- Citizenship Without Inclusion:Religious Democracy after Dewey, Emerson, and Thoreau
I. Introduction: Reconsidering Citizenship in the Age of Globalization
It is said, and said truly, that for the world's peace it is necessary that we understand the peoples of foreign lands. How well do we understand, I wonder, our next door neighbors? ... The chances of regard for distant peoples being effective as long as there is no close neighborhood experience to bring with it insight and understanding of neighbors do not seem better.(Dewey 1984a, 311-12)
Discussing the erosion of the public in American society in 1927, John Dewey criticized what he saw as a hollow concept and practice of "citizenship" in democracy. In the "void between government and the public" (310), men became, he warned, "skeptical of the efficiency of political action" (319). Indifference and apathy, he says, are the signs of a bewildered public. The crisis of democracy and citizenship involves a situation in which one cannot articulate one's feelings, or where, in the loss of one's own taste, one does not know "what one really wants" (Dewey 1984b, 133). Citizenship is a political concept, and its development is inseparable from both the expansion of human rights and deliberative democracy (Enslin and White 2003, 112, 115). Dewey, however, reminds us today that the crisis of the "eclipse of the public" has a bearing not only on democracy as a matter of deliberative procedure or political participation but also on one's ways of living, on an ethical dimension of life that precedes political and ideological dimensions—the dimension that involves the question of how one should live, and how one should relate oneself to others.
Nearly eighty years after Dewey's times, we find ourselves in an age of globalization. Education for citizenship faces a new challenge. With the extended and borderless network of global communication, the shrinking and hollowing [End Page 203] of public awareness continue to pose a threat that extends beyond national boundaries to the global. On the one hand, neoliberalism as a form of "democracy" has dominated our mode of living. In the standardization of people's minds, tastes and styles of life become uniform. The "United Kingdom of Benetton" symbolizes our new form of universalism. On the other hand, neoconservatism becomes another form of "democracy." Nationalism, patriotism, and, in the worst case, militarism have seen a resurgence around the world. In virtue-oriented character education, it is taught that to be moral is to be a good citizen of the nation. Social participation is enforced in the name of democracy. An absolutist attitude dominates inside the "we."
Behind the drive toward definite, articulated goals, whether in the world economy or in the absolutist form of moral education, the space for the indefinite has been excluded. Awareness of the presence of others in "foreign lands" decreases despite increasing amounts of information. There is an invisible loss of the sense of elevation concerning what we live for, whom we live with, and where we live, an emptiness that is replenished by the limited alternatives of nationalism, a narrow secular liberalism, or, in the extreme case, fundamentalism in religion. In the culture of cynicism and indifference there is a draining of energy that deprives us of our sense of being citizens—not only of a nation but of the world. In the enfeebling of voice in free expression, civil rights are exercised merely in a kind of lip service. These are the signs of spiritual crisis, of the decline of democracy. If so, where shall we regain the source of inspiration and aspiration to fill the spiritual void that is produced as a product of democracy? This is the question this paper will address.
I shall seek an answer by exploring the potential of Deweyan pragmatism and democracy. Dewey helps us reconsider what is missing in democracy and citizenship in an age of globalization. Beyond the limited forms of absolutism, relativism, and universalism, and beyond the absolutist appeal to religion or to personal salvation through psychological counseling, Dewey's pragmatism gives us a hint for another way for reawakening our global awareness in citizenship—from within our spirit as a...