03/02/2010 17:05

Constitutional Patriotism and the Cosmopolitan Project

Seth Mayer
Northwestern University

Constitutional Patriotism and the Cosmopolitan Project

Many have argued that justice among both co-nationals and citizens of different countries must be founded on solidarity. Recently, constitutional patriotism has emerged as a promising form of such solidarity, reliant upon a shared political culture rather than ethnicity or nationality. Developed by Jürgen Habermas, the idea centers social cohesion on a common constitutional project that supports a diversity of ethical self-understandings. Habermas utilizes the idea to underpin proposals for reformed continental political federations (such as the EU), which he hopes will remedy some of globalization’s adverse effects. Habermas is reticent about the expansion of such affective identification beyond the continental level, however. His cosmopolitan political project consequently features only minimal global solidarity. It also does not enforce a broad spectrum of rights, leaving his multi-level federalist proposal open to moral and pragmatic objections. This paper argues that a reformulated constitutional patriotism holds the unrealized potential to address these concerns. By allowing for political solidarity amidst extensive value pluralism, a global constitutional patriotism would push the Habermasian view in the direction of a more stable, just cosmopolitan project.