Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Humanitarian Democracy and the Postpolitical Temptation

Humanitarian Democracy and the Postpolitical Temptation

Addressing the controversial question of the meaning and future of the Western world is a daunting challenge, one that demands considerable knowledge and discernment on the historical, political, philosophical, and spiritual planes. But this question is far too fundamental to be left to specialists or addressed from the narrow perspective of policy analysis. Every citizen in the democratic West is obliged to reflect on the meaning of the Western inheritance and on the growing challenges to its integrity. The Western scholar must begin with the concerns of the informed and morally serious citizen and statesman. In his introduction to Democracy in America, Tocqueville famously wrote that he aimed ‘‘to see, not differently, but further than the parties.’’ To see further than the daily news and beyond the noise of partisans is a demanding task, and this essay on our Western discontents is guided by an appreciation of the wisdom and difficulty of Tocqueville’s injunction.

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