Monday, July 21, 2008

Pierre Manent and Direct Democracy

Pierre Manent is a pretty important figure in France. Wikipedia describes him as "a key figure of the contemporary French political philosophy [whose] work has helped the rediscovery of the French Liberal tradition." As such, this interview is fascinating:

"With the European Union we seem to have reached an ulterior stage of democracy, liberated from its old glittering finery, mutated into pure governance, and not connected to any people, to any territory, to any particular mores. With the May 29, 2005 referendum, we were able to see the fracture between official political action and the real feelings of European citizens, who have the feeling that they are being carried away in a movement that no one can control."


"True, but the American system, because it is still truly national and representative, is capable of correcting, however brutally, its direction. If Americans vote for President Bush and the Republican Party it is because, rightly or wrongly, they believe those candidates are better able than the Democrats to confront the challenges of the times. Not that the United States enjoys moral and social health in every test it is put to, but their political system reacts to the fluctuations of American opinion and to the vision, accurate or erroneous, that Americans have of what is good for the United States."


"The problem in Europe, particularly in France, is that our politics, though obviously bad, are not correctible, whatever the orientation of the electorate. Even though opinion is hostile to the indefinite extension of the European Union, even though the citizens of two founding countries voted against the constitutional treaty, everything proceeds as before and it is being suggested that the treaty will slip in through the window."

The whole interview is interesting but these sections, in particular, illustrate that some influential old European conservatives share the concern common among British conservatives; that popular democracy will die by drowning in a supranational and bureaucratic mush.

Cross-posted from CentreRight.Com.

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