Yasmin Alibhai-Brown reviews Appiah’s Cosmopolitanism in the Indy.
Cosmopolitanism, in its reconstructed meaning, says Appiah, provokes attacks from the left for whom it is dilettante and elitist. The right despises it because cosmopolitans make bad nationalists and patriots. All authoritarians detest the internationalist spirit. Hitler and Stalin launched regular invectives against “rootless cosmopolitans”.
Yeah. And identitarians hate it, which is one reason it is worth trying to dispute identitarianism, especially of the solitarist variety, John Gray notwithstanding. Cosmopolitanism is a good thing. Cosmopolitanism is Sarajevo before everything went to hell.
The Professor of Philosophy at the Centre for Human Values, Princeton no less, is not as bold as he could have been. A crucial treatise is rendered impotent by neat self censorship and a surfeit of facts. He elegantly turns away from the implications of his advocacy, in particular for the US…This volume ends up being a nice book for good people. He confesses: “This book is not a contribution to the debates about the true face of globalisation. I’m a philosopher by trade and philosophers rarely write useful books.” And that’s the pity of it all.
Well I don’t agree with him about that, actually, I think Cosmopolitanism is a useful book. I admire useful books. Jerry and I are working on a book that we think could be useful. We’re not philosophers, so we plan to be as bold as we can be.