“The image of a post national constellation gives rise to alamrist feelings of enlightened helplessness widely observed in the political arena today” . Indeed, the ideal of cosmopolitanism is generating new controversy today with the challenges of globalization.
In The Post national Constellation, published in 1998, the renowned German philosopher Jürgen Habermas (1929) challenges the nation-state and defends the project of a cosmopolitan democracy based on the idea of a post national identity and a stronger social solidarity. His normative critique of national identity has been driven by his role as an engaged intellectual in the German public sphere. As a second generation member of the Frankfurt School of critical theory, Habermas was a student of Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno. In his wide-ranging works, he had broken with the anti-rationalist, anti-Westernist stance of the previous generation of Frankfurt theorists and taken a different route in his critical appraisal of Western institutions and rationality. Greatly influenced by the Kantian conception of rationality, Habermas believes that through reason we can understand the world and achieve enlightenment.
[...] In the context of this frightening and uncertain background, Jürgen Habermas raises questions about the course of democracy and the hope of a civil society in a future dominated by a globalized economic order. The end of nation-state In the central essay of the book, Postnational constellation and the Future of Democracy”, Habermas lays out in detail what globalisation is and how it is to be legitimated in the context of transnational markets and democratic ideals. The traditional modes of human interaction such as commerce, communication and culture are taking a radically new face by transcending national boundaries, thus challenging the relevance of the nation-state as a means of either understanding or of regulating such modes. [...]
[...] Habermas advocates a “postnational” Germany where shared identity is attached to nonterritorial values of constitutionalism and democratic rights. He calls for a “society capable of conscious change through the will of its democratically united citizens”. The strength of the democratic state relies on the political participation of its citizens. Constitutional patriotism is essential to understand the shift from the ‘national subject' to the ‘citizen' by separating culture from politics. Habermas looks forward to the break between the principles of republicanism and nationalism in order to promote a “form of abstract, legally constructed solidarity that reproduces itself through political participation”, guarantying universal standards of social justice. [...]
[...] Habermas proposes a new conception of identity that is deconstructed, in opposition to the constructed nation and people, and inclusive, in contrast with the exclusiveness of an organic and essential identity. This postnational identity is defined in reference to common political and ethical values that rely on the present and future of democratic legitimacy. Working on the cosmopolitan project of democracy allows us to think about the future evolution of notions like state, identity and politics rather than referring to historical myths and fictions. [...]
[...] Cosmopolitanism and human rights In the essay on “Legitimation through Human Rights”, Habermas defends that the foundation of cosmopolitan conssciousness solely lies on the universal human rights issues. He argues against the criticisms that call into question the universal validity of human rights emphasizing the “dialectical unity of individuation and socialization processes” implied by this new international legal community. Human rights are the only basis of legitimation for constitutional democracies; therefore the human rights discourse should be understood under normative terms aiming at mutual understanding and not according to the frameworks of regional cultures. [...]
[...] However, Habermas still believes that by the deliberative political participation of citizens to global negociations (global governance), the formation of a transnational will-formation is possible. It is not so clear how popular sovereignty and the collective will of global citizenry can take shape in a stateless world. In addition, his view that transnational networks of communication, nongovernmental organisations and popular political movements can legitimately underpin political rule and global solidarity seems to me very problematic. Toward cosmopolitan consciousness Through the model of constitutional patriotism and our increasingly interconnected world, Habermas pledges for the rise of a cosmopolitan consciousness and solidarity. [...]
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