It never has been easy

Lionel Orchard


"You know it never has been easy
Whether you do or you do not resign
Whether you travel the breadth of extremities
Or stick to some straighter line."

- Joni Mitchell, "Hejira" (1976)


SOCIAL change in the modern world is an interesting mixture of global and local trends. The growth of the global market economy, new social movements with global perspectives and ambitions, and technological change in communications and related areas, appear alongside the resurgence of nationalism, and the growing political and social significance of localist ethnic and cultural identity. Some see a new political contest for economic, market-driven 'globalisation-from-above', as against environmental, feminist and fourth world social movements expressing the ideas of 'global civil society' and 'globalisation-from-below'.1 The complexities and turbulence unleashed by globalisation are reflected in the political realm. The ideals and institutions of the state, citizenship and democracy are under great challenge. New thought about how democracy and government should be recast to deal with the consequences of globalisation grows exponentially. At the most general level, the debate is between neo-liberals defending the virtues of freer market capitalism on a global scale, and progressives defending cosmopolitan, liberal and social democratic ideas.

This chapter is primarily concerned with the debates within the liberal, social democratic camp. The issues here centre on two broad views: the cosmopolitan-globalist view of morality, citizenship and democracy, and the liberal-communitarian defence of nationalism as the better foundation of citizenship and democracy. For the first school, we are in the midst of an epochal shift from the 'modern' to the 'global' age, and this is having a major impact on democratic politics, requiring some quite basic changes to its justification and practice. For the second, democratic governing and institutions have fragile normative foundations and practical limits, which mean that they must remain more circumscribed. This is especially so if democratic governing is to serve progressive aims.

What conclusions should be drawn from this debate? Should the frontiers of democratic institutions be pushed along cosmopolitan lines or should a more cautious, prudent approach be adopted? The answer developed here is that we should not come down hard on either side, for two main reasons. The first is that both cosmopolitan and communitarian moral outlooks have much going for them. The second is that an adequate response to the problems we face will require the building and renewal of democratic political institutions at all levels - global, national, local. The new global capitalism tears the social, environmental, cultural and political fabric alarmingly. Responding to worsening inequality, continuing environmental degradation, and growing political and social disengagement will require both the renewal of social democratic 'nation-building' government and the building of new democratic capacity at the global, international level.

'The breadth of extremities': the cosmopolitan and globalist view of liberal social-democracy

Philosophically, the cosmopolitan ideal of citizenship - the view that as 'citizens of the world' we get the best perspective on common human concerns and interests and the best basis for sifting genuinely important from ephemeral human commitments - has a long and distinguished intellectual history, as Martha Nussbaum so eloquently reminds us. From the Stoics to Immanuel Kant to Adam Smith to Karl Marx, cosmopolitan moralists have defended different versions of a universal moral outlook in the face of more parochial, patriotic commitments and concerns. In Nussbaum's version, this outlook centres on two main commitments - respect for universal human rights and obligations, and the need for cross-cultural education, dialogue and critique in the face of human and social diversity.2

In the contemporary debates, the cosmopolitan moral outlook goes mainly with a commitment to a liberal, pluralist politics. As Nussbaum argues, drawing on John Rawls' idea of political liberalism:

... cosmopolitan liberals ... insist on what is called 'the priority of the right to the good', that is, on giving first priority to structures - predominantly including structures of equal liberty - that will protect the ability of people to choose a form of life in accordance with their own lights, whether cultural or religious or personal.3

Given the increasingly integrated, globalised era in which we live, and the ecological, social and economic problems requiring resolution, the task will be to create institutions at the global level which will provide space to debate and deal with those problems in ways consistent with the cosmopolitan liberal commitment. To cite Nussbaum again:

... we live in a world in which the destinies of nations are closely intertwined with respect to basic goods and survival itself ... any intelligent deliberation about ecology - as, also, about food supply and population - requires global planning, global knowledge and the recognition of a shared future.4

Such global deliberation and planning might now be easier than it once was because liberal democracy has a growing international legitimacy. As one of Nussbaum's closest collaborators, Amartya Sen, argues, democracy is increasingly recognised as a 'universal value' in three senses: "The value of democracy includes its intrinsic importance in human life, its instrumental role in generating political incentives, and its constructive function in the formation of values ..." (emphasis in original).5 In other words, democracy is increasingly seen as cosmopolitans have always seen it - as valuable in itself and as one expression of humanist moral principles. Democratic political practices and institutions seem to be evolving across the world, enabling those principles to be taken forward in clearer, more direct and resilient ways than in the immediate past.

What do these arguments mean for the structures of democratic government? David Held's idea of cosmopolitan democracy is perhaps the best guide. Held argues that the current foundations of national and international political order are increasingly limited as a basis for dealing with the new economic, social and political problems unleashed by globalisation. The current system of international order - the 'Westphalian model' - is based on the sovereignty of the nation-state, with a minimalist role for international law and limited international intervention to deal with disputes between nations. In turn, for Held, modern democratic theory and practice built upon the idea of representative democracy also have Westphalian foundations: grounded in "national structures and national possibilities" with "freedom, political equality and solidarity ... entrenched in and through the nation-state." The whole system legitimates citizenship and democracy as essentially domestic, national and "internal" to a particular territory, while relations between states - foreign affairs - is essentially undemocratic and about the crude and base exercise of power and exclusion.6

Against "hyper-globalists" who see globalisation as leading to the end of the nation-state, and the "skeptics" who see nothing new in contemporary globalisation, Held puts a more balanced view. The Westphalian foundations of democratic politics are under increasing strain, he argues, given new, more powerful forms of "regional and global enmeshment" in the economic, media, environmental, legal, national security and defence spheres. But in grappling with the consequences of these changes, we will not see the end of the nation-state. Rather, there will be a more complex political enmeshment and interaction across levels - global, regional, national, local. Take economic change, for example. Held highlights the key dimensions - the growth of freer trade, "a more integrated financial system than has ever been known", and more powerful and ever expanding transnational companies. We are seeing the establishment of "international networks of co-ordinated production that [are] historically unique" and that continually strain and erode "the possibility of a circumscribed, delimited self-determining [national] community of citizens". What is significant about this kind of economic globalisation is not that it is bringing the role of the nation-state to an end under the weight of free-market neo-liberalism. Held is more precise: "the autonomy of democratically elected governments has been, and is increasingly, constrained by sources of unelected and unrepresentative economic power" (emphasis added). National governments have less capacity to shape their own destiny through fear of capital flight and exit, but they nevertheless remain "immensely powerful" with access to "formidable" resources and capacities.7 Environmental challenges and changes in international law are also complicating and limiting the power of national governments, but the constraints in these realms are not as unaccountable. Responses to problems in these realms have a more democratic, if still embryonic, expression at the global and international level, both from above - for example, in the local impacts of various United Nations (UN) declarations - and from below - as reflected in the growth of the transnational environment movement (see Chapters 12 and 14).8

In all, Held argues that we are moving inexorably from a politics grounded in the idea of national autonomy within a minimalist international framework towards a politics which will centre on responses to problems arising from "overlapping spheres of influence, interference and interest" and "overlapping communities of fate" across the world. This will necessarily involve extending and expanding democratic political institutions beyond existing boundaries and structures. In a similar way to Nussbaum, Held defends the ideas of a "democratic public law" and a "cosmopolitan democratic law" as the best political foundation of this extension, and defines its application thus:

Cosmopolitan law would demand the subordination of regional, national, and local sovereignties to an overarching legal framework, but in this framework associations would be self-governing at different levels. A new possibility is anticipated: the recovery of an intensive and more participatory democracy at local levels as a complement to the public assemblies of the wider global order; that is, a political order of democratic associations, cities, and nations as well as of regions and global networks.9

Held is realistic about the capacity to put this model into practice and to realise its promise. Localism can and is degenerating into "new forms of fundamentalism and tribalism". The already powerful are likely to win more from emerging cosmopolitan democratic arrangements. Nevertheless, the UN, the European Union and the new political voices of global civil society show how much can be achieved against the odds in holding powerful economic and other interests to democratic account beyond national and conventional political means.10

For others the idea of global civil society has quite radical implications for the principles and practice of cosmopolitan democracy. Martin Albrow and Richard Falk define the implications in similar ways, but using different concepts. For Albrow, the economic, social and political changes we are witnessing at the global level reflect an epochal shift from the "modern" to a "global" age - not the continuation of modernity in a new guise, but rather postmodernist "retrieval and reconstruction" of ideas and practices of democracy, state and citizenship beyond the splintering and fragmentation that postmodernists usually emphasise.11 Perhaps the clearest expression of what Albrow means here is reflected in his discussion of the consequences of globalisation and "world society" for citizenship and the future of the state. For him, the orientation and activities of social movements on the global stage express the idea of "performative citizenship", which goes beyond classical notions of participatory citizenship and the citizenship that goes with representative democracy in modern nation-states.

People associated with global social movements are "inhabiting" and giving new expression to principles and actions that have until now been the responsibility of the state - devising "universal forms of social organisation for common need" and "solutions to the most general practical requirements of living a life of common humanity".12 In the emerging global age, modern representative ideas of the state and citizenship are being subverted though the growing commitment to and practice of "world citizenship" and new, less hierarchical forms of public action:

... the activities of individuals, acting as world citizens - the individual who takes on the welfare of humanity as a task to realise in daily life - involve collective organisation for global ends ... [This] is developing distinctive forms of action which involve co-ordination on a global scale through open networking ... In an important sense [world citizens] are actually performing the state, creating it through practices which they have learned as the colonised and skilful citizens of the nation-state (emphasis in original).13

Reflecting Held's argument, Albrow sees the future of politics as a contest between new global forces and conventional political arrangements - between open cosmopolitan democrats focussed on common human interests and problems, and holding a deeply pragmatic and flexible view about how best to institutionalise responses, and established representative political structures at the national and other levels. For Albrow, the global state emerging out of this will be based on creativity rather than coercion, and open dialogue about the public good. Its institutional features are embryonic, "confused and multiple", but go with a practical vision of what Albrow calls "representative user" democracy: "In the new state, globally, nationally and locally alike, democracy will work best at the point where the knowledgable user of the institution can bring experience to bear on the decisions which affect him or her." Political identity based on place of birth or residence will decline, while knowledgeable use and "competence to manage advancing social technology" as criterion for citizenship will grow in importance.14

Richard Falk's conceptions of "globalisation-from-below" and "global civil society" also emphasise many of the things Albrow emphasises, but perhaps develop their political implications more directly and articulate the values and principles that inhere in them more comprehensively. In particular, Falk is concerned to show how global civil society is really about redefining social-democratic ideas and practice. Falk argues that, politically, the global social movements emerging from below are basically responding to the outcomes and problems produced by the neo-liberal market economic orthodoxies associated with "globalisation-from-above". Falk's characterisation of the latter is worth highlighting:

globalisation is proceeding in an ideological atmosphere in which neo-liberal thinking and priorities go virtually unchallenged, reinforced by an anti-governmental societal mood, steadily more business-focused public policy reflecting the decline of organised labor as a social force, and the fiscal imperatives of debt and deficit reduction in the interests of transnational monetary stability. This occurs within an international order that exhibits gross inequalities of every variety.15

What is particularly significant for Falk is the basically undemocratic nature of these changes. They proceed "beyond the effective reach of territorial authority" while they have "enlisted most governments as tacit partners." And they challenge "the survival of, and maybe the very possibility of sustaining, the compassionate state, as typified by ... the optimistic gradualism of social democratic approaches to politics."16

On the other hand, Falk argues that the growth of social movements operating at the global level offers some basis for resisting the forces of neo-liberal orthodoxies being imposed from above both in the realm of values and in practice. Falk argues that global civil society and the social movements associated with it stand for "world order" values of "minimising violence, maximising economic wellbeing, realising social and political justice, and unholding environmental quality."17 They also reflect the idea of "normative democracy", a notion Falk sees as similar to Held's idea of cosmopolitan democracy but distinguished by an emphasis on the "agency" of global civil society and the importance of ethical and legal norms "reconnecting politics with moral purpose and values".18

Normative democracy extends three ideas - security, human rights and democracy - associated with the modern state:

security is conceived as extending to environmental protection and to the defense of economic viability; human rights ... to social and economic rights, as well as to such collective rights as the right to development, the right to peace, the right to self-determination; democracy ... as extending beyond constitutional and free, periodic elections, to include an array of other assurances that governance is oriented toward human wellbeing and ecological sustainability, and that citizens have access to arenas of decision making.19

For Falk, the principles underlying the consensus emerging in the social movements associated with "globalisation-from-below" include: more flexible means of gaining citizen consent through elections, referenda and direct democracy; respect for the rule of law, with greater sensitivity to the claims of civil initiatives; the extension of the substantive content of human rights and the establishment of wider institutions to implement them; the extension of participation to more spheres of life; greater accountability of states, markets and international institutions; "a restored social agenda that corrects the growing imbalance between private and public goods" in addressing poverty and the provision for basic human needs, environmental protection, economic regulation, culture and the machinery of government; greater transparency between the institutions of governance and citizens; and commitment to nonviolent politics and conflict resolution.20

Falk argues that these values and principles provide an "inarticulate common ground of emergent global civil society."21 Their expression and practice is still embryonic; from the more radical responses to worsening environmental problems; the growing importance of transnational cultural, social and political identity; the growing opposition to neo-liberal orthodoxies (expressed in demonstrations around international economic summits); and the new participatory politics entailed in global conferences on the environment, human rights, women, population and social issues - in all these ways, the social movements involved in "globalisation-from-below" are gaining in influence and capacity to resist the forces of "globalisation-from-above".22

Nevertheless, like Held, Falk is realistic about the immediately likelihood of the success of the ideals and practice of global civil society and normative democracy as he conceives it. For him, the challenge posed by neo-liberal globalisation has yet to engender a sufficient response, in two respects: firstly, there is "the absence of an ideological posture" of comparable coherence to neo-liberalism that could provide "the social forces associated with globalisation-from-below with a common theoretical framework, political language, and program"; secondly, we lack "a clear critique of globalisation-from-above that cuts deeply enough to address the most basic normative challenges associated with poverty, social marginalisation, and environmental decay ... as well as the unchallengeable persistence of state and market."23 In the end, it is Falk's broad vision that is most important - his view of the ways in which the contest between the ideas and forces "from above" and "from below" could, in reshaping political, social and economic outcomes, produce new convergence and consensus in a social-democratic direction:

it is not a matter of intrinsic opposition between the state as instrument of globalisation-from-above and social movements as instrument of globalisation-from-below. In many specific settings, coalitions between states and social movements are emerging ... It may even come to pass that transnational corporations and banks will adopt a longer-term view of their own interests (and soften their neo-liberal market policies with policies giving expression to the principles of normative democracy) ... It is helpful to remember that such unanticipated convergence of previously opposed social forces led to the sort of consensus that produced "social-democracy" and "the welfare state" over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.24

In summary, cosmopolitan democrats are broadly liberal in outlook and progressive in terms of the political principles, practices and reforms they envisage as tackling the implications of globalisation. In the main, they are realistic and cautious about the capacities of global institutions and the social movements associated with global civil society to achieve a dramatic change. There is also some uncertainty and tension running through this debate - as there is in many others - between opposing views of liberty, freedom, and political economy. Some have a libertarian orientation and want to avoid hitching the cosmopolitan democratic agenda to any strong views about the state or the economic and social structures that might best go with it. Some have a social democratic orientation and defend the necessity of building public institutions to achieve meaningful, stable change in the public interest. It is with the latter concerns in mind that another 'school' challenges the whole idea and possibility of cosmopolitan democracy. It is to those arguments that we now turn.

'A straighter line': the liberal-communitarian view of citizenship, democracy and the nation-state

Nussbaum's defence of cosmopolitan citizenship and Held's notion of cosmopolitan democracy have been the subject of considerable debate, much of which bears directly on the political viability of the cosmopolitan idea. For many, Nussbaum's defence of cosmopolitan liberal morality is disengaged from the realities of the world. For some, she ignores the basic inequalities of power between societies and the consequent need for more precise emphasis on the forces that will break down those inequalities, thereby helping to "create a more democratic, egalitarian world." The cosmopolitan vision is too vague to help much in that process.25 In similar vein, Falk argues that "a credible cosmopolitanism has to be combined with a critique of the ethically deficient globalism embodied in neo-liberal modes of thought". Nussbaum conflates the cosmopolitan moral vision with the global neo-liberal reality or, at least, has no adequate basis for distinguishing them.26

But the main criticism of Nussbaum's cosmopolitan vision of citizenship comes from those who argue that it ignores the communitarian goods - loyalty, commitment, belonging, tradition, institutional coherence - around which the value and practice of citizenship and democracy are built. At issue here are quite opposed views about the basis of human interests and needs. The cosmopolitan moral outlook assumes the possibility of defining a common view of those interests and needs - giving expression to what William Galston calls the "view of everywhere". Nussbaum defines that commonality in a rich, full, essentially liberal, social democratic way. Communitarians have no such confidence. Instead they argue that human interests are defined locally, historically, and contextually. They reflect various "views from somewhere". While they can be expressed in liberal and social democratic terms, the interests are built upon particular, local meanings as much as on abstract universals.

Drawing on these foundations, Nussbaum's communitarian critics argue that when it comes to thinking about citizenship and democratic governing, the cosmopolitan view is limited and one-sided. Charles Taylor, for example, argues that the creation of free, democratic, equal societies requires "strong identification" and "spontaneous support" by citizens and "much greater solidarity towards compatriots than towards humanity in general".27 For Gertrude Himmelfarb, citizenship can only be defined in relation to membership of a particular polity, state or nation. And, for her, the progressive social policies that Nussbaum seems to want - like the welfare state and protection against discrimination - "depend not on a nebulous cosmopolitan order but on a vigorous administrative and legal order deriving its authority from the state".28 Similarly, Nathan Glazer argues that political responses to problems presuppose a state, and the costs involved in achieving policy objectives require commitment, loyalty and a legitimate means of the ensuring them. This is easier to achieve in bounded, smaller political units with less distance between government and citizens.29 Michael Walzer argues that we can never be citizens of the world because there is no world polity or nation - with rules, procedures and structures to guide its practice - to which citizens could belong.30 And while Nussbaum defends the cosmopolitan outlook as a critical tool, Hilary Putnam argues that "without inherited ways of life there is nothing for criticism to operate on, just as without critical reason there is no way for us to distinguish between what should be saved (perhaps after reinterpretation) and what should be scrapped from our various traditions ... actual reasoning is necessarily always situated within one or another historical tradition".31

Not many of Nussbaum's communitarian critics want to dismiss the relevance of the cosmopolitan moral outlook, though. Rather, they want to temper its use in practice by making sure that it develops and grows with careful attention to local knowledge and context. There is not an either-or choice between cosmopolitan and communitarian orientations. For Walzer, cosmopolitan education is important and essential. Nevertheless, it can only develop well in the context of citizenship and a strong sense of belonging to a particular country or society - "A particularism that excludes wider loyalties invites immoral conduct, but so does a cosmopolitanism that overrides narrower loyalties. Both are dangerous".32 In similar spirit, Taylor argues that "we have no choice but to be cosmopolitans and patriots which means to fight for the kind of patriotism that is open to universal solidarities against other, more closed kinds".33 For Putnam:"Tradition without reason is blind; reason without tradition is empty ... We all have to live and judge from within our particular inheritances while remaining open to insights and criticisms from outside ... critical intelligence and loyalty to what is best in our traditions ... are interdependent."34

Similar practical and theoretical challenges are made in response to the idea of cosmopolitan democracy and the possibility of extending democracy within the international system. The democratic theorist Robert Dahl argues that international organisations "will lie below any reasonable threshold of democracy" - defined mainly in terms of the capacity for popular control of policies and decisions. Any system of democratic governing entails a delicate balancing of open participation by citizens and representation and delegation of control and power to elites. There is an inevitable tension here. Smaller units of government might offer greater scope for participation but usually don't have the capacity to deal with "some matters of importance" to citizens. Larger units of government have greater capacity and power to deal with those matters, but at the cost of effective participation.

When it come to foreign and international affairs, Dahl argues that ensuring the maintenance of some level of democratic control is difficult, even in democratic countries with "fairly strong democratic political cultures". For him, democracy will become more difficult as international institutions evolve for reasons similar to those highlighted by the communitarian critics of Nussbaum:

As the number of persons and the diversity of interests increase, the idea of a common good or general interest becomes ever more problematic ... cognitive and emotional obstacles to popular control over foreign policy decisions make it harder for citizens to perceive and understand the situations, conditions, needs, wants, aims, and ends of other citizens who are distant and different from them in crucial respects. Even if they acquire some grasp on these matters, their incentives to act for the benefit of the distant others when it may be to their own cost or disadvantage are weak or non-existent.35

Dahl sees benefits in extending the role of international institutions, including to assist in "fostering democratisation in non-democratic countries." But he argues that those institutions will not be democratic themselves. It is better to see them for what they are - "bureaucratic bargaining systems" probably having an elitist guardianship role at the global level. Still, in an argument conceding some ground to Held, Dahl defends the need to scrutinise and criticise undemocratic aspects and to "create proposals for greater democratisation and insist that they be adopted".36

Others, while sympathetic to Held's project, challenge his arguments about the limits of domestic, national citizenship and the strengths of cosmopolitan citizenship. Will Kymlicka argues that nations have greater autonomy from globalisation as an economic force than Held supposes except in areas controlled by transnationals. "Communities of fate" are still primarily national and domestic rather than global. The evidence suggests that "citizens still want to confront the challenges of globalisation as national collectivities". And paradoxically, globalisation may be helping to renew domestic citizenship by opening national politics to include the interests and perspectives of global civil society, thereby reducing unrepresentative and over-centralised national government. Globalisation both constrains and enriches national political life, "and provides new and valued options by which nations can collectively promote their interests and identities".37 On the other hand, Kymlicka is sceptical about the possibilities for cosmopolitan citizenship and democracy for communitarian reasons. Democracy is "not just a formula for aggregating votes, but is also a system of collective deliberation and legitimation ... Collective political deliberation is only feasible if participants understand and trust one another ... Some sense of commonality or shared identity may be required." Rather than national territory becoming less important in the new global era as Held and others claim, Kymlicka argues that "territorialised language" is a very important basis to shared identity and is central to the health of democracy because "democratic politics is politics in the vernacular".

Kymlicka also argues that national governments remain "the most important forum for assessing the legitimacy of other levels of government". Non-government organisations and global civil society are important as vehicles to "mobilise the citizens of other countries to protest violations of human rights or environmental degradation". Nevertheless, it is misleading to describe this as "the creation of democratic citizenship on the transnational level. After all, these proposals would not create any form of collective deliberation and decision-making that connects and binds individuals across national boundaries". Kymlicka concludes that global civil society promoting cosmopolitan moral principles internationally is important, but "democratic citizenship is, and will remain for the forseeable future, national in scope".38 In similar vein, others argue that national sovereignty "channels" the impact of globalisation, which means that if non-territorial democracy does emerge in future, it is more likely to be "a democracy of states than of individuals, an 'international' rather than 'cosmopolitan' democracy." Such a system is more likely to have communitarian, "group" foundations than liberal individualist ones, for three main reasons:

... the attachment of individuals to territorial and national definitions of community is very real ... contracting entities in any future structure of global governance will almost certainly be states, and they are unlikely to enter such a structure without strong guarantees of local autonomy ... (and) the recognition of group identity will reassure individuals that the cultural attachments that give their lives meaning will be respected at the global level, reducing their fear of being engulfed by a global community.39

In summary, liberal communitarians are critical of the cosmopolitan vision of citizenship and democracy because of the way in which it seems to ignore so much of what is vital to the flourishing of democracy and citizenship. For them, we are not first and foremost citizens of the world capable of easily disengaging from the societies, cultures and histories which shape us. Rather, we have rich and complex identities, interests and needs, all of which require careful tending. And that tending, if it is to be democratic, will need grounding nationally and locally. There are practical limits to the building of genuinely democratic capacity at the global level.

Conclusion: 'You know it never has been easy'

While the critics of cosmopolitan thought highlight important theoretical and practical issues, and while some of them see hope for moving beyond local commitment and knowledge to greater recognition of cosmopolitan principles and outlooks, Amartya Sen reminds us that Nussbaum's argument also expresses a reconciliation of cosmopolitan-universal and patriotic-local values and identities. The question is, from what direction should we view the reconciliation? Sen argues that rather than assume the primacy of local, patriotic loyalty, Nussbaum is putting the case for a pluralist framework to mediate between this multiplicity of loyalties in the light of the interests of humanity as a whole. And Sen sees that universal humanist orientation as best: "The assertion that one's fundamental allegiance is to humanity at large brings every other person into the domain of concern, without eliminating anyone. There are indeed good grounds to regard this to be primary, if our common humanity has perspicuous moral relevance."40

Nevertheless, Nussbaum herself concedes ground to the communitarians on the issue of the institutional implications of the cosmopolitan moral argument. She asks, "Should citizens work for a future in which the nation-state itself will not be the basic political entity, an era of genuine world government?" and gives a balanced answer for a mixture of principled and pragmatic reasons:

in some areas, such as the area of fundamental human rights ... the international community should increasingly apply pressure to nations that refuse to recognise rights, thus creating at least a thin transnational government. But beyond this ... we must be cautious. First of all, nation-states are accountable to their citizens; international courts and even transnational bodies such as the EU are far less accountable ... Second, there is no guarantee that a world government would not favor worse policies than those that are favored by nation-states. The EU has stood for many good things; but it has also jeopardized the social democracies of Denmark, Sweden and Finland, putting pressure on member nations to go over to a style of economic thinking that is, in the view of many citizens of those countries, insufficiently protective of the social welfare of the needy we should hang to the nation-states, despite their faults, as the most manageable places within which to press for justice.41

Ultimately though, it is not inconsistent to argue for a progressive nationalism and a progressive internationalism at the same time. The two orientations can reinforce one another, lending support to progressive aims from the bottom up and the top down. Robert Reich and Robert Kuttner, co-editors of the left liberal magazine The American Prospect, have both described this double act recently, in separate columns. Against the closure and meanness that goes with what Reich calls "negative" nationalism - reflected in xenophobic politics of the right - "positive" nationalism built on "the habits of good citizenship and social justice", and an open, tolerant attitude to outsiders should be encouraged. But the "bonds of positive nationalism" are being corroded through freer market capitalism and the "shredding of safety nets".42 On the other hand, for Kuttner, the emerging opposition to "the new, laissez-faire global economic order" at recent international economic meetings expresses a new level of co-operation between labor unions and environmental groups in a political project centred on "nothing less than the issue of how capitalism is to be tamed for the benefit of a broad majority in the global 21st century".43 And given the complexity entailed in the new global enmeshment over respect for universal moral principles and local diversity, Kuttner argues that there is the "need to reconsider what should properly be local and what should be national and global." For him,"globalisation should facilitate choice and opportunity, but it should also respect cultural difference and the wellbeing of the planet. That may require a very different blend of national and even international planning with local autonomy."44

In addressing the new global complexity, both the vision and the caution expressed in the debates about cosmopolitan citizenship and democracy will have things to contribute. What is striking in the present Australian public context is the many combinations of myopia and insecurity that appear to have encouraged the country to resign from addressing the complexity at all.

Lionel Orchard is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Political and International Studies at Flinders University in Adelaide. He teaches and conducts research in the areas of public policy, political theory and urban and housing policy, and is the co-author of Public Goods, Public Enterprise, Public Choice: Theoretical Foundations of the Contemporary Attack on Government (Macmillan, 1994, with Hugh Stretton), and co-editor of Markets, Morals and Public Policy (Federation Press, 1989, with Robert Dare). He has also published extensively on Australian urban and housing policy, and is currently engaged in research on the 'Third Way' and related agendas for political and public policy reform in western societies.


1. Richard Falk, "Resisting 'Globalization-from-Above' through 'Globalization-from-Below'", in Richard Falk, Predatory Globalization: A Critique, Polity Press, Cambridge, 1999. See also Michael Walzer, "Introduction", in Michael Walzer (ed), Toward a Global Civil Society, Berghahn Books, Providence, 1998.

2. Martha Nussbaum, "Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism", in Joshua Cohen (ed), For Love of Country: Debating the Limits of Patriotism, Beacon Press, Boston, 1996.

3. Martha Nussbaum, "Reply", in Cohen, p. 137.

4. Nussbaum, "Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism", p. 12.

5. Amartya Sen, "Democracy as a Universal Value", Journal of Democracy, 10, 3 (1999), p. 16.

6. David Held, "The transformation of political community: rethinking democracy in the context of globalisation", in Ian Shapiro and Casiano Hacker-Cordon (eds), Democracy's Edges, Cambridge University Press, 1999, pp. 87-91.

7. Ibid, pp. 96-8.

8. Ibid, pp. 99-102.

9. Ibid, p. 107. Held's vision of cosmopolitan democracy at the global level has something in common with the structure and logic of the Rawlsian vision of political liberalism at the national or domestic level - a legally based liberal political framework to allow the fullest democratic expression but acknowledging inevitable conflict between plural conceptions of the good in the search for what Rawls calls an "overlapping consensus". Nevertheless, it should be noted that in his recent grappling with a robust international framework for justice, Rawls sees little hope for the extension of the liberal democratic legal framework to the global, cosmopolitan level to the extent that Held and others envisage. See John Rawls, The Law of Peoples, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1999.

10. Ibid, pp. 107-8. For a similar defence of cosmopolitan democracy see Daniele Archibugi, "Principles of Cosmopolitan Democracy", in Daniele Archibugi, David Held and Martin Kohler (eds), Re-imagining Political Community: Studies in Cosmopolitan Democracy, Polity Press, Cambridge, 1998.

11. Martin Albrow, The Global Age: State and Society Beyond Modernity, Stanford University Press, Stanford, 1997, p. 171.

12. Ibid, p. 175.

13. Ibid, pp. 176-7.

14. Ibid, pp. 178-183 (long quotation from p. 182).

15. Falk, pp. 129, (quotation summarises longer passages).

16. Ibid, p. 130.

17. loc.cit.

18. Richard Falk, "Global Civil Society: Perspectives, Initiatives, Movements", in Falk, pp. 146-7.

19. Ibid, p. 147.

20. Ibid, pp. 148-9.

21. Ibid, p. 150.

22. Falk ("Resisting"), pp. 131-6.

23. Falk ("Global Civil"), p. 145-6.

24. Ibid, pp. 151-2.

25. Immanuel Wallerstein, "Neither Patriotism nor Cosmopolitanism", in Cohen, p. 124.

26. Richard Falk, "Revisioning Cosmopolitanism", in Cohen, p. 57.

27. Charles Taylor, "Why Democracy needs Patriotism", in Cohen, pp. 119-120.

28. Gertrude Himmelfarb, "The Illusions of Cosmopolitanism", in Cohen, pp. 76-7.

29. Nathan Glazer, "Limits of Loyalty", in Cohen, p. 63.

30. Michael Walzer, "Spheres of Affection', in Cohen, p. 125.

31. Hilary Putnam, "Must We Choose between Patriotism and Universal Reason?", in Cohen, pp. 96-7.

32. Walzer (1996), p. 127.

33. Taylor, p. 121.

34. Putnam, pp. 94, 97.

35. Robert Dahl, "Can international organizations be democratic? A Skeptic's view", in Shapiro & Hacker-Cordon, p. 26.

36. Ibid, p. 34.

37. Will Kymlicka, "Citizenship in an era of globalization: commentary on Held", in Shapiro & Hacker-Cordon, pp. 113-8.

38. Ibid, pp. 119-125.

39. Alexander Wendt, "A comment on Held's cosmopolitanism", in Shapiro & Hacker-Cordon, pp. 127-133 (long quotation from p. 132).

40. Amartya Sen, "Humanity and Citizenship", in Cohen, p. 114.

41. Martha Nussbaum, "Political Animals: Luck, Love and Dignity", Metaphilosophy, 29, 4 (1998), pp. 282-3.

42. Robert B. Reich, "The Nationalism We Need", The American Prospect, 11, 2 (6 December 1999). URL:

43. Robert Kuttner, "A New Political Power", The American Prospect Online, (5 December 1999). URL:

44. Robert Kuttner, "The Limits to Globalism", The American Prospect Online, (1 May 2000). URL:

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