A VOICE FROM THE PAST

Posted: January 30, 2013 in democracy, history

A VOICE FROM THE PAST

Alexis deTocqueville, was born in 1805 of a Norman aristocratic family whose ancestors had fought in 1066 at the Battle of Hastings. They had experienced the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution and in fact narrowly escaped the guillotine due to the fall of Robespierre in 1794. They experienced dictatorship. In 1831, his parliamentary role as deputy of the Manche department (Valognes), allowed him to gain a commission from the July Monarchy to tour the prisons and penitentiaries of America. He actually toured extensively throughout America and was fascinated by the vibrant character of American democracy and attempted to discover what had made it so unique and what might herald its downfall.[1]

He proved to be brilliantly analytical and prescient in his 1835 publication of Democracy in America (ultimately two volumes with the second coming forth in 1840), a voice from the past . . .

Of liberty, morality and faith . . .

“Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.”
― Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Of encroaching central government he wrote . . .

“After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.”
― Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America[2]

Of the public purse. . . .

“The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”
― attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville

“America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” [3]

Endnotes:

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexis_de_Tocqueville
[2] http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/90454-de-la-d-mocratie-en-am-rique
[3] http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/465.Alexis_de_Tocqueville

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