Global citizenship


There’s a book I really like, called Freedom (by Nick Stevenson). The whole thing is quotable, but certain sections had me thinking about: spy fiction (in terms of the kind of international relations it works with); urban fantasy (in terms of the kinds of citizenship(s) it works); and what dialogic practices are valued in Young Adult fiction, and a few other things really… Stevenson writes:Freedom - Nick Stevenson

“The freedom to think, debate, argue, create, organise ourselves politically, gain protection of the law and not to suffer unnecessary bodily hardship all depend upon the state.” (p.59)

There is no meaningful global citizenship without a world state, which in turn is likely to remain a fiction in a world where the most powerful nation states are unlikely to be corrected through the use of international law. A citizen is someone who belongs to a meaningful political community that is governed by the rule of law and who has rights and responsibilities similar to others in that community. On this reading, citizenship remains overwhelmingly although not exclusively located at the level of the nation state. There is of course the struggle for human rights but these are mostly attempts to influence local conditions. Elsewhere some environmental activists have tried to take on the mantle of the global citizen by adopting low-carbon lifestyles. This, they argue, is about taking global responsibility as it is the lives of the poor of the planet which are most likely to be affected by climate change. We should also not forget that there is still the possibility of global compassion and of ordinary citizens responding to appeals for charity beyond the borders of the nation. Here there is an attempt in the era of global media to link local struggles to more global concerns. Protestors against weapons systems, the growth of local food, action taken against the pollution of the seas or the depletion of species diversity are all attempts to link local struggles to more global frameworks.” (p.61)

“Freedom needs to become an actual practice whereby new citizens learn to test their ideas, opinions and concerns against others. This can only be achieved by having the confidence to think for oneself, being creative, voicing concerns and acquiring the skilled art of listening. Freedom requires the practice of democratic dialogue. This practice is as much about living in a family as it is about living in a community.” (p.74)

Ref: Nick Stevenson (2012) Freedom. Routledge: London and New York


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