The world is a state of turmoil. From the financial crisis to the chaos in the eurozone, from the Arab uprisings to protests in Athens, Barcelona, New York and elsewhere, many of the familiar frameworks are collapsing and we have to find new ways to orient ourselves in a world undergoing rapid change. Of course, it is necessary for political leaders to address local issues and react to people’s specific demands, but without a cosmopolitan outlook, such a reaction is likely to be inadequate. Ulrich Beck’s Twenty-one Observations on a World in Turmoil is a demonstration of cosmopolitan politics in practice. It is more than a mirror: it is a magnifying glass that brings into focus the processes that are transforming our world and highlights the great challenges we face today.
‘Global domestic politics’, the concept introduced and developed by Beck, is much more than a political theory, a philosophical utopia (or dystopia), a governance programme or a mental state: it is the reality of our times. Beck turns the argument that ‘global domestic politics’ is an unrealistic ideology on its head, arguing that it is the proponents of the national who are the idealists. They view reality through the obsolete lenses of the nation-state and thus cannot see the profound global changes that are transforming our reality. Global domestic politics is therefore a perspective, a political reality and a normative idea. And it is the critical theory of our times since it challenges the most profound truths which we hold dear: the truths of the nation.
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‘The astonishingly diverse world in turmoil is here trenchantly dissected by the analyst of risk and uncertainty.’
John Urry, Lancaster University