“You’re on a first date, you’ve had a few drinks, you make an excuse to go up to the girl’s apartment. Then, once she leaves the room, you strip down naked, and wait. When she comes back, she laughs. She is so charmed by your confidence and bravado and sleeps with you. Boom.” In the age of #MeToo, this scheme bears uncanny resemblances to the things we recently learned about public figures like Harvey Weinstein or Louis CK. But these are in fact the instructions to “The Naked Man,” a scheme of sexual seduction that is depicted in the homonymous title of Season 4, Episode 9 of US-America’s beloved Sit-Com How I Met Your Mother. The concept is introduced by one of Robin’s dates, a mediocrely attractive man, self-attestedly without qualities (“I’m not smart, funny, or handsome.”), with whom she still chooses to have sex. The gang gets hooked on the scheme since it promises an easily earned sexual experience with high chances of success: “works two out of three times – guaranteed.”
The German state punishes “undesired foreigners” as if they were part of Germany’s society, yet it denies them the fundamental rights of German citizens.
The concept of statehood implies a classification of persons as citizens on the one hand and “foreigners” on the other hand. In the context of law in Germany, for example, “foreigners” are further sub-classified into persons that do not need a residence permit (like citizens of EU member states), persons with a residence permit, asylum seekers, and those without a residence permit. Within the residence law, norms are explicitly formulated for anyone who is part of the last two groups. Violations of aforesaid norms, like the violation of mandatory residence or simply staying in Germany without a residence permit, can result in a prison sentence of up to one year. “Foreigners” that the German state plans to deport also face incarceration.
Where are you from? From the time I was born, this question has continued to define and influence my life until today. Back then, it seemed rather irrelevant. This fact that I was not just born into this world and into a family but also into a very specific location. But through that, I was officially part of a nation. My very first achievement. It was something to be proud of, almost as important as my own name. Naturally, I wanted that nation to be great, just like I wanted my family to be happy. „Where are you from? On political identity and community“ weiterlesen
If there is a citizenship, you would all owe a duty of allegiance to the new Union. What else is citizenship about? There will be a duty to uphold its laws. What will happen if the allegiance to the Union comes into conflict with the allegiance to our own country?
Margaret Thatcher, speech in the House of Lords, 7th of June 1993
In 2014, it was reasonable for a Scot wishing to further enjoy the benefits of her country’s EU membership to vote “Remain” at the Scottish Independence Referendum. In 2017, her variety of options is virtually narrowed down to choosing between the least of the evils. Resisting the Scottish secession and the addition of “r” (“rest of”) to the remaining parts of the state once called “the United Kingdom” will only lead to Scots leaving Europe aboard with their English, Welsh and Irish compatriots. Supporting the campaign for the second independence referendum and, if successful, the case for Scottish independence may eventually lead to securing the future of Scotland in Europe. However, this path is far from being clear.
The dominant “Westphalian” model of the state, based on sovereignty over territory with borders and monopoly of violence over the people who happen to live in the territory, is obsolete. It fits seventeenth-century technology and pre-global societies when geographical distances could not be traversed easily and information took months to travel the globe. Instead, states may be founded on social contracts rather than sovereignty, service to citizens instead of monopoly over the use of violence in a territory. Panarchy, a political theory of non-territorial states founded on social contracts, introduced in 1860 by Belgian botanist and economist Paul Émile de Puydt, offers an alternative. It proposes that citizens may literally sign a social contract, a constitution, with a state, and may change their states without moving, just as customers can change their insurance policies. Explicit and voluntary social contracts have several advantages over standard social contract theories: They are neither mythical nor hypothetical, but explicit and actual, voluntary and reversible.
Panarchy allows political agents to make reversible political mistakes and then exit and join another state. In Panarchy, the incentive for political innovation and improvement comes from competition between states over citizens-customers. Politics would then develop its own version of creative destruction, when failed states disappear and are replaced by better managed ones, generating a general progressive trend. „Panarchy: The State 2.0“ weiterlesen
Good Passports and Bad Passports
Imagine the aliens have landed. They have parked their spacecraft, or beamed down, and now here they are. And contrary to all the apprehensions the people of Earth have – thanks to every alien movie ever made – they are here to make friends, exchange ideas, maybe help us end poverty, war and disaster… But NOT SO FAST! Can we see your passports first? Don’t have passports, do you? And no visas either, then? Well, terribly sorry, this way please for immigration detention. And deportation as soon as we’ve built a rocket that can get you back to where you came from at the speed of light. Ta-tah!
The Case for Open Borders and Inclusive Citizenship
How did you get your citizenship? Let me guess. You were born with the one you have now. There is a good chance my guess is right. Citizenship is, first and foremost, a matter of birth.
However, birth can be framed in different ways. A German may say that she is German because she was born to German parents. And an American may say that he is American because he was born on American soil.
One immediately notices the difference. Becoming German is mainly a matter of ancestry. Hence the name jus sanguinis for birthright citizenship qua blood. Becoming American is mainly a matter of territory. Hence the name jus soli for birthright citizenship qua birth on the territory. „Beyond the Birthright Lottery“ weiterlesen
Just as none of us is beyond geography, none of us is completely free from the struggle over geography. That struggle is complex and interesting because it is not only about soldiers and cannons but also about ideas, about forms, about images and imaginings.
— Edward W. Said: Culture and Imperialism, 1993
Media outlets around the world have time and again enlightened their readers and viewers about “the best passports in the world“ in the past several years, among them CNN, The Financial Times, Business Insider, and The Telegraph. In April 2016, Arton Capital’s Passport Index has launched an interactive colour-coded map aiming to collect and rank passports according to criteria such as power and ‘hospitality’, each leading to remarkably different results. „“The best passports in the world” – The structural violence of EU visa policies“ weiterlesen
In many articles, this blog articulates a pro-European perspective. With the British referendum on UK membership in the European Union only a few days ahead, I thought that it’s about time to explain the basis for this endorsement of European integration. After Jonny has shone light on the two sides of the referendum debate, finding that the Leave campaign’s strategy is aimed at misinformation, I will provide a more general justification for an integrated European polity and thus, also, a remain vote.
Different to many rationales we hear in the debate on the British EU referendum, my argument for European integration is not based on economic or security concerns. Nor does it rest on the idea of a European cultural or philosophical heritage or even a nation-like sense of ‘togetherness’ some Europhiles proclaim can be found in Europe. These aspects can provide good reasons for supporting the EU, but for me, they are not convincing enough. My endorsement of European integration is based on my fundamental support for democracy.
With a week left to go before the referendum, I thought I’d post my thoughts about it. Despite my reservations about having a referendum in the first place, when it was made for-certain that a referendum on our membership of the EU would happen I thought that it would be a chance for the UK to have a much-needed education about the EU. But this does not seem to be what is happening, and the Leave campaign does not want people to be educated about the EU. „Brexit: The UK hurt itself in Confusion“ weiterlesen