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The poverty of liberalism

The individualism and universalism of western political elites are on a collision course with the popular desire for moorings in time and place. The nation state cannot be replaced by global norms

By E K   June 2007

A world beyond politics: a defense of the nation-state, by Pierre Manent (Princeton, £22.95)

Most modern liberals take it for granted that progress means transcending the nation state. In his new book, Pierre Manent tries to understand today’s impatient cosmopolitanism in the light of western political philosophy. Along the way, he elaborates a full-bodied cultural criticism of what Daniel Bell termed the “antinomian” ethos of modern man: our unwillingness to accept limits on our freedom to remake our authentic, absolute self. In the same way as cultural traditions mediate and constrain the self, the nation state frustrates our desire to…

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