Contesting Australian asylum policy: Political alienation, Socratic citizenship and cosmopolitan critique

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In the face of the hard-line approach to asylum-seekers currently being taken by both the major political parties in Australia, alienated cosmopolitans have been increasingly inclined to disidentify with the Australian nation and declare “not in my name”. Although sympathetic both to the cosmopolitan position and to these acts of principled dissent, I express reservations about such an approach on the grounds that it distances the cosmopolitan elite from the democratic mass and inclines towards irresponsibility. Drawing on Socrates as an exemplar, I investigate how citizens with cosmopolitan sensibilities might resist injustice on universal moral grounds without being either condemned by or exiled from their local political community. Ultimately, I argue in favour of an embedded cosmopolitanism that engages critically with the political ethos and calls on citizens to take responsibility for protecting the state in its ideal image.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-253
Number of pages16
JournalAustralian Journal of Politics and History
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


  • Asylum Seekers
  • Alienation
  • Socrates
  • Cosmopolitanism

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