Democracy in America, V1

ISBN: 1404348611
ISBN 13: 9781404348615
By: Alexis de Toqueville

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About this book

Théoricien du libéralisme, Tocqueville montre dans De la démocratie en Amérique comment la démocratie s'est accompagnée des progrès de l'individualisme. Cependant, les droits individuels une fois proclamés et reconnus, ce goût pour la liberté s'est corrompu en passion pour l'égalité, favorisant la diffusion d'un esprit majoritaire et conformiste. En effet, à force de réclamer les mêmes droits pour tous, les individus se contentent de revendiquer une égalisation de leur condition sociale et de leur mode de vie. Or, la majorité ne se reconnaissant que dans ce qui lui ressemble, l'obsession égalitariste finit par nuire à la créativité, toute volonté de différenciation étant par avance condamnée ; elle finit aussi par menacer les institutions politiques elles-mêmes. Uniquement soucieux de défendre leurs acquis sociaux et matériels, les individus se désintéressent de la chose publique et se replient sur leur vie privée, au profit d'une administration toute puissante dont la douce tyrannie menace à terme leurs libertés. Cette analyse de la pensée unique et du conformisme démocratique fait de Tocqueville un auteur résolument moderne, dont l'oeuvre a eu une influence considérable et mérite plus que jamais qu'on la découvre. --Paul Klein

Reader's Thoughts

sim

Uma análises apaixonante e isenta dos primeiros anos da Democracia Americana.Tocqueville conseguiu antever a decadência do Sul e guerra de Secessão, o domínio continental americano, a praticamente extinção dos índios. A premonição da ascendência dos Estados Unidos e Russia a super potências é visionária Tem piada ver como a carga fiscal e uso dos rendimentos dos impostos mudou ao longo dos anos e a passagem do isolacionismo de uma primeira fase quase sem forças militares para a suprema potência militar imperialista.É feita a diferenciação de valores e usos entre América e França: O trabalho é um motivo de orgulho nos Estados Unidos e um motivo de vergonha em França. O enriquecer não é motivo de vergonha é um motivo de orgulho e objectivo declarado ao contrário da Aristocrática Europa que sempre ohou os novos ricos e arrivistas com desconfiança e desdém Deixa um alerta para os perigos da democracia: que não apresenta liberdade e direitos para todos mas poderá ser uma ditadura

Cynthia

Finally making a go at this one, it's been on my list for a long time. I'm enjoying it so far.

Rufi

Brilliant and a delight to read.

Saul

de Tocqueville definitely has a lot of insightful things to say about America and democracy, but it's hard to see where his biases end and the facts begin. He has a very odd (to a modern reader) pro-aristocracy pro-religion France-slanted point of view. This means that much of the time, he tries to cherry-pick examples from America to make points relevant to his domestic politics. If you've read his other works, you know he's an ardent monarchist, and this often colors his perception of the presidency. It can be hard to tell whether the portrait he paints is accurate or just what he wants to see.Consider this quote (pulled from another review): "Providence has given to every human being the degree of reason necessary to direct himself in the affairs that interest him exclusively... The father of a family applies it to his children, the master to his servants" That reviewer seems to think this says something about individual liberty, but it really just describes localized tyranny! The mothers and the servants are denied agency, and de Tocqueville focuses so entirely on the masters of America that he does not see this. He often repeats that America has "universal" suffrage; universal except for women, slaves, natives and the poor.And although he does have a funny anecdote about confronting a Northerner about why free blacks are prevented from voting, he later concludes that the reason democracy works in America is due to (a little) our good Constitutional framework, (a little) our favorable location away from hostile European monarchies, and (mostly) because white English people are intrinsically awesome.So one major problem with the book is that it has a fair amount of 19th Century racism and sexism in it. My version of the translation had "translator notes" from some pretty vile US Southerners that exacerbated that problem. I wonder if some of the worst stuff originates with that translation rather than de Tocqeville's original. However, substantial space is given to the argument that a race war in the South is inevitable and will result in the genocide of blacks in America. Ultimately, these problems made me wonder whether there are really any greater lessons that can be gleaned from the work or if it must be regarded as just the opinions of a particular person at a particular place and time.

Arnaud Coutant

un ouvrage essentielun voyage au coeur de l'Amérique institutionnelle et un plaidoyer pour la découverte.une réflexion fascinante sur cette inconnue qu'est l'Amérique.

Jesse Schexnayder

The destiny of the American people, as the sovereign power of the United States, consequently revolves about both their written laws and, equally as important, their moral values.Both of these have gone through cycles, highs and lows; the eddies and storms of American history. It is easy for us now to be caught up in the concerns of our present day, but there is infinite value in looking back in time to where we were, and what the root causes are for our present situation.Where do our ideals of liberty and freedom coupled inextricably with responsibility and common decency spring from? And what kind of people will we become, and what type of government will we tolerate, if, through sudden revolution or insipid "progress", we the people one day reject the fundamental principles which nourish liberty?As De Tocqueville states: "That Providence has given to every human being the degree of reason necessary to direct himself in the affairs that interest him exclusively is the grand maxim upon which civil and political society rests in the United States. The father of a family applies it to his children, the master to his servants, the township to its officers, the county to its townships, the state to the counties, the Union to the states; and when extended to the nation, it becomes the doctrine of the sovereignty of the people."When we, as a nation, totally turn our backs on this concept of individual and provincial responsibility and God-given inalienable rights, then we have secured the tyrant's path to despotic power, and we will for an indeterminate amount of time deny the blessings of true freedom to our children. But, so far in our history, we have not made this grave error, and that constant cycle of ideas, of laws, of morality, and, yes, of religion, is turning the tide again.Democracy in America, read in conjunction with the Federalist Papers, provides the seminal discourse on the Founders' intent, and gives the added bonus of the impartiality of an unbiased observer who is honestly seeking to know the inner workings and the ultimate fate of America. It may be dry at times, but it is refreshingly free of the activist interpretation and encroachment on individual liberties that have so often been employed by an ever more ambitious federal government, and those within and around it who fear the check of constitutional limitations on their grand designs for humanity.My children will be reading this book one day, whether or not it is touched upon in their schools. I consider it to be my responsibility to them, to their important roles as future citizens. In 1830, De Tocqueville observed that every American, of every class, knew the Constitution, the constraints of State and Federal power, and the extent of their individual liberties intimately. That state of understanding in the general populace was not a miraculous coincidence, but merely the inevitable result of a people who placed great value in educating themselves and their children, and it can be easily repeated if we look to those who have forged the path of human freedom as our inspiration.

Easton

Definately a classic that should be read by anyone who loves freedom....I would think that is everyone I would hope. De Toqueville not only expounds on how each adult was in the habit of BEING government on a local level that doesn't exist today but also that it was the majority of americans's customs that made our democratic republic work well. By customs, he means the intelligence/wisdom (knowledge applied) and morals (tendancy to do right or goodness) that make us unique. In other words, our type of government will not work with poorly educated masses who are taught WHAT to think not HOW to think and with an immoral majority. Hmmm....sounds like exactly what the American Communist agenda has been over the last century..They are winning BUT there are groups of individuals who are forming communities to fight this societal decay and trend of declining enlightenment. I am so excited to be a part of that community of entreprenuers who are independent thinkers and innovators, creative and tenacious who are developing ourselves for lives of excellence in tribal communities and lead through example, encouragement and service to the best ideals of mankind. WE ARE LIFE and we ARE the change. The Freedom Shift is in full gear. In one year, our goals it to have one million souls in our community, learning, loving, growing, respecting and hoping that it isn't too late by the power of Providence to keep the flame of liberty burning bright on a hill for all the world to see.

Jean-Loup

Must read book when you live in the States and better understand this country

Ziggie

De-Tocqueville's books democracy in America are important books that people need to read, to learn about your country, to learn what your schools no longer teach you, the important facts about our country that the progressive movement has been doing everything they can to erase from history. These are important books to read, to learn about the greatness of the country you live in.

Leland

How fascinating how much has changed, and how much hasn't.

Dorian Neerdael

Le premier tome de cet ouvrage de Tocqueville est une collection plate et inintéressante de faits, à propos du fonctionnement des jeunes Etats-Unis.Mais la question qui traverse l'ouvrage, et qui est intéressante d'un point de vue historique, est "comment un Etat démocratique, qui se base sur l'opinion du vulgaire, sur la tyrannie de la majorité est-il possible ?"En répondant à cette question, Tocqueville veut montrer à la France, son pays natal, qu'il y a plus d'avantages que d'inconvénients dans une démocratie.

Marc Moore

The first and final thirds of this book should be required reading for all people, regardless of race, creed, whatever. It rambles a little in the middle section, but it's quite striking how observant the Frenchman was, almost 200 year's ago. His prediction that the U.S. and Russia would be the preeminent powers, for instance, was probably ridiculed at the time, given the woeful state of Russian military power, pre-Soviets.

Janene

Great book. Lots of truths which is amazing because it was written so long ago.

Mischke

read at St. John's College

Timo

A magnificent work, full of information and ideas. I provided the foreword to the Laissez Faire Books ebook edition.

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