Anyone who has traveled to cosmopolitan cities like London, Toronto, Beirut, Istanbul or Qum, will immediately realize that these cities do not represent the entirety of the countries in which they are located. They are usually a universe of their own.
The cosmopolitan urban centers named above have their distinct character and are supranational. Why? Because these cities are also intellectual hubs with a sort of an ambition to be the driving catalyst of a global intellectual paradigm. Due to time and space limitations we cannot discuss the soft-power ambition and appeal of each city named, this blog would like to focus on London, due to our team member’s recent visit there.
Those who have been in London and Istanbul might sense a similarly in their vibe or as better described through a term of the world’s highly philosophical language, German, der Zeitgeist. Both, London and Istanbul were centers of empires, Istanbul of an Eastern empire and London of a Western empire. Just as Istanbul is a center of socio-political activism with a global reach in the East, London is an epicenter of socio-political activism with a global reach in the West.
Observing the discourse and society in London, one could dare state that the entire Brexit saga is a struggle of Londons of the world with Salzburgs of the world. Its forward looking vision vs looking back. A vision where people are bonded by ideas and ideals, rather than ethnic superficialities and arbitrary state borders.
Of course not everything that London manifests is positive, however, it is certainly a better option, than the one which envisions the world as a better place when its guiding principles are more relatable to the ethos of Mein Kampf which is masked today with a term like national sovereignty.
With the surge of the regressive nationalist forces in Europe, London manifests a practical example where the world can co-exist and function. Let’s not be naive and only think that the reason London functions is because of its residents which come from all corners of the world and thus must come up with a practical intellectual framework in order to sustain a peaceful co-existence. Another major reason London functions as a cosmopolitan ecosystem, is because Western ruling elites, fully realize that the London model is the only successful marketing tool to maintain the global reach of the West.
The year 2018 is drastically different from the 1930s or even 1960s, as put to the author of this post by one Muslim scholar in London – contemporary form of dominance does not put other cultures down, it subordinates and dominates them by “praising” them, the movies which push the Western secular narrative are made with Eastern themes with its indigenous actors pushing the external narrative.
The cosmopolitan vibe of London manifests a potential of how Europe might prevent shooting itself in the foot by bringing nationalism to the reigns of power, the toxic ideology which gave humanity two world wars. The chances of this success are almost 50/50 due to intellectual and practical inconsistencies of contemporary Liberalism which London aims to manifest.
At the moment the London model is working, but it is being gradually sidelined by the rising right-wing agenda. The solution to preventing the collapse of the London model is admitting its technical and certain intellectual inconsistencies which can be fine tuned within the cosmopolitan framework. The anti-orientalists of the world must be interested in this phenomenon, as the alternative to London on the old continent is a far darker option.