Saturday, September 16, 2006

Global Citizenship on the Horizon?



An article this week from the Economist confirms a point that came up in our podcast on immigration--immigration is increasingly a worldwide phenomena and people from developing nations are on the move in the hundreds and thousands. The European Union is going to meet to discuss immigration policy so that member nations are not undercutting one another's immigration policies. Hearings in Congress this summer have stifled the issue here in the U.S., even though Congress reports that the number of people dying along the border has almost doubled since the 1990s.

The Ecnonomist, however, recommends that the EU not take too much power away from its member states in setting immigration policy because citizenship is a concept that nation-states have a right to determine, not supra-national entities such as the European Union. This seems like a curious claim. In our podcast, Tony Vogt, Lisa Gonzales and I discussed how so much of the immigration we are witnessing today is a result of the pressure from economic globalization on developing countries. Victor Vargas echoed this point when discussing the politics of Mexico in July. It seems as if we are willing to talk about the free flow of goods and services across national boundaries in a globalized world, but we are still hesitant to talk about what it would mean to grant human beings those same political and civil rights to traverse territory. This brings up the issue of cosmopolitian citizenship. Should we be moving more and more toward the idea of guaranteeing human beings various kinds of rights that recognize we are not necessarily tied to one nation-state territory? This is the view maintained by David Held , who argues that we need to start recognizing the multi-layers of government that affect human beings today. Such a view does not mean that the nation state is now a "zombie" concept, but recognizes that nation-states, even very powerful ones like the United States, cannot control all policies that deeply impact the lives of people living within its territory. Is the idea of being a citizen of the world workable at last, or is this still too much of a utopian fantasy? What other ways are there to protect the well being of the thousands of people who are seeking to enter the U.S. and Europe and escape global poverty?

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