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.
A page from original working manuscript of Democracy in Americac. Observing from the perspective of a detached social scientist, Tocqueville wrote of his travels through the United States in the early 19th century when the Market RevolutionWestern expansion and Jacksonian democracy were radically transforming the fabric of American life.
Tocqueville was an ardent supporter of liberty. The most recent translation from Arthur Goldhammer in translates the meaning to be as stated above. Examples of misquoted sources are numerous on the internet,  but the text does not contain the words "Americans were so enamored by equality" anywhere.
His view on government reflects his belief in liberty and the need for individuals to be able to act freely while respecting others' rights. Of centralized government, he wrote that it "excels in preventing, not doing". As none of them is strong enough to fight alone with advantage, the only guarantee of liberty is for everyone to combine forces.
But such a combination is not always in evidence". He cites protective laws in France at the time that protected an estate from being split apart among heirs, thereby preserving wealth and preventing a churn of wealth such as was perceived by him in within the United States.
On civil and political society and the individual[ edit ] Tocqueville's main purpose was to analyze the functioning of political society and various forms of political associations, although he brought some reflections on civil society too and relations between political and civil society.
For Tocqueville, as for Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Karl Marxcivil society was a sphere of private entrepreneurship and civilian affairs regulated by civil code. Egoism springs from a blind instinct; individualism from wrong-headed thinking rather than from depraved feelings.
It originates as much from defects of intelligence as from the mistakes of the heart. Egoism blights the seeds of every virtue; individualism at first dries up only the source of public virtue.
In the longer term it attacks and destroys all the others and will finally merge with egoism. In describing the American, he agreed with thinkers such as Aristotle and Montesquieu that the balance of property determined the balance of political power, but his conclusions after that differed radically from those of his predecessors.
Tocqueville tried to understand why the United States was so different from Europe in the last throes of aristocracy. In contrast to the aristocratic ethic, the United States was a society where hard work and money-making was the dominant ethic, where the common man enjoyed a level of dignity which was unprecedented, where commoners never deferred to elites and where what he described as crass individualism and market capitalism had taken root to an extraordinary degree.
Legislatures abolished primogeniture and entailsresulting in more widely distributed land holdings.
This was a contrast to the general aristocratic pattern in which only the eldest child, usually a man, inherited the estate, which had the effect of keeping large estates intact from generation to generation.
As Tocqueville understood it, this rapidly democratizing society had a population devoted to "middling" values which wanted to amass through hard work vast fortunes. In Tocqueville's mind, this explained why the United States was so different from Europe.
In Europe, he claimed, nobody cared about making money. The lower classes had no hope of gaining more than minimal wealth while the upper classes found it crass, vulgar and unbecoming of their sort to care about something as unseemly as money and many were virtually guaranteed wealth and took it for granted.
At the same time in the United States, workers would see people fashioned in exquisite attire and merely proclaim that through hard work they too would soon possess the fortune necessary to enjoy such luxuries. Despite maintaining that the balance of property determined the balance of power, Tocqueville argued that as the United States showed, equitable property holdings did not ensure the rule of the best men.
In fact, it did quite the opposite as the widespread, relatively equitable property ownership which distinguished the United States and determined its mores and values also explained why the United States masses held elites in such contempt.
Ordinary Americans enjoyed too much power and claimed too great a voice in the public sphere to defer to intellectual superiors. This culture promoted a relatively pronounced equality, Tocqueville argued, but the same mores and opinions that ensured such equality also promoted mediocrity.The bicentennial of Alexis Charles Henri Maurice Clerel, the Comte de Tocqueville, is an apt time to revisit the insights on liberty in Democracy in America.
That is especially true today, since he recognized that liberty and democracy are not the same thing, despite the common modern confusion between them. 3 Alexis de Tocqueville: The Psychologist of Equality What is the relation between equality and liberty?
While now the word democracy generally is. Alexis de Tocqueville was a sympathetic but by no means uncritical observer of the United States. the premise of today’s neoclassical economic theory was expressed by Adam Smith in the Wealth of Nations with his assumption that “every individual intends only .
Essay Liberty: Adam Smith and Alexis de Tocqueville. Both Adam Smith and Alexis de Tocqueville agree that an individual is the most qualified to make decisions affecting the sphere of the individual as long as those decisions do not violate the law of justice.
The Great Philosophers: Alexis de Tocqueville Facebook Twitter Email Democracy was achieved by such a long, arduous and heroic struggle that it can feel embarrassing – even shameful – to feel a little disappointed by it. An Analysis of Adam Smith and Alexis de Tocqueville's Views on Liberty PAGES 3.
WORDS 2, View Full Essay. More essays like this: liberty, adam smith, alexis de tocqueville, the theory of moral sentiments.
liberty, adam smith, alexis de tocqueville, the theory of moral sentiments.