This freedom allows for degeneration and conversely allows acceleration, inventions and improvement.
Yes, there were and still are bad effects of democracy for Tocqueville to observe, because there is human nature and people are free to choose to do selfish and shortsighted things. Many of his conclusions are thus outdated and even laughable as I type this on my computer. The Year Leap explains this principle beautifully; the proof that democracy and free markets work is the amount of progress we have made in the last years compared to the last In this chapter he gives warnings about being so caught up in day to day living and enjoyments that education wanes, preoccupation with the fun things in life distracts attention from government and that lack of government involvement results in loss of freedom.
We have seen some of these results already and are suffering its consequences. However, I grudgingly admit that I am not free of generalizing judgments…yet. Jan 23, Alex Zakharov rated it it was amazing. The depth and breadth of the ideas, number of subjects, and the quality of writing makes you take a step back and realize how pedestrian in comparison most of political and sociological writing and thinking is, no matter how serious or well-reviewed. Intermediary local institutions as the only practically sustainable buffer.
The price of any generalization is a decrease in accuracy. French generalization, unlike American, had for centuries not been checked by practical experience and as such it is more utopian.
Lapses into obsessive spirituality are to be expected as an overreaction to otherwise general over-occupation with practice. Shelves: classics , history , non-fiction , philosophy , political. De Tocqueville said the first volume of Democracy in America was more about America, the second more about democracy. The introduction by Mansfield and Winthrop, the translators and editors of the edition I read, called it both the best book on America and the best on democracy. The first volume was a popular bestseller in its day, the second a more modest success, and I can understand that.
I rated the first volume five stars, this volume is getting quite a bit lower. It's still well worth read De Tocqueville said the first volume of Democracy in America was more about America, the second more about democracy. It's still well worth reading--there are startling insights in this book, they're just to me less striking and come less often. As De Tocqueville noted, the first book is more on America, and is grounded in a lot of telling observations. Not that it's absent in this second book, but this one is a lot more theoretical, and I think a lot of its points are better made in the first book.
I also admit I'm not inclined to accept one of his major themes in this second volume, that religion is essential to democracy. And he seems very much off the mark in his contention that American democracy doesn't produce great literature or advances in the sciences. Admittedly, in when this second volume was published, about the only well-known American writers of fiction were James Fenimore Cooper and Washington Irving.
Democracy in America Summary and Analysis of Vol. II, Part 2, Chapters 1-20
I can't say I much agree with his criticisms of individualism either. That's not to say reading this wasn't worthwhile, but less essential I feel than the amazing first volume. Now I need to read more about de Tocqueville and critiques of his theory. I have tentative criticisms of his main tenets - mostly questions that I hope someone else might have noticed and studied for me.
Perhaps I missed this section, but did he address how the despot produced by equality and democracy interacts with the other branches of our government? I suppose he would say that even if we begin with those three branches checking power, eventually the executive branch will dominate. And then, Now I need to read more about de Tocqueville and critiques of his theory. And then, while in practice, it does seem as though de Tocqueville is accurate in his portrayal of equality producing mediocrity, I do wonder if mediocrity is the necessary result of equality.
Why can't there be high standards and an excellent education available for all people? And perhaps I missed it, but does de Tocqueville address the waste of aristocracies who may have fools in high positions and geniuses born into poverty? But he remains utterly interesting in his analysis of our society.
It's fascinating to me to observe his comments on equality between the sexes and the differences between European women and American women in his century. Apparently, he thought women in America acted more intelligently than European women. And it just amazes me, despite modern psychology, to see even a couple of centuries ago, evidence that people live up to expectations.
May 14, L. Smith rated it it was amazing. This book was required reading for my political science class in college but, to my surprise, I found it absolutely fascinating. He revisited the country some time later and wrote this book to express troublesome changes that he witnessed from one visit to the next and This book was required reading for my political science class in college but, to my surprise, I found it absolutely fascinating. He revisited the country some time later and wrote this book to express troublesome changes that he witnessed from one visit to the next and made some predictions about where we were headed, as a nation, based on those changes.
Now, years later, his predictions are eerily on point and my copy of this book, for one, is heavily marked with various colored highlighters as I simply couldn't resist the urge to re-read and often quote certain passages from it. Oct 28, Dardan rated it really liked it. From chapter 9: "Christianity tells us, it is true, that you must prefer others to self in order to gain heaven; but Christianity also tells us that you must do good to your fellows out of love of God.
That is a magnificent thought; man, using his intellect, penetrates divine thought; he sees that the purpose of God is order; he associates with this great design out of volition, and even while sacrificing his particular interests to this admirable order of all things, he expects no other recompe From chapter 9: "Christianity tells us, it is true, that you must prefer others to self in order to gain heaven; but Christianity also tells us that you must do good to your fellows out of love of God.
That is a magnificent thought; man, using his intellect, penetrates divine thought; he sees that the purpose of God is order; he associates with this great design out of volition, and even while sacrificing his particular interests to this admirable order of all things, he expects no other recompense than the pleasure of contemplating it. Jan 17, Jeremy Egerer rated it it was amazing.
Easily one of the six greatest secular books I've ever read. Somehow predicted the rise of socialism and the nanny state, the disappearance of truly great men from the political scene, the concentration of governmental power and its broadness of scope, the rise and dangers of the modern corporation and the mass-media, and the ever-shrinking individual amidst an increasingly dominant equality. Nobody has ever written such powerful and insightful social commentary with such force: Tocqueville is a Easily one of the six greatest secular books I've ever read. Nobody has ever written such powerful and insightful social commentary with such force: Tocqueville is as good as it gets.
- San Pablo en sus cartas (Spanish Edition).
- Alexis de Tocqueville: Democracy in America, Volume II, Part B — The Patriot Post;
- Sonata in A Major, Op. 33, No. 1?
- Alexis de Tocqueville - Democracy in America, Summary & Beliefs - HISTORY;
Mar 31, Bob G rated it liked it Shelves: top In the first volume, the author described what he saw in the American people and system of government. In this volume he generalizes more about the future from his point of view and centers his thoughts about "democratic ages". He tries to relate the American experience to France. I can understand why he did that, and, if I were steeped in French history, I could probably relate much better to what he was saying.
But I am not, and don't. Oct 03, Alexis rated it really liked it. I loved this book because it is a clear window back in time. His observations about human nature under different political systems is interesting, but sometimes debatable. His predictions for the future of the Union probably would have been correct except for the Civil War. Feb 07, Courtney rated it really liked it. A prophetic book about the mindset of Americans -- including their virtues and potential vices.
Democracy in America - Wikipedia
Knocked this one off over breakfast. This is a hard and wonderful book. I loved it. This Frenchman in could see the very soul of men years ahead of his time. Very interesting book. Dec 22, Reenah rated it really liked it. Definitely worth reading. An interesting look at 19th century American culture.
Great work Great classic read! Highly recommend to anyone interested in history and politics. He traces the doctrine of "self-interest well understood" to Michel de Montaigne, the 16th-century French philosopher. Tocqueville asserts that Americans "almost always know how to combine their own well-being with that of their fellow citizens. View the species, it is elevated. This chapter forms a sequel to the preceding one. Although Tocqueville discerns an affinity between the doctrine of self-interest well understood and some religious precepts, he does not agree that self-interest is the sole motive of religious men.
Here he refers to the famous "bet" or "wager" formulated by the French theologian Blaise Pascal, in which a small bet of belief in the Christian religion costs little if the bet is lost, whereas the opposite bet, that Christianity is false, has a heavy cost eternal damnation if the bet is lost. American preachers often remind their listeners that religious beliefs favor freedom and public order, so Americans are accustomed to thinking that the practice of religion accords with well-being. In America, there is a general "passion for material well-being. This passion is "essentially a middle-class one," and in times of increasing material equality, people are more disposed to be concerned with their material fortunes.
A similar sentiment is increasing in Europe, according to Tocqueville. Readers of Chapters 2 and 3 should keep in mind that the word "individualism" was a fairly recent coinage in Tocqueville 's day and did not have the favorable connotations that it often has in ours. For Tocqueville, free institutions and civil associations constitute a valuable, effective counterweight to individualism because they draw people together for all sorts of productive goals and projects.
Tocqueville's approval of American civil associations is clear in Chapters 5 and 6. By "association" here, he means something different from "assembly," the right of association guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution. Civil associations are voluntary groups, clubs, or organizations formed to advance a particular goal or cause.
Today, sociologists would describe such associations as a community or nation's "social capital" see the well-known analysis Bowling Alone by Robert D. Putnam, published in Benjamin Franklin —90 was notable for the energy he devoted to mustering support for such groups, such as volunteer firefighting services or circulating libraries. Have study documents to share about Democracy in America? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access! Download a PDF to print or study offline. Democracy in America — is arguably the most perceptive and influential book ever written about American politics and society.
A young aristocratic lawyer, Tocqueville came to the United States in with his friend and fellow magistrate Gustave de Beaumont to study American penitentiary systems. During their nine-month visit they conducted interviews with more than people on American politics, law, and social practices. His book provides enduring insight into the political consequences of widespread property ownership, the potential dangers to liberty inherent in majority rule, the importance of civil institutions in an individualistic culture dominated by the pursuit of material self-interest, the influence of the press and the judiciary in American politics, and the vital role of religion in American life, while prophetically examining the widening differences between the northern and southern states.
Arthur Goldhammer has translated from the French more than 80 works in history, literature, art history, classical studies, philosophy, psychology, and social science.