The Banality of Virtue

There is a temptation — how could there not be? — to present the success or failure of societies in the grandest of terms, as evidence for the rightness or wrongness of this or that ideology or worldview. But whether or not our social world is likely to implode is more often than not determined by small acts between individuals. ...

Yet what remains crucial is the commitment to public institutions. That commitment matters not simply because it is a way to channel passions, but also because social practices are often contingent on institutional faith. ...

’[B]elievers in liberal freedom,’ he observes, ‘should worry not whether their regime can prevail in competition with authoritarian ones, but whether they can prevail against their own forms of institutional entropy: elite capture, corruption, and inequality.’ Our societies are, in a peculiar way, both stronger and weaker than we typically suppose.
— Madhav Khosla, reviewing Michael Ignatieff