Community: The Pilgrim’s Cosmopolitan Communitarian Companions

  • Mariano Barbato
Part of the Culture and Religion in International Relations book series (CRIR)


The question of a political community has been extensively discussed in the context of globalization.1 As I argued elsewhere, the stakes are high because at the moment our understanding of democracy depends on our national communities.2 For that reason I am rather skeptical of straightforward concepts of a world democracy as introduced by David Held and others.3 Our liquid age of transformation is not so easily to overcome. Before we can think about new models for democracy we have to pave the ground by reflecting about the communal realm or better the communal realms that should govern themselves. Chris Brown introduced the questions of political community to International Relations two decades ago. He wrote about the dichotomy of cosmopolitan and communitarian approaches4 but later abstained explicitly from such a structural framing of the debate. Though the two terms are always around, these issues go in reality rather crisscross and do not fit neatly separated into two separate drawers.5 From a postsecular perspective, it is interesting to note that while usually the reference to religion is made by communitarians like Alasdair MacIntyre, the postsecular label is put forward by the liberal cosmopolitan Jürgen Habermas. Cosmopolitan and communitarian approaches have indeed a common ground that enables them to support the liberal vision of cosmopolitanism with a friendly critique but which can also stand alone.


International Relation Political Community Catholic Church Negative Freedom Liberation Theology 
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© Mariano Barbato 2013

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  • Mariano Barbato

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