A compassionate democracy: citizenship and the living world

This paper begins with the assumption that commonly accepted notions of citizenship are not tenable in a globalised, interdependent world. Climate change, ecological degradation and the finite nature of fossil fuels on which our lifestyles depend bring urgency to the question of re-evaluating the boundaries of citizenship. The ongoing exploitation of nature, humans and animals on which the current economic system of capitalism depends is not only ethically problematic but may ultimately undermine the future of life on this planet. The increasingly polarized distribution of wealth within and between nations, the destruction of nature, and the wide-scale, pervasive exploitation of humans, other animals and nature at a global level requires an ethical re-evaluation of the current system which cannot, and should not, be divorced from questions of citizenship and democracy. We argue that these interlinking forms of exploitation are intimately connected to the structural violence at the root of the capitalist system.

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