Homo cosmopoliticus: Adam Smith and Globalist Subjectivity

“The proprietor of stock is necessarily a citizen of the world” (Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, Book V, Chapter II, Article II).

The perverted universality of globalism can be considered fulfilled in the verification of the logic that was already outlined by Smith in The Wealth of Nations:

The proprietor of stock is necessarily a citizen of the world, and is not necessarily attached to any particular country. He would be apt to abandon the country in which he was exposed to a vexatious inquisition, in order to be assessed to a burdensome tax, and would remove his stock to some other country where he could either carry on his business, or enjoy his fortune more at his ease (Book V, Chapter II, Article II).

Following Smith’s thesis, it goes without saying that the liberal Right of Money is cosmopolitan and vocationally non-border. Capital is, by its essence, stateless and deterritorialized (“not necessarily attached to any particular country”).

Moreover, if we venture beyond Smith, it is founded on the reduction of the whole world to its “homeland” of reference: it is cosmopolitan precisely because, in order to realize itself in an “ab-solute” form, it must neutralize national barriers and saturate the globe, reducing it to a smooth plane for the omnidirectional displacement of the flows of commodities and commodified persons, of speculative capital and consumer desires.

The possessor of capital is, therefore, “necessarily a citizen of the world,” free to move and circulate in order “carry on his business, or enjoy his fortune more at his ease.” And this, as is evident, according to that logic of profit which, if during a historical period coincided with the space of imperialist nationalism, today finds its own ubi consistam in denationalization and in the opening of all material and immaterial frontiers.

From this point of view, homo cosmopoliticus seems to be the most genuine product of that cosmomarket anthropology and of that rootlessness inscribed in its original code, against which De Maistre’s theorem remains largely valid, according to which we never find the “man” qua talis, but always the Frenchman, the Italian or the Russian (and since Montesquieu—De Maistre ironically added—we learned that the Persian also exists).

Once again, the Left of Custom, trapped in the “Ptolemaic phase,” deludes itself into thinking that it fights against power, when in reality it sustains it, fully defending its interests and intervening against any project of emancipation of the oppressed with respect to the auri sacra fames of turbo-capital.

It fights the very idea of national rootedness, confusing it with its pernicious and dangerous drift that was capitalist nationalism, without realizing that today it has been completely surpassed by the new non-border globocracy, which is the first to use the anti-nationalist rhetoric to demonize, no longer the nationalist imperialism that for a time it supported, but the very idea of Nation and, with it, of the Gramscian national-popular as the basis of cultural, identitarian, political and social resistance of the oppressed against the intrinsically undemocratic market cosmopolitanism.

In this scenario emerges, with clear outlines, the structural incompatibility of capitalist cosmopolitanism with proletarian internationalism or, more generically, of the classes today dominated. Internationalism implies a nexus of socialist solidarity inter nationes and, therefore, the opposite of the cosmopolitan annihilation of nations carried out by global-capitalism following Smith’s theorem and, if you will, according to Trotsky’s cosmopolitical perspective of communism, as deconstructed by Gramsci in the Prison Notebooks.

The internationalism of the national-popular Servant does not coincide, then, either with the conquering nationalism of the historical Right (which was the expressive function of imperialist capitalism in its dialectical phase), or with the capitalist cosmopolitanism of the de-sovereignized and post-national market (which is the project defended in our day, structurally, by the liberal Right of Money and superstructurally by the libertarian Left of Custom).

From what has been exposed, it is again inferred that, in order to break the yoke of liberal Glebalism, we must first of all deconstruct the hegemony of the single thought that sanctifies the really-given power relation. In particular, it is necessary to dismantle the ideological architecture of the champagne Left of Custom, which superstructurally legitimizes the structure of the dominance of the financial Right of Money.

The ideological fraud of the nationalist Right—if it still intends to use, for heuristic purposes, the obsolete and, in fact, “useless” Right-Left dichotomy—lies in presenting a certain authoritarian and non-democratic sovereignty, as if it were the real opposition to capitalist cosmopolitanism, which is precisely its other face (rectius, the culmination).

The imposture of the champagne and rainbow Lefts consists, on the other hand, in smuggling in as socialist internationalism what, strictly speaking, is liberal cosmopolitanism; that is to say, the sphere of conflict favorable to the competitivist Lord.

With an attitude that always oscillates between incomprehension of the power relation and its active legitimization, the champagne Left surreptitiously believes—and here is the core of its error—that “the contrast of cosmopolitanism implies a repudiation of internationalism;” on the contrary, it is socialist internationalism that carries implicitly a firm rejection of both imperialist nationalism and liberal cosmopolitanism. There can be no socialist internationalism in the absence of national States which recognize each other as free and brotherly.

By the way, it was the Maastricht Treaty of 1992 that certified the acknowledged “conversion of the Italian communists to neoliberalism.” On that occasion, the definitive and integrally cosmopolitan forma mentis of the market-friendly Left was forged, now convinced that any opposition to non-border globalism was no longer the possible defense of the dominated classes against the offensive of the unified market without borders, but the path of identitarian and regressive closure, which would necessarily have to be combined with the right-wing quadrant of politics.

Bobbio was undoubtedly right when, in his successful book, Destra e sinistra (Right and Left), he pointed to the “great problem of inequality between men and peoples” as the unresolved knot in the post-1989 world. However, this impeccable diagnosis coexisted, in Bobbio’s works, with the unreal ideal-typical identification of the Left with the defense of that equality, with respect to which the really-existing new Left, converted to liberal cosmopolitanism, had already said goodbye in an evident manner for some time.

If historically the Left—as Bobbio also admitted—was based on the connection between freedom and equality and used the action of the State as an instrument of action upon reality, with a view to implementing that end, how could the post-Marxist new Left still call itself “Left,” which to the questions of equality and labor rights had now placed individualist liberalization and the rainbow rights of the individual consumer before the questions of equality and labor rights; that to the struggle for equality and freedom of colonized peoples had preferred unconditional support for the abstractly humanitarian and concretely imperialist interventionism of the dollar thalassocracy; and that, even before the eticizing power of the State as a means to achieve equality, had chosen to adhere to the de-sovereignizing globalization which is the means that guarantees the ever growing hegemony of the ruling class?

Diego Fusaro is professor of the History of Philosophy at the IASSP in Milan (Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies) where he is also scientific director. He is a scholar of the Philosophy of History, specializing in the thought of Fichte, Hegel, and Marx. His interest is oriented towards German idealism, its precursors (Spinoza) and its followers (Marx), with a particular emphasis on Italian thought (Gramsci or Gentile, among others). he is the author of many books, including Fichte and the Vocation of the IntellectualThe Place of Possibility: Toward a New Philosophy of Praxis, and Marx, again!: The Spectre Returns[This article appears courtesy of Posmodernia].

Featured: Folio 13 from The Nuremberg Chronicle, or the Schedelsche Weltchronik, or Liber Chronicarum (Book of Chronicles); published in 1493.