Front Page Titles (by Subject) chapter 2 a: How Democracy Makes the Habitual Relations of the Americans Simpler and Easier b - Democracy in America: Historical-Critical Edition, vol. 4
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chapter 2 a: How Democracy Makes the Habitual Relations of the Americans Simpler and Easier b - Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America: Historical-Critical Edition, vol. 4 
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. 4.
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How Democracy Makes the Habitual Relations of the Americans Simpler and Easierb
Democracy does not bind men closely together, but it makes their habitual relationships easier.
Two Englishmen meet by chance at the far ends of the earth; they are surrounded by strangers whose language and mores they hardly know.
[<I think that they are going to run eagerly toward each other. What more is needed to draw men closer in a far-away land than a native land in common?>]
The two men at first consider each other very curiously and with a sort of secret uneasiness; then they turn away from each other, or, if they greet each other, they take care to speak only with a restrained and distracted air, and to say things of little importance.c
No enmity exists between them, however; they have never seen each other, and reciprocally regard each other as very respectable. So why do they take such care to avoid each other?
We must go back to England in order to understand.
When birth alone, independent of wealth, classifies men, each man knows precisely the place he occupies on the social ladder; he does not try to climb, and is not afraid of descending. In a society organized in this way, men of different castes communicate little with each other; but when chance puts them in contact, they readily become engrossed, without hope or fear of intermingling. Their relationships are not based on equality; but they are not constrained.
When aristocracy of money follows aristocracy of birth, it is no longer the same.
The privileges of a few are still very great, but the possibility of acquiring them is open to all; from that it follows that those who possess them are constantly preoccupied by the fear of losing them or of seeing them shared; and those who do not yet have them want at any cost to possess them, or, if they cannot succeed in that, to appear to possess them, which is not impossible. As the social value of men is no longer fixed by blood in a clear and permanent manner and varies infinitely depending on wealth, ranks always exist, but you no longer see clearly and at first glance those who occupy those ranks.
A hidden war is immediately established among all the citizens; some try hard, by a thousand artifices, to join in reality or in appearance those who are above them; others fight constantly to repulse these men usurping their rights, or rather the same man does both things, and, while he is trying to get into the upper sphere, he struggles without respite against the effort that comes from below.
Such is the state of England today, and I think that what precedes must be principally attributed to this state.
Since aristocratic pride is still very great among the English, and since the boundaries of aristocracy have become doubtful, each man fears at every moment that his familiarity will be abused. Not able to judge at first glance what the social situation is of those you meet, you prudently avoid entering into contact with them. You are afraid of forming despite yourself a badly matched friendship by rendering small services; you fear good offices, and you elude the indiscreet recognition of someone unknown as carefully as his hatred.
There are many men who explain, by purely physical causes, this singular unsociability and this reserved and taciturn temperament of the English.d I am willing to agree that blood in fact has some role; but I believe that the social state has a much greater one. The example of the Americans proves it.
In America, where privileges of birth have never existed, and where wealth gives no particular right to the one who possesses it, people who do not know each other readily get together in the same places, and find neither advantage nor danger in freely sharing their thoughts. If they meet by chance, they neither seek each other out nor avoid each other; so their encounter is natural, straightforward and open; you see that they neither hope nor fear hardly anything from each other, and that they try no harder to show than to hide the place they occupy. If their countenance is often cold and serious, it is never either haughty or stiff, and when they do not speak to each other, it is because they are not in the mood to speak, and not that they believe that they have a reason to remain silent.
In a foreign country, two Americans are immediately friends, by the very fact that they are Americans. There is no prejudice that drives them apart, and the native land in common brings them together. For two Englishmen the same blood is not enough; the same rank must draw them together.
The Americans notice as well as we this unsociable temperament of the English with each other, and they are no less astonished by it than we ourselves are. But the Americans are attached to England by origin, religion, language, and in part mores; they differ from England only by social state. So it is permissible to say that the reserve of the English derives from the constitution of the country much more than from the constitution of the citizens [<the reserve of the English is not English, but aristocratic>].[*]e
[a. ] In aristocracies based solely on birth, since no one is able to climb or descend, the relationships between men are infrequent, but not constrained.
In aristocracies based principally on money such as the English, aristocratic pride remains, but since the limits of the aristocracy have become doubtful, each man fears that his familiarity will be abused. You avoid contact with someone unknown or you remain icy before him.
When there are no more privileges of birth or privileges of money as in America, men readily mingle and greet each other familiarly (YTC, CVf, p. 37).
[b. ]influence of democracy on american sociability./
Chapter following those on egoism. Sociability, which is sacrifice in small things, with hope to find it in turn, is very easily understood on the part of beings independent of each other, but equally weak individually, and is not at all contrary to the egoism that I portrayed above./
Good qualities of the Americans. Sociability, lack of susceptibility. See Beaumont, C.N.6 (rubish of the chapters on sociability,Rubish, 2). The reference to Beaumont also appears in YTC, CVa, p. 30.
[c. ] In the margin: “<All of this a bit affected, I think, in imitation of La Bruyère. Read it without warning in order to see the effect.>”
[d. ] Today the influence exercised by race on the conduct of men is spoken about constantly. The philosophers and men of politics of ancient times have .-.-.-.- raceexplains everything in a word. It seems to me that I easily find why we resort so to this argument that our predecessors did not use.
It is incontestable that the race that men belong to exercises some power over their actions, and on the other hand, it is absolutely impossible to specify what the strength and the duration of this power is; so that you can at will infinitely constrict its action or expand it to everything depending on the needs of the discourse; precious advantages in a time when you expect to reason at little cost, just as you want to grow rich without difficulty.
[In the margin: Some men believe that this reserve of the English comes from the blood. The example of the Americans proves the opposite.]
After a digression for which the reader will, I hope, pardon an author who rarely makes them, I return to my subject (rubish of the chapters on sociability,Rubish, 2). The manuscript says: “Race in fact has some role, but I believe . . .”
[[*]. ] Form that I believe I have already used; be careful.
[e. ] Relationships of men with each other. Lofty and reserved manners./
Baden, this 14 August 1836./
To put with the good effects of a democratic social state./ One of the characteristic and most known traits of the English is the care with which they try to isolate themselves from each other and the perpetual fear that clearly preoccupies them of protecting themselves from contact with men who may occupy a position inferior to the one that they occupy themselves. In a foreign country above all this is carried to an extreme of which we have no idea.
This fault is infinitely less noticeable in countries in which an aristocracy of birth dominates and in those in which there is no aristocracy at all.
In the first, since ranks are never doubtful and since privileges are linked to an inalienable and uncontestable advantage, that of blood, each man remains in his place and no one fears meeting an intruder who wants to put himself in your place, or descending without noticing to the lower rank of someone unknown by keeping company with him.
In the second, since birth or wealth give only slight advantages and do not put the one who possesses them at a very separate or very desirable rank, connection with an inferior is not feared.
While in an aristocracy constituted on money, like that of England, privileges are very great and the conditions for enjoying them are always doubtful; from that comes this continual terror of doing something that may make you fall in rank.
This fault of the English is due so clearly to institutions and not to blood that it shocks the Americans even more than us. Cooper in his journey to Switzerlandreturns constantly to this unsociability of the English, and although he pretends to scorn it, he speaks about it too often not to show how much it offends him.
Nothing is more opposed to continual, free, kindly relationships among men than the frame of mind that I have just talked about (rubish of the chapters on sociability,Rubish, 2). Tocqueville is referring to Excursions in Switzerland by James Fenimore Cooper, published in 1836 in Paris by A.W. Calignani and Co., and by Baudry (see, for example, p. 71 and p. 143 of these editions).