Civil Religion, Human Rights and International Relations

Civil Religion, Human Rights and International Relations

Connecting People Across Cultures and Traditions

Edited by Helle Porsdam

This ground breaking book discusses whether human rights can be forged into a common set of transcendent principles against which actions of every nation can be judged and whether such a common understanding, or civil religion, could one day become a vehicle for global peace.

Chapter 4: Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism

Joel H. Rosenthal

Subjects: law - academic, human rights, politics and public policy, human rights, international relations


Joel H. Rosenthal Is it possible to be faithful to both one’s country and to the world? The exchange between Helle Porsdam and Paul Kahn provides a window into the paradox of patriotism and cosmopolitanism. Americans have a natural inclination to combine particular national interests with universal moral aspirations, sometimes naively and even dangerously so. America’s civil religion – and its narrative as developed in the Declaration of Independence, the constitution, Lincoln’s Second Inaugural, and Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms – all bind America’s story to a universal story. There can be no doubt, as Porsdam illustrates, that America sees itself as a moral nation with a moral purpose. And yet, as Kahn points out, isn’t it asking a bit much to expect others to see it the same way? GLOBALIZATION AND A NEW AGE OF RIGHTS When the Cold War ended, a new era of globalization began in earnest. It brought with it a new age of rights. We live now with intense flows of capital, of information, of people, and of pollution, raising profound issues of human concern and human values. The simplest elements of daily life – air, water, food, clothes, and money – all of these basic goods are more visibly connected to the global economy and environment than ever before. Access to, and use of, these goods leads to concerns for basic rights. In this new age of globalization, it is not much of a leap to see how the ‘local’ becomes connected quickly and profoundly to the ‘global’. New choices...

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