05 April 2007

Tocqueville's Fears

Out of that grows the general truth that the individual is the sole and best placed judge of his own private concerns and society has the right to control his actions only when it feels such actions cause it damage or needs to seek the cooperation of the individual.

-- Alexis De Tocqueville, Democracy in America, pg. 78, (Penguin: 2003) (trans. Gerald Bevan)

This is really a description of what Tocqueville thought that he found in the U.S. It was not something that he necessarily recommended. Indeed while Tocqueville feared what one might call a Jacobin, centralized state, he also was uncomfortable with the extreme individuation he thought that he had found in America.

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