ISSA Proceedings 2002 – Fundamentalism Versus Cosmopolitanism: Argument, Cultural Identity, And Political Violence In The Global Age

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In the series of essays to which we add the current paper (Hollihan, Riley, & Klumpp, 1993; Klumpp. Riley, & Hollihan, 1995; Riley, Hollihan, & Klumpp, 1998; Hollihan, Klumpp, & Riley, 1999; Klumpp, Hollihan, & Riley, 2001), we have considered a number of threats to democratic community at the turn of the 21st century, including the erosion of state power, the demise of the mass media, and development of extremist groups who grow from the openness of a democracy. None of these, however, represent a threat quite like the attacks of September 11, 2001. Most obviously the 9-11 attacks involved the use of violence against the United States and the death of three thousand citizens of the world, predominantly Americans. In addition, the 9-11 attacks presented an external threat; our work has highlighted internal problems that threaten democratic communication.

But, in addition to their violent destructiveness, the 9-11 attacks certainly had profound implications on democratic communication. Some of the effects have come in reaction to the threat to life and property. The reaction of the democracies has been at least partially to limit democratic rights such as free speech and the press. All democratic nations are tempted to forfeit democratic rights in the face of threats to security. The United States has been no exception. The White House quickly moved to silence news coverage of the videotape produced by Osama bin Laden’s organization soon after it was released, with a rather transparent warning of some hidden coded message. The flames of patriotism stoked by President Bush’s polemic declaration of an evil enemy quickly closed debate over the motivations for the intensity of Islamic radicalism. Susan Sontag’s rather mild curiosity about the roots of support for the radicals was met, not with disagreement, but with a barrage of ad hominem accusation including a questioning of her patriotism[i].

The attacks on democratic discussion are all the stronger because when President Bush declared this an act of “war,” it became the first war of the information age. The attacks were clandestine, a failure of our intelligence gathering, exploitive of information in the public domain. These story lines turned democratic freedom-to-know into the enemy of our security. With no sense of irony, the amount of information available to our citizens was systematically diminished, governmental information withheld from depository libraries, campaigns of disinformation promoted in the military, and a drumbeat of unsubstantiated, frightening threats substituted for a texture of inquiry and proof.

All of these diminutions of our freedom, cultural and statutory, were the reactions of a society under attack. Although they are real threats to democratic communication, they should not blind us to the threats to democratic community by those who perpetrated the attacks of 9-11. The movement supporting the attacks represents a new reality in the 21st century world and, we believe, a real threat to democratic values. In this essay, we propose to examine the challenges of the movement supporting the 9-11 attacks to democratic communication. We will begin by arguing that the movement is a fundamentalist identity movement. Then we will locate the specific challenge to democratic values represented by this new breed of opponent. And finally, we will identify the alternative to our military initiative: an initiative to foster the cosmopolitan values of a viable democratic politics.

1. A Fundamentalist Identity Movement
The movement known as al Qaeda is at its heart a fundamentalist identity movement. Perhaps its closest counterpart is the Christian Identity Movement, led by Richard Butler, and strongest in the western United States in the 1980s. Both movements employ violence and terror to achieve their ends. Both are religious in basic ways, employing the resources of their religion to hold members and motivate violence. Both reject national governments as corrupt traitors to religious ideals. The size, support, and power of al Qaeda, however, dwarfs the Christian Identity Movement. Al Qaeda poses an enormous threat because of is a movement tied to the character of our time.

Three characteristics are crucial to understanding the nature of current Islamic fundamentalism. First, the movement is trans-national. Its historical roots may be in pan-Arabism of the 1950s and 1960s, although pan-Arabism was more closely tied with the attempt to convert Arab unity into a nation-state. Al Qaeda operates largely outside the structure of nation-states. Like modern business organizations, many sophisticated trans-national characteristics of al Qaeda offer certain operational advantages. It has developed sophisticated information-gathering ability. It has developed advanced methods of obtaining operating capital and is capable of moving its operating funds rapidly through the financial world. It values training and thorough preparation for operations. It recognizes the differing characteristics of various nation-states and is capable of locating training and operational facilities to its advantage (Held, 2002). Although its violent methods set it apart from business corporations, it also finds ways of outsourcing its needs. After all, the planning for the September 11 attacks trained personnel in American flight schools, adapted methods to the security structures of American airlines, and acquired the powerful instruments of American mobility to use as missiles to destroy the financial and military symbols of American global hegemony.

There is, of course, an irony in this trans-nationalism rooted in al Qaeda’s adoption of modern organizational techniques: it exemplifies the problem of “policing” trans-national organizations that are operated largely beyond the reach of the modern nation-state. At the same time, when we read the rhetoric of Osama bin Laden, his enemy is also trans-national: the hegemonic secularization that co-opts Islamic states and does the bidding of the Infidel. Of course, the United States’ hegemonic relationship to the world globalization movement identifies it as a primary target of the movement, but the targets of September 11 were in a real sense the financial and military power bases of the globalized world.

It is also ironic, of course, that the Bush administration has chosen to counter this trans-nationalism with a renewed American nationalism. Bush’s rhetorical appeals are to American exceptionalism and patriotism. Although he speaks of a multi-national alliance, his European allies recognize the nationalistic center of his policy. The American response is to attempt to rigidly enforce its security by reimposing tight borders – which runs contrary to the cross-border ethic of multiple alliances and globalization.

The second characteristic that marks the Islamic fundamentalist movement is the use of religious rhetoric and motivation in establishing its identity. It speaks the language of the power of Islam, the duty to Allah, the doing of his bidding, and the promise of religious martyrdom. It reads the Koran as the instructional word of an active God directing human affairs. In identifying its enemy, however, the emphasis is not on alternative religions but on the secular attack on Islam. The contrast is drawn to secularization. It condemns the secular governments of Moslem countries along with the irreligious culture of the West (Hill, 2001). This movement recognizes the same power in religion that is at the rhetorical roots of the Christian Identity movement. Religion is an established rationale of authority. So voluminous are religious texts that when combined with their authority they offer an irresistible source of dogma. Characteristics of particular religious beliefs, such as the existence and conditions of an afterlife, provide solutions to problems of motivation unavailable to secular strategies. Religion lies at the core of the identity of believers. The force of that authority makes a potent rhetorical identity.

But the third characteristic raises the religious identity to a fundamentalism. Fundamentalism is marked by its single-minded commitment to a single source of truth and action, and this movement has that commitment. The movement is monist not pluralist. There is one truth, the truth of Allah, of the Koran, of Islam. There is no tolerance of other opinions or of non-Muslims. It is also totalist: there is a centripetal force that pulls all of life into the perspective. It is not simply religious, but political, cultural, social, and military. It dictates the patterns of personal life as well as life in the society. And finally, these characteristics come together in a fundamentalist identity. It demands single-minded dedication to its commitments. It is incommensurate with other ideas and movements. It demands allegiance.

Fundamentalist identity movements are by their nature anti-democratic. The genius of Madisonian democracy was to recognize the importance of pluralism to democracy (Madison, 1788). A democracy would be composed of many interests, and its citizens would identify with various interests in different combinations. Importantly, the citizen’s central identification would be with the democracy and the democratic process, not with any of the particular interests. Fundamentalism is in tension with democracy because it rejects the notion of a plurality of interests as the driving force of human interaction. Instead it relies on a monism of belief. When this fundamentalism is combined with an identity movement, the result will inevitably displace the basic values of democracy. Thus, the challenge to democracy of a fundamentalist identity movement is profound.

There is a complicating factor in this particular movement, however. Fundamentalist identity movements exploit the possibilities of specific ideologies to turn their adherents into fanatics. Although they share characteristics with other like movements, they are differentiated through the difference in their ideology. To understand the appeal of the Islamic Fundamentalist movement, we must explore that ideology from which it draws.

2. The Ideological Base of the Islamic Fundamentalist Identity Movement
Available to the Islamic Fundamentalist movement is an ideology that has developed over many decades and that has a large Islamic. The ideology explains historic political and economic conditions to appeal to many non-fundamentalist Muslims at the threshold of the 21st century. Serious economic grievances spark outrage. Global inequality has increased, not lessened, in this latest era of globalization. In 1960, the richest fifth of the world’s population had a total income thirty times greater than the poorest fifth. In 1998, however, this ratio had grown to seventy-four to one (Ferguson, 2001). The economic disparities are keenly felt in the Middle East where regimes are deeply dependant upon oil revenues. Oil revenues have dropped from their peak at about $225 billion in 1980 to approximately $55 billion today. These decreases have had profound effects in the Middle East. These oil revenues are the most important source of governmental income supporting the social welfare system. Just as a rising tide of oil revenue lifted all boats, an ebbing tide left economic distress. There are few opportunities for employment in much of the region. Indeed, were it not for oil, the Middle East would rank lower than Africa in economic development (Hill, 2001). At the same time that oil revenues and government incomes are shrinking birthrates in the region are soaring. The population is becoming younger, more literate, and as a result of exposure to the mass media, better informed about the conditions and lifestyles beyond their borders. This in turn has left them feeling more frustrated because they have been denied many of the pleasures that they see around them. Dramatic population migrations have brought people from small villages to urban centers, where they often find themselves living in teeming slums, nagged by the problems of unemployment, widespread graft and corruption, inefficient bureaucracies, and severe environmental and health problems (Amanat, 2001). Still others have joined the exodus from the Middle East and Asia to the cities of Europe and North America in hopes of better opportunity, but in many cases they have found themselves instead exiled to overcrowded ghettoes, consigned to menial jobs.

Despite the severity of these economic conditions in much of the Muslim world, economic deprivation alone cannot account for the development of the terrorist networks. Most of the terrorists who hijacked and steered those airplanes into occupied buildings were not uneducated, uninformed, impoverished rural people who were completely ignorant about the west or who knew the outside world only through the descriptions of their Mullahs. Most were instead well-educated, middle or upper class Arabs. Many had lived for a time in the West and thus were familiar with the values, culture, and political systems that they were attacking. They were said, for example, to have consumed alcohol, watched a lot of American television, played video games, and even frequented topless bars (Amanat, 2001). The terrorists were thus not all unemployable victims of the new global economy. Most of them held university degrees and had demonstrated that they could find and hold highly skilled jobs. For example, Mohammad Atta, who flew the airplane into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, was the well-educated and well-traveled son of an affluent Cairo attorney (Hill, 2001). What motivated them was not economic deprivation but their all-consuming ideology (see Kuran, 2002). So who were these terrorists and what motivated their hatred?

In Muslim nations in the Middle East and in Asia the daily prayers, Friday sermons, and Koran study groups are all places to ritualize and express identity. But increasingly, this identity is also expressed through street demonstrations, the circulating of pamphlets, and with anti-establishment, anti-secular, anti-American, and anti-Zionist messages (Amanat, 2001). For Muslims living in Europe and America the connections between the religious community and the political ideological community may be even more significant. In many European cities, for example, the members of these Diaspora are very much treated as outsiders – they are cast as “the other” and exiled to neighborhoods where they are encouraged to live among their own. Although certainly adherence to radicalized Islamist beliefs is the exception rather than the norm in these communities, evidence suggests that these communities may be a fruitful breeding ground for the development of such sentiments.

The terrorists on the planes and who make up the network that is at war with America are not so much unified by their Muslim faith as by their Islamist political philosophy. As such they are committed to a radical global transformation. Kuran (2002) notes:
Islamists believe that to be a good Muslim is to lead an “Islamic way of life.” In principle, every facet of one’s existence must be governed by Islamic rules and regulations – marriage, family, dress, politics, economics and much more. In every domain of life, they believe a clear demarcation exists between “Islamic” and un-Islamic behaviors. Never mind that in all but a few ritualistic matters the Islamists themselves disagree on what Islam prescribes. They have been educated to dismiss their disagreements as minor and to expect a bit more study of God’s commandments to produce a consensus about the properly Islamic way to live. (pp. 1-2).

Adherents of this philosophy also believe that the march of history supports their views. They believe that communism and capitalism are destined to fail because they breed injustice, inequity, and inefficiency. The fall of the Soviet Union is viewed as evidence to support their claim, for they believe that just as communism collapsed once people discovered that the tyrants could not hold onto their power through force alone, so too capitalism will ultimately fail because it “breeds emptiness, dissatisfaction, and despair even among the materially successful” (Kuran, 2002, p. 2).

The Islamists propose an Islamic economic system, the key elements of which would entail a banking system that avoids charging interest, an Islamic redistribution system based on the principles of the Koran, and a set of norms to insure fairness and honesty in the marketplace. Kuran (2002) observed government supported “economic Islamitization” projects undertaken in Sudan, Pakistan, and Iran, all failures. The argument is that they failed only due to the corruption caused by “Westernization, which masquerades as globalization and whose chief instruments are the military, cultural, and economic powers of the United States” (p. 2).

The conviction that Islam might offer the world an economic system that can outperform alternatives emerged in the 1930s in India when some Muslim leaders proposed that to be a Muslim was to live differently from both Hindus and Westerners. They then undertook to show that Islam offered prescriptions for conduct in all domains of life. Concepts such as Islamic economic theory and Islamic banking were developed and supported by clerics seeking to enhance their authority. Muslim governments supported these efforts in order to demonstrate their own religious commitment and conviction and to stay in power. The Saudis, for example, have given financial support to Islamic universities in many nations and have sponsored conferences on the Islamization of knowledge. The Saudis also created institutes to train Islamic bankers (Kuran, 2002). In addition, the Saudis funded the development of conservative religious schools throughout the Muslim world, which helped to spread the Islamist political ideology along with the religious lessons. Most of the terrorists on the four hijacked airplanes were the product of this Islamic educational system.

A profoundly important element of this Islamist philosophy is that it has served as a means to unite a diverse and dispersed Muslim community by creating a powerful source of identity and belonging. The membership of this Islamist community transcends nation-states and cultures. It is composed of Saudis, Egyptians, Libyans, Iranians, Lebanese, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Iraqis, Moroccans, Algerians, Indonesians, Malaysians, and yes, Americans, who live may live in the Middle East, Asia, North America, or Europe. Indeed, the sources of identity have been de-territorialized, and “the rhetoric of mobilization recentralizes, in a non-territorial way, identities that have become fragmented within the nation-state context” (Kastoryano, 2002, p. 1). The participants in this network are often highly assimilated both socially and economically in their new places of residence, while simultaneously keeping close contact and maintaining a strong sense of identity with their home country, and with a network of ideological compatriots with whom they identify and on whose behalf they may act (Kastoryano, 2002).

That mosques, community organizations, and language schools have become central nodes in this network of Islamist ideology should be expected since these are the natural places where these people come together to discover fellowship and to form social contacts. Many of the followers of this more radicalized form of Islamist philosophy are thus followers of a very conservative view of Islam. They are deeply opposed to an active role for women in terms of educational and professional life. In many cases, even in European cities they urge women to wear veils and to attend single-sex schools if they are to be educated at all. They are also strongly opposed to Western music, the arts, and entertainment. They are obsessed with a fear that the purity of Islam will be undermined by contact and influence from other religions. They are increasingly anti-Jewish and anti-Christian because they fear that these faiths are united and seek to destroy “true Islam” (Roy, 2002, p. 3).

It is within this Islamist philosophy that the fundamentalist identity movement that supported the 9-11 attacks has grown. Characteristic of such movements is “the ingrained human habit of identifying oneself in terms of the group; of viewing one’s own in-group as somehow ‘special’ and superior to others; and of discouraging social intercourse (or any other type of intercourse) with members of the ‘out-group’” (Hutcheon, 2001, p. 1). Identity may exploit a common oral tradition, ethnic identification, or a set of sacred beliefs that identify the group’s members as uniquely gifted or chosen by history or by gods. The key to this identity lies in the sense of security that is provided by belonging. Unfortunately, history has demonstrated that the more intensely people may come to feel that they belong to their own group the more hostile they may become to outsiders. The feelings of identity among those who adhere to radical Islamist viewpoints may express their dissatisfaction both with the direction and with the rapid pace of social change in the era of globalization.

The complexity and closeness of the contemporary age makes tolerance for fundamentalism and particularly fundamentalist identity movements difficult, to say nothing of the problems posed by belief systems that emphasize the importance of excluding infidels. We must therefore seek strategies that focus on argumentative premises and shared values that will penetrate the Islamist philosophy. This will be difficult given the understandable appeal of identity politics, and the rich broth of economic and political despair within which it grows. But identities are not handed to us intact at the moment of birth. They are constructed through education, socialization, through exposure to the mass media, and through the participation in social and communal rituals. Thus there are possibilities for counteraction. We believe in the inherent strength of a democratic cosmopolitanism combined with an active political sphere to undermine the broad support of the Islamic fundamentalist identity movement.

3. Encouraging Global Cosmopolitanism
The core underlying principle of the cosmopolitan view is the conviction that “human well-being is not defined by geographical and cultural locations, that national or ethnic or gendered boundaries should not determine the limits of rights or responsibilities for the satisfaction of basic human needs, and that all human beings require equal moral respect and concern (Held, 2002, pp. 11-12). These views represent the triumph of a humanist philosophy that emphasizes the values of individuals across the entire lifespan, combined with concern for an integrated society in harmony with its environment (Hutcheon, 2001). In politics these principles are neither new nor arbitrary. They are instead the fruit of human progress from the time of the enlightenment forward. They have been applied to relationships between nations and cultures since at least the end of World War II, and were affirmed as key principles in the 1948 UN Declaration on Human Rights (Held, 2002). What has been lacking is not the expression of principle to guide us, but the institutions – political, legal, financial, and moral – to move us forward from the promise to the material reality of a true cosmopolitan vision.

Scholars of argumentation and human communication need to establish a major role at this point in our historical development, for ours is a discipline that recognizes that the institutional foundations of a cosmopolitan civil society cannot merely be declared or imported from one society to another. Instead they must emerge through deliberation and open dissent. This entails the commitment to facilitate “an open discourse in which substantive conclusions are not predetermined, but are uncovered in the process of argumentation itself” (Hanson, cited in Ivie, 1996, p. 4). Unfortunately, a climate of public deliberation and dissent is lacking in the Middle East. Most of the governments of the region are not democratic and are profoundly closed to the possibility of the formation of a dissenting public. What should alarm us even more than the democratic deficit in the Islamic nations, however, is the damage that the current war rhetoric may pose for the health of democracy in the West.

In an attempt to allay public fears and to provide a sense of security, policy makers have emphasized the importance of protecting their national borders, securing all airports, profiling potential terrorists, expanding the rights to eavesdrop on electronic conversations, and adapting new forms of scientific surveillance technology which will permit them to recognize wanted terrorists. In the United States this has also led to an “M & M” color-coded risk analysis homeland security system, the appointment of a homeland security czar, public acceptance of long lines of weary travelers in airports, and arbitrary security searches of eighty year old grandmothers waiting to board airplanes with their grandchildren. Aside from the quite obvious risks that such a security apparatus may indeed undermine the democratic freedoms which underlie our political system, they serve as a mystification because they likely give people the impression that things are somehow safer now than they were before, even though any new terrorist attacks will likely take some other form. The experiences of Israel in the recent suicide attacks have shown that security and revenge-motivated violence are largely ineffective against terrorist attacks.

A cosmopolitan argument view would suggest that rather than focusing on an imaginary Maginot Line against terrorist aggression we should instead focus on activities that will enable individuals and groups with different cultural and value systems to learn how to coexist despite their diversity (Bigo, 2002). Again, we are not advocating that governments should ignore security or policing concerns, only arguing that a focus on these policies alone will never break the cycle of terrorist violence. Such a focus on national security may also diminish the likelihood that we can continue to progress toward a truly global rule of law and cosmopolitan democratic governance. As Jayasuriya (2002) observed: “The most serious danger these events pose is their potential to usher in under the appealing cloak of ‘security’ a debilitating form of ‘anti-politics’ that marginalizes the constructive conflicts – the debate and discussion – that animate the public sphere in liberal polities” (p. 1). We have, of course, already seen evidence of this in the United States where even members of Congress have been deemed somehow “unpatriotic” because they were so bold as to question the Bush administration’s handling of the war on terror (Bush dismisses, 2002).

4. Politics is Communication
We propose instead a focused effort to increase cosmopolitanism with an initiative to provide an enrichment of democratic possibility. Politics is formed through conversation. A political rather than a military response to the terrorist crisis will depend on our ability to create deliberative activities that engage global audiences and that expose the dangers and the limitations of fundamentalist identity movements and ideologies of exclusion.

Such conversations must recognize as a starting point that we may never succeed in persuading the terrorists. Fanatically committed to a fundamentalist identity movement, their views are incommensurate with democracy. This is why we are not pacifist about the movement. The terrorists may have to be treated as a criminal class, although we would argue that they should be accorded the full rights of a democratic political system and not exiled to an illegitimate corner of Cuba without proper trials. They are, however, a movement and just as important as the military actions to undermine their power is the rhetorical confrontation for the hearts and minds of those susceptible to their message. The audience for political arguments should, however, be the world’s citizenry at large, for the terrorist networks will find it much more difficult to prosper if they are denied the support of the ordinary citizens – including those who are often referred to in the press as the “Arab street.”

Our search for conversational politics should involve attempts to identify a set of common problems and premises as starting points for argumentative engagement. Differences might be overcome as people discover their common concerns. The first and most obvious are arguments that address human welfare – concerns about health, safety, and individual sustainability. The second involves the material reality of the global financial system and the role of trans-national governments and institutions in the creation of sustainable macro-economic conditions in the Islamic regions of the world. The third are arguments surrounding the issues of Western global hegemony, and particularly American cultural exports. The fourth area recognizes contested spaces of legitimacy – of policies, territories and military engagement, and the protection of the environment. At least one issue that will have to be overcome is the understandable skepticism that people in developing nations have about our concern for their well-being. Certainly this process will be time consuming and difficult. We will uncover points of difference that seem beyond accommodation or agreement, but it is in the very process of discovery through engaged civic arguments that deliberative democratic institutions are both institutionalized within political systems and internalized within citizens.

The arguments should also attempt to confront the assumptions of the Islamist’s viewpoints about the unique character and contributions of Islam to economic theory. If Islamic economics has something to contribute to economic conditions and to the welfare of the region it should be evaluated and revealed in open deliberative conversations. Most Western economists are convinced that although there are elements of Islamist economic theory that are important to today’s complex global economy, for example, concern for honesty, fairness, and trust in the marketplace, the theory does not and cannot provide a viable alternative to contemporary banking and commerce (Kuran, 2002). These issues are open to deliberation and debate and claims are subject to falsification and refutation. These are the kinds of arguments that even people of alternative religious commitments and passions may find premises upon which they can agree to open up an avenue of deliberation[ii]. Furthermore, such conversations are significant for they may finally open up to global discussion in a serious way the fundamental economic inequalities that are unfortunately the product of globalization. Therefore arguing about the failure of Islamic economic theories to “deliver the goods” to the citizenry in those nations that have experimented with such an approach should also entail a similar challenge to the proponents of Western capitalism to demonstrate that their free markets can do a better job of addressing economic inequalities in the developing world. What is best understood about argumentation theory is that the willingness to engage in arguments implies the possibility that you will be proven wrong in your own beliefs and assumptions[iii].

The democratic regimes of the West – especially the United States and the nations of the European Union – must also use their influence to actively create the possibility for democratic participation in the developing world. Certainly millions of dollars have been devoted to the promotion of civil society projects by governments and by private foundations. Unfortunately, little seems to have been achieved with most of these programs primarily because real politicks has been permitted to triumph over meaningful social and political change[iv]. A secure oil pipeline and a stable tyrant have more often seemed to serve the interests of Western powers than has the uncertainty and risk entailed by the formation of a genuinely vibrant political democracy. It is worth noting, for example, that Iran may currently be closer to a democratic state – they at least have a democratically elected parliament – than is our close ally Egypt. The absence of forums for political conversation and the restrictions on the press have no doubt helped the mullahs to control the setting, shape and tenor of what passes for oral argument in much of the region. The dominance of the Al Jazeera broadcast system is similarly limiting (Richey, 2001).

We must also recognize that the development of democratic institutions cannot merely be provided to others as a “gift” from the more enlightened and advanced nations of the west. “It [democracy] must be seized by them because they refuse to live without liberty and they insist on justice for all” (Barber, 1995, p. 279). The United States and other democratic nations can, however, help to prepare the citizens of these nations for democracy by working to establish the foundations for both civil society and a civic culture of deliberative discourse. At least one essential first step is that we pressure our governments to no longer climb into bed with tyrants and dictators only because they promise stability and/or access to raw materials or markets that we seek.

There is an obvious circularity to the arguments that we have advanced. For as Barber (1995) observed:
Strong democracy needs citizens; citizens need civil society; civil society requires a form of association not bound by identity politics; that form of association is democracy. Or: global democracy needs confederalism, a noncompulsory form of association rooted in friendship and mutual interests; confederalism depends on member states that are well rooted in civil society, and on citizens for whom the other is not synonymous with the enemy; civil society and citizenship are products of a democratic way of life. (p. 291)

Barber also noted that “until democracy becomes the aim and the end of those wrestling with the terrors of Jihad and the insufficiencies of McWorld, there is little chance that we can even embark on the long journey of imagination that takes women and men from elementary animal being (the thinness of economics) to cooperative human living (the robustness of strong democracy)” (p. 291).

The civic conversations that may lead to the democratization of the developing world should not, of course, be confined to those regions. Democracy is not necessarily prospering in the United States either – witness the declining rates of political participation, the emphasis on negative “attack-style” politics, and the domination of campaigns by the interests of big contributors and lobbyists (Hollihan, 2001). Europeans are similarly beset as their European Union – which offers the promise of multinational government – is hampered by a profound dearth of opportunities for direct civic engagement[v]. Yet, in an era of globalization it is vital that all people are engaged in such deliberations. Classrooms, churches, academic conferences, and other public halls need to become places where people come together to engage in conversations that lead to cosmopolitan worldviews. In this era of globalization we have a heightened awareness of the political power that can be leveraged by the networks of transnational elite and professional cultures through the development of transnational political lobbies and alliances (Held, McGrew, Goldblatt & Perraton, 1999). We now understand the power of new social networks to contribute to identity formation and political participation in ways that permit people to influence the policies of their own nation and others and of corporations and NGOs as well. Through the formation of such new networks people can come to identify their shared interests and commitments and can challenge their traditional ways of knowing. This is not a blindly optimistic declaration of how the Internet can save democracy. It is, however, recognition that these new public spaces can reinvigorate democratic connections and motivate citizens to individually and collectively act to enrich their own democratic spaces (Hollihan & Riley, 2000; Hollihan & Riley, 2001).

Academics and policy makers alike need to rethink the principles of multiculturalism. The benefits of “interculturalism,” the recognition that all cultures have attributes to be appreciated and values should be embraced. But the notion that every culture is of equal worth – with equal rights to be protected and preserved intact within a global society should be rejected (an argument also advanced by Kuran, 2002). There are certain cultural practices that fail to live up to the cosmopolitan ideals of protecting individuals and societies. Such cultural forms need to be intellectually rejected and their consequences revealed and condemned in public forums (Hutcheon, 2001).

As scholars and critics of public argumentation our voices need to be heard as we use our classrooms, our publications, and our social and political influences to expand the reach of cosmopolitan arguments. Ours is a discipline that emphasizes the promise and possibilities of human reason and dialogue. Over time, these principles of reason will be more effective weapons against the tyranny of terror than will military actions or the new isolation of security. We must use the opportunities that are afforded to us to speak, and create platforms, both material and virtual, for conjoined discourse that explicitly calls for social, political, and economic justice. The plight of the displaced Palestinians, the ravages of world poverty, the lack of access to educational opportunities and health care, and the culture of fear, violence, desperation, hatred, and suicide that dominates in the Middle East should capture our attention and be a part of our own civic conversations. Finding the courage and the will to exercise our voices is the first step in our own commitment to a cosmopolitan politics.

[i] Sontag’s (“Talk,” 2001) statement first appeared in the New Yorker and was met immediately with vitriolic condemnation. She later wrote: “These rather banal observations won me responses that, in a lifetime of taking public positions, I’ve never experienced. They included death threats, calls for my being stripped of my citizenship and deported, indignation that I was not ‘censored.’ In newspapers and magazines I was labeled a ‘traitor’” (Open Society Institute, 2001). Representative of the milder responses was Miller and Ponnuru (2001) in National Review’s on-line edition.
[ii] In an earlier paper we explicitly discussed the problems inherent in arguing across cultures in a global age. In that work we suggest the need for a new “economy of argument” – a vocabulary that helps locate the shared and divergent qualities of material facts and conditions. See: Klumpp, Hollihan, & Riley (2001).
[iii] In that it is by now known that Saudi Arabia and other nations have actively funded universities and institutes designed to teach and research Islamic economics, the west should respond with generous educational grants to Middle Eastern and other universities for research and comparative study into a wide range of economic models. Such research might also lead to better understanding as to why it is that income disparities have grown at exponential rates in the United States as a product of globalization and they are now growing as well in nations such as the People’s Republic of China as they embrace capitalism (Smith, 2002).
[iv] For a very interesting analysis of the challenges facing civil society development projects and the implications for argumentation scholars, see Cheshier (2001).
[v] Held, McGrew, Goldblatt and Perraton (1999, p. 375) report, for example, that 97 percent of Europeans claim never to have had any direct contact with the EU or any of its various institutions or events.

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