From Civic Friendship to a Global Legal Community
A political sociologist examines the concept of universal, egalitarian citizenship and assesses the prospects for developing democratic solidarity at the global level.
In Solidarity, Hauke Brunkhorst brings a powerful combination of theoretical perspectives to bear on the concept of "democratic solidarity," the bond among free and equal citizens. Drawing on the disciplines of history, political philosophy, and political sociology, Brunkhorst traces the historical development of the idea of universal, egalitarian citizenship and analyzes the prospects for democratic solidarity at the international level, within a global community under law. His historical account of the concept outlines its development out of, and its departure from, the less egalitarian notions of civic friendship in the Greco-Roman world and brotherliness in the Judeo-Christian tradition. He then analyzes the modernization of Western societies and the destruction of the older, hierarchical solidarities. The problems of exclusion that subsequently arose—which stemmed from growing individualization in society (the "de-socialization of the individual") as well as from the exclusion of certain groups from the benefits of society—could be solved only with democratic solidarity in the form of its "institutional embodiment," the democratic constitution. Finally, Brunkhorst examines the return of these exclusion problems as a result of economic globalization.
Analyzing the possibilities for democratic self-governance at a global level, Brunkhorst finds in recent global protest movements the beginnings of a transnational civic solidarity. Brunkhorst's normative and sociological account, mediating between these two perspectives, demonstrates the necessity of keeping normative requirements systematically attuned with conditions of social reality.
Brunkhorst's impressive sweep through the history of the modern concept of solidarity makes the connections we need to understand our twenty-first century, globalized society. With remarkable breadth of scholarship and striking insights into our present situation, he lays bare the ancient roots of this ideal, shows it to be a constitutive factor in modern democracy, and provides us with an indispensable key to our contemporary conflicts.
Brunkhorst's stirring narrative not only tells a compelling story about the Greek and Judeo-Christian roots of modern civic solidarity, as it sprang from the French and American Revolutions. It also develops a perspective from which the even more abstract solidarity among citizens of a future, politically constituted, gobal society loses its merely utopian character and becomes a practicable ideal.
Solidarity is a much used and abused concept. In his comprehensive overview, Hauke Brunkhorst provides us with the first major treatment of its history and theory. This is a must-read for all interested in moral, political, social, and legal issues.
Seyla Benhabib, Eugene Meyer Professor of Political Science and Philosophy