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Sovereign Virtues: Aziz Al-Azmeh and Michael Ignatieff on the Failures of Globalization

By Scott Malcomson

Far-right activists at an Identitarian Movement of Austria anti-immigration rally in Vienna. CREDIT: Ataraxis 1492

This article was posted in Carnegie Reporter on May 25. The following excerpt is posted with permission from Carnegie Corporation of New York. Michael Ignatieff was Carnegie Council's Centennial Chair.  The results of his project for the Council, Global Ethical Dialogues, are the subject of his book, The Ordinary Virtues, due out in September 2017.


No one had told them modernity might end. Michael Ignatieff and Aziz Al-Azmeh, both born in 1947 and raised in the buzzing uplands of modernity's post-Fascist reconstruction—one in Toronto, the other in Damascus—were of a generation that expected to make good on modernity's second chance. If you think of the 19th century as globalization's first round, and the nationalist and romantic reactions against it as taking up the period from late in that century through 1945, then the postwar period was supposed to be a wised-up reset. It could be guided by international developmentalism (often with a Marxist flavor) or liberal Western internationalism; in either case it would feature the spreading of the rule of law and global governance and the life-improving technologies of vaccination and birth control, electric washer and dryer, telephone and television, elevator and escalator, the automobile and the airplane.

And so it did continue, on through the Internet and the smartphone, and yet Ignatieff, Al-Azmeh, and their generation—and all of us—are also facing what looks less like a reset than a return of the repressed: a morbid, shape-shifting Islam and a revival of ethno-religious nationalism, both emphatically punctuated by violence and terror.

Read the full article here

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