet she immediately rejects this approach in favor of a Nietzschean alternative. Rather than, like Derrida or Cornell, affirming certain ideals even though they forever escape final articulation, Butler problematizes the subject’s relation toward ideals of any kind, “call[ing] into question the subjection, if not the enslavement, from which unrealizable ethical ideals originate.”56 At this level, then, Butler’s hesitation to provide practical orientation seems to represent a methodological choice: rather than take the actor’s perspective, she prefers to interrogate it from the outside. The second, and in my view decisive, move that prevents Butler from turning her view of universality in a more practical direction relates to how she understands the partiality of false universals. Throughout the debates I have considered, Butler treats the problem of false universalism as one of cultural difference. Again and again she raises the specter that what we take to be universal norms, standards, or values will turn out to

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be culturally particular. Thus she cautions Nussbaum that “the meaning of the ‘the universal’ proves to be culturally variable,” argues against Benhabib et al. that “to assume . . . a procedural or substantive notion of the universal is of necessity to impose a culturally hegemonic notion of the social field,” insists to Laclau and Žižek that “no assertion of universality takes place apart from a cultural norm”—innumerable examples could be adduced. The same focus pervades the remedy she prescribes. If the problem with ostensible universals is that they are encoded in culturally specific ways, Butler describes the solution as “a difficult work of cultural translation” (140)—an endless effort to expose and tentatively bridge the gaps between different cultural idioms in order to prevent the harms that result when one is imposed upon another. I want to argue that framing the problem of false universalism in terms of culture is unnecessary and unhelpful—to Butler’s project and also to my own—and, further, that there is an alternative. A first problem with a cultural approach is that “culture” is usually used, both by universalists who seek to bridge the differences between cultures and by pluralists who deny that this is possible or desirable, to evoke a plurality of relatively distinct and discrete communities defined by different values, horizons of meaning, and ways of life. Each is unique, but all are in a sense unique in the same way—whence the tendency of cultural relativism to pride itself on its egalitarianism. This usage, which descends from Herder and became dominant in the twentieth century mainly through its promotion by anthropologists, has been widely criticized for concealing the extent to which “cultures” change, borrow from, and blend into one another.57 Such an “entitative” view of culture is clearly at odds with Butler’s own radically constructivist view, and she is careful to distance herself from it by portraying culture in an antiessentialist light, as plural, dynamic, and hybrid. In her 1999 exchange with Ernesto Laclau and Slavoj Žižek, for example, she warns that “the very concept of universality compels an understanding of culture as a relation of exchange and a task of translation,” so that we must “see the notion of a discrete and entitative ‘culture’ as essentially other to itself, in a definitional relationship with alterity.”58 While she insists on using the concept, then, we are to understand that for her there are no fixed or bounded “cultures.” “Culture,” rather, is meant to stand for a general limit to communication and interpretation. While Butler can circumvent the usual associations of “culture” (albeit only by using it in a highly unconventional way that seems likely to

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escape many of those who might seek to extend or apply her insights), the concept carries further disadvantages. One, which she takes up in an a later exchange with Fraser, is the idea that “cultural” issues— presumptively allied with pluralism, particularism, and identity politics— are less central, pressing, or “real” than economic or political ones. Butler deplores the tendency to distinguish “cultural” from “material” injuries and identities as “a tactic which seeks to identify new social movements with the merely cultural, and the cultural with the derivative and secondary,” reflective of a “social and sexual conservativism that seeks to make questions of race and sexuality secondary to the ‘real’ business of politics.”59 It might be said that if injuries and injustices connected to race, gender, or identity tend to be dismissed along these lines, a more promising response might be to argue that they are not in fact “merely cultural” but go to the core of social organization and therefore justice. In other words, rather than defending the importance of “cultural” as against “material” claims, it would be possible to deny any ontological reality to this, at best, heuristic distinction and to insist instead that these are two perspectives on a single social reality. But this common prejudice against culture is only the beginning of the idea’s disadvantages, for the anthropological egalitarianism just mentioned belies how the term is usually deployed. Most often, culture is, as Terry Eagleton quipped about ideology, like bad breath: what the other person has. More specifically, as David Scott points out, culture has come to play a role in the Western imagination analogous to that of religion in the Renaissance or race in the nineteenth century: it is “what accounts for the difference of the other.”60 Culture is what the non-Western, nonmodern other has that “we” do not. This tendency was perhaps definitively illustrated in the late 1990s by Susan Moller Okin’s Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women?61 Since Okin viewed “liberal” societies in terms of their appeal to rational principles and other social-cultural formations as mired in culture and religion, “culture,” by definition, stands in opposition to reason, freedom, equality, etc. It then follows that “multiculturalism”—concessions to “cultures” by liberal states—is “bad for women.” On the same logic, to the extent that Western societies fail to measure up to liberal standards, it is because they “still” contain antiliberal cultural elements and are not yet fully “modern.” Mahmood Mamdani offers a striking example when he decries the use of “culture talk” to understand tensions between “the West,” on the one hand, and certain parts of the Arab

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and/or Muslim world, on the other. By framing these relations in terms of “Islam” (what he calls the crude version) or a culture that has failed to absorb modern values (the more sophisticated version), actors and commentators ignore the historical, political, and, above all, relational factors that have led to current tensions. We can only make analytical and political headway, Mamdani insists, by pushing beneath the reified terms of cultural difference and examining the history that produced them.62 The deeper problem these uses and abuses of “culture” reflect, I suggest, is that framing the problem of false universalism in terms of culture misidentifies the harm it does, the reason it matters practically, and where we should look for a solution. This is because a cultural/interpretive lens flattens out the asymmetries of power that account for what is wrong with false universals in the first place. Arguing against the unreflexive universalism of Nussbaum and Okin, Butler claims that they do “not understand the parochial character of [their] own norms, and [do] not consider the way in which feminism works in full complicity with US colonial aims in imposing its norms of civility through an effacement and a decimation of local Second and Third World cultures.”63 The odd implication of this is that colonialism harms cultures. Surely the first objection to the imposition of false universals is not that they do not correspond to some group’s culture but rather, more simply, that they are imposed and, by virtue of this fact alone, violate people’s equal freedom and dignity.64 It is not misinterpretation that is normatively relevant, but domination. By foregrounding the horizontal differences associated with language and culture, Butler accepts the idea—common to strong universalists, be they substantivists like Nussbaum or proceduralists like Benhabib, as well as postmodernist and pluralist antiuniversalists—that the central problem for universalism is that people have different ideas, so that the solution is likewise to be found on the plane of ideas. In this way, Butler—one of today’s premier theorists of power—sidelines differences of power in favor of differences of interpretation. As I suggested at the end of chapter 1 with reference to Immanuel Wallerstein, there is another basis on which to object to false universals—namely, by pointing to the asymmetrical power relations they reflect and their different implications for differently situated agents. The alternative to a cultural or interpretive perspective, then, would be a relational and egalitarian perspective. Butler does not pursue this option because for her equality is just another normative term, open to

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indefinite interpretation. For this reason it is, like all normative or ideal categories, forever “not yet”: “the point of a futural re-elaboration of the notion of equality would be to hold out the possibility that we do not yet know who or what might make a claim to equality, where and when the doctrine of equality might apply, and that the field of its operation is neither given nor closed.”65 While agreeing that we must always be open to the possibility of new claims to equality from unexpected quarters—above all from a cosmopolitan perspective, which has to be concerned with inequalities that are typically not recognized as morally or politically relevant—I would nevertheless insist that equality is not simply an idea subject to various interpretations, as Laclau might put it, an “empty signifier” into which we can put any content we like.66 It is also a measure of the relations between things, people, or positions. In answer to Butler’s question, “is there a way of posing the question of equality without claiming to know, in advance, in what this phenomenon consists?”67 I therefore want to answer yes, there is: by focusing on particular inequalities. The problem of false universalism would then be not that there are different interpretations of universal principles or values, and that some mistranslate others, but rather that there is what Pierre Bourdieu calls unequal access to the universal. As I argue with reference to Bourdieu in the next section and Jacques Rancière in chapter 5, equality can then be thought of as a measure or “operator” that is at least relatively independent of its interpretations.68 The Measure of Equality

In light of the historical record of actual historical universalisms as well as the paradoxes and reversals I discovered in normative cosmopolitanisms in the last chapters, I think Butler’s caution about formulating criteria for what should count as a universal claim is warranted. All the same, I have argued that her account suffers from two serious deficiencies. First, even as I sympathize with her hesitation to spell out what could count as a universal in advance, I agree with her critics that this need not prevent us from asking at least for some orientation. Her preferred alternative, “subversion,” is insufficient, since there are obviously bad as well as good forms of subversion. Second, and more seriously, I find Butler’s appeal to cultural difference unhelpful and misleading, threatening to undo

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the advantages of her insistence on more expansive reformulations, as opposed to a simple rejection, of universal norms. In order to find a way of approaching the problem of false universalism without giving up on practical orientation, I now turn to a theorist who frames it through an egalitarian rather than a cultural lens, Pierre Bourdieu. Bourdieu is often dismissed as the practitioner of a crude sociologism that reduces ideas and agents to their slots in predetermined social structures. By considering his work against the impasses encountered in the previous section, I want to show that, to the contrary, he can be read as offering a model for mapping the social field that is preparatory to a politics of universalism and thus, as we will see in the next chapter, to a critical-democratic cosmopolitics. For Bourdieu as for Wallerstein, the question of universalism is not in the first instance a matter of culture and interpretation, but of power. At one level, as I will demonstrate, Bourdieu is able to apply the standard of equality to social relations in a straightforward way because it is built into his analysis. Insofar as his sociology consists mainly of describing social fields in terms of inequality and domination, he has a ready metric at his disposal for criticizing them (a). At a higher level, though, his social theory can be shown to imply a general norm of equal participation in social life or “participatory parity” (b), setting the stage for considering how cosmopolitics can be regarded as a democratic politics in the next chapter. (a) Butler puts forth a critique of Bourdieu in Excitable Speech that nicely pinpoints the difference between their approaches. Bourdieu’s “conservative account of the speech act,” she writes, “presumes that the conventions that will authorize the performative are already in place.”69 Bourdieu, that is, lacks a theory of subversive resignification, a politics of the performative.70 Butler essentially adopts Derrida’s emendation of Austin’s theory of speech acts in her own theory of performativity: since there can be no repetition without difference, reiterating a norm or a script always carries the possibility of performing it differently, thereby subverting or even changing it.71 This is, as Butler shows with her politics of performativity, a plausible account of one mode of normative innovation. But it is not what the passage from Bourdieu with which Butler began is about. “‘By trying to understand the power of linguistic manifestations linguistically,’” she quotes the sociologist, “‘by looking at language for the principle underlying the logic and effectiveness of the language of

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institutions, one forgets that authority comes to language from outside.’”72 In order to say anything about norms and, in particular, about who can effectively pronounce them, Bourdieu argues here, we have to leave the scene of language and consider power relations, which themselves are not only or even primarily a matter of language. Bourdieu directs this passage against Austin and Habermas, but he could just as easily have been addressing Butler. Much as Fraser and Benhabib maintained against Butler in Feminist Contentions, Bourdieu insists that a strictly linguistic perspective cannot account for the workings of norms; one must look to social structures as well.73 Here I want to go farther and show how such a turn to the social can also help with the problem of orientation. As we saw in chapter 2, the principal function of critical social science for Bourdieu is to dissolve common sense, to undermine the selfevidence and self-justification of things as they are. Bourdieu’s work is devoted to attacking all forms of “doxosophy” or unexamined opinion. He would vehemently deny, then, the localism or culturalism implied by Butler’s attribution of the harm of false universalism to cultures, since the purpose of his work is precisely to peer behind cultural illusions and expose the workings of power and inequality. In contrast to strong normative universalists like Nussbaum, MacKinnon, Benhabib, or Habermas, however, Bourdieu does not develop a theory of justice, a vision of a good society, a definition of freedom and equality, or a procedure for establishing the relative merits of competing claims. To the contrary, he approaches such normative theories in precisely the same way he approaches “doxa”: by unmasking their claims to naturalness, objectivity, or neutrality. In this respect he seems to practice a “negative universalism” similar to Butler’s. Certainly his insistence on the negative function of criticism, on the need to effect a “conversion of the gaze” in order to open up “oblique possibilities,” suggests this. Yet he does so with a difference that I claim gives his approach an edge over Butler’s appeal to the idea of culture. For, rather than seeing universal values as betrayed by culturally inappropriate articulations, Bourdieu looks instead to the social formations in which they occur. Bourdieu is, like Butler (or, for that matter, Nussbaum or MacKinnon), what could be called an absolute social constructivist: the founding assumption of his sociology is that “everything is historical”— or, conversely, that nothing social, perhaps even nothing human, is natural.74 It follows that the first task of social science, simply as an effort

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to learn about the social world, is to overcome the apparent naturalness of social phenomena: “Social science, which is obliged to make a critical break with primary self-evidences, has no better weapon for doing so than historicization, which . . . makes it possible to neutralize the effects of naturalization, and in particular amnesia of the individual and collective genesis of a ‘given’ that gives itself with all the appearance of nature and asks to be taken at face value, taken for granted” (182). This enterprise, which in the first instance arises from his conception of science, has for Bourdieu two political (or, at this point, still protopolitical) implications: first, that everything is political, which is to say not only contingent but also understandable in terms of power relations; and, second, that everything could in principle be otherwise. Butler of course shares this commitment to the possibility of radical change. Where Bourdieu differs is in his conviction that what he calls the “objectivizing gaze” of social science can provide a tendentially external view of social relations, allowing us to grasp them not merely from the perspective of interpretation, but also from that of explanation. A pair of key Bourdieuian concepts provides the basis for this “higher” level of explanation: “capital” and “symbolic violence.” Bourdieu understands capital (economic, cultural, symbolic) as a form of accumulated relational advantage that can be deployed to obtain further advantages. When asymmetrical relations, understood as differential access to capital, take root in society—in individual and collective patterns of behavior, understandings, expectations—they assume the form of taken-forgranted status hierarchies embedded in everything from gesture and deportment to the use of language to the very concepts available to us. These embedded hierarchies thus become common sense. “Submission to the established order,” writes Bourdieu, “is the product of the agreement between the cognitive structures that collective history (phylogenesis) and individual history (ontogenesis) has inscribed in bodies and the objective structures of the world to which they are applied” (176). Thus, although any particular form of capital is relative to the field in question—economic capital is acquired and deployed primarily in the economy, cultural capital in cultural realm, etc.—capital itself, insofar as it is relational, supplies its own measure: the analyst can see who has more of a particular kind of capital apart from any interpretation or evaluation of its basis or nature. On the basis of this assumption that the form (symmetry or asymmetry) of relations can be viewed apart from their internal

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stakes, social science then is in a position to “objectively” analyze any social system in terms of symbolic domination. As Bourdieu puts with a Saussurian play on Hegel: “the real is relational.”75 The highest and most generally fungible form of capital for Bourdieu is symbolic capital: “not a particular kind of capital but what every kind of capital becomes when it is misrecognized as capital, that is, as force . . . and therefore recognized as legitimate” (242). Bourdieu’s general term for this condition of hidden inequality (which is practically universal) is symbolic violence, a system of asymmetrical relations—domination— which the dominated, and often the dominant as well, fail to recognize as such. On the basis of this relational view of social relations, the social world can be understood as “both the product and the stake of inseparably cognitive and political symbolic struggles over knowledge and recognition, in which each pursues not only the imposition of an advantageous representation of himself or herself . . . but also the power to impose as legitimate the principles of construction of social reality most favourable to his or her social being . . . and to the accumulation of a symbolic capital of recognition” (187).76 Thus, although Bourdieu, like Butler, depicts a social world organized by systems of meaning that advantage some while disadvantaging and marginalizing others, and although for him too these systems extend not only to language and normative categories but also into the very constitution of subjects and bodies, his work is premised on the possibility of redescribing these systems—not normatively but analytically, relationally, and, to that extent, objectively. While power relations and asymmetries may be universal, however, they occur only in the particular, as they structure various social fields. In this way Bourdieu’s theory does not provide a “total” social theory (whatever that would be), and his picture is always one-sided. What he does is uncover a particular kind of truth about institutions, practices, and understandings—namely, their bases in power relations.77 If the objectivity of Bourdieu’s theory is always bounded, this speaks to the particular political purpose for which it is designed; if it tends to take the form of a negative sociodicy, to explain all social beliefs and practices in terms of their role in the reproduction of social inequality, this is because, as he puts it, “the social order itself largely produces its own sociodicy” (181), which the theory is meant to diagnose and counteract. About the particular goods and values of social life, Bourdieu is, we could say, methodologically agnostic: for the purposes of analysis, he treats them as arbitrary.

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But on the level of the articulation of fields and the relative positioning of individuals and groups within them—struggles over material resources, security, status, offices, knowledge, recognition—he can be not only, in a sense, objective, but also substantively critical. On what, then, is this criticism based? Here it may seem that Bourdieu faces the same problem as Butler, for he no more spells out or justifies normative standards than she does. Moreover, no less than hers, his theory seems to rule out any first-person perspective that could account for actors’ relation to norms or ideals, since all such perspectives are in the last instance to be explained. The very fact that Bourdieu describes social relations in terms of power, domination, and the unequal access to different forms of capital, however, turns out, by simple inversion, to provide him with an evaluative standard: equality. Since most social fields legitimate themselves by means of some claim to equality, Bourdieu can take a naive relation to this claim: he simply assumes the standard of the field in question. Take, for example, his work on education.78 The French school system, which is based on rigorous standardization, claims to be egalitarian; its legitimacy relies on its impartiality and openness to all. When this system is shown to reproduce class inequalities, so that, with a high degree of predictability, people end up in social locations equivalent to those of their parents, we must ask why. Since, according to his hypothesis, nothing social is natural, the reasons for this inequality can only be social, which is to say political. And since the system itself claims to afford equality of opportunity, any de facto inequality can be presumed to stem from inequality of opportunity. Bourdieu thus explains the prevalence of de facto inequality by the importation of various forms of capital into the educational system and explores the cultural and economic mechanisms—inherited cultural resources (knowledge, expectations, skills, behaviors) and forms of institutionalized discrimination—that can account for the evident inequality. The system can thereby be shown to fail by its own lights. The idea of equality works in a similarly straightforward way in Bourdieu’s political engagements.79 Whether in the educational system, particular branches of the economy, or the operation of social and cultural hierarchies, any de facto inequality—of resources, opportunity, respect—is to be exposed and opposed. This is, importantly, not to ask after the possible justifications for or acceptable levels of inequality, as ethics and normative political theorists often do. The question does not arise for Bourdieu

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because every inequality is prima facie illegitimate—leading to his reputation among supporters as a steadfast defender of the underdog and among detractors as a reactive hyperleftist. During the December 1995 French strikes, for instance, Bourdieu defended his unconditional support for the strikers—against arguments that by international standards they were unusually secure and well-paid, that the French economy required “reform” and “flexibilization” in the face of economic globalization—on the grounds that, in light of de facto inequality (of income and security, but also of power, recognition, status), one can only take such arguments as rationalizations of inequality.80 Inequality is real; any justification of it is merely hypothetical, a matter of accepting a certain construction of the social world as necessary. Beyond the simple affirmation of equality, be it relative to given institutional claims to legitimacy or in general, Bourdieu relies on another tactic that distinguishes him even more from Butler: reflexivity. For both of them the task of criticism is to achieve a distance from a world organized at every level, from institutions to language to bodily dispositions, in unjust, hierarchical, exclusionary ways. Butler, as we have seen, interprets this task as that of opening space for new ways of thinking and being. Bourdieu shares this aim; in response to criticisms of his determinism, he follows her in seeking to open gaps in the system in order to pry open new possibilities: “the relative autonomy of the symbolic order, which, in all circumstances and especially in periods in which expectations and chances fall out of line, can leave a margin of freedom for political action aimed at reopening the space of possibles” (234). Yet here a difference emerges, for Bourdieu’s conception of emancipation is rigorously rationalist. Knowledge of the social world, he argues, itself produces a measure of freedom. By taking a progressively more self-reflective attitude toward oneself and one’s circumstances, through greater knowledge of one’s constraints, one comes to know more about one’s possibilities. As he puts it, adopting a pensée of Pascal: “determined . . . , man can know his determinations . . . and work to overcome them” (131)—or, in his own formulation: “thought about the social conditions of thought offers thought the possibility of a genuine freedom with respect to those conditions” (118). And this, in turn, provides a basis for guarded political optimism: “What the social world has done, it can, armed with this knowledge, undo.”81 In a further step that takes him far beyond Butler’s exclusive focus on opening new possibilities, Bourdieu argues that such a principle of

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reflexivity applies not only to knowledge of the social world, but also to social institutions. This account takes the form of what he calls “A Paradoxical Foundation of Ethics,” a Mandevillian attempt to square the possibility of universalism with his relentlessly disenchanted social theory. In order to promote social cohesion, he claims on Durkheimian grounds, “groups always reward conduct that conforms . . . to virtue. They particularly favor real or fictitious tribute to the ideal of disinterestedness, the subordination of the I to the us . . . which defines precisely the passage to the ethical order. Thus, it is a universal anthropological law that there are benefits (symbolic and sometimes material) in subjecting oneself to the universal, in projecting (at least) an appearance of virtue.”82 Certain fields, Bourdieu argues, are structured so as to promote the general interest. Science is his favorite example, but he claims that the same can be true of education, art, and public service. “As the division of labor of domination grows more complex, as more competing agents (jurists, priests, scientists, civil servants, politicians, etc.) invoke civic disinterestedness to advance their specific interests, they create opportunities for the universal to advance.”83 A dynamic of universalization—of knowledge, art, but also of various ways of serving the general good—is thus in a sense built into these institutions, based on the principle that “the interest in, and the profit of, the universal are indisputably the most secure vehicle of progress toward the universal itself.”84 This model, rather like Kant’s account of “unsocial sociability” discussed in the last chapter, is of limited practical value to the extent that it is premised on excluding the actor’s perspective. A theory of ethics based on hypocrisy is not one anyone could personally endorse. Unlike the engine of Kant’s progressive history, however, Bourdieu’s paradoxical ethics indicates a role for criticism that does not ultimately depend on an appeal to the conscience of the powerful. In view of the “official recognition granted to the imperatives of universality . . . —the imperative of cognitive universality which requires the negation of the subjective, the personal, in favor of the transpersonal and objective; imperatives of ethical universality which require the negation of egoism and particular interest in favour of disinterestedness and generosity” (122–23)—the critic has the essential role of discovering where the hypocrisy that leads vice to pay tribute to virtue ultimately undermines the cause of virtue. For, as he insists, “we must also acknowledge the universality of the actual transgressions of these norms” (123). Where the cause of the

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universal is betrayed, the function of criticism is to point this out. And, since on Bourdieu’s relentlessly suspicious model of society this cause is betrayed everywhere, this critical function is permanent. (b) Bourdieu employs the term universal in a formal, Durkheimian sense, to signify generality and inclusiveness within a given social universe rather than global inclusiveness. Indeed, despite the apparently cosmopolitan title of his important late political intervention, The Weight of the World,85 the frame of the book, like nearly all his work, is national. Bourdieu’s commitment to this formal concept of universality could indeed be applied at levels below and above the nation-state, so that, for instance, he actively promoted social movements and other progressive initiatives on the European level. But neither his work nor his activism was, strictly speaking, cosmopolitan. Nevertheless, four elements of Bourdieu’s conception of universalism make it, in my view, especially well suited to rethinking cosmopolitanism. This is because it directly addresses the paradoxes of conventional, top-down universalisms without abandoning the imperative of working toward equal freedom and dignity on whatever scale they are denied—including the global. The first advantage of Bourdieu’s approach from a cosmopolitan perspective is that it accords a central place to the criticism of false universals and yet insists, in a much more concrete way than Butler, that they be criticized on the basis of the universal value that is denied in each case. It does this, as I have tried to show, by means of the idea of equality. Equality serves Bourdieu as a basis on which to map social relations, a negative standard by which to criticize them, and a motivating aim of political struggle against them. The benefit of this strategy is that it can be, on the one hand, substantive and concrete, yet, on the other, general and expansive. As we have seen, Bourdieu’s criticism takes its force from its redescription of social relations in terms of inequality and domination. In a cosmopolitan context this would mean developing what Ulrich Beck calls a transnational critical theory.86 Such a theory would expose the arbitrariness as well as the empirical and moral failings of a “national view” (national statistics, comparisons, social theories) while mapping the crossborder chains of relations that produce global inequalities—what Rainer Forst calls for in the form of “an analysis of given social relations . . . especially the inequalities and power asymmetries they contain” as a basis for “a critique of false justifications” of transnational inequalities.87

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By this means, secondly, Bourdieu’s negative universalism is able to steer a course between what I characterized at the beginning of this chapter as the Scylla of empty abstraction and the Charybdis of hidden particularity. His finely balanced position merits quoting at length: at the risk of being attacked from both sides, one has to make the same refusal both to the advocates of an abstract universalism which ignores the conditions of access to the universal . . . and to the advocates of a cynical, disenchanted relativism. Whether in the relations between nations or within nations, abstract universalism generally serves to justify the established order  .  .  . in the name of the formal requirements of an abstract universal (democracy, human rights, etc.) dissociated from the economic and social conditions of its historical realization. . . . On the other hand, skeptical or cynical rejection of any form of belief in the universal, in the values of truth, emancipation, in a word Enlightenment, and of any affirmation of universal truths and values, in the name of an elementary form of relativism which regards all universalistic manifestos as pharisaical tricks intended to perpetuate a hegemony, is another way, in a sense more dangerous, because it can give itself an air of radicalism, of accepting things as they are. (70–71) Abstract universalisms, which through their abstraction can become apologies for the status quo, should be criticized for the inequalities they conceal, while those inequalities should be criticized in the name of the universal values they betray. As I argued with reference to Rawls in chapter 2, universalistic theory can thus be understood, not as a basis on which to develop general norms of justice, but rather as the generic logic of moral and political claim making.88 A third advantage of Bourdieu’s approach is its scope. Bourdieu shares Butler’s sensitivity to the fact that the dynamics of exclusion, inequality, and domination—and therefore the potential sphere of politics—go far beyond official political institutions.89 His account of symbolic violence shows that civil society—or, more broadly, culture—is a crucial field of inequality and domination and at the same time offers a way of understanding it in egalitarian terms. Although, as noted, Bourdieu never engaged in ethics or normative philosophy, I believe we can outline in very general terms what the aims of an egalitarian

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politics based on these insights—what Orville Lee calls “symbolic democracy”90—would be: • Everyone should have equal access to those goods that are or partake of the universal; no arbitrary social disadvantage should impede anyone from having equal access not only to material goods, but also to symbolic ones. • Those goods themselves must be purged of elements that make them less than universal; all the subtle ways in which social goods are unfairly coded to the advantage of some and the disadvantage of others must be exposed and combated. • On a still more general level, there should be a ceaseless struggle against inequalities in the distribution of the good that, in Bourdieu’s account, underlies all others: symbolic power—the power to give meanings to things and people and thus to determine the shape of collective life. What this would mean is, I think, very close to what Nancy Fraser calls “participatory parity,” the general norm that “justice requires social arrangements that permit all (adult) members of society to interact with one another as peers.”91 For Bourdieu as for Fraser, this norm has objective or material as well as cultural or intersubjective conditions and requires consideration of the political, economic, and cultural realms. Crucially, participatory parity does not constitute an abstract standard from which just distributions can be deduced, but an ideal on the basis of which concrete participatory inequalities can be challenged.92 The fourth advantage of Bourdieu’s position can be understood with reference to my reconstruction of its implicit normative logic. Note, in the three-step reconstruction just adduced, that the first and second provisions could be in tension. Take an issue discussed by Fraser as well as Butler: same-sex marriage.93 The fact that marriage, and the symbolic as well as material goods it conveys, has traditionally been understood to include only heterosexual couples is a clear example of injustice on the first provision, since some lack equal access to ostensibly universal benefits. No sooner has this been pointed out, however, than we see that the universal at stake, the privileged recognition of couples, is itself potentially arbitrary and unjust. Why should we accord special benefits to pairs? Should these benefits be broadened to

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encompass other domestic arrangements, narrowed to reflect their real objects (child rearing and support, insurance, employee benefits, taxes, inheritance), or done away with altogether? Would the best response to the injustice(s) in this case be, as Fraser puts it elsewhere, “affirmative” or “deconstructive”?94 Should we seek to remedy the particular discrimination or dismantle the very basis on which this discrimination is possible in the first place?95 It seems clear that this question cannot be answered in general and that a solution cannot somehow be deduced from the idea of equality. While the principle of equality is sufficient to launch the claim (or series of claims), it can only be adjudicated with reference to the higher-level norm of participatory parity—that is, a fairer say in the answer. The fourth advantage of Bourdieu’s paradigm is thus that it ultimately portrays universalism as a logic of democratic politics. Bourdieu himself took the practical implication of his work to be political contestation: “Awareness and knowledge of the social conditions of that logical and political scandal, the monopolization of the universal, indicate  .  .  . the ends and the means of a permanent political struggle for the universalization of the means of access to the universal” (84). Trying to specify this project for the political field, Loïc Wacquant derives two specifically political imperatives from Bourdieu’s work: “first to acknowledge that the conditions of access to political expression are not universally granted a priori to all but, on the contrary, that they are socially determined and differentially allocated; and then to work to universalize the ability and the propensity to act and think politically, that is, to universalize realistic means of gaining access to that particular historical embodiment of the universal that is democratic politics.”96 Symbolic democratization, then, means the struggle for equal citizenship. While endorsing this, I would insist that one of the strengths of Bourdieu’s approach is its helping us see the claim of symbolic democracy or participatory parity extends far beyond the “particular historical embodiment of the universal” that is representation in the nation-state. Precisely because Bourdieu’s framework is so encompassing, potentially mapping all social relations in terms of power and inequality, while its underlying normative content is so thin and yet expansive, any social relationship can in principle be the site of a claim to equality. In this sense his approach is ideally suited to the open-ended claims to freedom and equality that would make up a democratic cosmopolitics.

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This, in the end, is the underlying strength that in my view makes not only Bourdieu’s but also Butler’s attempts to rethink universalism invaluable for cosmopolitanism. As I argued in chapter 1, cosmopolitanism is always a claim against the status quo, against prevailing ways of configuring the bounds of our moral and political responsibility; it always seeks to challenge a given set of rights, responsibilities, and identities by placing them in a wider frame. To be sure, such claims can often be expressed in Benhabib’s Habermasian terms as the extension or realization of existing universals (freedom, equality, dignity, human rights, democracy) as well as in Butler’s poststructuralist terms as their displacement or appropriation. But, to the extent that cosmopolitan claims typically point out that the field of our social relations, and therefore of our practical responsibility, is broader than we recognize, that standards of justice and equality ought to extend further than we imagine, they will tend to have what may be called, recalling the Haitian example that arose in my discussion of Butler’s exchange with Benhabib, a Louverturian dimension. They will tend to “open up” new dimensions of universal norms or to argue that those norms should be applied in unexpected ways to new parties and contexts. To this extent, the normative dimension of cosmopolitan universality is best thought, with Butler, as futural, emergent, insurgent, and counterhegemonic. If Butler and Bourdieu help us see cosmopolitanism as a process of universalization rather than as the simple application of the principle of universality, however, we have not yet seen how this might function as a politics. If they provide a guide to the critical side of a critical-democratic cosmopolitics, in other words, they offer only hints about its democratic side. To be sure, Butler and Bourdieu show that the engine of a politics of universalism will be challenges to ostensibly universal values from those who are discriminated against, marginalized, or excluded by them. Yet this remains mostly a matter of cultural interpretation for Butler and social-scientific explanation for Bourdieu. How can this process be understood as one that both aims at and expresses the autonomy, the equal freedom, of those who engage in it? In what sense can the politics of those who are excluded from “the people,” a politics that seeks to change the very nature and scope of the institutions it challenges, be regarded as “democratic”? In her exchange with Laclau and Žižek, But-

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ler raises these sorts of issues in a series of questions that sum up the difficulties of articulating a transformative democratic approach to the domain of cosmopolitics: “Can one accept the . . . demand for ‘inclusion’ when the very constitution of the polity ought to be brought into question? Can one call into question the way in which the political field is organized, and have such a questioning accepted as part of the process of self-reflection that is central to a radical democratic enterprise?”97 In the balance of this book I will argue that one can, but that what this requires is rethinking democracy as a form of transformative political action and this politics as itself universalistic. This is the task of the next chapter.

c h a pt e r fi v e

Rethinking Political Cosmopolitanism From Democracy to Democratization

In chapter 3 I endorsed in principle Kant’s vision of a peaceful worldwide federation of republics and even more so contemporary cosmopolitan democrats’ vision of a planetary system of overlapping authorities structured so as to best combine the need for democratic accountability with sufficient scope to meet the challenges of globalization while ensuring a modicum of justice at a global level. The problem with these ideas, I suggested, lies much less in the details of any particular design than in the extreme difficulty of achieving them; for the exercise of power required to bring them into being would almost surely contradict the egalitarian ambitions that motivate and justify them in the first place. Cosmopolitan democracy seems unable to offer a plausible, democratic-egalitarian way to bring about a democratic-egalitarian world, and, given just how unequal our starting point is, cosmopolitanism as a principle of political action is at least as likely to justify the actions of the strong as to empower the weak. “Whatever its guise,” as I quoted Chantal Mouffe writing in chapter 3, “the implementation of a cosmopolitan order would in fact result in the imposition of one single model, the liberal democratic one, onto the whole world.”1

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I begin my attempt to find a more truly universalistic political cosmopolitanism with Mouffe because it seems to me that while she helpfully identifies a key limitation of mainstream cosmopolitanism, the conclusions she draws from this criticism are misguided in instructive ways. As is evident in the formulation just quoted, Mouffe believes that the underlying problem with cosmopolitanism is that it suppresses difference. In her view this is because of a characteristic it shares with today’s dominant strands of liberal political theory, exemplified for her by the work of John Rawls and Jürgen Habermas: rationalism. In basing their theories on the possibility of rational agreement, Mouffe claims, Rawls and Habermas deny the ineradicable antagonism that underlies any social order. The basis of this antagonism, within as well as between states, is conflicting notions of the good—an assumption she shares with the liberal theorists she criticizes.2 The problem with cosmopolitanism from Mouffe’s perspective is thus that it seeks to generalize a culturally specific political model. As she concludes: “It is high time to wake up from the dream of Westernization and to realize that the enforced universalization of the Western model, instead of bringing peace and prosperity, will lead to ever bloodier reaction on the part of those whose cultures and ways of life are being destroyed by this process. It is also high time to question the belief in the unique superiority of liberal democracy.”3 As I argued against Butler in the last chapter, I think this focus on culture misidentifies the moral and political problem with false universalism. It is not obvious that people outside the West would object to living in democracies or having their human rights respected. One of the advantages of democracy, of course, is that it would in principle allow them to decide what kind of arrangements they would prefer for themselves. But in view of the recent case she obviously has in mind— the US-led “democratization” of Iraq—it seems that Mouffe imagines that certain Western countries seek to impose their political models out of an excess of rationalism and faith in democracy, while those who resist such imposition do so because they reject democracy on cultural grounds. Here we see the misleading consequences of culture-based analysis I warned against in chapter 4. In assuming that non-Western peoples see democracy as a threat to their “cultures and ways of life,” Mouffe sides with right-pluralists like Samuel Huntington, for whom certain “cultures” (in his case, “civilizations”) are essentially non- or

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antidemocratic.4 Her intuition that many people will resist having liberal democracy imposed on them from outside may of course be sound, but it seems less prejudicial to assume that they will do so for the same reason that they would resist having anything imposed on them— especially by means of invasion and occupation. They would resist foreign imposition, that is, qua imposition and thus on grounds that could be better described as political—and democratic—than cultural. In this chapter I seek to outline a cosmopolitan politics that responds to the reversals and impasses I found in the neo-Kantian cosmopolitanisms discussed in chapter 3. In so doing I will agree with Mouffe that the problems with existing models of political cosmopolitanism go to the roots of dominant forms of political theory. Yet, if she is right to complain that these forms of political theory have tended to deny or suppress conflict, I do not believe that we can be any more content to affirm conflict as such than we can be, with Butler, to affirm subversion as such. Whereas Mouffe locates the problems with universalism and cosmopolitanism in the dominant tradition’s rationalism, I argue that they lie in its perspective, which has blinded it from seeing how worthy aims can appear in unfamiliar and unexpected guises. We can begin to see the underlying reason for this in arguments for why democracy is an inappropriate basis for thinking about global politics. Robert Dahl, doyen of American democratic theorists, put this case concisely when he claimed that transnational democracy is in principle impossible. Democracy, he explains, assumes the possibility of representing “the people,” forging clear lines of accountability, and offering citizens chances for participation— all of which is inconceivable on a global scale.5 We might reflect for a moment, however, on the fact that democracy has typically been judged to be an unsuitable basis not just for global politics, but for politics in general. Consider Philip Pettit’s celebrated recent argument for republicanism, which takes the form of an argument against liberalism. Pettit recognizes a third candidate, “populism,” but dismisses it summarily. Liberalism, republicanism, and populism are all, of course, theories of democratic politics and the democratic state. What distinguishes populism for Pettit is its demand that the people should rule mediated neither by prepolitical rights guaranteed by strong judicial review (liberalism) nor by a public-spirited elite and institutions designed to prevent the concentration of power (republicanism). Populism, for Pettit, amounts to two principles: majority rule (contra

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liberalism) and direct democracy (contra republicanism). It “hails the democratic participation of the people as one of the highest forms of good and  .  .  . waxes lyrical, in a communitarian vein, about the desirability of the close, homogeneous society that popular participation is often taken to presuppose.” Further, it “represents the people in their collective presence as master and the state as servant, and suggests that the people ought to rely on state representatives and officials only where absolutely necessary: direct democracy, whether by assembly or plebiscite, is the systematically preferred option.”6 What makes “the democratic participation of the people” and the idea that they should be “master” and the state “servant” barely worth arguing against for Pettit is that they do not seem to be a viable basis for a political order. Here he has the weight of tradition on his side. For political philosophy from Plato to Montesquieu, democracy (Pettit’s populism) was a real alternative, a regime that had existed and could exist again, but one that carried such obvious disadvantages that no canonical political thinker endorsed it. Democracy was notoriously unstable and had a tendency, diagnosed by Plato, to degenerate into anarchy and then tyranny. When popular political power became a serious practical concern in the age of revolution, the challenge—for Kant or Madison, Constant or Tocqueville, Hegel or Mill—was to contain it in order to defuse these disadvantages. I invoke this history in order to suggest a deeper reason Pettit can finish with populism so quickly, one that ultimately has to do with his conception of political theory. Political theory, on this view, is the search for the best feasible regime. It presupposes a bounded political community—for moderns, a state—and concerns itself with questions of institutional design, balancing justice against stability. As David Miller puts it, political philosophy is “philosophical reflection on how best to arrange our collective life.  .  .  . Political philosophers seek to establish basic principles that will, for instance, justify a particular form of state, show that individuals have certain inalienable rights, or tell us how a society’s material resources should be shared among its members.”7 Political theory has overwhelmingly rejected democracy in anything other than highly attenuated forms, then, because it has been concerned with “normal” politics—stable politics within well-defined communities. Even when it is strongly normative, the orders it envisions are stable and permanent. Neither of these conditions, however, holds for cosmopolitanism. As I argued in chapter 1, cosmopolitanism cannot assume

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a preexisting community because the absence of such a community is precisely the problem it seeks to address. And it cannot assume stability since, faced with a world organized in ways that make it impossible to meet or even see responsibilities beyond the nation-state, it can only seek to change that world. If we understand democracy as a form of state organization, it may well be practically impossible on a global scale.8 But there is an alternative. Just as in chapter 4 I argued that, given the perversions into which the idea of moral-ethical universality seems doomed to fall, it is more helpful to think of it in terms of a process of universalization, in this chapter I argue that for cosmopolitan purposes the democratic ideal is best thought of not in terms of regimes or institutional designs, but as a process of democratization. Just as I argued with regard to universalism that we are best giving up the age-old search for universal norms, principles, or values and looking instead to the dynamics through which norms become more universal, here I argue that we are better off considering the politics through which practices and institutions can become more democratic. And just as I sought a bottom-up alternative to top-down approaches to normative universalism, in this chapter I seek a bottom-up alternative to the top-down politics these theories imply. Since the obstacles to arriving at such a conception go to the very roots of the dominant tradition of political theory, in this chapter I turn to a countertradition that has self-consciously sought to develop an alternative. Rather than thinking of politics as the search for the best regime, as the “art and science of government,”9 this countertradition understands politics as an activity, the cooperative and conflictual practice through which people manage and contest their common affairs. According to this conception, politics at its best is the direct expression of the autonomy of those who participate in it; it thus tends to be tendentially identified with democracy and further to be regarded as itself normative. In the first half of this chapter I consider two authors who have articulated such a view, Hannah Arendt and Claude Lefort, as well as two others who radicalized their visions, pushing them in the direction of radical democracy, Sheldon Wolin and Miguel Abensour. While this school of thought can help us conceive of democracy as a form and process of political action, however, it does not tell us how this action can be regarded as a cosmopolitics—how, that is, it can be seen to advance the universal moral aims of cosmopolitanism. For this I turn in the chapter’s second half to Étienne Balibar and Jacques Rancière, who

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show how the contestatory action of radical democracy can be understood as universalistic. Democracy as Political Action

It has often been observed (especially of late) that it is paradoxical to impose democracy on a people from the outside. The reason, of course, is that the act of imposition contradicts the basic principle of democracy, which is autonomy or self-rule. If, as I showed in chapter 3, the problem this creates for Kant and his cosmopolitan successors is how their utopia of a peaceful federation of republics could come into being, the issue already exists for political theory in the case of founding a single republic.10 While Kant, as we saw, was content to solve this problem by giving the ruler the moral obligation to gradually reform the law and constitution, Rousseau famously counted on nothing less than a sort of miracle— the intervention of a heroic Lawgiver from outside the community.11 The more common alternative, in history as well as theory, is a revolutionary moment of self-foundation, where the people join together to create their own institutions. While far from unproblematic in practice, to be sure, only such a model, one that sees democracy in terms of practices prior to institutions, can avoid the paradoxes in which the leading models of political cosmopolitanism become ensnared. In this section I turn to a series of authors who have reflected on the problem of self-foundation and developed a very different understanding of the relationship between political action and institutions than that of the mainstream of political theory. This tradition tends to be identified with the idea of “radical democracy.” Especially in the wake of the surge of radical politics in the 1960s, many authors, observing that political life in advanced liberal democracies could only in a very distant sense be regarded as “government by the people,” put forth proposals that would involve a much higher and more continuous level of popular participation in public affairs.12 These proposals have often been dismissed on much the grounds Pettit dismissed populism. Mark Warren, for instance, finds that radical democracy is “beset by a fuzzy utopianism that fails to confront limitations of complexity, size, and scale of advanced industrial society.” He is skeptical that such a form of bottom-up participatory politics could “amass the powers necessary to deal with the globalization of markets, trade blocs, migrations, environmental destruction, and

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so-called collective security arrangements.” Most importantly, he insists that “radical democrats should give up once and for all the Rousseauian ideal of the state as the political expression of a democratic community, as well as the communitarian/republican notion that democracy can or should, as a matter of necessity, reveal or result in community.”13 While a number of these objections, which amount to the complaint that radical democracy is unrealistic to the extent that it denies the complexity of modern social and political life, have some basis, I argue that in an important sense they miss the point. To be sure, it is far from clear that the proposals put forth by many radical democrats could form the basis of a stable political order, let alone one substantial enough to tackle the problems posed by globalization. But I propose to read this tradition as instead concerned with the problem of transformation. If, as all the authors I discuss concede, the high degree of politicization and common purpose required for radical democracy can be imaged as at best punctual, as coalescing around particular problems and demands, this may nevertheless be sufficient to indicate how the people can be regarded as the authors of their own institutions. What this entails is a radical shift of perspective: from seeing democracy as an ideal regime or system of government to seeing it as a practice and an ideal, a logic of transformative action through which people act on the institutions that ordinarily act on them. I elaborate this shift in perspective by reconstructing a current of political theory that endorses democracy not because of the goods it produces (its instrumental benefits—from guaranteeing rights to discovering and achieving the collective good) or because of its superior normative grounds (its expression of freedom and equality), but because it is, in senses that refer to their own highly individual understandings of politics, the regime that best realizes the nature of “the political.” This way of thinking about democracy, of which Hannah Arendt is the principal modern author, has the advantage of anchoring democracy in political action itself and therefore in the direct expression of freedom and equality (a). Yet despite her enormous influence on subsequent democratic theory, Arendt was only ambiguously a democrat or an egalitarian. In order to realize the radically democratic implications of her work, I therefore turn to other theorists who have radicalized her thought in different respects. Sheldon Wolin, for instance, shows in a more explicitly radical way how democratic politics can be understood as an expression of the activity of

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citizens, while Claude Lefort and Miguel Abensour show how such a politics can be understood as oriented toward the realization of egalitarian ideals (b). The aim of this reconstruction is both to find an alternative to top-down normative theory and, as a happy by-product, to redeem the notion of radical democracy, not as an idealized account of state functioning, but as a logic of political transformation. (a) The first conception of politics I want to examine comes from Hannah Arendt. Arendt’s impact on contemporary political theory has been enormous, and I will return to her thought at some length in chapter 6, where I take conflicting readings of her “right to have rights” as an index of different interpretations of politics. Here, however, I am concerned with just one aspect of her thinking: her effort to find a new basis for political theory that fundamentally dissociates it from any kind of instrumentalism. A new beginning was necessary, she felt, because politics had been doubly suppressed in the Western tradition. The first suppression is as old as philosophy itself. Since the trial of Socrates, philosophy has been deeply suspicious of politics, which it has viewed as the realm of opinion, conflict, and contingency. In its place, philosophy has sought to discover the true, the unitary, the eternal—what Arendt refers to as arhkē, basic norms or principles—which it then, as in Plato’s Republic, tries to impose on political life.14 The second suppression set in with the modern period when the social realm, the world of production and reproduction, came to absorb the political sphere. Here, as, for example, in Comte or Marx, the contingent, unpredictable world of politics is suppressed in favor of management, the coordination of social needs, functions, and interests. In both cases philosophy seeks “the theoretical foundations and practical ways for an escape from politics,” which for Arendt is always accompanied by the practical correlate that “men can lawfully and politically live together only when some are entitled to command and the others forced to obey.”15 Arendt’s revalorization of politics is thus in a sense a rebellion against philosophy’s desire to prescribe to politics.16 Although Arendt’s contribution to radical democratic thinking now tends to be taken for granted, it is important to see that it is in fact indirect. The relevant part of her thinking for democratic theory revolves around her idealized account of citizenship; it concerns how politics, understood as an activity, can be seen as possessing its own, internal normativity. This internal or intrinsic normativity

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lies in a sense deeper than any moral ends we might seek to realize by means of politics. Like the most important sources for her affirmative account of politics, Aristotle, Machiavelli, and Montesquieu, Arendt is at best ambivalent about democracy. While the highpoints of modern politics were for her radically democratic moments like the 1956 Budapest uprising, she admires them more for realizing what she regarded as the true spirit of politics than out of any deep love of equality. Indeed, she tends to associate institutionalized democracy with majoritarianism and even to dismiss it as “counting noses.” By contrast, the valorization of politics, understood not as the realization of extrapolitical purposes but simply (and rather abstractly) as free action among equals, is a consistent motif in her thought. At its heart is an effort to think politics as praxis, an activity that is not exhausted in its end but contains its end in itself. Indeed, for her politics “lies altogether out of the categories of means and ends”: “the means to achieve the end would already be the end; and this ‘end,’ conversely, cannot be considered a means in some other respect, because there is nothing higher to attain than this actuality itself.”17 In order to see the implications of this autotelic notion of politics, we need to turn to the clearest statement of her affirmative vision of the political: not, as is commonly thought, in The Human Condition (which, as the German title, Vita Activa, conveys, takes up action rather than politics), but in her slightly later drafts for a planned “Introduction Into Politics,” which she began in German in 1956 but left unfinished. Here she makes a highly consequential distinction between the aims of politics, its ends, and its meaning.18 Political action always pursues aims, immediate goals, she allows, but the contingency and plurality of the political world means that they are seldom attained. They are therefore incidental to the meaning of politics. Arendt uses the term ends, in contrast, to translate Kant’s Zweck (itself a rendering of the Aristotelian telos) and thus to designate higher goals that politics as a whole should strive to realize, such as right, freedom, peace, or justice. We might then think that the meaning of politics is defined by its ends—for instance “justice” in Plato or “right” in Kant. For Arendt, to the contrary, the greatest threat to political life is the reduction of politics to the pursuit of ends, even those of freedom and justice. The problem with defining politics in terms of its ends, according to Arendt, is that doing so reduces action to a mere means. If we see peace

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as the end of war, for instance, “the goals end up in conflict with the ends for which the means of force have been mobilized, since these ends could be better and more quickly achieved if the means were given free rein or, put differently, were organized in keeping with the ends.”19 Anything can then be justified; total war can appear as the optimal means to achieve peace. Likewise, if we take freedom or equality to be the end of politics, the ultimate purpose to which every action must be directed, whatever would finally advance these ends is warranted, even if its immediate effect is to extinguish freedom and equality. In such a case, she explains: “Even when the end is freedom, the meaning that is determined in the action itself is violent coercion.”20 This, for her, is the lesson of modern politics from the Jacobin Terror to totalitarianism: ends must not provide a blanket justification for means. Arendt locates the meaning of politics, in contrast, neither in its aims nor in its ends but in political practice itself, the types of action it calls into being and the relations it establishes among its participants. “If a political action that does not stand under the sign of brute force does not achieve its goals—which it never does in reality—that does not render the political action either pointless or meaningless. It cannot be pointless because it never pursued a ‘point,’ that is, an end, but has only been directed at goals, more or less successfully; and it is not meaningless because in the back-and-forth of exchanged speech—between individuals and peoples, between states and nations—that space in which everything else that takes place is first created and then sustained.”21 The significance of this can be seen if we consider Arendt’s versions of the central democratic values, freedom and equality. For Arendt, the meaning of politics is freedom. “Freedom,” she writes, “is not only one among the many problems and phenomena of the political realm properly speaking, such as justice, or power, or equality; freedom, which only seldom—in times of crisis or revolution—becomes the direct aim of political action, is actually the reason that men live together in political organization at all.”22 As we can infer from her example of revolution, the freedom she has in mind is not private, individual freedom (Hobbes’s silence of the law, Constant’s life of private enjoyments), but neither is it the collective, Rousseauian freedom to realize the good of the community. As she puts it, if “the raison d’être of politics is freedom .  .  . its field of experience is action”—that is, political action.23 Arendtian freedom is thus exclusively the freedom to act politically.

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What then of equality? Arendt is clear—again, following Aristotle—that political action occurs only among equals, by appearing in public among one’s peers. Yet, as she insists against the tradition of natural law and the social contract: “We are not born equal; we become equal as members of a group on the strength of our decision to guarantee ourselves mutually equal rights. Our political life rests on the assumption that we can produce equality through organization insofar as it is guided by the principle of justice.”24 Equality does not precede political action and should not be understood as its end. Rather, equality only comes into being through politics and the common world political practice creates. By thus locating the meaning of politics in action rather than in any of the particular things political actors seek to accomplish, Arendt tries to reorient it away from individual or collective will and toward what she calls “the world” or “the in-between”—the intersubjective “space of appearances” between people, constituted by their differences. The meaning or point of politics is creating and maintaining this space of politics, a realm in which people can be recognized as human, as potential partners in interaction. This further means, as Arendt here suggests, that politics is in a sense preparatory to, a precondition of, justice. Politics cannot, however, be about—be defined and wholly determined by—the realization of justice, for this would reduce it to a means to an end, inviting its perversion and ultimately its destruction. If Arendt offers a highly resonant vision of democracy, it is not because of any moral end it advances or promotes, but rather—as for Aristotle— because it is the regime that best realizes the meaning of politics. The version of democracy that may be glimpsed through this account and developed especially through her praise of council democracy in On Revolution is, to be sure, radically egalitarian, but this is principally because it defines politics as possible only among equals, rather than through relations of command and obedience. Despite her ambivalence concerning democracy, however, Arendt’s emphasis on action has an important advantage for my purpose here. Not only does she dissociate politics from rule, she insists that politics—in her highly specific and even rarefied sense, as the free, cooperative action of individuals—is prior to laws, states, and institutions. This is essential for cosmopolitics because it shifts the question from the possible validity of universal norms or principles or the authority of global laws and institutions to the possibility of political action, which need not be tied to existing institutional frameworks. As Étienne Tassin

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argues, the problem of cosmopolitanism from an Arendtian point of view is then the difficulty of creating a “world” or “worlds” in which it is possible to act politically out of the vast chains of apolitical interaction constituted by contemporary globalization.25 This cannot be the work of great powers or international institutions, but must arise from relations among political actors themselves. In the balance of this chapter and the next, I follow this Arendtian suggestion to argue that thinking cosmopolitanism politically means thinking in terms of the spaces created by free political action from below. But, before doing so, it must be allowed that, if such a reading of Arendt is relatively unfamiliar, it is in large part because of obstacles that she herself erected. While she does not equate politics with any particular set of institutions, she says little about how the frameworks of politics can change—an omission that leads some commentators to charge her (wrongly, I think) with indifference to the fate of those excluded from political communities.26 Indeed, critics have long complained that precisely Arendt’s exclusive focus on (a highly idealized vision of) political action renders her account, in the end, rather static. Once she has carefully excluded all concerns she regards as merely “social”—everything concerned only with the production of our physical environmental or the reproduction of life—it is not clear what Arendtian politics are actually about.27 If Arendt’s work represents an important rupture in the tradition of political philosophy in theorizing how politics can be thought of as autonomous, as subordinate neither to philosophy nor even to morality while still being oriented toward freedom and equality, we need to go beyond her to make this orientation explicit—then beyond that to see how it can be cosmopolitical. (b) In order to address some of these deficits, I now turn to interpreters of Arendt who have developed visions of democracy that, while still unmistakably stamped by her thinking of politics, address some of its shortcomings and also radicalize it in important respects. I begin with Claude Lefort, who like Arendt sought to uncover the distinctness and autonomy of politics. Reflecting the influence of his teacher, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, however, Lefort does so in terms of reflection in addition to action. Lefort distinguishes between “the political” (le politique) and “politics” (la politique), with “the political” standing for a holistic conception of public life and “politics” for a more quotidian, conflictual one. His

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main innovation is to give “the political” a reflexive turn: he defines it as society’s way of representing its wholeness or unity to itself, of understanding itself as a collectivity. For him “the political” is both the shaping (mise en forme) of collective life, the self-production and self-reproduction of society, and the staging (mise en scène) of this process, the selfrepresentation of society as a meaningful totality. Both together, action and the actors’ understanding of that action, give both (objective) form and (subjective) meaning (mise en sens) to social life.28 An important implication of Lefort’s definition of politics is that it cannot, pace Arendt, be understood solely in terms of action, since politics also always includes reflection on and discussion of that action. According to Lefort, “the one thing that has been grasped in every human society, the one thing that gives it its status as human society,” is an understanding of “the difference between legitimacy and illegitimacy, between truth and lies, between authenticity and imposture, between the pursuit of power or of private interests and of the common good.”29 The speech of which Arendtian action is composed must, then, be largely taken up by these very things; the extrapolitical moral or ethical types of normativity that Arendt seems to want to exclude from political action are in fact an integral part of it. Since for Lefort the nature of a regime depends on how society represents itself to itself, how it envisions and, at the same time, enacts its idea of itself, ideas and standards of legitimacy are internal to and constitutive of politics. There is always a gap, however, between society’s self-perceived unity and its real division. While every political society has some way of imagining itself as a unity, this unity can never in fact be achieved. In what is surely his best-known contribution to political theory, Lefort understands democracy as a way of ensuring that the place of power, the representation of “the political,” remains “empty.” By fostering competition between political actors and principles of legitimacy, democracy prevents any single one from standing in for the imaginary unity of society: “modern democracy invites us to replace the notion of a regime governed by laws, of a legitimate power, by the notion of a regime founded upon the legitimacy of a debate as to what is legitimate and what is illegitimate—a debate which is necessarily without any guarantor and without any end.”30 A democratic society is thus one whose animating ideas remain forever subject to debate. At the same time, the fact that its ideals— justice, humanity, equality, democracy itself—escape any particular

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articulation or instantiation guarantees their quasi-transcendental status. Democratic political life is oriented around them, but never able to finally realize them. But this too marks an essential difference between Lefort and Arendt. In an essay on Arendt, Lefort takes issue with “the clear-cut distinction she establishes between the political realm and the private realm, and the related distinction between political equality and social inequality,” chiding her for dismissing the relevance of social inequalities for democratic politics. At the same time, he objects to what he regards as her excision of the moral and the normative from the political, maintaining that “the distinction between truth and lies, good and evil, just and unjust, real and imaginary [is] constitutive of political thought, or even of thought in general.”31 He thus insists on two elements of democratic politics that Arendt seems determined to exclude: struggles against social inequality, on the one hand, and universalizing normative ideas, on the other. The relation between the two, it will be recalled, was a central issue in the exchange between Butler and Benhabib in chapter 4. In their case, it seemed, one could opt only for one or the other: for Butler, affirming the possibility of conflict and therefore normative innovation meant abandoning general norms; for Benhabib, such norms were a precondition of moral debate and purposeful political action. For Lefort, in contrast, normative principles are central to political life, yet disagreement over them, and in particular the refusal to fix them once and for all, is at the heart of democracy, its animating principle. In this way we can say that Lefort manages to restore reflection and normativity to Arendtian politics by including openness to moral and other purposes. Yet he does not subordinate action to realizing them as aims or ends. Rather, their relative indeterminacy is an essential part of democratic politics itself. These contributions, however, do not address what I identified at the end of the last section as the second great deficit of Arendt’s approach to politics from a cosmopolitan perspective—namely, her apparent indifference to who it includes and excludes. For this I turn now to two authors who effectively radicalize Arendt and Lefort’s work, respectively, moving from a position that defends democracy on “purely political” grounds, for its embrace of freedom and contingency, to one that reinterprets it as a radically transformative project. The first is Sheldon Wolin, whose magisterial 1960 Politics and Vision, though it never cites Arendt, unmistakably bears her stamp,

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especially in its praise of the classical ideal of citizenship. Citizenship, Wolin explains, “provides what the other roles cannot, namely an integrative experience which brings together the multiple roleactivities of the contemporary person and demands that the separate roles be surveyed from a more general point of view.”32 Although Wolin is critical of Arendt (her apparent inegalitarianism, hypostatization of categories, hellenophilia, etc.),33 he lauds politics in terms that would be familiar to her. Moreover, for Wolin, much more explicitly than for Arendt, democracy comes to represent the essence of politics. “Democracy involves more than participation in political processes,” he writes, picking up another Arendtian motif; “it is a way of constituting power. Democracy is committed to the claim that experience with, and access to, power is essential to the development of the capacities of ordinary persons because power is crucial to human dignity and realization.”34 These reflections set the stage for the increasingly antinomian turn of Wolin’s later thought. Whereas in Politics and Vision he wrote against Marx and the utopian socialists that “to reject the state meant denying the central referent of the political,”35 after several disillusioning decades he arrives at the conclusion that, since “each of the components of state power—scientific, technological, economic, and cultural—is a representation and perpetuation of elitism,” under modern conditions democracy can only exist transiently, against, rather than in or through, the state. Moreover, he insists that this elitism is not peculiar to the modern state. Even in ancient Greece, constitutionalism—along with, following Arendt, political philosophy as such—was “a measured, antidotal response to the democratic revolutions of the fifth century bce.”36 As he reasons in the book’s second edition, which appeared more than four decades after the first, “Since, at best, only rarely has democracy ‘governed,’ then perhaps political theorists from antiquity to modern times have made a category mistake by treating democracy as a possible constitutional form for an entire society.”37 Thus, rather than try to refute the standard criticisms of radical democracy—“that democracy is inherently unstable, inclined toward anarchy, and identified with revolution”—Wolin embraces them. What his late view entails is thus an “aconstitutional conception of democracy.”38 Such a conception is, we should note, not completely alien to Arendt. She too celebrates democratic localism and council democracy, and combines a belief in action with a deep suspicion of institutions. As she writes in “On Violence”: “All political institutions are manifestations and

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materializations of power; they petrify and decay as soon as the living power of the people ceases to uphold them.”39 Yet for her the point of revolution is not simply liberation but “founding freedom” within a constitutional order. The later Wolin abandons this prospect. “Institutionalization marks the attenuation of democracy,” he now holds, which can exist only as “a moment rather than a form.”40 Democracy is punctual and interruptive, “an ephemeral phenomenon rather than a settled system,” a logic of action rather than of government. Democratic moments are “protean and amorphous, embracing a wide range of possible forms and mutations that are responsive to grievances on the part of those who have no means of redress other than to risk collectivizing their small bits of power.”41 For Wolin true democracy is fleeting or “fugitive,” while the quintessential moment of democracy is revolution, “the means by which the demos makes itself political”: “democratic moments in revolutions have been the carriers of commonality, the perduring conscience of the political.”42 Only this constitution of political power outside and against formal institutions, for Wolin at the end of this theoretical trajectory, deserves the name of democracy. We can observe a parallel (though so far as I can tell entirely independent) evolution in what could be called a French school of radical democracy with the transformative interpretation of Lefort’s work by one of his most notable students, Miguel Abensour. Much as Wolin did with Arendt, Abensour observes that Lefort’s conception of democracy is oddly static in character. Since Lefort is concerned with thinking democracy as a regime, he does not really consider the significance of conflict beyond preserving democratic indeterminacy. Abensour reverses this emphasis. While continuing to think within the reflexive, Lefortian paradigm, he shifts the focus from democracy as a regime—a form of “the political”—to democracy as a “politics,” a mode of action and contestation. For Abensour, Lefort’s insight that democracy can never be finally achieved means that revolutionary democratic invention can and should be ongoing: “If you agree to see in democracy something other than a political regime . . . if you recognize in it a specific political institution of the social that accommodates conflict rather than hides it, that multiplies the spaces for collective invention, that circulates the will to autonomy in all spheres of the social, that provokes a series of experiences of political freedom . . . then, far from being frozen into its result, a form, it is to be conceived as a process, an endless breakthrough.”43

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Like Wolin, then, Abensour chooses to see democracy as a logic of action rather than a form of regime. He develops this dynamic conception of democratic politics in Democracy Against the State, a reading of Marx’s 1843 notes on Hegel’s Philosophy of Right.44 According to Abensour, in the year after Marx left the Rhineland he was an exemplary radical democrat. In contrast to 1842, when Marx first took up revolutionary republicanism, or 1844, when he began to reject politics in favor of the critique of “deeper” social structures (ultimately, of course, the economy), in 1843 Marx took up the question of politics as such. Before 1843, Abensour claims, Marx was a typical left-Hegelian who saw the promise of political modernity fulfilled in popular sovereignty and the republican state. The point of radical politics, on this view, is for civil society to capture the state, overcoming inequality and alienation.45 Against this model, Abensour shows how, in developing his critique of Hegel, Marx juxtaposes the logic of the state qua institution to the logic of active civil society or the “total demos,” the sum of popular political energies. Thus what Marx calls “true democracy” cannot culminate in the Jacobin (or, later, Leninist) seizure of the state, but only in the activity by which a mobilized civil society challenges existing institutions. While the demos surges up to demand “true democracy,” this demand cannot in principle be realized. Instead, these “Machiavellian moments” are the engine of a democratization that remains forever incomplete. If such a reading of Marx—for Arendt, Wolin, and Lefort, the antipolitical philosopher par excellence—is unusual, its possibility is clearly announced in the manuscript’s most (indeed, only) famous line: that democracy is the “solved enigma of every constitution.”46 As Marx glosses this formula: “in all states other than democratic ones the state, the law, the constitution is what rules, without really ruling—i.e., without materially permeating the content of the remaining, non-political spheres. In democracy the constitution, the law, the state itself, insofar as it is a political constitution, is only the self-determination of the people, and a particular content of the people.”47 Since in a democracy the people are the ultimate authority, when in moments of heightened politicization they press popular-egalitarian claims against particular state institutions (property, restrictions on the franchise, etc.) they assert “true” democracy against what is thereby revealed to be “merely formal,” institutionalized democracy. In struggling against the limits of existing institutions,

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then, civil society or the “total demos” seeks to realize the principle that underlies the very idea of democracy. What interests Abensour in Marx’s text is its thinking of democracy “in excess” of any given institutions. Democracy exceeds any institutional approximation of its underlying principles, moreover, in two senses: as an ideal and as a mode of action. “Democracy,” writes Abensour with reference to Lefort, invoking Machiavelli’s famous metaphor, “like an impetuous river that incessantly overflows its bed, cannot ‘go back home’ and submit to the established order.”48 The indeterminacy that Lefort sees as democracy’s identifying feature sets in motion an endless logic of challenge and transformation; like Arendt, his example is Hungary in 1956.49 This brings Abensour very close to Wolin. Marx’s “true democracy,” on Abensour’s reading, is “fugitive” in Wolin’s sense: it is transitory, made up of discrete bursts of popular action. And, as for Wolin, this is typically opposed to particular institutions; indeed, Abensour depicts it as the very dissolution of form: Democracy is not a crystallized form . . . that establishes an organisation of powers and rules of the game; it is rather a continuous movement, a political action that in its very manifestation works to undo the state-form, to stop its logic (domination, totalization, mediation, integration) in order to replace it with its own, that of the sovereign people, by struggling against mystifying reconciliations and false integrations. Democracy is the determined institution of a conflictual space, a space against, an agonistic stage on which two antagonistic logics confront one another: the autonomization of the state as form, and the life of the people as action, political action.50 As reflects his Lefortian point of departure, however, Abensour does not see the force of the active “demos” solely as the negation of institutions and ideals. While democratic action is in a sense the antithesis of the state, the two interact dialectically: the “demos” challenges the state, struggling for “more” democracy and sometimes in some measure succeeding. But then it inevitably subsides, having reshaped the state but never perfected it.51 Invoking the Kantian notion of right—which, as I pointed out in chapter 3, stands simultaneously for the ideal of justice and the imperative of order—Abensour explains that in democratic

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politics “right, by its external relationship to power, proves to be always in excess of what is established, as if the instituting instance, once posited, reemerges to reaffirm existing rights and create new ones.”52 For Abensour as for Lefort, “right” is never identical to law, and precisely this gap can always provoke politicization. On Abensour’s conception, the reform that Kant hoped would come from the top down, as duty led the ruler to approximate the idea of right, comes from below as civil society seeks to transform the institutions that govern in its name. Democracy as a form of “the political” in Lefort’s sense, as form or regime, gives rise to a democratic politics in Abensour’s sense, which challenges the regime with the aim of making it more democratic. Democracy emerges, not as a design to be implemented, be it from above or from the outside, but as an ideal and a mode of political action, a principle of transformation that seeks to alter the terms of politics, though it can never do so finally or completely. Democracy, like cosmopolitan universalism, can then be understood as an infinitely repeatable claim against the limits, injustices, and usurpations of any given set of institutions. t



In this section I have explored a countertradition of political theory that seeks to rethink and revive the ideas of politics and democracy. What is important about this countertradition from a cosmopolitan perspective is that it dissociates democratic politics from the state and its institutions, defining it instead as a kind of action. Hannah Arendt, as we have seen, accomplishes this by locating politics in a sphere of creative interaction among equals; Claude Lefort does it by identifying politics with the process through which a collectivity represents itself as itself to itself. On both these models, politics ceases to be located in the state, laws, and institutions and is instead found in the political activity of civil society. This countertradition then takes another step when, with Sheldon Wolin and Miguel Abensour, this activity is identified with the processes through which “the people” act against given institutional forms, seeking to realize “more” democracy. With this move, “radical democracy,” associated by Mark Warren and other critics with nostalgic, Rousseauian visions of direct democracy, emerges as a logic of transformation, a process through which agents in civil society act on, rather than simply in, established political institutions. With Wolin and Abensour we can then

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understand this process as an always incomplete effort to realize the ideal of democracy. According to this conception, democracy is no longer understood as a regime, defined in terms of stability or permanence; instead, it is a mode of politics—transitory, punctual, “fugitive.” It does not consist in establishing or preserving a particular set of relations, but in seeking to transform them. As for the new forms that will arise through these moments of democratic activity, they can no more be prescribed or predicted than can the new figures of universality that emerge from the process of contestation envisaged by Butler and Bourdieu. What we can say is that they will be more inclusive, more democratic, than those that provoked the democratic challenge in the first place. They will be more democratic, that is, in a sense that corresponds not to a preestablished standard of democracy (except in the most abstract terms), but that arises through the action itself. It is democratic political action, these thinkers claim, and not any particular institutional form, that possesses an internal normativity, since this action is the direct expression and realization of the idea of equal freedom. In this moment of action, the limits of existing institutions are overcome and “true democracy,” the ideal to which all really existing democracies pay tribute, fleetingly appears. But, to a degree perhaps not fully appreciated by Wolin or Abensour, the by-products, as it were, of this action are concrete transformations that make institutions in particular respects more reflective of the will of the people. While this radical democratic action is always in a sense negative, then— directed against a specific instance of oppression, inequality, or political alienation—its effect can be positive, resulting in “more” democracy. This form of popular action, defined neither by existing institutions nor by those it seeks to create, corresponds, I think, to the radical democratic potential of what I discussed in chapter 3 under the heading of “transnational civil society.” It seems clear, for instance, that what radical democrat C. Douglas Lummis calls “transborder participatory democracy,” based on “the right of the people to intervene in, to modify, and ultimately to control any decisions that affect their lives, no matter where those decisions are made,” is utopian.53 Quite apart from the likelihood of it ever coming into being, the logistical complexities of instituting and operating such a system on a global level would be immense. But it is possible to imagine people exercising the right Lummis describes punctually, around particular issues or events and against particular institutions.54 By

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understanding democratic politics first and foremost as a kind of collective action that asserts popular power against institutions that deny the relevant “people” a say, we can imagine it arising anywhere institutions act without proper regard for the interests of those they affect. And since this action does not necessarily aim at or culminate in any particular set of structures (liberal-constitutional, direct-democratic) but more generally in transformations that make institutions more limited, accessible, and accountable, we can characterize popular politics against any of the powers that act on an international scale (corporations, international organizations) as democratic. Still, if it is possible to see political action on the radical democratic model presented thus far, certain aspects of this model undermine its cosmopolitical potential. The most important is that it assumes a “people” that is the subject of political action.55 This idea takes one form in Arendt’s or Lefort’s insistence that politics depends on sharing a public-political sphere and another for Wolin and Abensour, who see the whole as being expressed first and foremost negatively, when the subordinated or excluded contest their condition. To be sure, this “people” is not necessarily identified with a given state or community and therefore could, in principle, arise anywhere people join together to contest the actions even of international institutions. All the same, from a cosmopolitan perspective, this emphasis on commonality is itself a problem. Political action requires solidarity. However, just as I argued in chapter 1 that cosmopolitanism expresses a logic of disaffiliation and disidentification, a challenge to existing communities and solidarities, a democratic cosmopolitics must concern itself with transforming not only existing institutions but the very frames within which politics and morality are thought and practiced. In the next section I argue that we can think of the universalizing force of democratic action as residing not in aggregation but in division, not in the constitution of a people but in the process of deconstituting and reconstituting existing peoples. The key, I will suggest, is to understand the universality of cosmopolitics as emerging through its negativity. Democratic Universalism as cosmoPolitics

In chapter 4 I discussed universalism in terms of norms or principles. There I considered a debate among philosophers motivated by two

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opposed concerns: on the one hand about the need for norms or values that can claim general validity; on the other about the danger of wrongly imposing particular ways of thinking, judging, acting, or being on others. In response to these concerns I argued that it was best to reconceive universalism as a process of universalization. On this view, the aim would be not to theoretically arrive at “truly universal” norms but rather to understand how norms can become more universal, less arbitrary and exclusive, through successive challenges from their outside. Having shown in the last section how democracy can be understood as a practice and process through which those subordinated or excluded from power contest their subordination or exclusion, I now want to explore in what sense this politics can be understood as universalistic. The answer, already anticipated to some extent by Abensour’s notion of “insurgent democracy,” lies in focusing on how challenges to the scope of citizenship can have transformative, universalizing effects. As I have insisted throughout this book, universality is not only a matter of norms or values; it can have another, more objective sense. Rather than a theoretical problem, it can refer to the brute fact of, as Étienne Balibar puts it, “an actual interdependency between the various ‘units’ which, together, build what we call the world: institutions, groups, individuals, but also, more profoundly, the various processes which involve institutions, groups and individuals.”56 This “real universality,” as Balibar terms it, is a fact, a historically evolved condition that emerged as European conquest, capitalism, and communications knit the entire globe into what Immanuel Wallerstein calls a single “world system.” It is this historical fact that necessitates a cosmopolitan perspective. By beginning not with the plurality and interpretability of norms and ideals but rather with the fact that actors and ideals are already in relation, Balibar takes an important step beyond the approaches to universality I considered in the last chapter. On the one hand, he shows how all positive ideals are to some degree compromised by their entanglement with really existing universality; on the other hand, however, he is able to preserve an emancipatory sense of universalization that tendentially escapes this capture by the world as it is (a). I then turn to Jacques Rancière for an account of how a democratic politics directed toward overcoming specific inequalities in particular situations can be understood as universalistic. I argue that Rancière’s radical redefinition of democratic politics as consisting of challenges to the

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limits of given political communities offers a basis for imagining democracy as punctual and plural, but nevertheless indefinitely expansive and universalistic (b). To understand such a radically democratic politics as specifically cosmopolitical, however, we have to overcome two important deficits in Rancière’s thinking: his exaggerated antipathy toward normative principles, on one side, and any positive sense of the universalism or cosmopolitanism, on the other. As I will argue, this antiuniversalism is neither necessary to nor consistent with the logic of his position. Precisely the deficits of his account, I will show, provide an invaluable guide to understanding a democratic cosmopolitics as both strongly universalistic and based in local demands (c). (a) Awareness of “real universality” is coextensive with modernity, a condition that acute observers have always regarded with deep ambivalence. Take Kant’s famous observation in “On Perpetual Peace,” discussed in chapter 3, that “the peoples of the earth have thus entered in varying degrees into a universal community, and it has developed to the point where a violation of rights in one part of the world is felt everywhere.”57 The scores of authors who have cited this passage in recent years, usually to hail the rise of a global public sphere based on a consensus about human rights, rarely pause to investigate Kant’s “thus.” What according to Kant has given rise to this new global sensitivity to injustice? The answer is the depredations of European imperialism: the passage follows Kant’s condemnation of “the inhospitable conduct of the civilized states of our continent, especially the commercial states, the injustice which they display in visiting foreign countries and peoples (which in their case is the same as conquering them).”58 Marx and Engels’s portrait of capitalist globalization in the first section of The Communist Manifesto likewise makes no effort to prettify the brutality with which the bourgeoisie is unifying the world—this is indeed the message of the great rhapsody culminating in “all that is holy is profaned, all that is solid melts into air”—even if the violence of this process can ultimately be redeemed by proletarian revolution. And Hannah Arendt, to take a third example, insists in The Origins of Totalitarianism that “humanity, which for the eighteenth century, in Kantian terminology, was no more than a regulative idea, has today become an inescapable fact.”59 Humanity has become a fact not by virtue of moral progress, however, but because world war, totalitarianism, and

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the Holocaust have lain bare the extent of our interconnectedness and mutual vulnerability. For these seminal thinkers of modernity, then, universality is not in the first place an achievement, a project, and least of all a set of values and principles of social organization that all societies should strive to attain. It is a predicament born of a long string of violent catastrophes. In Balibar’s words, which echo Arendt’s: “real universality is a stage in history where, for the first time, ‘humankind’ as a single web of interrelationships is no longer an ideal or utopian notion but an actual condition for every individual; nevertheless, far from representing a situation of mutual recognition, it actually coincides with a generalized pattern of conflicts, hierarchies and exclusions” (154–55). The result primarily of conquest, capitalism, technology, and the nation-state system, real universality overcomes boundaries, making humanity in a sense “one.” But in so doing it inexorably produces inequality, violence, hierarchy, and exclusion, turning differences into antagonisms and relations of domination. As I have argued, in different ways, against culturalism and pluralism, the reason difference now matters practically in a way it did not in the past is that “real universality” has made it an inescapable scene of imposition, exploitation, and domination. The significance of this general transformation is well appreciated in the literature on globalization. As we have seen, contemporary cosmopolitans frequently argue that we need to work toward cosmopolitan democracy because global processes demand supranational regulation and accountability. For them, it is the fact of “real universality” that creates the need for moral and political cosmopolitanism. But Balibar’s argument goes further. Real universality, he claims, as a state of affairs and an ongoing process, has important implications for universalism as a practical idea. At a certain point, Balibar writes, “a decisive threshold was crossed, which made [this process] irreversible.” This condition not only “makes it impossible to achieve any proper ‘delinking,’ or to imagine any return to ‘autarky’ within the world system”; it also marks “a moment . . . when utopian figures of universality”—“intellectual plans of establishing universality by connecting humankind with itself, creating a ‘cosmopolis’—which was always imagined at the same time as an implementation of certain moral values, precisely ‘universalistic’ values”—“have become obsolete by their very nature” (148). Utopian cosmopolitanism has, Balibar claims, been superseded by history. But why would the achievement

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of “real universality” mean the obsolescence of cosmopolitan utopias? Would it not mean instead that they are ripe for fulfillment? To see why this is, we need to turn to a second kind of universality: fictive universality. What Balibar calls fictive universality is fictive not in the sense that it is unreal or untrue, but rather in the sense that it has to do with representations. It includes both institutions and ideas, both the structures that order the social world and the ideas through which we understand and participate in them.60 Such representations or ideas correspond to what Lefort terms “the political,” but Balibar is less interested in their ideal content than in their real-world consequences, the actions and identities they induce. Fictive universals are, on the one hand, genuinely normative in the sense that they are desirable and motivating— people aspire to them and seek to realize them. On the other hand, they are ideological in the sense that they are creatures of, and serve the purposes of, a particular order. In the latter sense they are indissolubly linked to the normalization of individuals and the legitimation of the hegemony of which they are an essential part. Balibar’s favorite example is citizenship. National citizenship is a genuine achievement for which generations have struggled, one that opens up indefinite new possibilities for advancing freedom and equality. At the same time, however, this form of citizenship has two essential functions that betray its limits: the subjection of individuals to norms imposed by the state and the exclusion of noncitizens. Balibar’s “fictive” universals make an important advance over the notions of universality discussed in the last chapter because they clarify two of the chief ambiguities of universal ideas, norms, or values. The first, on which I have repeatedly insisted, is that every universal is in some respect particular. Balibar illustrates this in the case of two fictive universals that struggled to dominate Europe through much of the second Christian millennium: religion and politics, or church and state. Historically, he says, each was “truly” universal, offering a full complement of institutions, norms, values, ideals, and identities. Moreover, each was effectively universal in the sense that it could claim to encompass the other: “In the case of universal religions, the point d’honneur is peace among nations, the recognition of a supra-national community. In the case of the nation-state, it is, rather, peace or tolerance among the various religious denominations . . . in the name of citizenship and legal order” (159). Nonetheless, in the Europe of the sixteenth and seventeenth

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centuries the two were at loggerheads. Fictive universals can be universal, then, only on their own terms. “Nothing is more clearly particularistic,” Balibar explains, “than institutional claims of universality” (160). This is why, when challenged—as national citizenship and identity have been of late—“fictive universality regresses towards particularity” (173). The second advantage of Balibar’s conceptualization of fictive universals is that it explains why universal norms or values are always Janusfaced. Norms are not simply ideal and “good” or normalizing and “bad,” as the dichotomy I entertained in chapter 4 had it. Rather, every norm or ideal, every “fictive” universal, is both at once. Fictive universals integrate individuals and groups into institutions, but they also provide a basis for claims against these institutions. Indeed, as Balibar explains, fictive universals are normalizing because they are normative: “Fictive . . . universality is effective as a means of integration . . . because it leads dominated groups to struggle against discrimination or inequality in the very name of the superior values of the community” (161). As these struggles subside, the very same ideal turns into a form of legitimation and constraint, leading to the ossification decried by Arendt, Wolin, and Abensour. Yet the fact that they have been institutionalized does not forever deprive these ideals of their emancipatory force: “the dominant forces in society can speak to the masses in the language of universalistic values (rights, justice, equality, welfare, progress), because in this language a kernel remains which comes from the masses themselves, and is returned to them” (164). Thus, human rights, to take an example to which I will return in the next chapter, can neither simply be maintained as transcendent ideals nor denounced and dismissed as ruses of power. Their very hegemony today ensures that they are irreducibly both. This, I think, provides an illuminating gloss on the ambivalence with which cosmopolitanism is greeted today—why it appears self-evidently “good” and necessary to cosmopolitan democrats and universalistic normative theorists, “bad” and oppressive to those who equate it with an unjust world order, and simply “banal” to those who see in it the global creep of dull uniformity.61 Balibar’s account of fictive universals likewise explains the entanglement of what Walter Mignolo calls “cosmopolitan projects” and “global designs.” Mignolo sketches the West’s encroachment upon and transformation of the rest of the world as a series of “global designs”: Christianization (the Iberian conquest of the Americas), the “civilizing mission” (the European conquests of the eighteenth and

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nineteenth centuries), and developmental modernization (the US and possibly also Soviet expansionisms of the twentieth). Through all these stages, the violence and injustice of implementing these designs were opposed by European critics in the name of justice and equality. Yet, as Mignolo shows in the cases of Vitoria, Kant, and Marx, the critics’ “cosmopolitan projects” “failed to escape the ideological frame imposed by global designs themselves,”62 incorporating many of the latter’s central elements (Christianity, modernization, a certain notion of rationality and Enlightenment, the state, etc.). If what we have henceforth considered as both evaluative (good) and normalizing (bad) norms are encompassed by “fictive” universality, Balibar identifies a third type of universality that retains an unambiguously affirmative character: ideal or “symbolic” universality. “Ideal” universality, he claims, consists of “absolute or infinite claims which are symbolically raised against the limits of any institution” (164). It “introduces the notion of the unconditional into politics” and, at the same time, is “intrinsically linked with the notion of insurrection” (165). Balibar gives an example, “perhaps the only one”: “equaliberty,” or the simultaneous maximization of freedom and equality. For Balibar the key thing about equaliberty, which today most often finds expression in appeals to democracy and human rights, is that it is indefinitely expansive.63 To the extent that the principle of equaliberty is radically underdetermined, however, it is in a sense empty. Balibar thus aligns it with the arsenal of concepts Derrida developed to articulate the unrealizable ideals he posited as orienting ethical-political action (164): justice, the undeconstructable, the messianic, the “to-come.”64 Balibar characterizes ideal universality as “negative,” adding that “all the force of the statement comes from its indetermination.”65 Are we then to say that “ideal”—we could even say “true”—universality is so indeterminate that it is nothing and everything? Conclusions of this kind have been drawn by contemporary theorists who, like Balibar, seek to disentangle an affirmative sense of universality from a world that is itself in many respects universal. Here we can observe three main tendencies. The first is to conclude that any concept expansive enough to stand in for the universal must be almost completely meaningless, an “empty signifier” whose content and value can be assessed only in terms of its particular origins and the political forces that have coalesced around it. This view, represented by Ernesto Laclau’s theory of hegemony,

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has the advantage of political lucidity, but fails to account for the normative, emancipatory value Balibar wants to claim for the universal.66 A second response can be seen in the work of legal philosopher Costas Douzinas, who, following Derrida and Jean-Luc Nancy, associates all existing forms of universality in politics and morality with the hegemony of capitalism and imperialism. Douzinas reserves the designation cosmopolitan in an affirmative sense for the pure, prepolitical fact of being in relation to others, based only on “our absolute singularity and total responsibility beyond citizen and humanity, beyond national and international.”67 For this second tendency, then, the only “true” universal must be radically outside and beyond the world as it is now organized. A third interpretation of the universal, finally, can be illustrated by the work of sinologist François Jullien. Jullien likewise associates the dominant universals of our age with homogenization—not the universal, in his terminology, but “the uniform.”68 Like Butler, Jullien identifies “true” universality not with some pure point that escapes existing universals, but, in a sense, at their interstices, in the practice of “translation.” For Jullien, as for Butler (who herself follows Gayatri Spivak on this point), translation opens up a “gap” that forces us to measure the specificity of our own understandings and find analogues in other idioms.69 Awareness of this gap, and attempts—which can never be entirely successful—to close it, represent something like a practice of true universality. From my perspective, while the first approach deprives the universal of its positive charge, the second denies it any real-world referent and the third ties it too closely to existing understandings, which it is said to bridge rather than transcend. None of these approaches helps us see how values or claims can be universalistic in the practical sense that they transcend their context of origin, inspiring new appeals elsewhere. In chapter 4 I suggested that Pierre Bourdieu, by mapping the social world in terms of inequalities of power, offered a universal measure that can transcend cultural difference—albeit, importantly, only from the perspective of emancipatory politics. Balibar’s “equaliberty” does something similar. Balibar introduced the term with reference to the French Revolution’s Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen in order to explain the enduring significance of the revolutionary tradition.70 Looking back at the revolutionary documents and context, he found that the Declaration’s equation of man and citizen yields a single principle, “equaliberty,” that has no internal limit. Contrary to received liberal or socialist views

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that see freedom and equality in necessary tension, in the Declaration they are treated as reciprocally dependent and mutually reinforcing: a restriction on one is a restriction on the other, while each expands only with the other. The historical root of this principle, Balibar explains, was the struggle against the ancien régime, which was waged against absolutism and privilege, domination/unfreedom and hierarchy/inequality. This set the terms for emancipatory politics as a struggle for freedom and equality against whatever limits have been placed on them. The universality of equaliberty, however, owes nothing to the metaphysical status of the concepts themselves. Rather, it results from the fact that they emerged from the kind of political struggles that have been generalized with the rise of modern institutions, above all the market and the state. It is thus true that from this perspective “ideal” universality can never be successfully defined, figured, or represented, if only because it is inseparable from the various “fictive” ideological universals that make up the world as it is.71 However, while ideal universality takes its force from its indeterminacy, it acquires content through concrete attempts to expand its scope. As an articulation of the ideal toward which emancipatory politics is oriented, it is akin to “maximal justice” in Rainer Forst’s sense. To this extent, like the right to justification, it takes shape only through its opposition to a particular perceived injustice—typically, Balibar observes, in the form of a political movement. His example is the women’s movement, though the proletariat could serve as well. The claims of these “paradoxical classes” are universal, he explains, to the extent that they “claim the rights of a ‘particular’ not in the name of their peculiarity, but because [their] discrimination or exclusion appears to involve a negation of human universality as such” (173). The universality of emancipatory movements lies in the fact that their attempts to overcome particular obstacles to the generalization of equaliberty participate in a logic of emancipation whose unreachable telos would be universal equal freedom. Ideal universality thus emerges only as the negation of particular limits that have been placed on the principle of inclusion in, and an equal say in the terms of, social life. In pushing back particular denials of equal freedom, what emerges is a universal struggle for voice or inclusion, though one that can be pursued only case by case, in practice. The point, as Balibar makes clear, is not that everything is or should be immediately political but that anything can be politicized and thus— as I showed in for Butler and Bourdieu in chapter 4—that there is no way

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of saying in advance what the limits of politics should be. The universal normative logic of freedom and equality thus always retains a charge that can be ignited by concrete claims against particular unfreedoms and inequalities. (b) If struggles against inequality and domination possesses a universality that can form the core of a bottom-up cosmopolitics, I find a more concrete version of the politics of this universalizing logic in the work of Jacques Rancière. Rancière agrees with the radical democrats discussed so far that “democracy is not a political regime”; rather, for him as for the young Marx, “democracy is the regime of politics.”72 He further agrees with the radical democrats that this politics is typically launched against institutions in order to expand the depth and breadth of citizenship. He agrees with Balibar that this politics is in the first instance negative, waged against particular limits in concrete cases. What is, I think, most interesting about Rancière’s political theory is that, although his theorization of emancipatory-egalitarian politics shows that it has a perfectly generic, universal logic, that is not his focus. Indeed, he is reluctant to draw universalistic conclusions from his work, so that we must go beyond him in order to find them. Thus, while Rancière himself is no cosmopolitan, I suggest we find in his work the outlines of universalistic politics that can take place anywhere there are arbitrary limitations on the principle of equaliberty and thus a model for an egalitarian-democratic cosmopolitics from below. Rancière presents his distinctive conception of politics through a polemical juxtaposition with Hannah Arendt’s, concerning precisely the issue I left off on in my discussion above: while Arendt offers an ideal of political action that expresses the democratic values of freedom and equality, she may be said to do so in a way that discounts political struggles aiming at these values. For Arendt, as we saw above, equality arises in and through politics, but it is not its aim or end. She is frank about this, acknowledging that participation in public affairs, be it in the Greek polis or the Roman republic, was always based on exclusion.73 According to Rancière, this means that Arendt constructs a “vicious circle” by defining politics in terms of those who engage in it: politics is the activity of an elite made up of those who participate in politics, “the accomplishment of a way of life that is proper to those who are destined for it.”74 From Rancière’s perspective, various political philosophies and regimes

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are so many catalogues of criteria justifying the inclusion of some and the exclusion of others: birth, wealth, wisdom, and so on. Yet these various exclusions, however taken for granted they may be at a given time and place, will sooner or later be challenged. These challenges, he proposes, rather than their various contingent stabilizations, are politics. Rancière develops his notion of politics with reference to Arendt’s main source for the exclusionary logic of citizenship: Aristotle. For Aristotle as for Plato, politics requires logos, a common language in which to deliberate about justice and injustice. Those who are excluded from politics can express pain and pleasure, but they are aneu logou, deprived of logos, in the sense that they are excluded from the realm of justice; they can be harmed, but they cannot be wronged.75 Rancière calls the exposure and contestation of this asymmetrical relationship, which for him is the basis of any politics of inclusion and exclusion, a mésentente—a discord, misunderstanding, or dissensus.76 A mésentente, he explains, “is not the conflict between one who says white and another who says black. It is the conflict between one who says white and another who also says white but does not understand the same thing by it or does not understand that the other is saying the same thing.” Rather than being a matter of contending arguments, a mésentente concerns “a dispute over the object of the discussion and over the capacity of those who are making an object of it.”77 Logically prior to Arendt’s appearing in public and acting in common, Lefort’s collective self-representation, Habermas’s public deliberation, or any other positive conception of politics is a struggle to be recognized as a potential interlocutor and so as a political subject.78 Politics in this sense arises because every social order rests on a distribution of roles and functions, rulers and ruled, public and private, visible and invisible. Any public space, any Arendtian “world,” is based on a distribution and partition of what can appear and be perceived, “un partage du sensible.”79 The political realm is thus always not only shared but divided (the two senses of partagé): it includes certain actors, issues, and concerns only by excluding others. Again, the exclusion of women can serve as an example. Everyone in the Greek polis or the bourgeois European public sphere knew that women were excluded from citizenship. Leading thinkers, from Plato to John Stuart Mill, challenged this exclusion, but for conventional wisdom, as for most of those included, women and their affairs were simply not “political.” Politics could not be politics—public, occupied with common matters—if women and their “domestic” concerns

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were included within it. The same has held at different places and times for slaves, workers, the unpropertied, convicts, the handicapped—and, of course, foreigners, metics, or non-nationals. This exclusion does not change through normative argument, Rancière contends, because the party with an interest in this argument is excluded a priori from making it, while those who try to make in on their behalf (Plato or Mill) confirm the status quo in the very act of doing so. There is a sort of performative contradiction, from this perspective, in claiming someone else’s equal freedom.80 A situation of exclusion or inequality can change only when the excluded or subordinated respond to their predicament by staging a “political scene”—by engaging in the very activity that the prevailing order says is impossible for them, namely, political action, by deliberating and demanding a say.81 What Rancière calls “staging a political scene” strongly resembles Judith Butler’s “politics of the performative,” discussed in chapter 4. In both cases a potential political subject confronts a social world organized in a way that excludes her and her demand. But for Rancière this is not merely a matter of subverting the status quo, since he gives this politics a basis and a point. The paradoxical basis of the politics of equality and inclusion, on Rancière’s account, is that every hierarchy or exclusion is ultimately arbitrary. Every social order presents itself as natural, legitimate, and justified—a system, like Balibar’s “fictive” universals, with a place for everything and everyone. Rancière refers to such an order, a “distribution of the visible,” as “the police”—not a body of armed men, but simply the self-evidence of what is.82 History shows, however, that there is never anything natural or inevitable about how society is organized, which means that it can potentially be challenged at any time. “The foundation of politics”—its condition of possibility, we might say— “is the lack of foundation, the sheer contingency of any social order. Politics exists simply because no social order is based on nature, no divine law regulates human society.”83 Much as I showed for Bourdieu in chapter 4, Rancière thus arrives at an egalitarian, emancipatory principle of politics by simply inverting the contingent fact of hierarchy and exclusion. “Politics,” he writes programmatically in Disagreement, “is that activity that turns on equality as its principle”: “the only universal in politics is equality.”84 While political scenes always turn on claims to equality, however, for Rancière, as for Balibar, the idea of equality is empty: it means different

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things at different times, and in political moments it is by definition contested. It only acquires content through claims made by particular agents in particular contexts against particular inequalities or exclusions. Equality, for Rancière, is only a “presupposition” and a “logical operator.” Politics occurs by assuming equality and then “demonstrating” or “verifying” it in a particular case: “The logical schema of social protest, generally speaking, may be summed up as follows: Do we or do we not belong to the category of men or citizens or human beings, and what follows from this? The universality is not enclosed in citizen or human being; it is involved in the ‘what follows,’ in its discursive and practical enactment.”85 To the extent that such a claim always contradicts the reigning “police order,” it achieves universalizing effects negatively, by exposing and displacing false universals. “By constructing the singular, polemical universality of a demonstration,” Rancière explains, a political scene “brings out the universal of the republic as a particularized universal, distorted in its very definition by the police logic of roles and parts.”86 While Rancière shows how the logic of egalitarian claims for inclusion can be conceived of as universal, however, he sees no good coming from “real universality,” the de facto universalization of politics under capitalist globalization. The rise of a universal consensus concerning democracy and human rights, together with rudimentary institutions of global governance, is for him a massively depoliticizing development since it deprives political actors of spaces in which they can stage political scenes. On his diagnosis at the end of Disagreement, “The reign of globalization is not the reign of the universal. It is the opposite. It is in fact the disappearance of the places appropriate to its rationale. There is a world police and it can sometimes achieve some good. But there is no world politics.”87 Thus, despite his acute theorization of how the contestation of an exclusive universal can acquire a universalizing force, Rancière denies this possibility at the global level—not only concerning flows of goods, capital, ideas, and peoples but also the institutions and frameworks that have evolved to channel and regulate them. To this extent, I will argue, Rancière is not the most helpful guide to the implications of his theory. More constructively interpreted, however, and taken together with the insights developed over the last two chapters, his notion of an interruptive politics of equality can form the basis for a radically democratic cosmopolitics from below.

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(c) In the next chapter I turn to the field of human rights, where Rancière has partly revised the bleak prognosis he makes in the last pages of Disagreement. But for the moment I want to dispute his conclusions concerning the possibility of democratic politics in his specialized sense at the transnational level. In the case of contemporary globalization, Rancière rules out this possibility by associating supranational order exclusively with the reign of “the police”: it is the realm of “the uniform” in Jullien’s sense or of “global designs” in Mignolo’s. Yet in Disagreement Rancière raises the possibility of another way of understanding the relations between police logic and democratic politics. “There is a worse and a better police,” he allows—implicitly acknowledging that his own distinction between politics and the police is not exhaustive. But he qualifies this to mark his distance from traditional political theory: “the better one, incidentally, not being the one that adheres to the supposedly natural order of society or the science of legislators, but one that all the breaking and entering perpetrated by egalitarian logic has most often jolted out of its ‘natural’ logic.”88 Would it not follow from his argument that a “better police” is not simply one that has been disrupted more often by “politics,” but one in which those disruptions have left traces in the form of instituted, “fictive” forms of equal liberty and opportunities to launch new claims?89 If we abandon the purity Rancière insists on claiming for his notion of politics and instead follow his insistence on the “entanglement of both logics,”90 we are led to a much more promising account of how democratic politics can emerge precisely where its possibility is officially denied. This involves a step parallel to that I took with Lefort and Abensour beyond Arendt and Wolin. By recognizing normative reflection as not antagonistic to political action but rather an essential part of it, I argued, we can restore a sense of orientation to democratic politics without subordinating it to extrapolitical logics. In this I agreed with Lefort that it is not therefore necessary or even possible to divorce action from the values or ideals it expresses and enacts. The same, I would maintain, holds for the “political scenes” that, according to Rancière, interrupt the exclusive “police” logics of existing institutions. Rather than simply negating these logics and institutions, democratic politics interacts with them dialectically, exploiting the ambiguous “fictive” universals on which they are built and, in the process, potentially transforming those universals in a more inclusive, equalibertarian direction.

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Just as we might question the (negative) purity Rancière wants to maintain for his conception of politics, we should also be skeptical of his definition of certain (national) spaces as open to politicization and others as closed to it. While it is of course true that the institutions of national citizenship have developed a variety of mechanisms that make them a locus for political action and accountability, Rancière of all people should recognize that this is neither necessary nor without certain ambiguities. Far from concluding that national spaces are the only ones open to politicization, it would be more consistent with his approach to recognize, with Balibar, that national citizenship is especially affected by the double-sidedness of all “fictive” universals: if it is the most democratically developed, it may also be in certain respects the most normalizing and the most resistant to change from outside. In Engin Isin’s (very Rancièrian) account, “citizenship is that particular point of view of the dominant, which constitutes itself as a universal point of view.”91 We should be interested, then, not only in how outsiders are able to take advantage of the institution of citizenship, but also in the possibilities afforded by other institutions and relationships. There is no reason to restrict democratic cosmopolitics a priori to national spaces. While national politics may afford certain resources and opportunities for politicization, other spaces may as well. These two steps—recognizing, with and against Rancière, first, that interruptive democratic politics can express universalizing moral claims and, second, that they need not be restricted to national political institutions but can in principle arise anywhere—allow us to steer a path between two unhelpful ways of understanding a democratic cosmopolitics. On the one hand, there are good reasons to follow Rancière and Balibar in refusing to restrict claims to equality or “equaliberty” to those that can be deduced from existing philosophical or legal frameworks. As I argued with reference to Judith Butler in chapter 4, these claims cannot be adjudicated or even predicted in advance precisely because part of their task is to demand and thereby help create the frameworks in which they will act. Here I find Amartya Sen’s diagnosis of the mismatch between the highly dispersed, often local demands against the global status quo and the philosophical frameworks normative theorists have devised for interpreting them illuminating: “When people across the world agitate to get more global justice . . . they are not clamouring for some kind of ‘minimal humanitarianism.’ Nor are they agitating for a ‘perfectly just’

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world society, but merely for the elimination of some outrageously unjust arrangements to enhance global justice . . . on which agreements can be generated through public discussion, despite a continuing divergence of views on other matters.”92 For the same reason that I think both “minimal” and “maximal” accounts of global justice are misleading guides to the politics that arise to demand global justice, I think it is a mistake to try to determine in advance who should be regarded as a relevant party to what issue—as, for example, in Nancy Fraser’s proposed shift from an “all-affected” to an “all-subjected” principle that would restrict claims for justice to those who are permanently subject to a given institution.93 One of the central lessons of the attempts to think the emergence of standards from the bottom up that I have traced from Butler through Arendt to Balibar and Rancière is that such frameworks try to settle precisely what is at issue in radical politics, namely, the constitution of new movements, publics, peoples, and collective subjects. A better way to understand the all-affected principle, I suggest, is as an “operator” in Rancière’s sense or a demand for “minimal justice” in Rainer Forst’s: a means of contesting the limits that have been drawn around the realm of politics and justice. While reasons can always be given for drawing lines of inclusion and exclusion in different places, the only way to ensure that those who are arbitrarily excluded from this discussion get a hearing is, as Rancière insists, the staging of a political scene. On the other hand, it would be a mistake to treat existing understandings of right or equality, as Rancière at times tends to do, as merely ideological, as creatures of the present unequal and undemocratic order, and to locate democratic politics in some radically other domain. This results from an undifferentiated view that regards existing institutions and values as exclusively expressing a logic of domination. To do this, Balibar and Rancière help us see, is to deprive politics of any point against which equalibertarian claims can be launched. A relatively pure example of this sort of approach is Hardt and Negri’s Empire trilogy, in which the democratic “multitude” is portrayed as the antithesis of “Empire,” the totality of the structures of domination. The multitude must then simply (somehow) throw off its fetters to constitute itself as a freely cooperating plurality.94 A variant can be found in the work of Simon Critchley, who employs the Rancièrian notion of democratic politics I have reconstructed, but detaches it from any and all institutional frameworks. Critchley is then

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obliged to consign democratic politics to the domain of ethics, on the one hand, and “anarchic metapolitics,” on the other—a politics of protest waged outside and against existing institutions.95 We better understand the modalities, point, and potential effects of oppositional politics, I suggest, by understanding them in dialectical and not merely negative relation to existing normative and institutional structures. The alternative I have been trying to advance is to regard existing, “fictive” universals as always potentially available for democratic rearticulation and existing institutions as potential sites of a democratic cosmopolitics from below. This does not mean, as some cosmopolitan democrats imagine, that those institutions that make a normative claim to inclusiveness, or even democracy, like the UN or perhaps the EU, need only be somehow reformed in line with their underlying or implicit principles. Nor does it mean, as Rancière and other cosmopolitans suggest, that these universals must amount to demands for national citizenship. To the contrary, a central element of radically democratic politics is to open up new and unforeseeable domains to politics. On an open-ended notion of democratic politics as politicization, wherever interdependences and, above all, power relations are denied, wherever there is the exercise of power without accountability, wherever potential objections or interlocutors are denied or simply ignored, there is the possibility of staging a political scene. And there is no shortage of locations from which claims to the universal logic of equaliberty can be made. International institutions often claim to act in some kind of general interest; any of them could be challenged on democratic grounds. The ever denser networks between countries are increasingly leading various actors to develop institutions to coordinate their affairs; any of these could create opportunities for contestation. As Benjamin Arditi has shown, the aims and activities characteristic of what can be broadly termed the counterglobalization movement are highly diverse, ranging from direct action against specific institutions to diffuse, viral campaigns to attempts to expand transnational public spheres.96 Scholars who have documented the rise of the World Social Forum have likewise emphasized the very different scales on which its actors operate, from local to national to regional to global.97 While it is not possible to address the growing literature on the counterglobalization movement here, the evident diversity of actors, causes, and forms of action is sufficient to underline

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the futility of trying to predetermine the site or nature of an emergent democratic cosmopolitics. Above all, it reinforces the importance of neither identifying democratic universalism with existing or possible institutions nor with their simple negation, but of looking for their emergence in concrete struggles against felt injustices. Indeed, as Francis Dupuis-Déri has shown in a study of activism against global institutions like the World Bank and WTO, radical campaigns are precisely what open, motivate, sustain, and expand the processes through which such non- and even antidemocratic organizations can be opened to populardemocratic claims.98 If the particular sites, forms, and aims of a democratic cosmopolitics cannot be set out in advance, we can say something about the normative orientation that should underlie these struggles—and here we can return to Kant. As I argued in chapter 4, to seek from political reflection a sense of orientation need not mean, as theorists from Arendt to Butler to Rancière fear, elevating theory over practice or ends over means. It can be more modestly construed as finding a basis for choosing certain actions (and actors) over others.99 As Kimberly Hutchings has argued, a desire for orientation in this sense lay at the root of Kant’s philosophy of history. According to her reading, Kant oriented himself to Enlightenment and a future in which essentially European institutions would eventually spread. “This entanglement of temporal and normative assumptions,” she argues, “makes timely judgment in Kant’s political theory possible. This is the kind of judgment that aims to make a (normatively) positive difference to the world, by contributing to the progressive tendencies of the present.”100 The quest for orientation, she concludes, at least in the cosmopolitan forms that descend from Kant, is always orientalist or Eurocentric. For this reason we should give up seeking orientation in the Kantian sense altogether and instead orient ourselves by an ethics of pluralism, by affirming “a relation of agonistic respect between orientations.”101 While Hutchings’s account of Kant’s philosophy of history is persuasive as far as it goes, she simply omits Kant’s universalistic theory of right and morality as well as the deep tension between them and his Eurocentrism. If, however, we maintain the tension between the universalizing claims of right and any particular instantiation of them, and bear in mind how the former can be set against the latter, we can instead orient ourselves politically by right, radically reinterpreted as an expansive political logic advanced principally through claims from

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below. For Hutchings, the problem with Kant’s cosmopolitanism is not simply its Eurocentrism, but the “presumed, but rarely acknowledged, asymmetrical structure in the ethico-political relation between political theorists of cosmopolitan rights and justice and the majority of the global audience to whom, or on behalf of whom, their arguments are, directly or indirectly, addressed.”102 I am proposing that we reinterpret the notion of right as claims against unfreedom and inequality, addressed precisely against this kind of asymmetry by those who suffer from it. Right, on this account, would no longer be an abstract way of determining the proper limits of freedom and equality, as it was for Kant, but neither would it be reduced to a figure of pure opposition. Instead, we would see right in the underdetermined but still meaningful sense of equaliberty: the struggle to overcome particular forms of unfreedom and inequality. Freedom and equality are, of course, despite their radical underdetermination, particular values, and by no means the only ones. (There is wellbeing, virtue, salvation, honor—the list is long.) They are, however, the values most relevant to justice and emancipation, especially with respect to the relations and institutions globalized over the last five centuries— markets, states, and their various derivatives. It is not necessary to imagine that we can simply align ourselves with the underdog in every one of the world’s disputes—not only because history has shown that movements on behalf of the underdog are not always reliable vehicles for promoting freedom and equality, or even because emancipatory projects and interests may conflict, but also because it may not be clear who the underdog is. Finding one’s way in politics always involves the weighing of consequences as well as causes and preventing harms as well as reversing injustices— considerations that tend to defy theory, and to which I return briefly in the conclusion. All the same, in seeking to orient ourselves from a cosmopolitan perspective, this is the proposal I have sought to develop over the last two chapters: we should foster and support a democratic cosmopolitics from below, defined first and foremost by the efforts of political agents themselves to overcome obstacles to freedom and equality. Needless to say, the scale of the forces unleashed by globalization makes the prospects of attaining anything like genuine democratic control over them bleak in all but the very long term. In this respect the only difference between Kant’s time and our own is that globalization is much further advanced and is, like everything else, moving more quickly today. But the authors I have discussed in this chapter allow us to see

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that a radically democratic politics need not consist of massive global designs to be implemented by equally massive powers. To the extent that such a cosmopolitics is democratic in an Arendtian sense, meaning that it expresses and embodies the equality of its members, it is likelier to consist of particular struggles, waged at particular sites, in the name of the universal right to a say in the decisions that affect one’s life. We should expect these struggles to occur in particular languages, using a wide variety of local strategies to make local claims. Nevertheless, to the extent that these claims serve to expand the scope of equal freedom—above and below as well as within the nation-state—they may be properly seen as universal in their significance and, moreover, as the only democratic cosmopolitics worthy of the name. t



In this chapter I have tried to rethink democratic politics not in terms of laws and institutions, relations of rule and conditions of legitimacy, but as a domain and an activity. I started with Hannah Arendt’s idealizing portrait of politics before turning to a series of radicalizations of her vision. For Arendt, politics consists in the creation of a common realm. In this conception, political freedom is active and public: it is a say in the commons. Politics constitutes a world, while political action holds the promise of bringing something new into it. To this vision of democratic politics as an activity that directly expresses the equal autonomy of its participants, I then added insights from other authors to show how such political action can be understood as a vehicle of democratic transformation. From Claude Lefort I took the idea that democratic politics is necessarily unfinished and conflictual and realizes itself through contestation over democratic ideals. From Sheldon Wolin and Miguel Abensour I took the idea that such a politics can arise outside and against institutions in the form of a demand that they become more democratic. And with Étienne Balibar and Jacques Rancière I showed how such a politics of democratic transformation, like the logic of universalization discussed in chapter 4, emerges through challenges to particular obstacles to the expansion of the universal principle of equal freedom. A democratic cosmopolitics from below, then, can best be understood as the sum of these challenges. This trajectory can be summed up in the thought that, although Rancière develops his notion of politics as a critique of Arendt’s, it can also be

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seen as a supplement, a corrective, or even as its fulfillment. For Arendt, politics is participation in public life. Rancière sets this idea in motion by defining politics as the struggle to participate in public life. Democratic politics, on this account, is not only “action in common,” as for Arendt, but also action against the (existing configuration of the) common, which, when successful, reconfigures it. While Arendt thinks of politics as a domain, then, Rancière thinks of it as a process and an event. This move has the important advantage of correcting the main deficit of each thinker without, I suggest, violating the essential spirit of their thought. In Arendt’s case, it allows us to overcome her at times apparently grudging support for egalitarian politics while maintaining the priority of political action over the particular aims or ends (social, moral) politics seeks to realize. And with Rancière, it gives his radical democratic politics an explicit normative thrust, rather than associating it with disruption for its own sake, and at the same time universalizes it: the point of political action is inclusion and equality, which may arise wherever and whenever they are denied—which is to say practically anywhere. It may be of more than historical interest to note a curious aspect of Arendt’s biography that supports this reconciliation with Rancière. Despite her praise for active citizenship and a rarefied public realm, the only period of her life Arendt actually devoted to politics, setting aside philosophy for activism, was when she was stateless, excluded from citizenship in French and then American exile. As her biographer notes, “this period when she had no political rights—between her flight from Nazi Germany in 1933 and her receipt of American citizenship in 1951—was her most active politically.”103 As Rancière would have us expect, Arendt was compelled to practice politics precisely when she was, on her own conception, excluded from it. It is in such cases, when circumstances are furthest from the ideals prescribed by a normative political theory, that politics is most urgent. Yet this was not politics for politics’ sake, as some critics accuse Arendt of promoting, nor simply for the sake of disrupting existing frameworks of exclusion and inequality, as Rancière sometimes seems to suggest. It was action to promote freedom and equality by creating spaces of freedom and equality that, to the extent it was successful, left lasting—if always imperfect—traces. In the next chapter I turn to one of the most controversial fields of contemporary global politics: the politics of human rights. It is not, of course, human rights themselves that are controversial; to the contrary,

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they are now all but universally accepted. It is rather the politics that follows from them, the best way to bring them into effect, that is contested. Some contemporary cosmopolitans see human rights as providing a basis for a politics that can be both all-inclusive and moral. Others, following Arendt, see them as a necessary response to the catastrophes and dangers of “real universalism,” but despair of their ever becoming politically effective. Still others regard them as a threat to the very possibility of political life. This makes the politics of human rights an ideal staging ground for the different conceptions of cosmopolitanism I have discussed in this book, providing an opportunity to see how the challenges and dilemmas of cosmopolitanism play out. As we will see, while the politics of human rights vividly illustrates the contradictions and dilemmas of political universalism, it can also exemplify its promise.

c h a pt e r si x

Cosmopolitics in Practice The Politics of Human Rights

As I observed in the introduction, more than any other development over the last two decades the rise of human rights as a universal language of political justification has been taken to herald the imminence, if not the arrival, of a world of cosmopolitan politics. Whether we date the advent of human rights to the revolutionary declarations of the Age of Reason, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, or the Helsinki Accords and their embrace by the Western democracies and a burgeoning third sector in the 1970s, it was only when the collapse of “really existing socialism” left them without any apparent rivals that human rights became, along with democracy, the coin of the normative realm, the lingua franca of moral and political claims making, criticism, and justification. Today nearly everyone grants their validity in principle; they are appealed to by political actors of all stripes. The institutions, legal instruments, and community devoted to their propagation are expanding at an unprecedented rate. As Michael Ignatieff put it, “human rights is the language that systematically embodies [the] intuition” that “our species is one, and each of the individuals who compose it is entitled to equal moral consideration.” They are, according to Kofi Annan in the 1990s, “the yardstick by which we measure human progress.”1

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Yet some observers worry that human rights are at risk of falling victim to their very success. Sympathetic critics of the human rights movement find its record over the last two decades decidedly mixed. Even in the 1990s, Ignatieff lamented that “we are intervening in the name of human rights as never before, but our interventions are sometimes making matters worse,” while David Kennedy worried that human rights might have become “part of the problem.”2 Critics pointed to actions that failed to achieve their purposes, short-term interventions that became permanent, and initiatives that ended up exacerbating the very crises they were designed to alleviate. For skeptics, the use of human rights rhetoric in the early 2000s by the world’s dominant military power to justify what was much more plausibly described as misguided adventurism if not imperial aggression, though a practice with much precedent in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, finally exposed the rhetoric’s emptiness, perhaps even its essential and irreversible corruption. From this perspective, in the wake of the second US-Iraq War, far from being “weapons for the critique of power,” human rights had “now become part of the arsenal of power.”3 The politics of human rights may be regarded as perhaps the central staging ground today for the cosmopolitan concerns I have pursued in this book. It is the place where universalistic aspirations meet the test of political practice and, all too often, seem to be appropriated by the powerful or corrupted by an unequal and undemocratic status quo. Many regard the difficulties that human rights are now encountering as transitional, signs of the practical difficulties of properly defining and implementing them. The human rights regime is in its infancy and has much to learn about negotiating the dilemmas of politics. If interventions seem to do too little or too much, too early or too late, this reflects the treacherous political and operational shoals they must navigate. As experience and resources accumulate, as institutions mature, we can look forward to more successful human rights efforts in the future. As for the hijacking of human rights for purposes we might rather associate with domination, the hypocritical appropriation of a principle need not harm the principle; as La Rochefoucauld observed, it pays the principle tribute. Manipulation of the language of human rights for sinister purposes need not undermine their basic legitimacy. Instead, it calls for the reinforcement of our efforts and above all of the institutions that could give them political reality.

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This, at any rate, seems to be the dominant thinking today among not only human rights theorists but also practitioners—international lawyers and administrators, activists, people working for human rights, relief and development agencies, and so on. My question in this chapter is whether this diagnosis goes far enough. I suggest that at least part of the reason for the problems human rights continually and increasingly encounter lies in the relation between human rights and politics. A contradiction emerges within human rights politics, I argue, when we fail to consider the relation between the normative question of what we want to achieve and the more immediately political question of who should do what. For reasons that will become clear, human rights are particularly susceptible to such a tension between ethics and politics, or between ends and means. The result is typically that although human rights are meant to protect and promote the freedom and dignity of every human being—they aim at “empowering the powerless” and “giving voice to the voiceless”—they give rise to a politics that accomplishes the opposite: empowering the powerful, rendering their use of power arbitrary and unaccountable, and “creat[ing] dependency rather than .  .  . empower[ing]” their intended beneficiaries.4 The tendency of human rights politics to become selfundermining, then, is another exemplary insistence of the dynamic I explored in chapters 2 and 3. In this chapter I explore different attempts to think of human rights not just from a moral or philosophical point of view, but as a politics. My guide is Hannah Arendt, whose familiar yet enigmatic formula for capturing the practical problem of the politics of human rights, “the right to have rights,” has been interpreted in a variety of ways that reflect very different conceptions of politics. I contrast three different ways of understanding the politics of human rights that are reflected in three very different interpretations of Arendt’s formula. The first two interpretations understand human rights politics as what I will call a politics of implementation, though they diverge on what is to be implemented and how. Conventional, mostly liberal interpretations of human rights believe that it is the rights themselves that need to be implemented. I will argue that these views illustrate the problems that arise when universal moral aspirations are combined with an inadequate conception of politics: incapable of thinking ends and means together, the politics they propose can end up undermining the very purpose of human rights. A second, more Kantian interpretation believes that what needs to be implemented is an

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institutional structure that can durably protect human rights. While this approach represents an improvement on the first, it ends up faltering on the point Kant did: seeking to build a bridge between morality and law, it cannot concretely conceive of how to realize its ideals. In the second half of the chapter I turn to a third interpretation of the politics of human rights, based on a reading of the work of the authors I discussed in chapter 5, that illustrates the approach I have argued for in the preceding chapters. According to this interpretation, the politics of human rights should be understood as a democratic politics of universalization, based on the political activity of those they are to protect. If the radically democratic approach is the most normatively demanding, it can best help us understand the problems that plague efforts on behalf of human rights while serving as a surer practical guide, showing how human rights can best be realized and secured. Human Rights Politics as Implementation

It is now common to distinguish between philosophical and political approaches to human rights. Philosophical approaches ask what these rights are, why we have them, what they are based on, how they can best be justified, and so on. They do so by relating rights to and basing them on something outside the political realm—human nature, needs, or vulnerabilities, the principles of rationality, sociality, or communication. In so doing they seek a deep justification for human rights, something that would account for their validity. Political approaches, in contrast, start with the problem of putting these rights into practice. Taking their cue from the lawyer’s old saw “no rights without remedies,” they seek to connect human rights with institutions and practices that could guarantee them. From this perspective, the universal validity of human rights is of little moment if they are not effective. Conversely, when human rights are respected, the question of their foundations is less urgent—whence the widespread view that it is sufficient to establish an “overlapping consensus on human rights,” in the formula Charles Taylor adopts from John Rawls.5 Ignatieff agrees, arguing that we should “forgo . . . foundational arguments altogether and seek to build support for human rights on the basis of what such rights actually do for human beings.”6 According to this view, as Norberto Bobbio puts it, “it is not a matter of knowing which and how many of those rights there are, what their nature is and on what

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foundation they are based, whether they are natural or historical, absolute or relative; it is a question of finding the surest method of guaranteeing rights and preventing their continuing violation.”7 My impression is that the political view has gained the upper hand and that human rights’ defenders are now less troubled by their extrapolitical provenance and focus more on the practical task of specifying and above all realizing them. The development of human rights regimes and instruments since the end of World War II and especially over the last two decades has fostered a spirit of pragmatism. For practitioners it is now enough to assume the validity of the rights adumbrated in various agreements and focus on implementing them. Taking a political view of human rights means worrying less about their justification and more about how people can come to benefit by them. In a leading text in the area, for instance, Jack Donnelly concedes that “there is no strong foundation for human rights”—“or, what amounts to the same thing, there are multiple, or inconsistent, ‘foundations.’” This does not make them “arbitrary” or “merely conventional,” he insists, since, “like all social practices, human rights come with, and in an important sense require, justifications. But those justifications appeal to ‘foundations’ that are ultimately a matter of agreement or assumption rather than proof.”8 So, when a philosopher like Alasdair MacIntyre objects that “there are no such rights, and belief in them is one with belief in witches or unicorns,”9 we might respond with a Rortyan shrug.10 Rather than unicorns, we might say, think of them as mules: they do not reproduce on their own, but they can exist. If the philosopher claims that human rights are nonsense, even nonsense on stilts, the pragmatist need not be troubled. From a pragmatic and, in that sense, political point of view, the most important difference between a unicorn and mule is not that a mule exists, but that it will work. We owe probably the most celebrated statement of a pragmatic-political view on human rights to Hannah Arendt. Her starting point was a case in which human rights emphatically did not work, that of stateless persons before, during, and after the Second World War. In her reflections on “The Decline of the Nation-State and the End of the Rights of Man” Arendt juxtaposes a philosophical to a political perspective and finds the former distinctly wanting. For her, the problem was that the rights philosophers attributed to nature, reason, or the social contract had no political counterparts. In practice, human rights ended up being rights people had after all their other rights had been taken away, and so

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no rights at all. “No paradox of contemporary politics is filled with more poignant irony,” she laments, “than the discrepancy between the efforts of well-meaning idealists who stubbornly insist on regarding as ‘inalienable’ those human rights which are enjoyed only by the citizens of the most prosperous and civilized countries, and the situation of the rightless themselves.” The very idea of human rights became equated with “hopeless idealism” or “feeble-minded hypocrisy.”11 This discrepancy arose, in her view, because philosophers forgot the most basic right of all: “the right to have rights.” At first glance, her suggestion is puzzling. If the shortcoming of human rights is that they guarantee nothing, it can hardly be solved by adding one more right to guarantee the rest. In Seyla Benhabib’s analysis, the pregnancy of Arendt’s formula comes from using the word “right” in two distinct senses.12 It first appears as a moral right, something every human being “should” have, then, three words on, reappears in the plural, as positive rights. The first, moral right, is addressed to everyone—which is to say, to no one in particular. This is why it so often has no practical effect. The latter, positive rights, in contrast, are guaranteed such that their violation is prevented or, if they are violated, their bearer has effective recourse. From a political perspective, only positive rights are “real” rights. Moral rights, in contrast, are merely ideal, some relation of MacIntyre’s unicorns. Arendt’s formulation does not, to be sure, solve the problem, but it does reframe it, for its effect is to turn the idea of human rights into a practical-political challenge: moral rights must become positive rights. The question, of course, is how. In this section, I explore two common ways of theorizing the politics that might put these moral rights into effect. The first, which I associate with Max Weber, is liberal and “realistic,” and collapses on its own contradictions (a); the second, more idealistic and of Kantian inspiration, founders, like Kant’s cosmopolitanism, on the problem of implementation (b). As in the previous chapters, their tensions will then pave the way for a democratic alternative. (a) I begin with the most common interpretation of Arendt’s phrase. Observing that “the Rights of Man, supposedly inalienable, proved to be unenforceable . . . whenever people appeared who were no longer citizens of any sovereign state,” she associates “a right to have rights” with “a right to belong to some kind of organized community.”13 From this it is usually concluded that her “right to have rights” is a right to civic rights,

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i.e. to citizenship. Like Edmund Burke, whose attack on the vacuity of the French Revolution’s “rights of man” she praises for its “pragmatic soundness,” her point would be that human rights are an empty abstraction. Only national rights—Burke’s “rights of Englishmen”—are real.14 This would be of a piece with her famed civic republicanism, and on this basis commentators tend to conclude that she was a human rights skeptic, seeing hope for rights only through a revitalization of politics at the national level. As Michael Walzer puts it, the right to have rights amounts to “the right to have an effective state,” namely, “a state that enforces rights.” As we have known since Hobbes, only states, with their monopoly over violence, can effectively secure rights: as Walzer notes, “some states protect some rights some of the time and no other political agency does that much.”15 Walzer’s qualifications point out, however, that this state must be willing and able to protect rights. In the cases that concerned Arendt, of course, they had already failed, depriving people of rights they already had. The problem to which “human,” as opposed to “civic,” rights respond, then, is precisely that states can trample on rights, be indifferent to their violation, or be too weak to defend them. On the first understanding of human rights politics I want to examine here, this politics therefore consists in finding a surrogate for an absent, enfeebled, negligent, or malevolent state. The challenge is to find political means to put the moral ends of human rights into effect. Let us then begin with what would seem an easy case from a moral point of view: massive human rights violations. They reveal the problem of human rights at its starkest, where the moral imperative is at its zenith and political capacity at its nadir. If anything is uncontroversially a basic human right, it is the right not to be massacred; if anything can justify the suspension of international law and the sovereignty of states, it is mass slaughter. The discrepancy between the clarity of this moral principle and the conservatism and inertia of the international system has been a major inspiration for cosmopolitan challenges to state sovereignty.16 But support for intervention in the face of catastrophe goes well beyond cosmopolitans. Even Walzer, who is usually as skeptical of cosmopolitanism as he is protective of the right of national self-determination, endorses a “right to intervene” in the face of crimes that “shock the conscience of mankind”:“Yes, the norm is not to intervene in other people’s countries: the norm is self-determination. But not for these people, the victims of tyranny, ideological zeal, ethnic hatred, who are not determining

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anything for themselves, who urgently need help from outside. And it isn’t enough to wait until the tyrants, the zealots, and the bigots have done their filthy work and then rush food and medicine to the ragged survivors. Whenever the filthy work can be stopped, it should be stopped. And if not by us, the supposedly decent people of this world, then by whom?”17 The type of intervention Walzer calls for has nonetheless proven difficult and controversial. Two kinds of difficulties are typically arise. The first is practical: the problem of means. Massive human rights violations cannot be prevented, halted, or reversed by unicorns or even mules; what is needed is a cavalry, overwhelming force, which only powerful nations can bring to bear. In the absence of a world state or an independent international military force, the logical implication of this, as David Chandler observes, is that “the exercise of this right of protection or prevention is dependent on the actions of international institutions and major powers [that] have the economic and the military resources to intervene.”18 According to Chandler, this leads to a paradox: the initiatives most representative of a desire to transcend the inegalitarian, power-based logic of sovereignty and the state system remain wholly dependent on it. By prevailing on the dominant to use their power, humanitarian interventions reinforce their privileged position. As he notes sardonically, “the imperative of action to defend human rights ironically entails a realpolitik which is highly state-centric and, in fact, not only reflects but also reinforces the highly uneven balance of existing power relations.”19 Especially in the most urgent cases, then, the politics of humanitarianism paradoxically winds up being a politics of the stronger. The dangers inherent in “right to protect” only attain their full dimensions, however, when this power-political logic meets another. As is clear in Walzer’s remark, the impetus behind humanitarian intervention is urgent and unconditional: something terrible is happening, and someone—anyone—should stop it.20 As has been pointed out since at least Machiavelli, however, certain features of moral imperatives combine uneasily with politics. In the moral realm it is not unusual to privilege intentions over consequences; the only unqualified good, wrote Kant, is a good will. In politics, where action is subject to the law of unintended consequences, taking such a view can lead to recklessness and even fanaticism. Likewise, morality encourages, even requires us to see the world in terms of good and evil; clarity can be a moral virtue. In politics things are

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seldom so simple, and imagining that they are can have catastrophic consequences. Where these political and moral logics combine—the political fact that implementation depends upon superior force and a moral logic of action that puts a premium on good intentions and clear distinctions— the result can be overwhelming force combined with total conviction and oversimplification of the world’s complexities. In this light, what most worried some observers first about the interventions in the 1990s and then the appropriation of this principle by a power of a very different ideological hue is not the danger that human rights might be instrumentalized so much as the fact at least some advocates of humanitarian intervention were as sincerely convinced as their nineteenth-century forebears that they are bombing, conquering, and occupying people for their own good. As we saw in chapter 3, there is no natural cut-off point between the well-intended interventions of the 1990s (Kosovo) and the much more controversial and less successful adventures of the same powers in the 2000s (Iraq). This impression is reinforced by the consistency of the positions of Tony Blair. As Blair claimed in the aftermath of the Iraq invasion, his real regret was that he could not do more to intervene on behalf of democracy and human rights in North Korea, Sudan, Burma, and Zimbabwe . . . —the list could presumably be extended indefinitely. There is no reason to doubt his sincerity—nor that such a project would amount to what Gore Vidal called a perpetual war for perpetual peace. It is partly in response to problems of this kind that theorists have sought to think the politics of human rights in a more self-critical way. Challenging the assumption “that human rights is above politics, a set of moral trump cards,” Ignatieff insists that “human rights is nothing other than a politics, one that must reconcile moral ends to concrete situations and must be prepared to make painful compromises not only between means and ends, but between ends themselves.”21 Jeffrey Isaac echoes this sentiment: “Human rights require politics, and politics requires difficult, imperfect, and tragic choices without end.”22 While both insist that human rights are political, however, neither explains exactly what this means. Isaac asserts that human rights require “political means”; for his part, Ignatieff suggests that it is a matter of “taking sides, mobilizing constituencies powerful enough to force abusers to stop.”23 Although they do not name him, both authors unmistakably evoke Max Weber. The image of politics as realm of compromises and tragic choices between ulti-

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mate ends is the hallmark of Weber’s “Politics as a Vocation,” where he famously distinguished between an “ethics of conviction” and an “ethics of responsibility.” Commitment to a cause, Weber insisted by means of this distinction, must always be restrained by willingness to answer for the consequences of one’s actions.24 Weber’s warning remains valuable for those contemplating the use of force. I will return to it in the conclusion when considering how cosmopolitans can simultaneously be realists. For the moment, however, I want to point out two central elements of Weber’s political thinking that make it a questionable guide for a democratic cosmopolitics. The first and more obvious concerns the object of his reflections. Weber begins his lecture by self-consciously limiting his discussion to what for him is the center of modern politics: the state. With this restriction, cosmopolitics seems to be excluded from the start. But it turns out that at a more abstract level this restriction excludes democracy too, at least in the sense in which I developed it in chapter 5—for reasons that are at the center of the paradoxical reversals of human rights politics. Weber defines politics as “any kind of independent leadership in action” and specifies that it “operates with very special means, namely, power backed up by violence.”25 Politics, that is, is about command, supported by the threat of force. Political action may serve various ends, including moral ones, but it is defined by the use of power, understood by Weber as “the probability that one actor in a social relationship will be in a position to carry out his will despite resistance.”26 Politics, on this conception, is domination or rule (Herrschaft), with power and always potentially violence as its instruments. The deeper paradox that underlies (and ultimately undermines) the conventional view of the politics of human rights is thus a built-in discrepancy between its ends (equal freedom and dignity) and its means (the power of the stronger): human rights seeks to protect a subject from arbitrary and unjust power, but can only do so by summoning a still greater power.27 This paradox can be expressed as a discrepancy between the agent of this politics and its beneficiary. Human rights “belong” to one party, but power is used on their behalf by another. The politics of human rights is, of necessity, something the powerful do for the powerless. This feature of human rights politics tends to be downplayed. Ignatieff, for example, insists that “the very purpose of rights language is to protect and enhance individual agency.”28 Yet the “we” of his account is seldom those whose rights are at issue; instead, “we” are the citizens or decision

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makers of powerful states or human rights professionals and the agencies they work for. Indeed, as Wendy Brown points out, Ignatieff’s conception of human rights serves in important ways to disempower those to whom these rights ostensibly belong. For instance, while Ignatieff numbers basic civil and political rights (including property rights) among human rights, he insists—like the United States government—that they stop there. Identifying human rights with Isaiah Berlin’s “negative liberty,” he excludes social and economic rights. On the one hand, he explains that this is to stave off “rights inflation,” which would dilute human rights and make it more difficult to win consensus for them; on the other, it is meant to insulate human rights against “collective rights,” which pose a threat of tyranny of the majority.29 As Brown shows, Ignatieff’s commitment to individual agency has broader political ramifications. He may, with Walzer, believe that if we “take care of the short list [basic civil and politics rights], . . . it is far more likely . . . that the longer list [social rights] will be taken care of by the people most directly concerned.”30 But he depicts human rights politics in such a way that no fundamental change in the situation seems possible. “Rights are inescapably political,” he observes, “because they tacitly imply a conflict between a rights holder and a rights “withholder,” some authority against which the right holder can make justified claims.” The point of the politics of human rights for Ignatieff is not to change the terms of this relationship; it is simply to ensure “that power be exercised over [rights-holders] in ways that respect their autonomy as agents.”31 Indeed, the sort of self-organization and contestation Walzer invokes thus appears to be precisely what Ignatieff’s curtailed catalogue of “negative” rights seeks to avoid. Human rights, in this view, do not aim to fundamentally alter power relations, only to civilize them, to keep them within certain bounds. They represent moral limits to the exercise of power, which in turn can only be enforced by another, still greater power. The same logic is evident in the activities of even the most pacific human rights organizations. A case in point is the tactic of “naming and shaming” countries with poor human rights records, most often associated with Amnesty International. This may occur through AI’s famous letter-writing campaigns or through efforts to use publicity or diplomacy to embarrass the offending party. But where the state in question is not particularly sensitive to moral approbation—as most

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governments engaged in large-scale human rights violations are not— something more must be brought to bear. In this case the intended audience is Western publics and governments as well as international organizations. As Ignatieff affirms, “every time a state is denounced for its human rights record, it becomes harder for it to secure international loans or political and military help when it is in danger.”32 By winning over these more powerful actors, and even a place at the table with them as human rights are “mainstreamed,” INGOs come to wield real power. While they can apply significant pressure, however, they do so indirectly, through their influence on actors that are powerful in Weber’s sense, whose power “is backed up by violence,” be it by dropping bombs or denying credit.33 In this respect, the humanitarians’ power is conditional; it is subject to and tends to confirm, legitimize, and reinforce the position of the more powerful actors from which it is borrowed. Consider also organizations whose aim is not merely combating abuse or protecting “negative liberty” but “capacity building” or “developing civil society.” They seek more directly political ways of empowering their beneficiaries, for instance by supporting grassroots organizations. Yet similar dangers exist here as well, and for the same reasons. As Alex de Waal points out, the form of power typically at stake here is money, which creates strong incentives for NGOs in poor countries to tailor their projects to the interests and priorities of their sponsors. Taking a political-organizational perspective on the struggle for some right or social improvement, de Waal explains that a progressive movement typically consists of a coalition between . . . two forces. One we might call a “primary movement”: a mass movement of people mobilized in pursuit of . . . their own personal material interests. It may be articulated in the human rights idiom, but more likely they are just concerned with their own land, their own food security, their own rights as women, their own labor conditions, or whatever. Alongside them is a more professional activist group, a small group of what one might call “secondary activists”: specialists who have skills as lawyers, journalists, organizational skills, who can provide some leadership and articulation to the movement and who can help sustain a mass movement over an extended period of time.34

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Foreign money, de Waal claims, pulls the two apart: the more professionalized, responsive to foreign concerns, and dependent on foreign support the activists become, the further they tend to move from the concerns of the movement. By confining themselves to the purposes sanctioned by their paymasters, they become what Ignatieff suggests they should be: mostly apolitical agencies for the protection of individuals from the powers that be, as opposed to vehicles for collective empowerment. A sizable literature has grown up on the paradoxes and contradictions of human rights and humanitarianism.35 They can, it is argued, be elitist, unaccountable to those they nominally serve, focus on one concern to the exclusion and even the detriment of others, pursue their own institutional interests, and so on. All these features, I suggest, stem from a structural property of human rights politics conceived as something the stronger do on behalf of the weaker. Human rights are understood as a moral imperative, and the practical challenge is to summon sufficient power to implement them. Power is understood as the ability, itself morally neutral, to effect a given end. It receives its normative character only from this end. This is reflected in the very idea of human rights “implementation.” The individuals who are the object of this implementation may be better off as a result, but they are in no sense its agents. The agents, in turn, may have the best intentions, but are ultimately motivated by and accountable to their own consciences as well as to those institutions whose power they rely on. Power, agency, and responsibility remain on the side of the powerful. As Chantal Mouffe puts it: “The new rights of cosmopolitan citizens are therefore a chimera; they are moral claims, not democratic rights that could be exercised.”36 This, it seems, is an inherent feature of a situation in which some are powerless and need help from others: another, greater power must intervene on their behalf. In the second half of this chapter I will suggest how another view of the politics of human rights can offer guidelines for minimizing the contradictions that follow from this. For now I want only to underline the paradox at the heart of this understanding of human rights: its beneficiaries, and thus the rights themselves, depend on someone else’s power. This contradicts the idea that rights express the principles of autonomy and equality. While rights secured by intervention may be helpful and welcome, they do not correspond to a right, which I can exercise when and how I like, but to a gift. The impulse behind this politics is philanthropic. We can hardly object to the desire to make the exercise of power more humane and

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responsible. But if, as I have insisted repeatedly, cosmopolitics is to serve the equal freedom of every human being, it cannot be satisfied with merely taming the use of power; it must seek to correct its imbalances. And this is something the politics of human rights, in this first conception, cannot do. (b) Probably the leading line of response to the practical and conceptual problems exposed so far is to insist that human rights politics rest not on the good will of outsiders, but should belong to and be based on the rights holders themselves. In the next conception I explore, this leads to a fundamentally different understanding of politics. Instead of seeing politics as the use of power to achieve certain ends, this view seeks to tame power by reshaping the framework in which actions occur. Instead of seeing an immediate relation between moral imperatives and political actions, morality finds expression in institutions.37 At the core of this view is the Kantian notion of right. Unlike the first view, this one is holistic. Rather than particular outcomes, it seeks justice, which it understands as a property of laws and institutions. As we saw in chapter 3, however, this is precisely where the model runs into difficulties, for instead of solving the problem of the relation between morality and power, it displaces it onto the problem of achieving just institutions. To see the difficulties of this approach, then, we must again move from a consideration of what arrangements would be desirable to the question of how they could come into being. We should first note that, while Kant is frequently invoked in the literature on human rights, he was not strictly speaking a human rights theorist. The oft-cited passage in “On Perpetual Peace” in which he claims that humanity has reached a point “where a violation of rights [Rechtsverletzung] in one part of the world is felt everywhere” does not involve, as the standard translation suggests, “human rights violations” in today’s sense. Kant was referring to right or rights within states.38 In fact, he recognized only one universal, cosmopolitan, and in that sense human right: the right to visit [Besuchsrecht], though not to settle in, foreign countries, which he felt would promote “commerce” (in the broad, eighteenthcentury sense of “interaction”) between peoples and cosmopolitan fellowship.39 Otherwise, he believed that rights should be secured by and within states. To this extent, he did not propose a solution to the problem posed by Arendt. For her part, Arendt saw Kant’s approach as insufficient: “The right to have rights, or the right of every individual to belong

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to humanity, should be guaranteed by humanity itself,” she asserted, though she despaired of this ever coming to pass: “It is by no means certain whether this is possible.”40 One Kantian approach to the politics of human rights follows the general model of normative political theorizing I associated in chapter 3 with John Rawls. On this view, the first and most important theoretical task is to develop an account of human rights; the second is to show what political institutions this would require. Such theories may be radically emancipatory in spirit; they may be impeccably democratic in insisting, for example, on democracy as a basic human right.41 But they have at least two serious shortcomings. The first, pointed out by Eva Erman, is that a notion of democracy that subordinates it to human rights falls short of what we ordinarily mean by democracy, namely full political equality and meaningful authorship of the laws under which one lives.42 Even if we grant that democracy should be regarded as a basic human right or that democracy may require an expansive schedule of rights—both complicated and highly contentious claims—we should certainly not conflate the two or regard one as an adequate substitute for the other. More seriously, from the perspective of democracy understood first and foremost as a logic of political transformation, such normative approaches are simply unable to address what I have called the question of politics: they leave it completely unclear who is supposed to do what in order to bring these rights into effect. While the justification and elaboration of a human right to democracy may be welcome, it does not even begin to address the challenge of politics. A similar deficit may be observed in a second approach of broadly Kantian inspiration. Advanced by James Bohman, this conception shares with those who advocate human rights as democracy a tendency to translate democracy into rights, but it takes more seriously the difficulty of creating new political structures with global reach.43 In view of this problem, Bohman follows Philip Pettit in scaling back what can be expected from democracy by redefining it in republican terms. Not only should democracy be understood in terms of rights, Bohman argues; these rights should be motivated by the concern to secure “non-domination.” Domination is best prevented, on this view, by a right to initiate deliberation on matters that affect one. As with the previous approach, some have asked whether, as Christina Lafont puts it, “a political system in which citizens are subjects to the law but at no point authors of the law” is even “a democratic

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system.”44 When Bohman argues that democratic citizenship as self-legislation is too much to ask at a global level (though also, he suggests, at other levels at well), we can observe another of the tendencies I noted in Rawls’s case in chapter 2: a perceived difficulty of implementation leads him to scale back what can be legitimately demanded. If we start with the politics of claiming rights rather than hypothetical arrangements for protecting them, we see instead that the lines between initiating deliberation, calling power holders to account, and democratically taking charge of those arrangements can be blurred and even crossed. Probably the most prominent Kant-inspired approaches to the politics of human rights, however, go further than those surveyed so far in addressing questions of implementation. Even as they do so, however, they retain important Kantian elements and to that extent encounter practical difficulties. This makes them doubly useful from a diagnostic perspective. As articulated by Jürgen Habermas, Seyla Benhabib, and Rainer Forst, these approaches promise to bring some of the advantages that Habermas’s or Forst’s discourse-theoretical approaches brought to the theorization of justice to the theorization of human rights. They promise, that is, to move the justification of rights closer to the politics of winning and defending them. All three tie their deep justifications of human rights to their understanding of morality as communicative: rights protect one’s ability to interact or deliberate as an equal with others. (Rainer Forst puts this slightly differently, as a right to justification rather than communication or participation.) As I suggested at the end of chapter 2, this has the pronounced advantage from a political point of view of bringing morality very close to democracy. Even if human rights begin as moral entitlements, they are thought of in a form that already approaches the legal and political realms. This emphasis on communication and justification leads directly to the strong political defense of basic rights that is central innovation of Habermas’s constitutional theory: his so-called co-originality thesis. There is no need to weigh liberal, individual rights (to privacy, due process, etc.) against republican, political rights (to assembly, participation, etc.), Habermas argues, because each is the precondition and guarantee of the other: “on the one hand, citizens can make appropriate use of their public autonomy only if, on the basis of their equally protected private autonomy, they are sufficiently independent; on the other hand, they can realize equality in their enjoyment of private autonomy only

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if they make appropriate use of their political autonomy as citizens.”45 By beginning “with the horizontal relationships that citizens have with one another,” this approach “allows us to avoid the liberal fixation on the question of how one controls the state’s monopoly on violence.”46 Rights do not restrict democracy, then; they secure its preconditions. However, this essentially republican account obviously presupposes the framework of an already organized, self-legislating political community. As Habermas and Benhabib concede, while the moral force of human rights might be universal, to acquire political legitimacy, they must be incorporated and legislated by constituted democratic publics.47 From a cosmopolitical perspective, the question would be, where do these horizontal relationships arise? And what would be their equivalents outside the framework of a constitutional state? This republican substrate, tied as it is to an understanding of democracy that, like Kant’s, sees it in terms of laws and institutions, creates a difficulty for Habermas and Benhabib when they try to theorize human rights at a cosmopolitical level. Both of them argue that Kant and Arendt missed the possibilities of the interstate protection of human rights because they assumed state sovereignty. As Benhabib puts it, “universalist moral right is politically and juridically so circumscribed that every act of inclusion generates its own terms of exclusion.  .  .  . We may say that Arendt’s and Kant’s moral cosmopolitanism founders on their civic particularism. . . . Their assumptions concerning republican sovereignty lead Arendt and Kant to believe that exclusionary territorial control is an unchecked sovereign privilege which cannot be limited or trumped by other norms and institutions.”48 Their own solution to this impasse turns out to depend on their diagnosis of international developments that have gone beyond the old framework. According to Habermas, international law and institutions have already gone well beyond Kant’s vision and perhaps even a good distance toward quelling Arendt’s concerns. Once we realize that “the state . . . is not a necessary precondition for a constitutional order,” we can envision existing international institutions growing into a sort of nonstate constitutional order like the EU or the UN.49 But where does this transnational law come from and to what extent can it be regarded as democratic? The problem emerges clearly in Benhabib’s account of how Arendt’s “right to have rights” becomes positive law. Benhabib describes this right as “the entitlement to all civil rights— including rights to association, property, and contract—and eventually

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to political rights,”50 establishing that she sees it as a moral right. And when she writes that “the human right to membership is not merely an abstract moral ‘ought’ but is increasingly incorporated into existing rights regimes through various practices and institutions,”51 she indicates that this moral right is gradually being translated into legal terms. But how? The European developments that give some reason to hope for an expansion of transnational rights tend to depend on the judiciary rather than legislatures or the potential beneficiaries of these rights.52 Benhabib has developed an account of what she calls “democratic iterations”: “complex processes of public argument, deliberation, and exchange through which universalist rights claims are contested and contextualized, invoked and revoked, posted and positioned throughout legal and political institutions, as well as in the associations of civil society.”53 Only those “iterative acts through which a democratic people that considers itself bound by certain guiding norms and principles reappropriates and reinterprets these, thus showing itself to be not only the subject but also the author of the laws,”54 can give human rights democratic, political legitimacy. On this account, then, rights are democratic only when they are the work of an elected government. Human rights remain the rights of others. As we saw in chapter 3, in his philosophy of right Kant provides a clear answer to this question of how the international order he advocates is to be realized: whoever holds power should, as a matter of duty, alter the constitution. To the extent that Habermas and Benhabib leave human rights in the hands of national legislatures (and other authorities), it seems that they follow him. The problem with this approach is that, to the extent that rulers, like powerful states, have little incentive to give up their privileges and prerogatives, it is unclear how the desired order will come into being.55 To be sure, Kant placed his hopes not only on duty, but also on the effects of an expanding global public sphere, and contemporary theorists often follow him here as well. In a similar spirit, historians of human rights tend to present the progress of human rights as a slow work of collective conscience, while neo-Kantians prefer to speak of “learning processes”: legal-institutional improvements are in part the result of people’s (and peoples’) reflection on humanity’s self-inflicted disasters.56 Now there is another way to tell the story of the rise of rights, based less on growing consensus than on how particular protections come into

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being. Norberto Bobbio suggests that justifications for rights (natural rights, the social contract) of the kind Arendt so disdained are “imaginary reconstructions”: “As a theory variously developed by philosophers, theologians and jurists, the doctrine of the rights of man can be regarded as a later rationalization of the state of affairs resulting from the struggle many centuries earlier, especially in England, between the king and other social forces.”57 Rights, Bobbio claims, are acquired through struggle. Generalizing this thesis, he characterizes social contract and natural rights theories as a reverse presentation of the sequence between the historical events and the juridical agreement and rational justification to which they give rise: historically, the liberal state was the outcome of a continual and ever-growing erosion of the sovereign’s absolute power, and of the revolutionary rupture which occurred in historical periods of sharper crisis (such as the seventeenth century in England and the late eighteenth century in France); rationally, it was justified as the outcome of an accord between individuals who are initially free and who come together to establish the bonds essential to a permanent and peaceful coexistence.58 Rather than imagining King John signing the Magna Carta because he was persuaded of the merits of baronial rights or decolonization resulting from imperialists’ insight into the performative contradiction of affirming universal rights and maintaining colonies, Bobbio sees these moral justifications as post facto rationalizations of gains won on the ground, through political action from below.59 The notion that rights exist because people organize to demand them is the historical counterpart of the view of democracy as political action developed in chapter 5. “Rights in a democracy,” writes Sheldon Wolin, “depend on the demos winning them, extending them substantively, and, in the process, acquiring experience of the political, that is, of participating in power, reflecting on the consequences of its exercise, and struggling to sort out the common well-being.”60 And, despite their Kantian emphasis on justification, on the one hand, and law, on the other, we find the outlines of a contentious politics that can produce changes in laws and institutions in Habermas’s and Benhabib’s accounts. Habermas, for instance, describes the “consistent actualization of the system of rights”

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through “a dialectic of de jure and de facto equality” triggered by the struggles of different groups.61 Even in the case of human rights, he recognizes that “increasing the protection of human rights within nation-states or pushing the global spread of human rights beyond national boundaries has never been possible without social movements and political struggles.”62 As we have seen, for Habermas as for Benhabib, “democratic iterations” unfold within the constitutional structures of established democracies. Even when political actors are helped by the democracies’ recognition of international human rights law, democratically “actualizing” rights means convincing national institutions, especially courts, to recognize rights that already exist de jure but not de facto. Only when they are internalized and legislated by the citizens of an existing democracy, it seems, can human rights become effective. What then if, pace Habermas, there is no given framework of de jure equality, no constitutional framework within which they can be “actualized”? What if, pace Benhabib, there is no existing political community within whose legal-political institutions rights can be claimed and thereby “iterated,” be it “democratically” or by domestic or supranational courts? What if, pace Wolin, there is neither a preexisting democracy nor a pregiven demos? Is it possible to understand the creation and expansion of rights as a political process without presupposing the legalinstitutional framework that is ultimately to safeguard them? Even more, is it possible to understand this process as democratic, as the political work of the rights claimants themselves? As we will now see, I believe there is, by taking inspiration from the radical reinterpretation of democratic politics I reconstructed in the last chapter and shifting our focus from morality and law to politics itself. This would mean understanding the politics of human rights as the activity of their potential beneficiaries, seeing rights holders as the authors of their rights—not only ideally, from the standpoint of justification, and not only within the framework of a constitutional state, but actually, as they engage in the practice of claiming rights. Human Rights Politics as Democratic Action

In the first half of this chapter I explored two common ways of understanding the politics of human rights. The first treats these rights as moral imperatives to be implemented by whatever force can be mobilized

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on their behalf—ultimately, I suggested, reinforcing the inequality of power that human rights in principle seek to redress. The second approach seeks to overcome this problem by calling for an order wherein all will be subject to a law of which all are the authors, but it turns out to suffer from the deficiency I diagnosed in the work of Kant and his followers in chapter 3: while it can imagine a better institutional alternative, it leaves us suspended between our present unsatisfactory condition and this utopian horizon. Yet I also indicated that certain neo-Kantians describe a politics in which present injustices are contested in the name of right. What remains is to fill out this vision, to show how human rights can be understood as a democratic politics of universalization in the sense described in the last chapter—a practice and process whose means and end are the realization of equal freedom and dignity. To do so, I return once again to Hannah Arendt and her “right to have rights.” No doubt owing to the ambiguities of her thought, Arendt has served as a kind of Rorschach test for theorists of cosmopolitanism. For Seyla Benhabib, as we have seen, Arendt is a proto-universalist who was kept from seeing cosmopolitan potentials by her own catastrophic historical experiences and the limits of her own political imagination, for which the particularism of the nation-state was a fatality. Robert Fine, to the contrary, finds in Arendt’s sense of limits a realistic “worldly cosmopolitanism” that shows “what it is to think as a cosmopolitan citizen in a world in which cosmopolitanism is no more than a flash of light in dark times.”63 Natan Sznaider and Annabel Herzog, in contrast, develop very different cosmopolitanisms from Arendt’s biography: Sznaider a universalism that leaves room for the particular, Herzog an “anarchic” cosmopolitanism that frees people from the constraints of identity.64 And Peg Birmingham uses Arendt’s account of the “human condition” as the basis for an anthropologically grounded account of human rights.65 In the following I draw on another strand of Arendt’s thinking to show how she can help us avoid both the practical paradoxes of the first, Weberian understanding of rights politics and the indeterminacy and inefficacy of the second, Kantian version. The key Arendtian insight here is the one I developed in chapter 5: by putting political practice ahead of morality, law, and institutions alike, Arendt offers a way of understanding rights that circumvents the paradoxes and impasses we have encountered so far (a). Yet if we find in Arendt a political understanding of rights, it is still not clear from this account how these rights can transcend a

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particular community. For this reason, I return to three other authors discussed in chapter 5, Claude Lefort, Étienne Balibar, and Jacques Rancière, for an account of how this politics can transcend its immediate context even as it arises through particular political conflicts. What emerges from these radicalizing interpretations of Arendt is an understanding of her “right to have rights” as what Balibar calls a “right to politics”—an indeterminate and universalizing claim to freedom and equality against whatever denies them in a given situation (b). This alone, I argue, yields an interpretation of a politics of human rights that not only promotes but directly realizes the equal freedom of its holders. (a) As recent commentators have shown, contrary to common depictions of Arendt as a human rights skeptic and devotee of the nation-state, she endorsed measures very much like those called for by contemporary neo-Kantians.66 “Human dignity needs a new guarantee,” she wrote in the preface to The Origins of Totalitarianism, “which can be found only in a new political principle, in a new law on earth, whose validity this time must comprehend the whole of humanity while its power must remain strictly limited, rooted in and controlled by newly defined territorial entities.”67 While in 1950 she still referred to “territorial entities” (without specifying how they should be “newly defined” or their relation to this “new law”), in her 1958 laudatio for Karl Jaspers she writes of a “new fragile unity” at a global level that “can be guaranteed only within a framework of universal mutual agreements, which eventually would lead into a worldwide federated structure.”68 This cosmopolitan strain runs throughout her later work, from her call for international criminal justice in Eichmann in Jerusalem to her praise for the US Constitution’s recognition of the bindingness of treaties to her affirmation in her late lectures on Kant that “when one judges and when one acts in political matters, one is supposed to take ones bearings from the idea, not the actuality, of being a world citizen.”69 Nevertheless, Arendt did not pursue these reflections and doubted the possibility of cosmopolitan politics in anything but the very long term. All the same, while she never elaborated on the notion of a “right to have rights,” the bases exist in her work for an alternative to the approaches I have examined so far. In order to uncover it, we must see her distance from them. A starting point is her discussion of the “right to have rights” in The Origins of Totalitarianism. Pointing to the difficulty of giving this right concrete

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expression, Arendt warns: “contrary to the best-intentioned humanitarian attempts to obtain new declarations of human rights from international organizations, it should be understood that this idea transcends the present sphere of international law which still operates in terms of reciprocal agreements and treaties between sovereign states; and, for the time being, a sphere that is above the nations does not exist. Furthermore, this dilemma would by no means be eliminated by the establishment of a ‘world government.’”70 International law, that is, cannot protect a right to have rights because, under either the Westphalian or the UN Charter regime, it enshrines the principle of state sovereignty and with it a ban on interfering in the internal affairs of other states. One response would be to ask, why wouldn’t a world government solve the problem?—especially since Arendt immediately adds that it “is indeed within the realm of possibility.” For whether the problem is, as Ignatieff and Walzer suggest, that we lack a power to enforce human rights, or, as Benhabib and Habermas suggest, that we lack laws and institutions that can overcome the exclusivity of the nation-state,71 world government, whatever its other disadvantages, would solve it. According to Benhabib, Arendt rejected world government because she, like Kant, feared a world state and failed to consider the sorts of intermediate measures discussed in the last section (overlapping sovereignty, multilevel legal regimes, etc.). Now it is true that Arendt saw a world state as “not only a forbidding nightmare of tyranny” but as “the end of all political life as we know it.”72 But if we follow her explanation of why world government would not guarantee a right to have rights, we find that her argument differs essentially from Kant’s: “The crimes against human rights . . . can always be justified by the pretext that right is equivalent to being good or useful for the whole in distinction to its parts. . . . And this predicament is by no means solved if the unit which the ‘good for’ applies is as large as mankind itself. For it is quite conceivable, and even within the realm of practical political possibilities, that one fine day a highly organized and mechanized humanity will conclude quite democratically—namely by majority decision—that for humanity as a whole it would be better to liquidate certain parts thereof.”73 This argument too is, to say the least, peculiar. It is unclear why the tendency Arendt describes would necessarily affect a world state or why it would not apply to any polity. More importantly, it seems to miss the very point of rights, which is precisely to check majoritarianism and utilitarianism.

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To make sense of this passage we must turn to an earlier moment in The Origins of Totalitarianism. The book’s early chapters are mostly remembered today for their warnings about nationalism, racism and antiSemitism, imperialism, and the rise of “the masses.” In “The Political Emancipation of the Bourgeoisie,” however, her target is a form of statism she associates with liberalism. Anticipating her later account in The Human Condition, Arendt argues that the rising bourgeoisie won the freedom to accumulate capital and pursue its expansionist designs by transferring political matters to an all-powerful state. This abandonment of civic life, she claims, is the substance of Hobbes’s social contract and has continued apace throughout the modern period with the growth of the state and the retreat of the individual into private life. In this context, she adds a note: “The presently popular liberal notion of a World Government is based, like all liberal notions of political power, on the same concept of individuals submitting to a central authority which ‘overawes them,’ except that nations are now taking the place of individuals. The World Government is to overcome and eliminate authentic politics, that is, different people getting along with other in the full force of their power.”74 Here Arendt reveals her distance from the view Benhabib attributes to her, namely, that “exclusionary territorial control is an unchecked sovereign privilege which cannot be limited or trumped by other norms and institutions.”75 For what Arendt rejects is not the scope of such a politics (“exclusionary territorial control”) but rather its mode or form (“unchecked sovereign privilege”). Arendt does not oppose a national-statist paradigm to “other norms and institutions” (a matter of scope), but to what she calls “authentic politics” (a matter of mode). The problem with the “liberal notion of a World Government” is not that it is global, but that, like the Hobbesian state, it exercises power over people (or nations) rather than being constituted by them, out of “the full force of their power.” The problem is not one of scale, in other words, but of form. As I showed in chapter 5, precisely this attention to the mode or form of politics, and to the question of whether power is exercised vertically, from above, or generated from below, by what Habermas calls the “horizontal relationships” among people, represents Arendt’s most important legacy for democratic thought. This distinctive conception of politics entails far-reaching objections to Weberian as well as Kantian conceptions of politics. Recall here Arendt’s argument against mean-ends thinking in politics, reconstructed in chapter 5. By identifying politics with

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ends, even moral ones or freedom and equality, Arendt argues, we reduce it to instrumental action, and thus, like Weber, to force, domination, and rule. “Even when the end is freedom,” she claims, “the meaning that is determined in the action itself is violent coercion.”76 The tendency of means to overwhelm ends is why even a just war, undertaken for morally unimpeachable ends, may be just a war from the standpoint of its victims.77 This focus on what Arendt calls the “meaning” of politics, determined not by the goals or ends it pursues but by the means it uses to pursue them, by the form of action it engages in and the relations it thereby establishes, thus gets to the heart of the paradox of the Weberian model of politics, showing precisely why and how it can be self-undermining. At the same time, Arendt resists the Kantian reduction of politics to morality and law. Though far from indifferent to law, she regarded it as of secondary importance. On the “Greek” model of The Human Condition, she likens laws to the city walls, which create a space for politics; on the “Roman” model of On Revolution, law creates relationships, founds authority, and ensures continuity.78 But for her laws and constitutions are not themselves politics, only its most common framework and one of its more consequential products. As we saw in the last chapter, Arendt’s ideal of political freedom is neither, in our terms, liberal-democratic nor republican but rather what she calls isonomia—not the idea “that all are equal before the law . . . but rather simply that all have the same claim to political activity.”79 If a “right to have rights amounts to, as Serena Parekh puts it, “a meaningful place in the world,” we must understand “world” in the specifically Arendtian sense—as a sphere made up of political relations among people who recognize one another as peers. This is why Arendt emphasizes that the most important deprivation visited upon the stateless was “not of the right to freedom, but of the right to action; not of the right to think whatever they please, but of the right to opinion.”80 “Action” and “opinion” for Arendt are not generically human; they are specifically political and actualized only in practice. What is essential here, then, is the point I emphasized with reference to Étienne Tassin in chapter 5: the creation of a “world” in Arendt’s sense is not an effect of laws and institutions, but rather what brings them into being and ultimately guarantees them. Such a “world” can only be the result of the practice of politics itself. To see the normative basis of these “worlds,” I turn to another category she developed in her work of the 1950s: principles. Principles—not

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moral or legal principles, but, following Montesquieu, the spirit animating individual and collective action—are Arendt’s alternative to the goals or ends discussed in chapter 5.81 Rather than dictate what to do, these immanent principles suggest, without prescribing, both what to do and how to do it.82 Principles of action in this sense, I suggest, are what Arendt has in mind when she writes in The Origins of Totalitarianism of a “new political principle” that could provide human dignity with a “new guarantee.” They are also what lies behind her comment on Jaspers’s cosmopolitan vision of “universal mutual agreements”: “For this, political philosophy can hardly do more than describe and prescribe the new principle of political action.”83 What Arendt means by a “sphere that is above the nations,” then, is not a sphere of (international) law or sovereignty, but a “world,” a sphere of freedom animated by such a principle. The reason that the problem of the right to have rights “would by no means be eliminated by the establishment of a “world government”—why “it is by no means certain” whether “the right of every individual to belong to humanity” could “be guaranteed by humanity itself ”—is that while law and even state power can in principle be universalized, she doubted that such a sphere of political activity could be, for that would entail the extension of this specifically political form of recognition to the whole world. Arendt’s doubts about political cosmopolitanism are thus based neither on a fetishization of national citizenship and solidarity nor on the lack of a power or law to enforce rights. Rather, they stem from what she regarded as limits to practices of mutual recognition and cooperation. Thus, although Arendt was not strictly speaking a cosmopolitan, she does suggest a notion of the politics of rights that decouples it from the state and the law. She does so, I have tried to show, by reconsidering inherited political notions from the bottom up rather than the top down, as practices. Rights politics can be thought with Arendt as the active, cooperative practice of those who recognize one another as equals. This practice is internal to politics, at once an entailment and a precondition of politics, one of its main objects and one of its most important results. Crucially, its scope is set not by state boundaries or legal jurisdictions but by political action itself. As she writes of the Greek polis: “it is not the citystate in its physical location; it is the organization of the people as it arises out of acting and speaking together, and its true space lies between people living together for this purpose, no matter where they happen to be.”84 Isaac captures the essence of this conception when he writes that “the

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most important focus of such a politics is neither the nation-state nor the international covenant or tribunal”; rather, “the primary impetus for such rights will always come from elsewhere, from the praxis of citizens who insist upon these rights and who are prepared to back up this insistence through political means.” Since this politics rests on the activity of those who practice it, “how human rights claims are articulated and mobilized can and will vary from case to case and from time to time, as political identities are transformed and new alliances are forged.”85 This active, bottom-up vision, I will now argue, can serve as the basis for a democratic-cosmopolitan perspective on the politics of human rights. (b) If Arendt shows us how rights politics can be understood as the activity of the rights holders themselves, we need to look beyond her to see how this can be true of human rights. This is not because of any communitarianism or statism on her part, but because she insisted on confining politics to the plain of immanence. For her a principle like “human rights” is bound to its immediate context of use: “The manifestation of principles comes about only through action,” she writes, “they are manifest in the world as long as the action lasts, but no longer.”86 As we saw in the last chapter, for Claude Lefort this restriction overlooks the role of ideas, including normative ideas, in inspiring action. Lefort sees the political importance of human rights precisely in this function; he interprets rights as a “generative principle” of politics, one with its own “symbolic efficacy.” At the same time that rights institutionalize certain guarantees, their deeper effects are on the level of political imagination and practice, where they create a new “awareness of right.”87 As Habermas affirms in his discussion of the bivalence of human rights, rights are not only practices; they are also powerfully motivating ideas. If people’s felt sense of the importance of human rights can thus help secure the legitimacy of the political order when it guarantees them, it can also provide a basis for contesting that order when it does not. Because the idea of human rights always exceeds a given political order, Lefort argues, they can be the basis for a politics of challenging such an order. If rights, human rights in particular, are not extra- or prepolitical, neither should they be regarded merely as a precondition for politics. Rather, they are the product of past struggles and the object of present ones. Far from being the apolitical basis of politics, rights, in the Arendtian sense, as a principle of action, are vehicles of politicization: political

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movements arise to win new rights or expand old ones. Rights are not established in principle and then protected by power, be it by one’s own state or another. Rather, the idea of human rights “eludes all power which would claim to take hold of it”; they “go beyond any particular formulation which has been given of them; and this means that their formulation contains the demand for their reformulation.” Instead of being identified with the institutions that claim to embody them or powers that act to enforce them, for Lefort they are invented and reinvented by particular actors in the process of claiming them. The continual availability of these open-ended rights transform politics into “the theatre of a contestation, whose object cannot be reduced to the preservation of a tacitly established pact but which takes form in centres that power cannot entirely master.”88 These centers outside the official political realm—civil society, Abensour’s “total demos,” or what Nancy Fraser has called subaltern counterpublics89—are the fragile but endlessly renewable source of democratic politics. Étienne Balibar takes this logic further. Reflecting, like Arendt, on the relation between the two terms juxtaposed in the French Revolution’s Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, he draws an opposite conclusion. Whereas Arendt regards the junction of man and citizen negatively, in terms of its de facto results, so that the contrast reveals why the “loss of national rights was identical with the loss of human rights,”90 Balibar treats it positively, in terms of its normative and political implications. As we saw in the last chapter, the overlap of man and citizen affirms “a universal right to political activity for every individual, in all the domains in which the problem of collectively organized possession, power, and knowledge is posed.”91 As for Lefort, human rights’ underdetermined character, the fact that they cannot be exhausted by any particular instantiation, means that they are always potentially transformative. The politics of human rights, Balibar claims, “always supposes . . . that an existing social order is put into question, even if it be the democratic and juridical order of a constitutional state that, within certain limits and within a certain field, institutes freedom and equality.”92 And, as we also saw in the last chapter, for Balibar this means that human rights amount to a claim to equaliberty, to a greater say in the direction of social life. Human rights are thus a principle internal to democracy that nevertheless exceeds any particular instituted form. Taking up but broadening Arendt’s view, Balibar accordingly glosses her “right to have rights”

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as “the right to politics: a right of everyone on his or her own behalf.” As he immediately adds, this “signifies, among other things, that no one can be liberated or emancipated by others, from ‘above,’ even were this ‘above’ to be right [in the Kantian sense] itself, or the democratic state.”93 This is because for Balibar human rights simply are, at bottom, the claim to a say in one’s circumstances. At the same time, however, the claim to human rights is intrinsically unconditional: “there is an inherent contradiction in the idea that not every human being enjoys rights which are constitutive of humanity.”94 This claim can potentially be made by anyone, anywhere, anytime. Human rights have thus become a central site of the expansive emancipatory logic of modern politics, an expression of how the principle of equaliberty can be imported by political movements into new domains, settings, and scales. Most crucially for our purposes, by reading the right to have rights as a right to politics, and thus as the activation of the principle of equal freedom, Balibar decisively separates its use as a principle of action and claim making from its use as a principle of legitimation. Only in the former sense, he suggests, when it is put to work against its instantiated forms, can it be regarded as a true or “ideal” expression of equal freedom. This supplies the key to an active, bottom-up politics of human rights that can go on beyond any existing constitutional framework. As with the notion of democratic politics developed in the last chapter, I find such a political reading of human rights elaborated in a particularly forceful way by Jacques Rancière. Again, Rancière begins with a somewhat exaggerated account of the inadequacies of Arendt’s treatment of the issue. It is because she regards politics as a “sphere” rather than a “process,” he claims, that Arendt concludes that human rights are “in fact” nothing: “It is only if you presuppose that the rights belong to definite or permanent subjects that you must state, as Arendt did, that the only real rights are the rights given to the citizens of a nation by their belonging to that nation, and guaranteed by the protection of their state. If you do this, of course, you must deny the reality of the struggles led outside of the frame of the national constitutional state.”95 Against this, Rancière insists that the politics of human rights consists precisely in the activity of claiming them. For him, rights only become political when they are denied and this denial is contested. Rights must be submitted to the test of practice to be realized. And since politics for Rancière consists in nothing other than testing the boundaries of law and

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community by setting their universalistic promise against their all-tooparticular instantiations, human rights are a paradigmatic case of the politics of universalization, where institutions or communities are forced to become more inclusive or egalitarian by challenges from their outside. Rancière sums this up this version of human rights politics in a characteristically paradoxical formula: “the Rights of Man are the rights of those who have not the rights that they have and have the rights that they have not” (302). The basis of this double paradox is a reading of the Declaration that neither, like Arendt’s, separates the rights of man from the rights of the citizen nor, like Balibar’s, identifies them. Instead, Rancière insists that the rights of man have two distinct meanings and become a politics only when they are played off each other. In a normative sense, human rights “are written rights,” the “inscriptions of the community as free and equal.” But they are also “the rights of those who make something of that inscription, who decide not only to ‘use’ their rights but also to build such and such a case for the verification of the power of the inscription.” On this basis, he explains, “women who campaigned for citizenship during the French Revolution could make a twofold demonstration. They could demonstrate that they were deprived of the rights that they had, thanks to the Declaration of Rights. And they could demonstrate, through their public action, that they had the rights that the constitution denied to them, that they could enact those rights” (303–4). Rancière’s depiction of the contestatory use of rights claims illustrates but also goes beyond Habermas’s “dialectic of de jure and de facto equality” or Benhabib’s “democratic iterations.” Here, the state de facto denied women rights that it granted them as human beings—not so much de jure as simply by recognizing them as legal subjects. They responded by putting those denied rights into practice, de facto acting as citizens although they were not de jure recognized as such. Rancière thus shows how the practice of claiming rights can exceed and expand their inscription, how the practice can transform the idea (even if this particular campaign was unsuccessful; French women would not win the franchise for another 150 years). On this understanding, democratic politics—defined not by democratic institutions but rather as the assertion of popular control over public life and thus the indefinite potential to democratize institutions— possesses its own, internal normativity in an open-ended claim to equality. From this perspective, human rights are an always available resource for those who have been denied rights to which they have reason to

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believe they are entitled. We can expect this to occur, on this account, not on the basis of a consensus about human rights, but precisely through the opposite—through dissensus about their meaning and application. The engine of human rights progress, then, is their experimental activation by those to whom they could but do not apply. What happens, then, when rights are not put to this political test, when they exist as a matter of consensus and a principle of justification, but not as a politics? Rancière believes this to be often the case in depoliticized contemporary democracies, where the equipment of democratic citizenship is in place but serves only to ratify the decisions of states and elites. He describes a politics of human rights detached from real politics with another fable that takes us full circle: Ultimately, those rights appear actually empty. They seem to be of no use. And when they are of no use, you do the same as charitable persons do with their old clothes. You give them to the poor. Those rights that appear to be useless in their place are sent abroad, along with medicine and clothes, to people deprived of medicine, clothes, and rights. It is in this way . . . that the Rights of Man become the rights of those who have no rights, the rights of bare human beings subjected to inhuman repression and inhuman conditions of existence. They become humanitarian rights, the rights of those who cannot enact them, the victims of the absolute denial of right. (307) Where the victims are so deprived and oppressed that they have no way of using these rights, the rights then “return to sender” in absolutized form, as a “right to humanitarian intervention”—and, in an extreme but real case, as “infinite justice” (as the US initially termed its 2001 military action in Afghanistan). They return, that is, not as “right,” which would allow the rights to be tested politically by their potential bearers, but as moralized politics, “the erasure of the boundary between law and fact, law and lawlessness” (309). Where rights cease to function as a principle of action for the extension of equal freedom but are rather reduced to a principle of legitimacy for the actions of the powerful, then, the idea of right itself is threatened. Rancière thereby shows that the politics of rights in his radically democratic sense is not opposed to normativity, right, or law. The struggle for rights reinforces the principle of right by renewing the democratic

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authorship of rights by the people who claim them. In the absence of the democratic use, testing, and expansion of rights, in contrast, a vacuum arises that is filled by morality on side and force on the other: The reign of the “humanitarian” begins . . . wherever human rights are cut off from any capacity for polemical particularization of their universality. . . . Human rights are no longer experienced as political capacities. The predicates “human” and “human rights” are simply attributed . . . to their eligible party, the subject “man.” . . . More precisely, this person who is merely human then boils down to the couple of the victim, the pathetic figure of a person to whom such humanity is denied, and the executioner, the monstrous figure of a person who denies humanity. The “humanitarian” regime of the “international community” then exercises the administration of human rights . . . by sending supplies and medicine to the one and airborne divisions, more rarely, to the other.96 Where rights cease to be contested, where they are no longer available for the claims of the dominated, “right” is deprived of its polemical universalizability and reduced to an ideology of the dominant. Human rights politics becomes philanthropy and the selective use of force. As I argued in chapter 5, this not only demonstrates the importance of taking a political view of human rights—of attending to whom precisely they empower to do what. It also shows the importance of their normative status. Crucially, the two go together: where the struggle for human rights withers, so does the principle. This conception of human rights politics corresponds to recent efforts to redefine citizenship not simply as a legal status, but as a form of collective action that often comes in response to its absence. Such a politics may arise to demand status within a nation-state, like the women’s movement evoked by Rancière. Thus Monika Krause depicts the activism of sans papiers in different European countries as constituting an Arendtian “portable polis,” “creat[ing] spaces of public freedom.”97 But while its concentration of power makes the state the most central arena for rights politics, it is not the only one. Such a politics can in principle emerge wherever people organize to claim rights they have been denied—not only within the framework of a constitutional state, but against any authority that should be more accountable to those over whom it wields power.

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As I suggested at the end of the chapter 5, when we understand democracy as a form of political action rather than a regime, we can understand practices of claiming rights as themselves democratic, and democracy as arising wherever and to the extent that such practices come into being. Even a democratic politics in this sense will be partly shaped by the actions of those who possess sovereignty power as well as the laws and institutions that are available to launch claims. However, by identifying human rights politics first and foremost with the activity of rights claimants, not only do we see its root in felt needs and its intrinsic connection to the principle of autonomy; we also make clear how these needs and this principle find direct practical expression. Human rights, I want to suggest, may be most fruitfully thought of neither simply as moral claims nor as proto-legal ones, but along the lines of the new form of “right” I tried to outline at the end of chapter 5 or in terms of the Arendtian “principles” I described earlier in this chapter. Their real importance resides in the action they are capable of inspiring, which itself is both their most effective guarantor and the best determinant of their specific meaning. The implication of this is that the progress of human rights should be understood and assessed according to the standards I set out in chapter 5. Human rights are a powerful language for making moral and political claims, but if a politics practiced in their name is not to betray their spirit, it can only be put to work by particular actors in particular settings with reference to particular grievances or injustices. It can, of course, be helpful to have international regimes in place that allow and encourage the making of such claims, but the content and force of human rights depend on political action from below. The prestige of human rights can be useful insofar as it may allow those who make them to garner support and recruit allies. But here caution is in order, for support can mean co-optation, and pressure can mean the instrumentalization of one actor’s claims to serve another. Sometimes the result is good, especially when the aim is simply to end state violence; sometimes it is not, as, for example, when intervention ends up causing more violence and chaos than it was meant to remedy. Nonetheless, we should insist that the kernel of human rights politics, the standard against which they should be held, the place we should look for human rights progress, and the true site of their universality is their capacity to inspire political action from below. Only this kind of action, along with the solidarities, relations of

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recognition, and processes of deliberation that can arise from it, would constitute a democratic cosmopolitics. t



In this chapter I have outlined three different conceptions of the politics of human rights based on coercive power, law and institutions, and collective action and contestation, respectively. On the first, politics involves the use of power to achieve certain ends, while human rights politics involves the use of power to advance the moral imperative of protecting rights. Human rights politics is, then, the activity of whoever is willing and able to enforce these rights—anyone, that is, except the would-be rights bearers themselves. On the second, human rights are a moral imperative that should be embodied in institutions. Here law takes up the burden the first view leaves to power, though where precisely this law should come from—in practice, rather than according to right—is often less than clear. What we find here, then, is a picture of how rights should be institutionally guaranteed, but little indication of who should do what when they are not. On the third view, finally, rights arise from and are based on the political activity of their bearers. On this view, the politics of human rights is what I have called a democratic cosmopolitics: the contestation of particular exclusions and inequalities in the name of an open-ended principle of equal freedom, which acquires its particular contours only through this contestation. We might regard these views as appropriate to different situations. In the face of chaos, we may conclude with Hobbes, Ignatieff, or Walzer that just as almost any state is better than none, externally imposed rights are better than no rights at all. But we should do so with an awareness of the paradoxes built into the idea of human rights implementation—that it depends on and empowers the powerful—as well as the inherently problematic nature of unmediated moral justification in politics. The second, Kantian view can tell us what to aim for. It can serve as an ideal as well as a standard against which to judge current arrangements. From a practical perspective, however, like the Kantian cosmopolitics I explored in chapter 3, it has no answer to the question of how these institutions are to be created or maintained. Here we must attend to the politics that fills the gap between fact and norm, for the desire to create a more just order can, no less than the first view, authorize actions whose immediate effect is

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to violate rights. The third, Arendtian conception of the politics of human rights, finally, provides us with a guide to the politics that should underlie the effective realization of human rights. Even if it is not always immediately available in practice, this model allows us to conceive of the politics of human rights in a way that is at once practical, concretely tied to political action, and directly expressive of the principle of equal freedom. A democratic perspective on human rights can serve a critical purpose. It allows us to see when, for instance, the first form of rights politics is passed off as the third, as when paternalistic intervention claims democratic legitimacy, or when the second form slips back into the first, as when the advocates of “right” avail themselves of the power of the dominant. Thus Jeffrey Isaac is right to say that INGOs can “play an indispensable role in calling attention to human rights abuses, giving voice to the disenfranchised and persecuted, and empowering citizens to act in concert on behalf of the expansion of rights.” But this must be distinguished from his claim that “they can be viewed as ‘elementary republics’ of citizens committed to human rights.”98 Arendt’s “elementary republics,” the direct expression of the autonomy of their members, are a very different thing from beneficent but ultimately heteronomous human rights promotion from the outside. Similarly, Michael Ignatieff may be correct that “rights language ignited both the colonial revolutions abroad and the civil rights revolution at home,” though other local languages of justice surely played a larger role. But we should reject his assertion that “thanks to human rights advocacy, international politics has been democratized.”99 What democratizes politics is a durable transfer of power from those who have too much of it to those who have too little. The only reliable agent of such a transfer is the claimants themselves—a matter of action, not advocacy. Beyond this, a critical-democratic conception of cosmopolitics carries a number of practical lessons for judging the field of human rights politics. The first is that, as David Kennedy emphasizes, “human rights occupies the field of emancipatory possibility,”100 absorbing energies and resources that could be aimed toward more directly empowering forms of engagement. Wendy Brown amplifies this point: “Human rights activism is a moral-political project and if it displaces, competes with, refuses, or rejects other political projects, including those also aimed at producing justice, then it is not merely a tactic but a particular form of political power carrying a particular image of justice.”101 This form of power,

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Arendt and those who write in her wake allow us to see, can be external and statist, top-down and administrative, rather than properly democratic. In this light the hegemonic status of human rights within progressive politics risks promoting a defensive struggle for a more humane version of the status quo—a struggle that, moreover, is assigned by default to external powers rather than to rights holders themselves—instead of searching for ways to transform that status quo. For egalitarians, this suggests, human rights politics, conventionally conceived, will always be second-best. It is at most a precondition for what should be the point, namely, achieving conditions under which each individual can participate on fair terms in determining her social world. Second, an Arendtian understanding of human rights cautions us against reducing them to formal institutions or regarding them as secure because a power is on hand to enforce them. Of course, laws and institutions are ultimately necessary to secure rights. Rights may come into being and even continue to exist without citizens exercising and defending them, through the actions of outsiders or elites, but this can be likened to a car continuing down the road after one has taken one’s hands off the wheel. The conception of rights put forth here suggests that we should regard rights as secure only and to the extent that they are based on shared understandings and practices, people’s readiness to act for and with one another and their ability to do so. The danger of the first two views is that they can encourage us to leave rights protection to the state, the courts, the UN, humanitarian organizations, etc., rather than considering how they can be safeguarded by the people themselves (ourselves). In this sense, the internal relation between democracy and rights that Habermas demonstrates theoretically, with regard to their presuppositions, also holds practically: not only are rights a precondition of democracy, democratic politics is the only secure foundation for rights. A third lesson is that it matters how rights are perceived—as “mine” or as imposed by an external agent. Rights are only secure and effective when they are the creation and possession of their bearers. A danger of philosophical and moral approaches to human rights as well as of political efforts to implement them from above is that they can weaken rights politically. Such efforts may lead us to forget that the most efficacious understanding is one that is convincing to, and motivating for, their bearers. By regarding human rights as absolute imperatives, we may be tempted to impose them without the participation or even consent of

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those they are meant to benefit. In this respect human rights resemble democracy. If we understand democracy externally, from the top down as a form of regime, we may think we can assess and even implement it for others. If we understand democracy, instead, as a practice, we will be in a much better position to recognize it in any politics of equal freedom. Thus the language of human rights is not only that of the Universal Declaration; it is that in which they are claimed and won. The danger is not simply that heteronomous understandings of human rights politics may lure us into paternalism or imperialism. It is that they can undermine the cause of human rights even among those they are intended to benefit. Fourth, and finally, a democratic perspective on rights underlines the importance of focusing not only on whether certain norms are upheld or certain institutions exist but also on the social and political capacities— the distribution of power—that must underlie them. Where human rights interventions go on indefinitely, it is often because outsiders have intervened enough to stabilize a situation, but not enough to provide people with the resources and stability required to take over. Where human rights or democratization have failed to take root, it is often because a narrow focus on the legal or political system—a human rights charter or an election—has obscured deeper social, economic, ecological, and other problems. Merely formal progress on human rights can be a way of putting a bright face on a grim situation. As cosmopolitan theorists have long insisted, a serious commitment to universal human rights involves not just preventing particular harms but developing capacities.102 The lesson of a democratic perspective on human rights is that we should see them as concerned with people’s ability to participate meaningfully in the direction of collective life. What this would mean is understanding the politics of human rights as an active, critical-democratic cosmopolitics in the sense I have developed in this book, and human rights promotion the practice of promoting and supporting this politics.


In this book I have argued that the dominant approach to cosmopolitanism in contemporary political philosophy is undermined by what could be described as a lack of realism. That approach proceeds as though, by developing the best moral arguments and normative visions, it will be able to persuade people—presumably those in a position to change things—to bring about a better world. This practical presupposition is seldom defended explicitly; rather, it is taken to be self-evident—simply what one does when one does political philosophy. Occasionally, it is true, cosmopolitan theorists ask whether the ends or schemes they develop might be realized. Even then, however, discussion typically extends no further than the possibility, rather than the likelihood, of their designs being put into practice and almost never to the consideration of means, let alone strategy. Moreover, even this transition from “ideal” to “applied” theory (as it is called in normative political theory) proceeds on the assumption that what one does with normative principles or designs is “apply” them—much as one might apply a rule or a blueprint. It was this methodological assumption, more than any particular principle or design, that I identified as mainstream cosmopolitanism’s chief and most characteristic defect.

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But what of the alternative I propose in this book—namely, that a democratic and egalitarian cosmopolitics consists above all in the efforts of those who have too little to durably acquire more (resources, respect, but above all power, in the sense of a meaningful say in the decisions and arrangements that affect them), as well as, secondarily, the efforts of others to promote this politics? Is it not vulnerable to precisely the objections I made against Kant and his followers? Insofar as I make progress depend on the political action of the weakest, those least able to defend their interests, is my position not even less realistic than theirs? Is it not at least as unrealistic to imagine that the dominated will realize or even be able to identify their own—let alone the general—interest as it is to believe that those who have access to power and resources can be persuaded to achieve it on their behalf? Moreover, in seeking to escape the fetishism of ends that I claim leads to actions whose effect is often the opposite of what it intends, do I not introduce a fetishism of means? Do I not see that being oppressed is no title to wisdom and morality and that the wretched of the earth can just as easily clamor for revenge against their oppressors or fall for new ruses of power? Am I ignorant of the historical record, from the descent of so many revolutions into terror to the anti-imperialist liberators who took the opportunity of liberation to set themselves up as tyrants? Cosmopolitanism from the bottom up, it might be objected, not only fails to resolve the problems of cosmopolitanism from the top down; it invites new ones of its own. By pointing out cosmopolitanism’s lack of realism on behalf of cosmopolitan principles, then, I may seem to be courting two opposite dangers. On one side, by casting doubt on well-intended projects for global reform, I risk aligning myself with perhaps the oldest school of anticosmopolitanism, which in the name of “reality” rejects not only ambitious schemes for global reform but the very idea of moral ends in politics. The fact that some of the most conservative, apologetic positions in international affairs have long since monopolized the term realism is, in fact, merely symptomatic of a much deeper problem: what appears “realistic” at any given time tends to be the world as it is, while any significant improvement will seem prohibitively reckless if it can be imagined at all. The other danger is that in clinging to the moral ambitions of cosmopolitanism while rejecting its usual means, the project proposed here is even more idealistic, more unrealistic, than conventional cosmopolitan idealism. On both sides, then, realism emerges as the test of serious political thinking:

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on the one hand, we must take into account how the world is and what is possible within it; on the other, we must keep in mind that both realities and possibilities can and do change. It is in response to doubts of these kinds that I take these final pages to defend the “realism” of the cosmopolitics I have tried to develop here and to distinguish it from a few prominent alternatives. Three Realisms and Their Lessons

The debate between realism, on one side, and cosmopolitanism and/or idealism, on the other, is often depicted as simple opposition, but “realism” is not just one thing. It is a family of positions in different fields and debates, sometimes entirely separate and sometimes only weakly united by the kind of claim they make—namely, that what distinguishes them from the alternatives is their superior grasp of “reality.”1 For my purposes, realism is best understood as a kind of objection that occurs again and again in political argument, each time with a different object and a different agenda. In recent discussions about cosmopolitanism, three such objections stand out as particularly important: one from international relations, one from the more “Continental” precincts of political theory, and one from its more “Anglo-Saxon” or “analytical” quarters. Each argues in its own way that the universalistic projects associated with cosmopolitanism are implausible and overlook obstacles and internal contradictions that will affect any attempt to realize them. But, as we approach them more closely, we see that each criticizes different aspects of cosmopolitanism and/or idealism on different bases and in favor of different positive propositions. By rehearsing their critiques and exploring their limits, not only can we disaggregate the field of “realism” in order to establish which of its elements or motifs are worth retaining and which are not; we can accomplish a similar disaggregation with “idealism.” The most familiar realism in discussions around cosmopolitanism is probably that of the dominant school of international relations theory, which I will call IR realism. Inspired by figures like Hans Morgenthau, E. H. Carr, and Hedley Bull, but claiming a heritage that goes back to Thucydides, Machiavelli, and Hobbes, this broad current of thinking posits that politics is finally reducible to power and interest and that its essential unit, at least in the modern period, is the state.2 IR realism is best understood through its opposition to “liberalism,” “idealism,” or “Kantianism.” The

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latter, following Kant, sees a much greater role for law, institutions, and agreements in global politics. For IR realism, this amounts to wishful thinking: idealism, it claims, forgets that the international realm is fundamentally anarchic and that in the end individuals can rely only on states, and states can rely only on their own power. While the idealism against which it defines itself represents a normative as well as an analytic approach, IR realism typically denies that it has any normative content beyond the strictly pragmatic. When it accuses Kantian liberalism of being unrealistically “idealistic,” then, we should ask to what extent it objects to the latter’s normative rather than its factual or analytical propositions and, at the same time, to what extent it has its own disavowed normative content. It is a small step—one crossed by many writers of this tradition, from Machiavelli to Kissinger, who have also served as policy advisers—from arguing that powerful states do act in their own selfinterest to arguing that they should. A second kind of realism claims many of the same illustrious intellectual ancestors, but is more expansive than the first. Rather than restrict itself to politics between states, it tends to generalize about politics or “the political” as such, the proper understanding of which it claims has important implications for domestic as well as international relations. What I will call comprehensive realism, represented in debates around cosmopolitanism by Chantal Mouffe, William Rasch, or Danilo Zolo, is a position in political theory rather than international affairs and takes its inspiration from Carl Schmitt.3 While it shares IR realism’s statism and its emphasis on power and interests, it defines the targets of its criticism somewhat differently. It too takes aim at liberalism, but less for the latter’s unrealistic idealism—its excess of normativity—than for its universalism, its rationalism, and its aspiration toward consensus, evident, for example, in the work of Kant, Rawls, and Habermas. Taking from Hobbes and especially Schmitt an avowedly pessimistic philosophical anthropology, comprehensive realism insists that “man is a dangerous animal,” conflict is ineradicable, people inevitably form mutually hostile groups, and, at the most fundamental level, human affairs do not admit of rational solutions. While these comprehensive realists do not follow Schmitt in advocating subjects’ subordination to the state, they do adopt his radical critique of international law and institutions as inherently imperialistic and his preference for a multipolar global order based on a balance of power—even if they take up these commitments from the left rather than the right.

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A third kind of realism has emerged still more recently from English-language debates in ethics and political philosophy. Suggested in a posthumously published essay by Bernard Williams and notably developed through a series of works by Raymond Geuss, this realism is specifically directed against the abstract, idealizing tendency of the dominant approaches in “analytical” normative theory.4 Taking inspiration more from Weber than from Schmitt, what I will call Cambridge realism reproaches Rawls and similar theorists not for their political or anthropological optimism (as the first and second realisms might), but for their “moralism” and irrelevance to political practice. This third group of realists denounces normative theory for seeking to reduce political theory to “applied ethics,” the application of ethical theories or principles to the political world.5 As William Galston has observed, this kind of realism is more easily characterized by its deflationary tone than by any positive program.6 Williams, for instance, recommends that we focus on the basic question of legitimacy rather than more ambitious normative ideas, while Geuss adopts as his own Lenin’s question, “who whom?”—“Who does what to whom for whose benefit?”7 While they do not rule out normative reflection altogether, Cambridge realists believe that, to be useful, it must be much more attentive to the specificity of political actors and contexts of action. It will be clear, I hope, that I believe we can learn from all three of these realistic critiques of cosmopolitanism. IR realism’s complaint that cosmopolitans tend to ignore the question of power, for instance, is all too often well founded, as is comprehensive realism’s complaint that cosmopolitans often ignore, suppress, or abstract away from conflict and disagreement. The Cambridge realists’ critique of the abstraction and indifference to practice of so much ideal theory is especially close to my own thinking, as is their counsel that we attend to the subjects and agents of political action. Yet there are elements of all three forms of realism that I believe we should reject. Not only is IR realism’s statism normatively problematic (when, for instance, it amounts to a blanket embrace of raison d’état); it is unrealistic in a world in which states have less room for maneuver and face more and more challenges that can only be met transnationally. While comprehensive realism’s insistence on the pervasiveness of conflict and the importance of group loyalties and passions is a valuable correction to the consensualism, individualism, and rationalism of much cosmopolitan theory, I do not think we should

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follow the latter-day Schmittians by endorsing conflict, local solidarity, and moral and political plurality for their own sake, irrespective of their content. And if I subscribe to much of the Cambridge critique of ideal theory, I do not think we should be content with its normative minimalism—any more than we should accept the at times open amoralism of IR realism or the antirationalism of comprehensive realism. Indeed, despite the assumed affinity of cosmopolitanism and idealism, it is not obvious that this pairing is either necessary or desirable. William Scheuerman, Ulrich Beck, and Richard Beardsworth, among others, have called for a “cosmopolitan realism”—an approach to global politics that does not surrender the normative imperative of universalism but takes into account realities of power and interest.8 Surely no one would maintain that, at whatever stage of reflection, cosmopolitanism can afford to ignore questions of power or how its ideals might be realized. Yet I want to suggest that we should hesitate before simply embracing realism over idealism. Instead, I want to insist that there are helpful and problematic forms of both and that the right version of each has an essential place in political reflection. The problem is that too many realists accept as inevitable certain social and political “realities” they can and should aim to change, while, conversely, too many idealists ignore or abstract away from “realities” to which they should be much more critically attentive. The challenge is knowing how and when to be realistic and how and when to be idealistic. A helpful point of departure is provided here by Charles Mills. Mills distinguishes between two different types of idealization: “ideal-asdescriptive” models, which abstract from and simplify but nonetheless claim to accurately depict reality, and “ideal-as-idealized” ones, which highlight the distance between how things are and how we would like them to be. The first type of idealization is essentially heuristic, while the second can be critical, but can also be obfuscatory when it leads us to abstract away from the realities that need to be changed and thus see the world as we would like it to be rather than as it is. This, according to Mills, is what turns ideals into ideologies—“abstracting away from realities crucial to our comprehension of the actual workings of injustice in human interactions and social institutions, and thereby guaranteeing that the ideal-as-idealized model will never be achieved.”9 One can be idealistic about how things should be, in other words, provided one is realistic about how they are—as well as, we can add in the spirit of

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Mills’s argument, how they got that way and what might be required to change them. The point of Mills’s distinction, as I understand it, is not to condemn ideal theory altogether, but rather to see it as an incomplete moment of moral and political reflection. Abstracting away from and thereby ignoring a bad status quo is bad idealism, just as treating this bad status quo as natural, necessary, or inevitable is bad realism. Recognizing as much of the complexity of the world and the complications of acting within it as possible, conversely, is good realism, which would be empty if it were not motivated by a demanding sense of the ideal. This was, it will be recalled, the interpretation I recommended in chapter 2 of normative abstractions like Habermas’s “ideal speech situation” or Forst’s “full justification”: they describe the logic of morally motivated claims against specific injustices, particularly instances of unfreedom or inequality. Our ideals, in other words, should be as normatively demanding as our sense for social and political realities is acute. This is not to say that the realistic cosmopolitan needs to believe that everything is possible and everything possible is good. It is more simply to endorse Gramsci’s formula: pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will. A Realism of Possibility

But is the cosmopolitics I have set out in this book, which strives to respond to the world as it is but nevertheless believes it is imperative to change it, even realism at all? Our answer will, of course, depend on what counts as realism. I would like to suggest that, underlying the three versions discussed in the last section and through the canon of Western political thought, when it comes to realism we have a choice of inheritances. If we take realism to be defined, as in IR realism most surely and comprehensive realism to a significant extent, by the tragic wisdom of Thucydides’ Melian Dialogue (the strong do what they can, the weak suffer what they must), the ruthless logic of Staatsräson and Realpolitik, and the relations of power and interest, protection and obedience thematized from Hobbes to Schmitt, then it simply excludes egalitarianism and democracy as well as cosmopolitanism. There is, however, another current of realism that runs through the Western tradition, one that unsentimentally studies the ways of power not to embrace, excuse, or naturalize them but to channel, redirect, and counteract them. Rather than that of Hobbes and Schmitt,

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the realism I want to claim here is that of Machiavelli and Marx: one that believes a cold-eyed appraisal of the world is not incompatible with, but in fact vital to, a will to change it. Max Weber can be seen as a pivotal figure in this regard. To be sure, Weber’s “Politics as a Vocation” is claimed as a locus classicus by all three kinds of realists, including the most apologetic and antinormative. Weber’s lecture is remembered by IR realists for its equation of politics with the state and by comprehensive realists for its definition of politics in terms of its means, namely violence, but it strikes other notes as well. Cynical realists often need to be reminded that Weber only restricts his discussion of politics to the state after considering its existence in other domains, from the family to the firm, and although he specifies that violence is the political means par excellence, he also underlines that violence usually arises only in the last instance, and so focuses on its legitimate use. It is in the final part of Weber’s famous lecture, however, when, as we saw in chapter 6, he discusses how the pursuit of worthy ends must be tempered by a responsibility for consequences, that he diverges most from the realists who would claim him—including, I think, most of those I have discussed so far. Politics is only a vocation worth pursuing, Weber insists, if it serves a higher cause. Far from reducing politics to the pursuit of power for its own sake or limiting it to what is achievable (according to Bismarck’s formula, the “art of the possible”—the watchword of the “realists” of Weber’s day), Weber insists that “what is possible could never have been achieved unless people had tried again and again to achieve the impossible in this world.”10 The point of political action, according to this arch-realist, is precisely to change what seems to be possible. Against Bismarck’s “realism of the possible,” then, I would propose a “realism of possibility”—a realism devoted to uncovering and opening up space for the invention of what now appears impossible. The challenge is not that a better world is somehow ontologically unavailable to us today, but could perhaps become possible after some kind of dramatic transformation. Rather, the task of critical reflection as well as politics is to reclaim what is in fact possible today, but has been socially, historically, and politically occluded. Pierre Bourdieu, on whom I relied in chapter 4 for an egalitarian reading of the politics of normative change, provides a lucid account: “What appears to us today as self-evident, as beneath consciousness and choice, has quite often been the stake of struggles and instituted only as the result of dogged confrontations between dominant

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and dominated groups. The major effect of historical evolution is to abolish history by relegating to the past, that is, to the unconscious, the lateral possibles that it eliminated.”11 Such a realism of possibility, I suggest, not only runs through the canon of political theory, albeit as a minor current; it is more or less definitive of critical social and political theory. A realistic, practically minded, and strongly normative critical theory combines the moral and political criticism of the present in the name of the promises it fails to keep with attention to the real opportunities for and obstacles to change. The uncovering and (re)activation of such “lateral possibles” is precisely the task of a critical-democratic realism of possibility. It is at this point, however, that the Weberian critique of an ethics of conviction, a rigorous critical check on idealization, is essential, since to insist on purity in politics is both naive and unrealistic. It is not “realistic” to prefer noble failure to impure success (a tendency we glimpsed in chapter 3 in the connection between Kant’s moral purism and his providentialism). To be realistic about politics is to recognize that desirable change is often possible only through pressure and compromise. The history of the welfare state, for instance, is less that of the popular classes seizing control of the machinery of the state and economy than of them wringing concessions—aided by a very real threat of upheaval—from the powers that be. Allies are typically essential to this process. We should not imagine powerful and not always democratic states like China, India, Russia, or Brazil as the natural spokesmen or vehicles of the interests of the global many. Yet when, reflecting conjunctural considerations that were motivated at least as much by interest as by equity, and concerns for their political autonomy much more than global justice, they put a halt to the apparently irresistible march of neoliberal “free trade” and the expansion of regulations written in the exclusive interest of the wealthiest interests, it is hard to deny that they acted with, if not on behalf of, the interests of democracy and the global many. What then distinguishes my realistic cosmopolitanism from the mixture of noble motives and opportunistic or heedless consequentialism that I have argued so often undermines cosmopolitanism? Only this: my proposal is that when we consider the complex situations, imperfect, unattractive, or even tragic choices of the political world, we should do so not simply according to what we think promotes the “general good” or any of the other formulas that try to sum up a universal interest, but

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whatever is likely to result in and, as much as possible to itself express, the greatest possible gain in freedom and equality among all those concerned. This cannot always be, as one might like, their own work—though I have argued at length that it will almost always be more securely and reliably achieved when it is. But we should at least be able to judge it as if it were their work and evaluate the extent to which it will put them in a position to exercise a more equal freedom in the future. Where and how these struggles will unfold with opportunities for the expansion of equaliberty is something only the close critical study of particular circumstances can reveal, and how these opportunities can best be exploited will always and necessarily be a difficult and uncertain matter of judgment. It is my hope, though, that the arguments and reflections put forth here can offer at least some orientation to this criticism and these choices.

n ot e s

Introduction 1. As Sheldon Pollock points out, “analyses of cosmopolitanism are themselves rarely cosmopolitan.” “Cosmopolitan and Vernacular in History,” in Breckenridge et al., Cosmopolitanism, 19. While there is a growing body of comparative political theory that addresses this lacuna (e.g., Dallmayr, Beyond Orientalism; Godrej, “Towards a Cosmopolitan Political Thought”), the present book deals only with the main line of Western cosmopolitanism. While this is in partly a matter of expertise, there are good historical and practical reasons for focusing on Western conceptions of cosmopolitanism and universality. These will emerge along with my defense of universalism in chapters 4 and 5, but in a nutshell revolve around the idea that these Western conceptions have in fact, for good and for ill, been globalized over the past five centuries and therefore overwhelmingly constitute the materials out of which justice now has to be forged. 2. One strand of cosmopolitical thinking has emerged to challenge precisely this anthropocentrism or politocentrism by trying to rethink the division between humankind and the rest of nature. See, e.g., Latour, “Whose Cosmos, Which Cosmopolitics?”; Stengers, “The Cosmopolitical Proposal.” My own perspective in this book is anthropo- as well as politicentric if not precisely humanist in some of the senses that have accrued to this term. 3. Hannah Arendt, “Karl Jaspers: Citizen of the World?” in Men in Dark Times, 81. 4. Brennan, “Cosmopolitanism and Internationalism,” 45.

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5. Archibugi, “Preface,” in Archibugi, Debating Cosmopolitics, ix. 6. Bruce Robbins, “Introduction Part I: Actually Existing Cosmopolitanism,” in Robbins and Cheah, Cosmopolitics, 12. 7. Tassin, Un Monde commun, 11–12, 21. 8. Jacques Derrida, “On Cosmopolitanism,” in Derrida, On Cosmopolitanism and Forgiveness. 9. Literally: “Français, encore un effort si vous voulez être républicains!” was the pamphlet the Marquis de Sade addressed to the revolutionaries in his 1795 Philosophie dans le boudoir. 10. In this it is distinct in principle from theoretical reflection on action, which inquires into the nature of action, the person, and so on. Such questions naturally arise when we reflect on what we should do, but are analytically distinct. 11. In the absence of a generally agreed upon way of distinguishing between morality and ethics, and owing to objections to the dominant neo-Kantian way of drawing the distinction I explain in chapter 2, I adopt this usage throughout. 12. E.g., Singer, One World; O’Neill, Bounds of Justice; Nussbaum, Frontiers of Justice. 13. Plato, The Laws, 5:757; Rawls, Political Liberalism, 41. 14. Walker, “Polis, Cosmopolis, Politics,” 279. 15. Nussbaum, Frontiers of Justice, 224. 16. This also has a downside—without turning to ethics or metaphysics, we need think only of the natural environment—but for now I simply want to evoke it as a pervasive spirit or attitude. 17. Foucault, “What Is Enlightenment?” 45. 18. Immanuel Kant, “The Contest of the Faculties,” Political Writings, 188. 1. Universalism in History 1. Universalism is, of course, used to refer to a huge variety of things, of which I want to invoke at least three. First, it may refer to the scope of our moral universe, whom we must take into account, which for cosmopolitans is in principle unlimited. It may refer, second, to the content or, third, to the validity of moral norms or obligations, which for a cosmopolitan are in some important way the same everywhere and for everyone. Rather than try to sort out these three (among many other) types of universality, my aim over the course of this book is to propose a particular way of thinking about universalism in these and other respects. 2. Amanda Anderson, “Cosmopolitanism, Universalism, and the Divided Legacies of Modernity,” in The Way We Argue Now, 72. 3. According to the title of Calhoun’s widely reprinted article, first published in the South Atlantic Quarterly. 4. Examples of this kind of account on which I rely in this section include Höffe, Demokratie im Zeitalter der Globalisierung; Heater, World Citizenship; and Ishay, Internationalism and Its Betrayal. 5. Examples include Anderson, “Cosmopolitanism”; Baldry, The Unity of Mankind in Greek Thought; van den Heuvel, “Cosmopolite, Cosmopoli(ti)sme”; and Schlereth, The Cosmopolitan Ideal in Enlightenment Thought.

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6. Nussbaum, “Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism,” 6–7; Diogenes Laertius, Lives and Opinions of the Eminent Philosophers, 6:63. 7. Ibid. 8. Baldry, The Unity of Mankind in Greek Thought, 108. 9. Heater, World Citizenship and Government, 6–7. See, though, Brown, “Socrates the Cosmopolitan.” 10. Montaigne, Essays, 63. 11. Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers, 6:54. 12. Aristotle, Politics, 2:1253a27. This reading of the distinction is of course Hannah Arendt’s. 13. Plutarch, Moralia, 3:329. Baldry warns against accepting Plutarch’s unconfirmed account of the earlier work (Unity of Mankind, 162–63). For lack of alternatives, most scholars ignore this warning. 14. Höffe, Demokratie im Zeitalter der Globalisierung, 229. 15. Nussbaum, “Kant and Cosmopolitanism,” 27–28. 16. Pagden, “Stoicism, Cosmopolitanism,” 5. 17. Malcolmson, “The Varieties of Cosmopolitan Experience,” 233. 18. Douzinas, Human Rights and Empire, 158. 19. Jaspers’s “Axial Age” was itself a cosmopolitan intervention, meant to combat those who saw universalism as specifically Western. Its revival, notably by Schmuel Eisenstadt, was connected to the cosmopolitan project of “multiple modernities,” which attempts to embrace plurality in the present as well as the past. See Eisenstadt, The Origins and Diversity of Axial Age Civilizations. 20. Here, to be sure, Jaspers’ objection reemerges (previous note), since this has been true of any number of sects, religions, and movements before and since. 21. Badiou, Saint Paul; Kristeva, Strangers to Ourselves, 80. 22. Mastnak, Crusading Peace. 23. See, e.g., Wallerstein, European Universalism, chapter 1. 24. Pagden, Lords of All the World; Castro, Another Face of Empire. 25. Tuck, Natural Rights Theories. 26. Anghie, Imperialism, Sovereignty, chapter 2. 27. Ibid., chapter 5. 28. Derrida, “Faith and Knowledge.” 29. Encyclopédie, vol. 9, taking up Montesquieu’s paraphrase of Montaigne’s misattribution of Diogenes’ cosmopolitanism to Socrates. 30. Dictionnaire de l’Académie française (1762); Rousseau, “Geneva Manuscript,” in The Social Contract and Other Later Political Writings, 158. 31. These opposite but complementary characterizations are meant to evoke Habermas’s Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere and Koselleck’s Critique and Crisis, respectively—a polarity suggested by van den Heuvel, “Cosmopolite, Cosmopoli(ti) sme.” 32. Schlereth, The Cosmopolitan Ideal in Enlightenment Thought, 104–5. 33. Marx and Engels, Communist Manifesto, part 1. 34. Étienne Balibar, “Ambiguous Universality,” in Politics and the Other Scene. I return to this idea at some length in chapter 5.

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35. See the eponymous essay in Koselleck, The Practice of Conceptual History; Löwith, Meaning in History. 36. For standard accounts, in addition to Heater, Höffe, and Ishay, see Hinsley, Power and the Pursuit of Peace, part 1, and Johnson, The Quest for Peace. 37. Rosenfeld, “Citizens of Nowhere in Particular,” 27. 38. Ibid. 39. Cloots’s strange story is a common feature of histories of cosmopolitanism— told, e.g., by Kristeva in Strangers to Ourselves, chapter 7. 40. Hobson, Imperialism, 8, quoted in Schlereth, Unity of Mankind, 133–34. 41. Brennan, “Cosmopolitanism and Internationalism.” See also Anderson, “Internationalism: A Breviary.” 42. Ishay, Internationalism and Its Betrayal, xxiv and passim. Pagden makes the same complaints in “Stoicism, Cosmopolitanism.” 43. Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, chapter 4. 44. Vijay Prashad nicely calls this position, typical of the moment of anticolonial struggle and the nonaligned movement, internationalist nationalism. The Darker Nations, 12. 45. See, e.g., Heater, Ishay, Höffe. 46. Though not, significantly, recognized by Wilson himself, who thought that the principle of self-determination could be indefinitely confined to “civilized,” mostly white, Christian countries. 47. On liberal imperialism, see Mehta, Liberalism and Empire; Pitts, A Turn to Empire. 48. See especially Thielking, Weltbürgertum. 49. Anderson, “Cosmopolitanism,” 72–73. 50. Ibid., 73. 51. Reprinted with responses as Nussbaum, “Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism,” in Cohen, For Love of Country, cited in the balance of this chapter parenthetically. 52. Another important change concerned the means of the production and distribution of ideas. In 1994 the online forum, with its possibility of quick responses and a wide audience, was an exciting novelty. 53. Rorty, “The Unpatriotic Academy.” He subsequently made this case at length in Achieving Our Country. 54. As we will see in the next chapter, this point had already emerged in debates about the possible application of liberal principles of justice to the international level. 55. And in what sense could generalized, universal attention and respect be “special”? 56. Robbins, “Cosmopolitanism and Boredom.” 57. Hollinger, Postethnic America. 58. Anderson, “Comopolitanism,” 267. 59. If we understand cosmopolitanism not simply as an ideal but as a real state of the world, where the citizenship Walzer possesses—as well as the institutions, calendar, currency, language, and above all privileges attached to it—functions as the closest thing there is to global citizenship, his comment may appear disingenuous. 60. One wonders to what extent Himmelfarb would be prepared to defend race as one of “the givens of life” and a basis for political solidarity.

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61. Walzer, Spheres of Justice, 314. 62. Anderson, Imagined Communities, 53. 63. Perry Anderson suggests that since 1945, and especially since 1989, internationalism has become indistinguishable from Americanism; see “Internationalism: A Breviary.” 64. Rorty, “Justice as a Larger Loyalty,” 47. 65. Ibid. 66. See also Rorty’s extended version of this argument in Contingency, Irony, Solidarity, chapters 3 and 9. With this invitation to replace the language of justice and morality with that of loyalty, we see a problem with Nussbaum’s use of the image of concentric circles: it suggests that morality is a matter of identification, performing Rorty’s reduction in advance. 67. Strikingly, in refuting Garve’s eudemonian conception of morality in “Theory and Practice”—a relatively popular piece we can imagine appearing in a lateeighteenth-century Boston Review—Kant does not rely on the rationality of moral duty so much as its simplicity and self-evidence: “The concept of duty in its complete purity is incomparably simpler, clearer and more natural and easily comprehensible to everyone than any motive derived from, combined with, or influenced by happiness.” Kant, Political Writings, 70. 68. Smith, Theory of Moral Sentiments, part 3, chapter 3. 69. In chapter 2 we will see that her later work is somewhat—though only somewhat—more forthcoming. 70. Likewise, without doubting the good intentions behind her admonition that “in making choices in both political and economic matters we should most seriously consider the right of other human beings to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” (13–14), we might observe that no human rights charter contains a right to “the pursuit of happiness”—a formulation that is often taken to rule out claims for social rights or equality. 71. Nussbaum could respond that the point of the education she envisions is precisely to avoid this, but that would merely transfer the problematic universal point of view she calls for to the educator. 72. Rorty, “Justice as a Larger Loyalty,” 56. 73. While also, like Rorty, assuming that these achievements have nothing to do with the West’s violent and highly asymmetrical relations with the rest of the world, now and over the last several centuries, and that they are only a cause and never also an effect of these relations. 74. Though not to Tagore’s as well as his cosmopolitan hero’s status as a Brahmin landlord in Calcutta, then India’s cultural and economic metropole. 2. Cosmopolitanism in Ethics 1. Appadurai and Breckenridge, “Why Public Culture?” 5. 2. Waldron, “Minority Cultures and the Cosmopolitan Alternative,” 95. 3. Appadurai, Modernity at Large; Appiah, Cosmopolitanism.

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4. Kymlicka, needless to say, disagreed; see, e.g., “Citizenship in an Era of Globalization.” What is striking about his response is the extent to which, like Michael Walzer’s response to Martha Nussbaum (discussed in the last chapter), it depends on identifying the state, and specifically the nation-state, with social and political life as such. 5. Brennan, “Cosmopolitans and Celebrities.” 6. Or seemed unaware. Rushdie subsequently placed himself firmly on the side of the Anglo-American West and against the forces he once purported to translate—to the extent of literally draping himself in the Stars and Stripes after 9/11. 7. Pogge, “Cosmopolitanism and Sovereignty,” 48–49. 8. Although, to be sure, endless arguments can be and are waged over whether “individualism” might entail willful blindness to individuals’ social embeddedness, and “universality” or “generality” insufficient attention to the diversity of values or situations. 9. Hutchings, International Political Theory, 31–41 10. Thus, David Miller makes a root-and-branch critique of cosmopolitanism by imputing to it, as a genre, an opposite, equally implausible, view—namely, a denial of all duties that are limited in scope. Miller, “Cosmopolitanism.” 11. Scheffler, “Conceptions of Cosmopolitanism,” 271. 12. In other words, such debates tend to take place across different levels of moral reflection. Cosmopolitans like Nussbaum, Pogge, Brian Barry, or Charles Jones take a rarefied moral perspective, while their opposites, nationalists like Michael Walzer, David Miller, or Will Kymlicka are more concerned with questions that demand a “thicker,” more local, practical, and institutional account. 13. A striking number of self-consciously cosmopolitan philosophers—from Jeremy Bentham to Peter Singer, Martha Nussbaum, and Jacques Derrida—have called into question the assumption that moral-ethical responsibility extends only to the limits of our own species. I will not follow them, only note that cosmopolitanism seems to imply or somehow give rise to critical reflection on the limits of the human. 14. Kant, Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, in Kant: Practical Philosophy, 73. 15. Ibid., 80. 16. Kant of course goes further, insisting that his principle is to apply not only to humans but to all “rational beings,” by which he means to include creatures from other worlds. 17. And thus also broader than Nussbaum’s construal of humanity, which would, as we saw in chapter 1, restrict it to “their aspirations to justice and goodness and their capacities for reasoning in this connection.” Nussbaum, “Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism,” 11. 18. Wood, Kant’s Ethical Thought, 118–22. 19. E.g., O’Neill, Bounds of Justice, chapter 2. 20. Kant, The Metaphysics of Morals, “Doctrine of Virtue,” §30. 21. Ibid. On sex, “Doctrine of Virtue,” §§7, 25; on cultivating one’s talents, ibid., §19; on property, “Doctrine of Right,” §§11ff.; on crime and punishment, §49E. 22. See especially Adorno, Negative Dialectics, part 3 (“Freedom: Metacritique of Practical Reason”). In a compressed formulation: “The good man is he who rules

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himself as he does his own property: his autonomous being is modeled on material power.” Adorno, Minima Moralia, §119. 23. Kant, The Metaphysics of Morals, “Doctrine of Virtue,” §45. 24. See Louden, Kant’s Impure Ethics. 25. Or reattracted, since history and anthropology were at the heart of his controversies with Herder, among others. See Zammito, Kant, Herder, and the Birth of Anthropology. 26. See Kant, Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View, 174–82. 27. See especially Immanuel Kant, “On the Use of Teleological Principles in Philosophy,” in Theoretical Philosophy After 1781, and the essays in the next note. 28. Eze, “The Color of Reason”; Bernasconi, “Who Invented the Concept of Race?” 29. Mills, The Racial Contract, 27. 30. Loudon, Kant’s Impure Ethics, 105. These aspects of Kant’s work have been widely acknowledged. Mills, for instance, cites Hans Reiss, who arguably did more than anyone else to bring Kant into mainstream Anglophone political theory: “One needs to distinguish ‘ideal Kantianism’ from Kant’s own views, since, as Reiss reminds us, Kant has ‘a very narrow conception . . . of what kind of individuals can be expected to achieve maturity and autonomy of political judgment,’ . . . a conception that in fact excludes the majority of the population” (The Racial Contract, 212n5). What I contest here—with Mills, McCarthy, and others—are the implications of these lapses. 31. McCarthy, Race, Empire, and the Idea of Human Development, 47. 32. Kant, The Metaphysics of Morals, “Doctrine of Right,” §46; “Theory and Practice,” 75, 78. 33. Nussbaum, “Kant and Cosmopolitanism.” 34. Baldry, The Unity of Mankind in Greek Thought, 201–2. As Peter Euben comments with reference to Nussbaum: “despite its impressive contribution to the ideals of human dignity and inclusive citizenship, Stoicism inscribed a new exclusiveness based on differential commitment to and practice of rationality. In practice it often turned out that only a very few exceptional humans could actually be full members in the human community of reason, since most lacked the will (or perhaps even the capacity) to be the morally just men and women that universal law prescribed.” Euben, “The Polis, Globalization, and the Politics of Place,” 270. 35. Balibar, “Racism as Universalism,” in Masses, Classes, Ideas, 197. 36. Ibid., 197 (translation modified). 37. Martha Nussbaum and John Rawls provide paradigm cases. There is, as we will see, a politics to what is treated as culture (religion, etc.). See my discussion in chapter 4. 38. Thus the necessity I claim for my argument in this section—namely, that “cosmopolitan approaches to ethics necessarily . . . compromise their own universality”— is practical in the sense that it belongs to the perspective of the finite judging agent. Logically, we could make an ultimately “correct” cosmopolitan judgment (from the point of view of God, history, or whatever). The fact that the basis and application of our critical standards always exceed our critical grasp, however, means that we can— necessarily—never know that we are doing or have done so.

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39. Nussbaum, “Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism,” 8, 9, 11. 40. Nussbaum, “Human Functioning and Social Justice.” 41. Nussbaum outlines their differences in Women and Human Development, 11–14. Sen refers unfavorably to the practice of “list-making” in The Idea of Justice, 242. 42. Nussbaum, Sex and Social Justice, 40. 43. Nussbaum, Women and Human Development. 40. 44. Though remarkably little. I refer here to the 2006 version (Nussbaum, Frontiers of Justice, 76–78), but it is nearly identical to those of fifteen years earlier. 45. To some extent disarming concerns about the possible criterial use of reason I noted both in chapter 1 and in the case of Kant above. 46. E.g., Nussbaum, “Human Functioning and Social Justice,” 229. 47. E.g., Nussbaum, Women and Human Development, 87. 48. Ibid., 7. 49. Nussbaum, “Human Functioning and Social Justice,” 235–36. 50. Ibid., 232. 51. Nussbaum, Sex and Social Justice, 71. 52. Phillips, “Feminism and Liberalism Revisited: Has Martha Nussbaum Got It Right?” 53. Nussbaum, “Human Functioning and Social Justice,” 229. 54. Nussbaum, Women and Human Development, 70, 5. 55. Ibid., 104. 56. Nussbaum’s pervasive reliance on the state, which rhetorically merges with a never specified “we,” is underlined by Nivedita Menon, “Universalism Without Foundations?” 57. This point emerges repeatedly in a symposium on Nussbaum’s Frontiers of Justice in the journal Development and Change. See especially Des Gasper, “Cosmopolitan Presumptions?” 58. Nussbaum, Cultivating Humanity, 67. 59. This problem is pointed out in Nussbaum’s case by Carol Quillen, “Feminist Theory, Justice, and the Lure of the Human.” 60. This of course has political stakes: “In an interdependent modern world, ‘traditional cultures’ do not spontaneously grow or develop into ‘modern cultures.’ People are pushed, seduced, coerced, or persuaded into trying to change themselves into something else. . . . Such directed changes here . . . are not possible without the exercise of political power that often presents itself as a force for redeeming ‘humanity’ from ‘traditional cultures.’” Talal Asad, “Redeeming the ‘Human’ Through Human Rights,” in Formations of the Secular, 154. 61. E.g., Nussbaum, “Human Functioning and Social Justice,” 203–4; Sex and Social Justice, chapters 3 and 4. 62. Nussbaum herself expresses these sorts of concerns against Okin’s equation of “multiculturalism” (culture, tradition, and especially religion) with the oppression of women and “liberalism” with emancipation. See Nussbaum, “A Plea for Difficulty” in Okin et al., Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women? Yet this case, based on Nussbaum’s own, very liberal reform Judaism, has no echoes in the main current of her work, where

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culture and religion are always located in the non-West, on the side of oppression and reaction. 63. Spivak, “Righting Wrongs,” especially 319–23n14, where she outlines her differences with Nussbaum. 64. In her classic essay “Can the Subaltern Speak?” extensively revised as A Critique of Postcolonial Reason, chapter 2, with the answer changed from “no” to “maybe eventually.” 65. Talal Asad puts it more pointedly: “Who—in a world of nation-states—has the authority to interpret and the power to promote the conditions that facilitate human rights, and ‘the human’ they sustain?” Asad, “Redeeming the ‘Human,’” 151. 66. “Anything that we can call morality today merges into the question of the organization of the world. We might even say that the quest for the good life is the quest for the right form of politics.” Adorno, Problems of Moral Philosophy, 176. 67. The key difference dividing Rawls (and much recent liberalism) from most earlier views of politics is that he defines politics mainly as the adjudication of disagreement, which in his view can be considered apart from questions of power and rule. 68. Rawls, “Kantian Constructivism in Moral Theory” (1980). 69. See O’Neill, “Constructivism in Rawls and Kant.” 70. Rawls, Political Liberalism, 6. 71. One could argue that the famous slogan “a rising tide lifts all boats,” introduced by John F. Kennedy nine years before A Theory of Justice to defend tax cuts for the wealthy and invoked ever since to defend “pro-growth” policies, anticipated Rawls’s idea. Crucially, it can only be contested empirically. For a Rawlsian defense of economic libertarianism, see Tomasi, Free Market Fairness. 72. Rawls, A Theory of Justice, §24. 73. See Paul Ricoeur, Oneself as Another, chapter 8; Hans Joas, The Genesis of Values, ch. 10. 74. McCarthy, Race, Empire, and the Idea of Human Development, 34. 75. Okin, Justice, Gender, and the Family, chapter 5; Pateman, The Sexual Contract. 76. John Rawls, “The Idea of Public Reason Revisited,” in The Law of Peoples, §5. 77. Mills, Blackness Visible, chapter 5. 78. Rawls, A Theory of Justice, §58. 79. Rawls, “The Law of Peoples.” 80. Beitz, Political Theory and International Relations, part 3; Pogge, Realizing Rawls, chapters 5–6. 81. Carens, “Aliens and Citizens” (1987), 332. 82. Aside from Beitz and Pogge, examples include Martha Nussbaum, Brian Barry, and Charles Jones. 83. Rawls, The Law of Peoples, 108. 84. In this case, Charles Mills’s assertion that “ideal theory . . . is really an ideology, a distortional complex of ideas, values, norms, and beliefs that reflects the nonrepresentative interests and experiences of a small minority . . . who are hugely overrepresented in the professional philosophical population” seems appropriate. “Ideal Theory as Ideology,” 172.

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85. Just one instance: Rawls’s colleague Tim Scanlon argues against extensive foreign aid on the grounds that it often goes astray: Scanlon, What We Owe to Each Other, 224–28; see also Rawls, The Law of Peoples, 108–10; criticized by Leif Wenar, “Contractualism and Global Economic Justice.” 86. Although some, notably Thomas Pogge, do this very well. Here I note a distinction between those, like Pogge, who employ empirical arguments in a more or less ad hoc way principally in order to apply their moral findings under real-world, “non-ideal” conditions, and those, whom I associate with the hermeneutics of suspicion below, who seek to articulate a systematic alternative to widely accepted assumptions about the world. 87. Rawls, The Law of Peoples, 106–7. 88. Caney, “Cosmopolitanism and the Law of Peoples,” 111, referring to Rawls, The Law of Peoples, 5–7. 89. In their celebrated exchange: Habermas, “Reconciliation Through the Public Use of Reason” and Rawls, “Political Liberalism.” 90. Habermas, Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action, 197. 91. This move too is implicit in Kant’s analogy between the moral law and legislation, especially in the third formulation of the categorical imperative. 92. This step is only explicitly taken when Habermas derives from the so-called discourse principle the principle of universalization—“for a norm to be valid, the consequences and side effects of its general observance for the satisfaction of each person’s particular interests must be acceptable to all” (Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action, 197). From my perspective, this step is already implicit in the “allaffected” stipulation of the discourse principle. 93. Forst, The Right to Justification, 209. 94. Ibid., 258. 95. Bourdieu, Pascalian Meditations, 83. 96. Ricoeur devised this term for Freud and extended it to Marx and Nietzsche; see Ricoeur, Freud and Philosophy. For two exemplary reconstructions of the logic of such a critical reimagining of the world, drawing on Wittgenstein and Foucault respectively, see Owen, “Criticism and Captivity”; Tully, “Political Philosophy as a Critical Activity.” 97. The basic argument of Boltanski and Thévenot, On Justification, especially chapter 1. 98. Forst, The Right to Justification, 262. 99. Ibid., 213. 100. Ibid., 258. 101. As I explain in chapter 5, to say that it is negative is not to say it is nothing, since it can have real and positive effects. 102. Forst, The Right to Justification, 258–59. 103. Sen, The Idea of Justice, chapter 4. Sen, to be sure, criticizes what he calls “transcendental-institutional” theories of “perfect justice” from the perspective of a theory oriented toward “realization-focused comparison.” While my own approach is much closer in spirit to the latter than the former, it might nonetheless fall short of what Sen would regard as a “theory.”

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104. This is the heart of Marx’s critique of bourgeois (for our purposes, Kantian or liberal) democracy in On the Jewish Question. Abstraction from real relations can act as an ideology, hiding real social inequality behind a veil of ideal equality. At the same time, however—and Marx can fairly be reproached for neglecting this—abstraction can also provide a basis for criticizing those relations. See Mills, “Ideal Theory as Ideology,” as well as my discussion in the conclusion. 3. Cosmopolitanism in Politics 1. Immanuel Kant, “On Perpetual Peace,” in Political Writings; cited in this section parenthetically. 2. Immanuel Kant, “Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose,” in Political Writings, 47. Cf. “Theory and Practice,” in Political Writings, 90; “Doctrine of Right,” in The Metaphysics of Morals, §62; “On Perpetual Peace,” 105. 3. Cf. The Metaphysics of Morals, 2, §53, 114, “Conclusion,” 123. 4. The locus classicus is, of course, Doyle, “Kant, Liberal Legacies, and Foreign Affairs.” 5. Cf. Kant, “Theory and Practice,” part 2; The Metaphysics of Morals, §49, A, and B, 94–100; §52, 112–13. 6. Jürgen Habermas, “Kant’s Idea of Perpetual Peace,” in Bohman and LutzBachmann, Perpetual Peace, 119. 7. Cf. Kant, “Theory and Practice,” 90f. 8. Immanuel Kant, “Contest of the Faculties,” in Political Writings, §6, 182. 9. Kant, “Theory and Practice,” II, 81. 10. Immanuel Kant, “Introduction to the Theory of Right,” in The Metaphysics of Morals, §C. 11. Kant, “Theory and Practice,” 77. In case we missed the Rousseauian point, Kant specifies that “the basic law, which can come only from the general, united will of the people, is called the original contract.” 12. Kant, “Theory and Practice,” 77; The Metaphysics of Morals, §D, 134. 13. Ibid., §A. 14. Kant, “Theory and Practice,” 84. 15. Both accounts are of course more ambiguous than this allows: Rousseau famously anticipates that the citizen might have to be forced to be free, while Hobbes bases the authority of the sovereign on his function of representing the people. 16. Kant, “Doctrine of Right,” §52. 17. Kant, “Theory and Practice,” 84. 18. On Kant’s teleological thinking, see especially Yovel, Kant and the Philosophy of History, chapters 4 and 5; Loudon, Kant’s Impure Ethics, chapter 5. 19. Immanuel Kant, “Conflict of the Faculties,” in Political Writings, §2–4. This is to say that, of the famous questions posed in the first Critique, his philosophy of history is directed neither toward the first (“What can I know?”—the object of theoretical philosophy) nor the second (“What should I do?”—the object of practical philosophy), but exclusively the third (“What may I hope for?”).

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20. Kant, “Idea for a Universal History,” §§1 and 2, 42. 21. Ibid., §4, 44, 45. 22. See especially Starobinski, “The Antidote in the Poison,” in Blessings in Disguise; or, The Morality of Evil. The French title, Le Remède dans le mal, succinctly captures the idea, which goes back at least to Mandeville. 23. Kant, Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View, 189 (my emphasis). 24. Kant, “Idea for a Universal History,” §7, 49. 25. Ibid., §9, 52. 26. Spivak, A Critique of Postcolonial Reason, 26 and n29. 27. Kant, The Critique of Judgment, §67. Kant makes the same point with reference to the Tahitians in his “Review of Herder’s Ideas on the Philosophy of the History of Mankind,” in Political Writings. 28. This indeed distinguishes Kant from much of the pre-twentieth-century liberal canon. See Muthu, Enlightenment Against Empire, chapters 4 and 5. 29. Kant, Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View, 189. 30. Loudon, Kant’s Impure Ethics, 106. 31. The tension between Kant’s theories of history and right is the object of ongoing controversy among commentators. The most common options are: (a) dismissing the tension on the Kantian grounds that the fact that progress depends on everyone else doing evil makes no difference to my action, which should be good regardless; (b) ignoring the historical writings altogether; or, conversely, (c) using them to condemn Kant as a Eurocentric imperialist. As I will argue, I think it is more instructive to learn from Kant’s difficulties than either to correct, excuse, disregard, or condemn them. 32. Kant, “Contest of the Faculties,” §5, 181. 33. Kant, “Idea for a Universal History,” §8, 51. While Kant uses revolution here in the broad, eighteenth-century sense to mean “upheaval,” natural as well as political, rather than in the modern, narrowly political sense, he does not exclude the latter. 34. See especially O’Neill, Constructions of Reason; Saner, Kant’s Political Theory. 35. Immanuel Kant, “An Answer to the Question: ‘What is Enlightenment?’” in Political Writings, 55. 36. A point not lost on the young Marx, who saw Kantian Enlightenment as representative of the political backwardness of the German middle classes, which were prepared to settle for an ideal, purely theoretical emancipation. 37. Kant, “Theory and Practice,” 84, 85. 38. Ibid., 58, 54. 39. Kant, “Contest of the Faculties,” §10, 188. 40. McCarthy, Race, Empire, and the Idea of Human Development, 62. 41. See also Adorno, Problems of Moral Philosophy, where he writes, with reference to Kant’s “Idea for a Universal History”: “I cannot directly take ideas that apply to the creation of a just society as a whole, a just world, and deduce from them a guide to my own behaviour here and now. . . . Moral action, right action here and now is not immediately identical with what is good for the species as a whole” (142). 42. Here it is surely not irrelevant that Kant was a believer—presumably why (to invert Machiavelli) he was more concerned with his soul than his city and ultimately

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left the latter to Providence. Kant indeed associated his Stoic view with the maxim fiat justitia, pereat mundus, though he amended the translation to “let justice be done, even if all the rogues in the world must perish” (“On Perpetual Peace,” 123). 43. E.g., Archibugi and Held, Cosmopolitan Democracy; Archibugi, Held, and Köhler, Re-Imagining Political Community; Held, Democracy and the Global Order; Habermas, “Kant’s Idea of Perpetual Peace”; Kaldor, Global Civil Society; Falk, On Humane Governance. 44. Daniele Archibugi, David Held, and Martin Köhler, “Introduction,” in Re-Imagining Political Community, 4. 45. Considerations of this kind were not entirely foreign to Kant, whose case for cosmopolitan right rests in part on the fact that the world is a sphere and humankind seemed to have run out of room. Kant, “Doctrine of Right,” §62. 46. The inevitable reference, once again newly relevant: Polanyi, The Great Transformation. 47. E.g., Beetham, “Human Rights as a Model for Cosmopolitan Democracy.” 48. These debates tend to go on at the level of moral theory with relatively little attention to the questions of institutional design that interest cosmopolitan democrats. For a pioneering example of the former, Shue, Basic Rights. For more radically egalitarian perspectives, see the contributions to Pogge, Global Justice. 49. E.g., Pogge, “A Cosmopolitan Perspective on the Global Economic Order.” 50. “In a sense” because there were theoretical as well as practical models for these institutions in Kant’s day. They did not, however, influence him, since he inherited a unitary conception of sovereignty from Hobbes and Rousseau. 51. See Jürgen Habermas, “Does the Constitutionalization of International Law Still Have a Chance?” in The Divided West, 126–29. 52. Held, Democracy and the Global Order, especially chapter 10. On the vertical dispersion of sovereignty, see Pogge, “Cosmopolitanism and Sovereignty.” 53. E.g., Bellamy and Castiglioni, “Between Cosmopolis and Community.” 54. E.g., Held, “Democracy and Globalization” and Archibugi, “Principles of Cosmopolitan Democracy,” in Archibugi, Held, and Köhler, Re-Imagining Political Community. 55. For one notable version, see Falk and Strauss, “Toward a Global Parliament.” 56. Held, Archibugi, and Habermas go this far, though other cosmopolitan democrats stop short of it. 57. Modestly: Crawford and Marks, “The Global Democracy Deficit.” More ambitiously: Marc Weller, “The Reality of the Emerging Universal Constitutional Order.” 58. Habermas, “Does the Constitutionalization of International Law?” 137; cf. “Kant’s Idea of Perpetual Peace.” 59. E.g., Zolo, Cosmopolis; Dahl, “Can International Organizations be Democratic?”; Urbinati, “Can Cosmopolitical Democracy Be Democratic?” 60. For a general response to this and other concerns, see Archibugi, The Global Commonwealth of Citizens, chapter 5. 61. Patomäki, “Problems of Democratizing Global Governance,” 357. 62. Mouffe, On the Political, 98, 100, 103, citing Zolo, Cosmopolis. I return to the problems with Mouffe’s position at the beginning of chapter 5. 63. See, e.g., Ali, Masters of the Universe.

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64. E.g., Kaldor and Falk in “Humanitarian Intervention”; Habermas, “Bestiality and Humanity.” Martti Koskenniemi offers a compelling analysis of how this case obliged many cosmopolitan legal theorists to place morality ahead of legality in “‘The Lady Doth Protest Too Much’: Kosovo, and the Turn to Ethics in International Law.” 65. Daniele Archibugi, “Cosmopolitical Democracy,” in Archibugi, Debating Cosmopolitics, 10–11, 12. 66. Archibugi, “Demos and Cosmopolis,” ibid., 268; see also The Global Commonwealth of Citizens, chapter 7. 67. Ibid., chapter 9. 68. Habermas, “Kant’s Idea of Perpetual Peace,” 149. 69. Held, “Violence, Law and Justice in a Global Age,” in Archibugi, Debating Cosmopolitics. 70. E.g., Archibugi, The Global Commonwealth of Citizens, chapter 6. 71. Habermas explicitly poses this question, also with reference to the Security Council: “But who is to say that the hegemonic law of the stronger  .  .  . is not entrenched, in turn, behind the façade of the world organization itself?” He answers by directing us to the “auxiliary role of a supportive global public sphere,” but the terms in which he does so are hardly reassuring. “What concerns us here is not the empirical question of the actual strength of the legitimating pressure exercised by a global public” but rather “the theoretical question of whether global communication in an informal public, without constitutionally institutionalized paths for translating communicative influence into political power, can secure a sufficient degree of integration for global society and whether it can confer a sufficient level of legitimacy on the decisions of the world organization.” The question of whether or how it could influence the great powers that act through that organization goes unasked. “Luckily,” he concludes, “the level that must be achieved in order to satisfy these foundational requirements is not unfeasibly high.” Habermas, “Does the Constitutionalization of International Law?” 142–43. 72. Archibugi, “Demos and Cosmopolis,” 268–69. 73. Étienne Balibar, “Three Concepts of Politics: Emancipation, Transformation, Civility,” in Politics and the Other Scene, 7. 74. According to two outraged former directors of the UN program, Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck. 75. See Orford, Reading Humanitarian Intervention, especially chapter 2. 76. Koskenniemi, From Apology to Utopia. 77. Perry Anderson, “Norming Facts: Jürgen Habermas,” in Spectrum. 78. Archibugi, “Demos and Cosmopolis,” 269. 79. Habermas, The Past as Future, 12. Not quite true, of course, since Stalin’s doubts about the UN allowed the US and its allies to defend South Korea (and then attack China) under the UN flag. 80. During this period, political cosmopolitanism became closely associated with the critique of state sovereignty. For strong versions of this position, see, e.g., Barry, “Statism and Nationalism”; Buchanan, Justice, Legitimacy and Self-Determination.

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81. This view was endorsed by the UN Secretariat in the form of the Canadiansponsored report, which called for making a state’s sovereignty conditional on its protection of human rights. See International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, The Responsibility to Protect. I discuss different ways of connecting human rights with concrete political actions in some depth in chapter 6. 82. Jürgen Habermas, “An Interview on War and Peace,” with Eduardo Mendieta, in The Divided West, 85–86. Cf. “Interpreting the Fall of a Monument,” ibid., 29, which omits the first argument. 83. Evidence of ethnic cleansing (to say nothing of genocide) before the bombing was—despite official claims—scant, while the Convention on Genocide specifies that an erga omnes obligation to intervene in case of genocide exists only when a competent authority (the Security Council) declares there to be one. From the standpoint of Kantian right, for which procedural legitimacy is always paramount, only the latter consideration would be relevant. 84. Habermas, “Bestiality and Humanity,” 270–71. 85. Habermas, “Does the Constitutionalization of International Law?” 189; cf. “Kant’s Idea of Perpetual Peace,” §4. 86. Habermas, “Bestiality and Humanity,” 271. 87. Anderson, “Arms and Rights: The Adjustable Centre,” Spectrum, 162. 88. Held, Democracy and the Global Order, 232. 89. Habermas, “Kant’s Idea of Perpetual Peace,” 132. 90. See e.g. Maus, “From Nation-State to Global State,” 474ff. 91. Habermas, “Bestiality and Humanity,” 271 (my emphasis). 92. Bohman, “The Public Spheres of the World Citizen,” in Bohman and LutzBachmann, Perpetual Peace, 197. See also Dryzek, “Transnational Democracy.” 93. Habermas, “Kant’s Idea of Perpetual Peace,” 125–26; citing Kant, “Idea for a Universal History,” §4, 45. 94. Falk, “Global Civil Society.” For a fuller account of this project and of “citizen pilgrims,” see his On Humane Governance. 95. Kaldor, Global Civil Society, 141, citing Edwards, NGOs Rights and Responsibilities. 96. Habermas, “Does the Constitutionalization of International Law?” 142, citing Brunkhorst, “Globalizing Democracy Without a State.” 97. This is why in his democratic theory Habermas limits its role to supplying arguments to official political institutions, where the principle of equality is institutionalized. While I have learned from Montag’s criticism of the antipopular bias of Habermas’s and Kant’s theories of the public sphere (“The Pressure of the Street”), I think it underestimates the extent to which procedures can guarantee as well obstruct democracy. 98. Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, chapters 19, 21, and 24. 99. This is clearly indicated by what Keck and Sikkink, in the most influential study of these groups (Activists Beyond Borders), call the “boomerang effect”: activists in one, typically less powerful country appeal to comrades in another, typically more powerful country to pressure the latter’s government to pressure the former’s government.

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100. Of course, some of these groups act themselves instead of calling on governments or international agencies to do so. But the general point holds: even if their actions are good and welcome, they are typically undertaken by privileged outsiders without authorization from anyone, least of all those directly affected. 101. Representative of a large critical literature: Amoore and Langley, “Ambiguities of Global Civil Society”; Anderson and Rieff, “Global Civil Society”; Bowden, “Civil Society, the State, and the Limits to Global Civil Society.” 102. Kaldor, Global Civil Society, 108. 103. Urbinati, “Can Cosmopolitical Democracy Be Democratic?” 80, with reference to Rosenau, “Governance and Democracy in a Globalizing World.” 104. Chandler, Constructing Civil Society, 166. 105. Falk, On Humane Governance, 18. 106. Habermas, “Interpreting the Fall of a Monument,” 35. 4. Rethinking Ethical Cosmopolitanism 1. What could now be called classical postmodernism was defended in the 1980s by, for example, Jean-François Lyotard and Richard Rorty. I take John Gray and Alisdair MacIntyre to be exemplary right pluralists, William Connolly and Gilles Deleuze to be exemplary left pluralists, and Chantal Mouffe, whose work I discuss in chapter 5, to sit in this sense slightly right of center. 2. Pluralism can be charged with self-contradiction along the lines of the Cretan’s paradox—it is itself a universalism—and rejected on logical grounds. I do not find this convincing: it could be the case that “difference,” “the particular,” or “the local” is a uniquely universal good. I am therefore more interested here in practical grounds for rejecting this position. 3. Unarguable also in a negative sense: it is hard to imagine an argument likely to win over, say, a convinced racist. 4. This alternative, which I take up again in chapter 5, strikes me as interesting because it is in principle practicable and need not deny the principle of equal freedom. 5. I have in mind the globalized strand of postmodernism that came into vogue with Rushdie’s Satanic Verses and continues in popular works like Kiran Desai’s Booker-winning Inheritance of Loss or Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Oscar-nominated Babel, as well as the writings of Marxist (Jameson, Brennan) and postcolonial (Said, Spivak) critics. Ulrich Beck is perhaps the leading critic of “epistemic nationalism” in mainstream social science. Mary Kaldor’s Global Civil Society project has done much to document groups working toward the same end in the public-political sphere. 6. Wallerstein, European Universalism, xv. 7. Butler, “Universality in Culture,” 47. 8. Nussbaum “A Plea for Difficulty.” 9. Butler, “Disorderly Woman,” 87–88. 10. Butler, Gender Trouble, 187. 11. As Butler explained in a 1993 interview, “Catharine MacKinnon has become so powerful as the public spokesperson for feminism, internationally, that I think that

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feminism is going to have to start producing some powerful alternatives to what she’s saying and doing. . . . Certainly, the paradigm of victimisation, the over-emphasis on pornography, the cultural insensitivity and the universalisation of ‘rights’—all of that has to be countered by strong feminist positions.” Butler, “Gender as Performance,” 39. 12. The three steps I use to reconstruct Butler’s critique of MacKinnon (and, indirectly, Nussbaum) loosely track the three “analytical presuppositions” Chandra Mohanty diagnoses in Western feminist writing on third world women in her classic 1986 essay “Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses,” reprinted in Mohanty, Feminism Without Borders, chapter 1. 13. See in particular her criticisms of MacKinnon and Dworkin in Martha Nussbaum, “Objectification,” in Sex and Social Justice, chapter 8. 14. Butler, “Disorderly Woman,” 94. 15. Ibid., 95. 16. Ibid., 91. 17. Butler, Gender Trouble, 187–88. 18. Butler, Excitable Speech, chapter 2. 19. A peculiarity of MacKinnon’s Toward a Feminist Theory of the State is that although it depicts the state as a reflection and instrument of patriarchy—“The state is male in the feminist sense: the law sees and treats women the way men see and treat women” (162)—its remedies depend entirely on state power. As Butler observes, “MacKinnon understands feminist political strategy to operate in the same way as the misogynist practice she criticizes” (“Disorderly Woman,” 92). 20. Ibid., 94. 21. Ibid. 22. Butler, Gender Trouble, 187–88. 23. Butler, Bodies That Matter, chapter 4. See Allen, “Power Trouble.” 24. Butler, “Universality in Culture,” 45. 25. Ibid. Butler, Excitable Speech, 89. 26. Butler, “Universality in Culture,” 48; Excitable Speech, 90. 27. Nussbaum, “The Professor of Parody.” 28. In retrospect there is a double irony in Nussbaum charging Butler with “political quietism.” In the years since, Butler has been at least as active as Nussbaum in the public sphere, challenging, among other things, human rights abuses in the so-called global war on terror and the use of accusations of anti-Semitism to suppress criticism of Israel. At the same time, however, Butler’s positions in these and other debates (like her stand against censorship in Excitable Speech) have been consistently liberal, relying on the kinds of normative resources of which she is theoretically most suspicious. 29. In a brilliant reading of the episode, Geoffrey Harpham accounts for it as a case of the narcissism of small differences. Pointing out that both authors bridge philosophy, literature, and law, both are associated with feminism and gay rights, and both are strong social constructivists, he interprets Nussbaum’s animosity toward Butler as a repudiation of her own earlier, more playful literary and philosophical self as she turned to civic themes in the 1990s. Harpham, “The Hunger of Martha Nussbaum,” 72–73.

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30. Nussbaum invokes MacKinnon in the second paragraph of “The Professor of Parody”: “One cannot read a page of Catharine MacKinnon, for example, without being engaged with a real issue of legal and institutional change. If one disagrees with her proposals—and many feminists [including Nussbaum] disagree with them—the challenge posed by her writing is to find some other way of solving the problem.” 31. Butler, Gender Trouble, xix. 32. Ibid., viii. 33. Ibid., xx. And, in a later essay: “One does not drive to the limits for a thrill experience, or because limits are dangerous and sexy, or because it brings us into a titillating proximity with evil. One asks about the limits of ways of knowing because one has already run up against a crisis within the epistemological field in which one lives.” Butler, “What Is Critique?” 214. 34. Benhabib, Butler, Drucilla Cornell, and Nancy Fraser, in Nicholson, Feminist Contentions, cited parenthetically in this section. 35. Anderson, “Debatable Performances,” in The Way We Argue Now, 30. 36. Butler, Gender Trouble, xx, xxiii. She makes a similar gesture in Bodies That Matter: “If there is a ‘normative’ dimension to this work it consists precisely in assisting a radical resignification of the symbolic, deviating the citational chain toward a more possible future to expand the very meaning of what counts as a valued and valuable body in the world” (21–22). 37. Butler, “What Is Critique?” 214. 38. Butler, Gender Trouble, xx, xvii. 39. Judith Butler, “Restaging the Universal: Hegemony and the Limits of Formalism,” in Judith Butler, Ernesto Laclau, and Slavoj Žižek, Contingency, Hegemony, Universality, 15. 40. Some commentators note a change between her strictly negative attitude toward universalism in Gender Trouble and her later work. The fact that Butler was already advancing a more positive view in the first round of this debate (this paper was first presented in 1990, the year Gender Trouble was published) suggests that critical responses to the book very quickly led her to change her emphasis. 41. Butler, Gender Trouble, xvii. 42. Habermas, The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity, chapter 10. 43. Throughout the debate (and her work more generally), Benhabib suggests that “modernity” is definitive of the values she wants to promote. I suggested some dangers of basing moral and political judgments on a general social-evolutionary schema, which Benhabib inherits from Habermas, in chapter 3. Suffice it to say here that one can be for freedom, equality, and human dignity—or, for that matter, open rational discussion—without believing that they are somehow intrinsically and necessarily “liberal” or “modern,” let alone the exclusive property of those who identify themselves as such. 44. Butler, Excitable Speech, 89–90. 45. See Anderson, “Debatable Performances.” Butler often relies on an exaggerated picture of Habermas and his followers. As she writes five years later with reference to Benhabib’s use of Rawls and Habermas: “Although the procedural method purports to

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make no substantive claims about what human beings are, it does implicitly call upon a certain rational capacity, and attributes to that rational capacity an inherent relation to universalizability. The Kantian presumption that when ‘I’ reason I participate in a rationality that is transpersonal culminates in the claim that my reasoning presupposes the universalizability of my claims. Thus the procedural approach presupposes the priority of such a rationality, and also presupposes the suspect character of ostensibly non-rational features of human conduct in the domain of politics.” Butler, “Restaging the Universal,” 15. I have no quarrel with the argument, a version of which I made myself in chapter 2, but, as I will show shortly, its intended force here relies on a reading of Benhabib that is one-sided at best. 46. Benhabib, Situating the Self, 153. 47. Butler, Excitable Speech, 90–91. 48. This is to reiterate the point I made about Habermas and Forst in chapter 2, namely, that their idealizing perspectives are inherently ambiguous: idealization can provide a basis for criticism, but it can also idealize and thereby legitimize a lessthan-ideal status quo. 49. Citing Gilroy, Black Atlantic. In “Restaging the Universal,” Butler underlines how Gilroy’s argument is directed against both antimodern skepticism and Habermasian modernism (40). 50. Patterson, Freedom in the Making of Western Culture. 51. Trouillot, Silencing the Past, 82. “I am not suggesting that eighteenth-century men and women should have thought about the fundamental equality of humankind in the same way some of us do today. On the contrary, I am arguing that they could not have done so” (ibid.). For a forceful reading of the Haitian Revolution as the continuation and radicalization of radical-revolutionary Enlightenment universalism, see Nesbitt, Universal Emancipation. 52. If the Haitian Revolution appears ambiguous, consider again the case invoked by Wallerstein in chapter 1: Gandhi’s campaign against British rule in India. Although Gandhi invoked “modern” norms—not only generic ones like freedom, equality, and human dignity, but specific ones like democracy, the rule of law, and national selfdetermination—he did so in a way that was defiantly non- and even antimodern. See Partha Chatterjee, Nationalist Thought and the Colonial World. The point can be generalized: many ideologies in struggles against oppression are not exclusively or even predominantly “modern,” in large part because those engaged in this struggle find that “modernity” has already been appropriated by the forces they are fighting against. The lesson, I think, is that we should not, as I suggest Benhabib tends to do, make “modernity” (or, for that matter, “rationality”) into a fetish for freedom, equality, and human dignity, but, as Butler urges, always be prepared to recognize them in new and unfamiliar guises. 53. White, Sustaining Affirmation, 90. 54. Butler, Gender Trouble, xxiii. 55. Butler, “Poststructuralism and Postmarxism,” 7. 56. Ibid., 7–8. This alternative informs Butler’s The Psychic Life of Power. Her Giving an Account of Oneself gives a more positive account of one’s relation to others and to

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discourse, but only (rather like Cornell in Feminist Contentions) in terms of the Levinasian relation to the other—that is, on the field of ethics rather than politics. 57. See Williams, Keywords, 87–93; Benhabib, The Claims of Culture, chapter 1; Bayart, The Illusion of Cultural Identity, parts 1 and 2. 58. Butler, “Restaging the Universal,” 24–25. 59. Butler, “Merely Cultural,” 36. 60. Scott, “Culture in Political Theory,” 104. 61. As noted in chapter 2, Nussbaum argued against Okin—though principally by showing that her own faith was sufficiently “modern.” 62. Mamdani, Good Muslim, Bad Muslim, chapter 2. Here as in his other work, Mamdani looks to specific historical-political factors to explain what popular and even expert commentary has all-too often attributed to “culture.” As Walter Mignolo argues, “If we accept that actions, objects, beliefs, and so on are culture-relative, we hide the coloniality of power from which different cultures came into being in the first place.” Mignolo, “The Many Faces of Cosmo-polis,” 179. 63. Butler, “Restaging the Universal,” 35. 64. Someone could, after all, be doing me a favor by pointing out the limits of some norm “my” culture has prescribed for me. Gayatri Spivak’s discussion of the British campaign against sati invoked in chapter 2 is a good example. The point is not that widow immolation should have been protected as “authentic” to “Hindu culture,” but rather that the campaign against it served as a pretext and justification for imperial domination—hence the paradoxical status of colonialism in some cases as, as Spivak puts it, an “enabling violation.” 65. Butler and Laclau, “The Uses of Equality,” 5. 66. Ernesto Laclau, “Why Do Empty Signifiers Matter to Politics?” in Emancipation(s). 67. Butler and Laclau, “The Uses of Equality,” 10. 68. Butler seems to nod in this direction when, at the end of her reply to Fraser in Feminist Contentions, she allows that subject-formation, her own primary concern, is not the whole of politics and half-apologizes for neglecting “questions of social and economic justice.” “To this end it is crucial to rethink the domain of power-relations, and to develop a way of adjudicating political norms without forgetting that such an adjudication will also always be a struggle for power” (141). The balance of this chapter and the next are in a sense devoted to elaborating this possibility. 69. Butler, Excitable Speech, chapter 4. 70. As we will see in chapter 5, Jacques Rancière makes a, in my view, more successful version of this criticism. He too charges Bourdieu with conservatism on the basis that Bourdieu does not leave the dominated any room to challenge the terms of domination. I will suggest, however, that unlike Butler, Rancière leaves himself two bases for explaining how they might do so: equality and universalization. 71. Jacques Derrida, “Signature, Event, Context,” in Margins of Philosophy. 72. Bourdieu, Language and Symbolic Power, 109, cited in Butler, Excitable Speech, 146. 73. Nicholson, Feminist Contentions, Fraser at 67, Benhabib at 109. Of course, as Butler shows with regard to “sex” in Gender Trouble, “the body” in Bodies That Matter, and against Fraser in “Merely Cultural,” there is no pure, unmediated “social”

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outside language, culture, and interpretation. Granted. What I nonetheless hope to establish in this section are the advantages of treating social relations as tendentially autonomous. 74. Bourdieu, Pascalian Meditations, 115; cited parenthetically in the balance of this section. 75. Bourdieu, Practical Reason, 3. 76. “Recognition,” needless to say, does not have the affirmative sense here it does in the work of Charles Taylor or Axel Honneth, but refers to the “pure fact,” as it were, of others’ valuing oneself and interpretative standards that are favorable to oneself. 77. Bourdieu is often criticized for his reductionism (Jeffrey Alexander, Axel Honneth) as well as his epistemic presumption (Bruno Latour, Jacques Rancière). It is true that he often presents his redescriptions as the “real” truth of social relations. For this he is no doubt vulnerable to a version of Butler’s criticism of MacKinnon: not only is this epistemological self-confidence unwarranted (social relations can be described from any number of perspectives); by setting itself up as absolute, it runs the risk of becoming, like MacKinnon’s totalizing feminism, yet another false universal. What saves Bourdieu’s work from this is, I think, its perspectivism. He could—and indeed does in Masculine Domination—describe social relations in terms of gender as well as class, status, etc. His method, that is, allows fields to be mapped in a variety of ways, though always in terms of inequality and domination. 78. See Bourdieu and Passeron, Reproduction in Education, Society, and Culture and The Inheritors. 79. See in this context Schinkel, “Pierre Bourdieu’s Political Turn?” which makes the common objection that Bourdieu cannot theoretically account for his own activism. I take up his attempt to do so below. 80. See especially the essays collected in Bourdieu, Acts of Resistance. 81. Bourdieu, The Weight of the World, 629. 82. Bourdieu, “A Paradoxical Foundation of Ethics,” in Practical Reason, 142. 83. Bourdieu, The State Nobility, 558–59. 84. Bourdieu, “A Paradoxical Foundation of Ethics,” 143. 85. La misère du monde, the book’s French title, was taken from a remark by leading Socialist politician Michel Rocard that “la France ne peut accueillir toute la misère du monde”—France cannot accommodate all the world’s suffering. 86. Beck, Power in the Global Age, chapter 1. 87. Forst, The Right to Justification, 258. 88. As Bourdieu avows: “Kant’s test of universalizability is the universal strategy of the rational critique of ethical claims.” Bourdieu, “A Paradoxical Foundation of Ethics,” 144. 89. Indeed, to the extent that the wrongs of discrimination, marginalization, “invisibilization,” etc. can always be understood in terms of a lack of say in the terms of social life, Bourdieu’s egalitarianism can potentially encompass all the injuries Butler seeks to theorize. 90. Lee, “Culture and Democratic Theory.”

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91. Nancy Fraser, “Social Justice in the Age of Identity Politics: Redistribution, Recognition, and Participation,” in Fraser and Honneth, Redistribution or Recognition? 36. 92. A crucial ambiguity of this conception in Fraser’s version as well as Bourdieu’s concerns how far it is meant to go. Guizot and Marx, for instance, would have very different views of how much and what kinds of equality are compatible with interacting as a peer. While Fraser writes that her stipulation that “institutionalized norms” and “institutional value patterns” (ibid., my emphasis) should not be discriminatory is not simply liberal but based on a “radical democratic interpretation of equal autonomy” (229), this leaves a lot open, from remedial affirmative action to cultural revolution. This indeterminacy, which I diagnosed in Rawls’s work in chapter 2, is why I think that participation itself, in the form of democratic politics, in the end has to give substance to such formal provisions. 93. Ibid., 39; Judith Butler, “Competing Universalities,” in Butler, Laclau, and Žižek, Contingency, Hegemony, Universality, 175–77. 94. Nancy Fraser, “From Redistribution to Recognition?” in Justice Interruptus. 95. Or, to take an analogous case from Bourdieu’s work on education: should the forms of social discrimination that give students from culturally richer backgrounds an unfair advantage in the school system be redressed, or the form and content of education itself (i.e., the fact that the norms and settings of the school and curriculum are in effect upper middle class) be corrected? To my knowledge, Bourdieu never sought to resolve this quandary. His answer, I think, could only be both. 96. Wacquant, “Pointers on Pierre Bourdieu,” 12. 97. Butler, “Competing Universalities,” 159. 5. Rethinking Political Cosmopolitanism 1. Mouffe, On the Political, 103. 2. She thus argues on pluralist grounds that different groups can live together on the basis of what Rawls calls a modus vivendi, rather than the moral “overlapping consensus” on moral-political essentials that he calls for. 3. Ibid., 86–87. 4. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations. Huntington subsequently extended his culturalist thesis to US domestic politics in Who Are We. 5. Dahl, “Can International Organizations Be Democratic?” 6. Pettit, Republicanism, 8. His own republican alternative is to “see the people as trustor, both individually and collectively, and the state as trustee” (ibid). 7. Miller, “Political Philosophy.” 8. Whether global democracy so conceived would be worse than a world of nationstates is another question. With this question, as with the relative merits of various ideal regimes, any assessment of the alternatives in the abstract is too hypothetical to be meaningful. Here we are better advised to follow Sen’s call for situated comparison rather than “transcendental,” hypothetical alternatives. Sen, The Idea of Justice, chapter 2. 9. As per the Oxford English Dictionary’s first definition of “politics.” 10. See Honig, “Declarations of Independence.”

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11. Rousseau, The Social Contract, book 2, chapter 7. 12. E.g., Pateman, Participation and Democratic Theory; Barber, Strong Democracy; David Trend, ed., Radical Democracy; Lummis, Radical Democracy. 13. Warren, “What Should We Expect from More Democracy?” 242. 14. Arendt’s opposition to “principles” extends only to philosophical or transcendental principles. As I will explain in chapter 6, she sees an alternative in immanent principles, which are based and expressed only in action. 15. Arendt, The Human Condition, 222. 16. For this reading, see Abensour, “Against the Sovereignty of Philosophy Over Politics.” 17. Arendt, The Human Condition, 207. 18. Arendt, Was ist Politik? and “Introduction Into Politics.” 19. Arendt, “Introduction Into Politics.” 198–99. 20. Ibid., 131. 21. Ibid., 193. 22. Arendt, “What Is Freedom?” in Between Past and Future, 147 (my emphasis). 23. Ibid. 24. Arendt, Origins of Totalitarianism, 301. 25. Tassin, Un monde commun, chapter 5. 26. As we will see below, this is Jacques Rancière’s interpretation, although Arendt’s attention to the fate of the “stateless” might suggest the opposite. 27. See Hanna Pitkin, “Justice”; and Kateb, “Political Action.” 28. See Claude Lefort, “The Question of Democracy,” 11–12, and “The Permanence of the Theological-Political?” 217–21, in Lefort, Democracy and Political Theory. 29. Lefort, “The Question of Democracy,” 12. 30. Claude Lefort, “Human Rights and the Welfare State,” in Lefort, Democracy and Political Theory, 39. 31. Claude Lefort, “Hannah Arendt and the Political,” ibid., 53–54. 32. Wolin, Politics and Vision, 389. The first half of this edition reproduces the 1960 original. 33. Wolin, “Hannah Arendt.” 34. Sheldon Wolin, “Democracy and the Welfare State: Connections between Staatsräson and Wohlfhartsstaatsräson,” in The Presence of the Past, 153–54. 35. Wolin, Politics and Vision, 374. 36. Ibid., 36, 37. 37. Ibid., 602. 38. Wolin, “Norm and Form,” 36. 39. Hannah Arendt, “On Violence,” in Crises of the Republic, 140. 40. Wolin, “Fugitive Democracy,” 38. 41. Wolin, Politics and Vision, 602. 42. Wolin, “Fugitive Democracy,” 38, 41. 43. Abensour, Lettre d’un “révoltiste,” 12–13. 44. Abensour, Democracy Against the State. The book originally appeared in 1997, roughly contemporary with Wolin’s “Fugitive Democracy.”

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45. In his in many ways comparable Philosophy and Revolution, Stathis Kouvelakis identifies this position with Moses Hess and Friedrich Engels (chapters 3 and 4). We should note its formal similarity to Catharine MacKinnon’s position as criticized by Judith Butler in the last chapter: achieving equality depends on the use of state power—the very state, that is, that has been the expression and guarantor of the false universalism that the author wants to overthrow. 46. According to Wolin, although democracy “is one among many versions of the political, . . . it is peculiar in being the one idea that most other versions pay lip service to.” Wolin, “Fugitive Democracy,” 31. 47. Karl Marx, “Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law,” in Marx and Engels Collected Works, 3:28. Both Abensour and Kouvelakis rely on these passages. 48. Miguel Abensour, “Savage Democracy and Principle of Anarchy,” in Democracy Against the State, 107. 49. Ibid., 71–72. 50. Abensour, Lettre d’un “révoltiste,” 21. 51. This dialectical side of Abensour’s thinking, the fact that for him democracy may be against the state but interacts with and transforms it, is lost on a strictly anarchist reading like Simon Critchley’s, with consequences I discuss toward the end of this chapter. Critchley, Infinitely Demanding, 117–23. 52. Abensour, “Savage Democracy and Principle of Anarchy,” 108 (translation modified). 53. Lummis, Radical Democracy, 138. 54. As I will argue in chapter 6, such a right cannot be understood as legal, since the institutions that could guarantee it do not exist, but rather as a morally grounded demand that can only be made in and through political action. 55. If this is true of Wolin’s democratic localism and arguably even of Abensour’s “total demos,” it does not seem to hold for Arendt. While she implies that any political sphere must be bounded, she resists all attempts to think of political communities as collective subjects, insisting instead on their internal plurality. This resistance is part of the basis of my attempt, in the next chapter, to claim her for a very particular type of cosmopolitan universalism. 56. Étienne Balibar, “Ambiguous Universality,” in Politics and the Other Scene, 147; cited in this section parenthetically. 57. Kant, “On Perpetual Peace,” 107–8. 58. Ibid., 106. 59. Arendt, Origins of Totalitarianism, 298. 60. Of course, sociologists have long grasped—often better than political theorists—that no institution can be understood apart from the principles and norms that underlie its functioning and reproduction. 61. “Banal cosmopolitanism” is used by Ulrich Beck to designate the simple fact of everyday global interconnectedness (The Cosmopolitan Vision, 10), but I think also captures very well Pratap Mehta’s sense that, in the face of globalization, “There may be very little, in which anything serious is at stake, left to be cosmopolitan about.” Mehta, “Cosmopolitanism and the Circle of Reason,” 636.

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62. Mignolo, “The Many Faces of Cosmo-polis,” 160. 63. This means that not every claim to equaliberty is warranted or feasible. It is unclear, for instance, to what extent minors or foreigners could or should be enfranchised. Proposals are made to expand citizenship in both these domains and are usually met with slippery-slope arguments: if seventeen year olds, why not eleven year olds? If recent immigrants, why not tourists and business travelers? 64. Judith Butler, as we saw in chapter 4, employs a similar vocabulary—the Blochian “not-yet”—for her relation toward the ideals she is so reluctant to articulate. 65. Étienne Balibar, “‘Rights of Man’ and ‘Rights of the Citizen,’” in Masses, Classes, Ideas, 49. 66. See Ernesto Laclau, “Why Do Empty Signifiers Matter to Politics?” in Emancipation(s), as well as his contribution to Butler, Laclau, and Zizek, Contingency, Hegemony, Universality. 67. Douzinas, Human Rights and Empire, 295. 68. Jullien, De l’universel, chapter 2. 69. Ibid., chapter 13. Cf. Judith Butler, “Restaging the Universal: Hegemony and the Limits of Formalism,” in Judith Butler, Ernesto Laclau, and Slavoj Žižek, Contingency, Hegemony, Universality, 35ff. Butler credits this approach to the universal as “translation” to Gayatri Spivak. 70. Balibar, “‘Rights of Man’ and ‘Rights of the Citizen,’” 49ff. 71. This, I take it, is the epistemological logic behind the Bilderverbot—the refusal to depict utopia—in Marx, Benjamin, and Adorno, among others. To this is then added a practical argument based on the principle of autonomy. In Engels’s laconic formulation: a free society would be whatever free people make it. 72. Rancière, “Ten Theses on Politics,” thesis 4. 73. Arendt, The Human Condition, 27–28: “Everybody outside the polis—slaves and barbarians—was aneu logou, deprived, of course, not of the faculty of speech, but a way of life in which speech and only speech made sense and where the central concern of all citizens was to talk to each other.” 74. Rancière, “Ten Theses on Politics,” thesis 1, §3. Unlike Hanna Pitkin and others who reproach Arendt for excluding “aims” or “ends” such as equality from politics, Rancière claims that Arendt, like Aristotle, excludes noncitizens from politics on anthropological grounds. This is an implausible reading insofar as for Arendt equality and inequality arise through, and do not precede, politics. 75. Ibid., thesis 8, §23; Rancière, Disagreement, chapter 1. 76. Mésentente is not easy to translate. “Misunderstanding” is closest to its usual sense, which is not identical to Rancière’s. The alternatives I have given strike me as preferable to “disagreement.” Das Unvernehmen, a coinage meaning “nonhearing” used for the German translation, seems particularly apt. 77. Rancière, Disagreement, x, xii. 78. Jean-Philippe Deranty thus interprets Rancière’s work in light of debates over recognition in “Jacques Rancière’s Contribution to the Ethics of Recognition.” 79. Rancière, “Ten Theses on Politics,” thesis 7. 80. This is the basis of Rancière’s criticism of philosophers of the left in The

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Philosopher and His Poor: Marx (chapters 4–7), Sartre (chapter 8), and especially Bourdieu (chapter 9). “To pose equality as a goal is to hand it over to the pedagogues of progress, who widen endlessly the distance they promise that they will abolish” (232). 81. In his work on aesthetics Rancière suggests that art too can transform the field of the visible. There is an interesting parallel here to Richard Rorty’s insistence on the role of “sad stories” and sentimental education in changing the scope of moral and political concern. The key difference, and the reason Rancière never identifies art with politics per se, is that for Rancière, as for Arendt, politics is about equality. Uncle Tom’s Cabin, to take Rorty’s favorite example, can show that slaves are worthy of sympathy, but only the slaves’ own political activity can establish them as interlocutors and thus equals. 82. Rancière takes over the eighteenth-century use of the term, popularized by Foucault’s governmentality lectures, when it referred to organized, civilized, or “polite” society—what the Scottish Enlightenment called “civil society.” He elsewhere calls what Disagreement refers to as “the police,” “policy,” and what it calls “politics,” “emancipation” (“Politics, Identification, Subjectivization”). “The political” (le politique), meanwhile, which in 1992 and 1995 marks the point where a mésentente disrupts the status quo, in the 1998 edition of On the Shores of Politics takes on Lefort’s sense of society as whole and thus becomes a means of suppressing “politics.” Rancière, Aux bords du politique, 13–14, 225–26. 83. Rancière, Disagreement, 16. 84. Ibid., ix. Rancière, “Politics, Identification, Subjectivization,” 60. 85. Ibid. 86. Rancière, Disagreement, 42. 87. Ibid., 139. 88. Ibid., 30–31. In Hatred of Democracy Rancière likewise notes that “the constitutional forms and practices of oligarchic governments”—by which he means all governments—“can be more or less democratic” (72). 89. Indeed, many of the worst “police regimes” (in the conventional sense) are those imposed precisely in response to what elites see as the excessive “breaking and entering” of popular-democratic politics. 90. Rancière, Disagreement, 33. 91. Isin, Becoming Political, 275. 92. Sen, The Idea of Justice, 26. Sen’s account of what is demanded by those who protest against the current order is, to be sure, too minimal for my taste. I would argue that what people are demanding can often be interpreted democratically as a meaningful say in the institutions and arrangements that affect them. 93. Fraser, Scales of Justice, chapters 3 and 4. On the intrinsic indeterminacy of the all-subjected as well as the all-affected principle, see Näsström, “The Challenge of the All-Affected Principle.” 94. Hardt and Negri, Empire. 95. Critchley, Infinitely Demanding, chapter 4. Indeed, Critchley’s example of indigenous struggle in Mexico fails to support his anarchist conclusions, since, as he notes,

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it grew precisely out of universalistic demands for autonomy and equality directed at state institutions. 96. Arditi, “From Globalism to Globalization,” 9–20. 97. See, e.g., de Sousa Santos, The Rise of the Global Left. It should be noted, and is entirely consistent with my argument, that, as it has become institutionalized, the WSF has itself come in for criticism as exclusive and in some ways depoliticizing. See, e.g., Worth and Buckley, “The World Social Forum.” 98. Dupuis-Déri, “Global Protesters Versus Global Elites.” 99. In the next chapter I will suggest that Hannah Arendt raises the possibility of such an alternative way of thinking of normativity and action together in her account of “principles” underlying political action. 100. Hutchings, “What Is Orientation in Thinking?” 191. 101. Ibid., 200, quoting Connolly, “White Noise,” 306. 102. Hutchings, “What Is Orientation in Thinking?” 190. 103. Young-Bruehl, Hannah Arendt, 113. 6. Cosmopolitics in Practice 1. Ignatieff, Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry, 3–4; Annan quotation, 53. I will refrain from marking every use of human rights in the singular—an index of the concept’s reification—with “(sic).” 2. Ibid., 70; Kennedy, The Dark Sides of Virtue, chapter 1. 3. Guilhot, The Democracy Makers, 8. 4. Ignatieff, Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry, 70; Chandler, Constructing Civil Society, 171. 5. Taylor, “Conditions of an Unforced Consensus on Human Rights.” 6. Ignatieff, Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry, 54. 7. Bobbio, The Age of Rights, 12. 8. Donnelly, Universal Human Rights in Theory and Practice, 20, 21. 9. Macintyre, After Virtue, 67. 10. Richard Rorty is a leading proponent of such an approach; see his “Human Rights, Rationality, and Sentimentality.” Pragmatism does not, as I noted in chapter 1, necessarily entail Rorty’s insistence on “sentimentality” over “rationality.” 11. Arendt, Origins of Totalitarianism, 279, 269. 12. Seyla Benhabib, “‘The Right to Have Rights’: Hannah Arendt on the Contradictions of the Nation-State,” in Benhabib, The Rights of Others, following Frank Michelman, “Parsing ‘A Right to Have Rights.’” 13. Arendt, Origins of Totalitarianism, 293, 297. 14. Ibid., 299. 15. Walzer, “Human Rights in Global Society,” 7; cf. Ignatieff, Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry, 23. 16. See, e.g., Buchanan, Justice, Legitimacy and Self-Determination, as well as the Canadian-sponsored report for UN reform, which calls for making sovereignty conditional on human-rights protection: IDRC, The Responsibility to Protect.

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17. Walzer, “The Politics of Rescue,” 66; cf. his “The Moral Standing of States.” Although Walzer affirms that “the rule is non-intervention—my purpose here is to honor the exception,” there is no telling how exceptional it will turn out to be. Famously, Mill’s “A Few Words on Nonintervention” lays out one of the most persuasive cases ever made for nonintervention, only to exempt three-fourths of humanity from it on the grounds that they suffer under indigenous “despotism” and must be aided by benevolent European colonialism (from which, of course, Mill made his living). 18. Chandler, Constructing Civil Society, 181. 19. Chandler, From Kosovo to Kabul, 111. 20. E.g., Power, A Problem from Hell. 21. Ignatieff, Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry, 21–22. 22. Isaac, “Hannah Arendt on Human Rights,” 532. 23. Ibid., 514; Ignatieff, Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry, 9. 24. Weber, “Politics as a Vocation.” 25. Ibid., 77–78. 26. Weber, Theory of Social and Economic Organization, 152. 27. While the case for limiting power by ethical considerations is Weberian, the underlying idea of power as the sole guarantee of rights is Hobbesian. In chapter 20 of Leviathan, Hobbes mocks those who seek to limit the power of the sovereign with precisely this argument: “And whosoever thinking Soveraign Power too great, will seek to make it lesse; must subject himselfe, to the Power, that can limit it; that is to say, to a greater.” Hobbes, Leviathan, 260. 28. Ignatieff, Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry, 18. 29. Brown, “‘The Most We Can Hope For,’” 90–91. 30. Walzer, “Human Rights in Global Society,” 10. 31. Ignatieff, Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry, 67, 68. 32. Ibid., 11–12. 33. As Michael Walzer points out, far from being the harmless diplomatic device it is often presented as, economic sanctions, carried far enough—like those imposed on Iraq in the 1990s—are the modern equivalent of a siege, pressuring a state by starving its subjects. Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars, chapter 10. 34. De Waal, Seminar at Bard College, March 11, 2000. 35. See, e.g., Hancock, Lords of Poverty; James Ferguson, The Anti-Politics Machine; Terry, Condemned to Repeat? 36. Mouffe, On the Political, 101. 37. Bernard Williams terms this the distinction between an “enactment” and a “structural” model of political theory. See Williams, In the Beginning Was the Deed, 1–2. I agree with Williams that both are forms of “political moralism”—even if I will disagree with him in the conclusion on how a less “moralistic” political theory should look. 38. Kant, “On Perpetual Peace,” 107–8. Rechtsverletzung could be translated as “violation of right” or simply “wrongdoing.” 39. Immanuel Kant, “Public Right,” chapter 3, “Cosmopolitan Right,” §62, in Kant, The Metaphysics of Morals.

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40. Arendt, Origins of Totalitarianism, 298. 41. Exemplarily: Goodhart, Democracy as Human Rights; Gould, Globalizing Democracy and Human Rights. 42. Erman, “Human Rights Do Not Make Global Democracy.” 43. Bohman, Democracy Across Borders. 44. Lafont, “Can Democracy Go Global?” 15. In response to this criticism, Bohman invokes Arendt against the sovereigntist account of democracy that, according to him, Lafont assumes. Bohman, “A Response to My Critics,” 75. 45. Jürgen Habermas, “Remarks on Legitimation Through Human Rights,” in The Postnational Constellation, 118, summarizing Between Facts and Norms, chapter 3. 46. Habermas, “Remarks on Legitimation Through Human Rights,” 122. 47. Ibid.; Benhabib, Dignity in Adversity, chapter 7. 48. Benhabib, The Rights of Others, 66–67. 49. Jürgen Habermas, “Does the Constitutionalization of International Law Still Have a Chance?” in The Divided West, 137. 50. Benhabib, The Rights of Others, 140. 51. Ibid., 142. 52. As Bonnie Honig points out in her response to Benhabib’s Tanner Lecture: “Another Cosmopolitanism?” 53. Benhabib, Dignity in Adversity, 129. 54. Benhabib, The Rights of Others, 181. 55. Without, that is, the help of the “cunning of nature” or the providential redemption of historical progress behind the actors’ backs. 56. Habermas, The Postnational Constellation, chapter 3; Benhabib, The Rights of Others, 67. 57. Bobbio, Liberalism and Democracy, 6–7. 58. Ibid., 7–8. 59. This perspective finds empirical support in the work of the “contentious politics” school of American political sociology. See Tarrow and Tilly, Contentious Politics, as well as Tilly, Contention and Democracy in Europe, which focuses on the developments Bobbio has in mind. As the example of feudal contests between monarchs and nobles suggests, “from below” need not mean popular-democratic, but can nevertheless serve to diffuse power and expand rights. 60. Wolin, “The Liberal/Democratic Divide,” 98. 61. Jürgen Habermas, “Struggles for Recognition in the Democratic Constitutional State,” in The Inclusion of the Other, 208. 62. Habermas, “The Concept of Human Dignity,” 476. 63. Fine, Cosmopolitanism, 111. 64. Sznaider, “Hannah Arendt’s Jewish Cosmopolitanism”; Herzog, “Political Itineraries and Anarchic Cosmopolitanism.” 65. Birmingham, Hannah Arendt and Human Rights. 66. In addition to the authors cited, see Issac, “A New Guarantee on Earth”; and Parekh, “A Meaningful Place in the World.” 67. Arendt, Origins of Totalitarianism, ix (my emphasis).

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68. Hannah Arendt, “Karl Jaspers: Citizen of the World?” in Men in Dark Times, 93. 69. Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem, 268–69; “On Violence,” in Crises of the Republic, 108; Lectures on Kant’s Political Philosophy, 76–75. 70. Arendt, Origins of Totalitarianism, 298 (my emphasis). 71. Arendt herself invokes these two possibilities: “it turned out that the moment human beings lacked their own government and had to fall back upon their minimum rights, no authority was left to protect them and no institution was willing to guarantee them.” Arendt, Origins of Totalitarianism, 292 (my emphasis). 72. Arendt, “Karl Jaspers,” 61; cf. Lectures on Kant’s Political Philosophy, 44; Benhabib, The Rights of Others, 66. 73. Arendt, Origins of Totalitarianism, 298–99. 74. Ibid., 142n38. 75. Benhabib, The Rights of Others, 67. 76. Ibid., 131. 77. To borrow the formulation from Rasch’s Schmittian critique of Habermasian cosmopolitanism: William Rasch, “A Just War? Or Just a War?” in Sovereignty and Its Discontents, chapter 2. 78. E.g., Arendt, The Human Condition, 194, and On Revolution, 116. See Jacques Taminiaux, “Athens and Rome.” 79. Arendt, Was ist Politik? 40. 80. Arendt, Origins of Totalitarianism, 296. 81. Hannah Arendt, “What Is Freedom?” in Between Past and Future, 152; Birmingham, Hannah Arendt and Human Rights, 12–17. As Birmingham clearly outlines (but later tends to lose sight of), principles are (a) contingent, mutual, and variable; and (b) only expressed in and reproduced through political action. According to Montesquieu, the reigning principle in republics is virtue, in monarchies honor, in tyrannies fear; Arendt suggests Homeric fame, Athenian freedom, and even justice and equality as other possibilities. Arendt, “Introduction Into Politics,” 195. 82. This distinction between transcendental moral/philosophical principles and immanent principles located only in action is expressed in the alternative derivation Arendt finds for arkhē, or “foundation,” which she claims was originally derived from “beginning” (arkhein) and thus initially associated with action. 83. Arendt, “Karl Jaspers,” 93. 84. Arendt, The Human Condition, 158. 85. Isaac, “A New Guarantee on Earth,” 71. 86. Arendt, “What Is Freedom?” 152. 87. Claude Lefort, “Politics and Human Rights,” in The Political Forms of Modern Society, 260, 264. 88. Ibid., 258. 89. Nancy Fraser, “Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy,” in Justice Interruptus. 90. Arendt, Origins of Totalitarianism, 292. 91. Étienne Balibar, “What Is a Politics of the Rights of Man?” in Masses, Classes, Ideas, 212.

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92. Ibid., 224. 93. Ibid., 212–13. 94. Étienne Balibar, “Ambiguous Universality,” in Politics and the Other Scene, 165. 95. Rancière, “Who Is the Subject of the Rights of Man?” 305–6, cited in this section parenthetically. 96. Rancière, Disagreement, 125–26 (translation modified). In David Kennedy’s image: “To enter the terrain of emancipation through human rights is to enter a world of uncivilized deviants, baby seals, and knights errant.” Kennedy, The Dark Sides of Virtue, 14. 97. Krause, “Undocumented Migrants,” 343 98. Isaac, “A New Guarantee on Earth,” 72. 99. Ignatieff, Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry, 6, 11. 100. Kennedy, The Dark Sides of Virtue, 6. 101. Brown, “‘The Most We Can Hope For,’” 453. 102. See, e.g., Sen, Development as Freedom. Conclusion 1. This is to say that the realisms I will discuss have no direct connection to ontological realism, moral realism, or the many other philosophical and other traditions that share the name. 2. William Scheuerman points out that Morgenthau and Carr were by no means straightforwardly anticosmopolitan, even if they were critical of its more naive versions; see Scheuerman, The Realist Case for Global Reform, chapters 1–3. 3. See Mouffe, On the Political; Rasch, Sovereignty and Its Discontents; Zolo, Cosmopolis. 4. See especially Williams, In the Beginning Was the Deed, chapter 1, and Geuss, Philosophy and Real Politics. While I associate this school with Cambridge, it is not to be confused with either the “Cambridge realism” of Moore and Russell or the “Cambridge republicanism” of Skinner and Pocock. 5. Another important version of this criticism, associated with pluralist or minoritarian politics and poststructuralist theory, also reproaches normative political theory for seeking to escape politics, but does so in the name of contestation rather than stability. See, e.g., Honig, Political Theory and the Displacement of Politics; Wendy Brown, “Moralism as Anti-Politics,” in her Politics Out of History. 6. Galston, “Realism in Political Theory.” See also Frazer, “What’s Real in Political Philosophy?” 7. Geuss, Philosophy and Real Politics, 25. 8. Scheuerman, The Realist Case for Global Reform; Beck, Power in the Global Age, part 1; Beardsworth, “Cosmopolitanism and Realism.” 9. Mills, “Ideal Theory as Ideology,” 170. 10. Weber, “Politics as a Vocation,” 243. 11. Bourdieu, Practical Reason, 56–57.

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Abbé de Saint-Pierre, 37, 106 Abensour, Miguel, 188, 191, 199–205, 217, 223, 253, 296n47, 296n51, 296n55 Abstraction, 39, 51, 68, 85, 88, 91–92, 100, 147, 179, 267, 269, 283n104 Action: democracy as political, 18, 189–204; human rights politics as democratic, 245–59; moral, 284n41; theoretical reflection on, 9, 274n10 Adorno, Theodor W., 69, 71, 84, 86, 121, 278n22, 281n66, 284n41, 297n71 Alexander the Great, 49 Alighieri, Dante, 32 Americanism, 277n63 Amnesty International, 139, 236–37 Anarchic metapolitics (Critchley), 219–20 Anderson, Amanda, 24, 25–26, 42–43, 49, 159–60, 164 Anderson, Benedict, 51–52 Anderson, Perry, 131, 134–35, 277n63 Anghie, Anthony, 33

Annan, Kofi, 226 Anthropological universalisms, 16, 74; definition of, 68; as problem of human, 68–84 Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View (Kant), 72, 116–17 Anticosmopolitan, 66–67 Anti-imperialism, 161–62, 264; Kant’s, 284n28; see also Imperialism Appadurai, Arjun, 63, 64 Appiah, Anthony, 48, 64, 65 Applied theory, 11, 263, 267 Archibugi, Daniele, 8, 123, 128–32 Arditi, Benjamin, 220 Arendt, Hannah, 6, 9, 18–19, 40, 188, 190, 191–202, 204, 206, 207, 209, 213–14, 223–25, 228, 230–32, 239–40, 242–43, 246–59, 260–61, 275n12, 295n14, 295n26, 296n55, 297nn73–74, 298n81, 299n99, 301n44, 302n71, 302n82

324 in dex

Aristophanes, 28 Aristotle, 28, 29, 74; Arendt and, 192, 194, 275n12, 297n74; Nussbaum and, 10, 76–79; Rancière and, 214 Arkhē (Arendt), 302n82 Asad, Talal, 280n60, 281n65 Augustine (saint), 31 Aurelius, Marcus, 29, 30 Autonomy, 15, 161, 188–89, 223, 294n92, 297n71; cosmopolitanism and individual, 64; and human rights, 238, 258, 260; philosophies articulated around, 78; political demands for, 299n95; public and private (Habermas), 241–42; women as unfit for full, 72 Aux bords du politique (Rancière), 298n82 Axial Age, 30, 275n19 Babel, 288n5 Badiou, Alain, 31 Baldry, H. L., 27–28, 275n13 Balibar, Étienne, 9, 16, 18, 36, 68, 74, 76, 130–31, 188–89, 205, 207–13, 215, 218–19, 223, 247, 253–55 Barber, Benjamin, 50–51 Barry, Brian, 278n12, 281n82, 286n80 Beardsworth, Richard, 268 Beck, Ulrich, 178, 268, 288n5, 296n61 Beitz, Charles, 90, 91, 92–93 Benhabib, Seyla, 159–65, 166, 169, 172, 182, 197, 231, 241, 242–43, 245, 246, 248, 249, 255, 290n43, 291n45, 291n52 Bentham, Jeremy, 37, 278n13 Berlin, Isaiah, 236 Bernasconi, Robert, 72 “Bestiality and Humanity” (Habermas), 134–35 Between Facts and Norms (Habermas), 98–99 Bilderverbot (utopia depiction refusal), 297n71 Birmingham, Peg, 246, 302n81 Bismarck, Otto von, 270 Blair, Tony, 3, 129, 234

Bobbio, Norberto, 229–30, 244, 301n59 Bodies That Matter (Butler), 290n36 Bohman, James, 137, 240–41, 301n44 Boomerang effect (Keck and Sikkink), 287n99 Bosnia, 128, 133 Bourdieu, Pierre, 9, 18, 96, 98, 170, 171–82, 203, 211, 215, 270–71, 292n70, 293n77, 293n85, 293n89, 294n92, 294n95 Breckenridge, Carol, 63 Brennan, Timothy, 7, 39, 65, 288n5 Brown, Wendy, 236, 260–61 Burke, Edmund, 50, 232 Butler, Judith, 9, 17–18, 56–57, 58, 59, 151–76, 178–80, 182–83, 185–86, 197, 203, 211–12, 215, 218–19, 221, 288n11, 289n12, 289n19, 289nn28–29, 290n33, 290n36, 290n40, 290n45, 291n49, 291n52, 291n56, 292n68, 292n70, 292n73, 293n77, 293n89, 296n45, 297n64, 297n69 Calhoun, Craig, 24, 52 Caney, Simon, 92 Capabilities, 76–84 Capital (Bourdieu), 173–74 Capitalism, 2, 27, 35–36, 42–43, 64–65, 205–6, 211 Carens, Joseph, 90–91 Chandler, David, 140, 233 Chatterjee, Partha, 291n52 China, 54, 120, 271, 286n79 Christianity, 30–32, 33–34, 42, 61, 149, 210 Cicero (philosopher), 7, 28, 29, 74 Citizen pilgrims (Falk), 137 Citizenship: as feudal privilege, 90–91; symbolic democratization as struggle of, 181; Wolin on, 197–98; world, 50, 276n59 “Citizenship in the Era of Globalization” (Kymlicka), 278n4 City of God (Augustine), 31

i n de x   325

Civil society, 107, 142, 179, 237, 243, 253; Enlightenment sense, 40, 298n82; in Kant, 107, 124; versus the state (Abensour), 200–2; see also Global civil society Clinton, Bill, 128 Cloots, Anarcharsis, 38–39, 49, 278n39 Cold War, 1–2, 41, 45, 133–34 Colonialism, 7, 27, 42, 160, 169, 292n64, 300n17 Colonization, 32–33 The Communist Manifesto (Marx and Engels), 206 Connolly, William, 288n1 Constantine (emperor), 31 Constructivism, 79, 167, 172, 289n29; Kantian (Rawls), 86–93 Contentious politics, 301n59 “The Contest of the Faculties” (Kant), 111 Convention on Genocide, 287n83 Co-originality thesis (Habermas), 241– 42 Cornell, Drucilla, 166, 292n56 Cosmopolitan alternative (Waldron), 64–65 Cosmopolitan community: definition of, 51, 52; passion inspired by, 51–52 Cosmopolitan democracy, 16–17; cosmopolitical dilemmas and, 122–41; definition of, 123; as possible, 105 Cosmopolitan democrats, 123–27, 131–41, 285n48 Cosmopolitan education, 55–56, 58, 277n71 “Cosmopolitanism” (Miller), 278n10 “Cosmopolitanism and the Circle of Reason” (Mehta), 296n61 “Cosmopolitanism and Vernacular in History” (Pollock), 273n1 Cosmopolitanism: authority challenged by, 49–50; autonomy needs met by, 64; banal, 296n61; belonging challenged by, 49–50; conceptions of,

6–7, 24–25, 273n1; to cosmopolitics, 4–9; Cynic origins of, 27–28; debates about, 46–62, 91; definition of, 23–25, 49, 53; entanglements of, 30; ethics, 66; exclusionary, 42–43; fault lines within, 3–4; as futural, 51; high imperial, 39–40; history of, 26–42; as ideal, 7–8; imperatives abandoned by, 61; imperatives referred to by, 19–20; inclusionary, 42–43; internationalism as against, 58–60; justice conceptions challenged by, 50; justice direction of, 51, 53; justice forged by, 273n1; of Kant’s ethics, 69–70; legitimacy challenged by, 49–50; liberal, 3, 64–66; as local, 48–49; location influencing, 58–59; logic of, 26; meaning of, 5–6, 63, 104; moral-ethical imperative, 103; as moral-ethical position, 9–10; motifs running through, 42–44; as nationalism, 52–53; nationalism’s debate with, 67, 278n12; as negative identity politics, 49; as normative practical philosophy discourse, 9; Nussbaum essay’s lessons on, 60–62; patriotism influenced by, 47–48; perspectives on, 25–26; as politics, 4–5, 59; politics called for by, 51, 58–60; politics in context of, 104–5; as practical philosophy problem, 9–14; as prejudice solution, 55–56; as process, 25; as project, 7–8; proximate duties denied by, 278n10; relational account of, 25; renaissance of, 1–5, 23–24, 41–42, 45–48; revolutionary, 38–39; as self-critical, 61; social-democratic, 3; Socratic origins of, 28; survey of, 25–26; suspicions of, 24, 66; tensions in, 42–44; universalistic aspirations of, 7; US, 58; as utopian, 51; as vulnerable, 17; world citizenship and, 276n59; see also Liberal cosmopolitanism; Moral-ethical cosmopolitanism; Political cosmopolitanism

326 in dex

Cosmopolitan patriots (Appiah), 48 Cosmopolitan realism, 268 Cosmopolitans: defining, 64–65; ethics approaches, 67–68, 279n38; judgment, 279n38; task for, 13–14; universalism embraced by, 13–14; use of term of, 63 Cosmopolite, 9, 34, 51 “Cosmopolite, Cosmopoli(ti)sme” (van den Heuvel), 275n31 Cosmopolitical dilemmas, 122–41 Cosmopolitics: cosmopolitanism to, 4–9; as democratic contestation principle, 18; as politics from below, 20; positive reconstruction of, 20 Counterglobalization movement, 39, 132, 137, 220–21 Cretan’s paradox, 288n2 Critchley, Simon, 219–20, 296n51, 298n95 Criticism, 177–79, 291n48 Critique and Crisis (Koselleck), 275n31 Critique of Judgment (Kant), 116 Critique of Practical Reason (Kant), 72 Critique of Pure Reason (Kant), 114, 122, 283n19 Crusades, 32 Cryptonormativism (Habermas), 160– 61 Cultivating Humanity (Nussbaum), 81 Cultural cosmopolitanism, 63–65 Cultural relativism, 56, 59, 167, 179 Cultures, 81–82, 280n62; false universalism in terms of, 166–69, 170–71; Kant’s theory of, 115–16, 136; morality related to, 56–57; as obstacle to universalism, 57, 75, 78–79, 91–92, 155–56, 157, 166–67, 172, 185–86, 207; politics of defining, 279n37, 280n60, 292n62, 292n64; sex influenced by (Butler), 153–54 Culture talk (Mamdani), 168–69 Cynicism (philosophy), 27–28, 29 Dahl, Robert, 186

The Dark Sides of Virtue (Kennedy, D.), 303n96 Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, 211–12, 253–54 “The Decline of the Nation-State and the End of the Rights of Man” (Arendt), 230–32 Deleuze, Gilles, 288n1 Delgado, Richard, 155 Democracy: Abensour on, 199–202, 205; Arendt on, 191–92, 194–95; bourgeois, 283n104; global, 294n8; human rights politics as action of, 245–59; ideal, 188; insurgent (Abensour), 205; morality brought closer to, 94–95, 241, 282n91; non-Western cultures’ view of, 185–86; “On Perpetual Peace” disavowal of, 141; as political action, 189–204; political theory rejecting, 187; as process, 18, 188, 199, 203, 205; radical, 18, 183, 189–204, 206, 213, 220, 223–24, 294n92, 295n12; representative, 108, 110, 121, 125; republic distinguished from (Kant), 108; rights limiting, 111–12; universalistic advocacy of, 3–4; universalization and politics of, 204–23; as universal principle, 14; Wolin on, 197–99, 296n46; see also Cosmopolitan democracy Democracy Against the State (Abensour), 200–201 Democratic iterations (Benhabib), 243, 245, 255 Democratic peace hypothesis (Kant/ Doyle), 107–8 Derrida, Jacques, 8–9, 33–34, 73, 74, 166, 171, 210–11, 278n13 Development economics, 80–84 de Waal, Alex, 238–39 Dictionnaire de l’Académie française (Académie française), 34 Diderot, Denis, 34, 72–73 Difference principle (Rawls), 87–88

i n de x  327

Diogenes the Cynic, 6, 7, 27–29, 30, 42, 47–48, 49, 51, 52, 78 Disagreement (Rancière), 214, 215, 217, 297n76 Discourse ethics (Habermas), 93–95, 282n92 “Doctrine of Right” (Kant), 285n45 “Doctrine of Virtue” (Kant), 71–72 “Does the Constitutionalization of International Law Still Have a Chance?” (Habermas), 286n71 Domination: as injustice, 95; patriarchy as, 154; politics as, 235; right preventing, 240–41 Donnelly, Jack, 230 Douzinas, Costas, 30, 211 Doxosophy (Bourdieu), 172 Dupuis-Déri, Francis, 221 Duty, 277n67; cosmopolitanism as denying (Miller), 278n10; of happiness promotion (Kant), 71; of national assistance (Rawls), 91–92; of obedience (Kant), 112–13 Dworkin, Andrea, 155 Eagleton, Terry, 168 Economic cosmopolitanism, 35–36 Economic relations, 95–96 Education, 43, 46–47, 58, 79, 198n81, 294n95; Bourdieu on, 175, 177, 294n95; Nussbaum’s view of cosmopolitan, 55, 81, 277n71 Eichmann in Jerusalem (Arendt), 247 Eisenstadt, Schmuel, 275n19 Elitism, 7, 39, 43, 61, 120, 137, 198 Emancipation, 163, 176, 179, 212, 222, 280n62 Empire (Hardt and Negri), 219 Enabling violations (Spivak), 82 Encyclopédie (Diderot), 34 Engels, Friedrich, 35, 40, 206, 296n45, 297n71 Enlightenment, 5, 13–14, 34–36, 40, 49, 210, 284n36, 298n82; blackmail (Fou-

cault), 14; cosmopolitanism, 34–35; Kantian idea of, 16, 109, 118–20, 140–42, 221, 284n36 Epictetus (philosopher), 28 Epistemic nationalism, 96, 288n5 Equaliberty (Balibar), 210, 211–12, 213, 218, 220, 222, 253–54, 297n63 Equality: Arendt on, 192–94, 197, 213, 250, 297n74, 298n81; measure of, 60, 170–81; as operator (Ranciére), 216; participatory parity and, 180–81; political, 18, 240; Rancière on, 213, 215–16, 218–19, 224, 292n70, 297n80, 298n74, 298n81; state power required for, 296n45 Erman, Eva, 240 Ethics: cosmopolitan approaches to, 67–68, 279n38; impure (Kant), 72–73, 117, 279n30; politics distinguished from, 9; politics’ division of labor with, 4–5; politics’ gap with, 59; politics’ relation to, 12–13; politics shifted to from, 11–12; practice transformed by, 83–84; procedural, 84; pure, 72; questions taken up by, 9; substantive, 84; see also Kantian ethics Ethnic cleansing, 287n83 Euben, Peter, 279n34 Excitable Speech (Butler), 155, 171–72 Eze, Chukwudi, 72 Falk, Richard, 60, 123, 137, 140, 141 False universalism: in cultural terms, 166–69; overview of, 75–76; right pluralism offering objection to, 149–50, 288n4; universalism as critique of, 151–70 Fanon, Frantz, 39 Feminism, 153–57, 169, 288n11 Feminism Without Borders (Mohanty), 289n12 Feminist Contentions (Nicholson), 159–67, 292n68

328 i ndex

“A Few Words on Nonintervention” (Mill), 300n17 Fictive universality, 208–10, 217, 218, 220 Fine, Robert, 246 Forst, Rainer, 94–100, 150, 178, 241, 269, 291n48 Foucault, Michel, 14, 160–61, 282n96 Fraser, Nancy, 161, 163, 164–65, 168, 172, 180–81, 219, 253, 292n68, 294n92, 298n93 French Revolution, 117, 232, 253–54 “Fugitive Democracy” (Wolin), 199, 203, 296n46 Gallie, W. B., 24 Galston, William, 267 Gandhi, Mahatma, 58–59, 291n52 Garve, Christian, 277n67 Gender, 75; Bourdieu on, 293n77; Butler on, 153–54, 156, 158–59, 164–65, 168; Kant on, 72; Rawls on, 86–87, 98 Gender Trouble (Butler), 153–55, 158–59, 160, 165, 290n40 Genocide, 116, 129, 134, 287n83 Geuss, Raymond, 267 Gilroy, Paul, 163, 291n49 Giving an Account of Oneself (Butler), 291n56 Global civil society, 126, 132, 137–41, 203, 288n100 Global Civil Society: An Answer to War (Kaldor), 137–41 Global Civil Society project, 288n5 Globalization, 40, 41, 65, 124, 138, 176, 217, 222–23, 296n61; bottom up, left cosmopolitanism rejecting, 3; cosmopolitanism as response to, 7, 45, 184; cosmopolitanism’s success as due to, 1; as experience, 63; as real universality, 36, 206–7, 216 Global order: achievement of, 104–5; Kant describing, 106–10; state’s importance to, 126

God, 28, 30–31, 49, 109, 279n38; see also Nature Gramsci, Antonio, 39, 269 Gray, John, 288n1 Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals (Kant), 69–70, 72, 75 Guizot, François, 294n92 Gutmann, Amy, 46, 50, 52–53 Habermas, Jürgen, 3, 93–95, 97–99, 109, 123, 126, 129, 131, 133–42, 159–63, 166, 172, 185, 214, 241–45, 248–49, 252, 255, 261, 266, 269, 275n31, 282n92, 285n56, 286n71, 286n79, 287n97, 290n43, 290n45, 291nn48–49, 302n77 Hackney, Sheldon, 46–48 Haitian Revolution, 163–64, 182, 291nn51–52 Happiness: duty to promote (Kant), 71; pursuit of, 277n70 Hardt, Michael, 219 Harpham, Geoffrey, 289n29 Hatred of Democracy (Rancière), 298n88 Hegel, G. W. F., viii, 17, 20, 69, 116, 118, 132, 137, 140, 174, 187, 200 Held, David, 3, 123, 126–27, 129, 131, 135, 138 Helsinki Accords, 2, 226 Herder, Johann Gottfried, 72–73, 167, 279n25 Herzog, Annabel, 246 Hess, Moses, 296n45 Hierarchies, 74–75, 81, 83, 173, 176, 212, 215 Hierocles (philosopher), 47 Himmelfarb, Gertrude, 50, 276n60 Hobbes, Thomas, 33, 112–13, 115, 193, 232, 249, 259, 265–66, 269, 283n15, 285n50, 300n27 Hobson, J. A., 38, 39–40, 41 Höffe, Otfried, 29 Hollinger, David, 48, 51 Holocaust, 41, 207

i n de x  329

The Home and the World (Tagore), 47, 58–59 Honneth, Axel, 293n76 The Human Condition (Arendt), 192, 249, 250, 297n73 Humanitas (Cicero), 74 Humanity: anthropology as problem of, 68–84; definition of, 70, 83; as fact, 206–7; Kant’s construal of, 70–74, 77; nature’s division with, 273n2; normative conception of, 74–75; Nussbaum’s construal of, 77, 278n17; race as obstacle to participation in, 72; recognizing, 55–56; respect for subset of, 54–55; restrictions on idea of, 71–72; Stoicism influencing, 279n34; vices implanted into, 115 Human rights, 18–19; approaches to, 229–30; Benhabib on, 241; as counterpower, 19; Forst on, 97–98, 241; Habermas on, 129, 140–41, 241; negative meaning of (Forst), 97–98; philosophical view of, 229–30, 243–44; political justification arising from, 226; political view of, 229–32; positive meaning of (Forst), 97–98; Ranciére on, 216, 254–57; Rorty on, 57, 299n10; state sovereignty as conditional on, 287n81; success of, 1–2, 45, 216, 227; universality of, 3–4, 14, 151; as victim of own success, 227 Human rights politics, 224–25, 227–28; conceptions of, 18–19, 259–62; as democratic action, 245–59; as implementation, 229–45 Humans: capabilities approach to defining, 76–84; differentiation, 72–74; difficulties regarding, 69; discrimination needed by conceptions of, 74–75; limits on, 278n13; normative vision of, 69; Nussbaum defining, 76–84; problem of, 68–84; respect for, 71 Humboldt, Wilheim von, 64

“The Hunger of Martha Nussbaum” (Harpham), 289n29 Huntington, Samuel, 185–86, 294n4 Hutchings, Kimberly, 66–67, 221–22 “Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose” (Kant), 107, 114–15, 284n33, 284n41 Ideal: actual’s tension with, 43–44, 53; empirical impinging on, 73; in modernity, 44; universal as, 56 Idealization, 268–69, 291n48 Ideal speech situation (Habermas), 93, 97–98, 269 Ideal theory, 11, 86, 93, 100, 267–69; Mills on, 268–69, 281n84; Sen on, 99, 218–19 “Ideal Theory as Ideology” (Mills), 281n84, 268–69 The Idea of Justice (Sen), 282n103, 294n8, 298n92 Identity politics, 14, 46, 51, 53, 60, 168; negative, 49 Ideology, 168, 281n84, 283n104; cosmopolitanism as, 24, 39; human rights as, 257; Marxist theory of, 130–31, 283n104 Ignatieff, Michael, 3, 226–29, 234–37, 238, 259, 260 IMF, see International Monetary Fund Imperialism, 40, 135–36, 211, 244, 249, 262, 292n64; contemporary, 2–3, 131, 227; as cosmopolitanism, 29–30, 40–42, 52; cosmopolitanism as, 7, 39; European, 32, 40–42, 116, 121, 206; Kant and, 116–17, 120–21, 206, 284n31; as metaphor, 155, 160; see also Anti-imperialism Iñárritu, Alejandro González, 288n5 India, 58–59, 65, 82, 271, 277n74, 291n52 Individualism, 59, 66, 267; arguments over, 39, 69, 278n8 Inequality, 57, 84, 149, 197; Arendt on, 194–95, 297n74; complicity in, 66, 84;

330 i n dex

Inequality (continued) Rawls’s approach deployed against, 89–90; structural, 83 Infinitely Demanding (Critchley), 296n51, 298n95 Infrastructure of responsibility (Scheffler), 67 INGOs, see International nongovernmental organizations Inheritance of Loss (Desai), 288n5 Injustice: culture at root of, 81; domination as, 95; global, 12–13, 57, 206; market as cause of, 98–99; as prior to justice, 57, 59, 99–100, 212, 221; state as cause of, 98–99; tradition at root of, 81; universalization contesting, 92–93 Institutions, 130–32, 198–99, 285n50, 287n97, 296n60 International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, 287n81 International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, 160 Internationalism, 39, 48; as Americanism, 277n63; cosmopolitanism as against, 58–60; liberal, 42, 43, 133 International law, 3, 45, 99, 129–35, 232, 242, 286n64; development, 41, 45, 125–26, 242; human rights, 245; as instrument of powerful, 121, 130–31; origins, 32–34; skepticism of, 248, 251, 266 International Monetary Fund (IMF), 130 International nongovernmental organizations (INGOs), 137, 139–40, 236–38 Intersectionality, 154 Interventions: as enabling violations (Spivak), 82; humanitarian, 3, 128–29, 233–34, 256–57; issues with, 232–39; NATO, 128–29; in 1990s, 234 In the Beginning Was the Deed (Williams), 300n37 “Introduction Into Politics” (Arendt), 192–93, 302n81

Iraq, 140–41; 1991 war, 133; 2003 war, 131, 134, 137, 140, 185, 227, 234; sanctions against, 300n33 Isaac, Jeffrey, 234–35, 251–52, 260 Ishay, Micheline, 39 Isin, Engin, 218 Islam, 32, 106, 168–69 Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women? (Okin), 168 Isonomia (Arendt), 250 Jaspers, Karl, 30, 247, 251, 275nn19–20 Jefferson, Thomas, 132 John (king), 244 Jones, Charles, 278n12 Jullien, François, 211, 217 Just and Unjust Wars (Walzer), 300n33 Justice: cosmopolitanism challenging conceptions of, 50; cosmopolitanism conceptions forging, 273n1; cosmopolitanism directed toward, 51, 53; economic relations reimagined as circumstances of, 96; global, 4, 95, 99, 124, 184, 218–19, 271; imperfect, 150, 159; justification solving problem of, 97; loyalty replacing, 53, 277n66; maximal, 97–99, 212, 219, 282n101; minimal, 99–100, 219; perfect, 99–100, 150, 218–19, 282n103; political cosmopolitanism on, 104; politics serving, 8; power question of, 95; transnational, 99; universalization deepening view of, 92–93; see also Maximal justice; Minimal justice “Justice as a Larger Loyalty” (Rorty), 53–54 Justification: demands for, 96–99, 159, 178; economic relations example, 95–96; principle of (Forst), 95–100, 150; right to (Forst), 95, 212, 241 Kaldor, Mary, 3, 123, 137–38, 140–41, 288n5

i n de x  331

Kant, Immanuel, 4, 7, 9, 13, 14–17, 35, 37, 38, 45, 47, 49, 54, 69–76, 78–80, 83, 84–89, 95, 102, 104–5, 106–43, 147–48, 151–52, 177, 184, 187, 189, 192, 201, 206, 210, 221–22, 229, 233, 239, 242–43, 246, 248, 264, 266, 271, 277n67, 278n16, 279n25, 279n30, 282n91, 283n11, 283n19, 284nn27–28, 284n31, 284n33, 284n36, 284nn41–42, 285n45, 285n50, 287n83, 287n97, 293n88, 300n38 Kantian ethics, 278n16; cosmopolitanism of, 69–70; criticisms of, 69, 71; impure, 72–73, 117, 279n30; intentions focused on by, 111–12; one-sidedness of, 71; procedural kernel of, 84–85 Kantianism, 3, 10, 17–19, 59, 65, 86, 93, 259–60, 265, 274n11, 283n104, 291n45; ideal (Reiss), 279n30 Kantians, 16, 53–55, 57, 72, 148, 240–47 Keck, Margaret E., 287n99 Kennedy, David, 227, 260, 303n96 Kennedy, John F., 281n71 Kingdom of Ends (Kant), 54, 114–16 Koselleck, Reinhart, 36, 37–38, 275n31 Koskenniemi, Martti, 131, 286n64 Kosovo, 128–29, 133–36, 156, 234, 286n64 Kouvelakis, Stathis, 296n45, 296n47 Krause, Monika, 257 Kristeva, Julia, 31 Kuwait, 133 Kymlicka, Will, 64, 278n4, 278n12

Lefort, Claude, 188, 190–91, 195–97, 199–202, 204, 208, 214, 217, 223, 252–53, 298n82 Legitimacy, 49–50, 175–76, 227; Habermas’s emphasis on, 93, 138, 242–43, 286n71; Kant’s theory of, 113, 122, 128, 130–31, 287n83; Lefort’s account of, 196; moral/social, 160; political, 130–31, 139, 223, 242, 252, 256, 260; realists’ focus on, 267–68 Leviathan (Hobbes), 300n27 Liberal cosmopolitanism: blind spots of, 65–66; globalized consumer capitalism closeness of, 64–65; location influencing, 65–66 Liberalism, 13, 14, 61, 76, 78–79, 119, 186–87; Arendt’s critique of, 249; emancipation equated with, 161–62, 280n62; illiberal (Phillips), 79; in international relations, 265–66 Location: cosmopolitanism influenced by, 58–59; liberal cosmopolitanism influenced by, 65–66; universalism specificity interrogated by, 57 Locke, John, 116 Logos, 214 Loudon, Robert, 72, 73, 117 Louverture, Toussaint, 163, 164, 182 Löwith, Karl, 36 Loyalty (Rorty), 53–54, 277n66 Lummis, C. Douglas, 203–4 Lyotard, Jean-François, 288n1

Laclau, Ernesto, 170, 210–11 Laertius, Diogenes, 27 Lafont, Christina, 240–41, 301n44 La Rochefoucauld, François de, 227 Las Casas, Bartolomé de, 33 Latour, Bruno, 273n2, 293n77 Lawgiver (Rousseau), 189 The Law of Peoples (Rawls), 90–93, 98–99 League of Nations, 33, 37, 40, 41, 106, 130 Lee, Orville, 179–80

Machiavelli, Niccolò, 192, 201, 233, 265–66, 270, 284n42 MacIntyre, Alisdair, 230, 288n1 MacKinnon, Catharine, 154–59, 172, 288n11, 289nn12–13, 289n19, 290n30, 293n77, 296n45 Madison, James, 132 Magna Carta, 244 Malcolmson, Scott, 30 Mamdani, Mahmood, 168–69, 292n62

332 index

Market, 58, 95–96, 98–99, 137, 150, 212, 222, 281 Marquis de Sade (philosopher), 273n9 Marriage, 180–81 Marx, Karl, 7, 9, 35, 40, 69, 79, 96, 121, 191, 198, 206, 210, 213, 270, 282n96, 283n104, 284n36, 294n92, 297n71, 298n80; Abensour’s reading of, 201–2 Marxism, 96, 130–31, 288n5 Masculine Domination (Bourdieu), 293n77 Matsuda, Mari, 155 McCarthy, Thomas, 73, 74, 88–89, 120–21, 279n30 McConnell, Michael, 50 Mehta, Pratap, 296n61 Merleau-Ponty, Maurice, 195 Mésentente, see Disagreement Metaphysics of Morals (Kant), 71–72 Mignolo, Walter, 209–10, 217, 292n62 Mill, John Stuart, 40, 64, 76, 78, 116, 187, 214–15, 300n17 Miller, David, 187, 278n10, 278n12 Mills, Charles, 72–73, 89–90, 92–93, 268–69, 279n30, 281n84 Milošević, Slobodan, 128–29 Minima Moralia (Adorno), 278n22 La misère du monde (Bourdieu), 293n85 Modernity, 15, 33, 43; as critical, 13; as fetish, 14, 162–63, 290n43; ideal in, 44; and real universality, 150, 206–7; as universalistic, 13, 40, 162–63 Mohanty, Chandra, 289n12 Mondialatinisation (Derrida), 33–34 Montag, Warren, 287n97 Montaigne, Michel de, 28 Montesquieu, 35, 187, 192, 251, 275n29, 302n81 Moral communitarianism, 66–67 Moral cosmopolitanism, 58–59, 66–67 Moral dilemmas, 54 Moral-ethical cosmopolitanism: definition of, 66; elements of, 14–15; as moral universalism question, 67–68;

moral universe affirmed by, 9–11; overview of, 66–67 Moral-ethical theory, 6, 9, 274n11; political theory as, 86; of social organization, 86 Moral-ethical universalism, 17–18; approaches to, 68; as unarguable, 149, 288n3 Moralism, 134, 142, 267, 300n37 Morality, 281n66; action, 284n41; culture related to, 56–57; democracy, brought closer to, 282n91; eudemonian conception of, 277n67; as identification matter, 277n66; Kant’s reinterpretation of, 84–85; loyalty replacing (Rorty), 53–54, 277n66; nature of, 69–70; politicization of, 94; politics against, 53; politics distinguished from, 9; politics’ relation with, 12–13; practice challenged by, 54; reason imposing, 53–54; as universal, 149 Moral politician (Kant), 108 Mouffe, Chantal, 127, 184–86, 238, 266, 288n1, 294n2 Multiculturalism, 46–47, 53, 57, 152, 280n62 Nationalism, 104, 129, 249; versus cosmopolitanism, 38, 46, 48–50, 64; cosmopolitanism as, 52–53; cosmopolitanism’s debate with, 67, 278n12; epistemic, 45, 96, 288n5; internationalist (Prashad), 276n44; methodological (Rawls), 90 Nationalist Thought and the Colonial World (Chatterjee), 291n52 NATO, see North Atlantic Treaty Organization Natural law, 28–29, 33, 42, 51, 114, 194 Nature, 77, 79, 273n2, 274n16; as basis of legitimacy, 13, 27, 44, 49, 215, 229–30; perpetual peace guaranteed by

i n de x   333

(Kant), 109–10, 114–18, 137, 301n55; vices implanted by, 115 Nazism, 41 Negri, Antonio, 219 NGOs, see International nongovernmental organizations 9/11, see September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), see International nongovernmental organizations Nonideal theory, see Applied theory Normative theory, 267, 303n5 Norming facts (P. Anderson), 131 Norms, 159–70 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), 128–29, 133–36 Nozick, Robert, 87 Nussbaum, Martha, 7, 10, 12–13, 16, 26, 29, 45–60, 64, 65, 67, 69, 70, 74, 76–84, 88, 95, 101–2, 104, 142, 148, 151, 152–59, 162, 167, 169, 172, 277n66, 277nn70–71, 278n4, 278n17, 278nn12– 13, 279n34, 279n37, 280nn56–57, 280n59, 280n62, 281n63, 281n82, 289n12, 289nn28–29, 290n30, 292n61 Obedience, 112–13, 194, 269 Okin, Susan, 89–90, 92–93, 152, 168, 169, 280n62, 292n61 O’Neill, Onora, 10, 70–71 On Monarchy (Alighieri), 32 “On Perpetual Peace” (Kant), 16, 147–48, 206, 239–40; appendices, 108; democracy disavowed in, 141; First Definitive Article, 107–8; First Supplement, 109; overview of, 106–10; peculiarities, 110–20; Second Appendix, 118; Second Supplement, 108–9, 118; Secret Article, 108–9; tensions of, 110–22; Third Definitive Article, 109 On Revolution (Arendt), 194, 250 On the Jewish Question (Marx), 283n104

On the Shores of Politics (Rancière), 298n82 “On Violence” (Arendt), 198–99 Original contract, 112–13, 194, 230, 244, 249, 283n11 The Origins of Totalitarianism (Arendt), 40, 206, 247–48, 251, 302n71 Pagden, Anthony, 29, 276n42 “A Paradoxical Foundation of Ethics” (Bourdieu), 176–77, 293n88 Participatory parity (Fraser), 171, 180–81, 294n92 Pascal, Blaise, 176 Pateman, Carole, 89–90, 295n12 Paternalism, 78, 80, 83, 136, 260, 262 Patomäki, Heikko, 127 Patriarchy, 154–56, 289n19 Patriotism: cosmopolitanism versus, 47–50, 58, 60; of Rorty, 46, 49; US, 58 “Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism” (Nussbaum), 45–62, 278n17 Patterson, Orlando, 163–64 Paul (saint), 7, 30–31 Penn, William, 37 Perpetual peace, 15, 36–38; achieving, 106–22; nature guaranteeing, 109–10; perpetual war for, 234; tensions in, 105 Perpetual war (Vidal), 234 Perspectivism (Bourdieu), 293n77 Pettit, Philip, 186–87, 189, 240, 294n6 Phillips, Anne, 79 The Philosopher and His Poor (Rancière), 297n80 Philosophers, 34–35; arguments of, 91, 282n86; criticism of, 297n80; on human rights, 230; metaphysical dualism embraced by, 122–23; political, 187; state allowing speech of, 108–9 Philosophie dans le boudoir (Marquis de Sade), 273n9

334 in dex

Philosophy: autonomy articulated by, 78; distance provided by, 28; of history, 132–36, 283n19 Philosophy and Revolution (Kouvelakis), 296n45 Philosophy of Right (Hegel), 200–201 Pinsky, Robert, 51, 52, 54 Pitkin, Hanna, 297n74 Plato (philosopher), 11, 28, 29, 187, 191, 192, 214–15 Pluralism: false universal rejected by, 149–50, 288n4; as laissez-faire, 149–50; left, 148–49, 288n1; radical, 149–50; right, 148–50, 288n1, 288n4; self-contradiction of, 288n2; versions, 148–49 Plutarch (historian), 28–29, 275n13 Pogge, Thomas, 66, 67, 90, 91, 92–93, 278n12, 281n82, 282n86 Police (Ranciére), 215–16, 298n82, 298n89 “The Polis, Globalization, and the Politics of Place” (Euben), 279n34 Politeia (Zeno of Citium), 28–29 Political cosmopolitanism: elements of, 14–15; exclusion pointed out by, 10–11; on justice, 104; lessons of, 141–43; meanings mapping frontiers of, 6; overview of, 103–5; political implications of, 10; starting point of, 10–11, 104; state sovereignty critiques associated with, 286n80 Political form, 50–51, 249 Political Liberalism (Rawls), 90, 92, 97, 98–99 Political philosophy: definition of, 187; state as field of reflection of, 10–11 Political scenes (Rancière), 214–15, 217, 219 Political theory: democracy rejected by, 187; as moral-ethical theory, 86; questions taken up by, 9; Rawls’s, 86–93 Politics: as activity, 104–5, 188–89; cosmopolitanism as, 4–5, 59; cosmo-

politanism calling for, 51, 58–60; in cosmopolitanism context, 104–5; of cultures, 279n37, 280n60; definition of, 104, 192–93, 195–96, 235, 281n67; democracy as action of, 189–204; of disaffiliation, 49, 60; as domination, 235; ethics distinguished from, 9; ethics’ division of labor with, 4–5; ethics’ gap with, 59; ethics’ relation to, 12–13; ethics shifting to, 11–12; foundation of, 215; logos required for, 214; morality against, 53; morality distinguished from, 9; morality’s relation with, 12–13; negative identity, 49; political cosmopolitanism’s implications for, 10; Rawls’s views of, 281n67; as rule, 194, 235, 250; of universalism, 12; universalization and democratic, 204–23; women in, 214–15; see also Human rights politics Politics and Vision (Wolin), 197–98 “Politics as a Vocation” (Weber), 234–35, 270 Pollock, Sheldon, 273n1 Populism (Pettit), 186–87 Pornography, 155–56 Position, 75–76, 80–81, 101–2 Possibility, 269–72 Postmodernism: in culture, 288n5; in theory, 45, 64, 81, 148, 157, 158, 169, 288n1 Poststructuralism, 152, 158, 161, 165, 182, 303n5 Practical philosophy, 9–14 Prashad, Vijay, 276n44 Prejudices: cosmopolitanism as solution to, 19, 55–56; Kant’s, 15, 72–74, 121; theory correcting, 87, 122, 149; theory subject to, 71, 75, 151 Principles (Arendt), 250–51, 295n14, 302nn81–82 Problems of Moral Philosophy (Adorno), 281n66, 284n41

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Proceduralism, 16, 17; definition of, 68; in ethics, 84; moments of, 85–86 “The Professor of Parody” (Nussbaum), 158, 290n30 Progress: as justification for violence and injustice, 133–36; modern conception of, 36; sequence followed by, 119–20; war and (Kant), 36–38 Progressivism, 40, 114, 136, 142 The Psychic Life of Power (Butler), 291n56 Public Culture (Appadurai and Breckenridge), 63 Publicity (Kant), 110, 119–20, 123, 136–41 Public sphere, 121, 142, 214, 287n97, 289n28; global, 137–41, 206, 220, 243, 286n71, 288n5 Race, 49, 75, 168, 276n60, 288n3; critical theorists of, 155; Himmelfarb on, 50, 276n60; Kant on, 72–73, 121–22, 279n30; Rawls on, 87, 89–90, 98 Rancière, Jacques, 9, 18, 188–89, 205–6, 213–20, 221, 223–24, 247, 254–57, 292n70, 293n77, 295n26, 297n74, 297n76, 297n78, 297n80, 298nn81–82, 298n88 Rational beings (Kant), 278n16 Rationalism, 69, 185–86, 267 Rawls, John, 11, 16, 76, 78, 86–94, 97, 98–99, 127, 185, 229, 279n37, 281n67, 281n71, 290n45, 294n2 Realism, 263–72, 303n1; Cambridge, 267, 268, 303n4; comprehensive, 266, 267–68; cosmopolitan, 263–72; IR, 265–66, 267 The Realist Case for Global Reform (Scheuerman), 303n2 Realistic utopia (Rawls), 15, 127 Reason, 33, 53–55, 72, 110, 112, 168, 179n34, 280n45, 291n45; public use of (Kant), 118–19 Rebellion (Kant), 112–14 Recognition, 131, 174–76, 197n78, 251, 258–59, 293n76

“Redeeming the ‘Human’ Through Human Rights” (Asad), 280n60, 281n65 Redistribution, 87–88; global, 91–92, 124 Reflective equilibrium (Rawls), 87–88 Reflexivity (Bourdieu), 176–78 Reiss, Hans, 279n30 Religion, 31, 168, 208, 280n62 The Republic (Plato), 191 Republicanism, 190, 232, 250; anticosmopolitan, 51–52; Arendt’s, 232, 250; Cambridge, 303n4; Habermas’s, 241–42; Kant’s, 73, 108–13, 121, 135; Pettit’s, 186–87, 240, 294n6; revolutionary, 38, 111, 200 Republic of letters, 34, 37–38, 119 “A Response to My Critics” (Bohman), 301n44 Responsibility to Protect (International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty), 287n81 “Restaging the Universal” (Butler), 290n45, 291n49 Revolution, 165, 189, 193, 198–99, 284n33; Kant’s theory of, 111, 117– 18 Ricoeur, Paul, 96, 282n96 Right: Abensour on, 201–2; and equaliberty, 222–23; versus good, 86; Nussbaum on, 51, 53 Right, Kant’s theory of, 15–16, 107–9, 111–14, 124–25, 192, 243, 287n83; Abensour’s appropriation of, 201–2; as amphibolous, 112–13; cosmopolitan, 106–7, 109, 125, 185n45; and equaliberty, 222; and human rights, 239; Hutchings’ critique of, 221–22; implications for cosmopolitanism, 128–32, 134, 136, 142; incompleteness of, 73; international, 106–7, 125; obedience affirmed by, 112–13; tension with theory of history, 117–18, 120–22, 243, 284n31

336 in dex

Rights, 296n54; cosmopolitanism overriding local, 52–53; cultural, 124; democracy limited by, 111–12; domination prevented by, 240–41; rationalizations of, 301n59; Rawls on, 87–88, 92; social, 124; see also Human rights Right to have rights (Arendt), 18, 191, 231, 246–52; interpretations of, 231–32, 239–40, 242–43, 253–54 Right to hospitality (Kant), 109, 120–21, 239 Right to intervene, 232–39 Right to justification (Forst), 95, 212, 241 Right to protect, 232–39 Robbins, Bruce, 8, 48 Robespierre, Maximilien de, 38 Rocard, Michel, 293n85 Roman Catholic Church, 31, 32 Roman Empire, 28–29, 31–32, 35, 42, 44, 52, 74, 153 Rorty, Richard, 46–47, 48, 49, 51, 53–54, 56–57, 60, 64, 104, 260, 277n66, 277n73, 277n77, 288n1, 298n81, 299n10 Rosenfeld, Sophia, 37–38, 39, 52 Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, 34, 111, 113, 115, 189–90, 193, 202, 283n11, 283n15, 285n50 Rule, 86; Adorno’s critique of, 278n22; Arendt’s critique of politics as, 194; of the people, 108, 186, 189, 200; as question for political theory, 86, 223, 281n67; Weber’s account of politics as, 235, 250 Rule of law, 16, 123, 126, 133, 141, 291n52; in Kant, 108, 110, 111, 113 Rushdie, Salman, 65, 66, 278n6, 288n5 Rwanda, 133 Same-sex marriage, 180–81 Satanic Verses (Rushdie), 288n5 Sati, 82 Scanlon, Tim, 282n85 Scheffler, Samuel, 67

Scheuerman, William, 268, 303n2 Schlereth, Thomas, 35 Schmitt, Carl, 134–35, 266–69 Scott, David, 168 Self-determination, 90, 136, 138, 141, 200, 232, 276n46, 291n52 Sen, Amartya, 76, 99, 218–19, 282n103, 294n8, 298n92 September 11, 2001 (9/11) terrorist attacks, 3, 129–30, 278n6 Sex, 71, 77, 79, 153–54, 168, 278n21, 292n73 Sexism, 89–90 Sikkink, Kathryn, 287n99 Silencing the Past (Trouillot), 291n51 Singer, Peter, 10, 104, 278n13 Slavery, 57, 163–64, 298n81 Smith, Adam, 35, 54 Societal culture (Kymlicka), 64 Sociodicy, 96, 174 Socrates (philosopher), 28, 42, 49, 191 Sovereignty, 90, 133, 135, 233, 248; Arendt on, 242, 251; dispersed, 125–26, 285n52; human rights as condition for, 287n81; Kant on, 242, 285n50; political cosmopolitanism associated with critique of, 286n80; popular, 200; restrictions on, 126, 133, 232, 287n81 Speech (Arendt), 193, 196, 297n73 Speech act theory, 171 Spheres of Justice (Walzer), 50 Spinoza, Baruch, 49 Spirit of commerce, 35, 109, 239 Spivak, Gayatri, 23, 82–84, 116–17, 211, 281n63, 288n5, 292n64, 297n69 Stalin, Josef, 286n79 Stateless persons (Arendt), 224, 230–32, 257, 295n26 States: as cause of injustice, 98–99; cosmopolitan right and, 109; global order importance of, 126; inadequacy of, 10–11, 104; as means of correcting injustice, 155–56, 289n19, 296n45; philosophers’ speech permitted by, 108–9;

in de x   337

political identification requiring, 50–51; as political philosophy’s field of reflection, 10–11; world, 248–49 Stoicism, 28–30, 55, 74, 279n34 Strauss, Leo, 108 Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere (Habermas), 275n31 Subsidiarity, 125 Sully (duke), 37 Symbolic capital (Bourdieu), 174 Symbolic democracy (Lee), 179–82 Symbolic violence (Bourdieu), 96 Sznaider, Natan, 246 Tagore, Rabindranath, 47, 58–59, 277n74 Tassin, Étienne, 8, 194–95, 250 Taylor, Charles, 50–51, 67, 229, 293n76 Temporalization of utopia (Koselleck), 36, 37–38 “Theory and Practice” (Kant), 107, 277n67 A Theory of Justice (Rawls), 86–91, 92, 97, 98, 281n71 Thucydides (historian), 265, 269 Toward a Feminist Theory of the State (MacKinnon), 289n19 Tradition, 13, 24, 50, 79–82, 91, 280n60 Transborder participatory democracy (Lummis), 203–4 Translation, incultural, 56, 167, 211 Transnational critical theory, 99, 178 Transnational justice (Forst), 99 Treaty of Versailles, 134–35 Trouillot, Michel-Rolph, 164, 291n51 UN, see United Nations “Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses” (Mohanty), 289n12 UNDP, see United Nations Development Programme United Nations (UN), 37, 41, 133; reform of, 127, 130; Secretariat, 287n81; Security Council, 125, 128, 130, 286n71, 287n83

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 12–13 United States (US): cosmopolitanism, 58; globalism centrality of, 2–4; imperialism, 2–3; intellectual left, 46; in Korean War, 286n79; in 1991 Gulf War, 133; patriotism, 58; in 2003 Iraq War, 134, 140–41 Universal citizenship, 30, 37–38 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 2, 41, 124, 226, 262 Universalism: abstract, 179; anthropological, 16, 68–84; arguments for, 149–51; Christian, 31–32; constructing new, 4; content referred to by, 274n1; cosmopolitan aspirations of, 7; cosmopolitanism avoiding false, 19–20; cosmopolitans embracing, 13–14; as counterhegemonic, 4; as critique of false universals, 151–70; culture interrogating specificity of, 57; interactive (Benhabib), 162–63; intercultural translation leading to, 56; location interrogating specificity of, 57; of modernity, 13; moral, 67–68; as moral-political idea, 20; normative, 148; politics of, 12; position betraying, 101–2; procedural, 84–101; pursuit of, 101; references of, 274n1; scope referred to by, 274n1; substantive, 100–101; types of, 274n1; as universalization, 84; validity referred to by, 274n1 Universality: arguments over, 278n8; cosmopolitanism defending, 7; cultural instances reduced to, 56 Universalization: democratic politics and, 204–23; discourse principle producing, 282n92; injustices contested by, 92–93; justice view deepened by, 92–93; test, 97–98, 101; universalism as, 84 Universals: Butler and, 156–72; democracy as, 14; as emergent, 56; fictive

338 in dex

Universals (continued) (Balibar), 208–10, 217, 218, 220; ideal (Balibar), 56, 162, 210–13; meaning of, 56; morality as, 149; real (Balibar), 36, 205, 206–8, 216; woman as category of, 154 Unsocial sociability (Kant), 115–16, 177 Utilitarianism, 10, 248 van den Heuvel, Gerd, 275n31 Vidal, Gore, 234 Violence: end of Cold War causing, 133–34; symbolic (Bourdieu), 96 Vitoria, Francisco de, 33, 210 Völkerbund (Kant), 106–7, 184 Wacquant, Loïc, 181 Waldron, Jeremy, 64–65 Walker, R. B. J., 11–12 Wallerstein, Immanuel, 38, 58–60, 61, 65–66, 101–2, 150, 169, 171, 205, 291n52 Walzer, Michael, 50, 52, 54, 60, 232–33, 236, 248, 259, 276n59, 278n4, 278n12, 300n17, 300n33 War: global civil society as answer to (Kaldor), 137–38; Korean, 286n79; 1991 Gulf, 133; outlawing of, 123–24; perpetual, 234; progress and (Kant), 36–38; 2003 Iraq, 131, 134, 137, 140–41, 185, 227, 234; World War II, 41, 230–32; see also Perpetual peace Warren, Mark, 189–90, 202 Weber, Max, 231, 234–35, 237, 249–50, 267, 270–71, 300n27 The Weight of the World (Bourdieu), 178, 293n85

Welfare state, 51, 271 Well-ordered societies (Rawls), 91–92 West, 57, 127, 133, 135, 168–69, 185–86, 277n73 Westphalian system, 106, 248 “What Is Critique?” (Butler), 290n33 “What Is Enlightenment?” (Kant), 118–19, 140 What We Owe to Each Other (Scanlon), 282n85 White, Stephen, 165 Wilhelm, Friedrich, II, 109 Will: good (Kant), 111–12, 134, 233; humanity bound to in Kant’s ethics, 71 Williams, Bernard, 267, 300n37 Wilson, Woodrow, 276n46 Wolin, Sheldon, 188, 190–91, 197–204, 209, 217, 223, 244, 245, 296n46, 296n55 Women: autonomy unfitness for (Kant), 72, 73; literacy campaign for, 79, 82; multiculturalism equated to oppression of (Okin), 280n62; in politics, 214–15; as universalistic category, 154 Women and Human Development (Nussbaum), 80 World Bank, 130, 221 World citizen, 34–35, 152–53 World government, 248–49 World Social Forum, 220, 299n97 World system (Wallerstein), 205 Xenophon (philosopher), 28 Zeno of Citium, 28–29