Reviewer: AMY E. ECKERT
(Metropolitan State College of Denver)
Luis Cabrera's Political Theory of Global Justice makes a useful contribution to the growing literature on cosmopolitanism because of its focus on institutions. Many recent explorations of cosmopolitan justice have dealt primarily or solely with universally applicable principles. While Cabrera does spend some time on the arguments against and in favour of a cosmopolitan order, his focus is on institutions. Those who have proposed institutional restructuring, notably Thomas Pogge and Andrew Kuper, have remained in a minority. Cabrera argues that the implementation of universally applicable principles, notably the right of each person to live a decent life, requires some political restructuring. Like Pogge and Kuper, Cabrera also proposes a dilution of sovereignty.
Against the Westphalian system Cabrera offers a globally integrated alternative. This system of integration would include democratic institutions above the state, like a European Union (EU) composed of individuals rather than states, alongside partially sovereign states and sub-state communities. In addition, Cabrera envisions cross-cutting institutions that fulfil issue-specific purposes. The combination of these two types of structures makes Cabrera's institutional cosmopolitan approach unique.
In addition to spelling out an ideal set of institutions, Cabrera also proposes a roadmap about getting from here to there. In effect, if the functionalist analysis of EU integration is correct, global economic integration will likely lead us to some form of political integration on the global scale. The point Cabrera makes is that this political integration should take a shape that mitigates differences in the opportunities available to individuals.
Because Cabrera focuses on institutions, rather than principles, this book is probably not a good starting point for those new to cosmopolitanism. Nevertheless, this book is a valuable contribution to the field. In addition, Cabrera's background as a journalist is evident and his writing style makes the book a pleasant, as well as informative, read.
From back cover of 2006 Paperback edition:
Luis Cabrera has the courage to state a truth long shrouded in denial. If we are serious about treating persons with equal respect, we must work toward the creation of a democratic world government...He responds skilfully to numerous objections, and develops a humane, reasonable, and realistic program of institutional reform. This is a comprehensively researched, boldly original, and powerfully persuasive book that no student of global justice can afford to miss.
Jamie Mayerfeld, University of Washington, USA
I am very much impressed with Luis Cabrera's new book, Political Theory of Global Justice ...Cabrera's work is currently gaining the attention of leading thinkers in the Global Justice area...I suspect many readers will want to track it down.
Gillian Brock, University of Auckland, New Zealand
Cabrera has written an innovative study of a topic of growing interest in university settings... There are very few books that address these themes with comparable knowledge, clarity, and sophistication. It will be a real contribution to the possibilities of spreading awareness about these issues...
Richard Falk, UC Santa Barbara, USA
Cabrera's book offers two valuable contributions to [the study of global politics]. First, it articulates a substantive position on global justice that needs to be articulated...It helps critics and sympathizers alike to orient their thinking around the moral demands of cosmopolitanism. Second, Cabrera reviews the most important views on global justice fairly and above all accessibly. This makes the book an ideal teaching tool.
Mika LaVaque-Manty, University of Michigan, USA
Cabrera's book represents an important position in the literature on Global Justice, in part because of his unflinching adoption of a strong institutional cosmopolitan position. It is very accessible, both because it is clear and well written, and because it draws on the major theorists and writings in the field.
J. Donald Moon, Wesleyan University, USA
[Cabrera's book] provides an excellent account of the major intellectual positions in play in current debates, and contributes its own provocative and thoughtful voice to this conversation.
Patrick Neal, University of Vermont, USA