Globalization and Inequality

A Plea for Cosmopolitan Justice
  • Fred Dallmayr
Part of the Culture and Religion in International Relations book series (CRIR)


With 2001 having been officially designated (by the United Nations) as the year of “Dialogue among Civilizations,” it appears urgent to reflect on the meaning and requisites of dialogue, especially a dialogue carried on in a global context. Dialogue here does not just mean a random exchange of information or commodities—which may leave participants neutral or disengaged. If civilization is a frame of significance allowing members to articulate their self-understanding, then civilizational dialogue must be properly “civilized” by considering participants in their intrinsic worth. Consideration of worth, however, involves a measure of equality—not perhaps a quantitative or numerical equality but a kind of qualitative equality that might be described as one of respect or of care (which is not incompatible with respect for differences). As might be expected, this invocation of equality is likely to be challenged from numerous quarters. Self-styled political “realists” are prone to denounce the invocation—and the entire idea of a dialogue among equal partners (or civilizations)—as an empty chimera or pipedream disconfirmed by the stark “reality” of power differentials both in domestic and in international politics. Curiously this denunciation is sometimes seconded by left-leaning (especially postmodern) intellectuals who talk at length about radical asymmetry or a stark incommensurability of language games and cultures.1


Human Freedom Global Civil Society Global Politics Global Inequality Western Power 
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© Fred R. Dallmayr 2002

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  • Fred Dallmayr

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