This book argues that John Dewey should be read as a philosopher of globalization rather than as a 'local' American philosopher. Although Dewey's political philosophy was rooted in late nineteenth and early twentieth century America, it was more importantly about the role of America in a globalized world. The book highlights how Dewey's defence of democracy in the context of what he denotes as the Great Society leads him to confront the problems of globalization and global democracy. Then, it explores how Dewey's conception of creative democracy had global connotations. The book examines how Dewey problematized his own conception of democracy through arguing that the public within modern nation states was 'eclipsed' under the regime he called 'bourgeois democracy'. Then, it shifts the terrain of Dewey's global focus to ideas of global justice and equality. The book demonstrates that Dewey's idea of global democracy was linked with an idea of global equality, which would secure social intelligence on a global scale. It outlines the key Deweyan lessons about the problem of global democracy. The book shows how Dewey sets out an evolutionary form of global and national democracy in his work. Finally, it also outlines how Dewey believed liberal capitalism was unable to support social intelligence and needed replacing with a form of democratic socialism.
American Philosopher, John Dewey's world appears to be alien to contemporary concerns about rampant globalization and the need to move democracy beyond the confines of the nation state to regulate a runaway world. It might seem rather bizarre to claim that a return to the work of Dewey can offer a greater appreciation of globalization and global democracy at the start of the twenty-first century. Dewey's philosophy can be seen as an earlier incarnation of the democratic spirit that Richard Rorty evoked when he sought to show how intellectual labour could help American citizens to 'achieve our country'. Whilst Dewey's political philosophy was a creature of late nineteenth century and early twentieth-century America, it was more importantly about America in a globalized and interdependent world, or rather what Dewey called 'The Great Society'. The chapter presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book.
John Dewey argued that the Great Society's improvements in industrial production, travel and transportation, media and communications created 'interaction and interdependence' on an unprecedented complex and wide scale. When Dewey published The Public and Its Problems in 1927, democracy had become somewhat of an unfashionable aspiration, with populations in Europe beginning to turn to the extreme Left and Right for their political settlements. The central premise of Dewey's conception of the state is its foregoing of any attempt to find the true nature or essence of the state in order to embrace an anti-essentialist view of the state. The historical evidence that culture could facilitate incorrect perceptions of associative behaviour or even invoke illiberal publics served to underline for Dewey that publics have rarely been of equal standing in a society.
John Dewey was all too aware that the reality of globalization now required reform of government that would allow for transnational communication and collaboration and global forms of democratic government. This chapter highlights how Dewey's conception of creative democracy was informed by what he took to be the global interdependence of the Great Society. It also highlights the globalized nature of the Great Society by showing how a time period has become known as the 'First Great Globalization'. It focuses not only on how Dewey acknowledged the global dimensions of the Great Society but also on why he was compelled to propound the need for global democracy. The chapter outlines Dewey's concrete ideas about what global democracy would look like in reality. Dewey identified the biggest problem facing the emergence of the Great Community to be the fact that political beliefs and standards had fallen out of synch with reality.
In much the same vein as contemporary advocates of global democracy, John Dewey firmly believed that the nature of globalization meant that global forms of democracy were necessary to manage the Great Society. However, Dewey ultimately problematized his own thought when examining the feasibility of global democracy. The halting of the social and humane ideals Dewey associated with creative democracy was inherently down to bourgeois democracy being founded on the idea that laissez-faire capitalism was the true expression of human liberty. Without informed and educated publics who could comprehend the complexity and trans-national nature of the Great Society, communicate transitionally and challenge the hegemony of bourgeois democracy, there was simply no chance of real democratic innovation at home or abroad. The effects of the eclipse of the public meant that creative democracy at the level of the nation state had essentially been eclipsed.
The chapter outlines how John Dewey's idea of creative democracy was based upon a form of deliberation he called social intelligence. The obvious question that arises from the discussion of Dewey's idea about the relationship between economic equality and democracy in the Great Society surrounds its global connotations. The chapter also outlines how Dewey believed liberal capitalism was unable to support social intelligence and needed replacing with a form of democratic socialism. The chapter describes how Dewey's call for democratic socialism was animated by his view about the relationship between economic inequality and political equality within the Great Society. The chapter highlights how Dewey's views on economic and political equality translate into an argument for an extension of global egalitarianism that would allow all nations of the world to pursue the democratic way of life.
John Dewey's work illuminates the blind spot of the contemporary problematizations of globalization and democracy. If democracy were to stand still, it would surrender to circumstance and start on the 'backward road that leads to extinction'. It was this viewpoint that led Dewey towards becoming a 'global' philosopher and global democrat. This was because Dewey understood that the Great Society and the globalization and scientific revolutions that underpinned it both demanded and offered potential avenues to renew and refresh democracy as a way of life across and between nation states. This held the potential of helping humanity not only move forwards and away from extinction but also move towards a more enhanced and enriched shared existence. This was the dual promise Dewey saw in creative democracy and social intelligence within a global Great Community.
This chapter outlines four key Deweyan lessons about the problem of global democracy. These centre on the nature of Great society and Great community, the role of the nation state in furthering democracy beyond the nation state, the use of democracy at home to create a rooted cosmopolitanism and the problem of bourgeois democracy at home as the biggest impediment to global democracy. What all these lessons highlight is how John Dewey believed that the problem of democracy at home needed to be tackled in order to facilitate democracy abroad. The chapter utilizes these lessons to re-evaluate contemporary ideas about post-Westphalian global democracy and how Dewey's work can offer new ways of appraising global democracy. From a Deweyan perspective, the challenge for conceptualizations of global democracy must be to overcome the failings of post-Westphalian ideas of global democracy without having recourse to statist solutions.