Grand political ideals seemed in the later stages of the 20th century to have been replaced by a pragmatic political culture of effective management of the economy. Now it seems idealism is back in full cry. Whether in the form of tribal nationalism, radical socialism, or environmental activism, the goals and ideals of politics are once again centre stage.  

Is idealism central and necessary to politics? Should we reject this return to idealism as a vehicle for dangerous fantasies, and a warning sign of future turmoil, conflict and human misery? Or should we see the shift back to idealism as a sign of hope and a necessary antidote to a bland politics that served no one other than the ruling elite? 

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