Quote of the day

I consider myself a left internationalist, but definitely not a world citizen. The difference is important. Internationalism connects me to leftists in other countries, who are or should be working for the well-being of the poorest and most vulnerable of their fellow citizens. I am engaged with them in what I think of as a characteristically leftist way: I support their politics, but I also criticize some (and sometimes many) of the things they do. What they do matters to me; I want them to get things right.

But I am not a world citizen because there is no organized “world,” no global state, in which citizenship is possible—certainly not democratic citizenship. The people who run the world, insofar as it is run, don’t regard me as one of their fellows, and, in turn, I don’t regard them that way either. The UN sometimes pretends to be a kind of world government, but it isn’t that, and the pretense is dangerous because it suggests that things are being taken care of when we all know that they are not.

The only political agency that can “take care of things,” that can provide security, welfare, and education, is the state. The least well-off people in the world today, the most desperately needy people, are those who live in failed or failing states, who are the prey of warlords, predatory gangs, ruthless entrepreneurs and speculators—all of them uncontrolled by any political authority. So those of us who have effective and decent states ought to be patriots, at least in this sense: that we should be committed to the common political work of sustaining and improving the states that we live in.

Michael Walzer

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