In Which I Take Issue With Cosmopolitanism

It appears, at first glance, to be a dream come true. An idealistic world. One with no such thing as borders. I used to be somewhat attracted to this idea. At least, I toyed around with it.

I’m finished toying around with cosmopolitanism.

Just take a look at this interview. Here’s select snippet:

I live in a society that includes the Amish in Pennsylvania, ultra-orthodox Jews in New York City, liberal academics, and so many other kinds of people living so many kinds of lives. All side by side, mostly at peace with one another. Cosmopolitans among us are glad that the other people are doing their own thing. We don’t want them to be forced to do our own thing.

Seems good, right?


What, you may ask, is wrong with this? I’ll tell you straight-up: It focuses on the precise identities it claims to not care about. In fact, it singles these out in just the way they should never be singled out.

Cosmopolitanism begins, in short, with a concept of same-ness and moves to difference. Whereas, in my book, I show the proper way to broach such things is to do what colonists and Native Americans did; start with difference and move toward similarity.

This is why we have such a great country (the United States) and why Native Americans report they are in a happier state of living than they have been in centuries.

When we meet new people, it’s O.K. to consider them new. It’s O.K. to consider them novel, unique, different. It’s not O.K. to stay there. The conversation, if it falls naturally, will then turn to mutual exploration. This is the real “experiment in living” Mill called for and this is the task we must take up to move humanity forward.


Author: Jennifer Lawson

Philosopher. That is all.

Leave a Reply