Cosmopolitan Democracy and Its Failure in Providing a Political Identity

x55862The political theory in the 1980s was marked by the ‘struggle’ between communitarians and liberals. This debate was waged in the name of local social embededdness in the first case and in the name of certain universal moral standards applicable to all human beings equally in the case of the latter (1). Cosmopolitanism, as one of the strands of liberal thought, also possibly falls under the communitarian attack. However, this essay does not focus on the evaluation of normative claims made by these two opposing sides, but rather questions cosmopolitan democracy in its capability to create a viable political system. The nationality will be considered here as one of the possible political identities that a political community can take, not as the one which is somehow required for a properly functioning society. The argument which we will try to defend here will be that cosmopolitan democracy is not able to provide a political identity to its citizens because of its aspiration towards the universal political membership. The greatest problem with cosmopolitanism comes precisely from this failure to realize that the practice of politics is necessarily contradictory to political all-inclusiveness. Or in other words, we will argue that the political membership encompassing all ‘humanity’ cannot provide the political identity for a political community of any form, whether the community is democratic or not. This criticism will be based on the definition of politics which we will try to promote here and which claims that one of the fundamental dimensions of the political is having an enemy. Since the cosmopolitan democrats claim to provide the political membership to everyone, they deny the possibility of having a political enemy and hence also rhetorically deny their political nature. We will try to show that what is the result of cosmopolitans’ effort is not the universal political inclusion, but merely the inability to admit that some persons are again in fact excluded.

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