In the NYT Dwight Garner eloquently sums up the premise of Tony Judt's "Ill Fares the Land"* "a dying man’s sense of a dying idea: the notion that the state can play a significant role in its citizens’ lives without imperiling their liberties." I've read Judt's harrowing accounts of his decline in the NYRB, but - "hideous end-game of the health care debate" notwithstanding - that great notion is turning up here and there: in nudges and the Food Environment Atlas, as recently explained here, and now also in a UK cabinet report called Mindspace: influencing behavior through public policy.
*Ill fares the land, to hast'ning ill a prey,
Where wealth accumulates, and men decay;
Princes and Lords may flourish, or may fade:
A breath can make them, as a breath has made;
but a bold peasantry, their country's pride,
When once destroyed can never be supplied. Oliver Goldsmith