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Presented at the International Forum on Democracy and Reform Through International Development at Virginia State University.


The nation-state—as opposed to its rivals—offers an opportunity to reconcile the old dilemma of unity vs. diversity. This interplay of individuals, this synergy of forces, this weaving of one fabric out of many threads, has given the West its vitality and cohesion. But Pierre Manent warns that the West risks forfeiting its advantage through the erosion of its political forms, institutions, and families – through globalization and the rationalization of its own liberal values:

[C]ommerce, right, morality: these are the three systems, the three empires that promise exit from the political. Each in its own form: commerce, according to the realism, the prosaic character of interests rightly understood; right, according to the intellectual coherence of a network of rights rigorously deduced from individual autonomy; and finally, morality, according to the sublime aim of pure human dignity to which one is joined by the purely spiritual sentiment of respect.

In other words, political discussion yields to managerial techniques—rule by mandarins who are not answerable to the political process.