Arendtian Deliberation on the Decline of Political Public Space: The Case of Postwar Japanese Citizenship
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In her writings, Hannah Arendt dreads the emergence of a world state that is constituted by cosmopolitan citizenship. Today, such movements as globalisation, economic regionalism and information revolution have approximated the Kantian ideal of cosmopolitanism which unites nation states under a universal civil constitution. Building on Arendt’s proposition of the decline of the political public realm, my paper argues that the cosmopolitan movement which unshackles citizenship from the binding of tradition, culture and national past endangers the space of authentic politics rather than enhances the realm of human plurality. While cosmopolitan discourses presuppose advanced democracy as a condition in which citizenship is not limited by racial, national or territorial borders, it is open to question as to whether these limitations are irrelevant to the cruxes of democratic activity: collective discussion, deliberation and determination. The cosmopolitan ideal of boundless communication would take place only at the expense of diminishing the fundamental capacity of human memory which provides human thought and judgment with reflective standards.In order to examine Arendt’s misgivings about the cosmopolitan movement, my chapter overhauls the case of postwar Japan whose historiography has been, from the outset, heavily dominated by the Marxist notion of history. Beginning with the epoch in which the past was abhorred by the memory of World War II, in no country more than Japan has postwar citizenship been so dissonant with an idea of nation, in contrast with the popular image of Japanese nationalism. Mainstream academics are increasingly attracted to the idea of a Citizen of the World while Japanese citizens hardly practice civic virtues that concern the welfare of community except for heavy enmeshment in consumerism. This chapter speaks to the possibility of critical democratic thought not only within advanced industrial countries but also within rapidly industrialising states, the ways through which the course of modernity and the practice of democracy are negotiated.
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