chapter  7
18 Pages

Cosmopolitan citizenship

The idea of cosmopolitan or world citizenship seems to have appeared in Ancient Greece in the fourth century bc when the polis and associated civic virtues were in decline. The cynic philosopher Diogenes called himself a citizen of the world because he believed that the polis no longer had first claim on the individual’s allegiances. For Diogenes, the idea of world citizenship was used to criticize the polis rather than to develop a vision of a universal community of humankind. Enlightenment thinkers such as Kant used the concept in a more positive way to promote a stronger sense of moral obligation between the members of separate sovereign states. Since the Second World War, global social movements have resurrected the notion of cosmopolitan citizenship to defend a strong sense of personal and collective responsibility for the world as a whole and to support the establishment of effective global institutions for tackling global poverty, escalating environmental degradation and human rights violations (Dower 2000: 553). Several analysts of social movements maintain that cosmopolitan citizenship is a key element in the quest for a new language of politics, which challenges the belief that the individual’s central political obligations are to the nation-state. Cosmopolitan citizenship is regarded as a key theme in the continuing search for basic universal rights and obligations that can bind all peoples together in a more just world order.