ABSTRACT

Kant’s political philosophy is undergirded by a blurred sketch of freedom rendered by Kant as a citizen of the world, or ‘a citizen for all humanity’. Kant’s narrative of political freedom is one of constrained reflexive freedom from a republican-cosmopolitan point of view. Kant analyses and critiques types of power as either asymmetrical or potestas (or in his terminology, bi-lateral power) or symmetrical or potentia (or again in his terminology, omnilateral power). Potestas or potentia can be either despotic or democratic. When power is comported as potestas it takes the form of paternalism, patrimonialism, slavery, colonialism. More recently it has been created as redemptive and Jacobin political forms, or instrumentalised and/or governmentalised through Executive control. When power is comported as potentia, it occurs through the formation of a republican nation state constituted through the constitutional ground of civil society and includes a federal rather than centrist arrangement within and between republican nation states, and a cosmopolitan attitude to one another. Kant’s notion of autonomy is the condition of his image of the cosmopolitan attitude – the attitude of civil society, including migrants and refugees from conflict.