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Cosmopolitanism and Democracy

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Stephen Watson

on 5 December 2013

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Transcript of Cosmopolitanism and Democracy

Cosmopolitanism and Democracy
Kurt Tucholsky's Deutschland Deutschland Uber Alles and Roth's What I Saw provide a lens into growing problems of nationalistic self-indulgence that perpetuate a drive towards militancy and materialism which represent a turning away from democratic, humanistic, and egalitarian ideals
A Democrat is Born
Cosmopolitan: free from local, provincial, or national ideas, prejudices, or attachments; at home all over the world.

Cosmopolitanism - from the greek
Kosmos (world) + polites (citizen)
Socrates -
"citizen of the world"
Socratic Method
Thought beyond borders
Early Cosmopolitan Thought
Diogenes the Cynic - "When anyone asked him where he came from, he said, 'I am a citizen of the world'
Research Question:

What can Wiemar Era writings inform us about the relationship between Cosmopolitanism and Democracy;

or, why is Cosmopolitanism at the the heart of a healthy Democracy?
Why Cosmopolitanism?
Modern Political Theorist Martha Nussbaum Notes Four Distinct advantages of Cosmopolitanism:
Cosmopolitanism pushes understanding beyond borders
"An education that takes national boundaries as morally salient too often reinforces this kind of irrationality, by lending to what is an accident of history a false air of moral weight and glory"
Cosmopolitanism allows us to move beyond arbitrary moral arguments
"by conceding that a morally arbitrary boundary such as the boundary of the nation has a deep and formative role in our deliberations, we seem to deprive ourselves of any principled way of persuading citizens they should in fact join hands across these other barriers [race, ethnicity, class, gender]"
Cosmopolitanism enables international cooperation
"to conduct [international dialogue] we need knowledge not only of the geography and ecology of other nations... but also a great deal about their people, so that in talking with them we may be capable of respecting their traditions and commitments"
Cosmopolitanism builds global moral responsibility
"[in denying cosmopolitanism] we are educating a nation of moral hypocrites who talk the language of universalizability but whose universe has a self-serving, narrow scope.
So ultimately, why do liberal democracies NEED cosmopolitanism?
(1) we avoid delusions of national glory
(2) international cooperation takes precedence
(3) we universalize morality and empathy
(4) delineates inequitable social boundaries
Cosmopolitan Response To Rising Nationalism
Austrian journalist and novelist
What I Saw provides a sense of empathetic urgency during the inflammation of nationalist tensions and a growing cultural malaise
Writings are largely humanistic in content
On Cosmopolitanism, Democracy and the Wiemar Republic
1890 - 1935
German journalist and satirist
Writings were banned and burned by the Nazi party, and German citizenship revoked
Pacifist, concerned with the rise of anti-democratic forces
On False Borders:
On International Cooperation:
On Opposing False Social Divisions:
On Cosmopolitanism, Democracy and the Wiemar Republic
On False Borders:
On Global Morality:
On Opposing False Social Divisions:
Cosmopolitanism and U.S.
"We'll let anyone who wants outdo us in patriotism. Our feelings are international. But no can outdo us in our love of home - not even those who have registered the country in their name. It is ours."
"those who call themselves nationalists and are really only bourgeoise-militarists, don't have an exclusive lease on this land and its language... neither the member of government in his morning coat, nor the professor, nor the ladies and gentlemen of the Stahlhelm make up Germany by themselves."
"We called this 'Deutschland Uber Alles' as a joke - such a foolish line from a big-mouth poem. No, Germany doesn't count above all and isn't over all - never. But let our land be with including all."
"As early as 1918, before putting a book on display in the windows, provincial bookshop owners would ask if an author was Jewish - not even bothering to read it"
"the great gain to German literature from Jewish writers is the theme of the city... this theme was almost imposed on the gifted Jewish writers by the urban milieu from which most of them came, to which their parents had been forced to move, and also by their most evolved sensibility... for cosmopolitanism"
On the death of Rathenau:
his life is characterized by its attempt to bring together antiquity, Judaism, and early Christianity. A strong chord of conciliation is sounded in the books he read and those he wrote. It was the effort to bring the various instruments of different cultural worlds within the ambit of a single orchestra"
Now this nation that I love
Has fallen under attack
A mighty sucker punch came flyin’ in
From somewhere in the back
Soon as we could see clearly
Through our big black eye
Man, we lit up your world
Like the 4th of July

-Toby Keith, 'merican
Noam Chomsky - argued U.S. responsibility
in 9/11 terrorist attacks - cosmopolitan awareness, brought under fire by nationalist politics
Renewed Nationalism post 9/11, including the foreign military occupation serves to illustrate a Renaissance in nationalism
Decline in civil liberties
Cultural degradation
The writings of Tucholsky and Roth confirm classical and modern suspicions relating to the necessary relationship between liberal democracy and Cosmopolitanism -

(1) Nationalism as a false idol - detracts from democracy's "noble goals"

(2) Internationalism constitutes peace

(3) Universal empathy means a greater knowledge of the human experience, including our own

(4) Humanism trumps inequitable social, ethnic, racial, political, and economic barriers
<3 for world empowers authentic <3 of home
Supports national identity in international context
Supports equality in democracy
the GOAL of a liberal democracy
protects minority interests
The city as synecdoche
Unity needed for stability in democracy
Rathenau was a martyr for sensibility and peace
Stability through a mixture of identity
The necessity of contextualizing identity
Cosmopolitanism destroys intellectual barriers
Intellectual openness promotes rational discourse
Popular German identity curtailed inclusiveness
Rise of German nationalist tendencies opposed cooperation
Full transcript