Review of Will Kymlicka’s Multicultural Citizenship



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The Democratization of Boundaries and Citizenship

Transgovernmental Relations and Networks


First, let us have a look at what transnationalism is and what it means for our concepts of sovereignty and citizenship. As early as the 70s, Keohane and Nye began distinguishing transgovernmental from transnational relations, the former being interactions crossing state boundaries involving sub-state units that are not strictly controlled by top levels of government, while the latter refers to interactions crossing state boundaries by state and supra-state groups (Keohane & Nye, 1974). This definition was later employed by Risse-Kappen (1995) and again later by Slaughter141 who upholds transgovernmental networks as “the blueprint for the international architecture of the 21st century” (Slaughter, 2000, p. 197). Transgovernmental relations require a new form of enhanced multilateralism, involving greater peer-to-peer cooperation, networking and interaction. As Slaughter says.

The spread of transgovernmental networks will depend more on political and professional convergence than on civilizational boundaries. Trust and awareness of a common enterprise are more vulnerable to differing political ideologies and corruption than to cultural differences (2000, p. 121)

Our common success and accountability, Slaughter argues, will depend on multi-level coordination and active networking between individuals, societies and governments beyond the territorially-based nation-state model which holds the nation as primary unit/actor.

Indeed, regional and international alliances have, unlike the national model, never been premised on the idea of a singular people. When we are looking at the world society, it is of necessity multicultural, and as we begin to see how the world can come together and think difference at the macro-level, we can begin to explore this on the meso- and micro-levels as well. Legal philosopher and Scottish politician Neil MacCormick says that if we could move on from the nation-state model to a transnational one – embracing many groups and traditions, then a lot of potential conflict could be reduced, such that “one identity ceases to be necessarily at the price of denying another” (MacCormick, 1999, p. 86)142. Indeed, Slaughter optimistically says that such a “new world order” is emerging, with new forms of sovereignty being founded and state sovereignty becoming “unbundled” (Slaughter, 2000). As Slaughter says,

The state is not disappearing, it is disaggregating into its separate, functionally distinct parts. These parts – courts, regulatory agencies, executives, and even legislatures – are networking with their counterparts abroad, creating a dense web of relations that constitutes a new, transgovernmental order (2000, p. 113).

In other words, the state is remaining a primary actor in the world, not as an autonomous unit that rejects interference from other actors or parties but as an integral player in a new system that embraces both sub- and supra-national actors (Slaughter, 2000, p. 113). This means a redefinition of sovereignty says Slaughter, no longer singular centralised control over internal affairs but sovereignty in terms of important membership and status (Chayes 1995) and a strong voice or position in the international community (Slaughter, 2000, p. 121). As Slaughter forecasted, “the next generation of international institutions is also likely to look more like the Basle Committee, or, more formally, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, dedicated to providing a forum for transnational problem-solving and the harmonization of national law” (2000, p. 121).

The aim of transgovernmental networks, says Slaughter and Hale, is “to unleash the kind of creativity and collaboration that produces, say, Wikipedia, while maintaining quality control and enough discipline to ensure that the holes get filled and new projects undertaken.” (Slaughter & Hale, 2010, p. 58) This requires governments adapting to a newly networked world of mutual influence and coordination. Transgovernmental networks are informal and “complex communication channels” that offer opportunities for increased learning, experimentation, sharing of best practices, and gaining influence through expertise and reasoning (in other words, the socialization of norms and values) (Slaughter & Hale, 2010). Slaughter and Hale argue that such networks offer a solution in particular for increasing the participation of emerging powers, such as the BRICs, who might otherwise find it difficult to join more formal organizations, such as the WTO for example.

In a similar voice, Fred Dallmayr and William E. Connolly describe how the traditional nation-state is being undermined from above and below through “network pluralism” (Connolly) and “cross-territorial conversations” (Dallmayr)

To come to terms with the pivotal role of the territorial state is to see how organizations of citizens within it can also set the state for non-state, cross territorial citizen assemblages that apply pressure to states from inside and outside simultaneously. (Connolly, 2001, p. 350)

Borrowing the term “Rhizome” from Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari from their work A Thousand Plateaus, Connolly says that we need to now “affirm a more rhizomatic or network vision of pluralism.” A rhizome is a stem of a plant that sends puts out roots and shoots as it grows, which Deleuze and Guattari used as a metaphor for the way in which ideas are multidimensional, interrelated, interactive, and self-replicating (often taken retrospectively as a prescient text describing what would later be seen as an astonishingly accurate description of the Internet). It is worthwhile mentioning the original text by Deleuze and Guattari, to understand better what Connolly is getting at when he speaks of network pluralism:

The rhizome connects any point to any other point, and its traits are not necessarily linked to traits of the same nature; it brings into play very different regimes of signs, and even nonsign states...It is composed not of units but of dimensions, or rather directions in motion. It has neither beginning nor end, but always a milieu from which it grows and which it overspills...The rhizome operates by variation, expansion, conquest, capture, offshoots...the rhizome pertains to a map that...is always detachable, connectable, reversible, modifiable, and has multiple entryways and exits. (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987/2004)

Certainly, the impact of the digital revolution has altered not only our identities but also, in many respects, our ways of thinking about identity and relationships, as authors such as Connolly and Slaughter clearly demonstrate. Transgovernmental networks or cross-state citizen networks, all spell out that our societies are becoming increasingly interconnected, fast-paced and responsive, and are challenging former ways of belonging, opening new creative frontiers in communications. Given this increasing globalization and transgovernmentalism, what can we say about culture, borders, and democracy? In what ways can we build on or modify the insights of Kymlicka to adapt them to these new global realities?


Patriotism


First, considering the importance of nationalism and national unity to the theory of Kymlicka, let us begin by asking what is the place of patriotism and love of nation given this context of our increasing inter-culturality and mobility? In a shrinking world of global responsibilities and grossly asymmetric power, can liberals still uphold the value of patria? Can we still cling to the impassioned idea that this particular country, this “homeland”, these particular neighbours or compatriots can hold a place deeper in my heart and therefore are owing a form of solidarity with me in a way that disparate others to whom I have no close association do not? Indeed, it is a normal human reaction to love those who are closest to us. Those who would argue for an impartial world in which we value equally every person, regardless of their origin or creed or contributions, seem to belie something intrinsic to the human psyche, the natural tendency inherent in all of us to cling to our mothers and our babies.

If we return to the oft-repeated thought-experiment of two people drowning, whereby you could save one of them by pulling him or her onto a boat but not the other, would you save your mother before a stranger? The natural – and deeply humanly emotional – inclination is that anyone would save the person closest to him or her, the one they know best and love the most. But our visceral reactions stand against our reason, which should guide our moral conduct to correspondingly affirm the equal worth and potential of every human being, making the boat dilemma an intractable one. There is a difference however between the private valuations of our family on the one hand, and the casting of our family associations into an abstract public affirmation of love of “nation” on the other hand (often fondled in our minds in the wrappings of “the motherland” or patria “fatherland” deriving from patrius “of or pertaining to the father”). Surely, the unequal relations that govern family life are far from the democratic ideals of egalitarianism with which we hope to govern our liberal systems, and hence, should not be taken as a reference point for our collective political identities143.

But where does this leave us? In a world of fast-paced change, dynamic cultures and porous borders, is there such thing as a unified “we”, a form of civic pride (pride in what? – a people, history, place, institutions?) that can compel us to act? I have already addressed why I think nationalism as the primary locus of identity and concern is insufficient and indeed harmful. Other authors have attempted to provide a counterpoint to unhealthy national sentiments and attachments by distinguishing nationalism on the one hand from what they see as a more healthy motivation of “patriotism” on the other. Two scholars who stand out in this respect are Italian political theorist Maurizio Viroli and German philosopher Jürgen Habermas.

In “For Love of Country: An Essay on Patriotism and Nationalism” (1995), Viroli describes the historical genesis of the term patria and distinguishes it from natio. He wants to remove the concept of patriotism from its embeddedness in the corrupting concept of vulgar nationalism, and restore it to its original republican virtue of “love of political institutions” or love of “the common liberty of a people”. In these earliest conceptions, it was clear which of the two –patrio and natio – were to be preferred, Viroli quotes Cicero in saying that the bonds of citizenship are more “closer and more dignified” than those of nation (Viroli, 2000, p. 269). Nationalism, a concept that arose at the end of the 18th century – moulded in the language of Fichte and Herder – steeped patriotism in culture and the notions of unity or oneness in a way that patriotism had not done before. This movement gained force in the 19th century with the spread of empires, whereby nationalism became further enwrapped in the language of the grand monarchies and imperialism of the day. Viroli advocates a return to an earlier form of patriotism, one that might be considered a purely political one.

Although Viroli develops an eloquent historical defence for a renewal of what he deems a “true” or purer form of patriotism, it is questionable whether his patriotism in practice would be very different from the very nationalism he eschews. Indeed, Viroli is a strong supporter of Republican virtues for uniting the people (not necessarily confined to national borders or to the place from which we were born) for consolidating their liberty. Quoting from Livy’s History, Viroli says that it was “charity towards the republic (caritas reipublicae) that gave Brutus the moral strength to overcome his reluctance and accomplish the unpleasant but necessary task of speaking against Lucius Tarquinius before the people of Rome” (Viroli, 2000, p. 269). It is this sense of Republican virtue that gives citizens the motivation to defend liberty and to fulfil their duties of citizenship. Nevertheless, “love of country” in the end still comes back to a love of “patria”. Although Viroli tries to rid the notion of its cultural manifestations by locating it in the “neutral” vestments of noble “liberty” and its institutions, he himself describes how patriotism is essentially an emotive force of passion, which compels the citizens to act towards the service of the common good.

An alternative model of patriotism is offered by Jürgen Habermas with his concept of Constitutional Patriotism (1992). Habermas defends this post-nationalist conception, which posits that shared citizenship should rest not on shared history or ethnicity, but on commitment to a shared political community. Czech social and political scientist Karl Wolfgang Deutsch makes a similar distinction predating that of Habermas about the differences between patriotism and nationalism. “Patriotism,” says Deutsch, “appeals to all residents of a country, regardless of their ethnic background” (1953, p. 232). To the contrary, “Nationalism appeals to all members of an ethnic group, regardless of their country of residence” (Deutsch, 1953, p. 232). It is towards this former purely political conception of citizenship, analogous to that of the pre-modern world that Viroli wishes for a return to. Yet, Habermas does not exactly believe we can return to a proto-national sense of civic identity anymore.

Now, living in a post-modern disenchanted world, the best we can aim for is a form of relativism, in which we can identify the biases latent within our own positions and strive to see the views of others more impartially. Jan-Werner Muller says that to understand Habermas’s concept of “Constitutional Patriotism” (Verfassungspatriotismus), we must properly situate it within its historic development, which he says is deeply influenced by the sense of both collective guilt and collective responsibility felt in Germany in the post-war years, tracing the origins of the concept back to the German philosopher Karl Jaspers. In a letter to Hannah Arendt, Jaspers wrote, “Germany is the first nation that, as a nation, has gone to ruin”, and with relief, “now that Germany is destroyed, I feel at ease for the first time.” (Arendt-Jaspers, 1985, 82, 83 as cited in Muller, 2006, p.281). Habermas, was writing at a time when other theorists were beginning to reinvoke former nationalist sentiments, something Habermas forcefully opposed.

No longer a community based on shared descent, the post-modern condition relies on a medium of “abstract, legally constructed solidarity” in which we guarantee political participation (Habermas J. , 2004, p. 76) Through self-reflexivity, we can try to understand the impact of social conventions and desires on our own complex identity formation (Muller, 2006, p. 281). Particularly important for Habermas, is the need to create a space for public deliberation, to secure active communication with which to create and agree on our constitutional norms. Yet, the question of what would stimulate loyalty on the part of citizens to abstract legal conventions (as opposed to a particular people or nation), has led to what Muller describes as a sort of “aspirational oxymoron” in Habermas’s writings (Muller, 2006, p. 293). The second critique of his theory, one to which Kymlicka would be party, is that ethnicity cannot be separated from politics and therefore the abstract principles to which Habermas wants us to give our loyalty, are themselves deeply rooted in particularistic cultural structures.

Kymlicka himself however also makes a distinction between patriotism and nationalism; he cites the example of Switzerland and states that its three national groups feel allegiance to the state not out of nationalism but out of “feelings of common loyalty” due to “shared patriotism” (Kymlicka, 1995, p. 13). Hence, he prefers not to label Switzerland a nation-state, but better a multi-nation state. But this does not quite capture the point that Habermas is trying to make. More clearly, Habermas is saying that ethnos and demos must be separated in a post-national multicultural world (Van De Putte, 2003, p. 12); something Kymlicka denies is possible. Yet, other authors are less sceptical about the aims of Habermas’s project. Despite his “communitarian” leanings, Charles Taylor, in a note replying to Robert Bellah’s Critique of his book “A Secular Age: Religion in the Public Sphere”, concedes that constitutional patriotism “is the only game in town for democracies in a ‘post-Durkheimian’ age.” (Taylor, 2008) He summarizes the beauty of Habermas’s position as such: “It’s constitutional, because we rally around moral/political principles, but it’s patriotism because we are fiercely attached to our particular historical project of realizing these.” (Taylor, 2008) Taylor describes Habermas’s model as the “least dangerous form of social-cohesion” in which one’s country’s institutions and basic principles form the basis of solidarity.

But not all liberal defenders agree that patriotism can ever be completely free of danger. Martha Nussbaum, in an essay called “Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism” first published in the Boston Review in October/November 1994, questioned the value of patriotism in the modern world – and more specifically in America. It was a watershed article that stimulated a tremendous and unprecedented conversation among American political scientists on a topic they scarcely touch on – the patriotism at the heart of the American social and political scene. In the article, Nussbaum describes the overt failings of the American education system to provide a curriculum that instilled awareness and empathy beyond its own borders. The article, mostly written in response to prior writings by Richard Rorty and Sheldon Hackney that encouraged a revitalization of liberal pride in American identity, describes such patriotism as morally problematic, in an age of global interdependence and human rights.

Instead of this form of nationalistic patriotism, Nussbaum looks back to the more universalist form of civic belonging espoused by the ancient Stoics, that of the kosmou politês – the world citizen (as Diogenes famously said, “I am a citizen of the world”). Nussbaum says that a cosmopolitan can “recognize humanity wherever she encounters it and be eager to understand humanity in its ‘strange’ guises” (Nussbaum, 1997). Being aware of the needs and points of view of others does not negate the meaning attached to our own local affiliations; our identity proceeds in a series of concentric circles, stretching first from the self, and then outwards until it encompasses all humanity says Nussbaum. In understanding others, we in turn, have gain a greater self-understanding; in a sense there is a dual movement both outwards and back again inwards from the world to ourselves. Equipped with this greater understanding of the world, Nussbaum insists we need to put “Right” before “country”, and thereby better fulfill our real obligations to the world144.

While I consider Habermas’s constitutional patriotism to be “thin” enough to avoid most of the closed-minded risks associated with patriotism as Nussbaum describes it, I nevertheless find Nussbaum’s critique of patriotism, and in particular patriotic curriculum building or other dissemination of forms of national pride, to be a cogent warning about the dangers of pride – particularly pride with an abstract or reified sense of “we” at the centre of it. Interestingly, although Nussbaum does not make direct reference to it herself, the writings she draws from the Stoics have a direct parallel in Hindu philosophy. Certainly, Nussbaum’s love of India is apparent and is reflected in her writings, she has collaborated with the award-winning economist Amartya Sen, and has been heavily influenced by the humanist writings of Rabindranath Tagore (whom she actually quotes as a way of starting this particular article). In Hindu philosophy, a person’s true self, the Atman, is coterminous with the Universal Spirit of Brahman. In this monistic existential view, in contrast to dualistic or theistic notions of the divine, all beings are connected to one another, and at bottom all are one and the same.

This notion of mutual interconnectedness is captured in the writings of Nussbaum in her concern for our common humanity and for inculcating care for those far removed from our immediate spheres of belonging, and it is precisely in this area of enlarged concern where I feel that Kymlicka’s theory can do more. What is needed in Kymlicka’s theory is the idea that whole is greater than the sum of its parts, so clearly demonstrated in nature in highly complex systems – from snowflakes to subterranean termites. These complex systems are a helpful way of situating our belonging in a complex ecosystem in which one’s actions have incalculable effects on millions or indeed billions of anonymous others. Can we ever again reach a stage where we will be able to say “I am a human being” or “I am a citizen of the world” as Diogenes once did, with equal feeling to how we proclaim “I am an Italian, a German, an American”? Will we be able to place pride in a mutual pursuit of justice, one that does not have to be grounded in the limited motives of a “country” and its statesmen in the way that patriotic men of past centuries flocked to flood the nameless throngs of armies to fight in the name of the nation?

Again, returning to innovations in technology, I believe we have already made this leap – or at least those who have access to the Internet have. The “otherized” foreigner, with the help of technology is no longer lumped together anonymously, but is an accessible array of networked individuals: each with a name, a personal story, a unique history, and ideas. Human networks now cut across cultures and space, revealing the nuances and ruptures within our own groups and cultures which previously were unnoticed. Further, our social sciences are being radically reconfigured with the massive amounts of data newly accessible to us. Identity, in the midst of this upheaval, is in a maelstrom. But, in the midst of this maelstrom, people across the globe are speaking up for justice and for human rights for others from across the globe – be it the survivors of the Japanese Tsunami or the defenders of the Arab Spring, with precisely the concern for our fellow human beings that Nussbaum says is needed.


Global Governance


With a view to these changing global circumstances, many political theorists have argued that the seat of future democracy in the “new world order” is no longer adequately situated at the national level but must elevated to a global scale. Habermas, identifying the tension between international law recognizing the sovereignty of states, and also the normative ideal of equal rights for all, says that sovereignty must be located at the global level. The word sovereign is derived from the French souverain – meaning in Latin “from above” and associated with reign. Under the national system, this ultimate power resides in the state itself, which is able to fully determine its own affairs without interference. Habermas finds this unjustifiable in our increasingly globalized world; injustice in someone else’s backyard is as much my concern as it is theirs, and supreme justice should lie above the reigns of the elite heads of states, to a more accountable system of international justice.

Habermas refers to this process as “denationalization”. Economic liberalization has changed the state of the global market economy and along with it, has signified the stirrings of a new political order as well. (Habermas J. , 1997, p. 179). Democracy in this new setting is not defeated, says Habermas, although it is no longer confined to a particular territory. For Habermas, the nation state is simply no longer an appropriate unit for the political sphere. While it once brought emancipation, this is no longer the case. Problems are now global, so their solutions should be as well. Foreign affairs of nations are domestic affairs of the globe says Habermas.

Habermas’s proposed system of a singular global order is nevertheless behind Kymlicka’s theory in the sense that Kymlicka clearly recognizes that traditional centres of authority do not properly give recognition to all peoples. A single global government also risks that it will not have proper checks and balances to avoid the rise of tyranny, making emphasis on an inter-state system, such as described by Kant, a better alternative145. However, where Habermas goes beyond Kymlicka is in his recognition of the limitations of confining democracy to a “community of fate who’s members care about and wish to share each other’s fate” (Kymlicka, 2001b, p. 320) and the need to integrate the immense changes of globalisation. Preserving borders and state authority overrides global concerns - and this is not only incorrect says Habermas but can also lead to conflict. Habermas himself is in no way condoning a singular world authority in the sense of the unilateral role the USA has assumed in past decades. Instead, Habermas seats the strength of internationalization in a “systematic legislation of international relations, a project already altering the parameters of power politics” (Habermas J. , 1999, p. 269)146. In his view, is only at the world level that the pursuit of both the rights of universal citizenship and the rights of particularistic communities be resolved.

Developing these ideas, Rainer Forst, a former student of Habermas, offers a discerning look into how transnational justice can be brought about, with the “world as a whole [as] a context of justice” (2001, p. 161). He suggests a third way, between statist conceptions (“international” - wherein states remain the dominant actors and providers of justice) and globalists (those who see justice as accruing to each human person, regardless of their state membership) (2001, p. 160). Combining elements of both, Forst argues that transnational justice should “construct principles of justice for the establishment of just relations between autonomous political communities” while concomitantly “starting from a universal individual rights and by considering the global context as an essential context of justice” (Forst, 2001, p. 170). Forst’s aim to provide a balance between universal ideals and particularistic culture and attitudes is, as we have been exploring throughout this book, not an easy one.

Forst however has a practical solution to this problem, which can help establish the boundaries of engagement and dialogue. With a keen eye to the gross one-sided inequalities in the world system, and “severe and avoidable poverty worldwide” (Pogge 2001 as cited in Forst, 2001, p. 167), Forst says that we must make a distinction between what minimal and maximal justice requires. In a compelling argument, Forst says that on the minimal scale, we must include basic human rights along with an attempt to make justice between and within states more equitable, in the form, for example – of halting support to repressive dictators (Forst, 2001, p. 174). Minimal justice would entail considerations ranging from historic violence between states (in the form of colonization) to concern for the future of the world’s ecology (Forst, 2001, p. 175). By formulating a minimal standard of justice, a plurality of considerations can arise between equal actors wherein justice is attained both within and between states – which Forst rightly says, in light of current circumstances “would already be an enormous achievement” (2001, p. 176).

Looking back at the historical evolution of the concept of sovereignty, David Held says that the original concept of Westphalian sovereignty was developed in the context of a time when “might made right”, engrained in the original inter-state system and its segregation of territorial autonomy. Anyone who claimed a territory and marked it with a flag, up until the creation of the United Nations was a legitimate sovereign, or in other words, power-holder. The rise of international law, human rights and organizations like the UN led to the shift of sovereignty from “effective power” to “rightful authority” (at least in principle, says Held). (Held, 2011) “Cosmopolitanism is the new realism”. Realism is an impoverished way to view political activity. Held depicts cosmopolitanism as multi-layered, governed by a framework law based, similar to Habermas’s scheme on deliberation and consent, with active agency and self-determination, and affirming the equal worth of every human being. (Held, 2011)

To summarize so far, when thinking of transnational power arrangements, we need to look to the creation of sub- and supra-national regulatory bodies, active networks of communication and concern for others beyond our own immediate associative ties, locating democracy beyond the level of the nation-state towards a more global democratic accountability and fulfilment of global moral obligations – with a view to both maximal and minimal justice. While even a decade ago, most of this “wish list” would have still seemed a remote prospect, today as we move ever closer together as a human community, we increasingly look to the rule of law for strengthening and protecting our fellow human beings such that basic inviolable rights accrue to every human person.

Fairly Open Borders


Joseph Carens says that the erosion of distinctions between the rights of citizens and non-citizens is “something that is morally required as a matter of justice” (2000, p. 21). Borders in the current state of the world are sites of disproportionate use of force. The use of violence at borders is absolutely uncalled for and morally problematic says Carens. Unfortunately, he admits that those who decide policy on borders and migration are themselves often far removed from the grim realities of life as an irregular migrant, but as Carens says,

To Haitians in small, leaky boats confronted by armed Coast Guard cutters, to Salvadorans dying from heat and lack of air after being smuggled into the Arizona desert, to Guatemalans crawling through rat-infested sewer pipes from Mexico to California—to these people the borders, guards, and guns are all too apparent.

There is no justification of use of force against migrants. Carens argues that restriction on mobility is morally indefensible.

Carens builds his argument in the essay “Aliens and Citizens: The Case for Open Borders” (incidentally published in a collection of essays edited by Kymlicka in the book “The Rights of Minority Cultures”). He defends open borders by drawing from key liberal thought in three areas: 1. Robert Nozick, 2. John Rawls, and 3. Utilitarianism. First, in considering Nozick’s theory, he says that people have natural rights to property. Nozick’s conception of the state is a minimalist one; the role of the state is only to secure the rights of the people within a given territory. Carens argues that since this jurisdiction involves giving rights to all individuals within a particular territory, that accordingly Nozick would likely agree that these rights accrue to all human beings within that territory, whether they are citizens or not, and that there is no basis for the state to exclude aliens.

Regarding Rawls, Carens says that although Rawls writes about a “closed” system in which questions about immigration would not arise, the overall approach of Rawls can be widened further than Rawls himself allows for, with his original position being applied not only to justice within a society, but also justice across societies. As Carens says, “we should therefore take a global, not a national, view of the original position”. In applying Rawls’s difference principle on a global scale, Carens develops a case to reduce global inequalities. Ideal theory would cast Rawls’s difference principle onto a world of just states that are relatively equal to one another. In such a situation, the demand for migration would be relatively small, and hence the need to put restrictions would also be minimal. The non-ideal (real) world however is one beset by massive inequalities and migration flows are definitely much larger, however Carens argues that overall the restrictions justified even in non-ideal theory are still extremely limited. Looking to Utilitarian calculus, if one takes into consideration the interests of the migrants themselves, then the answer to the question of borders would be even less restrictive than the Rawlsian approach.

Carens compares the relatively open membership he traces above to the closed membership of communitarian thought, which he finds epitomized by Walzer who compares states to “clubs” that control the terms of admittance. Against this, Carens forcefully argues that borders, like feudal restrictions on mobility “protect unjust privilege”. Sovereignty does not require closed borders says Carens. To demonstrate, he describes federal systems where open borders between federal units does not override the sovereignty of those units. He says, “like property, sovereignty is a bundle of rights that can be divided up in many ways” (Carens, 2000, p. 31). In a world with great rifts in life chances, we can do more. While open borders may presently be unattainable, it is a goal we nevertheless need to head towards.

Yet, this idealistic reasoning of the 1980s was later modified by Carens, in what Linda Bosniak says was an exchange of “idealism” for “realism” (Bosniak, 2009). Against his critics, Carens modified his position slightly to admit that states were still the main arbiters of their borders, and are in fact able to set controls over membership. Indeed, he adds a new condition which Bosniak believes weakens his entire commitment to open borders, by stating that the longer irregular migrants have been present within a country, the stronger their case against deportation and “the moral claim to remain” since they are now part and parcel of the society in which they live (Carens J. , 2009). Other authors such as Roberto Suro, are even more scathing in their condemnation of Carens’s argument, for rightfully claiming that it codifies disenfranchisement of migrants and even encourages illegality (Suro, 2009). Carens response, seems to affirm Bosniak’s critique: he says that he is not retreating from his former idealism but is seeking common ground (with those in the closed border camp) as “an exercise in democratic engagement”, seemingly arguing that he is willing to get any concession from the closed borders camp, by offering strong arguments for claims of membership which even they cannot deny.

Seyla Benhabib is another author who has similarly argued for the need to assert the inviolable rights of every human person. Borrowing from Arendt, Benhabib powerfully argues that no human is illegal. Like Carens, she also argues that the right to movement is a fundamental human right (Croce, Archibugi, & Benhabib, 2010). Yet, despite recognizing the difficulties with closed borders, Benhabib also retreats somewhat and says that while open borders may be ethically defensible they are practically infeasible. She urges us instead to think in terms not of borders but of boundaries, a notion that implicitly accepts porosity, flexibility, and which is needed to secure the self-determination of democratic communities (Croce, Archibugi, & Benhabib, 2010). Benhabib recognizes that closed borders only lead to stultification of growth, states without policies of multiculturalism inevitably cut themselves off from the flow of knowledge, which has become the greatest source of power and stability in today’s world (Benhabib, 2005). She says that while the EU has come a long way by reducing internal borders between EU member states, they still lag behind (and thus inhibit the overall development of the EU) from the comparatively high restrictions upon non-EU members for entering the EU and for restrictions upon their participation. Migration flows are not always a losing game, Benhabib rightly points out. Indeed, while migration out of a country (as in the brain drain) may seem one-sided, often both the host/receiving and the sending/emigration country benefit because of additional remittances, knowledge transfer and exchange, which plays a large role in poverty reduction. Eventually, many migrants return to their home country, reinvigorated by what they have learned abroad, seeking to improve the quality of life of their original home country (Hanson, 2008).

Veit Bader, taking a slightly different approach than either Carens or Benhabib, argues for “contextualized morality and fairly open borders” (Bader, 2005, p. 353). The question for Bader is not about open or closed, but a question of degree. While some closure is necessary, Bader believes that until the “affluent states” are effectively meeting, what he calls their “Global Moral Obligations” (GMOs) (2005, p. 342), then even though “fairly open borders” may be difficult to implement, they are a matter of humanitarian justice. As Bader says, “looking back from a possible future, the philosophical defenders of state-sovereignty, non-intervention, and restrictive admission in our day might look to those happier people like the philosophical defenders of slavery look to us” (2005, p. 354). Indeed, at the very basic human level, Bader’s argument seems indisputable.

The public perception of migration however tends to be a divisive issue, beset by uninformed fears about the detrimental impact that migration may cause. In academia, the fact of migration and the diversity of our human societies is pretty much an accepted fact. Daniele Archibugi says therefore that intellectuals have a role to play in overcoming the gap between themselves and the public when it comes to cosmopolitanism (Croce, Archibugi, & Benhabib, 2010). To combat xenophobia, they need to dispel inaccurate representations by the media and educate the public. Academics must also recognize the economic duress underpinning many of these suspected threats, and point out how the community’s life prospects will not threatened by immigration and asylum. In Responding to Immigrants’ Settlement Needs: The Canadian Experience, Robert Vineborg argues that “A welcoming country is composed of welcoming communities and, indeed, welcoming individuals and families” (Vineborg, 2012). Vineborg lists the host program in Canada as an example of a successful scheme for integrating immigrants. Studies in Canada indicate that those immigrants who are made to feel welcome upon arrival and settlement are much more successful in their lives than those who are not. The report by Vineborg indicates that his process of “welcoming” needs to start as early as possible, even from before arrival in the receiving country.

Increasingly porous borders/boundaries de-link sovereignty from territory. In light of migration flows, we can see a need for reconfiguring citizenship rights and also the rights of non-citizens.

Universal Personhood


Indeed, sociologist and international relations expert, Yasemin Soysal says this new transnational order should be one wherein human rights prevail before citizen rights. She notes that the shift towards this new order is already underway and has been in progress ever since the post-war period when the rise of human rights became detached from national membership. Soysal says we need to go past the former model of citizenship as nationhood and introduce a new model of citizenship as universal personhood. Political philosophers should take some cues from recent deconstructionist social science literature and affirm commitment to viewing communities as open and transformative. Equality of status is the basis of this concept, which spills into the various spheres in which we live our lives. Our notions of citizenship are expanding as new groups within our societies become empowered, most notably with the only recent inclusion of women, among other singled-out racial groups.

After all, it is good to remember that democracy is a recent development (Held, 1992, p. 22).147 The extension of rights to all is a concept which certainly cannot be traced back to Athens, where women and slaves and a significant portion of the population were deemed non-persons and thus unable to participate in the world’s most emblematic democracy. Athens is a long way away, but its exclusion of significant portions of the society has continued in tradition until only recently. We now consider it evident that all members of the society should have the vote, in a way that we did not several years ago. But more than this, we believe that everyone – regardless of race or gender - should have a right not just to vote but also to be full participants in the democratic process. We also realize that the extension of these rights and participation in democracy goes beyond the ballot and lies in other forms of participatory engagement.

As our models of citizenship continue to evolve, equality becomes entitled to all individuals, whether they are members of the nation or not. Citizenship rights and duties extend beyond national borders and membership. Indeed, territorially bounded notions of citizenship are becoming a thing of the past148. This is clearly evidenced by migrant workers, who now are entitled to many rights that in the past they were denied. In addition to rights being secured beyond borders, rights within borders are also coming to fruition with minority rights finding their way into international law149.

While of course laws can be misapplied or under-applied, it does not negate the very real and important development towards what Soysal would call an acceptance of “universal personhood”, which occurred and has been developing since this time – culminating more recently with supplementary group rights in accordance with individual rights in international law. With the further theoretical construction and UN endorsement of Responsibility to Protect (R2P), we increasingly see multilateral actions to hold governments accountable to their people. Sovereignty is not only a question of power, but also of responsibility. Any sovereign who neglects its responsibility to protect its own people is to be contained/managed for the sake of prevention (prior to intervention) of mass atrocities and genocide, with a view to “Rwanda, never again”150.


Sovereignty and Europe

With this discussion on the challenges of sovereignty, I would like to make a small note with respect to the current Eurozone crisis. The current crisis of insolvency threatens to undermine one of the world’s longest standing successful regional unions, or “shared-sovereignty”. Sovereignty in Europe has always been an important and heated topic. One could argue that the current crisis faced is not so much a result of sharing sovereignty, as much as a resistance to it. As Margaret Thatcher put it in the Bruges Speech, in which she argued in favor of strong state sovereignty and a decentralized (weakened) authority for the conglomerate, "Europe will be stronger precisely because it has France as France, Spain as Spain, Britain as Britain, each with its own customs, traditions and identity." (Thatcher, 1988) With Europe now at the crossroads, this is the sort of attitude that Europeans must currently rethink as they look forward to the future, whether their future will be of divided sovereigns, or whether a deepening of European integration in which the common futures of all are protected. In an article entitled, “How to Avoid the ‘Zombification’ of Europe”, senior economic advisor George Magnus neatly lays out that the misdiagnosed roots of the crisis lay in imbalances in competitiveness between member states (Magnus, 2011). He says however, that “common ends have come second to national ones”, and the absence of a joint liability European bond market along with the overall lack of fiscal union and recognition of interconnectedness, means that while sovereign nations may have won, in the end they may all lose.

Addressing the crisis, Jean-Claude Trichet, President of the ECB has said that while Europe today is highly interconnected, both economically and socially, “fragmented national public discourse” hides this from view and obscures the public debate. Moving forward, he says that the conversation should engage Europeans across state borders and linguistic differences, and aim to spark interest in the other members’ affairs and joint futures, what Trichet calls in German, die Schaffung einer europäischen Öffentlichkeit. (Trichet, 2011) While the challenges of uneven competition in Europe may seem baffling, Trichet offers hope by looking backwards at the rise of the very bastion of the European economy today, Germany, which turned itself around from the economically difficult post-war years. Further, following reunification, Germany itself was internally divided and unequal in competition, yet the successful rebuilding of the German economy Trichet says, should offer hope to those European members which are facing difficulties today.

The future of Europe and its integration is of importance not only for Europe, but also for numerous countries and regions worldwide, which look to the European Union as a role-model of a successful regional alliance. Yet, the potential collapse of the EU may not ring the death knell for shared sovereignty. Other regions may begin to innovate more than previously, understanding that imitation is not the best (nor was it ever possible anyhow) (Bosco, 2011), and found their own new ways of regional cooperation.

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