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Almost Prophetic: de Tocqueville and Hayek on Democratic Despotism
The Road to Serfdom/Democracy in America | F.A. Hayek, Alexis de Tocqueville

Posted on 04/03/2010 1:04:08 PM PDT by Thane_Banquo

I have begun reading Hayek's The Road to Serfdom for the first time, and in his foreward I came across a quote from de Tocqueville's Democracy in American, followed by a comment from Hayek. What these two brilliant men wrote is so perfectly correlated with what has happened in America and is happening today that I consider it nearly prophetic.

First, the quote from de Tocqueville:

Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing. For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances: what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?

Thus it every day renders the exercise of the free agency of man less useful and less frequent; it circumscribes the will within a narrower range and gradually robs a man of all the uses of himself. The principle of equality has prepared men for these things; it has predisposed men to endure them and often to look on them as benefits..

After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.

I have always thought that servitude of the regular, quiet, and gentle kind which I have just described might be combined more easily than is commonly believed with some of the outward forms of freedom, and that it might even establish itself under the wing of the sovereignty of the people.

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, "Chapter VI: What Sort of Despotism Democratic Nations Have to Fear."

F.A. Hayek on de Tocqueville's quote:

What Tocqueville did not consider was how long such a government would remain in the hands of benevolent despots when it would be so much more easy for any group of ruffians to keep itself indefinitely in power by disregarding all the traditional decencies of political life.

--F.A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom, Foreword

Thane_Banquo on Hayek's quote:

That's the Chicago Way!


TOPICS: Books/Literature; Chit/Chat; History
KEYWORDS: godsgravesglyphs
What these two men describe is literally happening right before our eyes. First, the slow creep of de Tocqueville's quiet servitude, growing in the U.S. since the New Deal, and now the band of Chicago ruffians who have taken over our government and abandoned even the slightest pretense to the niceties of political discourse.
1 posted on 04/03/2010 1:04:08 PM PDT by Thane_Banquo
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To: Thane_Banquo
Who knew she could write?

(/sophomoric and crass interlude)

2 posted on 04/03/2010 1:12:36 PM PDT by freedumb2003 (Craven spirits wear their master's collars but real men would rather feed the battlefield's vultures)
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To: freedumb2003

Haha! How could I not see that coming?


3 posted on 04/03/2010 1:15:05 PM PDT by Thane_Banquo (Mitt Romney: He's from Harvard, and he's here to help.)
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To: freedumb2003

Who knew she could write?””

Huh? Sorry...I got caught in the headlights.


4 posted on 04/03/2010 1:15:36 PM PDT by jessduntno ( If someone calls me racist, I reply "you are just saying that because I'm white!")
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To: freedumb2003

A magnificent pair of quotes.


5 posted on 04/03/2010 1:16:43 PM PDT by jessduntno ( If someone calls me racist, I reply "you are just saying that because I'm white!")
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To: freedumb2003

That’s OK...we all need “interludes”.

Selma, Selma, Selma...why could you not marry me???


6 posted on 04/03/2010 1:20:17 PM PDT by kjo
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To: Thane_Banquo

My favorite Hayek quote is, “ . . . the most important change which extensive government control produces is a psychological change, an alteration of the character of the people. This means, among other things, that even a strong tradition of political liberty is no safeguard if the danger is precisely that new institutions and policies will gradually undermine and destroy that spirit.”


7 posted on 04/03/2010 1:23:06 PM PDT by Jacquerie (More Central Planning is not the solution to problems caused by Central Planning.)
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To: Thane_Banquo

(/thread drift — fun for sure)

To be fair:

“it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances: what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?”

That:

a) EXACTLY describe the world desired by soros, ayers (and ilk) and their puppet, the TOTUS-reader

b) should scare the biden out of every freedom-loving American.


8 posted on 04/03/2010 1:23:12 PM PDT by freedumb2003 (Craven spirits wear their master's collars but real men would rather feed the battlefield's vultures)
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To: Jacquerie

Love that quote. I don’t have my copy of the Road to Serfdom in front of me so I will paraphrase mine: Without economic freedom there is no political freedom.


9 posted on 04/03/2010 1:40:21 PM PDT by Til I am the last man standing (It's the internet Senators; We can see what you are doing!)
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To: Thane_Banquo
What Tocqueville did not consider was how long such a government would remain in the hands of benevolent despots when it would be so much more easy for any group of ruffians to keep itself indefinitely in power by disregarding all the traditional decencies of political life.

This is the problem with liberalism. It assumes that the enormous mechanisms of governmental power that they wish to set up will remain in the hands of benevolent men. Liberalism regards the free behavior of men with suspicion, but government, as long as there is no religious component to it, gets a pass.

10 posted on 04/03/2010 1:43:07 PM PDT by denydenydeny ("I'm sure this goes against everything you've been taught, but right and wrong do exist"-Dr House)
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To: Thane_Banquo

Don’t forget the comicbook version:

http://mises.org/books/trts/


11 posted on 04/03/2010 1:43:17 PM PDT by Til I am the last man standing (It's the internet Senators; We can see what you are doing!)
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To: Thane_Banquo

‘Bread and Circuses’ is the cancer of democracy, the fatal disease for which there is no cure. Democracy often works beautifully at first. But once a state extends the franchise to every warm body, be he producer or parasite, that day marks the beginning of the end of the state. For when the Plebs discover that they can vote themselves bread and circuses without limit and that the productive members of the body politic cannot stop them, they will do so, until the state bleeds to death, or in its weakened condition the state succumbs to an invader - the barbarians enter Rome.... Mine was a lovely world till the parasites took over.

Robert Heinlein


12 posted on 04/03/2010 1:44:27 PM PDT by Hugin (Remember the first rule of gunfighting...have a gun..-- Col. Jeff Cooper)
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To: Thane_Banquo

Bump for later


13 posted on 04/03/2010 2:10:23 PM PDT by Starboard
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To: Thane_Banquo

De Toqueville is “Brave New World” to Hayek’s “1984”.

* * * * * *

From wiki (comparisons of George Orwell’s “1984” and Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”:

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.” In 1984, Orwell added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we desire will ruin us.

Also Christopher Hitchens on the two books:

We dwell in a present-tense culture that somehow, significantly, decided to employ the telling expression “You’re history” as a choice reprobation or insult, and thus elected to speak forgotten volumes about itself. By that standard, the forbidding dystopia of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four already belongs, both as a text and as a date, with Ur and Mycenae, while the hedonist nihilism of Huxley still beckons toward a painless, amusement-sodden, and stress-free consensus. Orwell’s was a house of horrors. He seemed to strain credulity because he posited a regime that would go to any lengths to own and possess history, to rewrite and construct it, and to inculcate it by means of coercion. Whereas Huxley ... rightly foresaw that any such regime could break but could not bend. In 1988, four years after 1984, the Soviet Union scrapped its official history curriculum and announced that a newly authorized version was somewhere in the works. This was the precise moment when the regime conceded its own extinction. For true blissed-out and vacant servitude, though, you need an otherwise sophisticated society where no serious history is taught.[20]


14 posted on 04/03/2010 2:19:18 PM PDT by parisa
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To: Til I am the last man standing

Hayek could have titled Chapter X, “Why the Worst Get on Top,” with Hussein and Rhambo in mind.


15 posted on 04/03/2010 2:20:12 PM PDT by Jacquerie (More Central Planning is not the solution to problems caused by Central Planning.)
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To: Thane_Banquo

So dead on to what we see know...


16 posted on 04/03/2010 2:21:29 PM PDT by tophat9000 (It ain't about Black... It ain't about White...It's about a Red...Trying to take our rights!)
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To: denydenydeny
will remain in the hands of benevolent men.

But are we eternal children to even allow ourselves to be in the control of even the most benevolent men... that would still create a crippled and stunted populace totally beholden to(and controlled by) their benefactors... a bird in a gilded caged is still caged …life under soft fascism

17 posted on 04/03/2010 2:34:07 PM PDT by tophat9000 (It ain't about Black... It ain't about White...It's about a Red...Trying to take our rights!)
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To: riri

bookmark for tomorrow readin’


18 posted on 04/03/2010 2:35:05 PM PDT by riri (III)
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To: Thane_Banquo

Can libertarianism and conservatism co-exist? What happens when (or more like “if”) the libertarian founded Tea Party movement (now backed by conservatives) win in the upcoming elections and throw the economic socialist bums out? Will the secular/atheist/agnostic libertarians abide by the Christian conservative social policies, or expect the Conservative movement to follow the Libertarian Party’s “If it feels good do it” social platform?

God plays no role in libertarianism, therefore it can’t be successful over a long term basis.


19 posted on 04/03/2010 2:40:34 PM PDT by aSeattleConservative
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To: parisa
comparisons of George Orwell’s “1984” and Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”:

The reality seem to be we have both vision growing in to one... just depend on the perspective one views it

20 posted on 04/03/2010 2:58:33 PM PDT by tophat9000 (It ain't about Black... It ain't about White...It's about a Red...Trying to take our rights!)
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To: tophat9000

bttt


21 posted on 04/03/2010 3:03:05 PM PDT by Matthew James (SPEARHEAD!)
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To: freedumb2003

bumps


22 posted on 04/03/2010 3:24:18 PM PDT by phockthis
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To: tophat9000

True. I presume in a western democracy, it’ll will start one way, the Huxley nightmare way, and as Hayek himself noted in his book, once established, there is nothing that can prevent it from becoming something else, a George Orwell nightmare. All it takes to morph, to “change”, is a power-grabbing, conniving, reptilian, despot. Are we there yet, time will tell.


23 posted on 04/03/2010 3:46:39 PM PDT by parisa
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To: parisa
Devolving from vapid children... to dumb sheep...to near eloi and morlocks?

Not literally feeding on them,...

But a still an parasitic relationship of a ruling clique and cud chewing cattle

Is the average dem voter and there leaders that far from it now?

We see them cannibalize us and the country for fodder to feed “their” herds as we speak

24 posted on 04/03/2010 6:06:52 PM PDT by tophat9000 (It ain't about Black... It ain't about White...It's about a Red...Trying to take our rights!)
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To: Pharmboy

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Thanks Thane_Banquo.

Just adding to the catalog, not sending a general distribution.

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25 posted on 04/04/2010 6:32:55 AM PDT by SunkenCiv ("Fools learn from experience. I prefer to learn from the experience of others." -- Otto von Bismarck)
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To: aSeattleConservative
God plays no role in libertarianism, therefore it can’t be successful over a long term basis.

Well put my Friend, and very profound indeed.

If we are not careful, the left will exploit that weakness of the Teaparty movement and allow us to destroy it from within.

That is why we conservatives need to be careful not to push the Libertarian too far too fast on the social Christian values front, lest we marginalize them. History has proven that it is the Libertarian minded portion of the right that will stay home and not vote if they feel they have been taken advantage of, and the left knows this.
26 posted on 11/18/2010 9:27:00 AM PST by OneVike (Just a Christian waiting to go home.......)
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To: OneVike
That is why we conservatives need to be careful not to push the Libertarian too far too fast on the social Christian values front, lest we marginalize them.

What's to marginalize? Their social platform is even more insane than Democrats. Anyone that follows the "If it feels good do it" Libertarian Party isn't even close to acknowledging the laws of God. While conservatives and Libertarians (note the Big L, as there is little to no difference between what they call Big L and little l L/libertarians) might be joining forces in the Tea Party movement for economic reasons, our social policies are eventually bound to clash.

I'll continue to spread the truth; if Libertarians want to jump on board, great, if not, they too are the enemy of our nation that was founded on the principles of Christianity.

27 posted on 11/18/2010 2:06:12 PM PST by aSeattleConservative
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To: aSeattleConservative

There are as many flavors of libertarians as there are types of conservatives. There are Christian libertarians, objectivist libertarians, constituional libertarians, dopertarians, Kill-the-Fed libertarians, official Libertarians and libertine libertarians to name a few.

As one that has offered critical comment to those espousing that tradition over the years, I can say you might find many you hold common ground with if you are a typical conservative.

The rationalism of an ideologue libertarian is a good part of the seperation and it often is expressed in athesitic rhetoric — but there are pricipled beleivers here that describe themselves as libertarian. Likewise, there are agnostic or other flavors of conservatives that I can likewise find common ground with if their morality falls into the “Enduring Moral Order” class and stays away from situational ethics.


28 posted on 11/18/2010 2:23:44 PM PST by KC Burke
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To: KC Burke
There are as many flavors of libertarians as there are types of conservatives. There are Christian libertarians, objectivist libertarians, constituional libertarians, dopertarians, Kill-the-Fed libertarians, official Libertarians and libertine libertarians to name a few.

I've spent the last few years researching the various types of L/libertarianism, and based on that research, will spend the rest of my life EXPOSING the fraudulent movement.

As one that has offered critical comment to those espousing that tradition over the years, I can say you might find many you hold common ground with if you are a typical conservative.

On social issues, next to none. On economic issues, while on the surface it appears that conservatives and L/libertarians (I'll drop the little l, they're all Big L Libertarians whether they want to admit it or not) might agree on certain things, it's the FOUNDATION of the free market economy where we disagree (something about Ludwig Von Mises being a Humanist makes me feel a bit uneasy).

The rationalism of an ideologue libertarian is a good part of the seperation and it often is expressed in athesitic rhetoric — but there are pricipled beleivers here that describe themselves as libertarian.

I'll stick with the quote from Thomas A. Droleskey in his article entitled "Showing Libertarianisms True Biases:

"Those who embrace libertarianism, in other words, believe that there is no ultimate authority to which men and their civil society must answer other than themselves and the words of their own constitutions and laws. Men are "free," and there should be as few restrictions on "freedom" as possible."
http://www.christorchaos.com/ShowingLibertarianismsTrueBiases.html

29 posted on 11/19/2010 12:24:26 PM PST by aSeattleConservative
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