Remaining the cosmopolis: Living in Confined Humanity (Brill Publishing, 2021)
This new book is the continuation of the long work carried out first by Sociétés Plurielles and then by GRIP on the theoretical and empirical validity of the cosmopolitan approach applied to the current context, characterized by the challenges facing open, cosmopolitan and democratic societies on the one hand, and on the feasibility of implementing supranational governance on the other hand.
In the depths of tremendous global risk we are facing, the need to meditate on what has been simplistically referred to as ‘the post-crisis world’ – a post-COVID world taking back the reins of its destiny – has thus arisen. Certainly, such an imaginary of tomorrow’s world has millenarian overtones, referring to the idea that it would be possible, on the day after a great night, to wipe out the past and rebuild everything. The past has shown that the remedies that this kind of illusion brings are sometimes more dangerous than the ills it claims to relieve. The magnitude of the health crisis obliges us to re-arm intellectually in the face of future challenges that are still difficult to decipher. How can we imagine cosmopolitanism in times of withdrawal and isolation, and especially when difficult times lead to a confined humanity? Anti-universalist, anti-rationalist and anti-democratic movements are coming back in force after a relative erasure since the Second World War that made us believe that they had been definitively defeated. This return of counter-Enlightenment ideas (Sternhell, 2009) – an expression that designates this heteroclite set of forces as fighting against any form of universalist project – is accompanied by anger, resentment, and fears that seem to be spreading throughout the peoples of Europe, who are confronted with an unprecedented wave of sovereignism, populism, and xenophobia.
This new book, which intends to update and achieve the project started with Cosmopolitanism in Hard Times (Cicchelli and Mesure, 2020), is therefore justified by the ambition to continue the debate on the power of these anti-universalist tendencies in the prism of this highly globalized event that is the pandemic, tendencies that are exacerbating the trends observed in recent years. We wish to direct our thinking to the long term so as not to let ourselves be blinded by the evidence of an event as traumatic as it may be. By countering the discourse that has been circulating since COVID-19 was clearly identified as a global threat to many affected societies and makes abundant use of expressions such as ‘the world after’, tinged with millenarianism and with apocalyptic and dystopian overtones, this project puts forward the thesis that this crisis should be considered as a privileged observatory for revealing the older trends that the pandemic magnifies and makes visible. Starting from the pandemic as a metaphor of closure, we will consider it as a litmus test, as an event pushing to paroxysm the striking return of counter-Enlightenment ideas.
Such a book would like to provide new insights through short and incisive texts written in the mode of argumentative essays and give a number of answers to such questions as:
What will be the faces of this post-COVID world? Will we witness the reign of savage capitalism? (Milanovic, 2019), the confrontation of the most powerful in a weakened world?, a confrontation that will take the form, in particular, of a conflict between China and the United States? (Allison, 2017)Will we experience a more unequal, more divided, more closed world? Will we see a strengthening of the nationalist, populist, and xenophobic tendencies that are at work everywhere today, so that the ‘next world’ should be thought of as one in which existing trends will be hardened rather than as one of upheaval and renewal? Or, on the contrary, will we be audacious enough to invent new forms of solidarity that will make it possible to better confront the crises that await us and that we already know will be not only health crises, but also ecological, economic, political, as well as social crises?
Of course, no one can claim to predict this today. We are, however, at a crossroads, as we wrote in the preface to Cosmopolitanism in Hard Times. Indeed, one thing is sure: The idea of happy globalization is now definitely behind us. The optimism of Fukuyama predicting the end of history in the 1990s has become foreign to us. In the Fall of 2020, History is more than ever on the move.
Allison Graham T. (2017), Destined for War. Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap? Boston, New York : Hougthon Mifflin Harcourt.
Cicchelli Vincenzo and Mesure Sylvie (eds), Cosmopolitanism in Hard Times, Leiden/Boston, 2020.
Sternhell Zeev (2009). The Anti-Enlightenment Tradition. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Call for contributions: Timeline
- End of November 2020: Submission of proposals (300 words maximum)
- Mid-December 2020: Answer to the authors
- End of April 2021: First versions of the chapters (3500/4000 words maximum):
- End of May 2021: Remarks to the authors
- End of June 2021: Second versions of the chapters
- End of July 2021: Submission of the manuscript to Brill
- December 2021: Date of publication