They believe in human dignity across the nations, and they live their creed. They share these ideals with people in many countries, speaking many languages. As thoroughgoing globalists, they make full use of the World Wide Web. This band of brothers and sisters resist the crass consumerism of modern Western society and its growing influence in the rest of the world. But these people also resist the temptations of the narrow nationalisms of the countries where they were born. They would never go to war for a country; but they will enlist in a campaign against any nation that gets in the way of universal justice. Indeed, they resist the call of all local allegiances, all traditional loyalties, even to family. They oppose them because they get in the way of the one thing that matters: building a community of enlightened men and women across the world … Sometimes they agonize in their discussions about whether they can reverse the world’s evils or whether their struggle is hopeless. But mostly they soldier on in their efforts to make the world a better place.
That comes from Kwame Anthony Appiah‘s Cosmopolitanism, a framework for thinking about universal ethics in a “world of strangers.” At first glance the description seems apt for the hundreds of bloggers, editors, and translators that make up Global Voices. It could also easily describe the dozens of human rights geeks gathered a couple months ago in Berkeley. Or a week later in San Jose. It could describe Teddy, Alex, Juliana, Erik, and hundreds of others.
But no. That was Appiah’s description of Al Qaeda and the global Muslim fundamentalists they attract. An important reminder that there is another side to cultural globalization, and we’re not engaging that other side in conversation.