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|1. Dancing Toward Solidarity
DIALOGICAL CITIZENSHIP: DANCING TOWARDS SOLIDARITY
Joseph Camilleri is Emeritus Professor at La Trobe University, Melbourne, where he held the Chair in International Relations and was founding Director of the Centre for Dialogue. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences, chair of the Editorial Committee of the scholarly journal Global Change, Peace and Security, and adviser to Ideapod, a new web-based platform aimed at harnessing the power of ideas.
As the modern era rooted in nation-state sovereignty comes to an end, tensions between the plural and the universal, and the local and the cosmopolitan, present profound challenges to governance in the twenty-first century. Dialogical citizenship provides a framework for turning these dichotomies into fruitful exchanges among competing strains of citizenship while mediating stresses based on religion, ethnicity, race, and power inequalities. In such dialogue, there is a place for both difference and commonality, creating a space for a journey of self-discovery and discovery of “the other.” Such soul-searching is the foundation for understanding across communities, faiths, and cultures in an increasingly tumultuous and divided world. Transnational citizenry that accepts—indeed, invites—dialogue to explore the creative tension between universality and singularity is a precondition to safely navigating a Great Transition.
|2. An Epochal Moment
Ours is a unique moment in the human story. For over a century, representatives of diverse intellectual traditions have foreshadowed “the decline of the West,” the “crisis of civilization,” or “the end of history.” In the last several decades, a number of new labels have entered our lexicon, including post-war, post-colonial, post-industrial, post-Westphalian, post-modern, and now post-secular. The upheavals spanning the last century suggest that we are at the end of an era, though the shape of times to come remains at best blurred and uncertain. Two world wars, the Great Depression, the Holocaust, the advent of nuclear weapons, the Cold War, and—more recently—climate change (itself emblematic of a more pervasive ecological crisis), a series of financial crises, and transnational terrorism leave little doubt that we are going through a period of profound upheaval.
|1. Four critical themes|
|3. World in Transition
To make the case for a renewed conception of citizenship, we need to delineate the defining features of the current period of transition. This, in turn, requires us to characterize the era that is coming to an end. The early modern period, from the middle of the sixteenth century to the late eighteenth century, conferred on modernity many of its distinguishing characteristics. The European states system, the institutional centerpiece of modernity, had as its foundational principles state sovereignty, nationalism (more benignly expressed as national self-determination), empire building (premised on Western dominance of the non-Western world), the ever widening application of the scientific method, and capital accumulation. By the end of the modern era, these principles had become global in scope and inspiration.
Persuasive though it is, this reading of modernity must be situated within a larger evolutionary context. The more complex forms of technical and social organization that we associate with modernity are but the latest in a long line of steps that point toward steadily rising levels of complexity. Human history has been characterized by the increasingly elaborate application of consciousness to social organization, notably the developing array of cognitive, communication, and organizational skills that embody complex design and foresight. Situated within this wider evolutionary canvas, the current period of transition, unique though it is, can be fairly portrayed as the latest in a series of transitions or thresholds that have punctuated the trajectory of human evolution over the last 150,000 years.
|1. Higher levels of social complexity|
|2. Reaching our limits|
|4. Intimations and Impediments
In response to these challenges, the emerging pattern of governance, especially evident in its normative, legal, and institutional architecture, may be seen as initial, somewhat tentative attempts to reconceptualize time and space. Across virtually every area of policy, we can discern the same discursive shift towards universalist norms, including “universal human rights,” “international citizenship,” “health for all,” the “global commons,” and the “responsibility to protect.” Notwithstanding periodic tensions and retreats in the interpretation and application of these principles, international discourse has adopted progressively more inclusive frameworks of decision-making, while scientists, lawyers, doctors, public intellectuals, environmentalists, insurers, and public policy specialists have introduced longer time frames into their calculus of social and economic risk taking.
|1. Emerging consensus|
|2. New mechanisms|
|3. A multidimensional system of governance|
|5. Regional tiers|
|5. The Governance-Citizenship Nexus
Though governance and citizenship are distinct concepts, they are closely related. A citizen has generally been defined as a member of a political community who enjoys the rights and assumes the obligations of membership. According to most democratic theory and, to large extent, democratic practice, the participation of the citizen in the affairs of government is the essential condition of democratic governance.
While citizenship is now widely accepted as a core element of the Western democratic tradition, its meaning and function remain a subject of contention. Maximalist interpretations of democratic citizenship, which place the accent on active participation in the life of the community, have been questioned and often thwarted by minimalists who focus instead on “private” or “passive” citizenship. In this latter formulation, the affairs of government are best left in the hands of a periodically elected elite, allowing citizens to concentrate on their individual rights and private interests. This latter interpretation is dominant in the United States, Canada, and Australia, as well as across Europe.
|1. Cynicism and withdrawal|
|2. Globalism and the relevance of territory and sovereignty|
|3. A multidimensional and variable mosaic|
|6. Dialogical Citizenship
I have chosen to label this emerging form of citizenship “dialogical” rather than “post-national” or “global” because it conveys far more clearly and sharply what distinguishes it from pre-existing formulations of the concept. Dialogue offers the most promising bridge between the plural and the universal. If the individualistic, state-centric model of citizenship is in crisis, the cosmopolitan conception is but a small advance, for it retains the same individualistic approach. While cosmopolitan blueprints extend the rights and duties of citizenship to all human beings regardless of national boundaries, their emphasis still remains on the individual citizen as voter and claimant of political and civil rights, as a member of an atomized world.
Individualistic notions of citizenship, whether of the state-centric or cosmopolitan variety, are not particularly helpful when dealing with the complex realities of ethnic, racial, cultural, and civilizational difference. Collective solidarity in one form or another is becoming more rather than less important. A range of solidarities beyond nationalism have come to the fore to express rising levels of discontent, marginalization, or simply homelessness. Many find in religious, tribal, ethnic, racial, civilizational, and increasingly ecological solidarities more convivial ways of living in time and space, or simply the promise of a new home. These identities operate as much across as within national boundaries.
|1. The inclusion of all|
|2. Diversity and commonality are not antithetical but complementary|
|7. From Theory to Practice
How, then, is dialogical citizenship to deal with difference? How can it make effective use of our diverse inheritance? Citizens engage in dialogue not merely to recognize or tolerate cultural, religious, or political difference, but to engage with others in a common search for truth and mutual understanding. They approach dialogue in a spirit of humility, acknowledging that no community, culture, religion, or society has a monopoly on truth or wisdom.
To engage in such dialogue requires that citizens speak and, just as importantly, that they listen. As former Iranian President Khatami explained in his celebrated address to the University of Florence, “[u]nderstanding is the result of speaking and listening.…‘Speaking’ and ‘listening’ are a two-dimensional effort aimed at coming closer to the truth.” Dialogue, then, is an encounter across cultural, religious, philosophical, ethical or civilizational boundaries in which one citizen listens to the other, becomes open, sensitive, even vulnerable to the other’s perspectives, concerns, and grievances. Through dialogue, citizens embark on a journey as much of “self-discovery” as of “discovery of the other.”
|1. The fundamental ethical impulse|
|2. Moving to concrete engagement|
|3. Reason as the universal language|
|4. Representation and responsibility|
|8. Prospect and Promise
The new model of citizenship will not materialize overnight. No technical fix or social engineering can bring it to fruition. The dialogical model reaches beyond the instrumental to embrace a temperamental and attitudinal shift through which mutual empathy is nourished and differences embraced. Even if it is to engage only a sizeable minority in this journey—say between ten and fifteen percent of the world’s population—a major cultural shift will be necessary, and education will be integral to this transformative process. Formal institutions, from kindergartens to universities, will play a critical role, but they will need to be complemented by less formal programs that connect with ongoing technological, socio-economic, political, and environmental changes. Beyond this, the very purpose of education will have to be rethought. The opportunities offered by dialogical discourse and practice in the context of a Great Transition will need to inform the reworking of curriculum and learning materials as well as the reform of teacher education. Effective implementation will require sustained policy support from all tiers of governance; pedagogical guidance from educators, intellectuals, artists, and practitioners; and innovative use of both traditional and social media.
|1. Safely navigating the Great Transition|
1. Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, trans. Charles Francis (London: G. Allen & Unwin, 1926); Joseph Camilleri, Civilization in Crisis: Human Prospects in a Changing World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976); José Ortega y Gasset, Man and Crisis, trans. Mildred Adams (London: Allen & Unwin, 1959); Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man (New York: Free Press, 1992).
2. Joseph A. Camilleri and Jim Falk, Worlds in Transition: Evolving Governance Across a Stressed Planet (Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2009), 127-131.
3. The notion of transitions or thresholds is a recurring theme in diverse disciplinary contributions. See Merlin Donald, Origins of the Modern Mind: Three Stages in the Evolution of Culture and Cognition (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991); Jürgen Habermas, Communication and the Evolution of Society, trans. Thomas McCarthy (London: Heinemann, 1979); Elman Service, Origins of the State and Civilization: The Process of Cultural Evolution (New York: W. W. Norton, 1975).
4. Camilleri and Falk, op. cit., 149-158.
5. See Dominique Leydet, “Citizenship,” in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University, 2011, http://plato.stanford.edu/entires/citizenship/.
6. See Peter Bachrach, The Theory of Democratic Elitism (London: University of London Press, 1963); Robert Dahl, A Preface of Democratic Theory (Chicago: Phoenix, 1963).
7. Susanne Soederberg, Georg Menz, and Philip Cerny, eds., Internalizing Globalization: The Rise of Neoliberalism and the Decline of National Varieties of Capitalism (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005).
8. Michael Walzer, Spheres of Justice: A Defense of Pluralism and Equality (New York: Basic Books, 1983), 31.
9. I review the scope and drivers of the crisis of liberal democracy in a recent op-ed: “Democracy in Crisis,” The Age, December 29, 2014, http://www.theage.com.au/comment/democracy-in-crisis-20141228-126quk.html.
10. John Urry, “Globalization and Citizenship,” Journal of World-Systems Research 5, no. 2 (Spring 1999): 263-273.
11. Will Kymlicka, “New Forms of Citizenship,” in The Art of the State: Governance in a World Without Frontiers, eds. T. J. Courchene and Donald Savoie (Montreal: Institute for Research on Public Policy, 2003), 273.
12. See, for example, Martin Buber, Between Man and Man, trans. Ronald Gregor-Smith (New York: Routledge, 2002); Han-Georg Gadamer, Truth and Method, trans. Joel Weinsheimer and Donald Marshall (New York: Crossroads, 1989); Jürgen Habermas, The Inclusion of the Other: Studies in Political Theory (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1998); Tu Weiming, “Confucianism and Civilization,” in Dialogue of Civilizations: A New Peace Agenda for a New Millennium, eds. Majid Tehranian and David Chappell (London: I.B Tauris, 2002), 83-90; Fred Dallmayr, Dialogue Among Civilizations: Some Exemplary Voices (New York: Palgrave, 2002).
13. For an insightful contribution on the possibilities for dialogue in ecological ethics across the world’s major religious traditions, see C. G. Weeramantry, Tread Lightly on the Earth: Religion, the Environment and the Human Future, (Sri Lanka: Stamford Lake, 2009).
14. Muhammad Khatami, “Dialogue between East and West” (address, European University Institute, Florence, March 10, 1999), http://www.al-islam.org/islam-dialogue-and-civil-society-khatami/dialogue-between-east-and-west.
15. Jürgen Habermas, “The Unity of Reason in the Diversity of its Voices,” in Postmetaphysical Thinking: Philosophical Essays, trans. William Hogengartern (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press 1992), 115-117.
16. Fred Dallmayr, Integral Pluralism: Beyond Culture Wars (Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky Press, 2012). See especially Chapter 5 (“Hermeneutics and Cross-Cultural Encounters: Integral Pluralism in Action”), 103-122.