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New Left Review 11, September-October 2001


A reigning doctrine of international relations proclaims that, despite everything, the world is entering a new epoch of hopeful cosmopolitanism—narrow state sovereignty being overcome by the common and, where necessary, armed resolve of a ‘Pacific Union’ of democratic nations. What then of the asymmetric hegemony of the United States?

PETER GOWAN

NEOLIBERAL COSMOPOLITANISM

Over the past decade a strong ideological current has gained prominence in the Anglo-American world, running parallel to the discourse of globalization and rhetorically complementing it. Indeed, in official parlance it is the more insistent of the two, and seems likely to become all the more clamorous in the aftermath of September 11th 2001. We may call it the new liberal cosmopolitanism, as distinct from the more democratic cosmopolitanism defended here by Daniele Archibugi. [1] See ‘Cosmopolitical Democracy’, NLR 4; and the subsequent discussions of it in Geoffrey Hawthorn, ‘Running the World through Windows’, NLR 5; David Chandler, ‘International Justice’, NLR 6; Timothy Brennan, ‘Cosmopolitanism and Internationalism’, NLR 7. I will return to the relations between ‘liberal’ and ‘democratic’ versions at the end of this article. Its theorists are for the most part to be found in international relations departments of the Anglophone universities, though some have been seconded to offices of the UN Secretariat or NATO protectorate in Bosnia. [2] For leading statements of this current, see Michael Doyle, ‘A Liberal View: Preserving and Expanding the Liberal Pacific Union’, in T. V. Paul and John Hall, eds, International Order and the Future of World Politics, Cambridge 1999 and Michael Doyle, ‘Kant, Liberal Legacies and Foreign Affairs’, Philosophy and Public Affairs, Summer/Fall 1983; see also Seyom Brown, New Forces, Old Forces and the Future of World Politics, Glenview, IL 1988; James Rosenau, ‘Citizenship in a Changing Global Order’, in Rosenau and Ernst-Otto Czempiel, eds, Governance without Government: Order and Change in World Politics, Cambridge 1992; Larry Diamond, ‘The Globalization of Democracy’, in Ray Kiely and Phil Marfleet, eds, Globalization and the Third World, London 1998; Paul Taylor, ‘The United Nations in the 1990s: Proactive Cosmopolitanism and the Issue of Sovereignty’, Political Studies, 47, 1999, pp. 538–65; Richard Falk, Positive Prescriptions for the Near Future, Princeton Center for International Studies, Paper No. 20, 1991. Doyle has served as an observer in Bosnia, Falk as a consultant to Annan. Viewed historically, the new doctrine is a radicalization of the Anglo-American tradition that has conceived itself as upholding a liberal internationalism, based on visions of a single human race peacefully united by free trade and common legal norms, led by states featuring civic liberties and representative institutions. Such liberal internationalism sought to create a global order that could enforce a code of conduct on the external relations between states. But it still essentially accepted the Westphalian system that granted states jurisdiction over their own territories.

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Related articles:

  1. Daniele Archibugi: Demos and Cosmopolis As representative democracy spreads it is steadily thinning: the nation-states that have been its traditional framework are losing much of their power. Popular sovereignty can only be recovered, Daniele Archibugi argues, in a cosmopolitan order antithetical to its simulacrum in the ‘international community’ of today.
  2. David Chandler: 'International Justice' Every military expedition by the West now dons the mantle of human rights. What happens to international law when justice is the name of power? The charade of NATO’s tribunal in The Hague.

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