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  1. #1
    Sniffles
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    Default A World beyond Politics? A Defense of the Nation-State

    Haven't read through this book entirely, but it's still interesting nevertheless. Manent is probably one of the great political thinkers alive today.

    A World beyond Politics?
    A Defense of the Nation-State
    Pierre Manent
    Translated by Marc LePain

    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 argues 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'…cole des Hautes …tudes en Science Sociales in Paris. His books include An Intellectual History of Liberalism and The City of Man (both Princeton).

    Manent, P.; LePain, M.A., trans.: A World beyond Politics? A Defense of the Nation-State.

    We clearly see this notion of trenscending politics at play here in America with the rhetoric of Barrack Obama. Not only does he and his followers claim that he's somehow above petty political disputes, but Obama's whole foreign policy is based around the notion of that America's interests are linked to the interests of everybody else around the world.

    The problem with this notion is that it's based upon a rather abstract concepts and understandings of international relations, which essentially means nations and communities have little say in how to actually govern themselves.

    Self-government is a vital aspect of democracy in any true sense of the word. It's built upon the notion that democracy moves from the grassroots up, and cannot be imposed from the top down.

    I disagree with Manent that the nation-state is the best form for maintaining democracy. If anything, the logic of supranational entities like the European Union, NAFTA, UN, etc is just a natural continuation of the notion of nationalism. The nation-state was largely created through the suppression of the traditional autonomy of local communities.

    Oh well, that's just my rambling two cents for now.

  2. #2
    / booyalab's Avatar
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    He seems to have a pretty narrow definition of politics.
    I don't wanna!

  3. #3
    Sniffles
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    Quote Originally Posted by booyalab View Post
    He seems to have a pretty narrow definition of politics.

    What do you mean?

  4. #4
    Minister of Propagandhi ajblaise's Avatar
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    I'm not so sure any of the pro-internationalization people really believe politics wouldn't exist if they had their way. Politics will always exist, even if anarchy was installed, politics would creep in right away. Some kind of international system would require a great deal of politics.

    The closest popular group that has an idealistic belief that we don't need politics, or that we hardly need politics, are libertarians, not the globalization people.

  5. #5
    Sniffles
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    Quote Originally Posted by ajblaise View Post
    I'm not so sure any of the pro-internationalization people really believe politics wouldn't exist if they had their way. Politics will always exist, even if anarchy was installed, politics would creep in right away. Some kind of international system would require a great deal of politics.
    That's the reality yes. But the rhetoric of the pro-Globalist/Internationalism group is filled with apolitical themes. I already gave the example of Obama's campaign. The problem is that so many people actually believe this. Yet scratch the surface, it's just politics as usual - but with some very dangerous consequences if not properly dealt with.

    The closest popular group that has an idealist belief that we don't need politics, or we hardly need politics, are libertarians, not the globalization people.
    I disagree. Just listen to Imagine.

  6. #6
    Minister of Propagandhi ajblaise's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peguy View Post
    I disagree. Just listen to Imagine.
    Communism and libertarianism are similar in how idealist they are, but I wouldn't really include all-out communism as a "popular" contemporary group.

    But at least communism has existed on the small-scale, libertarianism has yet to exist anywhere as far as I know.

  7. #7
    Sniffles
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    Quote Originally Posted by ajblaise View Post
    Communism and libertarianism are similar in how idealist they are, but I wouldn't really include all-out communism as a "popular" contemporary group.
    I agree, even though we're not talking about "communism" per se, but rather an overly abstract form of Liberalism. It's mostly popular among cosmopolitan elites who have no real connection to the common peoples of the societies they derive from. Christopher Lasch famously referred to this as "the revolt of the elites".

    But at least communism has existed on the small-scale, libertarianism has yet to exist anywhere as far as I know.
    Well the paradox of libetarianism is that its very nature as an ideology leads to statism - largely due to the basic premise of radical individualism in its teachings.

    I have some libetarian sympathies, but overall my major concern is for self-government of actual concrete communities. It is within that setting that personal liberty can best be guranteed, or at the very least the violations of such can be significantly limited.

  8. #8
    Order Now! pure_mercury's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ajblaise View Post
    Communism and libertarianism are similar in how idealist they are, but I wouldn't really include all-out communism as a "popular" contemporary group.

    But at least communism has existed on the small-scale, libertarianism has yet to exist anywhere as far as I know.
    Pennsylvania was basically an anarcho-capitalist agrarian society in the 1680s and 1690s, and the United States post-Civil War through 1890 or so was very libertarian in a lot of ways (except for the former Confederate states, which were going through Reconstruction for much of the period). I don't think it's a coincidence that that period was one of tremendous growth and prosperity for our country, albeit one with a few major recessions, as well. David Friedman maintains that medieval Iceland for many centuries had elements of an anarcho-capitalist society, although they ostensibly had a parliament (the Althing) and a single legal system. Hong Kong is also very libertarian economically.
    Who wants to try a bottle of merc's "Extroversion Olive Oil?"

  9. #9
    Minister of Propagandhi ajblaise's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pure_mercury View Post
    Pennsylvania was basically an anarcho-capitalist agrarian society in the 1680s and 1690s, and the United States post-Civil War through 1890 or so was very libertarian in a lot of ways (except for the former Confederate states, which were going through Reconstruction for much of the period). I don't think it's a coincidence that that period was one of tremendous growth and prosperity for our country, albeit one with a few major recessions, as well. David Friedman maintains that medieval Iceland for many centuries had elements of an anarcho-capitalist society, although they ostensibly had a parliament (the Althing) and a single legal system. Hong Kong is also very libertarian economically.
    Was that Pennsylvania agrarian society run off the back of slaves? Doesn't Hong Kong has some of the strongest anti-drug laws right?

    Can we really point to any society and say it's libertarian? Sure lots of society past and present have libertarian elements.

  10. #10
    Sniffles
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    Interesting discussion people. I originally feared people here wouldn't bother reading or discussing this topic. Keep it up!

    Quote Originally Posted by ajblaise View Post
    Was that Pennsylvania agrarian society run off the back of slaves?
    No to any great extent that I'm aware of, certainly not on the scale seen in the South.

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