tribalism: worldwide fail

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Chris Bertram asks:

[W]hat sort of conclusions about the world would you expect well-paid American liberal intellectuals to reach when they came to think about global justice? I guess I'd expect the following. I'd expect a good deal of hand-wringing about the relationship between patriotism and universal morality, and I'd expect them to discover a legitimate role for patriotism. They'd find out that it is perfectly permissible to have a limited preference for one's fellow citizens (especially poor and minority ones) over outsiders. They'd therefore agonize about issues such as immigration but accept the right of states to control their borders, reject the notion that justice requires any kind of global redistributive principle but favour some limited doctrine of "assistance" to those suffering desperate poverty overseas. And I'd expect them, being smart people, to come up with some varied and ingenious arguments to support such conclusions. John Rawls, Michael Blake, Samuel Freeman, Richard Miller, Thomas Nagel, Elizabeth Anderson ... even (or especially?) Michael Walzer, end up in the same place. Kind of a coincidence huh?
Um, yes. 
The malleability in practice of the principles underpinning the Washington Consensus--strict rules for intervention in markets by governments of developing countries, anything goes when it comes to intervention by the government that sits in Washington--demonstrate how predictably ideology follows the contours of economic interest.  Especially in the case of well-paid American liberal intellectuals.  

Commenter HH has the best response:

A thick layer of philosophical makeup can be layered over the ugly face of tribalism, but that doesn't alter the gross unsuitability of tribalism for governing states in a globally interconnected and nuclear-armed world.
I'll take "tribalism" as short for "nationalism" here.

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This page contains a single entry by David Bennion published on October 12, 2008 10:09 PM.

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