Achieving our World Democratically

A Response to Richard Rorty

in Theoria
Author: Fred Dallmayr
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When they were first penned (in 1963), in the midst of the civil rights struggle in the United States, these lines stirred the conscience of a nation and awakened many people previously on the sidelines to a full awareness of the infamy of racial hatred and injustice. There can be no doubt that, partly under the inspiration of Baldwin and Martin Luther King, Americans were able – at least for a time – to ‘achieve’ their country in a better, nobler way than before, thus living up more seriously to the promise contained in their history. In the meantime, nearly half a century has passed and, despite many ennobling ventures, much ‘nightmare’ still remains – both in America and in the rest of the world. With sickening repetitiveness, the conscience of humankind is affronted by large-scale atrocities, from genocide and ethnic cleansing to random outbursts of violence; almost invariably, the root causes of these calamities can be traced to racial, cultural and/or economic factors. In our time of rapid globalisation or intensified global interdependence, is it still possible to heed Baldwin’s challenge to shoulder ‘our duty now’? Is there a chance – in the opening new millennium – to ‘achieve’ our global humanity by drawing on the promise contained in the histories of multiple countries?


A Journal of Social and Political Theory


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