Cosmopolitanism is a requisite to become citizens of the world, albeit a globalised world, with no borders or, at least, with permeable borders. Crossing over borders to look for a job or a better life, forces you to exit from a limited perspective, one defined by a community and a culture, and deal with new points of view from which to observe reality.
Migrating, in the broadest sense of this verb, means to travel from one place to another, not just occasionally, and stop only for a limited period and then go on the move once more. It is a new philosophy of life that is far from the permanence necessary to the industrial and agricultural economy, when settling down in a given place was the necessary and sufficient condition to thrive, cultivate the land and raise children, or work as a labourer in the nearby workshop or factory. For a long time this close link with the territory was an indication of the evolved condition of a primitive society of nomads, because it allowed them to both forge a strong bond with nature and to maintain close relations with the inhabitants of the same place, whose union served to safeguard the common values of their culture and tradition.
The migration process involves the transfer of cultures, of the relative support (language, religion, but also the instruments of work) that every migrant carries with him to the place where he decides to settle. Unlike the sedentary groups, who tend to jealously preserve their culture and to close circle in defence of the privileges they have acquired (property, interests, rights of land use, access control, social relations based on blood ties), migrants have to deal with the culture with which they come into contact: they are necessarily open to this, with the result that they learn how to assimilate the new, but also to modify the existing culture within the host country.
Tomorrow’s society will be a society of migrant men and women who still choose to move autonomously along the roads of the world, not out of obligation, nor because of political or economic obligation, but to seek out new opportunities for personal development.
In modern cosmopolitanism, as explained by Ulrich Beck, it is this relationship, possibly even a confrontational one, which is created between the different cultures that come into contact as a result of migration processes, that will not necessarily become burned out in the integration process, i.e., in the definitive homogenisation and in the obliteration of differences within the same country.
Cosmopolitanism presupposes a creative and continuing contrast with different cultures, together with the creation of a new formula of “collective vision” of the other, which inevitably arises at a supranational level. Multilocalism, on the other hand, is something else: it is the ability to live in more different and distant places as if they were one’s own; to influence them and be influenced by both. They both are independent of the territorial aspect, of the indissoluble bond with the land and seem to be representative of the tendency of the present society to live the experience of globalisation as an opportunity and not as a defeat.
Tomorrow’s society will be a society of migrant men and women who still choose to move autonomously along the roads of the world, not out of obligation, nor because of political or economic obligation, but to seek out new opportunities for personal development, growth and general improvement in their conditions of life. In short, cosmopolitanism is the good face of globalisation; the affirmation of a fundamental principle that goes beyond the narrow limits of sedentary society and opens up the prospect of a new way of living, forging ties that are weak and not permanent, and constantly calling into question one’s own attitudes and assumptions. It is seen in the constructive perspective offered by liquid society, i.e., assuming uncertainty as a positive value that allows you to grow and face the challenges of the future.
Unlike cosmopolitanism (a voluntary choice), cosmopolitanisation, i.e. the transfer of the effects of globalisation on society and culture, is instead determined by a programmatic, top-down imposition, passively endured by the population under global change of an economic and social nature, whose consequences may prove disastrous. Cosmopolitanisation involves everyone, eliminates boundaries, breaks down barriers, brings faraway people and cultures together, allows them to share the same fate; it is the simultaneous inclusion/exclusion of the other (distant) and thus marks the end of the other global that lies between us. But it does not eliminate the differences.
On the contrary, it increases them. It makes us more than ever dependent on each other, radicalising the social differences within the same place; distances lose their importance, the hic et nunc is dilated in an eternal present that extends worldwide, in the proclaimed insistence of favouring the so-called “integration”, which postulates the cancellation of diversity and integration with the resident people. Such a process is less and less sought after and disrespectful of different cultures: however, respect for differences should not be an excuse to justify inequality, which is what happens in the case of “multiculturalism”, i.e., in the mere acknowledgment of the coexistence of different cultures in the same place. Zygmunt Bauman has serious misgivings towards multiculturalism, which he calls “indifference to difference”: he denounces it as an act of social hypocrisy that, while asserting the respect and dignity of cultural diversity on the one hand, on the other hand, the conditions of immigrants are left unchanged, denying them a share in the resources and reinforcing the de facto inequality.
The progressive and massive rapprochement between different cultures and peoples, however, is also, unfortunately, the cause of manifestations of racism, rejection and violence. The fact that there is no need for a process of integration, does not rule out the risk of exclusion, present in different forms, which not less injurious to human dignity. Its most critical issues are apparent in social inequality, in the huge and growing differences that make the rich richer and the poor poorer, more vulnerable and fragile.
The cultural differences thwart any relationship between the rich and the poor; individuals end up not by interacting, living according to their own ways. People may live near each other, but they often ignore and fail to communicate with each other. They become more and more “distant”, despite living next to each other in the same city, or a few metres away from one other. This too is a form of exclusion that takes place within the same country and that makes the difference.