Saturday, February 02, 2008

Twilight of the Nation-State?

The European Union’s grand project rests on the belief that nationalism is passé, indeed pernicious. Fascism’s mystic nationalism proved, on this view, that the nation-state impedes the spread of human rights, tolerance, and the rational adjudication of disputes — all essential to global peace. The nation-state should therefore give way to organizations like the E.U.: a transnational, secular institution that can bring about peace and prosperity by practicing what French intellectual Chantal Delsol calls “techno-politics” — a rational approach superior to the atavistic passions and superstitions that fired nationalism. But as the political philosopher Pierre Manent argues in a provocative new book, the European project, at least in its current form, represents a serious threat to democratic freedom. “If our nation suddenly disappeared and its bonds were dispersed,” Manent observes, “each of us immediately would become a stranger, a monster, to himself.”

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