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Cosmopolitan Patriotism in J. S. Mill’s Political Thought and Activism

Georgios Varouxakis

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  • 1 “Letter to MauriceWakeman,” 25 October 1865, CW XVI, pp. 1108–9.

No one disapproves more, or is in the habit of expressing his disapprobation more strongly than I do of the narrow, exclusive patriotism of former ages which made the good of the whole human race a subordinate consideration to the good, or worse still, to the mere power & external importance, of the country of one’s birth. I believe that the good of no country can be obtained by any means but such as tend to that of all countries, nor ought to be sought otherwise, even if obtainable.1

  • 2 Stafford 1998b, p. 108.

Mill’s reputation is as a thinker; but we shall never fully understand his thought if we fail to recognize that he was always politically engaged and had a strong sense of himself as a shrewd strategist.2

  • 3 For a short (and by no means exhaustive) list of all sorts of different positions attributed to Mil (...)

1Like many other aspects of John Stuart Mill’s thought, his attitude towards nationhood, nationalism, and related issues has been subjected to all sorts of misinterpretations and partial readings. In a vast body of literature (from at least as early as the publication of John [later Lord] Acton’s essay “Nationality” (1862) to the beginning of the twenty-first century), Mill has been seen as representing – and often incarnating – some of the most extreme – and, at the same time, mutually contradictory – positions vis-a-vis nationality and related phenomena.3

  • 4  This article was first published in J.S. Mill's Political Thought: A Bicentennial Reassessment (20 (...)

2I have already argued elsewhere that despite a common misunderstanding, Mill was far from being an uncritical and naïve supporter of “nationalism” or “nationality”. Rather, his position was closest to what I call “cosmopolitan patriotism”. In this chapter, I develop this argument as follows.4

3Mill as a philosopher subscribed to what contemporary political theorists and philosophers would call “moral cosmopolitanism”, to a cosmopolitan viewpoint as far as one’s ultimate moral commitment or allegiance was concerned. Utilitarianism is a fundamentally cosmopolitan tradition; and the “Religion of Humanity” that Mill advocated demanded of individuals fellow-feeling with the whole of mankind. However, being, at the same time, a political activist, journalist, politician, and a “public moralist” – to use Stefan Collini’s felicitous term – who had to take account of people as they were rather than as they ought to be, and work strategically to raise them from where they were to where they could get, Mill adopted a strategy which he followed throughout his mature life. Being aware that, for the foreseeable future, the vast majority of people were not going to be converted to his “Religion of Humanity” with its cosmopolitan commitments overnight (although he hoped they might gradually one day), he chose to promote the kind of particularistic attachment, the kind of patriotism, which was most consistent with his cosmopolitan ultimate commitment. If most people at his time needed to feel that they belonged to a community smaller than mankind as a whole, felt attached to it, and were likely to take pride or feel shame on its behalf, then he would work hard to convince his fellow countrymen (and, if possible, the French as well, and whomever else would listen) to take pride in the right things and feel shame when their country was doing the wrong things – right or wrong from the point of view of the welfare, “civilization” and “improvement” of mankind as a whole of course. Thus, he fought militantly and ferociously against what he saw as the flag-waving kind of patriotism (such as that practiced by James Fitzjames Stephen at the time) – patriotism that took pride in military prowess and conquest. Instead, he wished people to want to be proud of their country for what it was doing for the welfare of humanity and “civilization” and to feel shame if their government either was acting against the interests of mankind at large or even if it refrained from rendering mankind services simply because no “British interests” were concerned. This is one sense in which his brand of patriotism was “cosmopolitan”. Another (far from unrelated) sense is the kind of language he wanted used and the kind of arguments he thought should be part of the deliberations of the nation. To an extent that has to be appreciated given the levels of ethnocentric smugness of the time and place, Mill tried seriously to convince his Victorian compatriots to consider the point of view of other nations when they were discussing international affairs.

1. Is Mill a Nationalist?

  • 5 CW XIX, p. 547.
  • 6 Cobban 1969, p. 131.

4To go into more detail now, first of all, I need to face the preconceived notions of many people who have read in the literature that Mill was favourable to “nationality”, or was a “nationalist” or a “liberal nationalist” and the like. Most accounts of Mill’s position in these issues are based on his treatment of “nationality” in the famous chapter XVI of his Considerations on Representative Government (1861). In the first place, then, I argue that this text, although it is routinely adduced as proof that Mill promoted “nationality”, does nothing of the kind, if perused fully and carefully. What Mill said in that chapter did not endorse or celebrate “nationality”. Mill did indeed write: “Where the sentiment of nationality exists in any force, there is a primâ facie case for uniting all the members of the nationality under the same government, and a government to themselves apart.”5 However, as Alfred Cobban has cogently remarked, referring to this very passage: “With his supreme capacity for digging deeper than his own principles, and sometimes, it is true, undermining them, Mill proceeds after this to introduce qualifications which completely alter the complexion of his views on nationality”; but, as Cobban continues, “as is usually the case, the general statement is remembered and the all-important modifications are forgotten”.6 Thus, even if we were to read that chapter in isolation from the rest of Mill’s writings (which is far from what I am proposing to do), Mill does not emerge from it having advocated the active promotion of “nationality”. All Mill said was that nationality was a fact of life and that, if people felt so strongly about their nationality that they could not live with people of different nationalities or be ruled by rulers who were not co-nationals (which he regretted), they should be allowed to form their own state, in the cases where this latter option was feasible. His rationale for this recommendation was that representative government was not likely to work in a state composed of mutually hostile groups of people (nationalities) that put their “sentiment of nationality” above “the love of liberty” –which he very strongly regretted, as he made clear both in chapter XVI of Considerations on Representative Government and in the earlier essay “Vindication of the French Revolution of February 1848”, published in 1849. Here is what he had to say in that earlier essay of 1849:

  • 7 CW XX, p. 347, emphasis added.

It is far from our intention to defend or apologise for the feelings which make men reckless of, or at least indifferent to, the rights and interests of any portion of the human species, save that which is called by the same name and speaks the same language as themselves. These feelings are characteristic of barbarians; in proportion as a nation is nearer to barbarism it has them in a greater degree: and no one has seen with deeper regret, not to say disgust, than ourselves, the evidence which recent events have afforded, that in the backward parts of Europe, and even (where better things might have been expected) in Germany, the sentiment of nationality so far outweighs the love of liberty, that the people are willing to abet their rulers in crushing the liberty and independence of any people not of their own race and language.7

  • 8 Emphasis added.

5However, Mill’s own wishes and tastes were one thing, and the realities of the world another. So he hastened to add: “But grievous as are these things, yet so long as they exist, the question of nationality is practically of the very first importance.” Thus, “When portions of mankind, living under the same government, cherish these barbarous feelings – when they feel towards each other as enemies, or as strangers, indifferent to each other – they are scarcely capable of merging into one and the same free people.” They did not have “the fellow-feeling which would enable them to unite in maintaining their liberties, or in forming a paramount public opinion”. Even the separation of feeling which mere difference of language created, was “already a serious hindrance to the establishment of a common freedom”. Moreover: “When to this are added national or provincial antipathies, the obstacle becomes insuperable. The Government, being the only real link of union, is able, by playing off one race and people against another, to suppress the liberties of all.” Thus, how could a free constitution establish itself in the Austrian Empire, asked Mill, “when Bohemians are ready to join in putting down the liberties of the Viennese – when Croats and Serbs are eager to crush Hungarians – and all unite in retaining Italy in slavery to their common despot?” This is why he concluded: “Nationality is desirable, as a means to the attainment of liberty;8 and this is reason enough for sympathizing in the attempts of Italians to re-constitute an Italy, and in those of the people of Posen to become a Poland.” He clarified:

  • 9 CW XX, p. 347–8.

So long, indeed, as a people are incapable of self-government, it is often better for them to be under the despotism of foreigners than of natives, when those foreigners are more advanced in civilization and cultivation than themselves. But when their hour of freedom [...] has struck, without their having become merged and blended in the nationality of their conquerors, the re-conquest of their own is often an indispensable condition either to obtaining free institutions, or to the possibility, were they even obtained, of working them in the spirit of freedom.9

  • 10 See, for some examples, Gray 1995, pp. 99–100; Miller 1995, 10 and passim; Vincent 1997, p. 279; Li (...)

6This hardly sounds like the enthusiastic celebration of “the sentiment of nationality” that Mill has been time and again presented as having offered.10National self-determination was at best accepted instrumentally, as a means to the better working of free representative government. But the nationalist “sentiments” involved, even if they had to be pragmatically accommodated, were “characteristic of barbarians”.

2. Nationalism in the Vulgar Sense of the Term

  • 11 See, e.g., Gray 1995, p. 174, n. 3; Viroli 1995, epigraph.
  • 12 First published in 1843 – bk. VI, chap. 10.
  • 13 Varouxakis 2002a, pp. 126–7.

7But this is only the beginning. In the second place, to an extent that has gone unnoticed so far, Mill came in his later years to be explicitly wary of the associations of the term “nationality”, or at any rate of “nationality in the vulgar sense of the term”. In a passage more often quoted or referred to than properly analysed,11 which occurs both in his essay “Coleridge” (1840) and in his System of Logic12 Mill effected some changes from the earlier to the later editions that deserve much more attention than they have received. Although I concluded my book Mill on Nationality by drawing attention to these changes,13 I did not stress their significance explicitly enough there but rather left the reader to draw what I thought was the obvious conclusion. It is fitting for the purposes of this chapter to look closer to this question and, this time, analyse the changes more closely.

  • 14 CW X, pp. 134–5, emphases added.
  • 15 Emphasis added.
  • 16 CW X, p. 135.

8To start with, whereas in the earliest version (1840) Mill specified as one of the three conditions of stability in political society “a strong and active principle of nationality”, in later editions of the text he changed this into: “a strong and active principle of cohesion among the members of the same community or state”.14 (Needless to say, the authors who assert that Mill advocated the importance of nationality quote the former formulation and ignore the fact that Mill substituted the latter later.) What is more, in the lines immediately following what I have just quoted, Mill also changed the original text from “We need scarcely say that we do not mean a senseless antipathy to foreigners” to “We need scarcely say that we do not mean nationality in the vulgar sense of the term; a senseless antipathy to foreigners”.15 Moreover, in the later editions, he also added, immediately following this, that he did not mean “an indifference to the general welfare of the human race, or an unjust preference of the supposed interest of our own country”.16 Although it has escaped attention for too long, the implication seems to me to be crystal clear: whereas in the early 1840s Mill was proposing “a strong and active principle of nationality” as one of the sine qua non of stability in political society, in later editions (1859 and 1867), he did not name what he said was needed “nationality” but rather “a strong and active principle of cohesion among the members of the same community or state”. And, even more revealingly, he then described all the deplorable manifestations of nationalist feeling that he went on to enumerate, as “nationality in the vulgar sense of the term”. To all intents and purposes, Mill not only substituted “a strong and active principle of cohesion among the members of the same community or state” for “nationality” as the principle which he was proposing, but he also went on to include all the deplorable manifestations of what is today called “tribalism” or “chauvinism” under the heading of “nationality in the vulgar sense”. The importance of the text is such that it is well worth quoting. Here is how he concluded the text in the later version: “We need scarcely say that we do not mean nationality in the vulgar sense of the term; a senseless antipathy to foreigners; an indifference to the general welfare of the human race, or an unjust preference of the supposed interests of our own country; a cherishing of bad peculiarities because they are national or a refusal to adopt what has been found good by other countries”. Instead, he went on to explain what he did mean by “a strong and active principle of cohesion among the members of the same community or state”:

  • 17 CW VIII, p. 923. See also Mill’s 1840 essay “Coleridge”, for the earlier version CW X, p. 135–6.

We mean a principle of sympathy, not of hostility; of union, not of separation. We mean a feeling of common interest among those who live under the same government, and are contained within the same natural or historical boundaries. We mean, that one part of the community shall not consider themselves as foreigners with regard to another part; that they shall cherish the tie which holds them together; shall feel that they are one people, that their lot is cast together, that evil to any of their fellow-countrymen is evil to themselves, and that they cannot selfishly free themselves from their share of any common inconvenience by severing the connexion.17

  • 18  See Varouxakis 2002b, chaps. 1 and 2.

9In other words, Mill was advocating a kind of “patriotism”, which he defined carefully so as not to identify it with “nationality”. What is striking about these characteristics of “nationality in the vulgar sense” which he rejected emphatically is that they all refer to a community’s relation with “foreigners”, with “the general welfare of the human race”, or to whether one should adopt “what has been found good by other countries”. Mill was explicit, that is, that the “principle” he was proposing had to be compatible with “the general welfare of the human race”, should not be turned against “foreigners”, and should not lead to the rejection of “what has been found good by other countries” and a “cherishing of absurd peculiarities because they are national”. Preserving a nation’s “authenticity” and “national” culture were far from being his concerns. On the contrary, adopting what had been found good by other countries was not only acceptable but highly – and militantly – recommended by him.18

  • 19  Miller 1995, p. 10; cf. Miller 2000, p. 36.
  • 20  Cf. Benner 1997; Vincent 1997.

10But this did not make of him an advocate of “rootless” cosmopolitanism either. The way he described the “principle of cohesion” means that he was setting great value in solidarity among the members of a political community. Thus, if we try to read this in the context of debates in contemporary political theory, in that passage Mill proposed that members of a political community need to share “a feeling of common interest” and mutual solidarity but did not promote “nationality” as a means to that end, as David Miller would have one believe,19 and would by no means invest “nationality” with intrinsic ethical value, as Miller does.20

3. The Principle of Cohesion “Enlightened Patriotism”

  • 21 Stapleton 1998; Stapleton 2001, p. 26–7.
  • 22 The former emphasis (“absence”) is in the original; the latter (“of any description”) is mine.
  • 23 Stapleton 2000, p. 249. Cf. the remark of his brother, Leslie Stephen, that what J. F. Stephen desi (...)
  • 24 L. Stephen 1900, pp. 12–13.

11In the third place, Mill spoke favourably in numerable times of “patriotism” or “enlightened patriotism”. From a very early age, he had articulated a distinction between different kinds of “patriotism”, making clear that he emphatically rejected one of them. At this point, I have to take issue with some of the assertions made recently by Julia Stapleton, in some important and well-researched works where she drew attention to the national-patriotic dimension of the writings of self-appointed defenders and definers of real “liberalism” such as J. F. Stephen, R. H. Hutton, A. V. Dicey, and others.21 Stapleton is right in maintaining that people like Stephen and Hutton developed their patriotic discourse in direct and explicit opposition to the utterances of people like J. S. Mill (and Matthew Arnold, I would add). However, it does not follow that they were right in attributing lack of patriotism to Mill (or Arnold). We need here to draw a distinction between at least two concepts of patriotism. Stapleton has argued that “Above all, the growth of English national consciousness after 1850 took place in reaction to the perceived absence of patriotism of any description22 among the forces of British radicalism.” Stapleton went on to claim that “This perception was not entirely groundless. The English/British patria appeared in much radical discourse on citizenship only as an object of abuse.” After citing Richard Cobden and John Bright in this connection, she goes on to include Mill among the radicals who were justly seen as unpatriotic (Stapleton 1998; Stapleton 2001, 24–5). I regard the comments she adduced by way of evidence as by no means proving lack of patriotism in Mill. One could find much more striking texts than those Stapleton quotes, in which he tried to shame his compatriots into improving themselves. This, however, does not reflect lack of patriotism, unless one means by “patriotism” the “my country right or wrong” attitude. Now, apparently this is what J. F. Stephen had in mind when he was identifying “the chief shortcoming of his master turned adversary [Mill] as a lamentable want of patriotism”.23 James Fitzjames’s brother, Leslie Stephen, in his volume on J. S. Mill (and apparently including Bentham and James Mill in the observation), also opined: “Patriotism, indeed, was scarcely held to be a virtue by the Utilitarians. It meant for them the state of mind of the country squire or his hanger-on the parson; and is generally mentioned as giving a sufficient explanation of unreasoning prejudice”.24

  • 25 Stapleton 2001, p. 26.
  • 26 See Varouxakis 2006.

12However, Mill did not simply reject ‘patriotism’ tout court – as Stapleton repeated in her recent book, adding that “Mill was noticeably antipathetic to all things English”.25 What is true is that Mill – as well as Matthew Arnold, John Morley, T. H. Green, Herbert Spencer, Frederic Harrison, and several other Victorian liberals26 –would have no truck with a certain conception of patriotism, which saw patriotism as consisting of – as Mill put it – “a cherishing of bad peculiarities because they are national or a refusal to adopt what has been found good by other countries”. This he called “nationality in the vulgar sense of the term”. When contemporaries accused Mill or Arnold of anti-patriotism or un-English sentiments, it was because Mill and Arnold were vociferously hostile to, and contemptuous of, all manifestations of feelings and attitudes arising from such a conception of “patriotism”.

  • 27 Stapleton 1998, p. 251.
  • 28 Ibid., p. 244.
  • 29 Stephen 1866b, p. 208.
  • 30 CW XIX, p. 6.

13Some examples may elucidate the difference. J. F. Stephen wrote in Liberty, Equality, Fraternity: “I do not envy the Englishman whose heart does not beat high as he looks at the scarred and shattered walls of Delhi or at the union jack flying from the fort at Lahore”.27 Stapleton notes, furthermore, that despite his dislike of popular literature, Stephen made an exception to praise Macaulay, because, as his brother Leslie had put it, “he strongly sympathised with the patriotism represented by Macaulay”.28 Among the things James Fitzjames Stephen found worthy of praise in his article on Macaulay was that “[h]e was [...] full of patriotic feelings[...]. He was an enthusiastic Englishman”.29 It is characteristic that, on the other hand, Mill, while in the process of reading the first two volumes of Macaulay’s History of England, wrote to Harriet Taylor that he perceived “no very bad tendency in it as yet, except that it in some degree ministers to English conceit”.30 Very simply, ministering to English conceit, or giving encouragement to “the already ample self-conceit of John Bull”, was not a patriotic thing to do in Mill’s eyes. The person who loved his or her country should offer fellow countrymen what they most needed; and, in the context of complacent, smug, ethnocentric post-1815 Britain, this did not mean reinforcing their self-conceit.

14Already at the age of twenty, in 1826, Mill asserted, in a review article on “Modern French Historical Works”, that he was “far from being unconscious” of how much his compatriots had “really to be proud of, and in how many respects they might be taken as models by all the nations of the world.” He clarified that if he “saw them in any danger of forgetting their own merits’, he too ‘might preach them a sermon on that hacknied text”. But it was not “their failing to underrate themselves, or to overrate other nations”. They were “more in need of monitors than adulators”. And, further in the same article (talking of the reactions in France of those who were attacking historian J. P. Dulaure for his exposure of what he saw as French vices), Mill went on, in the same spirit. What he said is worth quoting, because it illustrates his clear understanding and articulation of at least two distinct conceptions, two sorts of “patriotism”:

  • 31 Emphasis added.
  • 32 CW XX, pp. 17, 21–2, emphasis added. Cf. what Mill wrote to Macvey Napier on 20 October 1845: CW XI (...)

We own that we are in general predisposed in favour of a man whom we hear accused by a certain class of politicians of being an enemy to his country. We at once conclude, that he has either actually rendered, or shown himself disposed to render, some signal service to his country. We conclude, either that he has had discernment to see, and courage to point out, something in his own that stands in need of amendment, or something in another country which it would be for the advantage of his own to imitate; or that he loved his country well enough to wish it free from that greatest of misfortunes, the misfortune of being successful in an unjust cause;31[...] Whoever is guilty of any of these crimes in this country, is a fortunate man if he escapes being accused of un-English feelings. This is the epithet which we observe to be appropriated to those, whose wish is that their country should deserve to be thought well of. The man of English feelings is the man whose wish is, that his country should be thought well of; and, above all, should think well of itself, peculiarly in those points wherein it deserves the least. The modern English version of the maxim Spartam nactus es, hanc exorna, may be given thus – England is your country, be sure to praise it lustily. This sort of patriotism is, it would appear, no less in request with certain persons in France.32

15I have argued so far that (a) Mill had no wish to promote “nationality”, although he recognized that nationalist feelings were part of life and had to be reckoned with; (b) he argued that a political society needed a strong sense of cohesion and solidarity among its members in order for it to be stable, but that this should by no means take the form of “nationality in the vulgar sense” (I would call this formulation of the principle of cohesion “enlightened patriotism”); and (c) he thought that there were different kinds of “patriotism” and some were more commendable than others. I now endeavour to establish that among the different conceptions of “patriotism” one could think of, Mill tried to promote a particular kind of patriotism or “principle of cohesion” that was not only compatible with, but moreover conducive to, cosmopolitan commitment to humanity at large. I call this type of patriotism “cosmopolitan patriotism”.

4. Cosmopolitan Patriotism

  • 33 See, e.g., Heater 1996, 2002; Nussbaum 1996; Cheah and Robbins 1998; Hutchings and Dannreuther 1999 (...)
  • 34 Boehm 1931, p. 458.
  • 35  See Jones 1999, p. 2; see also Nussbaum 2005.

16The assertion that Mill promoted “cosmopolitan patriotism” may sound like a contradiction in terms. Obviously, a lot depends on what one means by “cosmopolitan”. In the last few years, there has been an explosion of writing on “cosmopolitanism”, “cosmopolitan citizenship”, “global citizenship”, “global justice”, and related concepts in political theory. But what does “cosmopolitanism” or “cosmopolitan” mean? Many conceptions have been identified.33 If one looks at conceptions and definitions of “cosmopolitanism” historically, in the long run, there is a lot of truth in the remark that “the form which cosmopolitanism assumes is in general conditioned by the particular social entity or group ideal from which it represents a reaction”.34 In accordance with this tendency, much of the recent discussion of cosmopolitanism is related to a reaction to the Rawlsian conception of the appropriate field of justice as being within each nation-state rather than directly applying to individuals at a global level (global justice). Critics have tried to apply Rawls’s principles of justice to the global level to which he himself did not apply them and have offered various arguments in favour of large-scale redistribution of resources on the basis of Rawls’s own premises – for example, Thomas Pogge, Charles Beitz, or Brian Barry.35

  • 36 Held 2002, p. 64.
  • 37 In accordance with that conception, “[i]ndividuals can step out of their entrenched positions in ci (...)
  • 38 Held 2002, p. 64.

17But cosmopolitan thinking does not refer only to debates about justice. No less than a full-length book is needed to begin to offer an account of the different meanings of cosmopolitanism. However, a useful brief road map has been contributed by David Held, who has identified “three broad accounts of cosmopolitanism which [...] contribute to its contemporary meaning”. The first account was that of the Stoics, whose main point was the idea “that they were, in the first instance, human beings living in a world of human beings and only incidentally members of polities”. The upshot of this idea is that “[t]he individual belongs to the wider world of humanity; moral worth cannot be specified by the yardstick of a single political community”.36 The second account of cosmopolitanism was that introduced in the eighteenth century “when the term [W]eltbürger (world citizen) became one of the key terms of the Enlightenment”. The central figure was Immanuel Kant who “linked the idea of cosmopolitanism to an innovative conception of ‘the public use of reason’ and explored the ways in which this conception of reason can generate a critical vantage point from which to scrutinize civil society”.37 Finally, the third conception of cosmopolitanism is a contemporary one and expounded in the work of Beitz, Pogge, and Barry, among others. As Held has maintained, “In certain respects, this work seems to explicate, and offer a compelling elucidation of the classical conception of belonging to the human community first and foremost, and the Kantian conception of subjecting all beliefs, relations and practices to the test of whether or not they allow open-ended interaction, uncoerced agreement and impartial judgment”.38

  • 39  E.g.,Waldron 1995.
  • 40  See, e.g., Scheffler 1996. Cf.Brennan 2001, p. 77: “cosmopolitanism springs froma comfortable cult (...)
  • 41 Cheah and Robins 1998, vii.

18But most of the recent literature does not attain this degree of conceptual clarity and historical contextualization. Most of the debates involve quite partial accounts of what “cosmopolitanism” is supposed to mean. Strawman arguments abound in the writings of cosmopolitanism’s many critics. Also frequent are autobiographical accounts on the part of supporters of “cosmopolitanism”39 or attributions, on the part of critics of cosmopolitanism, of autobiographical shortcomings to the supporters of cosmopolitanism – or, to be more blunt, it is a standard argument among their critics that cosmopolitan theorists are blinded to the realities of the world because they are ivory-tower academics who spend too much time with people like themselves and fly all the time to international conferences and the like.40 Thus, it is no surprise that “cosmopolitanism” has come to be referred to as “that tainted term”.41

  • 42 Ibid., p. 1, emphasis added.

19A very common conception of cosmopolitanism is the following: “Understood as a fundamental devotion to the interests of humanity as a whole, cosmopolitanism has often seemed to claim universality by virtue of its independence, its detachment from the bonds, commitments, and affiliations that constrain ordinary nation-bound lives. It has seemed to be a luxuriously free floating view from above”.42

  • 43 Waldron 1995.

20A similar meaning was given to “cosmopolitanism” by a theorist who accepted and advocated it, Jeremy Waldron, in the early 1990s (“Minority cultures and the cosmopolitan alternative”.43 As he summarized it himself in a later article:

  • 44 Waldron 2000, p. 228.

I spoke of someone who did not associate his identity with any secure sense of place, someone who did not take his cultural identity to be defined by any bounded subset of the cultural resources available in the world. He did not take his identity as anything definitive, as anything homogenous that might be muddied or compromised when he studied Greek, ate Chinese, wore clothes made in Korea, worshipped with the Book of Common Prayer, listened to arias by Verdi sung by a Maori diva on Japanese equipment, gave lectures in Buenos Aires, followed Israeli politics, or practiced Buddhist meditation techniques. I spoke of this person as a creature of modernity, conscious, even proud, of living in a mixed-up world having a mixed-up self.44

  • 45 Salman Rushdie, Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981–1991, London: Granta Books, 1991, p. (...)

21This is the conception of cosmopolitanism as consisting in an individual experience characterized by “a bit of this and a bit of that”, as Salman Rushdie has put it.45

  • 46 See Carter 2001, pp. 8–13..

22Yet does “cosmopolitanism” have to involve this detached attitude, do cosmopolitans need to be “rootless”, “elitist”, and even “parasitic” (according to conservative British philosopher Roger Scruton), or at the very least mixed up, as they have been portrayed by many commentators?46 My point is that this is only one of the many conceptualisations of “cosmopolitanism” and far from the one I wish to explore here.

  • 47 On Bentham and cosmopolitanism, see Ellis 1992, 164. Cf. Conway 1990, p. 231: “Bentham declared him (...)
  • 48 CW X, pp. 420–1.
  • 49 CW X, p. 421, emphases added.
  • 50 Ibid., p. 421, emphasis added. According to Mill, “to call these sentiments by the name of morality (...)
  • 51 “Utility of Religion”, CW X, p. 409.

23It is exactly the combination of cosmopolitan moral commitment with commitment to a particular political community (patriotism) that Mill propagated that makes him interesting in this context. Mill, like Bentham before him, adopted a cosmopolitan viewpoint when it came to the group that should command people’s supreme and ultimate allegiance.47 It may be worth quoting what he had to say on the issue of the proper focus of one’s allegiance during his mature years, in the 1850s. In “Utility of Religion”, Mill declared that it would be wrong to assume that “only the more eminent of our species, in mind and heart”, were “capable of identifying their feelings with the entire life of the human race”. There was no gainsaying that “[t]his noble capability implies indeed a certain cultivation”, but this cultivation was “not superior to that which might be, and certainly will be if human improvement continues, the lot of all”.48 He adduced the degree of selfless dedication and allegiance inspired by patriotism, love of one’s country, as proof of the capacity of human beings, once properly cultivated and educated, to attain to disinterested devotion to the good of the entire humanity: “When we consider how ardent a sentiment, in favourable circumstances of education, the love of country has become, we cannot judge it impossible that the love of that larger country, the world, may be nursed into similar strength, both as a source of elevated emotion and as a principle of duty”.49 If, then, people could be trained to regard the good of their country as the supreme object, “so also may they be made to feel the same absolute obligation towards the universal good.” What was needed was amorality “grounded on large and wise views of the good of the whole”, which would neither sacrifice the individual to the aggregate nor the aggregate to the individual, but would give to “duty” on the one hand, and to “freedom and spontaneity”, on the other, “their proper province”. Crucially, for the purposes of my argument, he goes on to say that such a morality would “derive its power in the superior natures from sympathy and benevolence and the passion for ideal excellence: in the inferior, from the same feelings cultivated up to the measure of their capacity, with the superadded force of shame”.50 Mill based this assertion on the belief that (as he had put it earlier on in the same text) “[t]he power of education is almost boundless: there is not one natural inclination which it is not strong enough to coerce, and, if needful, to destroy by disuse”.51

  • 52 Cf. Kymlicka 2002, p. 270.

24The notion that the historical success of attempts to instill strong attachment to one’s country (patriotism) can be used as a proof of the possibility of cosmopolitan “ideal devotion to a greater country, the world” may strike some people as paradoxical. Most people – today at least – tend to see patriotism and cosmopolitanism as antagonistic to each other. Most (though by no means all) of today’s “cosmopolitans” tend to assume that if only it were not for nationalism/patriotism and the particularistic barriers created by attachment to the nation-state, people would naturally identify with the whole of humanity. Needless to say, this assumption is historically ill-informed and politically naïve. Whatever else they might have done, the nation-building projects of nation-states have tended to enlarge people’s circle of fellow feelings from the smaller units of family, tribe, village, or region to the much broader one of a whole nation.52

  • 53 see Jones 2000, p. 49; Varouxakis 2006.
  • 54 Jones 2000, p. 49.
  • 55 For one of the many instances in which Mill used the term enlightened patriotism in French (patriot (...)

25This latter understanding of the role of “patriotism” was quite widespread among Victorian liberals. For many Victorian liberal political thinkers, “patriotism” (which they defined in various ways, of course) was seen as a stepping stone towards universalist commitment to the whole of “humanity”, rather than as antithetical to the latter.53 Thus, it was clearly “as a step away from the particular and toward the universal”54 that Victorian liberals, including Mill, approved of attachment to the nation, provided it manifested itself in the “enlightened patriotism” that people like Mill had in mind. Mill saw patriotism as commendable only to the extent that it conduced to the interests of the whole of humanity. This is why he distinguished among different kinds of “patriotism” and tried to promote a certain version of what he called “enlightened patriotism”.55

  • 56 Neidleman 2001, p. 156.
  • 57 Quoted in: Neidleman 2001, p. 169.

26But this is only one of the possible objections I need to deal with. For if one wished to be the devil’s advocate one would say that, although the move from local to national patriotism/sympathy makes psychological sense, it is difficult to imagine a corresponding move from national to global patriotism/sympathy. In a sense, substituting national for local or regional identifications and allegiances may be said to be just substituting one “us–them” divide for another with another. But how can people identify with the whole of humanity? Or at least work in its best interests even while identifying with smaller portions of it? Thus, not only is there the well-known objection bound to be raised by those who would say, like Adam Ferguson had done in the eighteenth century, that patriotism and solidarity within a group had to be built on hostility towards some other group. But even if one does not regard hostility towards an “other” as necessary for building patriotic allegiances, one may still think that identification with the whole of mankind is either a chimera or too loose and weak (too “thin”, in contemporary parlance) to sustain and mobilize solidarity. For instance, Mill’s contemporary Alexis de Tocqueville was convinced that “the interests of the human race are better served by giving every man a particular fatherland than by trying to inflame his passions for the whole of humanity.” Tocqueville, like Rousseau before him, feared that cosmopolitan citizens “will perceive only from a viewpoint that is distant, aloof, uncertain, and cold”.56 According to Tocqueville, “Man has been created by God (I do not know why) in such a way that the larger the object of his love the less directly attached he is to it. His heart needs particular passions; he needs limited objects for his affections to keep these firm and enduring. There are but few who will burn with ardent love for the entire human species”.57

27Mill was far from unaware of this problem. But he had an answer, I think. Here is what he wrote in “Nature” (one of the “Three Essays on Religion”):

  • 58 CW X, p. 394.

Of the social virtues it is almost superfluous to speak; so completely is it the verdict of all experience that selfishness is natural. By this I do not mean in any wise mean to deny that sympathy is natural also; I believe on the contrary that on that important fact rests the possibility of any cultivation of goodness and nobleness, and the hope of their ultimate entire ascendancy. But sympathetic characters, left uncultivated, and given up to their sympathetic instincts, are as selfish as others. The difference is in the kind of selfishness: theirs is not solitary but sympathetic selfishness; l’egoïsme à deux, à trois, or à quatre; and they may be very amiable and delightful to those with whom they sympathize, and grossly unjust and unfeeling to the rest of the world.58

28But Mill was not resigned to reconciling himself with what were the “natural” inclinations of human beings. The whole point of the essay “Nature” was to assert the opposite. He summarized his conclusions himself:

  • 59 CW X, pp. 401–2, emphasis added.

The word Nature has two principal meanings: it either denotes the entire system of things, with the aggregate of all their properties, or it denotes things as they would be, apart from human intervention[...]. In the [second] sense of the term, the doctrine that man ought to follow nature, or in other words, ought to make the spontaneous course of things the model of his voluntary actions, is equally irrational and immoral. Irrational, because all human action whatever, consists in altering, and all useful action in improving, the spontaneous course of nature: Immoral, because the course of natural phenomena being replete with everything which when committed by human beings is most worthy of abhorrence, any one who endeavoured in his actions to imitate the natural course of things would be universally seen and acknowledged to be the wickedest of men. The scheme of Nature regarded in its whole extent, cannot have had, for its sole or even principal object, the good of human or other sentient beings. What good it brings to them, is mostly the result of their own exertions. Whatsoever, in nature, gives indication of beneficent design, proves this beneficence to be armed only with limited power; and the duty of man is to co-operate with the beneficent powers, not by imitating but by perpetually striving to amend the course of nature – and bringing that part of it over which we can exercise control, more nearly into conformity with a high standard of justice and goodness.59

  • 60 Emphasis added.
  • 61 CW X, p. 421.

29It seems to me that – in the light of what I have said so far – if we collate them, the two preceding quotes from “Nature” can offer a clear clue to what Mill was up to regarding the patriotism – cosmopolitanism continuum. What he called “sympathetic selfishness”, or “l’egoïsme à deux, à trois, or à quatre”, was in “the spontaneous course of things” and it was an example of beneficence “armed only with limited power”. Its power for good was limited because the same people who “may be very amiable and delightful to those with whom they sympathize” could simultaneously be “grossly unjust and unfeeling to the rest of the world”. Now, if “the duty of man is to cooperate with the beneficent powers, not by imitating but by perpetually striving to amend the course of nature – and bringing that part of it over which we can exercise control, more nearly into conformity with a high standard of justice and goodness”, then the course Mill chose is rather clear: He thought we should strive (and he as a “public moralist” strove) “to amend the course of nature” and “[bring] the part of it over which we can exercise control, more nearly into conformity with a high standard of justice and goodness”.60 The standard of justice and goodness was universal benevolence towards all human beings. This was clearly not the natural course of things. At best, in nature, “beneficence” was “armed only with limited power”, in this case, in the form of “sympathetic selfishness” which leads people to treat well those with whom they sympathize. Mill was recommending a strategy designed to make use of this limited benevolence in order to bring it “more nearly into conformity with a high standard of justice and goodness”, to help approximate that standard as much as possible by artificial (non-“natural”) means. He was fully aware that most people (at least the “inferior” natures) would probably go on having fellow-feelings only with particular groups (“sympathetic selfishness”). He would therefore use “the superadded force of shame” to lead them to behave decently and generously towards the rest of humanity out of selfish regard for the reputation of their own group.61 This is how national/group pride or shame would be used in service of cosmopolitan/universalist ends.

  • 62 CW X, p. 135.

30When all is said and done, what was at the heart of Mill’s philosophy was the desire, through education and the cultivation of character, intellect and feelings, to overcome selfishness. Ultimately Mill wanted human beings to develop fellow-feelings with the whole of humanity, those living, those dead, and those yet to be born. However, acknowledging, at the same time, that not all humans were of as lofty, generous, and high-minded natures as he (and people like himself), he conceded that, as a step towards the desired expansion of the circle of fellow-feelings toward the whole of humanity, extending them to include a whole nation (or better, the inhabitants of a “community or state”62 was a step of progress in the right direction – as long as the way in which they were expanded was not through “nationality in the vulgar sense”. But the content of the motivational material, the kind of patriotism involved, was crucial. So he tried assiduously to promote a certain conception of love of country which was in his eyes not just compatible with but moreover conducive to the welfare of mankind at large. For him this meant trying to make his own country the country most worth loving, the country which pursued its interests in ways that promoted the interests of mankind as a whole, and this is the idea of England/Britain he consistently tried to inspire in the consciences of his fellow-countrymen.

  • 63 CW XXI, p. 112.

31In this respect, idealized Britain as he described it – while prescribing it – in the first part of his article “A Few Words on Non-Intervention” (1859) was the quintessential cosmopolitan nation. One of his several aims there was to caution British statesmen against using a discourse (justification of acts or failures to act purely on grounds of national interest) which gave rise to foreign perceptions about English selfishness and perfidy. It would be “foolish attempting to despise all this”: “Nations, like individuals, ought to suspect some fault in themselves when they find they are generally worse thought of than they think they deserve; and they may well know that they are somehow in fault when almost everybody but themselves thinks them crafty and hypocritical”.63

  • 64 An analogy one can think of is Mill’s rationale for his rejection of the secret ballot. He wanted p (...)

32Mill wanted people to divert their feelings of pride to what their country was doing for humanity and “civilization” and to feel shame if their government either was acting against the interests of mankind at large or even refrained from rendering mankind services simply because no “British interests” were concerned. Moreover, he wanted his fellow-countrymen to be able to defend their country’s international behaviour with arguments that would be acceptable to foreign nations. The kind of language he wanted used and the kind of arguments he thought should be part of the deliberations of the nation had to be, in that sense, cosmopolitan. Mill tried seriously to convince his compatriots to consider the point of view of other nations when they were discussing international affairs.64

  • 65 1866a.
  • 66 1842.
  • 67 Arnold, like Mill, had his own views as to what is healthy and defensible patriotism and what is sh (...)

33In this respect, by trying to elevate the opinion of foreigners as one of the major concerns of the British nation and its governments, Mill was at one with a man with otherwise quite different views, language, and temperament, Matthew Arnold. Instead of ignoring what the rest of “Europe” and the world thought of Britain, as other Victorian thinkers did (and some, like J. F. Stephen65, explicitly recommended), to say nothing of the British public a large (as Nassau Senior66 had explained), Arnold and Mill believed that it was part of being a good patriot to strive to improve the way one’s country was perceived abroad, to make its voice heard and respected, and all this for the right reasons, for commendable achievements, distinctions, and contributions to the welfare of mankind and the common fund of “civilization”, which other nations would recognise as well. More important, they believed that by making the British public aware of, and sensitive to, the judgments of an international “tribunal of public opinion”, they would inculcate in them the right kind of patriotism, the patriotism that feeds on appropriate and commendable feelings and aspires to the right sort of collective-national distinction and “greatness”.67

  • 68 An oft-quoted formulation of the impartiality thesis is the following: “All the impartiality thesis (...)

34Although I do not wish to exaggerate the case, and I would not argue that Mill or Arnold had a fully developed or refined and satisfactory account of what is today called ‘impartial reasoning”, it is arguable that, to an extent not sufficiently appreciated, they groped towards an attempt at establishing the need for what we call impartial reasoning in the relations between different states and peoples, and particularly with regard to their country’s dealings with other countries68 – although they confined this in practice to what they would call “civilized” nations. Albeit limited by the Euro-centrism that characterised the thought of the time, the position they adopted was, in principle, “cosmopolitan” in terms of their demand for impartiality in the language and arguments used.

  • 69 Of course there are difficulties with the distinction between “nationalism” and “patriotism”; see V (...)

35Thus, what I have argued here is that Mill promoted a position that I call ‘cosmopolitan patriotism’. It is “patriotism” (as opposed to “nationalism”) to the extent that Mill was very wary of the implications of nationalist sentiment and the tribalism that it could entail and preferred to promote “a strong and active principle of cohesion among the members of the same community or state”.69 Now, this patriotism is “cosmopolitan” in that he consistently defined it in such a way as to equate it with an outward-looking noble emulation among different human communities (“nations” or other) of achievements that would promote the welfare and civilization of the whole of mankind. Moreover, the criteria through which such achievements would be judged, the language that would be used, the arguments that would be appealed to, would have to be impartial and, to that extent, cosmopolitan.

36What makes Mill’s “cosmopolitan patriotism” more interesting and more down-to-earth than other attempts to promote cosmopolitanism is that it does not shun more particularistic attachments such as nations or fatherlands, love of country, and the feelings of pride or shame most people feel on behalf of their respective countries in their relations with other countries. Instead, Mill tried to utilize those feelings of pride or shame and the mobilizing power they generated in the service of cosmopolitan ultimate goals. Instead of preaching cosmopolitanism applied to individual identities (which could rightly be accused of being rootless and free-floating, “from above”, and parasitic), Mill was consistently trying to turn the whole nation towards a cosmopolitan orientation, to make it part of the national project and aspirations to excel in “doing good” for humanity at large.

  • 70 For details of what this means in the case of Canada (and some references to Norway), see Kymlicka (...)
  • 71 Kymlicka 2003, p. 358, n. 2.
  • 72 See Varouxakis 2002b, passim.

37Thus, although some might object that Mill’s ideal of cosmopolitan patriotism is implausible psychologically, there is evidence to suggest otherwise. The closest real-world examples in the contemporary world of national identities being – at least partly – built on relatively cosmopolitan ideals of “doing good” for the world (being generous donors of international aid, participating in UN peace-keeping missions, serving as honest brokers in international disputes, etc.) seem to be Canada and Norway.70 Will Kymlicka, commenting on this issue in the case of Canada, has argued recently that in many cases “the most effective way to get people to take seriously their international obligations is to present them as a matter of national honour and national identity: i.e., that is the ‘Canadian’ thing to do, and that it would cast shame on Canada’s reputation internationally if Canadians were seen as selfish or indifferent”.71 This is exactly what Mill was doing, very consciously, deliberately and consistently. This was one of his most important aims in the first part of “A Few Words on Non-Intervention”, where he was prescribing what he saw as the right, cosmopolitan, foreign policy by presenting it as the “British/English” thing to do. There are many examples of this strategy in Mill’s journalism in particular.72

  • 73  CW I, p. 87.
  • 74  CW X, p. 421.

38Let me conclude by going back to where I started. As the quote from William Stafford’s introduction to Mill cited in the epigraph of this article suggests, besides being a philosopher and a thinker, Mill was a public intellectual, an activist deeply engaged in political causes and aiming at changing the world as much as he could. He himself said no less in describing what he was up to in his Autobiography. It is not accidental that the “theorist” and the “practical man” appear together at the end of chapter 3. Mill clearly saw his role as being “either as theorist or as practical man, to effect the greatest amount of good compatible with his opportunities”.73 Now, it is not accidental either that he wrote no treatise on “patriotism” or on “cosmopolitan patriotism” and that the latter term (“cosmopolitan patriotism”) never appeared in his works. What I have tried to describe is a strategy, first and foremost. If asked where he stood as a philosopher on patriotism/nationalism/cosmopolitanism, he would have replied that he was subscribing to what is today called moral cosmopolitanism. His utilitarianism and his “Religion of Humanity” point to that direction inexorably. Meanwhile, however, he worked hard and consistently to use and divert the patriotic feelings that people were displaying in the direction of serving the ultimate cosmopolitan goals of the improvement of mankind. At the very least, the “inferior natures” needed this, and he would use “the superadded force of shame” in that direction.74 That is why “cosmopolitan patriotism” is the best way to describe where he stood and what he was up to.

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Varouxakis, Georgios (2005). “Empire, Race, Euro-centrism: John Stuart Mill and his Critics”, in: Bart Schultz and Georgios Varouxakis (eds), Utilitarianism and Empire. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, pp. 137-53.

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Varouxakis, Georgios (2006). “‘Patriotism’, ‘Cosmopolitanism’ and ‘Humanity’ in Victorian Political Thought”, European Journal of Political Theory, Vol. 5, No. 1 (2006), pp. 100-118.
DOI : 10.1177/1474885106059071

Vertovec, Steven and Robin Cohen (eds) (2002). Conceiving Cosmopolitanism: Theory, Context, and Practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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Vincent, Andrew (1997). “Liberal nationalism: An irresponsible compound? ”, Political Studies, Vol. 45, No. 2, pp. 275-95.
DOI : 10.1111/1467-9248.00081

Vincent, Andrew (2002): Nationalism and Particularity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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Waldron, Jeremy (1995[1992]). ‘Minority cultures and the cosmopolitan alternative’, in: Will Kymlicka (ed.), The Rights of Minority Cultures. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 93-119.

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Waldron, Jeremy (2000). “What is Cosmopolitan?”, The Journal of Political Philosophy, Vol. 8, No. 2, pp. 227-43.
DOI : 10.1111/1467-9760.00100

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Notes

1 “Letter to MauriceWakeman,” 25 October 1865, CW XVI, pp. 1108–9.

2 Stafford 1998b, p. 108.

3 For a short (and by no means exhaustive) list of all sorts of different positions attributed to Mill, see Varouxakis 2002a, pp. 3–7.

4  This article was first published in J.S. Mill's Political Thought: A Bicentennial Reassessment (2007).I would like to thank Prof. Alex Zakaras, Prof. Nadia Urbinati (editors) and Cambridge University Press.

5 CW XIX, p. 547.

6 Cobban 1969, p. 131.

7 CW XX, p. 347, emphasis added.

8 Emphasis added.

9 CW XX, p. 347–8.

10 See, for some examples, Gray 1995, pp. 99–100; Miller 1995, 10 and passim; Vincent 1997, p. 279; Lichtenberg 1999, p. 167. For a fuller (but by no means exhaustive) list, see Varouxakis 2002a, pp. 3–7.

11 See, e.g., Gray 1995, p. 174, n. 3; Viroli 1995, epigraph.

12 First published in 1843 – bk. VI, chap. 10.

13 Varouxakis 2002a, pp. 126–7.

14 CW X, pp. 134–5, emphases added.

15 Emphasis added.

16 CW X, p. 135.

17 CW VIII, p. 923. See also Mill’s 1840 essay “Coleridge”, for the earlier version CW X, p. 135–6.

18  See Varouxakis 2002b, chaps. 1 and 2.

19  Miller 1995, p. 10; cf. Miller 2000, p. 36.

20  Cf. Benner 1997; Vincent 1997.

21 Stapleton 1998; Stapleton 2001, p. 26–7.

22 The former emphasis (“absence”) is in the original; the latter (“of any description”) is mine.

23 Stapleton 2000, p. 249. Cf. the remark of his brother, Leslie Stephen, that what J. F. Stephen desiderated in Mill’s theory of liberty was “the great patriotic passions which are the mainsprings of history”; see Stapleton 1998, p. 247.

24 L. Stephen 1900, pp. 12–13.

25 Stapleton 2001, p. 26.

26 See Varouxakis 2006.

27 Stapleton 1998, p. 251.

28 Ibid., p. 244.

29 Stephen 1866b, p. 208.

30 CW XIX, p. 6.

31 Emphasis added.

32 CW XX, pp. 17, 21–2, emphasis added. Cf. what Mill wrote to Macvey Napier on 20 October 1845: CW XIII, p. 683. Cf. what Mill was to write in the same vein in a letter to an American correspondent, during the last decade of his life, in the quotation on the epigraph of this article (CW XVI, pp. 1108–9 – letter to MauriceWakeman, 25 October 1865).

33 See, e.g., Heater 1996, 2002; Nussbaum 1996; Cheah and Robbins 1998; Hutchings and Dannreuther 1999, pp. 3–32; Jones 1999; Scheffler 1999; Lu 2000; Waldron 2000; Anderson-Gold 2001, pp. 10–43; Brennan 2001, pp. 76–8; Carter 2001; Held 2002, pp. 63–8; Kymlicka 2002, pp. 268–70, 312–15; Vertovec and Cohen 2002; Vincent 2002, pp. 191–224.

34 Boehm 1931, p. 458.

35  See Jones 1999, p. 2; see also Nussbaum 2005.

36 Held 2002, p. 64.

37 In accordance with that conception, “[i]ndividuals can step out of their entrenched positions in civil society and enter a sphere of reason free of “dictatorial authority” [...] and can, from this vantage point, examine the one-sidedness, partiality and limits of everyday knowledge, understanding and regulations” (Held 2002, p. 64). For some important comments on the significance of Kant, seeWaldron 2000; see also Carter 2001, pp. 33–50.

38 Held 2002, p. 64.

39  E.g.,Waldron 1995.

40  See, e.g., Scheffler 1996. Cf.Brennan 2001, p. 77: “cosmopolitanism springs froma comfortable culture of middle-class travelers, intellectuals and businessmen”.

41 Cheah and Robins 1998, vii.

42 Ibid., p. 1, emphasis added.

43 Waldron 1995.

44 Waldron 2000, p. 228.

45 Salman Rushdie, Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981–1991, London: Granta Books, 1991, p. 394; quoted in Waldron 1995, p. 93).

46 See Carter 2001, pp. 8–13..

47 On Bentham and cosmopolitanism, see Ellis 1992, 164. Cf. Conway 1990, p. 231: “Bentham declared himself ‘an Englishman by birth’ but ‘a citizen of the world by naturalization’”. Cf. Hayes 1931, p. 128. On J. S.Mill’s comment on the “cosmopolitan character” of Bentham’s writings, see CW XVII, p. 1812. For a more general assessment, Charles Jones also argues that “Utilitarianism is a clear case of a cosmopolitan theory”. This is his definition of “cosmopolitanism”: “Cosmopolitanism is a moral perspective with several basic components. The cosmopolitan standpoint is impartial, universal, individualist, and egalitarian. The fundamental idea is that each person affected by an institutional arrangement should be given equal consideration. Individuals are the basic units of moral concern, and the interests of individuals should be taken into account by the adoption of an impartial standpoint for evaluation” (Jones 1999, p. 15).

48 CW X, pp. 420–1.

49 CW X, p. 421, emphases added.

50 Ibid., p. 421, emphasis added. According to Mill, “to call these sentiments by the name of morality [...] is claiming too little for them”. Rather, they were “a real religion”. For the essence of religion was “the strong and earnest direction of the emotions and desires towards an ideal object, recognized as of the highest excellence, and as rightfully paramount over all selfish objects of desire”. This condition was fulfilled by what he was proposing, “the Religion of Humanity”. He was convinced “that the sense of unity with mankind, and a deep feeling for the general good, may be cultivated into a sentiment and a principle capable of fulfilling every important function of religion and itself justly entitled to the name” (CW X, p. 420–3).

51 “Utility of Religion”, CW X, p. 409.

52 Cf. Kymlicka 2002, p. 270.

53 see Jones 2000, p. 49; Varouxakis 2006.

54 Jones 2000, p. 49.

55 For one of the many instances in which Mill used the term enlightened patriotism in French (patriotisme éclairé), see CW XVII, p. 1769.

56 Neidleman 2001, p. 156.

57 Quoted in: Neidleman 2001, p. 169.

58 CW X, p. 394.

59 CW X, pp. 401–2, emphasis added.

60 Emphasis added.

61 CW X, p. 421.

62 CW X, p. 135.

63 CW XXI, p. 112.

64 An analogy one can think of is Mill’s rationale for his rejection of the secret ballot. He wanted people to vote openly in order for them to feel constrained to make electoral choices which they would be able to justify publicly in front of their fellow-constituents, choices therefore for which they could invoke reasons based on common interests and shared principles. If one applies this idea to the international arena, nations would have to “prove” their greatness by invoking what they were contributing to the common fund of humanity, to civilization, and what they were excelling in according to commonly accepted criteria.

65 1866a.

66 1842.

67 Arnold, like Mill, had his own views as to what is healthy and defensible patriotism and what is sheer prejudice. Commenting on one of the many attacks he had received on account of his essay “My Countrymen”, he wrote to his mother: “I should be sorry to be a Frenchman, a German, or American, or anything but an Englishman; but I know that this native instinct which other nations, too, have, does not prove one’s superiority, but that one has to achieve this by undeniable, excellent performance” (Arnold 1996–2002, vol. 3, pp. 17–18, emphasis added). Note the word “prove”. Obviously, Arnold had in mind some sort of international tribunal of public opinion, in front of which it would not be enough for Englishmen, Frenchmen, Americans, and so on to boast that they were great and superior following their “native instinct”, but rather they would have to “prove” their superiority and greatness “by undeniable, excellent performance”, presumably in identifiable, commonly accepted domains of excellence.

68 An oft-quoted formulation of the impartiality thesis is the following: “All the impartiality thesis says is that, if and when one raises questions regarding fundamental moral standards, the court of appeal that on addresses is a court in which no particular individual, group, or country has special standing. Before the court, declaring ‘I like it’, ‘it serves my country’, and the like, is not decisive; principles must be defensible to anyone looking at the matter apart from his or her special attachments, from a larger, human perspective” (quoted in Held 2002, p. 66).

69 Of course there are difficulties with the distinction between “nationalism” and “patriotism”; see Varouxakis 2001.

70 For details of what this means in the case of Canada (and some references to Norway), see Kymlicka 2003, pp. 358–61.

71 Kymlicka 2003, p. 358, n. 2.

72 See Varouxakis 2002b, passim.

73  CW I, p. 87.

74  CW X, p. 421.

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Georgios Varouxakis, « Cosmopolitan Patriotism in J. S. Mill’s Political Thought and Activism », Revue d’études benthamiennes [En ligne], 4 | 2008, mis en ligne le 01 février 2008, consulté le 24 octobre 2014. URL : http://etudes-benthamiennes.revues.org/188

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Georgios Varouxakis

Queen Mary, University of London

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