Tag Archives: cosmopolitanism

The Other

Your Christ is Jewish; your car, Japanese; your pizza, Italian; your democracy, Greek; your coffee, Brazilian; your holiday, Turkish; your digital numbers, Arabic; and your letters, Roman. Only your neighbour is a foreigner (Poster on the Streets of Berlin, 1990s).


Building up diversity

“I is another”, wrote Arthur Rimbaud, by forcing not just the syntax, but the unity and the integrity of the person – of the I –too.An I who assists at his shell crumbling, this shell on which we build up our identity, our uniqueness and that emerge from a continuous braiding starting in the past and going on in the present.

Rimbaud’s subject was an I, but we should say the same about the plural us and find out that this same us, that we use to think as a natural subject, is actually more the product of history than the product of nature: a result of the stories, the ideologies and the identity politics we construct. An history made with our feet: it could sound like a joke, but the paleontologist and anthropologist André Leroi-Gourhan actually affirmed, about humanity, that « we were prepared to accept anything except to learn that it all began with the feet! » (Leroi-Gourhan, 1977: 65). While walking, our ancestors the Sapiens left the Afar Valley in Ethiopia for colonizing the whole earth. While walking they found on the way those new environments, climates and conditions that needed new responses: so cultural differences were born.

Walking human beings used to meet, to struggle, to exchange ideas and genes, such that scientists can today state the inconsistency of the idea of race when applied to human beings. As we all have an extremely diverse gene pool, so we can affirm that any culture reveals a certain variety of signs coming from some others. No us is defined by nature, nor other exists. Just our constructions of the usand the other exist. Often, what we consider our natural community is actually the result of an untrue story. In many cases, it is what Jean Pouillon calls «camouflaged retro-projections», for assessing that «those societies which call themselves modern are not forgetting their past, but handling it according to their present needs» (Pouillon, 1975: 160). By these stories, you can even theorize a people, even a nation – as medievalist Walter Pohl says, «nothing changing in language, in culture, nor in the seed and line of the men and the women. Just something has changed: the history, or, more precisely, the image people have of their history» (Pohl, 2000: 2). As in Orwell’s 1984, the past is manipulated according to the present.

Ancient Greeks used to call barbarians those who were not able to speak their language in a proper way; in Uganda, lugbara people call the strangers “reversed people”. The most of the ethnonyms,  the names every people use for defining themselves, mean “the men”, “the warriors”, “the best ones”: that shows the ethnocentric tendency of any society in thinking themselves as the best ones and in considering the others as less brave, less valuable, less human, if not… not human.

As Benedict Anderson showed, every human group going further the restraint community where relationships are “face to face” is an imagined community (see Anderson, 2006). “Imaged” means that the common feeling of belonging we experience about either our people, our country, or any other group, no mind on what it is founded, is not actually produced by the direct connection with every member of the group itself, but by the idea they share with us some common and unique characters, instead. Hence, the idea of us, that springs out from an hypothetic peculiarity distinguishing us from the others, for some reasons different, or considered as different.

As Ernest Renan says about the nation, for creating an identity you need a good dose of memory as much as a good dose of oblivion: «Oblivion, and even historical mistake, are an essential component for building a nation […]. The essence of a country is not just that all its members share a common heritage, but also that they forgot the same things. No French citizen knows about his or her possible Burgund, Alan or Visigoth origin; anyone has forgotten Saint Barthelemy’s night as well as the Southern massacres of the XIII century» (Renan 1993: 7-8). We should minimize, and even forget, what united us and emphasize what divided us in the past. Or then accept, with Julian S. Huxley e Alfred C. Haddon, that «a country is a society united by a common mistake about its origins and a common aversion towards its neighbors» (Huxley-Haddon, 2002: 15). Are those neighbors always others? Are the others always and fully different from us?

Other, French autre, Italian altro, Spanish otro, German ander always indicates an unusual dimension and often blurs with strange, uncommon, not standard, not normal.

The Latin word alter generates the Italian verb alterare, French altérer, Spanish alteràr, the English one to alter, meaning to change, to modify, also used in its intransitive form for a change of mood. In almost all these cases, the meaning is pejorative: it marks the deviation from the routine, from the dangerous custom we use to think as natural, pointed by Michel de Montaigne as «a violent and treacherous schoolmistress. (…) She soon uncovers to us a furious and tyrannical face against which we no longer have the liberty of even raising our eyes. We see her at every turn forcing the rules of nature» (Montaigne 1965: 77).

We find the same etym in the Latin particle ultra (beyond) and in the Italian altrove (elsewhere), a spatial application of the concept. But the Latin root al- generates also the word alias, that is, standing for. We are our alias when we want to appear as someone else: we change our name, without changing our essence. We should maybe admit, in a whisper, that Rimbaud was right.


Dividing for gathering

«All societies produce strangers; but each kind of society produces its own kind of strangers, and produces them in its own inimitable way». We could think this is a paraphrase of Tolstoj’s incipit of Anna Karenina, but these words of Zygmunt Bauman’s show us the production process of the stranger as an individual bypassing the borders we have created and we often hardly bear. «Strangers», according to Bauman, are the people who do not fit the cognitive, moral or aesthetic map of the world (…) and, by their sheer presence, make obscure what ought to be transparent (see Bauman, 1995).

Producing the other, the stranger, is an essential step in the definition of ourselves, at least in the definition of what we would like to be or to look like. Any process of construction of a collective identity rests on two basic and complementary operations: in order to define, to “enclose” our collective us, we need to mark a close line, including those we think part of our community and excluding someone else. In drawing this line, we cut out the border that divide us from the other. Therefore, identity is not an ascribed fact, as supporters of the “roots” affirm, but the result of a relational work: in order to be someone, or something, I need the other. No definition exist without an other.

This is what Kostantin Kavafis masterfully says in verse: its poem Waiting for the Barbarians describes a whole city where the souverains, the nobles and the dignitaries of the courts wear their best clothes for welcoming the sensed upcoming barbarians. All of them prepared their best talks, but the strangers do not arrive. The poem ends with a desperate call:

Now what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?

Those people were a kind of solution.

Barbarians are a kind of solution for giving us a measure of our advancement: without them it’s hard to us to say we are civilized people. That is why we mark borders and frontiers, for defining ourselves. For thinking us better than the others, we need some worse other. This mechanism produced, for example, the accusation of sorcery: while identifying an enemy, a responsible for what goes wrong, we expel from our community any guilt, any threat that could disgregate the group. So we can finally think us as the good, the best ones.

In a recent volume, Umberto Eco tells us of an odd episode: travelling around the US, he got on a cab driven by a Pakistani guy. During the conversation, the driver asks Eco where he came from, then where Italy is and finally which kind of adversary Italians have got. The philosopher was surprised by such a question and spent some time asking himself who Italians consider as an enemy. But the same surprise affected the driver in learning that countries can exist without an historical adversary. Maybe because – Eco suggests – we have so many conflicts among ourselves, «but rethinking about that fact, I was persuaded that the worst disgrace of our country, for the last sixty years, had been the lack of a common and real enemy». Eco’s essay goes on from a quote to another for showing us, through literature and history, the many different ways we can produce an adversary. For example, in exploiting and emphasizing strangers’ differences: «having an enemy is important not just for defining our identity, but also for providing us an obstacle which is useful for testing our values, our system and our virtue» (Eco, 2011: 10).

In fact, for increasing the cohesion of our community, we have to put in light the shared characters as well as to stress the differences from the others. These others are created and fashioned in the more functional shape for our project. A well-shaped other is essential for strengthening the community and defining the limits of us.

In many cases, the image we have of the others is not just based on the effective knowledge, but on stereotype. Stereotype is the rhetorical declination of caricature: as the cartoonist grabs a marking feature of someone for emphasizing it and reducing the individual to this trait (a huge nose, oversized breasts…), so the stereotype reduces a person, or a society, to its supposed characteristic signs.

Each stereotype entails a distortion, which is often, but not always pejorative. Travelling means meeting people, but in a faulty way: the lack of time and pre-existing opinions we all bring with us often generate misunderstandings. Together with clothes, medicines and guidebooks we carry with us our perspective on the place and the people we are going to meet (Aime, 2005). These perspectives are often shaped by exoticism: another less bloody way for stating differences.

The act of drawing borders for producing different identities leads at considering any society and any culture as closed entities, pure and uncontaminated objects which inextricably evolved from their own specific and peculiar origins. Better would be to think at cultures as moving beings, mutually and constantly affecting themselves. If we want to speak about divisions, we ought to do that in terms of frontier more than of borders. Common language seldom distinguishes the difference between these words, used as synonyms, while the first actually means a limit not to be bypassed, and the second is an area instead: not a line, but a strip of earth where two different entities stand the one in front of the other, and meet. A border is strict, a frontier is floating. As Franco La Cecla says: «Frontiers are the “face to face” of two teams, two cultures, two countries (…). Frontiers should be the place where the meeting replaces the struggle, where a relationship can be realized either through indifference in no man’s land or through the difference of the demarcations, which our strangers stay beyond» (La Cecla, 2003: 133-34).

It happens, nonetheless, that these different cultural identities, in spite of their historical and multi-perspective origin, are thought to be natural. One of the most important warning in anthropology is about naturalness: what we often suppose to be natural is indeed the product of the habits along the time.

Mistaking habits for nature can drive us to think that everything different is not natural. This idea is typical of ethnocentrism and can lead us to find in the others an inferior condition, a barbarian one. Montaigne argued that when he wrote: «I think there is nothing barbarous and savage in that nation, from what I have been told, except that each man  calls  barbarism whatever is not his own practice» (Montaigne, 1965: 152).

Two centuries later, Montesquieu designed some Persians travelling to Paris for triggering the development of a feeling of confusion and of a gaze on the other free from the conditioning of habits. This perspective only could replace the habits of a community into the larger map of several communities. Those Persians looked at us with stranger eyes, they were surprised, amazed and disgusted: they admired the Western world as much as they criticized it. Montesquieu uses their disillusioned and astonished eyes for addressing with an ironic and sarcastic voice his critics to our society. So one of them writes: «The King of France is the most powerful of European potentates. He has no mines of gold like his neighbor, the King of Spain; but he is much wealthier than that prince is, because his riches are drawn from a more inexhaustible source, the vanity of his subjects. (…) Then again, the king is a great magician, for his dominion extends to the minds of his subjects; he makes them think what he wishes. If he has only a million crowns in his exchequer, and has need of two millions, he has only to persuade them that one crown is worth two, and they believe it. (…) What I have told you of this prince need not astonish you: there is another magician more powerful still, who is master of the king’s mind, as absolutely as the king is master of the minds of his subjects. This magician is called the Pope. Sometimes he makes the king believe that three are no more than one; that the bread which he eats is not bread; the wine which he drinks not wine; and a thousand things of a like nature» (Montesquieu, 2008: 31).

This is the witness of Montesquieu and his Eastern characters, ironic but never insolent. «I think, Usbek, that we never judge of things otherwise than by a secret reference to ourselves. I am not surprised that the Negroes paint the Devil in shining white color and their Gods as black as coal (…). It has been well said that if the triangles made themselves a God, they would give him three sides» (Montesquieu, 2008: 79). As Claude Lévi-Strauss says, «the barbarian is, first and foremost, the man who believes in barbarism» (Lévi-Strauss, 1967: 106).


Culture as fundamentalism

Identities, says Zygmunt Bauman, are more a bunch of problems than a single question: «Identity is revealed to us only as something to be invented rather than discovered; as a target of an effort, ‘an objective’; as something one still needs to build from scratch or to choose from alternative offers and then to struggle for and then to protect through yet more struggle» (Bauman, 2003: 13). Albeit the most of social scientist agree in considering identities as a cultural product, we are witnessing wars, battles, political fights struggled in the name of these identities. However fake and invented they are, identities are practically operating on our world. Not enough to call them «cultural constructions, never settled, never absolute, never determinate» and to look at them from outside. Out of university classrooms practice and theory are running on parallel rails.

Whilst we can say there is no essence in identities, we cannot deny the existence of a practice of identities, whether for attacking or defending themselves. This practice is based on what Verena Stolcke brilliantly defined «cultural fundamentalism» in her essay on borders and rhetoric of exclusion in contemporary Europe. The process of unification of the old continent is simultaneously at work on two sides: on the first one, internal borders are becoming the more and the more permeable, on the second one, external borders are becoming the more and the more rigid and exclusive of the others: extra-communitarian people.

Besides any political and moral consideration, we cannot pretend to be blind face of a growing mass feeling of hate towards immigrants, nourished by the simplification (not to say the falsehood) according to which each evil comes with strangers, bringing difference and menace with them. This assumption is also combined with an emphatic presentation of the problem, described as larger than it is in real. This strategy allows several European leaders to hide beside cultural incompatibility some socio-economic problems arisen from recession and the more extreme capitalistic adjustments.  «We are the measure of the good life which they are threatening to undermine, and this is so because they are foreigners and culturally different» (Stolcke, 1995: 3).

According to this perspective, people would prefer to live among their own kind rather than in a multi-cultural society, and this inclination would be natural. Although no theorist of xenophobia can explain its reasons, we take for granted that people are naturally scared by strangers and inclined to refuse them, because they are different. This explanation is however quite functional in hiding the socio-economic reasons that often generate tensions.

There are several ways of thinking the other, but just one line essentially dividing the two possible construction of diversity. This line draws the border – now clear – between revocability and irrevocability of its condition. We told that ancient Greeks used to distinguish themselves from Barbarians, but if a Barbarian managed to learn Greek language and the customs of the polis, he could become to all effects a full-fledged Greek. Romans also had this rule: more than one emperor were actually foreigners, Adrian from Spain to mention just one. Both for Greek and for Romans you could emancipate not just from your condition of extraneousness, but even from your condition of inferiority. Division was actually established on a cultural level, and everything is cultural let us the chance of choosing, and changing things.

Much different is the case of the natural level, where any choice is impossible: in nature things are determined and predictable. This is the way leading to racism, prelude to the worst solutions.

Anyway, the reason of incompatibility in modern politics of exclusion is apparently no more the race, but culture – as in a throwback. In ancient times indeed, exclusion from Europe was due to religion, rather than to race: miscreants could threaten Christian hegemony. Scientific racism in XIX century tried to legitimate differences based on biologic nature. Nowadays the problem of scaring strangers away from our societies is solved by shifting from the unacceptable level of the genetic race to the one of culture, which allows xenophobic right parties to restore their politic respectability. Will of purge remains, but now we have racism without race. This new form has been defined by Paul Mercier «supertribalization» (Mercier, 1962: 64), a very suitable expression for representing the ethnic and cultural stretch adopted by many political élites and contemporary movements. Contamination threatening is no more referred to the bloodline: according to the fundamentalist rhetoric, culture instead becomes stronger, more tangible and homogeneous.

Ethnicity, identity and culture has become slogans used by politicians in look for preferences, betting on the local dimension as a last rampart against foreign invasion. A supposed cultural purity is then fashionable again, and delicate enough to need protection from foreigners’ contamination (in all its depreciative semantic charge, immediately associated to medical domain). This image would presuppose a sort of zero degree where to place the objective limits of any culture, considered as an indivisible unit, impermeable to external contributions and therefore opposed to any kind of other. Such cultures are cages where individuals would have been imprisoned since they were born and impossible to escape from.

This perspective is synthesized by the expression of the «clash of cultures» and by its symmetric counterpart, the «cultural encounter»: those mottoes are the more common and suitable for any situation. In fact, nobody ever saw any cultures either meeting or struggling: men instead, women and children rather than cultures do, and each one has many options among which choosing how to realize their life. Why then should we put the others in cages through identity labels we invented ourselves? As Eric Wolf affirms, «It is an error to envisage the migrant as the protagonist of a homogeneously integrated culture that he either retains or yields up as a whole (…). It is not harder for a Zulu or a Hawaiian to learn or forget a culture that for a Pomeranian or Chinese» (Wolf, 1990: 502).

Cultural fundamentalism tends instead to present as natural the reasons of deficit and socio-economic inequalities among individuals. If we consider these unbalances as natural ones, we can also easier accept their insolvable character: we cannot defy nature! Naturalizing the cultural forms we consider being the most far from us means anyway dehumanizing them, as says Pierre-André Taguieff (Taguieff, 1999: 11).


Fixing Movement

«At my age, and with so much mixing of bloodlines, I am no longer certain where I come from» said Delaura. «Or who I am». «No one knows in these kingdoms» said Abrenuncio. «And I believe it will be centuries before they find out» (Garcia  Marquez, 1994: 154). This gloomy exchange between two Gabriel Garcìa Marquez’s characters intensely and evocatively summarizes the tension between the search of a precise origin, that is the zero-point of cultures we often call «identity», and the historical, social and cultural thicket we experiment everyday in real. As for containing the supposed fear of being dissolved in an undefined magma or being contaminated by the foreigner, we create frames, borders and limits.

Reality, today as in the past, is not built upon well-defined opposites, easy-to-counterpose especially for those who try to take advantage of such conflicts. We are watching, instead, the screening of Arjun Appadurai’s «moving images that meet deterritorialized viewers» (Appadurai, 2012). The ambiguity of his title, Modernity at large, stays in the fact that «at large» means at the same time «as a whole» but «on the lam», too. Why should modernity go into hiding? Because the frontiers that previously established territories, cultures and societies are no more as meaningful as in the past. Because today we can find Turkish immigrant employees sitting on their German sofas in their German living rooms while watching their Turkish movies; as well as Filipinos singing old-style American songs much better than original ones, even if their lives are not synchronized at all with United States’ present. Because, following Appadurai, globalization opened a rift between the place of production of a culture and its place(s) of use. Thanks to the growing speed and presence of the mass media, imagination became something collective and evolved into an organized field of social practices. As a consequence, the fragmented multiplicity of cultural worlds threaten any traditional paradigm in social sciences. Social, ethnic, cultural, political and economical landscapes are the more and the more confused, and mutually superposed, divided by broken and irregular lines. Moreover, these landscapes are crossed by constant and global cultural streams, and are reflected the one into the other until shaping a complicated and always renewing kaleidoscope.

Appadurai quotes the image drawn by Benedict Anderson. According to him, thanks firstly to «print capitalism» (that is the spreading of publishing business at the industrial scale) and to following mass literacy, and secondly to «electronic capitalism», imaged communities could appear – that is, groups of people who never interact in real, but share a same and common idea as, for example, thinking themselves as Indonesian, while living far from Indonesia (see Anderson, 2006).

Deterritorialization is a feature of modern world that, together with an increasing circulation of information, creates the more and the more complex images, ideologies and universal usages, being appropriated by local communities and transformed into something that is often quite far from its starting point. A good example can be, as Appadurai shows, the case of cricket, imported in colonial India by aristocrats and now, also by the action of the media, transformed into a very popular sport for Indian middle and lower-class. The sport that the ex-sons of the Empire now play is not just an imported product, but is inserted into its very Indian moral system as a whole.

This reflection highlights how, besides the three spatial dimensions and the fourth one of the time, there is also a fifth one – the one of imagination – that shapes humanity. This constructive (poietic) «fiction», in Francesco Remotti’s words, is the foundation of human building (Remotti, 1996: 23). Humanity arises more often from a common project than from an objective reality, and its foundations are neither always recognizable and measurable nor coherent with the history of the community who believes to be grounded on. The unease of traditional space matches with a new concept of the time, sprung out from consumption, that in spite of its organic practices is now placed into a sort of global bath, which needs a referral. Any object (either shaped for consumption or not) has its own cultural story, meaningful for the culture that produced it; nonetheless, when this same object falls into the hands of new players, its story does not match with their one anymore, and is often written again at their own sake (see Appadurai, 1986).

From being a place of action for memory, furthermore, our past has become a synchronic deposit for cultural scenarios, says Appadurai. It is a kind of cultural archive of time that we can use, as we need and like. This global diaspora generates new markets which, themselves, generate new needs and preferences, emerged from outsiders’ urge of maintaining a contact with their – often invented – motherland. So-called globalization does not realizes itself through an indiscriminate invasion of common elements driving to homogenization. Its process is much more articulated, but this kind of assumptions is presented in every discourse assessing local and national supremacy.

We live «in a world of OPEC, ASEAN Things Fall Apart, and Tongan running backs with the Washington Redskins», says Clifford Geertz, a world that «has its compartments still, but the passages between them are much more numerous and much less well secured» (Geertz, 1990: 142-43). Fluidity of everyday life is opposed to the stabilizing nature of establishment. Almost all around the world governments hate nomads and implement sedentarization (and even elimination) policies; almost all around the world governments hate and are wary of «cultural nomads», people who do not fix themselves in a clear and easily-classifiable position.



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Is ethics for business an oxymoron?

The role of the free market has from the beginning in the eighteenth century been contested. Adam Smith, the father of modern economics, is often interpreted as an advocate of an amoral free market regulated only by self-interest. He famously said in his work The Wealth of Nationsthat it is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the baker or the brewer that we expect our dinner but from their self-love or self-interest. This has been taken to imply that the major incentive or the major driving force of the free market is not the goodness of our heart but our self-interest, the strong desire to profit. If the desire for profit reigns supreme in all our economic activity all moral requirements become problematic in this sphere. If self-interest is the only or the most effective reason driving us in the economy then moral requirements become hindrances, they prevent us from profiting as much as we possibly can.

It needs to be said that this is not the way Smith himself thought of the free market. It was clear to him that moral requirements are a necessary feature of a free market. But he clearly believed that the free market did not work through the idea of the common good, the brewer did not provide his services because he believed he was contributing to the public good. He seems to believe that this was not an effective way to organise the free market. Self-interest was a much more effective way.

This way of conceiving economic activity has been problematic from the beginning. The first socialists believed that the major problem about the free market was that it should serve society as a whole, not only its participants. What they saw in front of their eyes in the first decades of the nineteenth century was that some people were becoming enormously rich while others survived in poverty and the rich were actually becoming richer because those who worked in their mills or other places of industry got meagre pay just enabling them to scrape by, not enough to live a reasonably good life. Karl Marx famously criticised the free market and saw no other way out of the problems he found than to overcome it, to get rid of the free market altogether and argued that the common good should guide all our actions. This has not proved to be a good solution to the problem of how we should coordinate our economic interactions. So we are stuck with the free market and constantly have to evaluate its benefits and drawbacks.

Jacob Dahl Rendtorff has written a book about business morality. His main idea is that businesses are not amoral agents in a free market pursuing profit regardless of anything else. They should be thought of as citizens in a republic with at least some, maybe all, of the obligations as real-life citizens. This is a pretty radical idea, especially in this day and age. The last decade has not only seen how the financial system, an important part of the free market, has collapsed in many countries and those in charge of the executive part of the state decided to pump enormous sums of money into the system to keep it alive. The reason why the financial system collapsed was irresponsible behaviour of the bankers, often clearly criminal. Unfortunately, the bankers have not been prosecuted and put into prison except in Iceland and even though they were among the worst of the lot I do not think they were the worst. Later the Panama papers were published demonstrating that vast numbers of people in business are just plain thieves hiding their money in tax havens to avoid paying taxes. The same applies to the international organisations themselves that move their income around ending up paying maybe 1-2% income tax. The third serious problem with international business is the free ride of the chief executive officers ripping off the organisations for their own benefit being paid millions of euros each year and there is no constraint within the business organisations on this behaviour in the boards or in special income committees keeping a lid on the pay rises of CEOs. This has resulted in the top executives earning 100 to 200 times the median pay in the market while it was maybe 5 to 10 times more forty/fifty years ago. There is no moral justification for increasing this difference and there is no reasonable argument for doing this based on better efficiency of the organisations themselves. So, all in all, the free market has not been a showcase of moral decency in the last 20/30 years and a substantial part of it has behaved like a band of gangsters. It is a reasonable question if ethics has anything to do with business, that it is not amoral but downright immoral or criminal.

It must be said that those working in business do not consider themselves as criminals or immoral agents. I guess this applies to most businesses. So we should keep the immoralities in perspective. The faults of the free market mentioned above are not the general rule even though the pay divide seems to be becoming general. But the important fact is that the free market is a part of the larger society and it should be so organised that it serves the common good. This means that it comes within the purview of morality. And it is important to understand how we should think about the free market and the businesses operating on it as moral agents. Rendtorff offers us a good guide to do just that.

He argues for corporate social responsibility which is more than following the law, it requires the firm to realise and put into practice its understanding of its moral responsibility. In this case it is its responsibility to its customers, it must produce products that can be sold on the market, it has obligations to its own society and it is to be expected that it contributes to its society beyond paying out its dividend to its shareholders. Its employees should not be forgotten either. One question about moral responsibility is who is morally responsible for the firm´s actions, the organisation itself or the executives that actually took the decisions leading to the action. The idea that the firm is a citizen requires that the firm or organisation is a moral person. Stating this is not to argue that the firm is a moral person. Rendtorff bites the bullet and accepts the notion of collective intentionality as describing the organisation based on the corporate-internal-decision-making-structure. This means that there are certain things in place in the organisation that make it possible to meaningfully say that it is a morally responsible agent, things such as value driven management and ethical structures. If these things are in place then it can be argued, as far as I can see, that the organisation is a moral person and hence can be considered a citizen. It should be said that this is not a nice knockdown argument as Alice in wonderland would have it but it is a serious candidate for an argument for this conclusion.

In addition, Rendtorff argues that the corporate citizen has cosmopolitan duties. It seems to me that this is natural because globalisation has been driven mostly by the interests of businesses. The author covers a lot of ground in this book, discusses issues like sustainability, stakeholder management and ethical accounting to name three. What I found most valuable and most interesting was his description and discussion of business ethics in Germany. This is, as he points out, a tradition unknown in the English-speaking world but it is socially valuable. All in all, this book is a substantial contribution to business ethics in English.

Ethics of Administration – Towards Sustainability and Cosmopolitanism


A starting point of such an investigation should be the risk of moral blindness and no ethics in relation to the present global crisis in public organizations and institutions. Public administration ethics deals with the formulation of the ethical theories and principles that define administration ethics in public bureaucracies and political institutions. We can say that public administration ethics concerns the need for practical reason and wisdom in relation to complex decision-making. In this context administration ethics and political judgment is important for the legislative, executive and jurisdictional powers. We can say that the proposal of an ethics for administration as political judgment aims at increasing ethical formulation competence as well the political system, administration and legal system as such.

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Conference Papers from the Winter Symposium “Towards a New Ethical Imagination: Political and social values in a cosmopolitan world society”, Turku, Finland, 10-12 February 2012


The winter meeting took place at the University of Turku in Finland, 10-12 February 2012. We had different themes for our discussion.

The first theme was about “Recognition, freedom, dignity and social battles for justice in intercultural democratic society”. This theme consisted in the analysis of the concept of recognition in relation to the recent discussions on societal ethics, politics and justice. The workshop examined recognition and identity struggles that have emerged around the world as a result of post-secular society. We discussed this both in the theoretical perspective, such as philosophical, sociological and political views, and in the empirical perspective as well. The workshop looked at the cultural and social consequences of globalization and it dealt with proposals for world justice as a response to this. We focused on different battles of recognition and considered how recognition can be institutionalized under the condition of democracy.

In particular we discussed the latest work of Axel Honneth about freedom, recognition, institution and justice: Das Recht der Frieheit (Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2011). Honneth has changed his focus from recognition to the problem of how freedom can be institutionalized in a modern bourgeois capitalist society. This could also be called the problem of how a societal ethics could be constituted.

The model for Honneth is Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. Hegel has, as it is well known, tried, as a critique of Kant, to conceptualize the institutionalization of freedom in modern society. It was interesting to bring Hegel’s discussion into play, not least his Wirkungsgeschichte or significant influence on later philosophical, political and sociological discussions of Sittlichkeit or Ethical Life, and its forms of institution in modern society.

The second theme of the meeting was “Environmental Ethics: Climate change and justice in the context of globalization of capitalism”. This part of the workshop dealt with environmental dilemmas due to the global environmental crisis. We debated climate change issues in the perspective of proposals for a new economy and we asserted how we should consider the climate change issue in relation to topics of identity struggles and poverty in developing countries.

The third theme of the meeting was the “Foundations of ethics”. Here we continued our ongoing discussions concerning possible foundations of ethical theory. Since the group started in 2010, it has been focusing on discourse ethics and ethics and closeness. The theme for the meeting in Turku involved discussions of consequentialism and utilitarianism as an ethical theory, but also broader themes about bioethics and environmental ethics were elaborated.

Finally, we had some papers that addressed the open theme of ethics in relation the general purpose of the study group.

As an overall theme, we investigate ethical and social values in a cosmopolitan world society. We examine the paradoxes, dilemmas and tensions appeared in recent debates about ethical, political and social values in contemporary societies. We can observe that ethical problems have been increasingly a central problem in public debates in Nordic societies and in the international community. Both political decisions and daily practices in public institutions and private business organizations are increasingly faced with ethical problems and issues. Moreover, there are more and more problems and practices where ethical issues are central themes and where ethical reflection is a central theme. This tendency has been very present in: the relation between democracy and administration; the obligations of business corporations in relation to profit maximization and economic efficiency; public and private management and governance; health issues; the relation to the environment and the use of natural resources; the social obligations and responsibilities towards global poverty, democracy and environmental problems. Every discussion over the prioritization of the social use of resources has, today, to be oriented towards different ethical dilemmas, problems and paradoxes of different kinds with very far reaching implications for the life of people in society and nature.

Indeed, we had a very fruitful meeting in Turku and we would indeed like to thank warmly Professor Juha Räikkä from the Philosophy department at Turku University who supervised the local organization. Moreover, we would also like to thank the participants in this symposium for their interesting contributions to the general discussions of our study group.

Emergence of a new paradigm: Towards a post-crisis cosmopolitanism

1. Introduction

The current, tense “post-crisis” situation is considered by many intellectuals, politicians and citizens to be a simultaneous aggravation of much older financial, political and environmental crises that have been challenging the international community. At the same time, it has also been described as a perhaps unexpected hope for the emergence of a real cosmopolitanism based on a genuine possibility of emancipation and dialogue about world problems in the international community.

We will begin by discussing briefly the causalities of the recent financial crisis, which can be seen as a crisis of neo-liberal capitalism following the original mortgage crisis in the USA and the following economic depression in many countries. In this context we can also mention political elements of the crisis and further explore its threatening relation to the environment. Finally, the same crisis can be considered as a crisis for cosmopolitanism. Some pundits have interpreted the crisis as a crisis of cosmopolitanism of human rights, where it has not been possible to create a new world order of strong international governance.

On the basis of these causalities the paper will discuss whether we can see a potential “new beginning” or qualitative shift towards a new regime of a social ethics including: (1) the emergence of a community economy, e.g. state intervention and civil society responsibility in connection with corporate citizenship and business ethics; (2) the emergence of a new ethical cosmopolitanism including a paradigm shift towards a renewed conception of justice as concerns the common good in the world community.

2. Crisis causalities

What happened? Why did this world crisis come around and how should we explain the crisis causalities? There have been many arguments or diagnoses trying to explain the worldwide financial crisis. I can mention the following, very different, but mutually dependent explanations:

1. The crisis is due to neo-liberal capitalism.

This explanation focuses on the financial breakdown based on the American mortgage crisis and the following depression in many countries. It was the neo-liberal processes of globalization (e.g. privatizations, liberalizations, financializations) that led to the development of risky financial products and the resulting credit crunch, for they were based upon the dogma of the neo-liberal economic system, whereby the paramount goal is quite simply to increase economic gains in the business at all costs. This model for risky business did not only concern banking and economic investments. The most important factor that played a pivotal part in the economic crisis was the emergence of the use of houses for sales and risky mortgages of houses, so that houses became primary objects of investment. The dominant narrative in this explanation is neo-liberal “greed”, as exemplified by Madoff’s pyramid Ponzi scheme, which resulted in his imprisonment and so well symbolizes the basis for this kind of explanation of the crisis. The narrative of “greed” involves that the crisis is due to a brutish conception of human nature as a kind of profit-maximizing individual, who lives only or mostly according to his or her own narrowest self-interest. This explanation is based upon taking into account the fact that neo-liberalism was the dominant economic ideology after the end of the cold war. With this explanation of the crisis we have an explanation that is conceived exclusively in economic terms, and primarily as a breakdown of the international financial system.

2. The crisis is due to changed relations between major powers in the world.

This explanation focuses on the relation between the US and other countries, notably China. In this context the crisis may be considered as a shift in world powerhouses. We may argue that such a shift is the real reason of the credit crunch and the ensuing economic depression. It can be argued that the Chinese, after the massive economic crises in the east of Asia in the 1990s, realized that they would have to build up a strong financial system. After longer than a decade, the savings of China were so large that the country was able to resist the 2008 financial crisis, which showed instead the real vulnerability of the US and Europe. In addition, the crisis can be explained as a result of the economic problems of the US after the Asian wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since the early 2000s. It can be argued that the result of the wars was the weakening of the US as a superpower and that the credit crunch was just a symptom of this changed situation of the West in relation to the East in economic terms, where China is emerging as the main power in the world. With this explanation of the crisis we move from a purely economic explanation towards an explanation in terms of international politics too.

3. The crisis arises from a clash of civilizations.

Here we can focus on the confrontation between world cultures, in particular the tensions between radical Islam and the West, leading to the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan. How can we interpret the crisis in terms of the “clash of civilizations” described by Samuel Huntington? Since 2001 and 9/11 in particular, the confrontation between civilizations has been very present in international politics. The concept of the clash of civilization was developed as a response to Francis Fukuyama’s idea of the end of history, i.e. the end of the struggle of recognition, when the liberal world order has been victorious. We may say that the clash of civilizations is a response to this situation, where the end of the struggle for recognition is not ending in dialogue, but exactly in a clash between civilizations. In fact we may say that a challenge for a post-crisis situation would be to develop a kind of intercultural philosophy building upon a dialogue between civilizations, as opposed to the clash of civilizations. The clash of civilizations is in particular a challenge to the belief in the universality of the Western values of democracy and human rights. We can argue then that the recent crisis is a crisis of these values, following the events of 9/11 and of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

4. The crisis is a crisis in the policies to respond to an environmental crisis.

We can argue that the recent crisis was a crisis of the realization itself of the climate problem. The question is: have recent agreements led to hope for environmental justice or do we only experience new inequalities between developed and developing countries? In the neo-liberal paradigm before 2008 the climate issue was dealt with as a matter of utility and sustainable use of resources. It can be argued that the recent crisis is a crisis for the utility-based conception of the environment, for it appears that CO2 reduction is more than utility, but something that is fundamental with regard to the possibility of life in the world. We can argue that the crisis is a crisis for a civilization that has no understanding of the climate issue as fundamental for human survival. The Danish environmental sceptic Bjørn Lomborg may be considered as a representative of this view. In fact it can be argued that the opposite view of Al Gore, who stresses that the climate issue is about the continuation of the human species, represents an alternative to the view of Bjørn Lomborg, which emerges out of the crisis of the neo-liberal conception of the environment as utility: rather than admitting defeat in front of overwhelming evidence, blind denial is preferred.

5. The crisis is a crisis for cosmopolitanism.

Some have interpreted the recent crisis as a crisis of cosmopolitanism of human rights, where it has not been possible to create a new world order of strong international governance. In fact, it can be argued that the dream of the neo-liberal position was a world order with universal governance. As described by Michael Walzer, we can say that we need a new world order where we have to find the right balance between world government and total anarchy. It may be argued that the concept of the world order as a universal order with a world government is in crisis with the global crisis. What is needed is a new conception of the global order that is both beyond state sovereignty, but also beyond the idea of a world government. We may argue that we have to look for models of cosmopolitanism that deal with world politics without referring to a concept of a global world government as the basis for international politics.

3. The cultural and social background of the crisis

On the basis of the five causalities described above, the issue may be addressed as follows: how really should we define the recent crisis? What does the crisis imply and what does it relate to?

From a phenomenological point of view, we meet the crisis in our own lives when our family, ourselves or our friends lose their job or have to go from their houses because the mortgage rent is too high. In fact, the pre-crisis atmosphere in the Western world was marked by a strong narrative of greed and of spending, in particular a raise of luxury spending. We can then use the concept of hyper-modernity in experience economy, as proposed by the French sociologist and philosopher Gilles Lipovetsky, to take into account this pre-crisis, but indeed also the crisis atmosphere.

Hyper-modernity or hyper-modern society is conceived as an escalation of modernity, i.e. a kind of creative construction of experience where the creativity of human beings as makers of metaphors and symbols moves in the forefront of capitalist production. We are searching for more than maximization of pleasure preferences in the cultural industry. We want to become new human beings when we eat at restaurants, travel, go to the theatre, read magazines or books, or even when we buy ordinary products in the grocery store or in the supermarket. We want to experience happiness and authenticity in all aspects of our lives as consumers. Consumption shall help us to construct our identities. I shop therefore I am. It is the creativity of the producers and designers of experiences that is needed to fulfil this search for meaning in the experience economy. The conditions of possibility of the experience economy are based on the historic changes of the meaning of creativitiy in human societies. Today, with a hyper-modern society of creativity, creativity means something else than it was the case earlier in history. What is essential is that creativity no longer is based on a higher divine reality, but instead it refers to the entrepreneurial genius of the human creative spirit. With no divine meaning left, it is therefore the job of the creative class to fill the empty space of the loss of meaning in post-modernity or hypermodernity, and because there is no pre-given meaning dependent on a metaphysical reality, also the consumer must be creative and create meaning through experiences. Human beings are now primarily defined as hyper-consumers and their appearance as citizens is derived from this condition of consumption.

Hyper-modernity expresses a metamorphosis of liberal culture. We live in a consumer society that has become global and international. In the hyper-modern society we can talk about a new system of consumption that has become universalized. What characterizes hyper-modern society is the development of a world culture of consumption. We can talk about universalization of the brand market economy: the West, Asia and China, South America and Africa. The global market culture is a culture of global media and of global commercial culture. Hyper-modern society is made possible with the neo-liberal ideology of the free market and private happiness through consumption, and it was accelerated with the global revolution of information technologies.

In his 2006 work on hyper-modernity Le Bonheur paradoxal (Paris: Gallimard), Lipovetsky describes the three phases of the development of hyper-modern consumer society:

1. the period from 1880 to the second world war

2. the period from the 1950s to the 1970s

3. The time starting with the 1970s-80s (where we really see that consumer society fully developed).

We have been facing hyper-modern society since at least the 1980s. This is a society where consumption is democratized and made available to nearly everyone. Whereas the first phase of industrial society is signaled by the the emergence of industrial society for an elite, the second phase is marked by the increased generalization of consumer society as well as by increased individualization of consumption, for example by the generalization of luxury products like perfumes, media appliances, etc. However, it is only with the emergence of hyper-modern society that we really face the individualization of products.

In this individualist society we see how individuals are able to organize their space and time on the basis of their individuality. Accordingly, we can argue that with the individualization of consumption, combined with the focus on individual experience, makes immaterial experience and pleasure the focus of product promotion and product content. This new society of hyper-consumption is marked by a break with the conformities of class society. Although the class differences still exist, there is no specific class culture. In this sense, the consuming individual is utterly liberated from the traditional institutions and from the cultural bonds of society. We can say that the consumer of the experience economy is a “turbo-consumer”, a capitalist consumer who is no longer regulated by strong ethics and who is free to consume as much as he or she wants.

A very good example of this “Turbo-consumer” in hyper-modernity is the consumer of great international brands. The brands are expressing the global logic of hyper-consumption. Through global marketing brands appeal to the dreams of having authentic experiences. Consumers of hyper-society are not particularly loyal to one particular brand, but they are loyal to the promise of happiness in the brand economy that activates their dreams and emotions. The global brand economy expresses the logic of experience as emotional rather than bound to the materiality of the products. Hyper-consumption is a continuing renewal of the sensations. It is travel in experience. The turbo-consumer wants the most intense experience and in order to get this experience the turbo-consumer overcomes traditional limits of time and space that are taken over by the commercial logic. There is a close link between the brand economy and the search for happiness as the ultimate imperative of hyper-consumption society.

Together with Jean Serroy in La culture-monde. Réponse à une société désorienté (Paris: Gallimard, 2008), Lipovetsky discusses globalization of culture in the perspective of hyper-modernity. We can mention fashion, advertisements, tourism, art, the star-system from Hollywood as aspects of a world culture that has become dominating in hyper-modernity and manifests itself as a cultural hyper-modernity aiming at satisfying the search for satisfaction of experiences by consumers in hyper-modern society. But at the same time this globalization of culture in the framework of an experience economy is marked by the paradoxes of increased complexity and increased collective and individual disorientation.

The capitalist market experience economy is supposed to respond to the dark sides of increased individualization and narcissism. Because of individualist mass society with less common references to give a sense of meaning and community, the world culture of brand consumption is supposed to be the compensatory device that can give individuals meaning and fullness in their individual lives, which are increasingly devoid of meaning. World culture promoted through experience economy is the only tool left to give meaning and sense to individual lives, yet it is far from certain that it is succeeding in its task.

4. Towards a new beginning: Emergence of a new cosmopolitanism

With an economic crisis in the middle of hyper-modern consumer society, we can see how the whole foundation of this society is shaken. Therefore it is also interesting to ask the question about what happens after the crisis. Can we see a “new beginning” or qualitative shift towards a new regime of social ethics of responsibility as a kind of new event emerging out of the crisis, or should we just say that the crisis is nothing more than a confirmation of the logic of hyper-modernity, or alternatively is it possible to argue that the crisis opens for new meanings that help us to move beyond hyper-modern society? What does it mean to speak about paradoxes of a post-crisis situation that challenge the pre-crisis relations? We can observe the following aspects of a post-crisis situation that helps to mark qualitative breaks with the pre-crisis situation.

1. The emergence of a community economy

State intervention and civil society responsibility in connection with corporate citizenship and business ethics signal the emergence of a community economy. We can argue that the business ethics movement based on corporate responsibility and corporate social responsibility replaces within this context the confrontation from the cold war between communism and capitalism. Moreover, the end of neo-liberalism shows that we need a better relation to the economy and a better conception of the content of the economy. Business ethics and corporate social responsibility represent a response to the situation of crisis of business organizations in the sense that it is a new way to deal with the capitalist system.

Business ethics deals not only with ethical responsibilities of corporations but also with a responsible way to deal with economic and legal activities. Therefore we can talk about the economic, legal and ethical responsibilities of a corporation. The different responsibilities must be integrated into the strategy of the corporation, according to the new paradigm of corporate social responsibility and in close coherence with the strategy of the corporation. Business ethics can be considered in close interaction with the idea of hyper-modern society because in hyper-modern society ethics and corporate social responsibility are integrated into the experience economy. This means that ethics is considered as a virtue that is closely related to the self-construction of the individual. Accordingly, the individuals in the business corporation want to have a meaningful work and they want to be accountable and trustworthy as a part of their personal identity. Therefore business ethics is not in contrast to hyper-modernity, but rather a consequence of the culture of this kind of society. So the post-crisis scenario of intensified business ethics and corporate social responsibility is not necessarily in contrast to the culture of globalized hyper-modernity.

In this context we can argue for a movement towards an ethical cosmopolitanism within the field of business, as I have argued in my book Responsibility, Ethics and Legitimacy of Corporations (Copenhagen Business School Press, 2009), which the reader can find reviewed in the present issue of Nordicum-Mediterraneum. An important aspect of this movement is the idea of republican business ethics, defined as involvement of corporations in and for the common good, the res publica, which are expressed in the concept of corporate citizenship with integrity and responsibility. Integrity matters as the self-imposed norms of international corporations can ensure accountability and trust. Integrity is analyzed as a function of the business ethics of corporations, especially in the normative guidelines for international business.

With this cosmopolitan approach I have argued that the corporation can contribute qua world citizen to solve the important problems of hyper-modernity. This can be viewed as the application of the important concepts of the virtues of responsibility and cosmopolitanism. As actors at the global level in a time of interstate interdependence with regard to world ecological, economical and political problems, it is a challenge of the corporation to contribute to building up an international community of virtue and protection of basic rights.  We can define this vision of universal corporate citizenship as the World ethos of business ethics. The corporations shall not only protect universal human rights, but they shall also give those rights meaning in relation to the particular cultures in the countries where they operate.

2. Cooperation replaces conflict.

We may ask the question whether the post-crisis scenario is opening for a new era of cooperation that is in contrast with the idea of conflict that was dominating in the cold war times and in the times immediately after the cold war. An argument from globalization is that the financial crisis has been a reminder of how we now really live in “one world” in economic, cultural, social and political terms. In this sense it can be argued that we need scenarios of cooperation with new interactions between major powers in the international community, which is establishing a regime of problem solving rather than confrontation.

With Hannah Arendt, we can argue that we are searching for a political conception of international relations that move beyond the legalistic conception of the international community. Hannah Arendt’s work after the second world war presents a critical discussion of Kantian cosmopolitanism. She offers novel views on human rights and the rights of citizens and she discusses the possibility of an international tribunal to deal with crimes against humanity. Also, her philosophy implies a critical reply to a naive “juridification” of international relations as marked by legal structures alone. Arendt proposes a solution for the reintegration in the political community after the fight with the wrongdoers. The international political community needs a dimension of civil society, as proposed by Arendt, to find a possible mediation of the double edge of cosmopolitanism. We can argue that Hannah Arendt understood the importance of a political foundation of the respect for the naked human being beyond the political relations of the nation state. This is what Arendt argued for when she coined her famous term of the foundation of human rights as the “right to have rights”.

In her 2006 book Another Cosmopolitanism (Oxford: Oxford University Press), Seyla Benhabib seems to propose a new version of Arendt’s older position. According to Benhabib, modern cosmopolitanism is not only about hospitality but also about the political and legal institutions to govern our world in order to deal with circulation of persons, capital, commerce, pollution, information, labor, goods, viruses, etc. Cosmopolitanism is about building political relations at the international level, so that people can enjoy the right to have rights in the international community. In particular, Benhabib defines human rights as universal ethical obligations that go beyond national sovereignty and are formulated within a form of law.

Benhabib argues that the challenge we face today is the construction of a jurisprudential theory that is able to reconcile the universality of human rights with the partiality of positive law. She deals with the problem, as Hannah Arendt also did, by focusing upon the rights of persons who reside within a state but who are excluded from its polity, i.e. legal and illegal aliens. Thus, Benhabib takes up the challenge of the double edge of cosmopolitanism by arguing for the search of a legal foundation of cosmopolitan citizenship beyond positive law alone.

When Benhabib deals with the double edge of cosmopolitanism she answers this question by drawing on Kant’s doctrine of cosmopolitan rights, which she attributes to Kant’s thesis that ”The law of world citizenship shall be limited to conditions of universal hospitality” – hospitality covering the relationship between states and strangers. With Benhabib we can argue that the double edge of cosmopolitanism lies within the confrontation between republican national law and international relations, because the law of hospitality intersects with the positive law of the state. Specifically, Benhabib focuses upon the point of intersection between these two dimensions. On the one hand we have the Republican opening towards the international community in the republican public sphere; on the other hand we have the mediation between the cosmopolitan norms and the republican community.

Benhabib argues that we can propose a solution to the tension of the double edge of cosmopolitanism by means of a cosmopolitan law that emerges from increasingly conscious public debates in democracies, where the norms of cosmopolitanism are accepted as basic human rights into the positive constitutions of republic societies. In this sense universal norms are mediated into the will formation of democratic societies, so that cosmopolitan norms are becoming integrated into the republican framework of democracy.

An illustration of this kind of democratic development of the cosmopolitan norms and of the “democratic iteration” is for example the European Union, where citizenship is expanded in a cosmopolitan direction. However, the contradiction between the universality of ethics and the particularity of law can never fully be overcome and there is always room for national sovereignty where laws are made.

When we talk about a civil justification for the emergence of cosmopolitan norms, we can argue that this justification of cosmopolitan hospitality emerges within the framework of democratic community because people are becoming more and more acquainted with others beyond their national borders and cultures with norms of reciprocity and respect. In this perspective there is a genuine hope that cosmopolitan norms are internalized in local cultures, democracies and populations. However, this is not enough according to legal theorist Seyla Benhabib. Cosmopolitan norms must also be based on a legal framework. In Another Cosmopolitanism, for example, Benhabib discusses the case of European citizenship as a token of the increased movement towards the development of such cosmopolitan norms.

Still, there remains the danger of a cosmopolitan stateless future. Benhabib argues that we should imagine a future where ”civil, social and some political rights” are not related to national belonging. In this context, universal cosmopolitanism is situated between law and ethics, universality and particularism, nation and international community. When we search for a philosophical foundation of these cosmopolitan norms, we can look back at the philosophy of Hannah Arendt who argued, as we have already said, that the most important thing is the right ” to have rights”.

We can say that Hannah Arendt’s book about the Eichmann trial — Eichmann in Jerusalem. Essay on the Banality of Evil (London: Penguin Books 1964/1981) — was fundamentally a book about cosmopolitanism and international law. This is true in particular when Arendt deals with crimes against humanity, where genocide is conceptualized as the crime against humanity, or rather the crime against humanness or the right to be human. The issue of the cosmopolitan double edge, i.e. how to mediate between national legal structures and moral universalism, can be answered by reference to the Eichmann trial. This trial marks the beginning of cosmopolitan norms. It is a trial for crimes against humanity that goes beyond the traditional boundaries of legal positivism.

If we look more closely at Arendt’s book about Eichmann and follow Seyla Benhabib at the same time, we can argue that cosmopolitanism is not only the Kantian horizon that as we may infer from Arendt’s letters to Karl Jaspers — Jaspers being himself a Kantian cosmopolitan — but an ideal of civic republicanism combined with a vision of political self-determination as the foundation of true hospitality in cosmopolitanism. So the emergence of global civil society as the movement from international to cosmopolitan norms of justice can only be accomplished as long as it draws with it principles of civic republicanism.

Concepts such as ”the right to universal hospitality” and ”the right to have rights” are certainly Arendt’s legacy of Kantian cosmopolitanism. Yet she adds a normative force that can emerge only within a republican, democratic framework of legal norms. These concepts, in other words, should have a binding power. The idea is that the ”right to have rights” indicates rights of universal hospitality that triumphs over positive law, but can also be within positive law, because it is founded on republican self-governance and autonomy.

We need more than the formal political construction of the cosmopolitan norms of human rights. The international human rights regime, crimes against humanity, humanitarian interventions and transnational migration norms should all be based on civic republican recognition of the right to have rights. So cosmopolitan justice must be based on a kind of nationally sanctioned international law of peoples, where the tension between sovereignty and hospitality is overcome through the act of self-legislation as an act of self-constitution under a cosmopolitan perspective.

Benhabib says that ”Liberal democracies must learn to negotiate these paradoxes between the spread of cosmopolitan norms and the boundedness of democratic communities”: according to her, the development of cosmopolitan norms is characterized by democratic Iterations between the local, the national and the global.

5. Conclusion

Following Hannah Arendt and Benhabib, we can argue that cosmopolitanism emerges as the power of democratic forces within a global civil society and this helps to a construction of international norms that goes beyond the tension between cosmopolitanism and national sovereignty. What is characteristic of the new cosmopolitanism, at least according to this view, is that citizenship and political membership are no longer based on culture and collective identity. As exemplified by the case of the European Union, the conflict between sovereignty and hospitality is no longer so important. Accordingly, a new discussion of politics implies the search for new forms of political agency in cosmopolitan times, where we recognize what Benhabib calls the “democratic iterations” of the concept of democracy and citizenship. And this recognition will help to develop new foundations of democracy in international politics.

Moreover, by protecting universal rights that are dependent on the charter and declarations of the United Nations, corporations can act for good international relations that go beyond the interests of particular communities of republics and nations. By doing this, corporations, when they really want to appear as good citizens, can help to build a world community that implies the universalization of the procedural virtues of liberal society. Corporations can at the same time be cosmopolitan and situated in particular societies, in the sense that they foster universal principles while making those principles work in concrete practice. In this sense, the post-crisis scenarios can be a development of a new cosmopolitanism in both international politics and in the activities by corporations and other organizations and institutions helping to build up an international civil society.