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Alexis de Tocqueville Sociology 100 His children and personal friends are for him the whole of the human race.

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Presentation on theme: "Alexis de Tocqueville Sociology 100 His children and personal friends are for him the whole of the human race."— Presentation transcript:

1 Alexis de Tocqueville Sociology 100 His children and personal friends are for him the whole of the human race

2 Homogenization As men grow increasingly alike, the doctrine of intellectual equality gradually creeps into their beliefs and it becomes harder for any innovator to gain and exercise great power over the mind of a nation. In such societies intellectual revolutions will, therefore, occur less frequently for [...] it is much less the strength of an argument than the authority of a name which has produced the mighty and swift changes in mens opinions. (745) 2

3 Homogenization It is possible that such people will one day see every new theory or idea as a threat – I confess to the dread that [people] will allow themselves to be so overtaken by a craven love of immediate pleasure that concern for their own future and that of their descendents may vanish, and that they will prefer to follow tamely the course of their own destiny rather than make a sudden and energetic effort to set things right when the need arises. (750) 3

4 If America ever experiences great revolutions, they will be instigated by the presence of blacks on America soil: that is to say, it will not be the equality of social conditions but rather their inequality that will give rise to them. (742) – Slavery tries to thwart the inevitable progress of equality 4

5 Democratic Armies Compulsory mass conscription Short duration of service – Enlisted soldiers never adopt the ethos of the army – Think of themselves as a part of society, wish to return to it – Do not seek war (758) 5

6 Democratic Armies The officer corps – Has left civilian society, his real country is the army since his rank is all that he possesses (759) – But climb up the ranks satisfies him, and he doesnt want to risk what hes got. The higher he climbs, the less warlike he becomes. Non-commissioned officers – Have also broken their ties to civilian life – Have much less to lose than officers – Can advance most rapidly in times of war, becomes warlike (76) 6

7 Democracies at War Democracies dislike war as disruptive and costly, do not esteem the military Neglect the military during times of peace, so that morale, training & ability suffers. Aged, complacent officers – All combine to make democracies weak at outset of war (

8 Democracies at War As war drags on, industry is destroyed, and war becomes the only industry Young officers promoted to replace old Huge army of conscript veterans seeking advantage in promotion – Combines to make democratic armies very strong later in a war – Napoleon: Conscript armies and the morale boost of meritocracy in the new French army 8

9 Democracies at War By centralizing power, democracies equalize people by giving them all a small share – Aristocrats have a lot to lose, & will fight to the end, but democracies might crumble if invaded, less to lose ( ) Federation works against this – But means civil wars will be longer, as they are essentially foreign wars (773) Does democracy not count as something to lose? 9

10 Centralization of Power In politics as in philosophy or religion, democratic nations welcome with pleasure simple or general ideas. Following the idea of a single, central authority, the one that occurs most spontaneously to mens minds in times of equality is that of a uniform legislation. (777) – If we are all the same, why should different laws apply to different people? 10

11 Centralization of Power This naturally gives men of democratic times a very elevated opinion of societys privileges and a very low opinion of an individuals rights. Americans believe that the social authority of any state should emanate directly from the people but that, once this authority has been established, they hardly conceive any limits for it; they freely recognize that it has the right to do anything. (778) 11

12 Centralization of Power Not only do people in democratic societies have no natural liking for public business but often lack the time for it. (780) – An unpleasant chore they would as soon someone else dealt with Private life with no disruptions the greatest good All equal before the government 12

13 Centralization of Power War and crisis encourage centralization of power in the state (787) As when a revolution overturns an established monarchy. Citizens hate aristocracy (privilege) more than tyranny. (789) – Such a necessity has never happened to the Americans who, since they had not suffered a revolution and had governed themselves from the first, have never had to call upon the state to act temporarily as their guardian. (785) – They have also, unusually, never experienced aristocratic privilege (786) 13

14 Centralization of Power In Europe, all the various rights, wrested one by one in our time from classes, corporations, and individual men, have not helped to raise new secondary powers upon a secondary footing, but have everywhere been concentrated into the hands of the ruling power. (791) – Aristocratic checks on the central power have not been replaced – Even aristocrats never intruded as far into the private life of individuals as does the democratic state (793) Having surrendered participation in the public sphere, individuals find the state invading the private sphere (794) 14

15 Centralization of Power As long as the democratic revolution was at its height, the men involved in destroying the old aristocratic powers which opposed it displayed a strong spirit of independence; but as the triumph of equality moved to completion, they gradually gave way to those feelings natural to that condition of equality and they strengthened and centralized the power of society. They had wished to be free in order to become equal but, as equality took greater hold with the help of this freedom, it put freedom further from their grasp. (802) 15

16 Centralization of Power I am afraid that at the end of these agitated times, sovereigns may be more powerful than ever before. (803) – Aristocrats banished, but the sovereign stronger than ever – No check on the power of the state 16

17 Centralization of Power I see an innumerable crowd of men, all alike and equal, turned in upon themselves in a restless search for those petty, vulgar pleasures in which they fill their souls. Each of them, living apart, is almost unaware of the destiny of all the rest. His children and personal friends are for him the whole of the human race; as for the remainder of his fellow citizens, he stands along side them but does not see them; he touches them without feeling them; he exists only in himself and for himself; if he still retains his family circle, at any rate he may be said to have lost his country. (805) 17

18 Centralization of Power Above these men stands an immense and protective power which alone is responsible for looking after their enjoyments and watching over their destiny. It is absolute, meticulous, ordered, provident, and kindly disposed. It would like to be a fatherly authority, if, fatherlike, its aim were to prepare men for manhood, but it seeks only to keep them in perpetual childhood; it prefers its citizens to enjoy themselves, provided they have only enjoyment in mind. (805) 18

19 New Solutions to New Disorders Participation & self-government – Administrative powers taken from govt, given to secondary bodies temporarily formed of ordinary citizens ( ) – Election of administrative officials (811) – Political, industrial, commercial, or even scientific or literary associations fill the role of powerful, non-state actors once played by aristocrats (811) 19

20 New Solutions to New Disorders Independent judiciary (812) Return to convention, which slows down & bounds the use of state power (813) Respect for individual rights (814) Stronger property rights for industry (797) 20

21 I am quite aware that several of my contemporaries have thought that nations are never masters of themselves on this earth and that necessarily they obey some kind of insurmountable and senseless force which stems from past events, or from race, or from soil, or from climate. Those are false and craven doctrines which can only be the product of feeble men or small- minded nations. (822) 21

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