Life[ edit ] Tocqueville came from an old Norman aristocratic family. From to , he served as member of the lower house of parliament for the Manche department Valognes. In , he sought to found a Young Left Jeune Gauche party which would advocate wage increases, a progressive tax ,  and other labor concerns in order to undermine the appeal of the socialists. While he did visit some prisons, Tocqueville traveled widely in the United States and took extensive notes about his observations and reflections.
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Materialism Situation of women[ edit ] Tocqueville was one of the first social critics to examine the situation of U. He writes: "In no country has such constant care been taken as in America to trace two clearly distinct lines of action for the two sexes and to make them keep pace one with the other, but in two pathways that are always different. Tocqueville seeks to apply the functional aspects of democracy in the United States to what he sees as the failings of democracy in his native France.
These include his belief that democracy has a tendency to degenerate into " soft despotism " as well as the risk of developing a tyranny of the majority. He observes that the strong role religion played in the United States was due to its separation from the government, a separation all parties found agreeable.
He contrasts this to France, where there was what he perceived to be an unhealthy antagonism between democrats and the religious, which he relates to the connection between church and state. Tocqueville also outlines the possible excesses of passion for equality among men, foreshadowing the totalitarian states of the twentieth century.
Insightful analysis of political society was supplemented in the second volume by description of civil society as a sphere of private and civilian affairs, mirroring Hegel. It was immediately popular in both Europe and the United States, while also having a profound impact on the French population. By the twentieth century, it had become a classic work of political science , social science , and history.
It is a commonly assigned reading for undergraduates of American universities majoring in the political or social sciences, and part of the introductory political theory syllabus at Cambridge, Oxford, Princeton and other institutions.
In the introduction to his translation of the book, Harvard Professor Harvey C. Mansfield calls it "at once the best book ever written on democracy and the best book ever written on America. He anticipates the potential acrimony over the abolition of slavery that would tear apart the United States and lead to the American Civil War , as well as the eventual superpower rivalry between the United States and Russia, which exploded after World War II and spawned the Cold War.
Noting the rise of the industrial sector in the American economy, Tocqueville, some scholars have argued, also correctly predicted that an industrial aristocracy would rise from the ownership of labor. In spending several chapters lamenting the state of the arts in America, he fails to envision the literary renaissance that would shortly arrive in the form of such major writers as Edgar Allan Poe , Henry David Thoreau , Ralph Waldo Emerson , Herman Melville , Nathaniel Hawthorne , and Walt Whitman.
According to Tocqueville, democracy had some unfavorable consequences: the tyranny of the majority over thought, a preoccupation with material goods, and isolated individuals. Translated versions of Democracy in America and effects on meaning[ edit ] This translation was completed by Reeve and later revised by Francis Bowen.
In , it was reissued in a modern edition by Alfred A. Knopf edited and with an extensive historical essay by Phillips Bradley. George Lawrence , translated in with an introduction by J. Mayer .
Alexis de Tocqueville
Almost diminutive in stature, acutely sensitive, and plagued by severe bouts of anxiety since childhood, he remained close to his parents throughout his life. Despite a frail voice in a fragile body, distaste for the daily demands of parliamentary existence, and long periods of illness and nervous exhaustion, Tocqueville chose politics as his vocation and adhered to this choice until he was driven from office. His decision in favour of a public career was made with some assurance of success. His father was a loyal royalist prefect and in was made a peer of France by Charles X. At that time, young Tocqueville moved easily into government service as an apprentice magistrate. There he prepared himself for political life while observing the impending constitutional confrontation between the Conservatives and the Liberals, with growing sympathy for the latter. After the manner of Liberals under the autocratic regime of the restored Bourbon kings, Tocqueville began to study English history as a model of political development.
Alexis de Tocqueville Quotes
Both of his parents had been jailed during the Reign of Terror. After attending college in Metz, Tocqueville studied law in Paris and was appointed a magistrate in Versailles, where he met his future wife and befriended a fellow lawyer named Gustave de Beaumont. Did you know? During his travels in the United States, one of the first things that surprised Alexis de Tocqueville about American culture was how early everyone seemed to eat breakfast. Unable to advance, he and Beaumont secured permission to carry out a study of the American penal system, and in April they set sail for Rhode Island. In Pennsylvania , Tocqueville spent a week interviewing every prisoner in the Eastern State Penitentiary. In Washington , D.
Demokracie podle de Tocquevillea
There are some nations in Europe whose inhabitants think of themselves in a sense as colonists, indifferent to the fate of the place they live in. The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They are so divorced from their own interests that even when their own security and that of their children is finally compromised, they do not seek to avert the danger themselves but cross their arms and wait for the nation as a whole to come to their aid. Yet as utterly as they sacrifice their own free will, they are no fonder of obedience than anyone else.