Democracy in America

by

Alexis de Toqueville

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Alexis de Tocqueville Character Analysis

The narrator of Democracy in America, Tocqueville is not quite the protagonist of the book, which is argument-driven rather than plot-driven. Although Tocqueville freely makes use of the first person, and although the book’s genesis can be traced to his time spent traveling in the United States, the text’s emphasis is on his thoughts about American democracy rather than on him or his personal experiences. Certain aspects of Tocqueville’s character do emerge from his analysis: he is conservative and an aristocrat at heart, as is evident from his sometimes elitist critiques of American culture for the ways in which it values equality and pragmatism over “refined manners” or extensive schooling. He is skeptical that democracy is necessarily a preferable alternative to aristocratic rule, but acknowledges that the tides of democratization in Europe are strong enough that change is inevitable. Despite his conservatism, in many ways he remains open-minded about the need to look forward rather than backward and embrace new forms of political life.

Alexis de Tocqueville Quotes in Democracy in America

The Democracy in America quotes below are all either spoken by Alexis de Tocqueville or refer to Alexis de Tocqueville. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Signet Classic edition of Democracy in America published in 2001.
Author’s Introduction Quotes

If ever America undergoes great revolutions, they will be brought about by the presence of the black race on the soil of the United States; that is to say, they will owe their origin, not to the equality, but to the inequality of condition.

Related Characters: Alexis de Tocqueville (speaker)
Page Number: 313
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3 Quotes

The people reign in the American political world as the Deity does in the universe. They are the cause and the aim of all things; everything comes from them, and everything is absorbed in them.

Related Characters: Alexis de Tocqueville (speaker)
Page Number: 59
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

The only nations which deny the utility of provincial liberties are those which have fewest of them; in other words, those only censure the institution who do not know it.

Related Characters: Alexis de Tocqueville (speaker)
Page Number: 77
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11 Quotes

The great political agitation of American legislative bodies, which is the only one that attracts the attention of foreigners, is a mere episode, or a sort of continuation, of that universal movement which originates in the lowest classes of the people, and extends successively to all the ranks of society. It is impossible to spend more effort in the pursuit of happiness.

Related Characters: Alexis de Tocqueville (speaker)
Page Number: 120
Explanation and Analysis:

But if the time be past at which such a choice was possible, and if some power superior to that of man already hurries us, without consulting our wishes, towards one or the other of these two governments, let us endeavor to make the best of that which is allotted to us, and, by finding out both its good and its evil tendencies, be able to foster the former and repress the latter to the utmost.

Related Characters: Alexis de Tocqueville (speaker)
Page Number: 124
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 12 Quotes

In my opinion, the main evil of the present democratic institutions of the Untied States does not arise, as is often asserted in Europe, from their weakness, but from their irresistible strength.

Related Characters: Alexis de Tocqueville (speaker)
Page Number: 128
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 13 Quotes

The jury teaches every man not to recoil before the responsibility of his own actions, and impresses him with that manly confidence without which no political virtue can exist. It invests each citizen with a kind of magistracy; it makes them all feel the duties which they are bound to discharge towards society, and the part which they take in its government. By obliging men to turn their attention to other affairs than their own, it rubs off that private selfishness which is the rust of society.

Related Characters: Alexis de Tocqueville (speaker)
Page Number: 143
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 14 Quotes

Those who hope to revive the monarchy of Henry IV or of Louis XIV appear to me to be afflicted with mental blindness; and when I consider the present condition of several European nations,—a condition to which all the others tend,—I am led to believe that they will soon be left with no other alternative than democratic liberty or the tyranny of the Caesars.

Related Characters: Alexis de Tocqueville (speaker)
Page Number: 154
Explanation and Analysis:

But I am very far from thinking that we ought to follow the example of the American democracy, and copy the means which it has employed to attain this end; for I am well aware of the influence which the nature of a country and its political antecedents exercise upon its political constitutions; and I should regard it as a great misfortune for mankind if liberty were to exist all over the world under the same features.

Related Characters: Alexis de Tocqueville (speaker)
Page Number: 155
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 16 Quotes

For myself, when I feel the hand of power lie heavy on my brow, I care but little to know who oppresses me; and I am not the more disposed to pass beneath the yoke because it is held out to me by the arms of a million of men.

Related Characters: Alexis de Tocqueville (speaker)
Page Number: 171
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 20 Quotes

In the ages in which active life is the condition of almost every one, men are therefore generally led to attach an excessive value to the rapid bursts and superficial conceptions of the intellect; and, on the other hand, to depreciate unduly its slower and deeper labors.

Related Characters: Alexis de Tocqueville (speaker)
Page Number: 189
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 23 Quotes

Nothing conceivable is so petty, so insipid, so crowded with paltry interests, in one word, so anti-poetic, as the life of a man in the United States.

Related Characters: Alexis de Tocqueville (speaker)
Page Number: 209
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 26 Quotes

I think that democratic communities have a natural taste for freedom: left to themselves, they will seek it, cherish it, and view any privation of it with regret. But for equality, their passion is ardent, insatiable, incessant, invincible: they call for equality in freedom; and if they cannot obtain that, they still call for equality in slavery.

Related Characters: Alexis de Tocqueville (speaker)
Page Number: 223
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 29 Quotes

Nothing, in my opinion, is more deserving of our attention than the intellectual and moral associations of America. […] If men are to remain civilized, or to become so, the art of associating together must grow and improve in the same ratio in which the equality of conditions is increased.

Related Characters: Alexis de Tocqueville (speaker)
Page Number: 234
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 34 Quotes

I am of opinion, upon the whole, that the manufacturing aristocracy which is growing up under our eyes is one of the harshest which ever existed in the world; but, at the same time, it is one of the most confined and least dangerous. Nevertheless, the friends of democracy should keep their eyes anxiously fixed in this direction; for if ever a permanent inequality of conditions and aristocracy again penetrates into the world, it may be predicted that this is the gate by which they will enter.

Related Characters: Alexis de Tocqueville (speaker)
Page Number: 256
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 38 Quotes

Democracy loosens social ties, but tightens natural ones; it brings kindred more closely together, whilst it throws citizens apart.

Related Characters: Alexis de Tocqueville (speaker)
Page Number: 271-272
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 45 Quotes

Variety is disappearing from the human race; the same ways of acting, thinking, and feeling are to be met with all over the world. This is not only because nations work more upon each other, and copy each other more faithfully; but as the men of each country relinquish more and more the peculiar opinions and feelings of a caste, a profession, or a family, they simultaneously arrive at something nearer to the constitution of man, which is everywhere the same.

Related Characters: Alexis de Tocqueville (speaker)
Page Number: 298
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 54 Quotes

I am of opinion, that, in the democratic ages which are opening upon us, individual independence and local liberties will ever be the products of art; that centralization will be the natural government.

Related Characters: Alexis de Tocqueville (speaker)
Page Number: 347
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 56 Quotes

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 compressed, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to be nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.

Related Characters: Alexis de Tocqueville (speaker)
Page Number: 356-357
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 57 Quotes

I perceive mighty dangers which it is possible to ward off,—mighty evils which may be avoided or alleviated; and I cling with a firm hold to the belief that, for democratic nations to be virtuous and prosperous, they require but to will it.

Related Characters: Alexis de Tocqueville (speaker)
Page Number: 372
Explanation and Analysis:
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Alexis de Tocqueville Character Timeline in Democracy in America

The timeline below shows where the character Alexis de Tocqueville appears in Democracy in America. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Author’s Introduction
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Tocqueville begins by highlighting his most significant discovery from his travels in the United States: the... (full context)
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Tocqueville traces the history of democratization in France, which was long controlled by a small number... (full context)
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Tocqueville notes that kings became more likely to give political influence to common people, if only... (full context)
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Tocqueville pinpoints a few major events that have led to “equality of condition,” from the Crusades,... (full context)
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Tocqueville notes that this vast process can hardly be stopped. While he has a “religious terror”... (full context)
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Tocqueville fondly recalls the peace and stability of the past, when monarchs achieved respect from nobles... (full context)
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Tocqueville argues that the poor still hate the rich, but now yearn to join their ranks.... (full context)
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In order to get out of this conundrum, Tocqueville suggests looking at one country that has nearly reached the natural limits of equality—the United... (full context)
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Tocqueville describes the structure of his book: the first part will explain how, based on his... (full context)
Chapter 1. Origin of the Anglo-Americans
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Tocqueville uses the metaphor of a human life to argue that in order to understand a... (full context)
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While Tocqueville acknowledges that people emigrated to the New World with different aims, many had certain features... (full context)
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Tocqueville describes the inhabitants of the first English colony in Virginia (founded in 1607) as seekers... (full context)
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Tocqueville explains that the Pilgrims had been independent in England already, and they had also been... (full context)
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...were the center of local interests, rights, and duties, were established beginning around 1650, and Tocqueville finds them to have productively promoted political activity among all. He is impressed at the... (full context)
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For Tocqueville, the mandates regarding public education are particularly remarkable, showing an eagerness to establish schools and... (full context)
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Tocqueville remarks upon the contrast to 17th-century Europe, where absolute monarchy ruled and individual rights were... (full context)
Chapter 2. Democratic Social Condition of the Anglo-Americans
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Tocqueville argues that one must study social conditions in order to understand the laws and ideas... (full context)
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Tocqueville signals the importance of laws of inheritance in social and political affairs. They can affect... (full context)
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Tocqueville characterizes America as full of people neither learned nor ignorant. Everyone has access to primary... (full context)
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Tocqueville argues that such equality must necessarily spread into the political world, meaning that either everyone... (full context)
Chapter 3. The Sovereignty of the People in America
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Tocqueville identifies the sovereignty of the people as the main characteristic of American liberty, explicitly recognized... (full context)
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Tocqueville contrasts the explicit sovereignty of the people in America to the weaker manifestations of the... (full context)
Chapter 4. Local Government
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Tocqueville states that the rest of his book will show how the principle of sovereignty of... (full context)
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Tocqueville characterizes the township as a kind of individual in the way that it is granted... (full context)
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 In American townships, Tocqueville thinks, the power is so spread out and divided that almost everyone is somehow invested... (full context)
Chapter 5. Decentralization in America—Its Effects
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Tocqueville notes how strange it is for a European to observe the absence of “Administration” in... (full context)
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Tocqueville distinguishes between centralized government, which concentrates common interests like foreign relations or general laws, and... (full context)
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While Tocqueville is confident that such inefficiency can be reformed without a new system, he argues that... (full context)
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Tocqueville also argues that an absolute authority over people’s lives prevents them from feeling a stake... (full context)
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...sum total of all personal undertakings exceeds anything the government could do on its own. Tocqueville takes one example of the success of decentralized administration: while there is no criminal police... (full context)
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Provincial institutions are particularly necessary in a democracy, Tocqueville argues, since without them there is no security against the excesses of central power. Nonetheless,... (full context)
Chapter 6. Judicial Power in the United States, and Its Influence on Political Society
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Tocqueville makes a case for the uniqueness of judicial power in the United States. As in... (full context)
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Tocqueville thinks this practice contributes both to freedom and to order. Since the spaces where judges... (full context)
Chapter 7. Aspects of the Federal Constitution
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Turning his attention to the 13 American colonies before the revolution, Tocqueville identifies two opposite tendencies: a tendency toward unity and a tendency toward independence. Each colony... (full context)
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Tocqueville argues that the limited powers given to people in America also work to limit their... (full context)
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...size in a democracy (while in monarchies, large numbers only increase their power). Vast empires, Tocqueville concludes, only work against freedom and well-being.  (full context)
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Still, Tocqueville also acknowledges the advantages of size: individual greatness becomes more likely when there is greater... (full context)
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Tocqueville returns to the advantage of America’s federalist system, by which Congress regulates the national government... (full context)
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Tocqueville notes that the national public spirit in America is really only an aggregate of patriotism... (full context)
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Tocqueville characterizes war as the most important testing ground for a nation’s power and spirit. Given... (full context)
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In sum, Tocqueville admires the federalist system, but he doesn’t imagine that it can be easily replicated anywhere... (full context)
Chapter 8. Political Parties
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Tocqueville explains that Americans elect their representatives directly every year: the people thus are constantly influencing... (full context)
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...President in 1802. From then on, the Republican party has come to attain near-absolute supremacy.  Tocqueville thinks that the now-lost triumph of the Federalists was one of the greatest things to... (full context)
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Now, though, Tocqueville finds that America has no great parties: instead, since almost everyone is Republican and there... (full context)
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When the Republicans (which Tocqueville also calls the “democratic party”) gained supremacy, they siphoned power away from the wealthy classes,... (full context)
Chapter 9. Liberty of the Press in the United States
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According to Tocqueville, political parties attempt to gain influence through newspapers and through public associations. The liberty of... (full context)
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Tocqueville notes that each newspaper exacts a small influence, in large part because Americans have so... (full context)
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Still, Tocqueville notes that the influence of the press as a whole is huge in America. It... (full context)
Chapter 10. Political Associations in the United States
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Tocqueville turns to political associations, an institution that Americans have embraced more than any other people... (full context)
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Tocqueville considers the liberty of the press as absolutely necessary in a democracy, but unlimited liberty... (full context)
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In an aristocracy, Tocqueville argues, the nobles and wealthy are natural associations that check power, while in a democracy... (full context)
Chapter 11. Advantages of Democracy in the United States
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If democracies have an obvious defect, incomplete or imperfect laws, Tocqueville argues that it takes more time and care to study democracies’ advantages. Democratic legislation tends... (full context)
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Tocqueville identifies two forms of patriotism. One is the instinctive love for one’s birthplace and ancient... (full context)
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Tocqueville praises the principle of rights, which he describes as the extension of virtue into the... (full context)
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Tocqueville argues that the authority of the law is always strengthened when the law is formed... (full context)
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 Tocqueville expresses amazement at the cacophony of political affairs that he’s witnessed in the United States.... (full context)
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...convictions, refined manners and arts, and honor, then a democracy is not the best option, Tocqueville argues. But for the promotion of well-being, clear understanding over genius, peace, and prosperity over... (full context)
Chapter 12. Unlimited Power of the Majority in the United States and Its Consequences
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Tocqueville defines democracies by having sovereignty of the majority, which in America happens through directly-elected, briefly-held... (full context)
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...general principle and authority of the majority is never challenged. This is harmful, and dangerous, Tocqueville thinks. A collective majority is only a kind of individual whose opinions are opposed to... (full context)
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Tocqueville argues that unlimited power is always dangerous for humans, whether it be in a king,... (full context)
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Tocqueville distinguishes between tyranny, which may well be enacted within the law, and arbitrary power, which... (full context)
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The tyranny of the majority is potentially more insidious than that of a despot, Tocqueville thinks, since it is based on thought, not force. As soon as the majority decides... (full context)
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...of freedom of opinion is why America has had no great writers or great politicians, Tocqueville thinks (at least after the Revolution, when crisis prompted the rise of the great Founding... (full context)
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Tocqueville argues that governments fall because of impotence or tyranny: people usually think that democracies are... (full context)
Chapter 13. Causes Which Mitigate the Tyranny of the Majority in the United States
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Tocqueville addresses the ways tyranny of the majority is mitigated in America, first through the federalist... (full context)
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Tocqueville argues that the power of the legal profession also counteracts the potential for tyranny. Lawyers... (full context)
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Tocqueville identifies the courts as the organs by which the legal profession mitigates excesses of democracy.... (full context)
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Tocqueville turns to the jury as a political institution, not just a legal one. While juries... (full context)
Chapter 14. Causes Which Tend to Maintain Democracy
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Although Tocqueville has described the institutions that maintain freedom in America, he also suggests that the democracy... (full context)
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Tocqueville reflects that the first Puritan emigrants left their stamp on the American national character for... (full context)
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While restlessness and desire for wealth are considered dangerous in Europe, Tocqueville notes that these qualities have ensured peace and prosperity in America. Still, he maintains that... (full context)
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Tocqueville notes that Europe is lost if democracy is only possible in vast, uncultivated geographical spaces.... (full context)
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Tocqueville states that it hasn’t been his purpose to propose that all democratic communities adopt the... (full context)
Chapter 15. Future Prospects of the United States
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As Tocqueville concludes Part One, he compares himself to a traveler who, having left a vast city,... (full context)
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Tocqueville can’t imagine that the impulse of this “race” to extend over all reaches of the... (full context)
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Tocqueville characterizes Russia and America as the world’s two great nations, which seem to have arisen... (full context)
Chapter 16. Philosophical Method of the Americans
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Tocqueville claims that Americans pay less attention to philosophy than any other members of the civilized... (full context)
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Tocqueville states that republicans seek the sources of truth either in themselves or in people like... (full context)
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Tocqueville predicts that the principle of equality leads in two directions: to new, independent thoughts, but... (full context)
Chapter 17. Influence of Democracy on Religion
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Tocqueville considers religion to be one of the few spheres in which dogma is to be... (full context)
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Tocqueville adds that the usefulness of religion is especially apparent in nations with equality of condition.... (full context)
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Tocqueville acknowledges that, since religions claim universal and eternal truths, they cannot simply adapt themselves to... (full context)
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Tocqueville describes American religion as a separate sphere, where the priest is content to remain. Christianity... (full context)
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Indeed, Roman Catholicism is spreading quicker in America than anywhere else. Tocqueville explains this through another aspect of equality, the desire for unity and simplicity in power.... (full context)
Chapter 18. Equality Suggests to the Americans the Idea of the Indefinite Perfectibility of Man
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Tocqueville discusses another consequence of equality, the belief in human perfectibility. When classes and opportunities are... (full context)
Chapter 19. The Example of the Americans Does Not Prove That a Democratic People Can Have No Aptitude and No Taste for Science, Literature, or Art
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Tocqueville claims that the United States has made little progress in sciences, poetry, or the arts.... (full context)
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Tocqueville argues that, if one considers America as an offshoot of England, Americans are that portion... (full context)
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Tocqueville imagines a democratic society without classes or ranks that would also lack knowledge and freedom... (full context)
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Tocqueville notes that all democratic societies will always contain wealthy people, even if that group isn’t... (full context)
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In democracies, Tocqueville notes, classes communicate and mingle with each other: the humblest classes look with interest at... (full context)
Chapter 20. Why the Americans Are More Addicted to Practical Than to Theoretical Science
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In a democratic society, Tocqueville argues, the general attitude of suspicion towards authority leads to a lack of trust in... (full context)
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Tocqueville characterizes democratic societies as having little patience for abstract thought: they are prone to fleeting... (full context)
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Tocqueville uses as an example the fact that Americans have never discovered general laws of mechanics... (full context)
Chapter 21. In What Spirit the Americans Cultivate the Arts
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In a democracy, Tocqueville claims, the useful will always be preferred to the beautiful. When the cultivation of arts... (full context)
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Tocqueville acknowledges that even in democracies, some will pay for the time and trouble of well-wrought... (full context)
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The same is true, according to Tocqueville, of the fine arts: in a democracy, there are numerically more artists, but the merit... (full context)
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American artists prefer the Real to the Ideal, Tocqueville notes: they are accurate, but don’t yearn for anything beyond “mere” accuracy, detail, and imitation,... (full context)
Chapter 22. Literary Characteristics of Democratic Times
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An American bookstore, Tocqueville begins, is packed with basic textbooks written in Europe, religious works and charitable reports, and... (full context)
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Tocqueville concludes that America does not yet have its own literature: the only “American” authors, he... (full context)
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Tocqueville notes that at some moments, like France in the 18th century, aristocratic and democratic literary... (full context)
Chapter 23. Of Some Sources of Poetry Amongst Democratic Nations
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If poetry, as Tocqueville argues, searches after the “ideal” rather than the truth, then democracies—which prefer the real to... (full context)
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Tocqueville nonetheless identifies a new subject for poetry in an age of democratization: inanimate nature, that... (full context)
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Tocqueville thinks that America has no poets, but does have poetic ideas. Americans don’t pay close... (full context)
Chapter 24. Why American Writers and Orators Often Use an Inflated Style
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Tocqueville asks why Americans, who so prefer plain language, sometimes use pompous, inflated diction on occasion.... (full context)
Chapter 25. Some Characteristics of Historians in Democratic Times
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Tocqueville contrasts historians in aristocratic ages, who tend to explain all events by the actions and... (full context)
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...prevents any sense of individual responsibility for historical affairs—a great danger in an age when, Tocqueville argues, it’s important to empower the people, rather than presuming that they’re impotent. (full context)
Chapter 26. Why Democratic Nations Show a More Ardent and Enduring Love of Equality Than of Liberty
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Tocqueville returns to the idea of equality, which he argues is gaining ground rapidly in France.... (full context)
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Tocqueville argues that freedom can arise (and has arisen) in non-democratic contexts: equality of condition, not... (full context)
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Tocqueville turns to the specific case of France, where absolute monarchies actually did create equality among... (full context)
Chapter 27. Of Individualism in Democratic Countries
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Tocqueville characterizes democratic societies as defined by “individualism,” which he calls a novel expression. “Égoïsme” (or... (full context)
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Aristocracies, according to Tocqueville, encourage people to band together with their fellow citizens and impose duties on themselves as... (full context)
Chapter 28. That the Americans Combat the Effects of Individualism by Free Institutions
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Tocqueville argues that despotism and equality actually promote similar vices: equality puts people side by side... (full context)
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Tocqueville argues that Americans’ free institutions have worked against individualism. It’s difficult to draw people out... (full context)
Chapter 29. Of the Use Which the Americans Make of Public Associations in Civil Life
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Tocqueville notes that he’s already discussed political associations, but will now turn to civic associations that... (full context)
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Tocqueville notes that aristocracies always include a small number of powerful people who are able to... (full context)
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Tocqueville recalls hearing that 100,000 Americans had banded together to abstain from drinking alcohol—he thought it... (full context)
Chapter 30. Of the Relation Between Public Associations and the Newspapers
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Tocqueville makes an explicit connection between political associations and newspapers, which join people together even when... (full context)
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Tocqueville adds that as power grows increasingly decentralized, the number of newspapers will increase. This is... (full context)
Chapter 31. Relation of Civil to Political Associations
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Tocqueville hypothesizes that there’s a link in democratic countries between the preponderance of political associations and... (full context)
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Tocqueville reiterates his claim, in the first part of his book, that unrestrained liberty of political... (full context)
Chapter 32. Of the Taste for Physical Well-Being in America
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Tocqueville observes Americans’ embrace of physical well-being, which he contrasts with aristocratic societies. There, the rich... (full context)
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Tocqueville relates that he’s never met a poor person who did not look with hope and... (full context)
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While Tocqueville warns that aristocrats may, in ages of decadence and opulence, be tempted away from important... (full context)
Chapter 33. What Causes Almost All Americans to Follow Industrial Callings
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Tocqueville asks why so many Americans prefer industrial and commercial professions to agricultural ones. The cultivation... (full context)
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Tocqueville remarks that only half a century after freeing itself from colonial dependence, America has made... (full context)
Chapter 34. How an Aristocracy May Be Created by Manufactures
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Tocqueville suggests that manufacturing may actually, in turn, end up bringing people back to aristocracy. As... (full context)
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Tocqueville adds that as equality of condition increases, the demand for manufactured commodities rises too; as... (full context)
Chapter 35. How Democracy Renders the Habitual Intercourse of the Americans Simple and Easy
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Tocqueville seeks to explain why Americans have such easy, casual manners with each other. In an... (full context)
Chapter 36. Why the Americans Show So Little Sensitiveness in Their Own Country, and Are So Sensitive in Europe
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Tocqueville contrasts aristocratic etiquette, which creates rules of politeness to which everyone must assent, to democratic... (full context)
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Tocqueville asks why Americans immediately become so sensitive when they travel to Europe. He notes that... (full context)
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At the same time, despite Americans’ pride in their equality of condition, Tocqueville says that there’s barely a single American who doesn’t vaunt his kinship to the original... (full context)
Chapter 37. Influence of Democracy on Wages
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Tocqueville notes that as democracies continue to shrink social differences, workers can increasingly imagine themselves into... (full context)
Chapter 38. Influence of Democracy on the Family
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Tocqueville turns to the institution of the family, where, he argues, traditional parental authority and filial... (full context)
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Tocqueville adds that the division of land prompted by democracy is also significant: when a father... (full context)
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Tocqueville argues that at least individually, men gain by the erosion of parental authority: family relations... (full context)
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...unites the sons together by free sympathy. Such charms are readily apparent to aristocrats, even, Tocqueville says, and yet social conditions and such manners are indissolubly linked. Democracy loosens social ties... (full context)
Chapter 39. Young Women in a Democracy
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Tocqueville argues for the political importance of the condition of women, given that their realm is... (full context)
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Tocqueville observes that American girls speak, act, and think for themselves from a young age. They... (full context)
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Tocqueville contrasts the French model—limiting the  education and experiences of girls until the moment when they... (full context)
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Tocqueville acknowledges the dangers of such an education—its capacity to create cold, virtuous women rather than... (full context)
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Tocqueville adds, though, that the Puritanical streak and commercial spirit of America require a women’s sacrifice... (full context)
Chapter 40. How Equality of Condition Contributes to Maintain Good Morals in America
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Tocqueville argues that the condition of society is far more significant than climate in the development... (full context)
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Tocqueville notes that in democracies, almost all men are engaged in public life, while women are... (full context)
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Tocqueville notes that such trends are not yet present in Europe, where it seems like democratization... (full context)
Chapter 41. How the Americans Understand the Equality of the Sexes
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Tocqueville argues that democracies will eventually make women and men (like master and servant or father... (full context)
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In America, Tocqueville counters, people have accepted the natural differences between men and women, and instead have chosen... (full context)
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Tocqueville contrasts America to the situation in Europe, where men often fall under the tyranny of... (full context)
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Tocqueville concludes that while Americans keep the duties and rights of men and women separate, they... (full context)
Chapter 42. How the Principle of Equality Naturally Divides the Americans into a Multitude of Small Private Circles
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Tocqueville claims it would be a mistake to think that democracies end up compelling everyone to... (full context)
Chapter 43. Some Reflections on American Manners
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Tocqueville characterizes manners as simultaneously natural and acquired, based on character but also convention. True dignity... (full context)
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...conditions. Only at close quarters can one differentiate the manners of Americans from each other. Tocqueville acknowledges that bad manners are among what’s worst in a democracy. The only advantage is... (full context)
Chapter 44. Why the National Vanity of the Americans is More Restless and Captious Than That of the English
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Vanity is, Tocqueville argues, remarkably pervasive among Americans, who are eager to insist that their country is the... (full context)
Chapter 45. How the Aspect of Society in the United States Is at Once Excited and Monotonous
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Tocqueville argues that although democracies are in a ceaseless state of fluctuation, the spectacle of such... (full context)
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In fact, Tocqueville argues, the entire world is gradually becoming characterized by the same ways of acting and... (full context)
Chapter 46. Why So Many Ambitious Men and So Little Lofty Ambition Are to Be Found in the United States
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Tocqueville points out that while everyone in America is seeking to improve his condition, there is... (full context)
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...have boundless ambition, there are no limits to it—making it even more dangerous than elsewhere. Tocqueville advises that it’s necessary to regulate and purify ambition, though it would be wrong to... (full context)
Chapter 47. The Trade of Place-Hunting in Certain Democratic Countries
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Tocqueville observes that when an American obtains education and funds, he buys land, becomes a pioneer,... (full context)
Chapter 48. Why Great Revolutions Will Become More Rare
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Tocqueville argues that, in a country that has existed for centuries with classes and rank-based distinctions,... (full context)
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Inequality is always the root of revolution, Tocqueville argues. The vast majority of democratic societies are made up of the middling sort, neither... (full context)
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While Tocqueville has heard that people in democracies are constantly changing their minds, he never observed that... (full context)
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Tocqueville returns to the question of the power of public opinion and the tyranny of the... (full context)
Chapter 49. Why Democratic Nations are Naturally Desirous of Peace, and Democratic Armies of War
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Tocqueville makes a similar case for why democratic nations are averse to war: the rise of... (full context)
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Another great danger, Tocqueville warns, is that without military spirit, the profession of soldier is no longer considered honorable,... (full context)
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Indeed, Tocqueville argues that extended war can endanger freedom: it increases the powers of government and centralizes... (full context)
Chapter 50. Causes Which Render Democratic Armies Weaker Than Other Armies at the Outset of a Campaign, and More Formidable in Protracted Warfare
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Democratic armies, Tocqueville concludes, are destined to be restless and turbulent. But after a long period of peace,... (full context)
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However, Tocqueville claims that if war continues for long enough, democratic passions can be successfully diverted from... (full context)
Chapter 51. Some Considerations on War in Democratic Communities
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Tocqueville argues that as equality of conditions spreads among many nations, as is happening in Europe,... (full context)
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Tocqueville notes that aristocracies struggle both to conquer and be conquered: it’s difficult to collect forces... (full context)
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These statements, Tocqueville argues, also apply to civil wars—democracies have many structural obstacles to civil war. The power... (full context)
Chapter 52. Equality Naturally Gives Men a Taste for Free Institutions
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Tocqueville reiterates his claim that democratic independence, which makes people suspicious of authority, also encourages them... (full context)
Chapter 53. That the Opinions of Democratic Nations About Government Are Naturally Favorable to the Concentration of Power
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Tocqueville returns to his argument that democracies tend to favor a single, central power, rather than... (full context)
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...more equal, they tend to privilege the value of society over the rights of individuals. Tocqueville notes that while Americans believe that power should stem from the people, once that power... (full context)
Chapter 54. That the Sentiments of Democratic Nations Accord with Their Opinions in Leading Them to Concentrate Political Power
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Tocqueville turns to the habits of democratic people that encourage them to concentrate power. He reminds... (full context)
Chapter 55. Of Certain Peculiar and Accidental Causes, Which Either Lead a People to Complete the Centralization of Government, or Which Divert Them from It
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Tocqueville qualifies his points about centralization by making certain distinctions between cultures. For instance, in Europe,... (full context)
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Tocqueville thinks that Napoleon should be neither praised nor condemned for his massive centralization of administrative... (full context)
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Therefore, Tocqueville thinks, central power is always stronger in a democracy that has gone through a long,... (full context)
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Tocqueville thinks that centralized government ends up “enervating” a nation, but he acknowledges that it may... (full context)
Chapter 56. What Sort of Despotism Democratic Nations Have to Fear
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Tocqueville returns to his earlier point about the particular kind of despotism to be feared in... (full context)
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Tocqueville argues that despotism in a democracy would be more extensive, though less violent; just as... (full context)
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Tocqueville attempts to imagine a world in which innumerable people are all striving after petty, small... (full context)
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At the present, Tocqueville notes, people want both to be led and to remain free: but both desires are... (full context)
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Tocqueville worries that people will soon lose the capacity to think and act for themselves and... (full context)
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...the individual weaker, private independence will never be as great in democracies as in aristocracies. Tocqueville doesn’t think this is to be desired, given that in aristocracies the mass is usually... (full context)
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Tocqueville reminds his readers of some of the most significant dangers that equality poses to freedom.... (full context)
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Tocqueville wishes to conclude with a general idea that sums up his entire book. In aristocracies,... (full context)
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Tocqueville criticizes both those who only see anarchy and danger in equality (and thus abandon the... (full context)
Chapter 57. General Survey of the Subject
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Tocqueville finds that as he attempts to survey his entire subject, he struggles to do so.... (full context)
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Still, Tocqueville can make out certain characteristics: growing equality of condition, the leveling of wealth, the universalizing... (full context)
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Tocqueville is saddened by this universal uniformity, though he regrets the world of extremes between great... (full context)
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Looking back over his own work, Tocqueville is apprehensive but also hopeful. He criticizes those who say that nations do not direct... (full context)