And Here We Are…

 

I’ve always wanted to read Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America” but have never gotten around to it.  I tried once, but I got distracted, and drifted away.  This summer I plan to read Harvey Mansfield’s “Tocqueville: A Very Short Introduction.”  Maybe that will inspire me to try again.  Powerline’s Scott Johnson just finished reading “Democracy in America” and wrote a wonderful post on it today, which included the following passage:

Tocqueville wrote as a friend of freedom. He worried that the passion for equality (think “equity”) would overwhelm freedom and that democracy would therefore tend toward a new form of despotism.

It’s hard to imagine a more precise and concise description of our current situation in America in 2021.  And remember, Tocqueville was a Frenchman in 1840.  His prescience is simply astounding.  I’ve just got to read his work sometime.  And Scott’s summary should be shouted from the rooftops.  In fact, I just can’t help but repeat it right now:  “Tocqueville wrote as a friend of freedom. He worried that the passion for equality (think “equity”) would overwhelm freedom and that democracy would therefore tend toward a new form of despotism.”  And here we are.  Mr. Tocqueville would look at Critical Race Theory, our tax code, affirmative action, America’s entitlement industry, our educational system, and the modern Democrat party and he would just grimly nod his head.  He saw it coming.  And here we are.

So where do we go from here?  I’m not sure.  But there’s a book I’ve got to read that may help me with that…

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  1. philo Member
    philo
    @philo

    Dr. Bastiat: Mr. Tocqueville would look at … the modern Democrat party and he would just grimly nod his head.

    True…even while the word “modern” unnecessarily narrows the scope of their crimes.  And “passion for equality / equity” is an overly polite way of describing the special brand of demagoguery and ignorance we are witnessing today. Look no further than the fact that their clearly fascist overlords fooled them onto their current path simply by naming/branding themselves anti-fascists. I prefer this similarly true but slightly more direct line:

    “[A] significant and growing portion of the American population is losing the virtues required to be functioning members of a free society.” – Charles Murray in Coming Apart (Page 289), 2012

    Before long I suspect I will be modifying that “is losing” part to “has lost.”

    • #1
  2. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    I think it was a mistake to end property requirements for voting. 

    • #2
  3. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    I think it was a mistake to end property requirements for voting.

    Or at least some literacy level . . .

    • #3
  4. Franz Drumlin Member
    Franz Drumlin
    @FranzDrumlin

    If I had to name one book that most formed my world view it would be Democracy in America. Tocqueville’s observations alone on mores and how they are vital they are in holding a democracy together are worth the price of the book. And unlike so much later French writing it is eminently readable.

    I once had a part in a play here in Chicago. I arrived early for a rehearsal so I sat down in a corner and began reading, and underlining, passages of Democracy in America. The director wandered in (his name will be instantly recognizable to most people but I’m not here to gossip). He asked what I was reading and so I held up the book. He smirked and said, “there is no Democracy in America.” Downstream from culture, as they say.

    • #4
  5. Ekosj Member
    Ekosj
    @Ekosj

    Once equal outcomes replaced equal opportunities the game was lost.   Now things are on a particular trajectory that has no good endings.    We need to re-discover the importance of Western culture … and immediately … or America is well and truly finished.

    • #5
  6. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Ekosj (View Comment):

    Once equal outcomes replaced equal opportunities the game was lost. Now things are on a particular trajectory that has no good endings. We need to re-discover the importance of Western culture … and immediately … or America is well and truly finished.

    I’m thinking more about a national divorce.

    • #6
  7. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Stad (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    I think it was a mistake to end property requirements for voting.

    Or at least some literacy level . . .

    What it comes down to is only I should be able to vote.  Or my chosen representative who may have a better grasp on things.

    • #7
  8. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Dr. Bastiat: He worried that the passion for equality (think “equity”)

    Actually equity is a very, very good thing.  It is currently being misused, and its new connotation differs from its definition and historical understanding.

    I looked these up for another post comment, but I’ll repeat then here.  From the OED:

    Iniquity 1: quality of being unrighteous, (more often) unrighteous action or conduct; 2: want or violation of equity; injustice, unfairness.

    Equity 1: The quality of being equal or fair; fairness, impartiality; even-handed dealing.

    Equal 1: to make equal, equalise; to bring to the same level; 2: to consider or represent as equal; to liken, compare (etc.); 3: to be or become equal to, to come up to, match rival; 4: to produce or achieve something equal to, to match; also To compete on equal terms with.

    Equality 1: The condition of being equal in quantity, amount, value, intensity, etc.; 2: the condition of having equal dignity, rank, or privileges with others; the fact of being on equal footing; In persons: fairness, impartiality, equity.

    • #8
  9. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    I want to know how we can turn our gaze from a constant fearful inward direction, afraid people will find fault with us if we slip up somehow, in a cheerful, confident outward-looking direction. Without that turn, our lives will contract rather than expand.

    We need to feel confident and happy to meet new people.

    One thing I noticed in watching the series Foyle’s War, which documents life in small towns around England during World War II, was what a sociable time it was. I think that one part of that was that the young men were wearing attractive uniforms, they felt good about themselves and their myriad achievements in the military–which does a good job with giving constant recognition and reward for self-improvement and learning new skills and for doing the seemingly impossible. Merriment ensued in the little local “socials” that the towns held for the servicemen.

    It is no wonder that a global baby boom followed such a period of socializing and self-confidence. And the building of the iconic happy 1950s suburbs followed all over the world.

    How things have changed. We now live in a mass-media-soaked, highly critical environment. Few people have the self-confidence to thrive in it.

    For little platoons to form, first people need to feel good about themselves.

    The negativity has been building up in our public schools and civic life for decades now. If we don’t stop it somehow, it will be the end of us.

    • #9
  10. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Flicker (View Comment):
    Actually equity is a very, very good thing.  It is currently being misused, and its new connotation differs from its definition and historical understanding.

    Don’t you see?  This change in definition now makes “equity” a bad thing.  The left has no qualms about taking something good and twisting it to help their own sordid agenda.  I wish I could say I was “gay” without people thinking I was a homosexual . . .

    • #10
  11. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Stad (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):
    Actually equity is a very, very good thing. It is currently being misused, and its new connotation differs from its definition and historical understanding.

    Don’t you see? This change in definition now makes “equity” a bad thing. The left has no qualms about taking something good and twisting it to help their own sordid agenda. I wish I could say I was “gay” without people thinking I was a homosexual . . .

    Fortunately, the Americans coming up will see right through this BS.

    • #11
  12. Chuck Thatcher
    Chuck
    @Chuckles

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    I think it was a mistake to end property requirements for voting.

    Or at least some literacy level . . .

    What it comes down to is only I should be able to vote. Or my chosen representative who may have a better grasp on things.

    The concept of multiple votes I first read about in Nevil Shute’s “In the wet” might be worthy of consideration.  Then, I think it was Heinlein, that introduced to me the idea of only former servicemen being allowed to vote.

    But I agree that finally doing away with the Poll Tax was not the smartest move.

    • #12
  13. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Chuck (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    I think it was a mistake to end property requirements for voting.

    Or at least some literacy level . . .

    What it comes down to is only I should be able to vote. Or my chosen representative who may have a better grasp on things.

    The concept of multiple votes I first read about in Nevil Shute’s “In the wet” might be worthy of consideration. Then, I think it was Heinlein, that introduced to me the idea of only former servicemen being allowed to vote.

    But I agree that finally doing away with the Poll Tax was not the smartest move.

    I think we could have given women the right to vote in a more sensible fashion if we kept that. 

    • #13
  14. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Chuck (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    I think it was a mistake to end property requirements for voting.

    Or at least some literacy level . . .

    What it comes down to is only I should be able to vote. Or my chosen representative who may have a better grasp on things.

    The concept of multiple votes I first read about in Nevil Shute’s “In the wet” might be worthy of consideration. Then, I think it was Heinlein, that introduced to me the idea of only former servicemen being allowed to vote.

    But I agree that finally doing away with the Poll Tax was not the smartest move.

    I’m not familiar with In the Wet (I’ll look it up later) but I take it you mean not one person-one vote?  Some get two or three?

    • #14
  15. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    Interesting Tocqueville quote at PowerLine.

    • #15
  16. Al Sparks Thatcher
    Al Sparks
    @AlSparks

    MarciN (View Comment):
    One thing I noticed in watching the series Foyle’s War, which documents life in small towns around England during World War II, was what a sociable time it was. I think that one part of that was that the young men were wearing attractive uniforms, they felt good about themselves and their myriad achievements in the military–which does a good job with giving constant recognition and reward for self-improvement and learning new skills and for doing the seemingly impossible. Merriment ensued in the little local “socials” that the towns held for the servicemen.

    There’s an old BBC sitcom that I recently discovered, which ran starting in 1968 for nine seasons.

    Basically it was about a home guard unit of older people that were trying to do their bit and it was in a small town.

    The community you’re talking about ran deeper than the young.  And the peril the country was in was much higher than what the United States has experienced in over a hundred years.

    It reminds me of present day Israel which is united because of its peril.

    • #16
  17. Al Sparks Thatcher
    Al Sparks
    @AlSparks

    Scott Johnson over at PowerLine just posted an excerpt of Tocqville that took me a little while to get through.  In his introduction, Scott said that he just finished Tocqville’s Democracy in America for the first time and that it took him 2 years with help.

    • #17
  18. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Al Sparks (View Comment):

    Scott Johnson over at PowerLine just posted an excerpt of Tocqville that took me a little while to get through. In his introduction, Scott said that he just finished Tocqville’s Democracy in America for the first time and that it took him 2 years with help.

    That’s the post that I link to in my OP above.

    • #18
  19. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    We created on purpose what the Brits evolved toward as they had too many ways for citizens to escape central control. This is how the center behaves and it always narrows.  If we want to live and prosper in freedom, free states or regions have to separate and adopt the constitution.   The capacity to do so may make it unnecessary but the notion that we’ll have a fair election with this bunch in charge is an illusion. 

    • #19
  20. Chuck Thatcher
    Chuck
    @Chuckles

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Chuck (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    I think it was a mistake to end property requirements for voting.

    Or at least some literacy level . . .

    What it comes down to is only I should be able to vote. Or my chosen representative who may have a better grasp on things.

    The concept of multiple votes I first read about in Nevil Shute’s “In the wet” might be worthy of consideration. Then, I think it was Heinlein, that introduced to me the idea of only former servicemen being allowed to vote.

    But I agree that finally doing away with the Poll Tax was not the smartest move.

    I’m not familiar with In the Wet (I’ll look it up later) but I take it you mean not one person-one vote? Some get two or three?

    Everybody gets one, military service gets another, education gets another one or two (I don’t remember the details), and the last – the seventh – is bestowed only by the Queen for extraordinary service.  

    • #20
  21. Trink Coolidge
    Trink
    @Trink

    “Where do we go from here?”

    Victor Davis Hanson’s last lines in his piece “Anatomy of Woke Madness.”

    Do we revert to the norms of the civil rights movement where the content of our character alone matters, not the color of our skin?

    Or have we sunk so deeply into the woke quicksands, that we cannot thrash our way up to the air, and thus suffocate from the ancient pressures of the bog that have always destroyed civilizations?

    https://amgreatness.com/2021/06/13/anatomy-of-the-woke-madness/

    • #21