Friday, July 17, 2015

Common Ingredients

Benjamin Barber (‘If Mayors Ruled the World’) talks about the difference between Bridging Capital and Bonding Capital. Patriotism requires Bonding Capital. Cosmopolitanism requires Bridging Capital. In order to create a Nation State you have to create some sense of a shared story. The people within the borders need to be different from the people on the other side because of some essence. That essence may come from a shared religion, race, event or anything that elevates our sense of identity above ourselves. That feeling of your own worries melting away because you are part of something bigger creates a spark. It forges you together with others. It makes you care about them. It bonds you.

New York’s catch phrase is ‘I love New York’ and not ‘New York is #1’.  Being patriotic isn't just a sense of ordering a whole bunch of different places in terms of characteristics and arguing you come out best. It is a case of believing your essence is the best. You, and those with whom you have been forged, are the best independent of the things that make you so great. Your soul is different. Your soul is better.

The great thing about bridging capital is that people who aren't from New York can love New York too. Like chocolate. Liking one doesn't stop you liking another. Like wine, cheese, art, coffee, whisky, music, stories, theatre, etc. there are just combinations of things that you love. Different flavours. By falling in love with your city, you are falling in love with all cities. You can savour them.

The same argument applies to the idea of celebrating commonality rather than celebrating diversity. Commonality doesn’t mean mono-culture. It doesn't mean we must all be the same. Rather, it means celebrating common ingredients. How you combine those common ingredients creates the diversity that we love. But diversity doesn’t have to mean an exclusive difference between us. It doesn't have to create borders. Borders are stupid.

Sovereignty requires patriotism. It requires a belief that a characteristic groups a bunch of people in a way that someone can speak for them all. Slowly but surely we are realising that it is more complicated than that, and it is simpler than that. Each of us is unique, but only in the way things are combined. That is why when we meet people, they remind us of other people. Not exactly. Never exactly. But we seldom stumble across completely new ingredients.

If Sovereignty combines the characteristics of the people it represents, there is only one sovereignty. We are all Global Citizens
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