Governance in a Disenchanted World
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Governance in a Disenchanted World

The End of Moral Society

Helmut Willke

This book expounds the idea of a disenchanted world composed of nation states and global functional systems. The nation state is losing some of its regulatory prerogatives and, at the same time, extending its legitimacy base in ‘chains of legitimacy’ to transnational institutions. There is neither a global democracy nor a global government. Therefore, establishing alternative forms of legitimacy, accountability and participation in a secular world seem mandatory. Helmut Willke examines the resurgence of moral reasoning in global affairs, pushed by various fundamentalisms, that indicates a real danger of a regression of democracy. The separation of private morals and public policies, the book argues, remains the basis of global aspirations of democracy.
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Chapter 7: Consequences

Helmut Willke


Before proceeding to delineate some consequences of new contexts and exigencies for governance in a disenchanted world, we should pause for a moment and look back. Thus far, the argumentation of this book been set out as follows: ● ● ● ● ● ● National policies are immersed in a tradition of moral reasoning about justice in society, a fair sharing of burdens and benefits of social life between social strata and generations, and the premises of a well-ordered society. This tradition is carried on by ‘sentimental’ notions of the welfare state, but it is challenged and superseded by a secular understanding of democratic ethics. A secular view of society accepts different spheres of justice and thus different models of legitimacy for societal policies. In order to sustain and to improve national policies, new models are less important since an abundance of excellent models is available already. Instead, the crucial point is to build new foundations for the legitimacy of models based on the spirit of a liberal society. The microcases of Chapter 5 show that an over-extended idea of social responsibility is prone to damaging core assets of a modern, liberal society. Social responsibility must be practiced in a decentral and distributed way, using the proven democratic instruments of subsidiarity and federalism. National policies today are core components of operationalizing a specific variety of democracy within a range of contingent but viable alternatives. Therefore, reflections and decisions on models of policy formation must take into account their repercussions for the configuration of democracy (of a...

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