Cosmopolitan Attachments: The Legacy of Patrick Glenn
Forthcoming in Helge Dedek and William Twining (eds) ‘Essays in Memory of Patrick Glenn (Cambridge University Press)
12 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2019
Date Written: July 31, 2019
Patrick Glenn’s final writings on the idea and practice of the ‘cosmopolitan state’ might seem as something of a departure for the world-famous comparativist, but they are in fact strongly continuous with his earlier work, and all the more fascinating for that. For Glenn, comparative law was always a subject in part defined against itself. For it was as much an examination of what connects and integrates different legal doctrinal streams and systems as of what distinguishes and divides them. And so it was quite natural that he should finally come to study systematically the ever more powerful web of transnational and global connections and commonalities that make the contemporary state - in his words - ‘cosmopolitan’ rather than ‘national’. His investigation paints a powerful picture of a global cosmopolitan practice that, against the vision of stronger versions of cosmopolitanism, is not itself globally located; rather it is rooted in different state subsoils, linked together through a matrix of legal, institutional and cultural factors. Yet the question arises how robust his confident defence of state-centred cosmopolitan attachments would be in the face of the very recent upsurge in a nativist populism for whom ‘cosmopolitanism’ is the pejorative label of choice. In concentrating on the high political and cultural dimensions of cosmopolitanism, Glenn, like other cosmopolitan champions, might be read, fairly or not, as feeding the nativist prejudice that cosmopolitanism is a predominantly elite project and, in particular, one insufficiently attuned to the economic dimension of global (in)justice. Glenn, however, was a supple as well as a subtle thinker, and it is interesting to contemplate how he might have risen to the renewed challenge to what he had understood as the gradual consolidation of cosmopolitanism as the key political orientation of late modernity.
Keywords: comparative law, cosmopolitan, state, postnational, global, nativism, constitutional
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