I'm reading the Blank Slate by Steven Pinker, and have just got to the section on Politics. Pinker distinguishes between the Utopian Vision, which assumes man is perfectible on earth, if his environment can be improved, and the Tragic Vision, which assumes that Human Nature is complex, and you need to arrange society with this in mind.
This reminds me of a discussion David W and I had last year on the non-zero blog, where I said 'there are those who see in the seedier side of the web the darkness of their own souls, for we are all fallen creatures, and the line between good and evil runs through all our hearts.'
I see from Theodore Dalrymple's essay on Macbeth, which expresses the Tragic Vision clearly, that I was unconsciously quoting Solzhenitsyn, before I quoted Nietzsche & Wilde too.
If we are to construct new public selves online, and move to an Emergent Democracy, we need to keep both these visions in mind, and ensure that the frameworks we work within are suffused with the checks and balances that the Tragic Visionaries brought to the design of the US Constitution, tempering the Utopian view.