This article discusses whether global politics are the best means for achieving cosmopolitan ends. It distinguishes the cosmopolitan goal of global obligations from the cosmopolitan politics of global governance. Evidence for cosmopolitanism in society and culture is not strong. In global politics states pursue their own material interests rather than cosmopolitan goals. Copenhagen and the financial crisis did not lead to global cosmopolitan politics as might have been hoped. The article argues that it is dangerous to continue to believe in cosmopolitan politics in such a context. Cosmopolitanism is better pursued through a politics that recognises material interests, conflict, is bottom-up and based in what is happening, rather than top-down and optimistic about cosmopolitan attitudes.