Front Page Titles (by Subject) Difficulty of Discerning the Causes That Lead the American Government to Economy x - Democracy in America: Historical-Critical Edition, vol. 2
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Difficulty of Discerning the Causes That Lead the American Government to Economy x - Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America: Historical-Critical Edition, vol. 2 
Democracy in America: Historical-Critical Edition of De la démocratie en Amérique, ed. Eduardo Nolla, translated from the French by James T. Schleifer. A Bilingual French-English editions, (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2010). Vol. 2.
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This bilingual edition of Tocqueville’s work contains a new English translation of the French critical edition published in 1990. The copyright to the French version is held by J. Vrin and it is not available online. The copyright to the English translation, the translator’s note, and index is held by Liberty Fund.
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Difficulty of Discerning the Causes That Lead the American Government to Economyx
[≠In the silence of his study, the observer draws up general rules, and he believes that he has grasped the truth. But a fact, the first cause of which is often lost in the night, appears in his thoughts, and it seems to him that truth is escaping from him.≠]
The man who searches among facts for the real influence exercised by laws on the fate of humanity is exposed to great errors, for there is nothing so difficult to appreciate as a fact.
One people is naturally thoughtless and enthusiastic; another, reflective and calculating. This is due to their physical constitution itself or to distant causes that I do not know.y
You see peoples who love show, noise and pleasure, and who do not regret spending a million that goes up in smoke. You see others who value only solitary pleasures and who seem ashamed to appear contented.
In certain countries, a great price is attached to the beauty of buildings. In certain others, no value whatsoever is placed on objects of art, and what has no return is scorned. Finally, there are some in which fame is loved, and others in which money is placed before all else.
Apart from the laws, all these causes influence in a very powerful way the management of the finances of the State.
If the Americans have never happened to spend the people’s money on public festivals, it is not only because, among them, the people vote the tax; it is because the people do not like to enjoy themselves.
If they reject ornament in their architecture and prize only material and real advantages, it is not only because they are a democratic nation, but also because they are a commercial people.
The habits of private life are continued in public life; and among the Americans the economies that depend on institutions and those that follow from habits and mores must be clearly distinguished.z
[x. ] Former title: that reasons taken from the mores of a people often disrupt or modify general arguments.
Hervé de Tocqueville:
The title [This concerns the definitive title (ed.)] of this division does not seem good to me for two reasons. First, it establishes a sort of contradiction with the preceding chapters, which established that democratic government is not economical; then the difficulty is suddenly resolved in the chapter. I propose changing this title and putting: of the causes for the economy of the american government for certain objects. As for the rest, the chapter is very good. I will make only one observation to which I do not attach great importance; the author assumes preliminary knowledge in his reader. He reasons as if the reader already knew that the Americans like neither the luxury of festivals, nor that of buildings (YTC, CIIIb, 2, p. 16).
[y. ] Fragment of a first version in the manuscript:
≠There is indeed in the bent of the ideas and tastes of a people a hidden force that struggles with advantage against revolutions and time. This intellectual physiognomy of nations, which is called their character, is found throughout all the centuries of their history and amid the innumerable changes that take place in the social state, beliefs and laws. A strange thing! What is least perceptible and most difficult to define among a people is at the same time what you find most enduring among them. Everything changes among them except the character, which disappears only with nations themselves.≠
[z. ] In the margin: “≠The beginning of the chapter does not exactly correspond to the end. The beginning contains a general idea on national character; the end contains a clear and precise observation on what gives the Americans their character.≠”