Alexis de Tocqueville

Democracy in America


Witticisms like

the lower classes of society ... what they always lack, more or less, is the art of judging the means, even while sincerely wishing the end

and its related One must not conceal from oneself that democratic institutions develop the sentiment of envy in the human heart to a very high degree. It is not so much because they offer to each the means of becoming equal to others, but because this means constantly fail those who employ them (...) Every day this complete equality eludes the hands of the people at the moment when they believe they have seized it.

are the signature of a perceptive, even clairboyant observer.

The book was written toward 1830. The United States were consolidating themselves, showing the first signs of their united and developing potentials. But Tocqueville foresees many of the events and developments that would take place, even to the present demise of their empire. The analysis is sociological, people-oriented. Enough pages are devoted to the political landscape, to the form of government, the judiciary, the laws and mores of society, above all the outstanding role played by faith among the American people, as a defining feature of their character. Never boring, always engrossing through sheer perceptiveness, when we come to realize today how prescient he was.

Tocqueville compares the US of the 1830s to the Europe of the same time, but more specifically to his France. Democracy in the States was a novel form of government. He makes it clear that it is not so much the novelty of its system of government that works, providing peace and prosperity to a people, as it was the core beliefs and mores of that transplanted people into a new territory blessed by natural resources and a common faith. America as a unique land of immigrants who had left their country not precisely for touristic purposes but to make a living, to survive, in peace and independence: basically America was made up by people who wanted to be left alone by the government. They wanted to take the reigns of their own destiny, with all the risks entailed. Tocqueville cleverly notes that the same system of government played out in Europe is not a safe guarantee of its success becuase the characters of their populations are different.

Tocqueville also realizes that nothing is static, that just as the country grows and prospers, its population also evolves, its classes will change along with their conditions, spiritual and material. He is so prescient in this particular premoniton that it almost feels eerie. What we came to know as the tycoons of late nineteenth century America, he already noticed in 1830, and identified, of course, as the manufacturing aristocracy:

I think that all in all, the manufacturing aristocracy that we see rising before our eyes is one of the hardest that has appeared on earth; but it is at the same time one of the most restrained and least dangerous … if ever permanent inequality of conditions and aristocracy are introduced anew into the world, one can predict that they will enter by this door.

The danger that Tocqueville tries to point out is not in the existence of an aristocracy in itself, but in the probability that this new class would want to resemble their European counterparts, become a sort of nobility, and leave the role of entrepreneur played so far and so well to a welfare state:

the manufacturing aristocracy of our day, after having impoverished and brutalized the men whom it uses, leaves them to be nourished by public charity in times of crisis.

The USA has in fact reached this point of no return a good long time ago. The whole Federal government is pretty much a bureau for the dispensing of charity to the losers of the American dream, or those who'd rather not dream at all. Of course Europe cannot even say that we ever were anything but leeches to the prosperity engendered by American capitalism, and saved from totalitarianism by their very red American blood.

The book should be a mandatory read in all American shools, if only to let them see how far they have come from their forebears, and to be ashamed of it.
25 November 2014
JoséMaría BlancoWhite

"Es cierto que el Romano es libre de hacer todo lo que quiera. Pero también lo es que tiene que soportar las consecuencias de sus actos. No importa que se haya equivocado, que le hayan engañado o incluso forzado: un hombre no se deja forzar: etiamsi coactus, attamen voluit. Es libre; pero si distraído, imprudente o atontado, prometió pagar una determinada cantidad y no puede pagarla, se convierte en esclavo de su acreedor."

Rudolph von Ihering

“Slavery, protection, and monopoly find defenders, not only in those who profit by them, but in those who suffer by them.”

Frédéric Bastiat

On the true nature of the Castro Revolution in Cuba: "The revolution was a cover for committing atrocities without the slightest vestige of guilt ... we were young and irresponsible. We were pirates. We formed our own caste ... we belonged to and believed in nothing -no religion, no flag, no morality or principle. It's fortunate we didn't win, because if we had, we would have drowned the continent in barbarism."

Jorge Masetti -In the Pirate's Den

La anarquía, es decir, la ausencia de fuerza estatal, no es una forma de Estado, y cualquiera que acabe con ella por el medio que sea, el usurpador nacional o el conquistador extranjero, rinde un servicio a la sociedad. Es un salvador, un bienhechor, porque la forma más insoportable de Estado es la ausencia de Estado.

Rudolph von Ihering

"El envidioso está afligido no solo por sus males propios, sino por los bienes de los demás."  -Hipias

[la norma de conducta de los progres] "No hacer nada que alguien pueda envidiarme." -Hipasos




Seguimos a la espera de la reedición de este importante libro del gran escritor español José Pla

Historia de la Segunda República.


También a la espera de este importante libro del genial Rafael Abella.

Finales de enero, 1939, Barcelona cambia de piel


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