We live in the grip of a great illusion about politics, Pierre Manent argues in A World beyond Politics? It's the illusion that we would be better off without politics--at least national politics, and perhaps all politics. It is a fantasy that if democratic values could somehow detach themselves from their traditional national context, we could enter a world of pure democracy, where human society would be ruled solely according to law and morality. Borders would dissolve in unconditional internationalism and nations would collapse into supranational organizations such as the European Union. Free of the limits and sins of politics, we could finally attain the true life. In contrast to these beliefs, which are especially widespread in Europe, Manent reasons that the political order is the key to the human order. Human life, in order to have force and meaning, must be concentrated in a particular political community, in which decisions are made through collective, creative debate. The best such community for democratic life, he argues, is still the nation-state.
Following the example of nineteenth-century political philosophers such as Alexis de Tocqueville and John Stuart Mill, Manent first describes a few essential features of democracy and the nation-state, and then shows how these characteristics illuminate many aspects of our present political circumstances. He ends by arguing that both democracy and the nation-state are under threat--from apolitical tendencies such as the cult of international commerce and attempts to replace democratic decisions with judicial procedures.
Pierre Manent teaches political philosophy at L'Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Science Sociales in Paris. His books include An Intellectual History of Liberalism and The City of Man (both Princeton).
Preface to the American Edition vii INTRODUCTION 1 CHAPTER 1: The Organization of Separations 10 CHAPTER 2: The Theologico-Political Vector 21 CHAPTER 3: The Movement of Equality 32 CHAPTER 4: The Question of Political Forms 42 CHAPTER 5: The Nation and the Work of Democracy 51 CHAPTER 6: Europe and the Future of the Nation 60 CHAPTER 7: The Wars of the Twentieth Century 70 CHAPTER 8: The Forces of Trade 86 CHAPTER 9: Declaring the Rights of Man 98 CHAPTER 10: Becoming an Individual 110 CHAPTER 11: The Religion of Humanity 121 CHAPTER 12: The Body and the Political Order 130 CHAPTER 13: Sexual Division and Democracy 141 CHAPTER 14: The Question of Communism 151 CHAPTER 15: Is There a Nazi Mystery? 161 CHAPTER 16: The Empire of Law 171 CHAPTER 17: The Empire of Morality 186 CHAPTER 18: The Human Political Condition and the Unity of the Human Race 197 NOTES 207 INDEX 215