Tocqueville on the Remote Effects and Hidden Tendencies of Democracy

 

I.  Contrast Between Democracy and Aristocracy/Monarchy:  "[Democracy's] defects strike one at first glance, but its good qualities are revealed only in the long run."(713)

        (a) Short-Term Characteristics:  Democracy vs. Aristocracy/Monarchy

        (b) Long-Term Tendency:  Democracy vs. Aristocracy/Monarchy

        (c) Indirect Effects:  "I praise it much more on account of what it causes to be done than for what it does."(721)  What does he mean?

 

Compare with Burke on the science of constructing a commonwealth:  "remoter operation" and "obscure and almost latent causes".

 

Does Tocqueville think that any form of government will promote Rousseau's General Will?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

II.  Moral Motivation

 

        A.  Two Kinds of Patriotism:  This is a reply to Burke's defense of Aristocracy/Monarchy as involving the heart rather than pure reason.

 

        B.  The Golden Rule as a Hypothetical Contract

        Property Rights:  Why is there no objection to property rights in America?

        Democratic Rights:  Why are Americans so willing to submit to the will of the majority?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

III.  The Danger of Tyranny of the Majority

 

        What is the Problem?  (Recall that Burke also identified it as a problem.)

 

        Is it a moral problem? 

 

        Why is the moral authority of majority rule part of the problem?

 

        Is there an inconsistency? "I regard it as an impious and detestable maxim that in matters of government the majority of a people has the right to do everything and nevertheless I place the origin of all powers in the will of the majority.  Am I in contradiction with myself?"(725)

 

        Tocqueville on omnipotence.

        Need for separate powers.

 

        Tocqueville on freedom of expression.

 

        The courtier spirit and the lack of outstanding leaders.  How would Burke explain the lack of outstanding leaders (i.e., lack of wisdom)?