Alexis Detocqueville Essay Research Paper Alexis de — страница 4

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“providential fact” , that is, virtually unstoppable. De Tocqueville is not aware of any power capable of slowing or stopping the spread of democracy, and he regards any effort to do so as a futile waste of energy. What separates Tocqueville from the other scholars of his time is his realization that stopping the spread of democracy is not a realistic notion. Rather, he devotes his time to the study of how to best improve and reform these democracies to make them most amenable to the citizens of the state. In describing his own intention for his book, “Democracy in America”, Tocqueville says that he will present a completely “new political science” “for a world itself quite new.” Nevertheless, and despite the enormous notoriety of his work, many of those who have

studied and critiqued his work have been hard-pressed to precisely define what this “new political science” is. Connected with this is the fact that Tocqueville has stood in good favour with both the Conservatives and the Liberals throughout the years. Conservatives have reason to count Tocqueville as one of their own, especially for his warning of the dangers of majority tyranny and democratic centralism. Liberals, on the other hand, tend to respect him more for his concern with “individualism” in democracy. But although the themes of centralization and individualism are important to Tocqueville, even central, it remains to be seen how these themes are related to a “new political science,” assuming that to mean a new understanding of the nature of political life

altogether. That Tocqueville is a classical thinker is made evident in an address he delivered to the Academie des Sciences Morales et Politiques in 1853: “What the political sciences achieved [in the Revolution of 1789] with such irresistible force and brilliance they achieve everywhere and always, though more secretly and more slowly. Among all civilized peoples the political sciences give birth or at least form to those general concepts whence emerge the facts with which politicians have to deal, and the laws of which they believe themselves the inventors. Only among barbarians does the practical side of politics exist alone.” In the same address, he asserts that the only social constant in political matters is not any particular social condition, but the nature of man

himself. The “scientific” side of politics, he tells us, is “founded in the very nature of man; his interests, his faculties…It is this aspect [of political science] that teaches us what laws are most appropriate for the general and permanent condition of mankind.” In this address can be seen Tocqueville’s attempt to illustrate the complexities of democracy. With humans being the only “social constant,” and the consistency of humans being that of little to none, democracy is a dangerous wheel that could topple at any time without the support of it’s people. In summation, the problem of democracy has never been better stated than by Faguet: “In truth, the only remedies for the dangers of Democracy are that Democracy should moderate itself of its own accord,

should put the brakes on itself, so to speak; and such brakes can only be bodies having more or less an aristocratic character; but Democracy will never permit such bodies within itself; so, as Montaigne said, here we are arguing in a circle.” Tocqueville was very much aware of the continuous, and sometimes-vicious web spun by democracy. He never thought of democratic manoeuvres as anything more than temporary “band-aid” solutions, and he was well aware that no permanent solution was possible without a fundamental change in the nature of men. The core of Tocqueville’s writing is hardly hopeful, and is quite grim at times. He was a believer that nature dissociates men, at least in their civil capacities, and that it encourages them to think only of themselves. As varied as

the colours of the earth, the interpretations of de Tocqueville, and his political ideas have ranged an immeasurable spectrum. Clearly, he was very concerned with the possibility of a new, “soft” despotism arising from unlimited democracy. He had the foresight to envision the bonds by which “free” men can be held, even under their own will. While his visions of identical men with identical thoughts, evoke images similar to the characters of George Orwell’s novel, 1984, these predictions of a despotic democracy seem to have been at least partially avoided. Many would argue that even today, in 2001, we are on our way to becoming the mindless, emotionless soldiers he forewarned us about. With the cloning of humans being attempted in a remote corner of the world at this