restricted access 10. Transnational Citizenship: Paths beyond the Nation-State
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188 10.  Transnational Citizenship    Paths beyond the Nation-State At the dawn of Western civilization (so called), we find two conceptions of citizenship: one Greek, arising in Athens, and the other Christian , inspired by Jerusalem. The first conception of citizenship, usually associated with Aristotle, is that of membership in a polis, or citystate (with Aristotle holding that such membership is “natural” for, or constitutive of, human beings). The second conception, most prominently formulated by Saint Augustine, assumes a duality of membership : that is, membership in the earthly city (civitas terrena) and the heavenly city (civitas Dei). The two conceptions clearly do not coincide . In fact, as has often been claimed, the entire history of Western civilization unfolds as an antagonism between Athens and Jerusalem. A closer look, however, reveals that the difference is less pronounced than is usually claimed. A certain tension or duality can also be found in Aristotle, who clearly distinguishes between membership in a corrupt , unjust, or tyrannical community and membership in a just city devoted to a good and virtuous civic life. In this respect, Aristotle is largely following the lead of Plato, who, in the Republic, distinguishes between a community governed by sheer survival needs—what he calls a “city for pigs”—and a city imbued with justice and other civic virtues. For his part, Saint Augustine does not allow duality to result in a radical rupture that would place the “heavenly city” beyond all civic bonds. Resisting the temptation of private withdrawal, the civitas Dei is differentiated from other cities by its special divine calling or its quality as a “pilgrim city.” As is evident from these “founding” conceptions, citizenship is not merely a matter of formal, legal status (although it may be that as well). Reverberating through the centuries and down to our own Paths beyond the Nation-State  189 time, the formulations of Aristotle and Saint Augustine point to deeper , recessed dimensions of citizenship—its linkage with conceptions of what it means to be human and how we should live together with others in this world. In the context of Western modernity, the legacies of Athens and Jerusalem are often treated as irrelevant, but at a steep cost. Under the impact of modern liberal individualism, citizenship is often portrayed as entirely optional or voluntary—as the contractual adherence to formal rules and procedures, without any need for social bonding. As it happens, however, the exiled civic bond—which Aristotle declared to be constitutive of human beings—returns sheepishly through the backdoor in the form of the backlash of nationalism or ethnic “identity.” It is precisely this combination of formal legal rules and an untutored, particularistic identity that forms the nature of the modern nation-state (where state means “rule of law” and nation is an ascriptive marker). In this chapter, I join ongoing discussions—sometimes called “citizenship debates”—in an effort both to clarify the meaning of modern citizenship and to explore possible paths beyond the nation-state formula .1 After tracing the emergence of the modern conception of citizenship , I examine some of the theoretical quandaries and antinomies implicit in this conception. By way of conclusion, I discuss a number of “transnational” options, recollecting at this point both the Aristotelian notion of a just community and the Augustinian reflections on the pilgrim city. The Emergence of Modern Citizenship The notion of “citizenship” in the West has a long pedigree, tracing its origins back to classical and biblical conceptions of life in a city. A primary concept, at least for political thinkers, has always been the Greek idea of the polites, as articulated by Aristotle and his successors . In a well-known and remarkable essay on the topic, John Pocock traces the evolution of citizenship “since classical times,” that is, since the time of the Greek polis. As he notes, political thinkers in the West have always treated citizenship as a “classical ideal,” as “one of the fundamental values that we claim is inherent in our ‘civilization’ and its ‘tradition.’ ” In Pocock’s account, the Greek polis was not grounded in kinship or any purely ascriptive ties; rather, it was a community of 190 A Pedagogy for Our Troubled Times citizens in which “speech took the place of blood, and acts of [public] decision the place of acts of vengeance.” In Aristotle’s formulation, in particular, citizenship carried an eminently practical and praxiscentered connotation, pointing to the ability of “free men” to participate in the public place by simultaneously ruling and being...


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