If we are to believe the optimistic picture put forward by the theorists of ‘reflexive modernization’ and the politicians of the ‘third way’, notwithstanding some rearguard resistance to progress, the basic trend nowadays is towards a unified and pacified world. However, this is far from being the case and their post-political vision has increasingly been contradicted from many quarters. To be sure, in recent decades the frontiers between left and right have become increasingly blurred. But instead of creating the conditions for a more mature democracy, what we have witnessed in many Western societies is a loss of legitimacy of democratic institutions. Moreover, as far as international politics is concerned, the end of the bipolar world order has led not to a more harmonious system but to the explosion of a multiplicity of new antagonisms. Even before the dramatic events of 11 September 2001 and the ‘war on terrorism’ that they unleashed, it was already clear that antagonisms, far from having disappeared, were manifesting themselves in new forms in both national and international contexts.