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Hijer Birgitta The discourse of global compassion the

VIEWS: 9 PAGES: 6

									Beck, Ulrich (2006) The Cosmopolitan Vision. Cambridge and Malden: Polity.

The human condition has itself become cosmopolitan, claims Beck (2).
In support of his claim he cites the threat of terror, which knows no borders.
”The same is true of the protest against the war in Iraq. For the first time a war was
treated as an event in global domestic politics, with the whole of humanity
participating simultaneously through the mass media” (2).
Cosmopolitanism has left the real of philosophical castles in the air and has entered
reality. Thus, argues Beck, ”the cosmopolitan outlook is both the presupposition and
the result of a conceptual reconfiguration of our modes of perception.” (2)

Definition of a ‟cosmopolitan outlook‟:
”Global sense, a sense of boundarylessness. An everyday, historically alert, reflexive
awareness of ambivalence in a milieu of blurring differentiations and cultural
contraductions. It reveals not just the ‟anguish‟ but also the possibility of shaping
one‟s life and social relations under conditions of cultural mixture. It is
simultaneously a sceptical, disillusioned, self-critical outlook.” (3)
By way of example, Beck argues that domestic nationalisms presuppose the daily
experience of globalization. Without a proper understanding of how globality
overcomes and reconfigures differentiations –ie without a cosmopolitan outlook –
the new topographies of identity and memory, and the introverted nationalisms they
potentially foster, remain incomprehensible.

The determination of identity has replaced the either/or logic with the both/and
logic of inclusive differentiation. ”One constructs a model of one‟s identity by
dipping freely into the Lego set of globally available identities and building a
progressively inclusive self-image. The result is the proud affirmation of a patchwork,
quasi-cosmopolitan, but simultaneously provincial, identity whose central
characteristic is its rejection of traditional relations of responsibility.” (5)

Cosmopolitan empathy
The metatheory of identity, society and politics which compels use to differentiate
between all kinds of groups is empirically false, argues Beck.
”The suffering of human beings in other global regions and cultures”, writes Beck,
no longer conforms to the friend-foe schema.” (5)
In explaining what fuelled the global protest against the Iraq war, Beck suggests an
answer is to be found in what he calls ‟cosmopolitan empathy‟, or ‟the globalization
of emotions‟ (5-6). He refers to ‟the capacity and willingness to put oneself in the
position of the victims, something which is also in large part a product of the mass
media‟ (6). Although of the view that the news is ‟stage-managed‟, Beck argues that
this ”in no way alters the fact that the spaces of our emotional imagination have
expanded in a transnational sense. When civilians and children in Israel, Palestine,
Iraq or Africa suffer and die and this suffering is presented in compelling images in
the mass media, this produces cosmopolitan pity which forces us to act.” (6)

It would be a fatal error to conclude that cosmopolitan empathy is replacing national
empathy. They permeate, enhance, transform and colour each other. (6)

According to Beck, ”cultural ties, loyalties and identities have expanded beyond
national borders and systems of control” (7). Does this apply to BBC World, DW and
Euronews, I have written in the margin? (unclear why)
                                                                                    Beck 2006:2


Beck writes about five interconnected constitutive principles of the cosmopolitan
outlook on p 7. Two of these in particular may have a bearing on the tsunami
phenomenon:
     First, the principle of the experience of crisis in world society: the awareness of
       interdependence and the resulting ‟civilizational community of fate‟ induced
       by global risks and crises, which overcomes the boundaries between internal
       and external, us and them, the national and the international;
     Third, the principle of cosmopolitan empathy and of perspective-taking and the
       virtual interchangeability of situations (as both an opportunity and a threat)
       (in the case of the tsunami, the message, or experience, that ’this could be me’), p 7.

These principles can be understood not just in a normative-philosophical sense, but
also in an empirical-sociological sense (7).

Both the sentiments of pity and hatred (the sense of boundarylessness and the
longing for the re-establishment of the old boundary lines) prove that the
cosmopolitan outlook is a politically ambivalent, reflexive outlook. (8)

Cosmopolitization comprises the development of multiple loyalties as well as the
increase in diverse transnational forms of life, the emergence of non-state political
actors (from Amnesty International to the World Trade Organization), the
development of global protest movements against (neoliberal) globalism and in
support of a different kind of (cosmopolitan) globalization. (9)

Isn‟t ‟cosmopolitanization‟ simply a new word for what used to be called
‟globalization‟? The answer, says Beck, is no, and it is provided by the book as a
whole. (9)

The experience of delimitation and interdependence has become normalized into a
‟banal cosmopolitanism‟. This is manifested in concrete, everyday ways by the fact
that differentiations between us and them are becoming confused, both at the
national and at the international level. ”The modest, familiar, local circumsribed and
stable, our protective shell is becoming the playground of universal experiences;
place, whether it be Manhattan or East prussia, Malmö or Munich, becomes the
locus of encounters and interminglings or, alternatively, of anonymous coexistence
and the overlapping of possible worlds and global dangers, all of which requires us to
rethink the relation between place and world.” (10)

The cosmopolitan outlook means that, in a world of global crises and dangers
produced by civilization, the old differentiations between internal and external,
national and international, us and them, lose their validity and a new cosmopolitan
realism becomes essential to our survival. (14)
                                                                                 Beck 2006:3


                                Chapter 1
The Distinction between Philosophical and Social Scientific Cosmopolitanism

Beck distinguishes 3 phases in how the code word ‟globalization‟ has been used in
the social sciences:
    1. denial
    2. conceptual refinement and empirical research
    3. epistemological shift

The question for globalization research following the epistemological turn is:
what happens when the premises and boundaries that define the units or research of
the various social scientific disciplines disintegrate?
The answer provided by this book is that the whole conceptual world of the ‟national
outlook‟ becomes disenchanted, that is de-ontologized, historicized and stripped of
its inner necessity (17)

Beck distingishes between „normative‟ cosmopolitanism (which pleads for harmony
beyond national and cultural boundaries) and a descriptive-analytical perspective in
the social sciences (which liberates itself from national categories). Beck refers to the
latter as the „cosmopolitan outlook‟ or „analytical-empirical cosmopolitanism‟.

Cosmopolitanization, he argues (p 18) occurs as the unwanted and unobserved side
effect of actions that are not intended as „cosmopolitan‟ in the normative sense
(„really existing cosmopolitanism‟ or „the cosmopolitanism of reality‟).

Focusing on ananlytical-empirical cosmopolitanism opens up a new field of research
and controversy: that of cosmopolitan reality (18).

The cosmopolitan outlook is a prerequisite for analysing the real process of
overcoming boundaries that triggers the neonational reflext to re-erect fences and
walls. (18-19)

During the national phase of modernity, cosmopolitanism could only be grasped
intellectually, but could not be felt as a living experience. By contrast, nationalism
took hold of people‟s hearts. This head-heart dualism is turned upside down in the
second modernity. (19)

Taking his orientation from the distinction between philosophy and praxis, Beck
disintguishes in this book between cosmopolitanism and really existing cosmopolitanization.
“The concept „cosmopolitanization‟ is designed to draw attention to the fact that the
becoming cosmopolitan of reality is also, and even primarily, a function of coerced
choices or a side effect of unconcsious decisions.” (19)
Cosmopolitanization in this sense means latent cosmopolitanism, unconcsiouc
cosmopolitanism, passive cosmopolitanism. (19)

Really existing cosmopolitanism is deformed cosmopolitanism. It is sustained by
individuals who have very few opportunities to identify with something greater than
what is dictated by their circumstances. Cosmopolitanism in Kant‟s sense, on the
other hand, means something active – a task, i.e. the task of imposing an order on
the world. Cosmopolitanization, by contrast, sharpens our gaze for uncontrollable
events that merely befall us. (20)
                                                                                   Beck 2006:4


Cosmopolitanism that is passively and unwillingly suffered is a deformed
cosmopolitanism. The fact that really existing cosmopolitanism is not achieved
through struggle, is not chosen, is cloaked in the anonymity of a side effect is an
essential founding insight ofo cosmopolitan realism in the social sciences.
A non-deformed cosmopolitanism, by contrast, results from the sense of partaking in
the great human experiment in civilization – with one‟s own language and cultural
symbols and the means to counter global threats – and hence of making a
contribution to world culture. (20-21)

What is the difference between (latent) cosmopolitanization and the cosmopolitan
outlook? That is a difficult question which Beck approaches from different angles
during the course of the book. But essentially ti can be answered thus:
-the (forced) mixing of cultures is not anything new in world history but, on the
contrary, the rule
-what is new is not forced mixing but awareness of it, its self-conscious political
affirmation, its reflection and recognition before a global public via the mass media,
in the news and in the global social movements, and in the current vogue for such
venerable concepts as „diaspora‟ in the cultural sciences
     - it is at once social and social scientific reflexivity that makes the
        „cosmopolitan outlook‟ the key concept and topic of the reflexive second
        modernity (21)

The everyday experience of cosmopolitan interdependece is not a love affair of
everyone with everyone. It arises in a climate of heightened global threats, which
create an unavoidable pressure to cooperate. With the conceptualization and
recognition of threats on a cosmopolitan scale, a shared space of responsibility and
agency bridging all national frontiers and divides is created that can found political
action among strangers in ways analogous to national politics. This is the case whn
recognition of the scale of the common threats leads to cosmopolitan norms and
agreements, and hence to an institutionalized cosmopolitanizm. (23)

Ongoing communication concerningn threats is an important component of
informal cosmopolitan norm-formation. Prior to any cosmopolitan institution-
formation, global norms are produced by outrage over circumstances that are felt to
be intolerable. (23)

This chapter contains a critique of what Beck calls the national outlook and
methodological nationalism. This has to do with the claim that „modern society‟ and
„modern politics‟ can only be organized in the form of national states. When social
actors subscribe to this belief, Beck speaks of a „national outlook‟. When it
determines the perspective of the scientific observer, he speaks of „methodological
nationalism‟. (24) (What does that means when the object of study is news programmes produced
nationally?)
Empirical-analytical cosmopolitanism takes aim at methodological nationalism, but
does not engage in polemics against political cosmopolitanism (with such epithets as
„business loung cosmopolitanism‟) (26). Nor does it focus on the normative-political
issue of how cosmopolitan democracy is possible. Instead, it is simply concerned
with comprehending social and political conditions at the beginning of the 21st
century. (27)
                                                                                Beck 2006:5


Methodological nationalism involves and intensifies a territorial (mis)understanding
of culture and cultural plurality. If culture is conceived as territorially circumscribed,
then the question of plurality leads to a sterile false alternative: either universal
sameness („McDonaldization‟) or perspectives that resist comparison
(„incommensurability‟). (29)

Humanistic universalism affirms that the actual tendency is towards greater
sameness, and hence the elimination of plurality. To embrace this universalism would
ultimately be to advocate cultural suicide. Cosmopolitanism, by contrast, means the
exact opposite: recognition of difference, beyond the misunderstandings of
territoriality and homogenization. (30)

Internationalism and cosmopolitanism are not just two ways of realizing the same
idea. (32) International and cosmopolitan cannot be equated with each other. The
cosmopolitan outlook grasps the change in social and political grammar and hence,
for example, the process of integration through reflexive globality. The „either inside
or outside‟ that underlies the distinction between national and international is
transcended by a „both inside and outside‟. The cosmopolitan outlook determines
multiple spatial, temporal and practical both/and realities to which the national
perspective remains blind. (33)

Beck‟s fundamental criticism of methodological nationalism is that it views the
nation-state as a self-evident point of departure, whereas the cosmopolitan outllok
retains a reference to the nation-state but situates and analyses it within a radically
different horizon. The circular arguments of methodological nationalism are false
because the national outlook analyses the nation-state without questioning its own
premises. (33)

The epistemological turn, the empirical-analytical cosmopolitanism developed in this
book, has a twofold thrust:
     1. a critique of existing methodological nationalism
     2. the development of a new methodological cosmopolitanism (33)
A critique of the national outlook becomes scientifically credible and concrete only if
it can be shown how the cosmopolitan shift in outlook modifies the grammar of the
social sciences, recalibrating established research topics and casting them in a news
light.
Beck sketches out this substantive, conceptual and methodological transformation of
core topics in the social sciences under four headings:
     1. risk-cosmopolitanism: global public opinion as a side effect
     2. interference of side effects: post-international politics
     3. the invisibility of global inequality
     4. how everyday life is becoming cosmopolitan: banal cosmopolitanism (33)

Beck has already dinstinguished between cosmopolitanism and the cosmopolitan
outlook in conjunction with the thesis that cosmopolitanization generally occurs as
an unintended and coerced side effect.
“It is a different matter altogther whether this side effect cosmopolitanization then
becomes conscious – leading to a cosmopolitan outlook – and even gives rise to a
global public.” (34)
                                                                              Beck 2006:6


A system of „risk-cosmopolitanism‟ is developing in which an exceptional degree of
cosmopolitan interdependence, itself a side effect of side effect global publics, is
bringing transnational conflicts and commonalities into the everyday practices which
necessitate political (state) and subpolitical (civil society) action. (34)

What risk actually does is create a public by promoting public awareness of it. (34)

The theory of world risk society should be seen as a theory of ambivalence. (34-35)

“Consumer society is the really existing world society.” According to Beck,
consumption “is a perfect example of „side effect cosmopolitanization‟.” He argues
that cosmopolitanism “has itself become a commodity; the glitter of cultural
difference sells well.” (41. Here the consumers of charter trips come to mind.)

Banal cosmopolitanism is intimately connected with all forms of consumption. (41)

What seems from a postmodern perspective to be „eclecticism‟ or „inauthenticity‟
(and from the perspective of critiques of culture as „lack of roots‟ or „lack or
memory‟) can be understood in terms of a new reflexivity. Here elements from many
different countries and cultures are continually compared, rejected, combined and
remixed. A whole network arises of everyday practices and skills to deal with a high
degree of interdependence and globality. (41-42)
The question to what extent this inner cosmopolitanization of lifeworlds occurs only
„objectively‟ or also becomes institutionally „reflexive‟ ultimately concerns the role of
the mass media. “The accessibility of other cultures and experiential domains,
magnified by the possibility of switching between different channels and
programmes, may help to create a situation in which there is a growing
awareness of the everyday cosmopolitan interdependence of television
viewers, though this is an empirical question” (42)

“insofar as global everyday existence becomes an integral part of media
worlds, a kind of globalization of emotions and empathy occurs. People
experience themselves as parts of a fragmented, endangered civilization and
civil society characterized by the simultaneity of events and of knowledge of
this simultaneity all over the world.” (42. cf what Anan said about the tsunami)

What cosmopolitanism is cannot ultimately be separated from what cosmopolitanism
should be. (44)

								
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