This active support in favor of laws restricting political freedoms stands in contrast of his defense of freedoms in Democracy in America. According to Tocqueville, he favored order as "the sine qua non for the conduct of serious politics. Against this image of Tocqueville, biographer Joseph Epstein has concluded: "Tocqueville could never bring himself to serve a man he considered a usurper and despot.
He fought as best he could for the political liberty in which he so ardently believed—had given it, in all, thirteen years of his life [ He would spend the days remaining to him fighting the same fight, but conducting it now from libraries, archives, and his own desk". A longtime sufferer from bouts of tuberculosis , Tocqueville would eventually succumb to the disease on 16 April and was buried in the Tocqueville cemetery in Normandy. Tocqueville's professed religion was Roman Catholicism.
In Democracy in America , published in , Tocqueville wrote of the New World and its burgeoning democratic order. Observing from the perspective of a detached social scientist, Tocqueville wrote of his travels through the United States in the early 19th century when the Market Revolution , Western expansion and Jacksonian democracy were radically transforming the fabric of American life.
According to Joshua Kaplan, one purpose of writing Democracy in America was to help the people of France get a better understanding of their position between a fading aristocratic order and an emerging democratic order and to help them sort out the confusion. Tocqueville was an ardent supporter of liberty. He wrote of "Political Consequences of the Social State of the Anglo-Americans" by saying: "But one also finds in the human heart a depraved taste for equality, which impels the weak to want to bring the strong down to their level, and which reduces men to preferring equality in servitude to inequality in freedom".
The above is often misquoted as a slavery quote because of previous translations of the French text. The most recent translation from Arthur Goldhammer in translates the meaning to be as stated above. Examples of misquoted sources are numerous on the internet,  but the text does not contain the words "Americans were so enamored by equality" anywhere. His view on government reflects his belief in liberty and the need for individuals to be able to act freely while respecting others' rights.
Of centralized government, he wrote that it "excels in preventing, not doing".
Online Library of Liberty
Tocqueville continues to comment on equality by saying: "Furthermore, when citizens are all almost equal, it becomes difficult for them to defend their independence against the aggressions of power. As none of them is strong enough to fight alone with advantage, the only guarantee of liberty is for everyone to combine forces. But such a combination is not always in evidence". Tocqueville explicitly cites inequality as being incentive for the poor to become rich and notes that it is not often that two generations within a family maintain success and that it is inheritance laws that split and eventually break apart someone's estate that cause a constant cycle of churn between the poor and the rich, thereby over generations making the poor rich and the rich poor.
He cites protective laws in France at the time that protected an estate from being split apart among heirs, thereby preserving wealth and preventing a churn of wealth such as was perceived by him in within the United States. Tocqueville's main purpose was to analyze the functioning of political society and various forms of political associations, although he brought some reflections on civil society too and relations between political and civil society.
For Tocqueville, as for Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Karl Marx , civil society was a sphere of private entrepreneurship and civilian affairs regulated by civil code. According to political scientist Joshua Kaplan, Tocqueville did not originate the concept of individualism, instead he changed its meaning and saw it as a "calm and considered feeling which deposes each citizen to isolate himself from the mass of his fellows and to withdraw into the circle of family and friends [ When individualism was a positive force and prompted people to work together for common purposes and seen as "self-interest properly understood", then it helped to counterbalance the danger of the tyranny of the majority since people could "take control over their own lives" without government aid.
Others such as the Catholic writer Daniel Schwindt disagree with Kaplan's interpretation, arguing instead that Tocqueville saw individualism as just another form of egotism and not an improvement over it. Egoism springs from a blind instinct; individualism from wrong-headed thinking rather than from depraved feelings. It originates as much from defects of intelligence as from the mistakes of the heart. Egoism blights the seeds of every virtue; individualism at first dries up only the source of public virtue. In the longer term it attacks and destroys all the others and will finally merge with egoism.
Tocqueville warned that modern democracy may be adept at inventing new forms of tyranny because radical equality could lead to the materialism of an expanding bourgeoisie and to the selfishness of individualism. In contrast, a despotism under a democracy could see "a multitude of men", uniformly alike, equal, "constantly circling for petty pleasures", unaware of fellow citizens and subject to the will of a powerful state which exerted an "immense protective power".
Tocqueville's penetrating analysis sought to understand the peculiar nature of American political life. In describing the American, he agreed with thinkers such as Aristotle and Montesquieu that the balance of property determined the balance of political power, but his conclusions after that differed radically from those of his predecessors. Tocqueville tried to understand why the United States was so different from Europe in the last throes of aristocracy.
In contrast to the aristocratic ethic, the United States was a society where hard work and money-making was the dominant ethic, where the common man enjoyed a level of dignity which was unprecedented, where commoners never deferred to elites and where what he described as crass individualism and market capitalism had taken root to an extraordinary degree. Tocqueville writes: "Among a democratic people, where there is no hereditary wealth, every man works to earn a living.
Legislatures abolished primogeniture and entails , resulting in more widely distributed land holdings. This was a contrast to the general aristocratic pattern in which only the eldest child, usually a man, inherited the estate, which had the effect of keeping large estates intact from generation to generation. In contrast, landed elites in the United States were less likely to pass on fortunes to a single child by the action of primogeniture , which meant that as time went by large estates became broken up within a few generations which in turn made the children more equal overall.
As Tocqueville understood it, this rapidly democratizing society had a population devoted to "middling" values which wanted to amass through hard work vast fortunes.
In Tocqueville's mind, this explained why the United States was so different from Europe. In Europe, he claimed, nobody cared about making money. The lower classes had no hope of gaining more than minimal wealth while the upper classes found it crass, vulgar and unbecoming of their sort to care about something as unseemly as money and many were virtually guaranteed wealth and took it for granted. At the same time in the United States, workers would see people fashioned in exquisite attire and merely proclaim that through hard work they too would soon possess the fortune necessary to enjoy such luxuries.
Despite maintaining that the balance of property determined the balance of power, Tocqueville argued that as the United States showed, equitable property holdings did not ensure the rule of the best men. In fact, it did quite the opposite as the widespread, relatively equitable property ownership which distinguished the United States and determined its mores and values also explained why the United States masses held elites in such contempt.
Beyond the eradication of old-world aristocracy, ordinary Americans also refused to defer to those possessing, as Tocqueville put it, superior talent and intelligence and these natural elites could not enjoy much share in political power as a result.
- A century after Fascism’s birth in Italy, authoritarians are once again on the rise.
- Free Fantasy Books for Kindle - Freebooksy - Free Kindle Books?
- Online Library of Liberty.
Ordinary Americans enjoyed too much power and claimed too great a voice in the public sphere to defer to intellectual superiors. This culture promoted a relatively pronounced equality, Tocqueville argued, but the same mores and opinions that ensured such equality also promoted mediocrity. Those who possessed true virtue and talent were left with limited choices.
Tocqueville said that those with the most education and intelligence were left with two choices. They could join limited intellectual circles to explore the weighty and complex problems facing society, or they could use their superior talents to amass vast fortunes in the private sector.
Volume Issue 1 | The American Historical Review | Oxford Academic
He wrote that he did not know of any country where there was "less independence of mind, and true freedom of discussion, than in America". Tocqueville blamed the omnipotence of majority rule as a chief factor in stifling thinking: "The majority has enclosed thought within a formidable fence. A writer is free inside that area, but woe to the man who goes beyond it, not that he stands in fear of an inquisition, but he must face all kinds of unpleasantness in every day persecution. A career in politics is closed to him for he has offended the only power that holds the keys". Uniquely positioned at a crossroads in American history, Tocqueville's Democracy in America attempted to capture the essence of American culture and values.
Though a supporter of colonialism, Tocqueville could clearly perceive the evils that black people and natives had been subjected to in the United States. Tocqueville devoted the last chapter of the first volume of Democracy in America to the question while his travel companion Gustave de Beaumont wholly focused on slavery and its fallouts for the American nation in Marie or Slavery in America. Tocqueville notes among the American races:.
The first who attracts the eye, the first in enlightenment, in power and in happiness, is the white man, the European, man par excellence; below him appear the Negro and the Indian.
https://knotininin.ml These two unfortunate races have neither birth, nor face, nor language, nor mores in common; only their misfortunes look alike. Both occupy an equally inferior position in the country that they inhabit; both experience the effects of tyranny; and if their miseries are different, they can accuse the same author for them. Tocqueville contrasted the settlers of Virginia with the middle class, religious Puritans who founded New England and analyzed the debasing influence of slavery:.
The men sent to Virginia were seekers of gold, adventurers without resources and without character, whose turbulent and restless spirit endangered the infant colony. No lofty views, no spiritual conception presided over the foundation of these new settlements. The colony was scarcely established when slavery was introduced; this was the capital fact which was to exercise an immense influence on the character, the laws and the whole future of the South. Slavery [ It enervates the powers of the mind and benumbs the activity of man. On this same English foundation there developed in the North very different characteristics.
Tocqueville concluded that return of the Negro population to Africa could not resolve the problem as he writes at the end of Democracy in America :. If the colony of Liberia were able to receive thousands of new inhabitants every year, and if the Negroes were in a state to be sent thither with advantage; if the Union were to supply the society with annual subsidies, and to transport the Negroes to Africa in government vessels, it would still be unable to counterpoise the natural increase of population among the blacks; and as it could not remove as many men in a year as are born upon its territory within that time, it could not prevent the growth of the evil which is daily increasing in the states.
The Negro race will never leave those shores of the American continent to which it was brought by the passions and the vices of Europeans; and it will not disappear from the New World as long as it continues to exist. The inhabitants of the United States may retard the calamities which they apprehend, but they cannot now destroy their efficient cause. I do not think it is for me, a foreigner, to indicate to the United States the time, the measures, or the men by whom Slavery shall be abolished. Still, as the persevering enemy of despotism everywhere, and under all its forms, I am pained and astonished by the fact that the freest people in the world is, at the present time, almost the only one among civilized and Christian nations which yet maintains personal servitude; and this while serfdom itself is about disappearing, where it has not already disappeared, from the most degraded nations of Europe.
An old and sincere friend of America, I am uneasy at seeing Slavery retard her progress, tarnish her glory, furnish arms to her detractors, compromise the future career of the Union which is the guaranty of her safety and greatness, and point out beforehand to her, to all her enemies, the spot where they are to strike.
As a man, too, I am moved at the spectacle of man's degradation by man, and I hope to see the day when the law will grant equal civil liberty to all the inhabitants of the same empire, as God accords the freedom of the will, without distinction, to the dwellers upon earth. According to Tocqueville, assimilation of black people would be almost impossible and this was already being demonstrated in the Northern states.
As Tocqueville predicted, formal freedom and equality and segregation would become this population's reality after the Civil War and during Reconstruction as would the bumpy road to true integration of black people. However, assimilation was the best solution for Native Americans, and since they were too proud to assimilate, they would inevitably become extinct. Displacement was another part of America's Indian policy. Both populations were "undemocratic", or without the qualities, intellectual and otherwise needed to live in a democracy.
Tocqueville shared many views on assimilation and segregation of his and the coming epochs, but he opposed Arthur de Gobineau 's theories as found in The Inequality of Human Races — In his Democracy in America , Tocqueville also forecast the preeminence of the United States and Russia as the two main global powers.
In his book, he stated: "There are now two great nations in the world, which starting from different points, seem to be advancing toward the same goal: the Russians and the Anglo-Americans. Tocqueville believed that the American jury system was particularly important in educating citizens in self-government and rule of law. If I liked to be in the heads of kids for that long I would be reading the Young Adult genre.