In The Shadow Of De Tocqueville

Any person who has studied Political Science will know the name of De Tocqueville……you would have studied his major work, Democracy In America–volume 1 and 2……..

Depending on where you studied….this work was a major part of the course on PoliSci…..especially in Political History.

A French sociologist and political theorist Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) traveled to the United States in 1831 to study its prisons and returned with a wealth of broader observations that he codified in “Democracy in America” (1835), one of the most influential books of the 19th century. With its trenchant observations on equality and individualism, Tocqueville’s work remains a valuable explanation of America to Europeans and of Americans to themselves.

As “Democracy in America” revealed, Tocqueville believed that equality was the great political and social idea of his era, and he thought that the United States offered the most advanced example of equality in action. He admired American individualism but warned that a society of individuals can easily become atomized and paradoxically uniform when “every citizen, being assimilated to all the rest, is lost in the crowd.” He felt that a society of individuals lacked the intermediate social structures—such as those provided by traditional hierarchies—to mediate relations with the state. The result could be a democratic “tyranny of the majority” in which individual rights were compromised.

Tocqueville was impressed by much of what he saw in American life, admiring the stability of its economy and wondering at the popularity of its churches. He also noted the irony of the freedom-loving nation’s mistreatment of Native Americans and its embrace of slavery.

If you have NO idea who this person is or the book to which I refer then maybe you should read this democratic classic…..you could learn alot about early American nation.

Source: Democracy in America: TOC

I bring this man and work up because of something I read in the Unz Review….a traditionally Libertarian point of view……

Re-reading Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America (1835) can be a sobering experience. The first time I delved into it was back in 1971, when I was assistant to conservative writer and thinker, Dr. Russell Kirk. I had read bits of de Tocqueville as an undergraduate, but had not managed to read the entire Democracy in America until I had more leisure time working with Kirk. And now, refreshing my memory, so much of what the great French observer of American life wrote seems so current.

Source: Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy, and the End of America? – The Unz Review

In closing a little something for the women folk…..and it is from De Tocqueville….

Alexis de Tocqueville came to America in 1831 to study its prisons, but ended up documenting nearly every facet of American life. With journalistic curiosity, the French aristocrat scrutinized America’s religion and government, its society and industry. He wanted to know what allowed the United States to surpass Europe as the world’s political and economic superpower.

His conclusion? Women.

The women Tocqueville saw were not CEOs or celebrities, politicians or professional athletes. They were largely confined to the home: cleaning, cooking, taking care of children. But to the young political historian, no position seemed more important. “There have never been free societies without morals, and…it is the woman that molds the morals,” he wrote. Tocqueville saw American women as the keystone of the family, the ones who held everyone else together.

Source: Tocqueville: Women Made America Great | The American Conservative

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6 thoughts on “In The Shadow Of De Tocqueville

  1. I’ve had it on my shelf a while (heard about it most of my school life), but nobody I know has ever read it. I’m looking at this doorstop on my shelf and will eventually get to it…but nice to know someone’s actually read it out there. I’ll be looking forward to giving it a shot.

      1. The first books I ever bought with my own paycheck were from the era of the American Revolution: “Voices of 1776” by Richard Wheeler, “The Federalist Papers” and “The Anti-Federalist Papers & the Constitutional Convention Debates.” I wanted to “get it,” I suppose (and I still have those worn-out books on my shelf)

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