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Cosmopolitan Patriots Author(s): Kwame Anthony Appiah Source: Critical Inquiry, Vol. 23, No.

3, Front Lines/Border Posts (Spring, 1997), pp. 617-639 Published by: The University of Chicago Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1344038 . Accessed: 22/05/2011 23:44
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CosmopolitanPatriots

Kwame AnthonyAppiah

Myfatherwas a Ghanaian patriot.He once published columnin the a


Pioneern local newspaper Kumasi, our in under the headline"Is Ghana

WorthDyingFor?'and I knowthathis heartsanswerwasyes.l But he alsolovedAsante,the regionof Ghanawherehe and I both grewup, a kingdomabsorbed withina Britishcolonyand, then, a regionof a new multiethnic republic: once-kingdom he and his fatheralso both a that lovedand served.And,likeso manyAfrican nationalists his classand of generation, always he lovedan enchanting abstraction calledAfrica. they
My thinking on these topics has evolved out of discussionsof multiculturalism over the past few years and was stimulatedprofoundlyby an invitationto read and respond to Martha Nussbaum'sessay "Patriotismand Cosmopolitanism," Boston Review, Oct.-Nov. 1994, pp. 3-6. I am particularlygrateful to Homi Bhabha, LawrenceBlum, RichardT. Ford, Jorge Garcia, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Amy Gutmann, Martha Minow,Maneesha Sinha, CharlesTaylor,David Wilkins,and David Wong;and to those participantsin two conferences- "Textand Nation"at GeorgetownUniversityin April 1995, and the Annual Conferenceof the Association UniversityTeachersof Englishin SouthAfrica(AUTESA), of at the Universityof Natal, Pietermaritzburg, inJuly 1995 who commentedon earlierversions of these thoughts. Portionsof this essay appeared in my essay "Against National Culture,"in Textand Nation: Cross-Disciplinary Essayson Culturaland National Identities,ed. Laura Garcia-Moreno and PeterC. Pfeiffer(Columbia,S.C., 1996),pp. 175-90. 1. This questionwas firstput to him byJ. B. Danquah,leader of the majoropposition partyin KwameNkrumah's Ghana,in 1962. See Joseph Appiah,Joe Appiah:TheAutobiography of an AfricanPatriot (New York,1990),p. 266. Myfather's column is reprintedin Appiah, Antiochus Lives Again! (Political Essays of Joe Appiah), ed. Ivor Agyeman-Duah(Kumasi, Ghana, 1992).
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Whenhe died, my sistersand I found a note he had draftedand neverquitefinished, words loveandwisdom hischildren. last of for After a summary reminderof our double ancestry-in Ghanaand in England he wrote:"Remember you arecitizensof the world." he that And wenton to tell us thatthis meantthat-whereverwe choseto live,and, as citizensof the world,we could surelychoose to live anywhere we shouldmakesurewe left that place"better than you found it.""Deep insideof me,"he wenton, "isa greatlove for mankind an abiding and desireto see mankind, underGod,fulfilits highestdestiny." The favorite slanderof the narrow nationalist against cosmopolius tansis thatwe are rootless. Whatmy fatherbelievedin, however, a was rootedcosmopolitanism, if you like,a cosmopolitan or, patriotism. Like Gertrude Stein,he thoughttherewas no point in rootsif you couldn't takethemwithyou. "America mycountry Paris my hometown," is and is Steinsaid.2 fatherwouldhaveunderstood My her. Wecosmopolitans a familiar face litanyof objections. Some,for example, have complained that our cosmopolitanism must be parasitic: where,theyask,couldSteinhavegottenherrootsin a fullycosmopolitan world? Where,in otherwords,wouldall the diversity cosmopolitans we celebrate comefromin a worldwheretherewereonlycosmopolitans? The answeris straightforward: cosmopolitan the patriotcan entertainthe possibility a worldin whicheveryone a rootedcosmopolitan, of is attached a homeof one'sown,withits owncultural to particularities, but taking pleasure fromthepresence other,different of placesthatarehome to other,different people.The cosmopolitan imagines in sucha also that worldnot everyone find it best to stayin theirnatalpatria,so that will the circulation peopleamongdifferent of localities involvenot only will cultural tourism (whichthe cosmopolitan admitsto enjoying) migrabut tion, nomadism, diaspora.In the past, these processes have too often been the resultof forceswe shoulddeplore; old migrants the wereoften refugees,and older diasporas often beganin an involuntary exile. But whatcan be hateful, coerced,canbe celebrated if whenit flowsfromthe freedecisions individuals of groups. of or
2. Gertrude Stein, "AnAmerican and France"(1936), What Masterpieces? Are (Los Angeles, 1940),p. 61.

Kwame Anthony Appiahis professor Afro-American of studiesand philosophy HarvardUniversity. is the authorof, among other at He works,In My Father's House: Afraca thePhilosophy Culture in of (1992)and, withAmyGutmann, Color Conscious (1996),a pairof essayson raceand publicpolicy. is alsoan editorof Transition. He

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In a worldof cosmopolitan patriots, peoplewouldacceptthe citizen's responsibility nurture culture the politics theirhomes.Many to the and of would,no doubt,spend theirlivesin the placesthatshapedthem;and thatis one of the reasons localcultural practices wouldbe sustained and transmitted. manywouldmove;and thatwouldmeanthatcultural But practices would travelalso (as they have alwaystravelled). The result wouldbe a worldin whicheach localformof humanlife wasthe result of long-term persistent and processes cultural of hybridization:world, a in thatrespect,muchlikethe worldwe livein now. Behindthe objectionthat cosmopolitanism parasitic is there is, in anycase,an anxietywe shoulddispel:an uneasiness causedby an exaggeratedestimateof the rate of disappearance culturalheterogeneity. of In the globalsystemof cultural exchanges thereare, indeed,somewhat asymmetrical processes homogenization of goingon, and thereareforms of humanlife disappearing. Neitherof thesephenomena particularly is new,but their range and speed probably Nevertheless, formsof is. as culturedisappear, formsare created,and they are createdlocally, new whichmeanstheyhaveexactly regional the inflections thecosmopolthat itancelebrates. disappearance oldcultural The of formsis consistent with a rich varietyof formsof humanlife,just becausenew culturalforms, whichdifferfromeachother,arebeingcreated the timeas well. all Cosmopolitanism patriotism, and unlikenationalism, bothsentiare mentsmorethan ideologies.Different politicalideologiescan be made consistent withbothof them.Somecosmopolitan patriots conservaare tive and religious; othersare secularizers a socialistbent. Christian of cosmopolitanismas old as themerger is withthe Roman Empire, through whichStoicism cameto be a dominant shaping forcein Christian ethics. (Onmy father's bedsidewereCiceroand the Bible.Onlysomeoneignorantof the historyof the churchwouldsee this as an expression diof vided loyalties.)But I am a liberal,and both cosmopolitanism and patriotism, sentiments, seem to be hard to accommodate libas can to eralprinciples. Patriotism oftenchallenges liberalism. Liberals proposea state who thatdoesnot takesidesin the debates amongits citizens' various conceptionsof the goodlife areheldto be unableto valuea statethatcelebrates itself,andmodernself-described patriots, herein America, least,often at desirea publiceducation a publicculturethatstokethe firesof the and national ego. Patriots seem especially also sensitive these daysto slights to the national honor;to skepticism abouta celebratory nationalist historiography; short,to the critical in reflection the statethatwe liberals, on withourinstrumental conception it, areboundto engagein. No liberal of shouldsay,"My country, rightor wrong" because liberalism involves set a of politicalprinciples a statecan fail to realize; that and the liberalwill

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value liberals state,not leastbecause loyalty an illiberal to haveno special peopleovercollectivities. to can to objection liberalism also be made,however, This patriotic view;indeed,to anyview, to Catholicism, Islam,to almostanyreligious than a humanism, claims highermoralauthority one'sown that including first,that to And political community. the answer it is to affirm, particular and, friends; family, can someonewho lovesprinciple alsolove country, withinwhich holdthe stateandthe community second,thattruepatriots for and they live to certainstandards havemoralaspirations them,and may thatthoseaspirations be liberal. beginswiththe claimthat to challenge liberalism The cosmopolitan the zlvithin nation-state. with liberals havebeen too preoccupied morality whichbeganthe modernreformulation A of John Rawls's Theory Justicen to morality of left liberalism, the questions international of philosophical picturein an internabe dealtwith later:how to developthe Rawlsian political philosof preoccupation professional is tionaldirection a current is is ophy.The cosmopolitan likelyto arguethat this orderof priorities allwrong.3 in It is all verywell to arguefor,fightfor,liberalism one country(or supports operations, in yourown;butif thatcountry, its international then it fails,the cosmopolitan elsewhere, illiberal regimes eventolerates) weighthelivesof humanbeings it willargue,because doesnot sufficiently that takeit to be self-evident we are all createdequal, as such.Liberals immeinalienable rights,andthenseemalmost thatwe eachbearcertain withlookingafterthe rightsof the local diatelyto becomepreoccupied critique that branchof the species,forgetting this is a cosmopolitan theirrightsmatteras humanrightsand thusmatteronlyif the rightsof matter, too.4 foreignhumans than of to Thisis surelymoreof an objection the practice liberalism have to its theory(and,as I shallarguelater,cosmopolitans a reasonfor caringaboutstates,too).At the heartof the liberalpictureof humanity growswith an liberalism is the idea of the equaldignityof all persons:
3. Like most philosopherswho have thought aboutjustice recently,I have learned a great deal from reading Rawls.This essay obviouslydrawssustenancefrom his work and Mass.,1971)was of (Cambridge, the discussionsit has generated;indeed, hisA Theory Justzce the most importantbook I read the summerI was decidingwhetheror not to be a philosopher! I find it hard, however,to relate the position I am taking here explicitlyto what I understandof his currentviews;and so, much as I would have liked to do so, I have found it best not to take them on. all 4. We liberalsdon't agree on where the rights come from. I favoran "antirealist" withinand betweenstates view in whichhuman rights are embodiedin legal arrangements rather than one in which they somehowexist as antecedentsor are grounded in human natureor divine ordinance.

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of of appreciation the inadequacy an older picturein which increasing societymade Not everypremodern of is dignity the possession an elite. empirewould who ran the Ottoman as its elite hereditary, the eunuchs haveattested.But it is only in the modernage thatthe idea has grown to thateveryone of us beginslife with an equalentitlement respect,an but throughmisbehavior thatrelose that entitlement we may,perhaps, lives. for mainswithus otherwise all our This idea of the equaldignityof all personscan be cashedout in of to the but ways, it undergirds attachment a democracy unlimdifferent and racismand heterosexism; of the ited franchise; renunciation sexism desire the whichresists state's of for therespect theautonomy individuals, is good for us; and to fit us to someone else's conceptionof what the notion of human rights rights possessedby human beings as such thatis at the heartof liberaltheory. and cosmopolitanism humanto It wouldbe wronghowever conflate mateverybody is ism becausecosmopolitanism notjust the feelingthat aredifferent the also ters.Forthe cosmopolitan celebrates factthatthere withthe is by localhumanwaysof being;humanism, contrast, consistent with can Humanism be madecompatible desirefor globalhomogeneity. urge to but sentiments, it can also live with a deadening cosmopolitan
unl ormlty.

of A liberalcosmopolitanism the sort I am defendingmightput its of pointlikethis:we valuethe variety humanformsof socialandcultural global to life;we do not wanteverybody becomepartof a homogeneous and culture; we knowthatthis meansthattherewillbe localdifferences as climate well.Aslongas these in states) moral (bothwithinandbetween meetcertaingeneralethicalconstraints as long,in particudifferences respectbasichumanrights we are happyto institutions lar,as political let thembe. Partof whatthe equaldignityof all personsmeansfor the liberalis even for decisions themselves, when autonomous people's thatwe respect we they are decisions judge mistaken-or simplychoiceswe wouldnot that principle fitswellwiththecosmoThis makeforourselves. is a liberal The desirable. is difference actively politanfeelingthat humancultural basichumanrightsis, as a result,very that requirement the staterespect peoplebeyondwhat It demanding. rulesout statesthataimto constrain that associations are the to is necessary enablea commonlife. Voluntary may demanda very great deal of affiliations productof autonomous people,as longas theyretainthe rightof exit (a rightthatit is one of the Thus I canbindmyselfwitha vowof to properpurposes sustain). state's as as obedience, longas I retainmyautonomy: longas, thatis, if I finally decide that I can no longer obey,whoeverI have bound myselfto is obligedto releaseme. Broadfreedomof contract and the state'senfreelymade is rightlyseen as a liberalpractice, of forcement contracts

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but decisions freeindividuals; not evof givingforceto the autonomous autonomy-in particby erycontract be enforced a statethatrespects can ular,contracts giveup one'sautonomy.5 to of actions enablethe exercise autonomous In short,wherethe state's can decision,my sort of liberalwill cheer it on. Cosmopolitanism also ideal-take individualism. cosmopolitan The livehappily withthisliberal yourrootswithyou is one in whichpeopleare freeto choosethe local formsof humanlife withinwhichtheywilllive. us have Patriotism, communitarians spentmuchtimereminding as of as recently, aboutthe responsibilities well as the privileges citizenis not ship.But it is alsoand aboveall, as I havebeen suggesting, so much if practical morality as of sentiment; thereis one a matter action of of emotionthatthe verywordbringsto mind it is surelypride.Whenthe teamwins,when the national national anthemplays,whenthe national excitement, armyprevails, thereis thatshiverdownthe spine,theelectric are the thrillof beingon the winningside. But patriots surelyalso the shame;patriotssufferwhen theircountry firstto suffertheircountry's bluster, elects the wrong leaders or when those leaders prevaricate, is pantomime, betray"our"principles.Patriotism about what the or EdwardBlydenonce so nineteenth-century Liberianscholar-diplomat whichis the feelingof "people memorably called"thepoetryof politics," and the sentiment It with whomwe are connected."6 is the connection in that thatmatter, thereis no reasonto suppose everybody thiscomand and foplex, ever-mutating worldwillfind theiraffinities theirpassions cusedon a singleplace. thananyabfor Myfather's exampledemonstrates me, moreclearly that stractargument, possibilities the enemiesof cosmopolitanism the (not can lovingour homelands only deny.Wecosmopolitans be patriots, the stateswherewe werebornbut the stateswherewe grewup and the a stateswherewe live);our loyaltyto humankind so vast,so abstract, us to unity doesnot deprive of the capacity carefor livesnearerby.
5. A (lifetime)vow of obedience even if, because I receive somethingin return for my vow,it may look like a legal contract should be enforcedonly if enforcingit is consistent with respecting the autonomy of the person who made the vow. There are difficult extended in time, and treating issueshere. On the one hand, moralpersonsare historically responsiblefor the someone as a single moral person requiresholding one's later "stages" On commitmentsof earlier "stages." the other, there are moral limits on what people can bind their later selves to do: and one relevantlimit is that we may not bind our later selves to abstainfrom rationalethicalreflection.(An enforceablelifetime vow of obedience looks awfullylike a contractto enslave oneself, which would presumablybe unconstitutionalin wrongwith offering"freely" the United States.But it turnsout to be quite hard to saywhat's to be a slavein return for some benefit, if you believein freedomof contract.) Islam, 6. EdwardW. Blyden, Chrzstianity, andtheNegroRace(London, 1887), pp. 226, 227.

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of examplemakesme suspicious the purportedly But my father's patrio(my patriotism fathersGhanaian against argument cosmopolitan is, tism,whichI wantto defend)thatallegesthatnationality in the words characteristic." irrelevant "a Nussbaum, morally of a fineessaybyMartha boundary arbitrary that arguesthatin "conceding a morally Nussbaum role of suchas the boundary the nationhasa deep and formative in our way of ourselves anyprincipled of we deliberations, seemto be depriving the join hands'across "boundthat to arguing citizens theyshouldin fact and ariesof ethnicity classand genderand race.a7 I can saywhatI thinkis wronghereonlyif I insiston the distinction one natural for is Theirconflation a perfectly betweenstateand nation.8 Bosnia, a modern person even after Rwanda,Sri Lanka,Amritsar, was But Aserbaijan. the yokingof nationand statein the Enlightenment with of boundaries statesintoconformity intendedto bringthe arbitrary of the of boundaries nations; idea thatthe boundaries one the "natural" of while the boundaries the other were not, is easy could be arbitrary, of enoughto grasp,oncewe arereminded it. way Herderian of thinking: Not thatI wantto endorsethisessentially A states.9 nation hereis a looseandunphilosophneverpreexist nations runor of community" culture: ancestry icaldefinition-is an "imagined expression and ningbeyondthe scaleof the face-to-face seekingpolitical for itself.lBut all the nationsI can thinkof that are not coterminous with statesare the legacyof older statearrangements as Asanteis in in nations what and as whathasbecomeGhana; arethe Serbian Croatian usedto be Yugoslavia. the I want,in fact,to distinguish nationandthe stateto makea point arbitrary is that namely, if anything morally to opposite Herder's, entirely it is not the state,but the nation.Sincehumanbeingslive in political than the species,and since it is withinthose political ordersnarrower of that questions publicrightand wrongare largelyarguedout orders citizen-someonewhois a member factof beinga fellow the anddecided, at arbitrary all.Thatis whythe cosmois not morally of the sameorder It focuson the stateis exaggerated. is exof politancritique liberalism's has celebrates thatcosmopolitanism variability actlybecausethe cultural of of a plurality statesthatwe need to cometo dependon the existence takestatesseriously.
Boston Review, Oct.-Nov. and Cosmopolitanism," 7. Martha Nussbaum, "Patriotism 1994, pp. 3, 6. the 8. The tendency in the anglophoneworldto sentimentalize state by callingit the nation is so consistentthat if, earlier,I had referred to the state team or the state anthem, this would have made these entities seem cold, hard, and alien. House:Africa in the Philosophy 9. For discussionof Herder'sviews,see my In My Father's of Culture(New York,1992),chap. 1. was community" givencurrencyby BenedictAnderson, 10. The expression"imagined Refections on the Originand Spreadof Nationalism(London, 1983). lmagined Communities:

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The nation,on the otherhand,is arbitrary, not in a sensethat but meanswe candiscard in ourmoralreflections. is arbitrary the root it It in senseof thattermbecauseit is, in the Oxford English Dictionary's lapidary formulation, "dependent upon willor pleasure.''1l Nationsoften matter moreto peoplethanstates: monoethnic Serbia makes moresenseto some thanmulticultural Bosnia; Hutu(ora Tutsi) a Rwanda makes moresense to othersthana peaceful shared citizenship TutsiandHutu;onlywhen of Britainor France becamenationsas wellas statesdid ordinary citizens cometo caremuchaboutbeing French British.l2 noticethat the or But reasonnationsmatteris thattheymatterto people.Nationsmattermorally,whentheydo, in otherwords,for the samereasonthatfootball and opera matter:as thingsdesiredby autonomous agents,whoseautonomousdesireswe ought to acknowledge takeaccountof, even if we and cannotalways accedeto them. States,on the otherhand,mattermorally, intrinsically. They matter not becausepeoplecareaboutthembut becausetheyregulateour lives throughformsof coercionthat will alwaysrequiremoraljustification. Stateinstitutions matter because theyarebothnecessary so manymodto ern human purposesand becausethey have so great a potentialfor abuse.As Hobbesfamouslysaw,the state, to do its job, has to have a monopolyof certainformsof authorized coercion,and the exerciseof thatauthority criesout for (butoftendoesnot deserve) justification even in places,likeso manypostcolonial societies, wheremanypeoplehaveno positive feelingfor the stateat all. Thereis, then, no need for the cosmopolitan claimthatthe state to is morally arbitrary the waythatI havesuggested nationis. There in the are manyreasonsto thinkthatlivingin political communities narrower thanthe speciesis betterfor us thanwouldbe ourengulfment a single in world-state: cosmopolis whichwe cosmopolitans a of wouldbe not figurative literal but citizens. is, in fact,precisely celebration cultural It this of variety-within statesas well as betweenthem that distinguishes the cosmopolitan fromsomeof the otherheirsof Enlightenment humanism. It is becausehumanslivebest on a smaller scalethatwe shoulddefend notjust the statebut the county, town,the street,the business, the the craft,the profession, family communities, circlesamongthe the as as many circlesnarrower than the human horizonthat are appropriate spheres moralconcern.Weshould,in short,as cosmopolitans, of defend the rightof othersto live in democratic states,with rich possibilities of association withinand acrosstheirborders; statesof whichthey can be patriotic citizens. And,as cosmopolitans, canclaimthatrightfor ourwe selves. 11. Oxford English Dictionary, v. "arbitrary." s.
12. See, for example, LindaColley, Britons: Forging Nation,1707-1837 (New Haven, the Conn., 1992).

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I thoughtof the cosmopolitanism defendis that The fundamental celebratesthe freedomto createoneself the freedomthatliberalism optionsfromwhichto inventwhat transmitted a requires rangeof socially we have come to call our identities.Our familiesand schools, our and associations clubs,provide churchesand temples,our professional first, elementsin the tool kit of self-creation: they provide twoessential Methodist, identities- son, lover,husband,doctor,teacher, ready-made by fan, Yankee mensch- whoseshapesare constituted Moslem, worker, and demands,rightsand obligastereotypes normsand expectations, in tions;second,theygiveus a language whichto thinkabouttheseidentitiesand withwhichwe mayshapenewones. to Let me offeran exampleto give concreteness theseabstractions. England endowed English people with gender Seventeenth-century identiwiththeseready-made beginning as identities menandas women; on ties, and drawing a host of ideas aboutsex, gender,and sociallife, the urbanmen who createdthe Mollycultureof London- whichis one ancestorof modernWesternEuropeangay identities- shapeda new sexualdesirefor men in a manas whichinterpreted as identity a Molly, This is, of a evidencethathe was,in certainrespects, kindof woman.l3 is happened that whatactually a course,muchtoo simple-minded story: shapeda newgenderoptionforpeoplewhoweremoridentity the Molly male,an optionthatled themto expresstheirsexualdesire phologically and cross-dressing, givingeach themselves, for othermen by feminizing names. otherwomen's clear,our sociallivesendow But,as thiscaseshouldmakeabsolutely for for available self-creation: even of us withthe full richness resources it identities, is the new whenwe are constructing and counternormative A and the that old and the normative provide language the background. sense (in post-some-old-identity the now familiar new identityis always it is enabledby the verymodernism chalof postin whichpostmodernism we If, lenges).l4 like some of our fellowmammals, lived with a parent we independent, wouldhavea hugely only long enoughto be physically range of such conceptualimplementsand institutional impoverished our for frameworks exploring autonomy. are contributions hugely imThese conceptualand institutional mistakenot to mentionthat it but it wouldbe a philosopher's portant, in by is sociallife, shaped(butnot determined) the state- particularly the economy- thathasprovided material market formof themodern the for that conditions haveenabledthisexploration a largerandlargerproworld. in portionof people,especially the industrialized
1700in The House: GaySubsulture England, Molly Clap's 13. See Rictor Norton, Mother 1830 (London, 1992). Inquiry 14. See my "Is the Post- in Postmodernism the Post- in Postcolonial?" Crstical 17 (Winter 1991): 336-57.

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form in thus Amongthe resources madeavailable ourcontemporary identity, formof a thatwe can call a national of sociallife is something And I of identitythat is centralto the possibility a modernpatriotism. nationalidentityand more wantto ask now how we are to understand culpatriot,the role of a national what,for a cosmopolitan particularly turemightbe in it. we culture: mightcall Hereis one modelof the role of the national Thereis an ideal-which is to sayimaginary type it the tribalfantasy. face-to-facesociety, uncomplicated, of a small-scale,technologically that are wheremostinteractions withpeoplewhomyou know, we usually In calltraditional. sucha societyalmosteveryadultspeaksthe samelanWhilethere and and guage.Allsharea vocabulary a grammar an accent. willbe somewordsin the languagethatare not knownby everybodyherbs,the languageof some religiousritualsthe namesof medicinal in is mostareknownto all.To sharea language to participate a complex but and set of mutualexpectations understandings, in sucha societyit is not only linguisticbehaviorthat is coordinatedthrough universally Peoplewill share an underand understandings. knownexpectations funerals, otherritesof passagestanding manypractices marriages, of not sharetheirviewsaboutthe generalworkings onlyof and willlargely the socialbut also of the naturalworld.Eventhose who are skeptical knowwhateveryone elementsof beliefwillnevertheless aboutparticular is supposedto believe,and theywillknowit in enoughdetailto behave veryoftenas if theybelievedit, too. It to pointapplies manyof the valuesof suchsocieties. may A similar wellbe thatsomepeople,evensomegroups,do not sharethe valuesthat in are enunciated publicand taughtto children.But, once more, the and known, eventhosewhodo not share valuesareuniversally standard with themknowwhatit wouldbe to actin conformity themandprobably societywe mayspeakof its do so muchof the time.In sucha traditional c?4lture; to not, as sharedbeliefs,values,signs,and symbols the common in point,in the sensethateveryone the groupactually insiston a crucial knowswhat holdsthe beliefsand values,but in the sensethateverybody knowsthattheyarewidelyheld in the society. theyareand everybody culture the tribal in feature the common of Thereis a secondcrucial of sense,at the heart culture in a certain is, fantasy: is thatthe common it And and of the culture everyindividual everyfamily.l5 by thisI meannot a culture encompasses signifithe just that,for eachindividual, common beliefs,values, transmitted of cantproportion theirculture-the socially
15. I should hasten to add that it would be preposterousto claim that most of the societies that have been called traditionalfit anythinglike this pattern, though we might suppose that, for example, congeries of related hunter-gatherergroups, speakingclosely relateddialects,might have fit such a pattern.

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thatpopulatetheirmentallivesand shapetheirbesigns,and symbols skillsor beliefsor transmitted othersocially havior but that,whatever a cultureprovides mathey understandings have,the common valuesor Wherethe common to them.lfi jorityof those that are most important culcultureof a groupis also,in this way,at the heartof an individual's culture; is ture,I shallsaythatthatindividual centeredon the common beingcenteredon a commonculturemeans,in part,thatthosewhoare and as on centered it thinkof themselves a collectivity thinkof the colleccultureis central.l7 of tivityas consisting peoplefor whoma common of communities" Now the citizensof one of those large"imagined we modernity call nationsare not likelyto be centeredon a common cultureof thissort.Thereis no singlesharedbodyof ideasand practices in Indiathatsitsat the heartof the livesof mostHindusand mostMosthat lems;that engagesall Sikhsand exciteseveryKashmiri; animates of the in everyuntouchable Delhiand organizes ambitions everyBrahAnd min in Bombay. I am inclinedto saythatthereis not nowand there either. commonculturein the UnitedStates, has neverbeen a centering and beenmultilingual has the The reasonis simple: UnitedStates always English.It who did not speakor understand had has always minorities withAmeribeginning traditions, of had has always a plurality religious and and IberianCatholics, Jews,and Britishand can Indianreligions, Judaof nowmanyvarieties Christianity, and DutchPuritans, including of Bahai,and so on. Many these Taoism, Jainism, ism,Islam,Buddhism, to havebeen quiteunknown each other.Morethan traditions religious even differedsignificantly amongthose have this,Arnericans alsoalways who do speakEnglish,fromnorthto southand east to west,and from and of countryto city,in customs greeting,notionsof civility in a whole host of otherways.The notionthatwhathas held the UnitedStatestocenrangeis a citizenry over its great geographical gether historically tered on a commoncultureis to put it politely not sociologically plausible. culare that The observation Americans not centeredon a national national thereis an American whether the turedoesnot answer question culture,takenas a whole,are rouaboutArnerican culture.Comments to consensus denythem substantial on tine,andit wouldbe taking a fairly litigious, cultureis, for example,held to be individualist, all. American obsessed.I thinkeach of these claimsis actuallytrue because racially
16. My dictionary- AmericanHeritage DictionaryIII for DOS, 3d ed. (Novato, Calif., 1993)-defines culture (in part) as "the totalityof socially transmittedbehavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions,and all other productsof human work and thought."The focus in on social transmission definingcultureis extremelyimportant. 17. I don't think we should requirethat people can'tbe mistakenabout exactly who is in the group or exactlywhat is in the common culture,but I think that the less they are right about either of these things the less it makes sense to speak of the group as really centered on a commonculture.

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are whatI meanwhenI saythatAmericans not centeredon a common cultureof the UnitedStatesis not whatis deniedby someonewho says large-scale culture; sucha personis describing thatthereis an Arnerican in participated life tendencieswithinAmerican that are not invariably I to important allArnericans.do not not by- and arecertainly equally to meanto denythattheseexist.Butfor sucha tendency be partof what I am callingthe common culture it wouldhaveto derivefrombeliefsand sharedand knownto be so;and universally (almost) valuesandpractices wouldthenhave culture a forit to centerthe livesof Arnericans,common I of cultures mostAmericans. wantto to be at the coreof the individual in deny that there is any commonculturethat centers mostAmericans thisway. culture true Atthesametime,it wasalways thattherewasa dominant and it in these UnitedStates.It wasProtestant, spokeEnglish, it identiof and,moreparticularly, traditions Europe of fiedwiththe highcultural cultureincludedmuchof the commonculture This dominant England. classes-the government of thatcenteredmostmembers the dominant to elites but it wasfamiliar manyotherswho and andbusiness cultural to were subordinate them.And it was not merelyan effectbut also an ot nstrument tnelrc bomlnatlon. been a societyin then, has always The United Statesof America, Reccultures. of on whichpeoplehavebeen centered a variety common culcommon on are ognizing we in America not centered a national that that withrecognizing (with,no doubt,a tureis, as I havesaid,consistent citizensdo havea commonculture.Whatis American few exceptions) that is and important that for manyArnericans American interesting orderand to the core and, in particular, attachment the constitutional those the rightsit conveys is not whatcenterstheirlives.Theysupport bethey institutions, favorthem.Manypeoplehavecomehereprecisely in cause they exist;but, still, these valuesare instrumental their lives. whatshapestheirlives,is whatthe American Whattheydesirecentrally, freedomsmake possible your experiencein a temple or mosqueor richesof New YorkCity church; life withmy familyand the cultural my in their understanding; existence her for or Boston; search philosophical They needAmerica-they willdefendit, especially, a lesbiancommune. or who deploreits materialism its vulgarity but it is againstforeigners not at the heartof theirdreams. the We have come to a crux:for if this is the situation,shouldn't patriotresentthesefellowcitizensfor who cosmopolitan is an American a is whomtheircountry a mereinstrument, means,not an end?Myaninvented formof a revolutions and sweris no. Forthe French American of as that us patriotism allows to loveour country the embodiment prinof ciples,as a meansto the attainment moralends. It is true that the possible me and for valuesmorethanwhatthe statemakes patriot always

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is mine,but if amongthe idealswe honorin America the enablingof a enforce then we cannot,in consistency, certainkindof humanfreedom, the In eitherto the stateor to the principles. valuing autonoattachment they mouschoicesof freepeople,we valuewhattheyhavechosenbecause does not diminish to it: havechosen a forcedattachment a fine principle unworthy. but the principle, the forcemakesthe attachment thereis, of course,anotherpossibility. But if forceis not the answer cultureon whichto center a Whynot argueout democraticallycommon is that we do not haveto do so. The life?Myfirstanswer our national need is sharedcore values,a that questionpresupposes whatwe really centeringcommonculture.I think this is a mistake.WhatI thinkwe combut culture citizens on centered a common needis notcitizens really for necessary a common to institutions, the conditions mittedto common commitment in to life.Whatis required livetogether a nationis a mutual that of to the organization the state the institutions providethe overthat life. orderof ourcommon Butthisdoesnot require we have arching in to commitment those institutions, the sensethatthe instituthe same for tionsmustcarrythe samemeaning all of us. that so of withexamples this situation familiar they Welivealready are easily forgotten.The First Amendment,for example, separates to churchand state.Someof us are committed thisbecausewe are reliinsistenceon of gious;we see it as the institutionalization a Protestant or or, freedomof conscience becausewe are Catholics Jewsor Moslems, majority. by we do not wantto be pressedinto conformity a Protestant Someof us are atheistswho wantto be left alone.Wecan live together to we provided all arecommitted it for our differwiththisarrangement ent reasons. There is a usefulanalogyhere with much masscultureand other and goods.Peoplein Londonandin Lagos,in NewYork mass-produced Theyexist,in and Jackson drinkCoca-Cola. NewDelhi,listento Michael of for part,as an audience hiswork,as consumers thatdrink.Butnobody thinksthat whateither of these productsmeansin one place must be Similarly, with whatit meansin everysite of its consumption. identical of the institutions democracy-elections,publicdebates,the protection of minorityrights have differentmeaningsto differentpeople and that groups.Oncemore,thereis no reasonto require we all valuethem is All in the sameway,for the samereasons. thatis required thateverybodyis willingto playthe game. life A sharedpolitical in a modernnationis not like the life of the Whenwe of a It tribalfantasy. can encompass greatdiversity meanings. a habitswe are creating sharedcommitment teachchildrendemocratic culture,if We to certainformsof socialbehavior. can callthis a political citizensgive to theirlives,and to the political we like.But the meanings the will withintheirlives,in particular, be shapednot only(through pub-

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lic school) the statebut alsoby family church,reading televiby and and sion,and in theirprofessional recreational and associations. American If political culture what is Americans in common, is pretty gruel. have it thin And,so I am arguing, none the worsefor that. This sanguineconclusion causemanypatriotsto object."In a will worldof changingchallenges, sharedinstitutions (sharedlaws,for example)need interpreting fit new situations to (newcases).Andin thinking aboutthese new cases,doesn'tappealhave to be made to shared values,to substantial principles, even, in the end, to deep metaphysical convictions?''l8we are to decide,say,whether permitabortions, If to this argument suggests, mustdecidefirstwhether shared we our commitment to the preservation innocenthumanlife a commitment of somederive from the thoughtthat we are all childrenof a lovingGod appliesto the fetusin its firstthreemonths.Formany thoughcertainly all not Americans wouldopposeabortion it wereuncontroversially that if clear it wasthe killingof an innocenthumanbeing.l9 Don'tour difficulties in discussing questionflow,in part,fromprecisely lackof shared this the valuesthatI am arguing mustaccept? we I am not surethatthe answerto this last questionis yes. I suspect thatthe difficulties aboutabortion haveat leastas muchto do with the refusalof those who opposeit to acknowledge largea part views how aboutthe control women's of sexuality indeed,of sexuality general in play in shapingthe intensityof some of their responses. this, too, But mayturnin the end on deep differences aboutmetaphysical moral and questions; in the end, I agreethat these will sometimes so, haveto be faced. It is here that the politicalvaluesof the American republicmust cometo havesomeweightof theirown:ourdemocratic traditions require us to engagerespectfully our fellowcitizenswho disagreewith us. with In thissense,a political culture-the sharedcommitment the political to institutions the republic, content a common of the of citizenship is more thanan agreement abidebythe Constitution thelaws, thejudgto and by mentsof courts,by the decisions democratically of electedlawmakers. It alsoinvolves shared andevolving senseof the customary a practices of political engagement the publicsphere. in Now I admitthat thereare circumstances whichsucha senseof in common citizenship unavailable some.While Crowlawsheld in is to Jim theAmerican South,it is hardto see whyAfrican Americans shouldhave
18. This is an objectionCharlesTaylorproposedto me in privateconversation. 19. Innocenthere should presumably understood,as it is in discussions just killing be of in warfare,to mean "posingno harm"and not "guiltless." seems prettyclearthat we can't It blame the fetus even if its existence threatens the life or well-being of the woman who bears it.

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republic of practices the American to felt a commitment the customary exto (evenif theycouldand did feel attachment mostof the principles becausetheywereat oddswiththe precisely pressedin the Constitution citizensare entitledto just It of practice Jim Crow). is, of course, because excluof culture theirstatethatthe effective in participation the political mopolitical with fromvotingwasinconsistent democratic sionof blacks you so actions repudiate and I It rality. follows, concede,thatif the state's in if, as a result,you are unableto acceptand participate the political culturein this sense,yourfellowcitizenscannotexpectyou to conform to the law. culture national of Herethenis a pointwheredefenders a centering point.Whynot admit,theymightsay,thatyou mightfinda newstarting in are at mustguarantee leastthismuch:thatcitizens trained (andimmiculof to taughtandrequired assentto) the essentials the political grants by will if that is desirable, it not be best achieved centering ture?And everyAmerican by commonculture: centering on Americans a broader of sharednarratives the values,sharedliteraryreferences, on shared nation? American yes, Oncemore,to the firstquestion,I answer sure.And to the secculturecarriessomeweightfor us, we will political ond I sayno. If the and the accept lawsandthe termsof debatethatit entails, wewillstruggle it. justice,aseachof us understands If, as some for withinthatframework that debates we cannotresolve arecentral there claimis trueof abortion, we a this withinthis framework, is certainly problem wouldnot face if convictions. samemetaphysical up was everyAmerican brought withthe citizensinto a life cenAmerican of a But constraining quarter a billion let Americanism, us callit would culture cultural teredon a common If, of thisconflict. afterall, be too high a priceto payfor the dissolution thinkhowbitterwouldbe seemcontentious, the disputesaboutabortion we wiselyinsists should if the argument we insisted as the Billof Rights a singleviewof family not on a singlereligion(oreven,moremodestly, life)to teachall our children. in citizenship, otherwords,does requireus to acceptthe American shows,it is imAmericans politicalculture;and, as the case of African of that portant thatculturehasbuiltintoit the possibility change.Butif, laws of as a resultof the processes democracy, arepassedthataredeeply in possible a societynot centeredon a to repugnant you as is perfectly strongcommonculture you maywell reachthe pointwhereyou conby repudiated the siderthatyou havebeen, in the phraseI used earlier, is our society that to culture center no state.The priceof having common the creationof a patriotbelievesthat but possibility; the cosmopolitan wouldexact a commonculturerich enough to excludethis possibility bishops manyin theworld Catholic that higherprice.Thisis something in ayatollahs Iran,Commuin SriLanka, politicians Buddhist in Ireland, in members China do not believe.Theywantto livein socienistParty

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center, whereeverypolitical has tieswhereeveryone a commoncultural to has becauseeveryone been constrained accept disputecanbe resolved of culture theAmeriof senseof the meaning life.The political a common of can stateexcludesthis visionbecauseit is (in the understanding the one culture, a in termlong forgotten our publicdebates) liberalpolitical the with cosmopolitanism, great and that valuesindividuals celebrates, will variety whatindividuals choosewhengivenfreedom. of aboutthe murderof There mustbe somewho believethe rhetoric infantsthat (in myjudgment)pollutesthe debateaboutabortion.For But of the dutytranscends demands citizenship. religious them,perhaps, with I do not see thatone can resolvea disagreement themby findinga of commonmetaphysics the personon whichto centerthe next generaaboutthatwhichacour it tion of Americans; is precisely disagreements of countfor someof the intensity the debate. shouldnot be however, mostof thosewho believeabortion Surely, fetus of thinkthatthe abortion a first-trimester is really legaldo notreally of as exactly same the killing a livingchild.If theydid believethat,they the for exemptions rape and incest,for wouldsurelynot even contemplate choicewouldnot favora rapeof us who favorlawsallowing even those Like for exception infanticide. manywhofavorchoice,I believe,as I say, has of of the intensity the debateaboutabortion to do with that some and womenthat the feminismof the last few aboutsexuality attitudes havechalmovement successes the womenss of decadesand the practical lenged.I thinkthis is a fairthingto arguein the debatesaboutchoice. reBut I also thinkthe politicalculturewe have inheritedin America of quiresus to take on their meritsthe arguments those who oppose different flow choice,and,wherethe disagreements fromfundamentally us visions the humangood,I do not see thatit profits to denyor ignore of thisfact. and of the So,unlikemanywhofavor liberalism our Constitution the it, politicalculturethat surrounds I do not favorsilencein the public viewsthatunderliesomeof our deepestdissphereaboutthe religious Our lawsand customsrequireus not to imposereligious agreements. us ideason eachother,but theyalsoencourage to debateamongequals. aboutthe crereasons, for we Finally, shouldbe skeptical, historical commoncultureto centerour lives;for us to center ationof a national the on culture, statewouldhaveto takeup the cudourselves a national gels in definingboth the contentof that cultureand the meansof its arguedthatthiswouldcreatedeep schisms I dissemination.havealready Collecan suggests evendeeperdifficulty. life.Buthistory in ournational if tive identitieshave a tendency, I maycoin a phrase,to go imperial, but not dominating only people of other identities the other identities and whoseshapeis exactlywhatmakeseach of us whatwe individually are. distinctively

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as of In policingthisimperialism identity an imperialism visiblein that always to else it is crucial remember as identities anywhere national or or we are not simplyAmericans Ghanaians Indians or Germans Moslem, Jewish,Christian, but that we are gay or straightor bisexual, Buddhist,Confucian and also brothersand sisters;parentsand chiland and teachers lawyers autoand conservatives, leftists; dren;liberals, of aficionados and fans and makers gardeners; of the Padres the Bruins; mystery moviebuffs;PBS-aholics, of grungerockand amateurs Wagner; and students teachers; poetsandpet lovers; and surfers singers; readers; friendsand lovers.The statemakesmuchpossiblefor all of us, and we supportto whichit is entitledin virtueof owe it at least the consistent it thosepossibilities; wouldbe a grandironyif the pricewe paidfor the us was freedomthe statecreates to allowit to subject to newtyrannies. thoughtherein the UnitedStates.For powerful Thisis an especially them it because hasenabled in so manyhavelovedAmerica, part,exactly to choose who they are and to decide, too, how centralAmericais in not Those of us who are Americans by birthbut their chosenidentity. for by election,and who love this countryprecisely thatfreedomof selfshouldnot seek to compelothersto an identitywe ourselves invention, becauseit wasfreelychosen. celebrate that in I havebeenarguing, essence, youcanbe cosmopolitan celerooted loyalto one localsociety of the brating variety humancultures; of that you count as home;liberal convinced the value of (or a few) of the andpatriotic celebrating institutions the state(or the individual; flows whichyou live.The cosmopolitanism fromthe same states)within of for sourcesthat nourishthe liberalism, it is the variety humanforms choice. of of the vocabulary the language individual of life thatprovides out becausethe statecarves flowsfromthe liberalism Andthe patriotism For of whichwe explorethe possibilities freedom. rooted the spacewithin all cosmopolitans, thisis of a singlepiece. that But I havealsobeen arguing we do not need to insistthatall of or or be cosmopolitans, patriots, loyalto the nation; our fellowcitizens of culture the state.Andsharing the political we need themonlyto share culturedoes not requireyou to be centeredon it and certhatpolitical tainlydoesn'trequireyou to be centeredon a culturewiderthan the is What political.20 is essential only thoughthisis, in fact,a greatdeal and cultureof liberalism the thatall of us sharerespectfor the political it entails. order constitutional has for courtsmisunderstanding: the wordliberal been Thisformula
20. I think that in the United States that grasp of the politicalculture probablyrequires knowing (some) English. But since English, like the rest of the political culture, needn'tcenteryour life, speakingand even lovingother languagesis consistentwith participating in the politicalculture.

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bothdivested its original of contentand denieda solidnewmeaning. So let me remindyou againthat,for me, the essenceof thisliberalculture lies in respectfor the dignity and autonomyof individualpersons.2l Thereis muchto be saidaboutthe meaning autonomy of dignity; of and thereis muchto be said,too, abouthow,in practice, individuals to are live withothervalues,political not, thatwe cherish. and This is not the placefor thatexploration. let me sayone thing:sinceI believethat But the statecan be an instrument autonomy do not sharethe current for I distastefor the statethatdrivesmuchof whatin America nowcalled is conservatism; so I am often a liberalin the morecolloquial and sense as well. The point,in sum,is this:it is important citizens that shouldsharea politicalculture;it is not important America, (in withoutmassive coercion,it is not even possible) the political that culturebe important all to citizens, alonethatit matterto all of themin the sameway.(Indeed, let one of the greatfreedoms a civilized that societyprovides the freedom is not to preoccupy yourselfwith political.) the Onlypoliticians political and theorists likelyto thinkthe best stateis one whereeverycitizenis a are politician (andwhenWestern theorists thinkthis,it maybe becausethey areoverinfluenced the viewof politicstakenby somein the smallselfby governing townof Athens the fifthcentury in B.C.E.). Not beingpolitical not the sameas beingunsociable is (thoughthat is something shouldbe legallyfree to be also!).Manypeopleexpress we concernfor theircommunities actingthroughchurches charities, by and and,as observers America of sinceTocqueville pointedout, thisis a have distinctively American tradition. of whatmakesthistradition Part attractive is that it reflectselectiveaffinities ratherthan state-imposed obligation.

Youwill notice,now,that I havebeen arguingfor a form of state and of societythatis prettycloseto the modelof a multicultural liberal democracy, you mayask,Wherenowis yourmuch-vaunted and, cosmopolitanism? Afterall, the worldis fullof people-Chinese partyleaders, Hindunationalists, BritishTories who insistprecisely centering on all
21. Despite recentcommunitarian argumentsto the contrary,I do not think that the liberalrespectfor autonomyis inconsistentwith recognizingthe role of societyin creating the optionsin respectto whichfree individuals exercisetheir freedom.AsTaylorhas argued so powerfully, is in dialogue with other people'sunderstandingsof who I am that I deit velop a conception of my own identity;and my identity is cruciallyconstituted through conceptsand practicesmade available me by religion,society,school,and stateand medito ated to varyingdegreesby the family.But all of this can, in my view,be acceptedby someone who sees autonomyas a centralvalue.See my "Identity, Authenticity, Survival: Multicultural Societiesand SocialReproduction," Multiculturalism: in Examining "ThePoliticsof Recognition," ed. Amy Gutmann(Princeton,NJ., 1996),pp. 149-63.

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political. citizenson a singleculturethat extendsbeyondthe narrowly for t)o I not wantto makeallowances thisoption,too? WhenI firstthoughtaboutthis question,Twastemptedto bite the why I bulletand sayyes. But I didn'tbelieveit; and I now understand values human varietyfor what it must answerno. Cosmopolitanism and makespossiblefor free individuals, some kindsof culturalvariety high morethantheyenable.In otherwordsthe cosmopolitants constrain but flowsfromthe humanchoicesit enables, variety of appraisal variety Thereareothervalues.You what.22 we is not something valueno matter evenif they societies, between of amount diversity canhavean enormous idea But areall,in somesense,democratic.23 the fundamental thatevery is societyshouldrespecthumandignityand personalautonomy more indeed,as I say,it is the aulove basicthanthe cosmopolitan of variety; for argument cosmothat enables is the fundamental that tonomy variety
* .

po ltanlsm.

on couldin theorycometo be centered a singlesetof values A society of aboutthe virtues sucha homogI coercion. mightbe skeptical without enizedsocietyas a placeforme to live(evenif the cultureit wascentered on was in somesense mine) I wouldthinkit mightrisk manycultural in it perilsbecause mightrequire theend a kind and andeconomic moral oneselfofffromthe restof theworld.Butthosein sucha society of closing wouldno doubthavethingsto sayin response-or mightrefuseto diswithme at all-and, in the end, theymightwellfindtheir cussthe matter more weightythan mine. Freelychosen homogeneity, considerations for no problems me; in the end, I wouldsay good luck to then, raises and Toriesand Hinduchauvinists Maoistparty them. But whatBritish but to be uniformS the imposition that wantis not a society chooses bosses patriotmustoppose. That of uniformity. the cosmopolitan in of of One finalcorollary the grounding cosmopolitanism individvariety, valuecultural ual freedomis worthinsistingon. Cosmopolitans of the speciesat the butwe do not askotherpeopleto maintain diversity othersto provide require We autonomy. can't the priceof theirindividual televimuseumto tour throughor to visiton satellite us witha cultural of Shangrian nor safari; canwe demand assortment endlessvirtual sion's The Lasto enlargethe rangeof our ownoptionsfor identity. optionswe mustbe freelysustained, need in orderfor our choicesto be substantial an whoseexistenceis, for the cosmopolitan as mustthe humanvariety But,as I saidat the start,thereis endlesssourceof insightand pleasure.
as 22. This is one reasonwhy I think it is not helpfulto see cosmopolitanism expressing an aestheticideal. 23. There is no reason to think that every society needs to implement the idea of popular choice in the same way;so differentdemocraticinstitutionsin different societies are consistentwith the basic respectfor autonomy,too.

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no groundfor thinkingthat people are rushingtowardhomogeneity, and, in fact,in a worldmorerespectful humandignityand personal of autonomy suchmovement toward homogeneity thereis wouldprobaas blyslowdown. Skepticism aboutthe genuinely cosmopolitan character the viewI of havebeen defendingmayflowin partfromthe thoughtthatit seemsso mucha creature Europeand its Enlightenment.24 it maybe as well of So to insistin closing,as I did at the start,thatmy ownattachment these to ideas comes, as much as anything,from my father,who grew up in Asante,at a timewhenthe independence its moralclimatefromthat of of European Enlightenment extremely was obvious.Of course,he also wenton to livein Londonformanyyearsandacquired therethe training of an English lawyer; and,of course,the schoolhe wentto in Ghana was a Methodist school,a colonialvariant the English of boys'publicschool, wherehe wastaughtto thinkmorally through Cicero Caesar much and as as throughthe New Testament. wouldbe preposterous claim,in It to short,thathe cameto his cosmopolitanism his patriotism his faith or or in humanrightsandthe ruleof lawunaffected European by cultural tra. .

( ,ltlons.

But it wouldbe equallyfatuousto denythatthe viewhe arrived at hadrootsinAsante (indeed, one travels world, as the reviewing liberal the nationalisms SouthAsiaandAfrica the midcentury, is struck of in one not onlyby theirsimilarities alsoby theirlocalinflections). things,in but Two particular, strike aboutthe localcharacter the sourceof myfather's me of increasing commitment individual to rights: first,thatit grewoutof experienceof illiberal government; second,thatit dependedon a senseof his owndignityand the dignityof his fellowcitizens wasalmost that entirely the product Asante of conceptions. The firstpoint aboutexperience is crucial the caseforliberalto ism. It is the historical experienceof the dangersof intolerance religiousintolerance Europein the seventeenth in century, example,for for Locke;racialintolerance the colonialcontextfor Gandhi(or for my in father) thatoftenlies behindthe skepticism aboutthe state's interventions in the livesof individuals itselfunderliesmuch liberalsentithat ment. My fathersaw the colonialstate'sabusesof his fellowsand, in particular, refusal paythemthe respectthatwastheirdue;he was the to imprisoned, later,by Kwame Nkrumah, withouttrial(andthen released aftera yearand a halfin detention withas littleexplanation whenhe as
24. I should explicitlyrecord my opposition to the view that this origin in any way discreditsthese ideas, either for non-Europeansor, for that matter,for Europeans.The issues I want to explore have to do with the ways in which these views can be rooted in differenttraditions.I am not interestedin the nativistprojectof arguingfor these principles in the name of authenticallyAsante (or African)roots. The issues raised in the following paragraphsare thus historical,not normative.

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he and As wasarrested). a lawyer a memberof the opposition, travelled defendingpeople whoserights Ghanain the yearsafterindependence state. werebeingabusedby the postcolonial of is of tradition liberalism rootedin theseexperiences The political recommends on Thatliberalrestraint government government. illiberal of is traditions a reflection its itselfto peoplerootedin so manydifferent graspof a truthabouthumanbeingsand aboutmodernpolitics. in religiouswarfare the period of Just as the centrality murderous at placedreligioustoleration the core of Treatises leadingup to Locke's he of understanding the liberalism defended,so the primeplace Locke's of experience in dissenters the postcolonial of political of the persecution liberalto dissentcentral myfather's of protection political made tyranny with relientanglement (My ism.25 fatherworriedlittleaboutthe state's cameto the end of its television as I remember, the national gion;once, day, broadcast my fathersang along with the nationalhymnthat they playedsome evenings,the religioustwin of the more secularnational anthemthat they playedon others."Thiswouldbe a muchbetterna"But he tionalanthem," saidto me. And I replied,everthe good liberal, thatyou don'thaveto believein God to the anthemhas the advantage is "No singit sincerely." one in Ghana sillyenoughnot to believein God," And, now,I thinkhe was right not to be worried my fatherreplied.26 in there is no historyof religiousintolerance aboutthe entanglement; of churchand the Ghanaof the sort that makesnecessary separation of had state;a genialecumenism been the normat leastuntilthe arrival TV American evangelism.) withindividconcern yet, Butmoreimportant I think,to myfather's of ual humandignitywasits rootsin the preoccupation freeAsantecitizens both men and women with notions of personaldignity,with otherswiththe respectthatis theirdue Treating and respect self-respect. anxiety of is a centralpreoccupation Asantesociallife, as is a reciprocal liberalismJust aboutloss of respect,shame,disgrace.27 as European
25. Such historicalcontext is important,I think, because, as MichaelOakeshottonce observed,politicaleducationshould instil in us "a knowledge,as profoundas we can make "RatioEducation," (MichaelOakeshott,"Political it, of our traditionof politicalbehaviour" nalismin Politics"andOtherEssays[New York,1962],p. 128).We mightsay:liberalinstitutions of are to be recommended,in part, as a practicalresponse to the circumstances modern politicallife. 26. My father'sthought clearlywasn'tso much that there aren'tany atheistsin Ghana but that their viewsdon'tmatter.Locke,of course, agreed:"Thoseare not at all to be tolerated who deny the being of a God. Promises,covenants,and oaths, which are the bonds of human society,can have no hold upon an atheist.The takingawayof God, though but even of Political Writings in thought, dissolvesall"(John Locke,"ALetterConcerningToleration," John Locke,ed. DavidWootton[New York,1993], p. 426). 27. There are scores of proverbson this theme in Bu Me Be: The Proverbsof the Akan, the more than seven thousandAkan proverbsthat PeggyAppiah,my mother,will be publishing, with my assistance,in 1998.

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and democraticsentiment-grew by extending to every man and (then) woman the dignity that feudal society offered only to the aristocracy, and thus in some sense presupposedaspects of that feudal understandingof dignity, so Ghanaian liberalism-at least in my father'sform-depends on the prior grasp of concepts such as animaonyam (respect). It is clear from well-knownAkan proverbsthat respect was preciselynot something that belonged in the past to everybody: AgyaKraneAgyaKwakyereme, emu biaramunni animaonyam (FatherSoul and FatherSlave Kyereme,neither of them has any respect; that is, whateveryou call him, a slave is still a slave). Butjust as dignitas, which was once, by definition, the propertyof an elite, has grown into human dignity, which is the property of every man and woman, so animaonyam be the basis of the respect for all can others that lies at the heart of liberalism.28 Indeed, dignitasand animaonyamhave a great deal in common. Dignitas,as understood by Cicero, reflects much that was similarbetween republican Roman ideology and the views of the nineteenth-centuryAsante elite: it was, I think, as an Asante that my father recognized and admired Cicero, not as a British subject. "In the course of my life I have seen Frenchmen,Italians, Russians etc.; I even know,thanks to Montesquieu,thatonecan bePersian; man but I have never met."29 wrote Joseph de Maistre-no friend to liberalSo ism-in his Considerations la France. is a thought that can, ironically, sur It be made consistent with a liberal cosmopolitanism;a thought that may even lead us to the view that cosmopolitanismis, in certainways,inconsistent with one form of humanism. For a certain sort of humanist saysthat nothing human is alien; and we could gloss this as sayingthat a humanist respects each human being as a human being. Maistreis suggesting that we never really come to terms with anybody as a human because each actual person we meet, we meet as a French person, or as a Persian;in short, as a person with an identity far more specific than fellow human.30 Exactly,the cosmopolitansays.And a good thing too. But we do not have to deal decently with people from other cultures and traditions in spite of our differences;we can treat others decently, humanely,through our differences.The humanist requires us to put our differences aside; the cosmopolitaninsists that sometimes it is the differenceswe bring to the
28. The European history is taken up in Taylor, Sourcesof the Self: The Making of the ModernIdentity(Cambridge, Mass., 1989). 29. Joseph de Maistre, Conside'rations la France, 3d ed. (1797; Paris, 1821), pp. sur 102-3: 'tJ'aivu, dans ma vie, des FranZcois, Italiens, des Russes, etc.; je sais meme, graces des a Montesquieu, qu'onpeut e^tre Persan: mais quant a l'homme, declare ne l'avoir rencontre je de ma vie." 30. If you communicate on the internet, think about how difficult it is not to imagine your email correspondents (who present, after all, only strings of unspoken words) as having, for example, a specific race, gender, and age.

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at to tablethatmakeit rewarding interact all. Thatis, of course,to contoo; cedethatwhatwe sharecanbe important, thoughthe cosmopolitan an willremindus thatwhatwe sharewithothersis not always ethnonaand it sometimes willjust be thatyou and I a Peruvian a tionalculture: Slovak-both like to fish, or havereadand admiredGoethein translaof with the samesenseof wonderto a postcard the tion, or responded in trainings, theideal with as or Parthenon, believe, lawyers verydifferent of the ruleof law. But, voiceof cosmopolitanism. Thatis, so to speak,the anglophone spirit,let me end with a similarthoughtfrommy in the cosmopolitan Kurokorvmu nni nyansa,our tradition: no father's, doubt less familiar, thereis no wisdom.31 says.In a singlepolis proverb

31. Kurois usually translatedas town,but towns were relativelyself-governingin the seems a translationthat gets the right sense. Asantepast, so pol?s