Skip to comments.Alexis de Tocqueville: How People Gain Liberty and Lose It (old article)
Posted on 01/22/2013 10:40:51 AM PST by Sir Napsalot
Alexis de Tocqueville was a gentleman-scholar who emerged as one of the worlds great prophets. More than a century and a half ago, when most people were ruled by kings, he declared that the future belonged to democracy. He explained what was needed for democracy to work and how it could help protect human liberty. At the same time, he warned that a welfare state could seduce people into servitude. He saw why socialism must lead to slavery.
Tocqueville staked his life on liberty. I have a passionate love for liberty, law, and respect for rights, he wrote. I am neither of the revolutionary party nor of the conservative. . . . Liberty is my foremost passion.
Reflecting on Tocquevilles famous book Democracy in America, historian Daniel J. Boorstin observed: The most interesting question for the newcomer to Tocqueville is why this book, of all the myriad travel accounts of the United States, should have become a classicthe standard source for generalizing about America. From Tocquevilles era, two best-selling books on the United StatesMrs. Trollopes Domestic Manners of the Americans (1832) and Charles Dickens American Notes (1842)by more clever stylists and more acute observers than Tocqueville, survive only as scholarly footnotes. They tell us about those curious earlier Americans, but Tocqueville tells us about ourselves. He speaks to us every day.
(Excerpt) Read more at fee.org ...
I urge you to read it all.
Read more: http://www.fee.org/the_freeman/detail/alexis-de-tocqueville-how-people-gain-liberty-and-lose-it/#ixzz2IjaDJM4J
Tocqueville was the man who discovered American individualismhe described it somewhat negatively as a mature and calm feeling which disposes each member of the community to sever himself from the mass of his fellow-creatures, and to draw apart with his family and friends. Yet he talked approvingly about self-help, a hallmark of American individualism. For example: The citizen of the United States is taught from infancy to rely upon his own exertions in order to resist the evils and the difficulties of life; he looks upon the social authority with an eye of mistrust and anxiety, and he claims its assistance only when he is unable to do without it.
With phenomenal foresight, Tocqueville predicted that the welfare state would become a curse. For example: 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?
Sorry to cut and paste, however I find these passages most notable. The last paragraph in particular. I have seen a redefining of Democracy that has allowed this, here in America.
IOW, the civil society as Mark Levin reminds us.
FDR, LBJ, Bam and decades of horrible laws and court decisions have nearly destroyed the civil society and blown a wide gap in the front lines of our freedom; the rat hordes are pouring through.
“Sorry to cut and paste” ===> No need.
I only wanted to link to the article. People can skip the first half, as it is a shortened Tocqueville life story, to generate more discussion.
FReepers are more wise and better informed than average. Tocqueville, a sage / prophet still, if only more young people are aware of his “Democracy in America”.
There has been a concerted effort to replace “inalienable rights” with rights granted by Man.
It’s a question of Faith.
Faith in man or Faith in Government.
Undermining faith in man has been extremely effective by creating uncertainly through relativism, multiculturalism and political correctness.
Teaching generations of our youth that you can’t “judge” and right and wrong are a matter of perspective, has left them without the structure of authority. A parent if you will.
Therefore the desire for structure has left them with a choice between the two evils of government control.
Their choice is between a euro-centric socialism (all caring providers) and what has been effectively miss categorized as Fascism. And we all know Fascism is evil.
The left no longer believes that individuals can manage their own affairs. This is not to suggest that they think “they” need help, it suggests the acceptance of the “narcissist within” and the elitism that follows.
Oh please. de Tocqueville?
Just another dead white guy
It’s Obama’s time now....
We need to progress beyond, progress towards, um, gosh, ..... I don't know, but Obama knows best.////
Seriously, today's citizenry is nothing like it used to be. The Left’s life long dream finally came to fruition.
Excellent post, and yes, its even more relevant today. Thanks for sharing the legacy of this great person with everyone. On a side note, similar themes were reflected in Levin’s book “Liberty and Tyranny”.
Sadly I think we’ve slipped too far as a nation and de Tocqueville’s powerful logic and reason will not convince most Americans that we’re headed down the path of self-destruction. Ironically only an economic calamity will save us now. The country needs a reality check.
If you read the guy, you will find out that he was not nearly as positive about America or democracy as you might expect.
He was very clear that he considered the expansion of democracy inevitable, but he considered this to be negative in a lot of ways. He saw a lot of good in the disappearing aristocratic ideal.
Because for the Democracy in America to work, you have to meet a most important condition, that the citizenry remain as its olden days.
Yet from old empire to empire, the span of citizens’ attention is roughly about 200 years. We are currently on the dying cycle, (sorry for the pessimism).
Hope whatever rebirths after this will bring us back to our roots of a Constitutional Republic.