Book chapter

Political Community beyond the Sovereign State, Supranational Federalism, and Transnational Minorities (2002)


Explores cosmopolitanism in terms of political communities that transcend state borders, situating this treatment in the field of cosmopolitan democracy that views human needs as best served by global political institutions. Discussion opens with a consideration of various interpretations of cosmopolitanism, contending that political theorists employ the term without any idea of a global community of citizens. It is asserted that two ways exist for building political communities beyond national identities, assimilation into larger communities that replicate particularistic nationhood traits or federalization that fosters loyalties to the larger unit. The latter, multinational federalism, appears most promising. However, such a cosmopolitan project must address issues of asymmetry, enlargement, & democratization. In this light, it is asked whether current conditions of globalization even allow for the emergence of a global political community before even considering the possibility of cosmopolitan democracy. Thus, various patterns of extant supranational political community are examined to determine their impact on democratic citizenship. Four boundary regimes through which political communities can relate in a larger supranational context are identified: separate, nested, multilevel, or overlapping. It is argued that, in fact, the state system is transforming via a combination of the nested, multilevel, & overlapping patterns. In this light, the UN & EU are assessed. Focus turns to overlapping affiliations as manifest in transborder national minorities, global networks of indigenous groups, & transnational migrant communities. It is concluded that a cosmopolitan democracy might arise from this overlapping pattern of minority communities should an endogenous development of liberal norms emerge in response to challenges raised by the claims of these transnational communities' leaders. J. Zendejas