A. Nicot – Assignment 2: Global Citizenship

At it’s base, the term global citizen can have two possible interpretations. The first is literal: a global citizenship would consist of being a citizen of a global state, wherein the citizen has all the privileges and responsibilities of being a citizen of the world state, and presumably this would incorporate every human soul, or at least a substantial portion of this totality.

The second interpretation is figurative: the individual concerned would not be a “citizen of the globe” but a citizen (of his state) with a global mindset, concerned about global affairs and willing to work on them with other similarly-minded individuals from across the world. Barring the existence of a global state, this second interpretation is likely the intended one when employing the term “global citizen,” unless of course you literally advocate a global state.

But such people are few in number.

Medieval universities trained elites at all levels of society – from parish priests to kings and Popes.

So now that a workable definition of global citizenship has been acquired, let’s look at what makes an individual a global citizen. Let’s start by looking at the people who can be global citizens, namely elites. Only those who are in positions of influence and power, whether in their government, their religion, or their company, can affect the outcome of events and decide on the course of action globally. This is what elites do, because they are in charge of institutions with global presence. This is the reason why the term “global citizen” is so prevalent at modern universities, especially in what is called “the West,” because universities are supposed to be formational centers for elites.

A problem does emerge in our earlier definition. Global citizenship is a neologism, whereas the concept of thinking on a global scale is quite self-evidently not, and the two ideas are not synonymous. Elites aren’t always “global citizens” but almost always think globally (as well as locally, obviously). Where does the difference then lie, and how can we change our definition?

A global citizen is a person, who thinks about issues on a global scale, and who conceives of himself as part of something other than his local (national, religious, corporate) structure – he sees himself as part of a global structure.

This new definition illustrates what a global citizen is. There is a prerequisite acceptance of cosmopolitanism and globalism that goes along with being a global citizen. If you think of yourself as human before you think of yourself as a member of a traditionally defined identity group, and you are an elite, then you are a global citizen. Those who meet the first criterion but not the second are only internationalists or globalists, but don’t have the luxury of pretending they are part of such a structure as elites have. Is there an “ideal” type of global citizen? That would imply it is a positive notion.

Indeed, the notion of global citizenship among the elite has become a sort of ideological preoccupation, and they often

Multiple flags born out of historical evolution express Europe so much better than a single flag constructed by a design team.

put dogma before necessity and reason – the E.U. bureaucratic technocracy is an excellent example of this – throwing national economies, national cultures, national ethnicities, and national identities under the bus with the goal of European integration: first economically, then politically. This is a self-avowedly globalist move. Those who identify more as “Europeans,” an imaginary identity if there ever was one, essentially put the interests of others above those of their own people. It is even worse if it is a national leader, who is there specifically to put his own people’s interests first.

By saying this, I say that the concept of considering oneself a “global citizen” is inherently traitorous, but is particular to elites in society. People like you and me. We might not all be called to be U.N. Secretary General, but we are, in all likelihood, going to end up in leadership positions in some field or other, and as a result, will wield influence.

I would not describe myself as a global citizen, though I have the ideal profile for one. I was born in England, have lived in the Czech Republic, Russia, France, Kenya, and now the United States; I have interacted with a variety of cultures in my twenty years of life, communicated with all manners of ideas; I speak four languages. I would be a model global citizen if I didn’t feel more emotion and pride in my country than I do for humanity as a whole or for any particular set of humanist values.

I think on a global level, but I’m not a global citizen. I understand there are power relations between groups, and these groups compete – some groups win and others are consigned to the “vanquished peoples” category. I don’t intend to let my nation be one of the losers.

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2 Comments

  1. Posted June 13, 2013 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    It’s not necessarily that they are less connected to the rest of humanity, though one can certainly make that case. The average man, not having traveled much, having experienced local and national events and not much else, and largely keeping up with things he can read in his own language, and that he can identify and discuss with his own friends, won’t be particularly connected to a 6-year old Thai boy in a sweatshop if the average man is a man living in Stornoway, Northern Scotland. He will have far more in common with his immediate locale.
    But that wasn’t quite the point I was making, which was rather that the non-elite can’t be global citizens. They CAN be globally aware, but not global citizens as I defined in my essay (” global citizen is a person, who thinks about issues on a global scale, and who conceives of himself as part of something other than his local (national, religious, corporate) structure – he sees himself as part of a global structure.”). Indeed, in order to feel a part of such structures, one has to operate within them, and most of us don’t.
    I understand that not everyone who goes to university will become an “elite” – I certainly don’t intend to – but that’s the general principle of universities.
    The difference between being a national citizen and a “citizen of the world” lies in the fact that the former is a reality based in law, and the second is an absolute fantasy, the two cannot be comparable, as one is a legal concept and the other a philosophical one.

  2. Posted June 11, 2013 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    I don’t understand why you include the term “elite” in your definition of a global citizen. Why does someone in an ascribed low socioeconomic status have any less claim to their ties with the rest of humanity than someone who was born into privilege? I understand that borders have been established because of historical conflicts, and they are there for good reasons. I am not advocating for one united global state- that would end in countless civil wars. However, regardless of the past, I believe that we are all one human group whose bonds cannot be broken. Why does a “global citizen” have to be able to directly affect their state, the world? In the position I am in at the moment, I do not have the power or influence to directly affect the US government, but I am still considered a citizen. I can, however, be involved in my state of citizenship, the US, and do all that I can. As a global citizen, I believe that it is my duty to help my fellow citizens in need in whatever way I can. Thinking globally is part of being a global citizen, and I do not believe that they are mutually exclusive.

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