Jonathan Metzger has published the, so far most challenging review of ‘The Poverty of Territorialism’ ( No, he is not in the least unfair. In fact he is full of praise to a point which makes me blush. I am particularly grateful that he commends – not as the only one – my interweaving anecdotes of personal experiences and observations with reflections as helpful.

As to the serious business, Jonathan takes me up on my, for the sake of brevity sometimes cavalier use of the work of others. A fair point! I wanted to write a short book and may have cut some corners. Also, I commit the sin – I say this in my own terms – of jumping from observing that the world does not lend itself to being parcelled out into territories to saying, not only that one should not even try, but that, in ‘cutting the cake’ of statehood, planners should actively challenge bordered territories. Invoking the philosopher David Hume on the ‘is-ought’ problem, Jonathan points out that one does not follow from the other. It is decades since I have engaged with such issues, most notable Popper’s philosophy of science (in Faludi 1986). One of Popper’s German followers, Hans Albert has his own take on the ‘is-ought’ problem: ‘Sollen impliziert Können’ (Ought Implies Can). The opposite he posits is also the case: ‘Nicht-Können impliziert Nicht-Sollen. (In Kiesewetter, Zenz, eds. 2002, p.63) Which to me suggests that, if carving up the world into self-contained – and self-governing – territories is a vain effort, we should give up trying – and actively confront whoever continues to try.

But, if we reject territorialism and cast doubt also on the production of democratic legitimacy by way of organising elections per territory, what is the alternative? As Jonathan fairly states, I have no conclusive answers, nor it seems is there one ready-made available.

Finally, how about the the ‘elephant in the book’ (Jonathan’s term) – capitalism? My not talking about it may be due to my ‘liberal cosmopolitanism’. Am I, then, dangerously close to helping and abetting ‘neo-liberalism’? Once again, his invoking at this point Hardt and Negri (2000) hailed as the heirs apparent of Karls Marx is only fair: I myself have referred to them. But I have disclaimed any ambition or, indeed, ability of saying anything about their work as the Communist Manifesto of our times. If that is a shortcoming, so be it. I have my work cut out challenging territorialism.

But let me say this: framing democracy in a particular way, territorialism is no check on capitalism. Citizenship can be bought – is being bought. Parties can be bought – are being bought. Politicians (some of them anyhow) can be bought – are being bought. And even the honest ones have to play to the gallery of voters vulnerable to being bought themselves. In fact, whole territorial states, small – and even large ones it seems – can fall prey to a rogue capitalist. No, if you want to do something about international capitalism, you must confront it, not within the confines of the territorial state but in the networks where it blossoms.


Albert, H. (2nd edition 1975) Konstruktion und Kritik: Aufsätze zur Philosophie des Kritischen Rationalismus, Hoffman und Campe, Hamburg.

Faludi, A. (1986) Critical Rationalism and Planning Methodology, Pion, London.

Hardt, M. & Negri, A. (2000). Empire, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass.

Kiesewetter, H., Lenz, H. (eds.) (2002) Karl Popper’s Beiträge zur Ethik, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen.

Please follow and like us: