There exists literature in International theories where the neo-political philosophical concept – COSMOPOLITANISM originates. Cosmopolitanism as a word traces its very origin from the Greek word- KOSMOPOLITIES, which in its literal sense implies- ‘Citizen of the world’. This notion has opened a wide spectrum of some important key views in socio-political philosophy. Be it as it may, this has also harbored the new approach in the purview of global politics. The undeniable truth is that without pursuing global problems together it is difficult to confront world issues as a whole. Since globalization, there has been high mobility of ideas and people across national borders, which gave rise to diversity in cultures. With that, the technological advancements which helped people across the globe come together are notable as it increased the sense of one community. In today’s time, it’s hard to live as isolated communities or stay segregated, which results in the realization of the importance of the idea of cosmopolitanism which solely believes in oneness among people with no discrimination. Asia is home to different political practices, ideologies, and a strong feeling of nationalism within its countries.
Taking a different road to the paradigm of cosmopolitan democracy of political theorist David Held, the author suggests the concept of single global citizenship that is based on a ‘shared sense of international identity’ with a multicultural society. He argues that this is a quintessential element in the growing new world order influenced by globalization. Talking about another tenet of cosmopolitanism- ‘Cosmopolitan citizenship’ which beliefs in a world view that emphasizes upon two scales i.e, the individual and the global, establishing proximity between the two notions. The’ Cosmopolitan Past’ mainly refers to the time when a lot more mixing of races and communities took place, at least in business and through certain associations, than is commonly assumed in superficial colonial histories. Drawing the example from Hongkong, which was founded through international trade. Today’s South Asians in Hong Kong have a lower status and sense of possibility than some of their forebears did. At the same time, past groups of Armenians, Jews, and Parsees all contributed to the mixed nature of Hong Kong society. This led to the emanation of heterogeneity coexisting in the state.
Championing ancient Cosmo-theories
Most cosmopolitan thinkers since primordial of the concept put the onus on the ancient Stoic philosophy, which even proposed devotion to a single moral collective, to humanity, envisioning a world with “no law, no compulsion, no currency, no temple”. Aristotle in his seminal work posits that our primary loyalty should be towards the State, which will, in turn, serve our interests which will result in the propagation of the feeling of belongingness. However the other cosmopolitans believe, one’s loyalty to humankind must be cultivated and prioritized above other loyalties. Kant urges for the importance of developing a common human morality but rejecting the feasibility of a world state, he instead envisions a federation of free states. A not-so-popular concept got advanced- ‘Muslim Cosmopolitanism’ the term has been put to use by scholars working on various Muslim regions such as Europe, the Middle East, Africa, South Asia, and East Asia. Although the concept suffers from being used too loosely and to describe anything that Muslims say and do which points towards some degree of inclusivity. Muslim cosmopolitanism in Southeast Asia is a style of thought, it’s a way of viewing the world where each one of us is part of a common community and humanity, at the same time accountable to God that we owe a sense of moral duty towards each other.
The Idea of Nationalism and Cosmopolitanism
Nationalism largely talks about belongingness to a group of humans with a similar culture, ethnicity, and language in determining themselves as members of a Nation. Unlike nationalism, cosmopolitanism belongs to everyone, not just a collection of individuals. The central concept of cosmopolitanism is equal moral principles, primary loyalty to the world’s human society and all human beings should be treated as fellow citizens and neighbors. They argue that many issues in the world need to be addressed not only to one nation but the world as a whole, including all humanity, such as global warming, global poverty, etc. The planet is renowned for its uneven distribution of wealth that benefits few nations and other nations are seen to suffer, resulting in many global problems and distinct standards of living within human beings subjected to the nation where one is born. Nationalists are known for their love of the ethnicity into which they are born and which ties their sense of belonging. Globally, that can result in racism as someone from another ethnicity will be at risk of being excluded. Cosmopolitanism is an ideology for the world to offer equality and peace.
Why cosmopolitanism in Asia?
With some shared and unshared history, the countries stand together within the continent of Asia. Asia is home to different religions, cultures, and languages. But the huge stand out is the politics of the region. There are varied forms of politics followed in the region such as constitutional monarchies, absolute monarchies, one-party states, dependent territories, liberal democracies, and military dictatorships. With such a huge landmass and population, the sense of unity that cosmopolitanism offers Asia can surely successfully emerge as the most powerful yet rich continent. Asia has the added benefit of high population and natural resources which can be put in use if one policy for the whole continent is formed, putting aside all the differences. The oneness between people and equality shall make Asia stand out and hard to compete with. The idea of complete cosmopolitanism in Asia can be seen as a bit ambitious, but as the world is moving forward to the openness of globalization this solution can be seen as the way for Asian countries to grow stronger together for global dominance. We can draw an example of how powerful and successful the EU is in maintaining good political and economic structure, which only happened because of cooperation and strong policies brought forward. Asia being home to a good number of third world countries, which is still developing there is a lot more to achieve than just political stability. But we often forget the fact that Asia is also home to first world countries like Japan and South Korea, which is known for their greatest innovations and policies. If joined hands, Asia has a lot to offer to the world and within itself.
It’s time for the world, let alone Asia to move ahead and have one politically stable system where everyone is treated equally without considering any of the national boundaries. The only way to attain success in this matter is to encourage research and experiments about the ideology of cosmopolitanism rather than staying with century-old ways of politics.
Global Approach: What happens in one part, affects the other too!
Having said that Cosmopolitanism is a world community or at an individual level is a citizen of the world, the environmental concern becomes a pivotal point of discussion.
This is a widely accepted fact about the global discourse that what happens in one part of the globe will naturally affect the other parts as well. This signifies that what occurs for one nation, that pervades across the world at large. For instance, thousands of fires were burning across a southern swath of the Amazon. They belch smoke and soot, blanketing those who live downwind with thick, dirty air, hurting wildlife in their path, and destroying a part of one the most important carbon storehouses left on the planet. This has resulted in the shooting up of the Carbon emission, the equivalent of 228 megatonnes so far this year. This has coupled with the emission of carbon monoxide – a gas released when the wood is burned and does not have much access to oxygen. Another natural phenomenon- explosive volcanic eruptions pose both short-term and long-term hazards that can wipe out the flanks of mountainsides.
Cosmopolitanism theory is still undergoing lots of development and explorations at the same time. Even with all the ambitious possibilities of cosmopolitan ideology, there are still certain areas that have to be focused largely to make this a success. To enter strongly in the political arena, the definitions of cosmopolitanism and its beliefs should be made more realistic yet applicable to today’s world. The main challenge is seen to be the selfish motives of the nation-states, but if nation-states can find a middle ground and come together in Asia, the possibilities of the continent emerging stronger will stand high and the world will see a new view other than the few powerful developed countries for political success and propagation of equality within citizens keeping in mind their welfare. Even though there are no clear answers to the question of how to successfully implement the idea of cosmopolitanism, there should be more studies and research done about the same which might bring up new answers to the question. Thus, extensive research in the area of cosmopolitanism and interdisciplinary studies should be encouraged to help rebuild the new world order.
All views expressed are of the writer and do not represent that of the sino-sphere.com
Shikha Singh is a Polity and International relations major at the University of Delhi. She has keen interest in issues covering legal interests and Human Rights
Amana Parveen, a Polity and International relations major at the University of Delhi with a demonstrated history of working in the civic and social organization industry.