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Why Cosmopolitanism is the Future.

Updated on May 19, 2014

Cosmopolitanism Defined

Wikipedia broadly sums up cosmopolitanism as 'the ideology that all human ethnic groups belong to a single community based on a shared morality.'

Cosmopolitans advocate global human rights regardless of geographical location, race, or religion and they claim that state borders are mere arbitrary lines, meaningless.

So in other words, they want the world to work together, arguably as one giant state.

John Rawls

The theory stemmed from Rawls' thought experiment of the veil of ignorance (which was basically the resurgence of political philosophy in the 70s) which puts human beings in 'the original position'. The experiment aims to justify the politics quite close to what we have today, explaining that people with no knowledge of who they are, what background they were from, what ethnicity they were, and all those other factors that may interfere with well-being, would create laws that maximise the minimum. This means that when they emerge from the veil of ignorance, it won't matter whether they have masses of inherited wealth or are of the homeless population, because the rules they set out under the veil ensure that everyone's basic needs are met, no matter what their situation.

The cosmopolitans took this to apply to geographical location too, which is a rational observation to make, and so was created their ideology.

Rawls however, was uncomfortable with the direction his theory was heading. Cosmopolitanism is an abstract ideology that not everyone will find accessible. His original theory of justice though is familiar ground for the public and this is how his philosophies were taken so well. So he published another book which basically said: 'just to clarify, behind the veil of ignorance you are aware of which state you belong to.' Ah. Ok. Issues here. But we'll go into that another time.

Now you know where the theory stems from, lets discuss why cosmopolitanism is an inevitable position.

Cosmopolitanism in Independence Day

I'm just gonna go out on a limb here and assume you've all seen Independence Day, it is a bit of a classic after all.

If you haven't, basically (spoiler alert) what happens at the end is that the world joins forces to sort the aliens out.

So there you have it. Cosmopolitanism in practice.

When in times of great disaster, we unite.

Now, when the inevitable happens and we do discover extra terrestrial life, we'll have to explain to them that we're from planet Earth. We wouldn't tell them what state we're from!

What I'm saying is, we're part of a larger identity. Things are growing.

Hundreds of years ago we may have introduced ourselves as 'so and so of such and such village' because our world wasn't so big. We had no means to travel so our village or our city was all we knew. And if we ever did get the chance to move away, chances are we didn't go very far.

But then things started to branch out, new land was discovered, new islands, new territories. We started to expand and we needed a way to monitor this so we drew some lines on a map , pointed, and said: 'there! That can be a state.' Now that we had planes, trains and automobiles we could travel across the globe, so we started introducing ourselves as 'so and so from such and such state'.

But now we're even further from that. Now we've got space travel and it's only a matter of time until planets become involved. And when that happens, we'll identify ourselves as the planet we come from, like in Star Wars.

And if we have an alien invasion we'll band together.

But more importantly, (and this is probably the more likely scenario) we'll unite when faced in any global disaster, whether economic, environmental, whatever, we'll have to work together at some point in our future.

Are the borders on this map not a little bit random?
Are the borders on this map not a little bit random?

Did You Know?

We're already trying methods to protect the planet as a whole. Not from alien invasion, granted, but from asteroids on collision courses with earth.

So okay, the whole planetary state and space expansion thing is a little far fetched, but a planetary crisis isn't. We're going to have to come together at some point because we're going to be faced with disaster, we can't avoid it forever. And that would be much easier to do if we've already taken up the cosmopolitanism lifestyle.

If you had to pick between the two...

See results

In Conclusion...

Cosmopolitanism is an extreme theory. So is my analogy above. And it faces many issues in practice. But so does the system we have today.

I'm not completely convinced that it is an ideology than can be achieved but wouldn't it just be lovely if it could?

I want to know your opinion

If you have anything to add,

Anything to criticise,

Anything to say at all,

Use the comment section below.

I look forward to engaging with you.


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    • Amy Naylor profile imageAUTHOR

      Amy Naylor 

      4 years ago from England

      I agree with you on all levels.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      History shows us the evils inherent with nationalism. Having said that, I would be blown away metaphorically speaking if we ever reached the point of cosmopolitanism. I wish it would happen but I am very doubtful.


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