World Map Photo. Photo credit: Openphoto.net.
  World Map Photo. Photo credit: Openphoto.net.

The Myth of Cosmopolitanism

NY Times Op-Ed
4 July, 2016

“Genuine cosmopolitanism is a rare thing. It requires comfort with real difference, with forms of life that are truly exotic relative to one’s own. It takes its cue from a Roman playwright’s line that “nothing human is alien to me,” and goes outward ready to be transformed by what it finds.

The people who consider themselves “cosmopolitan” in today’s West, by contrast, are part of a meritocratic order that transforms difference into similarity, by plucking the best and brightest from everywhere and homogenizing them into the peculiar species that we call “global citizens.”

This species is racially diverse (within limits) and eager to assimilate the fun-seeming bits of foreign cultures — food, a touch of exotic spirituality. But no less than Brexit-voting Cornish villagers, our global citizens think and act as members of a tribe.”

This short excerpt from this NY Times editorial contribution illustrates why cosmopolitan worldviews do not connect with most people. And why the human rights discourse as a key feature of this cosmopolitan identity is effectively rejected by a large part of the electorate when it doesn’t concern them directly and immediately.

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