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object:Democracy in America
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Democracy in America
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1:Alexis de Tocqueville’s masterpiece, Democracy in America ~ Amor Towles
2:There's a big difference in a representative republic and a democracy. We do not have a democracy in America. ~ Rush Limbaugh
3:Alex de Touqueville spoke of this weirdness in his book Democracy in America way back in the 1800s. "Americans, contrary to every other society I have studied, form voluntary random social alliances. ~ John Ringo
4:Tocqueville delivered his dispassionate and penetrating judgment of the American experiment in his great work Democracy in America. No one, before or since, has written about the United States with such insight. ~ John F Kennedy
5:America is a land of wonders, in which everything is in constant motion and every change seems an improvement. No natural boundary seems to be set to the efforts of man; and in his eyes what is not yet done is only what he has not attempted to do. - from Democracy in America ~ Alexis de Tocqueville
6:For those who can, one of the things to do is not to move. To stay put. That doesn't mean don't travel; it means have a place and get involved in what can be done in that place. That's the only way we're going to have a representative democracy in America. Nobody stays anywhere long enough to take responsibility for a local community. ~ Gary Snyder
7:This highly negative narrative about interest groups stands in sharp contrast, however, to a much more positive one about the benefits of civil society, or voluntary associations, to the health of democracy. Alexis de Tocqueville in Democracy in America noted that Americans had a strong propensity for organizing private associations, which he argued were “schools for democracy” because they taught private individuals the skills of coming together for public purposes. ~ Francis Fukuyama
8:Democracy in America was never the same as Liberty in Europe. In Europe Liberty was a great life-throb. But in America Democracy was always something anti-life. The greatest democrats, like Abraham Lincoln, had always a sacrificial, self-murdering note in their voices. American Democracy was a form of self-murder, always. Or of murdering somebody else... The love, the democracy, the floundering into lust, is a sort of by-play. The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer. It has never yet melted. ~ D H Lawrence
9:Similarly, Alexis de Tocqueville, the famous French political philosopher and sociologist, in his classic Democracy in America, written after a lengthy visit in the 1830s, saw equality, not majority rule, as the outstanding characteristic of America. “In America,” he wrote,   the aristocratic element has always been feeble from its birth; and if at the present day it is not actually destroyed, it is at any rate so completely disabled, that we can scarcely assign to it any degree of influence on the course of affairs. The ~ Milton Friedman
10:from Democracy in America (1835)
It is odd to watch with what feverish ardor the Americans pursue prosperity and how they are ever tormented by the shadowy suspicion that they may not have chosen the shortest route to get it. Americans cleave to the things of this world as if assured that they will never die, and yet are in such a rush to snatch any that come within their reach, as if expecting to stop living before they have relished them. They clutch everything but hold nothing fast, and so lose their grip as they hurry after some new delight. ~ Alexis de Tocqueville
11:It is their mores, then, that make the Americans of the United States...capable of maintaining the rule of democracy.... Too much importance is attached to laws and too little to mores.... I am convinced that the luckiest of geographical circumstances and the best of laws cannot maintain a constitution in spite of mores, whereas the latter can turn even the most unfavorable circumstances...to advantage.... If I have not succeeded in making the reader feel the importance I attach to the practical experience of the Americans, to their habits, laws, and, in a word, their mores, I have failed in the main object of my work. -Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in American ~ Naomi Wolf
12:Alexis de Tocqueville (1805–59) was among the first to express deep regrets over the rise of individualism, which he traced back to the Protestant Reformation. Tocqueville is, of course, famous for his two-volume work Democracy in America, based on his perceptive nine-month tour of the nation in 1831. He had much praise for the young republic, but he feared it suffered from excessive individualism. Among his concerns was that individualism leads to selfishness and this can result in people not working for the common good, but for each to remain ‘shut up in the solitude of his own heart’. Against this, Tocqueville urged that Americans spurn individualism and follow instead ‘habits of the heart’. ~ Rodney Stark
13:the species of oppression by which democratic nations are menaced is unlike anything that ever before existed in the world.… 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 be nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd. —ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE, Democracy in America ~ Charles Murray
14:That Russia would become such a power in the world had been foreseen as long ago as the 1830s by Alexis de Tocqueville, who said, in a famous passage from Democracy in America, that even then, “There are on earth today two great peoples, who, from different points of departure, seem to be advancing toward the same end. They are the Anglo-Americans and the Russians. . . . All the other peoples appear to have attained approximately their natural limits, and to have nothing left but to conserve their positions; but these two are growing. . . . To attain his end, the first depends on the interest of the individual person, and allows the force and intelligence of individuals to act freely, without directing them. The second in some way concentrates all the power of society in one man. The one has liberty as the chief way of doing things; the other servitude. Their points of departure are divergent; nevertheless, each seems summoned by a secret design of providence to hold in his hands, some day, the destinies of half the world. ~ Charles L Mee Jr
15:Otto, for example, whose book on Dionysus appeared in Germany in 1933.10 Otto stands opposed in this respect to the French Hellenist Jean-Pierre Vernant, who is incapable of seeing anything other than the “normal.” Vernant finds the very idea of disorder absolutely shocking. He's just written an essay on Tocqueville that I would like to read. If ever there was a mimetic author, it's Tocqueville; and if there is a true science of politics, it begins with Tocqueville. It's only in the second volume of Democracy in America that Tocqueville really comes into his own, by the way. He was the first to perceive the difference between democracy and monarchy, which he rightly saw as being based on a unique kind of sacrificial animal, the king. Democracy, although it contains as many obstacles as there are individuals in society, leads people to believe that there are no more obstacles, because the king has been overthrown. No one before Tocqueville saw that, to the contrary, if the shadow of the cripple is no longer cast over the world, it is because the world is on its way to becoming a cemetery. MSB ~ Ren Girard
16:Exilic Intellectuals 1 "It is part of morality not to be at home in one's home." —Theodore W. Adorno "[I am] the outlander, not only regionally, but down bone deep for good...my Texas grandfather has something to do with that." —C. Wright Mills Edward Said's Representations of the Intellectual must be considered a landmark in radically reawakening the crucial consciousness of that critical community of counter-interpreters we have habitually called "The Intellectuals." It appears that the problem of intellectuals in the United States is reformulated periodically as a crucial barometer of issues and concerns centered around, but much beyond, the immediate conception of this social category. It was in Democracy in America that Tocqueville opened his second, theoretically more significant, volume with the startling pronouncement that: I think that in no country in the civilized world is less attention paid to philosophy than in the United States. The Americans have no philosophical school of their own, and they care but little for all the schools into which Europe is divided, the very names of which are scarcely known to them. 2 ~ Anonymous
17:I consider myself a “social ecologist,” concerned with man’s man-made environment the way the natural ecologist studies the biological environment.....the discipline itself boasts an old and distinguished lineage. Its greatest document is Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. But no one is as close to me in temperament, concepts, and approach as the mid-Victorian Englishman Walter Bagehot. Living (as I have) in an age of great social change, Bagehot first saw the emergence of new institutions: civil service and cabinet government, as cores of a functioning democracy, and banking as the center of a functioning economy. A hundred years after Bagehot, I was first to identify management as the new social institution of the emerging society of organizations and, a little later, to spot the emergence of knowledge as the new central resource, and knowledge workers as the new ruling class of a society that is not only “postindustrial” but postsocialist and, increasingly, post-capitalist. As it had been for Bagehot, for me too the tension between the need for continuity and the need for innovation and change was central to society and civilization. ~ Peter F Drucker
18:I think that the species of oppression by which democratic nations are menaced is unlike anything that ever before existed in the world.… 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 be nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd. —ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE, Democracy in America The power which a multiple millionaire, who may be my neighbour and perhaps my employer, has over me is very much less than that which the smallest functionaire possesses who wields the coercive power of the state, and on whose discretion it depends whether and how I am to be allowed to live or to work. —FRIEDRICH VON HAYEK, The Road to Serfdom A Note on Presentation By ~ Charles Murray
19:Whether it is called a public forum or a public sphere or a marketplace of ideas, the reality of open and free public discussion and debate was considered central to the operation of our democracy in America’s earliest decades. Our first self-expression as a nation—“We the People”—made it clear where the ultimate source of authority lay. It was universally understood that the ultimate check and balance for American government was its accountability to the people. And the public forum was the place where the people held the government accountable. That is why it was so important that the marketplace of ideas operated independent from and beyond the authority of government. The three most important characteristics of this marketplace of ideas were the following: It was open to every individual, with no barriers to entry save the necessity of literacy. This access, it is crucial to add, applied not only to the receipt of information but also to the ability to contribute information directly into the flow of ideas that was available to all. The fate of ideas contributed by individuals depended, for the most part, on an emergent meritocracy of ideas. Those judged by the market to be good rose to the top, regardless of the wealth or class of the individual responsible for them. The accepted rules of discourse presumed that the participants were all governed by an unspoken duty to search for general agreement. That is what a “conversation of democracy” is all about. ~ Al Gore
20:Europeans had highly developed regional and national cultures and societies before they bolted on Protestantism. America, on the other hand, was half-created by Protestant extremists to be a Protestant society. American academics accept the idea of American exceptionalism in one of its meanings—that our peculiar founding circumstances shaped us. “The position of the Americans,” Tocqueville wrote in Democracy in America, “is…quite exceptional,” by which he meant the Puritanism, the commercialism, the freedom of religion, the individualism, “a thousand special causes.” The professoriate rejects exceptionalism in today’s right-wing sense, that the United States is superior to all other nations, with a God-given mission. And they also resist the third meaning, the idea that a law of human behavior doesn’t apply here—scholars of religion insist that explanations of religious behavior must be universal. The latest scholarly consensus about America’s exceptional religiosity is an economic theory. Because all forms of religion are products in a marketplace, they say, our exceptional free marketism has produced more supply and therefore generated more demand. Along with universal human needs for physical sustenance and security, there’s also such a need for existential explanations, for why and how the world came to be. Sellers of religion emerge offering explanations. From the start, religions tended to be state monopolies—as they were in the colonies, the Puritans in Massachusetts and the Church of England in the South. After that original American duopoly was dismantled and the government prohibited official churches, religious entrepreneurs rushed into the market, Methodists and Baptists and Mormons and all the others. European countries, meanwhile, kept their state-subsidized religions, Protestant or Catholic—and so in an economic sense those churches became lazy monopolies.*10 In America, according to the market theorists, each religion competes with all the others to acquire and keep customers. Americans, presented with all this fantastic choice, can’t resist buying. We’re so religious for the same reason we’re so fat. ~ Kurt Andersen
21:The American experiment was based on the emergence in the second half of the eighteenth century of a fresh new possibility in human affairs: that the rule of reason could be sovereign. You could say that the age of print begat the Age of Reason which begat the age of democracy. The eighteenth century witnessed more and more ordinary citizens able to use knowledge as a source of power to mediate between wealth and privilege. The democratic logic inherent in these new trends was blunted and forestalled by the legacy structures of power in Europe. But the intrepid migrants who ventured across the Atlantic -- many of them motivated by a desire to escape the constraints of class and creed -- carried the potent seeds of the Enlightenment and planted them in the fertile soil of the New World.

Our Founders understood this better than any others; they realized that a "well-informed citizenry" could govern itself and secure liberty for individuals by substituting reason for brute force. They decisively rejected the three-thousand-year-old superstitious belief in the divine right of kings to rule absolutely and arbitrarily. They reawakened the ancient Greek and Roman traditions of debating the wisest courses of action by exchanging information and opinions in new ways.

Whether it is called a public forum or a public sphere or a marketplace of ideas, the reality of open and free public discussion and debate was considered central to the operation of our democracy in America's earliest decades. Our first self-expression as a nation -- "We the People" -- made it clear where the ultimate source of authority lay.

It was universally understood that the ultimate check and balance for American government was its accountability to the people. And the public forum was the place where the people held the government accountable. That is why it was so important the marketplace for ideas operated independent from and beyond the authority of government. The three most important characteristics of this marketplace of ideas were the following:

1. It was open to every individual, with no barriers to entry save the necessity of literacy. This access, it is crucial to add, applied not only to the receipt of information but also the ability to contribute information directly into the flow of ideas that was available to all.
2. The fate of ideas contributed by individuals depended, for the most part, on an emergent meritocracy of ideas. Those judged by the market to be good rose to the top, regardless of the wealth or class of the individual responsible for them.
3. The accepted rules of discourse presumed that the participants were all governed by an unspoken duty to search for general agreement. That is what a "conversation of democracy" is all about. ~ Al Gore
22:When Benjamin Bloom studied his 120 world-class concert pianists, sculptors, swimmers, tennis players, mathematicians, and research neurologists, he found something fascinating. For most of them, their first teachers were incredibly warm and accepting. Not that they set low standards. Not at all, but they created an atmosphere of trust, not judgment. It was, “I’m going to teach you,” not “I’m going to judge your talent.” As you look at what Collins and Esquith demanded of their students—all their students—it’s almost shocking. When Collins expanded her school to include young children, she required that every four-year-old who started in September be reading by Christmas. And they all were. The three- and four-year-olds used a vocabulary book titled Vocabulary for the High School Student. The seven-year-olds were reading The Wall Street Journal. For older children, a discussion of Plato’s Republic led to discussions of de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, Orwell’s Animal Farm, Machiavelli, and the Chicago city council. Her reading list for the late-grade-school children included The Complete Plays of Anton Chekhov, Physics Through Experiment, and The Canterbury Tales. Oh, and always Shakespeare. Even the boys who picked their teeth with switchblades, she says, loved Shakespeare and always begged for more. Yet Collins maintained an extremely nurturing atmosphere. A very strict and disciplined one, but a loving one. Realizing that her students were coming from teachers who made a career of telling them what was wrong with them, she quickly made known her complete commitment to them as her students and as people. Esquith bemoans the lowering of standards. Recently, he tells us, his school celebrated reading scores that were twenty points below the national average. Why? Because they were a point or two higher than the year before. “Maybe it’s important to look for the good and be optimistic,” he says, “but delusion is not the answer. Those who celebrate failure will not be around to help today’s students celebrate their jobs flipping burgers.… Someone has to tell children if they are behind, and lay out a plan of attack to help them catch up.” All of his fifth graders master a reading list that includes Of Mice and Men, Native Son, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, The Joy Luck Club, The Diary of Anne Frank, To Kill a Mockingbird, and A Separate Peace. Every one of his sixth graders passes an algebra final that would reduce most eighth and ninth graders to tears. But again, all is achieved in an atmosphere of affection and deep personal commitment to every student. “Challenge and nurture” describes DeLay’s approach, too. One of her former students expresses it this way: “That is part of Miss DeLay’s genius—to put people in the frame of mind where they can do their best.… Very few teachers can actually get you to your ultimate potential. Miss DeLay has that gift. She challenges you at the same time that you feel you are being nurtured. ~ Carol S Dweck
23:76. David Hume – Treatise on Human Nature; Essays Moral and Political; An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding
77. Jean-Jacques Rousseau – On the Origin of Inequality; On the Political Economy; Emile – or, On Education, The Social Contract
78. Laurence Sterne – Tristram Shandy; A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy
79. Adam Smith – The Theory of Moral Sentiments; The Wealth of Nations
80. Immanuel Kant – Critique of Pure Reason; Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals; Critique of Practical Reason; The Science of Right; Critique of Judgment; Perpetual Peace
81. Edward Gibbon – The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; Autobiography
82. James Boswell – Journal; Life of Samuel Johnson, Ll.D.
83. Antoine Laurent Lavoisier – Traité Élémentaire de Chimie (Elements of Chemistry)
84. Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison – Federalist Papers
85. Jeremy Bentham – Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation; Theory of Fictions
86. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe – Faust; Poetry and Truth
87. Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier – Analytical Theory of Heat
88. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel – Phenomenology of Spirit; Philosophy of Right; Lectures on the Philosophy of History
89. William Wordsworth – Poems
90. Samuel Taylor Coleridge – Poems; Biographia Literaria
91. Jane Austen – Pride and Prejudice; Emma
92. Carl von Clausewitz – On War
93. Stendhal – The Red and the Black; The Charterhouse of Parma; On Love
94. Lord Byron – Don Juan
95. Arthur Schopenhauer – Studies in Pessimism
96. Michael Faraday – Chemical History of a Candle; Experimental Researches in Electricity
97. Charles Lyell – Principles of Geology
98. Auguste Comte – The Positive Philosophy
99. Honoré de Balzac – Père Goriot; Eugenie Grandet
100. Ralph Waldo Emerson – Representative Men; Essays; Journal
101. Nathaniel Hawthorne – The Scarlet Letter
102. Alexis de Tocqueville – Democracy in America
103. John Stuart Mill – A System of Logic; On Liberty; Representative Government; Utilitarianism; The Subjection of Women; Autobiography
104. Charles Darwin – The Origin of Species; The Descent of Man; Autobiography
105. Charles Dickens – Pickwick Papers; David Copperfield; Hard Times
106. Claude Bernard – Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine
107. Henry David Thoreau – Civil Disobedience; Walden
108. Karl Marx – Capital; Communist Manifesto
109. George Eliot – Adam Bede; Middlemarch
110. Herman Melville – Moby-Dick; Billy Budd
111. Fyodor Dostoevsky – Crime and Punishment; The Idiot; The Brothers Karamazov
112. Gustave Flaubert – Madame Bovary; Three Stories
113. Henrik Ibsen – Plays
114. Leo Tolstoy – War and Peace; Anna Karenina; What is Art?; Twenty-Three Tales
115. Mark Twain – The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; The Mysterious Stranger
116. William James – The Principles of Psychology; The Varieties of Religious Experience; Pragmatism; Essays in Radical Empiricism
117. Henry James – The American; The Ambassadors
118. Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche – Thus Spoke Zarathustra; Beyond Good and Evil; The Genealogy of Morals;The Will to Power
119. Jules Henri Poincaré – Science and Hypothesis; Science and Method
120. Sigmund Freud – The Interpretation of Dreams; Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis; Civilization and Its Discontents; New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis
121. George Bernard Shaw – Plays and Prefaces ~ Mortimer J Adler

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