The world today has made a shift towards the right, which might have been unexpected at the beginning of the century when inventions like the internet and the rapid growth of globalization seemed to point to the 21st century of fewer frontiers, more institutional cooperation, and less focus on the State. Nonetheless, the 20 firsts years of the century have seen the rise of nationalism, a growing sense of otherness, and a rise of every kind of migration. The rise of migration put together with the rise of nationalism is a complex mix that can bear terrible consequences, for everyone involved, but it also gives us an incredible opportunity to go beyond our conceived notions and research for new or improved ways to deal with the challenges of the new century.
Cosmopolitanism is not a new concept, it’s origins can be traced back to Ancient Greece and in essence is considered as “all human beings, regardless of their political affiliation, are (or can and should be) citizens in a single community” (Standford Encyclopedia, 2002). Within cosmopolitanism, there are many aspects, like cultural cosmopolitanism where there is an encouragement of cultural diversity while rejecting strong nationalism. Thus, the question that will guide this short paper is, how can we use this concept in a world that is torn between multiculturalism and extreme nationalisms
Taking on Haberman’s and his suggestion of “building a multicultural civil society built on a politics of recognition, because the identity of each individual citizen is woven together with the collective identities and must be stabilized in a network of mutual recognition” This idea of common building of identities that have both an individual and a group component is very important if we are to reconcile two points of view seen as opposite and be able to get over what Appiah has described as “historical humiliation”, where there is a sense of shaming all of those societies that don’t share the same values but are sadly related to lack of opportunities both in the human and economic aspect(Appiah, K; Bhabha H, 2017).
The idea that identities can be collectively constructed could help us in understanding the difference without necessarily putting a wall of radical separation between “us” and “the other”. If people are able to reconcile the thought that any identity is constructed based on interaction and that “my” identity is not an island in a sea of identities but has a unique essence given the different interactions throughout life, individuals might start to realize the importance of interaction in order to construct its “own” identity.
This thought can be translated to education, from early education to university, where “it’s useful (..) to have all these different pictures available, and to have a dialogue among them, (..) but not because we are looking for agreement. We’re just trying to see what can be illuminated” (Appiah, K; Bhabha H, 2017). This constant dialogue between different ideals can help bring people if not only closer together at least to a point of understanding the other. This understanding might be very important in countries that have a very important historical identity and are receiving a lot of migration from countries that don’t share their historical identities.
A very simple example would be any European country and migration from North-African or Middle Eastern countries. Their identities, each with their value and weight, are different in essence, and that has proven to be difficult in getting together a national project that includes, migrants and their future generations and nationals of the State. This complexity has been seen in past years, where young people born in these countries are or feel excluded from the global or national progress and seek other creeds (based on their parents “original” identities) that could provide some meaning, building identities not out of fruitful interaction but out of violence and antagonism.
The above has also been addressed by Haberman’s, given that he affirms that nation-states seek the co-existence of different communities entails a process that is precarious and painful, where the majority culture has to change its perception of historical identification in other to achieve what he calls “constitutional patriotism”, which provides the basis of a moral authority and a sense of duty that transcends any difference. The sense of moral duty has to be built from an early age since identities are being created from the moments interaction begins and those interactions should provide the space and meaning to construct that constitutional patriotism.
Given the above, the importance early education has on the construction of identities and as such on the creation of a new “view of constitutional patriotism” is very important. These changes in identities and perception normally don’t happen overnight and it’s a slow construction whose real fruits will be seen in the following generations. Nonetheless, this idea that change is not immediate cannot be an excuse for delaying the measures or policies that should be taken towards a scenario where we can find intertwined identities that respect the different while maintaining the local, in what could be the perfect answer for the world at the moment.
- Appiah, K, and Bhabha H. Cosmopolitanism and Convergence. Mahindra Humanities Center – Harvard University. July 2017. Document found on line: https://muse-jhu-edu.pros.lib.unimi.it:2050/article/701616/pdf
- Keohane, K. Moral Education and Cosmopolitanism: Meeting Kant and Durkheim in Joyce. Journal of Classical Sociology. Volume 8 issue 2. May 2008. Document found on: https://doi.org/10.1177/1468795X08088874
- Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Cosmopolitanism. February 2002. Document found online: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/cosmopolitanism/