world we want Philosopher Mark Kingwell ‘s inspiring and well-written book, The World We Want: Virtue Vice and the Good Citizen , was written during the euphoric first days of the new millennium, just before Bush stole the election and his coalition of psychotic right-wingers, greedy elitists and religious crazies began driving America into mass fear, paranoia and self-righteous totalitarianism. These were the days before 9-11, when idealists dared to dream of a world of empowered citizens, egalitarianism and global cooperation.

Here is Kingwell’s astonishing analysis of the anti-globalization protesters in Seattle and Milan: Notice how everything he says here is prescient of the motivations of last week’s anti-war protesters:

Significantly, recent protests agianst the WTO have turned on arguments for the continuing necessity of accountable national governments. Global trade organizations, like global markets, often operate in invisible and unrepresentative ways that impose policy without regard for local interests, thereby merely perpetuating processes of wealth concentration that already favour the fortunate and powerful few.

What the protesters called for, in what were perhaps the first major acts of organized transnational citizenship, was less of the roughshod transgression of national sovereignty that has marked the WTO and GATT. Those on the inside of the convention centre in Seattle, and their supporters in various equally unaccountable institutions like newspapers, delighted in depicting the people outside as idealistic throwbacks, loony eco-warriors, and ignorant opponents of the irreversible. They were gravely mistaken. The people outside were as globally minded as anyone on the planet, and as savvy. The difference is that they were acting as citizens, not merely as brokers of interest.

Kingwell defines citizenship as making our desire for justice active. And in making an argument for what I called common sense in a recent post, he says:

The true force of universalism lies…in the shared capacity of humans to be pained by the pain of others. The human community is not so much a community of reason as it is, at a basic level, a community of feeling…We can and do respond to the suffering of others and see ourselves in them. We can all see, without needing any detailed philosophical or anthropological theory, that cruelty is wrong.

  And, if he’d written this remarkable book in the age of Bush, he might well have added: And so, just as instinctively, is an unprovoked and indefensible war against the citizens of another country.

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