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Citizenship and the Environment$

Andrew Dobson

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780199258444

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2004

DOI: 10.1093/0199258449.001.0001

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Towards Post‐cosmopolitanism

Towards Post‐cosmopolitanism

(p.9) Chapter 1 Towards Post‐cosmopolitanism
Citizenship and the Environment

Andrew Dobson (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Abstract and Keywords

Post‐cosmopolitanism is presented as an alternative to cosmopolitan commitments beyond the nation‐state. Post‐cosmopolitanism grows out of an understanding of globalization as a producer of inequalities, and consequent relations of injustice.

Keywords:   cosmopolitanism, globalization, justice, post‐cosmopolitanism

Cosmopolitanism and globalization play a central role in my articulation of ecological citizenship, but since they are such contested terms it is important for me to make clear what I understand by them. Moreover, given that I believe that the most commonly cited understandings of them are inadequate to the task of developing a notion of ecological citizenship, I shall not simply be choosing between definitions, but rather reconstructing them. In this chapter, then, I offer a critique of particular understandings of both globalization and cosmopolitanism, and show how my asymmetrical understanding of the former leads to a critique of both ‘dialogic’ and ‘distributive’ forms of the latter. This critique, in turn, produces the post‐cosmopolitanism that I carry forward into Chapter 2 in the explicit context of citizenship.

The view of globalization that I think we should reject is couched in terms of the interdependence and interconnectedness of (p.10) states in the post‐Westphalian, globalizing world. The language of ‘interdependence’ implies a rough parity of cause and effect as states make their way through a globalizing world, ‘negotiating’ for advantage where possible, but with such negotiations undergirded by the recognition that no state can expect to isolate itself from the more or less reciprocal effects of other states. Some will object that ‘interdependence’ does not imply a rough parity at all and that it simply denotes a relationship. I am prepared to concede that the relationship between a master and slave, for example, can be described as one of ‘interdependence’, but I hope that it will be conceded in return that this description completely misses the characteristic that best enables us to understand the nature of the relationship—its inequality.

Globalization and ‘Interconnectedness’

In one of his most recent articulations of globalization, David Held argues that it possesses four features:

First, it involves a stretching of social, political and economic activities across political frontiers, regions and continents . . . second, globalization is marked by the growing magnitude of networks and flows of trade, investment, finance, culture and so on. Third, globalization can be linked to a speeding up of global interactions and processes, as the evolution of world‐wide systems of transport and communication increases the velocity of the diffusion of ideas, goods, information, capital and people. And, fourth, it involves the deepening impact of global interactions and processes such that the effects of distant events can be highly significant and even the most local developments can come to have enormous global consequences. In this particular sense, the boundaries between domestic matters and global affairs become fuzzy. In short, globalization can be thought of as the widening, intensifying, speeding up and growing impact of world‐wide interconnectedness.

(Held 2002: 60–1)

(p.11) Let me stress that this brief paragraph does not reflect everything Held has ever written about globalization, and so what follows should be taken to refer to the animus that informs this description, rather than a critique of Held in toto. I do believe, though, that the language used here is widely employed in descriptions of globalization and that it repays some attention since it accurately captures, represents, and above all reproduces the ‘interdependence’ view of globalization that currently dominates political debate. Let us take three of the features that Held identifies one by one.

First he refers to a ‘stretching’ of activities across forms of political, social, and even geographical space that we previously thought, perhaps, to constitute boundaries to such activities. Leaving aside the objection that this stretching has been a constant feature of social and economic history, especially in times of empire, the language of stretching puts us in mind of the expansion of a balloon in which the surface area of the balloon expands at an equal rate on every part of its surface simultaneously. I shall come back to the shortcomings of this way of expressing one of the features of globalization when we have considered the alternative view.

Second, Held talks of a ‘growing magnitude of networks and flows of trade, investment, finance, culture and so on’. Once again, the language of ‘networks’ and ‘flows’ expresses a quite specific political imaginary, in which political actors of all types (and no distinction is drawn here between them) are nodes in an interconnecting lattice, between which goods, money, and people ‘flow’ in ways and directions determined by the undifferentiated ‘stretching’ outlined in the first feature. Again I shall return to networks and flows shortly.

Third, Held refers to the way in which globalization involves a collapse of space, such that events that are distant from the observer can have a significant impact, seemingly disproportionate to the distance at which it has occurred. The boundaries between the ‘domestic’ and the ‘global’ become ‘fuzzy’, and all (p.12) this (I mean this collapse of space and the other two features on which Held has commented) is expressed in the trope that dominates this particular articulation of globalization—that of ‘world‐wide interconnectedness’.

A Critique of ‘Interconnectedness’

What is missing from this description of globalization is the asymmetry at work in it. ‘Political communities’, Held writes, ‘are enmeshed and entrenched in complex structures of overlapping forces, processes and movements’ (2002: 61). It is easy to overdo the complexity and especially easy to overdo the overlapping. Compare the Held view with the following from the Indian environmentalist Vandana Shiva:

The ‘global’ in the dominant discourse is the political space in which a particular dominant local seeks global control, and frees itself of local, national and international restraints. The global does not represent the universal human interest, it represents a particular local and parochial interest which has been globalized through the scope of its reach. The seven most powerful countries, the G‐7, dictate global affairs, but the interests that guide them remain narrow, local and parochial.

(Shiva 1998: 231)

Held talks, it will be remembered, of the blurring of boundaries between domestic and global affairs. Shiva's point is that not everyone touched by this blurring experiences it in the same way. Held tells us that ‘the effects of distant events can be highly significant and even the most local developments can come to have enormous global consequences’. Shiva's crucial corrective is that only the ‘local developments’ of countries or other agencies with globalizing possibilities have global consequences. She puts it like this:

The notion of ‘global’ facilitates this skewed view of a common future. The construction of the global environment narrows the South's (p.13) options while increasing the North's. Through its global reach, the North exists in the South, but the South exists only within itself, since it has no global reach. Thus the South can only exist locally, while only the North exists globally.

(Shiva 1998: 233)

Globalization is, on this reading, an asymmetrical process in which not only its fruits are divided up unequally, but also in which the very possibility of ‘being global’ is unbalanced. It is not that Held's position is incompatible with Shiva's corrective, but that beginning with asymmetry rather than adding it on makes a considerable difference to the political prescriptions that follow the description. This should become clearer as the chapter develops, but let me indicate in a little more detail the effect of Shiva's view on Held's gloss.

First, the metaphor of ‘stretching’ fails to capture the way in which the social, political, and economic activities to which he refers cross boundaries in one direction only. It is truer than it ever was that ‘if America sneezes the rest of the world catches a cold’, but Bangladesh can contract viral pneumonia without it making the slightest difference to the United States. The South, as Shiva says, can only exist locally, and the direction of travel of globalization is generally from the powerful to the powerless.

Second, to describe the movement of ‘trade, investment, finance, [and] culture’ in terms of ‘networks’ and ‘flows’, as Held does, is in effect to misdescribe them in the same way that to describe the relationship between master and slave as ‘interdependent’ is to misdescribe it. As an example of the way the global terms of negotiation are skewed, consider the manner in which the World Trade Organization (WTO) operates. The WTO denies skewing because, it says, the organization's decisions are taken by consensus. This is much more equitable than a simple majority system of voting, says the WTO, since even the smallest and least powerful participant in negotiations can oppose an agreement through using what is effectively the power of veto. The reality, though, is somewhat different: consensus (p.14) decision‐making only works in the way the WTO suggests when all participants are equally powerful. As the WTO itself recognizes, though, ‘not every country has the same bargaining power’. In cases where governments refuse to come on board, the WTO continues by saying, rather darkly, that ‘reluctant countries are persuaded by being offered something in return’. The key orientating question here is: in a world of asymmetrical globalization, what can be offered to countries that already have most of what they want? What can one offer the present United States, for example, if it refuses to play ball with everyone else? The answer, in effect, is nothing. Pre‐eminently powerful countries do not have to think in terms of bargaining, of partnerships. In sum, to describe the WTO as if it were a ‘node’ in a ‘network’ of multilateral ‘flows’ of ‘trade, investment, and finance’ is to speak of globalization in terms of characteristics that we might want it to possess rather than those it actually does possess.

A third feature of globalization, for Held, is the ‘increased velocity of the diffusion of ideas, goods, information, capital and people’. Held omits, here, to point out that most of this diffusion is in one direction only—to such an extent, indeed, that ‘diffusion’, with its multi‐directional sense, is the wrong word to describe the phenomenon. Take the movement of people, for example. For some, space seems almost to have been erased altogether, as the means of traversing it (physically and virtually) become ever more rapid and ‘at‐hand’. For others, space is what encloses them—thick, material, resistant. The former ‘diffuse’, and the latter can only ‘refuse’—and often not even that. Zygmunt Bauman's view of the ‘people question’ under globalization is surely nearer the mark than David Held's:

Like all other known societies, the postmodern, consumer society is a stratified one. But it is possible to tell one kind of society from another by the dimensions along which it stratifies its members. The dimension along which those ‘high up’ and ‘low down’ are plotted in a society of consumers, is their degree of mobility—their freedom to choose where to be.

(Bauman 1998: 86)

(p.15) In Bauman's globalization there is a first and a second world, the inhabitants of which are distinguished by their ability to traverse space as and when they wish:

For the inhabitants of the first world—the increasingly cosmopolitan, extraterritorial world of global businessmen, global culture managers or global academics, state borders are levelled down, as they are dismantled for the world's commodities, capital and finances. For the inhabitant of the second world, the walls built of immigration controls, of residence laws and of ‘clean streets’ and ‘zero tolerance’ policies, grow taller; the moats separating them from the sites of their desire and of dreamed‐of redemption grow deeper, while all bridges, at the first attempt to cross them prove to be drawbridges. The first travel at will, get much fun from their travel (particularly if travelling first class or using private aircraft), are cajoled or bribed to travel and welcomed with smiles and open arms when they do. The second travel surreptitiously, often illegally, sometimes paying more for the crowded steerage of a stinking unseaworthy boat than others pay for business‐class gilded luxuries—and are frowned upon, and, if unlucky, arrested and promptly deported, when they arrive.

(Bauman 1998: 89)

This is not the ‘diffusion’ of ‘ideas, goods, information, capital, and people’, but their transfusion, and it is mostly one way. Even the occasional phenomenon that looks as though it is moving in the other direction turns out to be expressed in terms of Bauman's first world political and cultural space—think Bollywood, for example.

So deep are the moats and so high are the walls that separate the movers from the stayers, and so accustomed are we to seeing these barriers stand firm, that we are astonished when they are breached. This is one of the lasting truths of the attack on New York's Twin Towers in September 2001, captured in the closing lines of Millennium Poet Simon Armitage's poem, ‘The Convergence of the Twain’:


With hindsight now we track

the vapour‐trail of each flight‐path


arcing through blue morning, like a curved



And in retrospect plot

the weird prospect

of a passenger plane beading on an office‐block.


But long before that dawn,

with those towers drawing

in worth and name to their full height, an

opposite was forming.


a force still years and miles off,

yet moving headlong forwards, locked on a

collision course.


Then time and space

contracted, so whatever distance

held those worlds apart thinned to an instant.


During which, cameras framed

moments of grace

before the furious contact wherein earth and

heaven fused.

(Armitage 2002,

Faber and Faber Ltd.)

The contraction of time and space recorded in stanza X is a commonplace for the first world, but its visitation upon the first world in such a dramatic fashion is, to date, a unique experi‐ence. This was an underhand breaching of the first law of globalization: travel is permitted in one direction only.

The final feature of Held's view of globalization, it will be remembered, involves the arresting thought that ‘the deepening impact of global interactions and processes’ means that ‘the effects of distant events can be highly significant and even the most local developments can come to have (p.17) enormous global consequences’. I have already pointed out Shiva's response to this, and it seems to me to be the right one. Her argument is that while some countries can be local and global, most can only ever be local: ‘Through its global reach, the North exists in the South, but the South exists only within itself, since it has no global reach. Thus the South can only exist locally, while only the North exists globally’ (Shiva 1998: 233). Bauman offers a sonorous echo of this thought:

Alongside the emerging planetary dimensions of business, finance, trade and information flow, a ‘localizing’, space‐fixing process is set in motion. Between them, the two closely inter‐connected processes sharply differentiate the existential conditions of whole populations and of various segments of each one of the populations. What appears as globalization for some means localization for others; signalling a new freedom for some, upon many others it descends as an uninvited and cruel fate . . . the effects of that new condition are rad‐ically unequal. Some of us become fully and truly ‘global’; some are fixed in their ‘locality’—a predicament neither pleasurable nor endurable in the world in which the ‘globals’ set the tone and compose the rules of the life‐game.

(Bauman 1998: 2)

As it happens, environmental politics is an excellent example—especially in the guise of global warming—of the nature of asymmetrical globalization. Think for a moment of the ideal structure for a medium or a phenomenon through which to ‘turn local language into global grammar’. There must be a local ‘view’ of it, of course, but equally evidently this local view must be translatable into global effects. It must, in other words, be ‘globalizable’. Even more ideally, enacting the local view locally should have immediate and constant global effects, such that every enactment of the local view is always simultaneously (or ‘always already’, in the postmodern idiom) an act of globalization. Can there possibly be a medium and a phenomenon that live up to such exacting standards? Indeed there can: the (p.18) environment is the medium and global warming is the phenomenon. To explain.

In November 2001 a key stage of the Kyoto protocol on climate change was negotiated in Marrakech. It is now common knowledge that the aim of the protocol was, and is, to limit the emissions of the six gases that are most clearly responsible for global warming. The outcome of the talks in Marrakech came nowhere near to satisfying the demands of the environmental movement—nor, indeed, of the International Panel on Climate Change, which recommends a 60 per cent cut in 1990 greenhouse gas emissions by 2012. The Kyoto protocol, even if fully adhered to, will only produce a 5.2 per cent cut, delaying warming that would have occurred in 2094–2100—just a 6‐year respite. Despite the relatively feeble nature of the agreement, of the thirty‐nine countries that started out on the long road from Kyoto in 1997, only thirty‐eight reached Marrakech in 2001. The one that dropped out was the United States. Despite the fact that the United States with just 5 per cent of the world's population produces a quarter of the world's greenhouse gases, 11 times as much per head of population as China, 20 times more than India, and 300 times more than Mozambique—despite all this, the United States claims that the Kyoto protocol is ‘unfair’, since it exempts developing countries and is against the United States' best economic interests.

It is commonly argued that in withdrawing from the Kyoto protocol the Bush administration was simply returning favours accrued during his first presidential election campaign, to which various oil, coal, gas, and utility companies contributed some $50 m. These connections and favours surely are linked to America's withdrawal from the Kyoto protocol negotiations. But they also represent a way of life, a way of life it is impossi‐ble to pursue without ‘always already’ affecting people in other parts of the planet. In explaining his rejection of the Kyoto protocol, George W. Bush said that ‘a growing population (p.19) requires more energy to heat and cool our homes, more gas to drive our cars’ (Bush 2001). Bush would like to present this as a statement of fact, but it is, rather, a prospectus for a way of life. ‘Heat our homes’ (rather than an extra layer of clothing); ‘cool our homes’ (rather than open the window); ‘more gas’ (rather than reduce fuel consumption); ‘to drive our cars’ (rather than get about less, or in a different way). This local prospectus, in turn, has immediate global effects in its contribution to global warming. I do not intend to demonize the United States with these remarks. This is an example, rather, of the way in which asymmetrical globalization operates, and the process is repeated daily in untold numbers and less spectacular manifestations by each and every agent with a globalizing capacity.

In sum, as long as we conceive globalization in the seductive, undifferentiated terms of networks, processes, and interdependences, we will fail to make its divisive, stratifying, and unequal aspects sufficiently central to our understanding of the phenomenon. The key thing to bear in mind is that ‘There is polarization in the distribution of wealth at the global level, differential evolution of intracountry income inequality, and substantial growth of poverty and misery in the world at large, and in most countries, both developed and developing’ (Castells 2001: 352). In more detail:

In a global approach, there has been, over the past three decades, increasing inequality and polarization in the distribution of wealth. According to UNDP's 1996 Human Development Report, in 1993 only US$5 trillion of the US$23 trillion global GDP were from the developing countries even if they accounted for nearly 80 percent of total population. The poorest 20 percent of the world's people have seen their share of global income decline from 2.3 percent to 1.4 percent in the past 30 years. Meanwhile, the share of the richest 20 percent has risen from 70 percent to 85 percent. This doubled the ratio of the share of the richest over the poorest—from 30:1 to 61:1.

(Castells 2001: 351)

(p.20) These details are sufficient to show why the language of ‘sharing and negotiating’ used by Held to describe globalization (‘political power is shared and negotiated among diverse forces and agencies at many levels, from the local to the global’; (Held 2002: 62)) is inadequate to the task. Let me stress again that I have no reason to think that Held would challenge Castells' data; all the more reason, then, to query the cognitive dissonance between the asymmetries and inequalities that the data implies, and Held's own gloss on the dynamics at work in globalization with which I began this chapter. In this context it is unfortunate for Held, yet symptomatic of the shortcomings of his gloss on globalization, that he should choose the Kyoto negotiations as an example of the ‘co‐ordinated multilateral action’ that he regards as a symptomatic and laudable aspect of the process of globalization (Held 2002: 62). We now know that the unilateral decision of the United States to withdraw from the Kyoto agreement on greenhouse gas emissions is far more significant for the global climate than the multilateral negotiations that led to the agreement in the first place. In this sense globalization is an opportunity to be grasped, by those willing and able to do so, to turn local practices into global frameworks.

It will be objected, as I have suggested, that the ‘interconnectedness’ or ‘interdependence’ view of globalization is perfectly compatible with an asymmetrical understanding of the global system. On this reading, interconnectedness is taken to denote only the way in which the ‘international’ is being replaced by the ‘global’, and once this thought is established then power differentials among the various actors come into descriptive play, and the relevant asymmetries emerge. This view does indeed contrast with a wholly naïve description of the process of globalization which begins and ends with a notion of interdependence from which power is more or less completely absent. David Held does not, of course, subscribe to this naïve view. But there is still a difference, I maintain, between a view in which power is ‘added on’, and one in which (p.21) it is constitutive of the description. It would be very hard, I think, to find a paragraph on globalization in the work of Shiva or Bauman, say, like that with which I began the ‘Globalization and “Interconnectedness”’ section. And this is a difference that makes a difference, because viewing globalization as constitutively asymmetrical makes clearer the nature and direction of the political obligations it entails. For the cosmopolitanism that builds on the interconnectedness view of globalization, the first virtue is often ‘equal and open dialogue’. From a materialist asymmetrical point of view, the first virtue is ‘more justice’. Again, in interdependence descriptions of globalization, the language of reciprocity bulks large, yet the Shiva view, that some states and agents are globalizing while some are globalized, implies that the former shoulder greater burdens of obligation than the latter. I shall say more about this towards the end of this chapter, and much more about it in the next.

Globalization can be presented, of course, as an opportunity to resist the asymmetries that are present in its actually existing manifestation. The form of resistance I want to discuss here goes by the name of ‘cosmopolitanism’. I am aware that cosmo‐politanism is a complex and contested term (e.g. Cheah and Robbins 1998; Linklater 1998a; Jones 1999; Breckenridge et al. 2002) and I do not pretend a comprehensive account here. I shall refer to two types of cosmopolitanism, which I call respect‐ively ‘dialogic’ and ‘distributive’ cosmopolitanism. I have more sympathy with the intentions of the latter of these in that its focus is more firmly on justice as well as on dialogue, and this is key to developing a robust notion of citizenship beyond the state. Its drawback, though, is that in providing principles for redistribution it forgets that we also need reasons for action, and I do not believe that its ‘thin’ account of the ties that bind—which it shares with dialogic cosmopolitanism—constitute politically compelling reasons. This is especially important if we wish to develop an action‐orientated notion of citizenship beyond the state, as I do. I then sketch the theory of obligation (p.22) that lies at the heart of what I call post‐cosmopolitanism, building on both distributive cosmopolitanism and the asymmetrical understanding of globalization I have developed so far.

A Critique of Dialogic Cosmopolitanism: Less Dialogue, More Justice

For Held, ‘current cosmopolitanism . . . seems to explicate, and offer a compelling elucidation of, the classical conception of belonging to the human community first and foremost, and the Kantian conception of subjecting all beliefs, relations and practices to the test of whether or not they allow open‐ended interaction, uncoerced agreement and impartial judgement’ (Held 2002: 64). My most general objection to this type of cosmopolitanism takes the form of the injunction: don't start from here. Just as interdependence globalization begins from the wrong descriptive premises, so this cosmopolitanism looks to the wrong form of community (‘the human community’), the wrong modus operandi (‘impartiality’), and the wrong political objective (more dialogue and democracy). We should instead be focusing on the specific communities of obligation—or ‘obliga‐tion spaces’—produced by acts of ‘globalization’ (i.e. local acts with global consequences); we should recognize that these are communities of injustice first, and only of coerced dialogue second; that the remedy is therefore more justice as well as more democracy; and that partiality is crucial to doing effective justice. I shall try to flesh all this out in what follows.

Let me begin with the nature of dialogic cosmopolitanism's political community. Andrew Linklater, an articulate exponent of the promise of this type of cosmopolitanism, says that he is interested in ‘the social bonds which unite and separate, associate and disassociate’ (Linklater 1998a: 2). He points out that, ‘with the rise of the nation‐state, one identity was singled out and made central to modern political life. Shared national (p.23) identity was deemed to be the crucial social bond which links citizens together in the ideal political community’ (Linklater 1998a: 179), and he wants to resist the apparently ineluctable linking of ‘political community’ with the state. Thus: ‘Regard for the interests of outsiders can wax in one epoch and wane in another: hence the importance of a cosmopolitan ethic which questions the precise moral significance of national boundaries’ (Linklater 1998a: 2). Note, in passing, the slippage from ‘political’ to ‘moral’, since this will come to be important later on (it is this cosmopolitanism's mistake, I think, to confuse the moral community with the political community), but otherwise let us share Linklater's determination to seek political communities beyond the state.

Linklater offers us two kinds of social bond beyond the state. The first kind of glue that might hold people together, he says, is a ‘commitment to open dialogue’: ‘the bond which unites them [members of a society] can owe as much to the ethical commitment to open dialogue as to a sense of primordial attachments’ (Linklater 1998a: 7). The political task of the cosmopolitan, then, is to ‘create institutional frameworks which widen the boundaries of the dialogic community’ (Linklater 1998a: 7). The most common criticism of this kind of thing is that it requires too much of a suspension of disbelief; that ‘commitment to open dialogue’ is a hopelessly weak candidate for social glue‐dom in comparison with the ‘primordial attachments’ of family, history, and culture. My criticism takes a different form, though—the form of a question. The question is: what will ‘open dialogue’ tell us that we do not already know? Dialogic cosmopolitanism's support for open and uncoerced dialogue is clearly aimed at listening to what Linklater and others call ‘subaltern voices’—the voices of the dispossessed, the marginalized, the excluded. The cosmopolitan call for more dialogue is so central to its programme that one could be forgiven for thinking that the dispossessed, the marginalized, and the excluded were totally silent. Yet they are not. We know, (p.24) at least, that they are dispossessed, marginalized, and excluded (by our own lights at any rate), otherwise they would not be so designated.

And we have plenty of specific instances to hand. We know, for example, that two islands that were part of the Pacific nation of Kiribati have disappeared (Environmental News Network 1999) as sea levels have risen, and we know with a fair degree of certainty that some of this sea level rise is caused by global warming. We also know that the Alliance of Small Island States was formed to give voice, among other things, to these states' concerns regarding the effects of global warming on almost forty island states threatened by it. The dialogue in which they are engaged (e.g. their appearances before the United Nations General Assembly) may not be as ‘free and uncoerced’ as dialogic cosmopolitans might want, but it has been free and uncoerced enough for the Small Island States to be able to tell us that, as far as mitigating global warming is concerned, they believe action should be guided by the principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibility’ (Alliance of Small Island States n.d.). This principle is based on the recognition that some countries contribute more to global warming than others, and therefore shoulder a bigger responsibility for doing something about it. This stands in stark contrast to George W. Bush's view that it is everyone's responsibility: ‘This is a challenge that requires a 100 percent effort; ours, and the rest of the world's’ (Bush 2001). The Small Island States' view of the appropriate pattern of obligation in the global warming context is a good example of the non‐reciprocal nature of obligation that I believe is implied by an asymmetrically globalizing world. It would be odd, to say the least, to claim that inhabitants of the Small Island States (excepting those few who make a net contribution to global warming) have CO2‐based obligations to me, for example. Yet Bush's ‘shared reciprocity’ flows more obviously and seamlessly from the interdependence view of globalization.

(p.25) It is hard to see, in sum, what more dialogue will tell us beyond these already contrasting and rather clear positions. The cosmopolitan focus on dialogue leads Linklater to suggest that ‘A just society is one which “recognises and allows all participants to have a voice, to narrate from their own perspect‐ive”’ (Linklater 1998a: 96). But the Small Island States do not want to talk any more. What they want is for net contrib‐utors to global warming to reduce their impact on the global environment.

The sense that the right strategy is to make do with what we have already got, in terms of discursive positions, is implicitly present in dialogic cosmopolitanism's own recognition that getting in all potential information is impossible anyway: ‘The stress on the voice of the other highlights the difficulty (and ultimately the impossibility) of entering into pure dialogic relations in which only the force of the better argument prevails. Dialogic communities can never be confident that all the bar‐riers to open discourse have been removed’ (Linklater 1998a: 99). Yet the normative cosmopolitan focus on dialogue is so determining that, like those toys with round bottoms that can never be knocked over, it always comes bouncing back. So Linklater says: ‘If societies were largely self‐contained and incapable of doing harm to one another then the boundaries of moral communities could converge with the boundaries of actual political communities, but the reality is quite different and societies are inevitably drawn into complex dialogues about the principles of international coexistence’ (Linklater 1998a: 85). The jump from ‘harm’ to ‘dialogue’ is significant. Why not to redistributive or restorative justice?

Once again, something like my own position is already present in Linklater's own presentation of cosmopolitanism, as in the following: ‘the primary duty of protecting the vulnerable rests with the source of transnational harm and not with the national governments of the victims’ (Linklater 1998a: 84). This formulation rightly recognizes the asymmetry of globalization (p.26) and the non‐reciprocal nature of the duties to which it gives rise. Nor is it exactly that ‘more dialogue’ is incompatible with discharging this duty of ‘protection’. My objection is, simply, that more dialogue is by no means the most obvious answer to the question of how to discharge it. If harm is being done, then more justice rather than more talking is the first requirement. So if we know harm is being, and has been, done, then cosmopolitanism's ‘universal communication commun‐ity’ is de trop at best, and an indulgence at worst. Perhaps too much time has been spent listening to critics of the ‘universalising project of the Enlightenment’ (Linklater 1998a: 103), and not enough to those peoples of the Pacific whose homes are disappearing.

I mentioned earlier that the ‘dialogic community’ is just one of two types of social bond canvassed by dialogic cosmopolit‐anism. The other is that of belonging to the ‘human community’, and this belonging is said to give rise to certain duties: ‘there are certain duties which the members of these states owe others by virtue of humanity alone’ (Linklater 1998a: 78). This duty is then given a specific name: ‘Notions of world citizenship usually refer to compassion for the rest of humanity’ (Linklater 1998a: 179; emphasis added). In this context Linklater refers approvingly to Michael Walzer's recognition that we have ‘Good Samaritan’‐type obligations to non‐national strangers: ‘Walzer argues that in the course of reaching their decisions members should heed the moral principle of “Good Samaritanism” which extends across national boundaries’ (Linklater 1998a: 80). Presumably Linklater enlists Walzer in this way because of Walzer's well‐known suspicion of the idea of international obligation. So, if even Walzer admits to an element of such obligation, then cosmopolitanism's plan to extend it may not be so daft after all.

But this victory has been won at some cost—specifically, at the cost of confounding moral with political obligation. This simultaneously weakens the ‘bindingness’ of international (p.27) obligation, and makes it harder for cosmopolitanism to speak of itself as a project of citizenship, which is what it wants to do (cf. Linklater 1998a: 179, above). Let me take these two points in turn, and I shall return to the latter one in Chapter 2.

First, the Good Samaritan's tending to the injured man at the side of the road was a charitable act. Jesus describes it, signific‐antly, as ‘neighbourly’ (Luke 10:36). Charity is a notoriously weak basis for obligation—it is easily withdrawn (‘terribly sorry, no spare change in my pocket this morning’), and the structure of giving contained within it both cements and reproduces the vulnerability of the recipient. Contrast this with justice. The actual act of compensation or the avoidance of justiciable harm can be halted, of course, but the obligation to do justice remains. Similarly, relations of justice are relations between putative equals. In these senses, justice is preferable to charity, yet charity is all that this type of cosmopolitanism is likely to be able to give us as long as belonging to ‘the human community’ (towards which we can indeed only have supererogatory, Samaritan, obligations) remains the source of the social bond.

Second, if citizenship is to have any meaning at all, then the condition of being a citizen must be distinguishable from being a human being. In other words, there must be a difference between the community of citizens and the community of humanity. Linklater's cosmopolitanism effectively elides these two communities by making the ‘Samaritan’ source of obligation common to them both. I want to argue that, while this kind of obligation is appropriate for relations between human beings qua human beings, it is not appropriately predicated of relations between citizens. Unfortunately, Samaritan obligation is presented by Linklater as apparently the only transnational alternative to other types: ‘Inevitably, a sense of humanitarian obligation has to stand in for shared nationality or common interest in the case of world citizenship’ (Linklater 1998a: 201; emphasis added), and, ‘In circumstances where cultures are (p.28) otherwise radically different, the commitment to assist the vulnerable rests on nothing other than a sense of common humanity’ (Linklater 1998a: 87; emphasis added).

But one of cosmopolitanism's own tenets offers another option, one which both presents the possibility of more binding and less paternalistic forms of obligation, and enables a distinction between ‘citizenship’ and ‘being human’ to be drawn. Linklater writes that ‘The main impetus for global moral responsibility arises in the context of increasing transnational harm’ (Linklater 1998a: 105). Now the relationship between the causers and the victims of harm is completely different from that between the Good Samaritan and the poor unfortunate by the side of the road. The Good Samaritan was not directly or even indirectly responsible for the injured man's plight. In the formulation just quoted, however, Linklater is pointing to relations of actual harm. The obligation to compensate for harm, or to take action to avoid it, is not an obligation of charity to be met through the exercise of compassion, but of justice. Justice, as I have pointed out, is a more binding and less paternalistic source and form of obligation than charity, and its political nature takes us out of the realm of ‘common humanity’ and into the realm of citizenship. This obligation to do justice is a political obligation rather than a more general moral obligation, and is therefore more appropriately predicated of ‘being a citizen’ than ‘being human’.

Distributive Cosmopolitanism and Beyond

In taking justice to be the principal cosmopolitan concern, what I want to call distributive cosmopolitanism comes closer to the post‐cosmopolitan view that I wish to articulate. In a review of the theories and principles of international distributive justice, Simon Caney describes the ‘principal cosmopolitan claim’ as follows: ‘given the reasons we give to defend the (p.29) distribution of resources and given our convictions about the irrelevance of people's cultural identity to their entitlements, it follows that the scope of justice should be global’ (Caney 2001: 977). I do not propose to defend that view here (although see the rest of Caney 2001 for a useful summary of the view and its opponents); I simply record that it forms a part of the post‐cosmopolitan picture without completing it. The same might be said of any number of similar‐sounding characterizations, such as Charles Jones's: ‘The fundamental idea is that each person affected by an institutional arrangement should be given equal consideration’ (Jones 1999: 15). I said earlier that distributive cosmopolitanism gives us defensible principles for redistribution, but inadequate reasons for action. In the form of a question, then, having expanded the scope of justice beyond the state, how persuasive are this cosmopolitanism's reasons for actually doing justice? The source of obligation for distributive cosmopolitanism is a theory of ‘moral personality’ according to which ‘people's entitlements are independent of their culture, race and nationality’ (Caney 2001: 979). The corollary of this is that there is something about all people—their autonomy or their possession of rights, for example—that entitles them to an in principle equal share of whatever is being distributed. This is a step beyond dialogic cosmopolitanism in two senses. First, it entails a specifically political type of obligation as opposed to a more broadly moral type, and this opens the door to a potentially more convincing conception of citizenship beyond the state. Second, it deals in the currency of justice rather than compassion, and the obligations connected with the former are less revocable than those related to the latter.

What is common to both dialogic and distributive cosmopolitanism, though, is a thin and non‐material account of the ties that bind members of the cosmopolitan community together. For the former it is ‘common humanity’, expressed through the ‘ethical commitment to open dialogue’. For the latter it is (p.30) again ‘common humanity’, but expressed this time through the undifferentiated possession of certain characteristics that entitle their possessors to just treatment. Post‐cosmopolitanism, in contrast, offers a thickly material account of the ties that bind, created not by mental activity, but by the material production and reproduction of daily life in an unequal and asymmetrically globalizing world. In this conception, the political space of obliga‐tion is not fixed as taking the form of the state, or the nation, or the European Union, or the globe, but is rather ‘produced’ by the activities of individuals and groups with the capacity to spread and impose themselves in geographical, diachronic, and—especially important in the context of this book— ecological space.

My most general point, then, is that globalization is best regarded as a producer of this political space of asymmetrical obligation. Another way of putting this is to say that globalization consistently turns relationships that we might have thought to be ‘Samaritan’ into relationships of citizenship, in the sense I referred to above in my discussion of Linklater. Judith Lichtenberg, to whom I shall have cause to refer again in Chapter 2, has described this phenomenon as follows: ‘My claim is that history has involved the gradual (or perhaps not so gradual) transformation of the earth from a collection of many relatively open worlds to one closed one’ (Lichtenberg 1981: 86). This is especially evident in the environmental context:

Some of the relationships in virtue of which the earth now constitutes one world are so pervasive and far‐reaching that they are difficult to pinpoint or to measure. There are also actions that may have harmful consequences without any direct involvement between agents and those affected. For these reasons it is easy to ignore them as sources of obligation.

(Lichtenberg 1981: 87).

And it is not only the source of the obligation that is in question here, but its nature, too. Take the issue of ‘natural’ disasters, for example. If a volcano erupts, we can be fairly sure that the (p.31) disaster is indeed a natural one, in the sense of having no anthropogenic origin. But can we be confident that the increasing incidence of massive floods around the world can be similarly described? A majority of climate scientists suggest that, although the disaggregated impacts of global warming are very hard to predict, we are likely to experience an increased incidence of extreme weather events—so called ‘strange weather’. So when floods devastate large areas of developing countries, we congratulate ourselves for the generous quant‐ities of aid we offer to alleviate the suffering. From the ‘closed earth’ point of view, though, the campaigning issue is not so much about how generous aid should be, but whether ‘aid’ is the appropriate category at all. If global warming is principally caused by wealthy countries, and if global warming is at least a part cause of strange weather, then monies should be transferred as a matter of compensatory justice rather than as aid or charity.

Globalization, properly understood, then, changes the source and nature of obligation, and renders ‘thin’ cosmopolitanism's account both of the nature of the transnational community and of the obligations at work in it inadequate to the task of remedying globalization's special harms. So the link between my critique of Held‐type globalization and thin cosmo‐politanism is as follows. Held fails to make the asymmetrical nature of globalization sufficiently central to his analysis. Thin cosmopolitanism is similarly constructed in and around an undifferentiated ‘common humanity’, and the obligations to which membership of the human community gives rise. Recognizing the asymmetrical nature of globalization, on the other hand, simultaneously makes for a more accurate picture of the processes of globalization itself, and also provides the resources for a more robust account of transnational ‘community’ and of the obligations contained within it. This is not a cosmopolitan community at all, but a post‐cosmopolitan relationship of actual harm, made possible by globalization and illustrated by some of the (p.32) processes at work in it. In the hope that I have adequately sketched what I regard as the key features of globalization and post‐cosmopolitanism, I can now move on to consider the more specific context within which ecological citizenship (Chapter 3) is inscribed—the context of citizenship itself.