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Getting Them de Tocqueville Blues November 29, 2012

Posted by geoff in News.

Ultimaratioregis over at xBradTC’s blog reminds us of de Tocqueville’s observations from nearly 180 years ago:

(Niall) Ferguson contrasts the American and French Revolutions, not fifteen years apart, yet so fundamentally different in character and outcome. For this, he evokes none other than Alexis de Tocqueville:

There were, Tocqueville argues, five fundamental differences between the two societies, and therefore between the two revolutions they produced. First, France was increasingly centralized, whereas America was a naturally federal state, with a lively provincial associational life and civil society. Second, the French tended to elevate the general will above the letter of the law, a tendency resisted by America’s powerful legal profession. Third, the French revolutionaries attacked religion and the church that upheld it, whereas American sectarianism provided a bulwark against the pretensions of secular authorities. Fourth, the French ceded too much power to irresponsible intellectuals, whereas in America practical men reigned supreme. Finally, and most important to Tocqueville, the French put equality above liberty.

There’s more in his post at xBrad’s blog, if you’re up for some serious melancholy.


1. xbradtc - November 29, 2012

It’s so depressing, I slit my neighbor’s wrists.

2. geoff - November 29, 2012

All of de Toqueville’s obsolete differences bum me out, but #4 and #5 bum me out the most.

3. Linlithgow - November 30, 2012

I’d say we’re reversing #4 and #5 actually, Geoff. =(

4. lauraw - November 30, 2012


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