Front Page Titles (by Subject) chapter 3: That the Sentiments of Democratic Peoples Are in Agreement with Their Ideas for Bringing Them to Concentrate Power a - Democracy in America: Historical-Critical Edition, vol. 4
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chapter 3: That the Sentiments of Democratic Peoples Are in Agreement with Their Ideas for Bringing Them to Concentrate Power a - 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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That the Sentiments of Democratic Peoples Are in Agreement with Their Ideas for Bringing Them to Concentrate Powera
If, in centuries of equality, men easily perceive the idea of a great central power, you cannot doubt, on the other hand, that their habits and their sentiments dispose them to recognize such a power and to lend it support.b The demonstration of this can be done in a few words, since most of the reasons have already been given elsewhere.
Men who inhabit democratic countries, having neither superiors, nor inferiors, nor habitual and necessary associates, readily fall back on themselves and consider themselves in isolation. I have had the occasion to show it at great length when the matter was individualism.
So these men never, except with effort, tear themselves away from their particular affairs in order to occupy themselves with common affairs; their natural inclination is to abandon the care of these affairs to the sole visible and permanent representative of collective interests, which is the State.
Not only do they not naturally have the taste for occupying themselves with public matters, but also they often lack time to do so. Private life is so active in democratic times, so agitated, so full of desires, of work, that hardly any energy or leisure is left to any man for political life.
It is not I who will deny that such inclinations are not invincible, since my principal goal in writing this book has been to combat them. I maintain only that, today, a secret force develops them constantly in the human heart, and that it is enough not to stop them for those inclinations to fill it up.
I have equally had the occasion to show how the growing love of well-being and the mobile nature of property made democratic peoples fear material disorder. The love of public tranquillity is often the only political passion that these peoples retain, and it becomes more active and more powerful among them, as all the others collapse and die; that naturally disposes citizens to give new rights constantly to or to allow new rights to be taken by the central power, which alone seems to them to have the interest and the means to defend them from anarchy while defending itself.c
[<For they do not see around them either individual or corps that is by itself strong enough and lasting enough to defend itself and to defend them.>]
Since, in centuries of equality, no one is obliged to lend his strength to his fellow, and no one has the right to expect great support from his fellow, each man is independent and weak at the very same time. These two states, which must not be either envisaged separately or confused, give the citizen of democracies very contradictory instincts. His independence fills him with confidence and pride among his equals, and his debility makes him, from time to time, feel the need for outside help which he cannot expect from any of his equals, since they are all powerless and cold. In this extreme case, he turns his eyes naturally toward this immense being that alone rises up amidst the universal decline. His needs and, above all, his desires lead him constantly toward this being, and he ends by envisaging it as the sole and necessary support for individual weakness.1
This finally makes understandable what often occurs among democratic peoples, where you see men, who endure superiors with such difficulty, patiently suffer a master, and appear proud and servile at the very same time.
The hatred that men bring to privilege increases as privileges become rarer and smaller, so that you would say that democratic passions become more inflamed at the very time when they find the least sustenance.d I have already given the reason for this phenomenon. No inequality, however great, offends the eye when all conditions are unequal; while the smallest dissimilarity seems shocking amid general uniformity; the sight of it becomes more unbearable as uniformity is more complete. So it is natural that love of equality grows constantly with equality itself; by satisfying it, you develop it.
This immortal and more and more burning hatred, which animates democratic peoples against the least privileges, singularly favors the gradual concentration of all political rights in the hands of the sole representative of the State. The sovereign, necessarily and without dispute above all citizens, does not excite the envy of any one of them, and each one believes that all the prerogatives that he concedes to the sovereign are taken away from his equals.
[<In centuries of equality, each man, living independent of all of his fellows, becomes accustomed to directing his private affairs without constraint. When these same men are united in common, they naturally conceive the idea of and the taste for administering themselves by themselves. So equality leads men toward administrative decentralization, but creates at the same time powerful instincts which turn them away from it.>]e
The man of democratic centuries obeys only with an extreme repugnance his neighbor who is his equal; he refuses to acknowledge in him an enlightenment superior to his own; he mistrusts his neighbor’s justice and regards his power with jealousy; he fears and despises him; he loves to make him feel at every instant the common dependence that they both have on the same master.
Every central power that follows these natural instincts loves equality and favors it; for equality [(of conditions)] singularly facilitates the action of such a power, extends it and assures it.
You can say equally that every central government adores [legislative] uniformity; uniformityf spares it from the examination of an infinity of details with which it would have to be concerned, if the rule had to be made for men, rather than making all men indiscriminately come under the same rule. Thus, the government loves what the citizens love, and it naturally hates what they hate. This community of sentiments, which, among democratic nations, continually unites in the same thought each individual and the sovereign power, establishes between them a secret and permanent sympathy. You pardon the government its faults in favor of its tastes; public confidence abandons the government only with difficulty amid its excesses and its errors, and returns as soon as it is called back. Democratic peoples often hate the agents of the central power; but they always love this power itself. [<Because they consider it as the most powerful instrument that they could use as needed to help them make everyone who escapes from the common rule come back to it.>
I said that in times of equality the idea of intermediary powers set between simple individuals and the government did not naturally present itself to the human mind. I add that men who live in these centuries envisage such powers only with distrust and submit to them only with difficulty.]
Thus, I have come by two different roads to the same end. I have shown that equality suggested to men the thought of a unique, uniform and strong government. I have just shown that it gives them the taste for it; so today nations are tending toward a government of this type. The natural inclination of their mind and heart leads them to it, and it is enough for them not to hold themselves back in order to reach it.
I think that, in the democratic centuries that are going to open up, individual independence and local liberties will always be a product of art. Centralization will be the natural government.
[a. ] The idea of all this chapter is simple.
Equality gives birth to two tendencies:
Liberty and servitude coming from equality. There is the idea of the chapter.
Equality comes only as source of liberty and of servitude./
To know what makes men love equality more than liberty; it is a closely connected, but very distinct idea; for men could prefer equality to liberty, without equality being what pushed them toward servitude.
The comparison of the love of equality and the love of liberty is worth being made. But here it hinders the natural movement of the mind./
Make it a separate chapter which I will introduce afterward where I can (Rubish, 2).
It is possible that certain ideas on centralization set forth in this chapter and the following had their origin in the observations made by Tocqueville in England. In 1835, particularly, Tocqueville believed he had found in England a tendency toward centralization that he thought likely for the ensemble of democracies. The Poor Law and conversations with Mill and Reeve seem to have in part confirmed his theory for him (Voyage en Angleterre, OC, V, 2, pp. 22, 26, 49, and 53); also see Seymour Drescher, Tocqueville and England (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1964).
On 8 July 1838, when he began this last part, Tocqueville asked Beaumont for examples about centralization. Beaumont’s answer is lost (Correspondance avec Beaumont, OC,VIII, 1, pp. 311-12).
[b. ] “≠I see clearly how the fear of revolutions leads men to give great prerogatives to power in general, but not how it leads them to centralize power.≠”(Rubish, 2).
[c. ]7 March 1838. Unity, centralization.
However animated you are against unity and the governmental unity that is called centralization, you cannot nonetheless deny that unity and centralization are the most powerful means to do quickly, energetically, and in a given place, very great things.
That reveals one of the reasons why in democratic centuries centralization and unity are loved so much. The character of these centuries is love of rapid and easy enjoyments and indifference about the future. In the eyes of all the public men of those times, centralization is the means of attaining quickly and without difficulty the results that they desire.
Thus equality gives birth to the idea of unity and the same equality suggests the taste for it (Rubish, 2).
[1. ]In democratic societies, only the central power has some stability in its position and some permanence in its enterprises. All the citizens are stirring constantly and becoming transformed. Now, it is in the nature of every government to want gradually to enlarge its sphere. So it is very difficult that in the long run the latter does not manage to succeed, since it acts with a fixed thought and a continuous will on men whose position, ideas and desires vary every day.
Often it happens that the citizens work for it without wanting to do so.
Democratic centuries are times of experiments, of innovation and of adventures. A multitude of men is always engaged in a difficult or new enterprise that they are pursuingseparately without being burdened by their fellows. The former very much accept, as a general principle, that the public power must not intervene in private affairs, but, by exception, each one of them desires that it helps him in the special matter that preoccupies him and seeks to draw the action of the government in his direction, all the while wanting to restrain it in all others.
Since a multitude of men has this particular view at the same time on a host of different matters, the sphere of the central power expands imperceptibly in all directions, even though each one of them wishes to limit it. So a democratic government increases its attributions by the sole fact that it lasts. Time works for it; it profits from all accidents; individual passions help it even without their knowing, and you can say that a democratic government becomes that much more centralized the older the democratic society is.
[d. ] This proposition that hatred of inequality is that much greater as inequality is less is well proved by what happened among aristocratic peoples themselves within the interior of each class. The nobles were not jealous of the king, but of those among them who rose above the others, and they called loudly for equality. As long as the bourgeois were different from the nobles, they were not jealous of the nobles, but of each other; and if we get down to the bottom of our heart, won’t we all be appalled to see that envy makes itself felt there above all in regard to our neighbors, our friends and our near relations? You are not jealous of those people because they are neighbors, friends and relations, but because they are our fellows and our equals.
The hatred of inequality in proportion as inequality is less is therefore a truth in all times and applicable to all men (new ideas relative to democratic sentiments that favor centralization,Rubish, 2).
[e. ] In the margin: “≠Perhaps keep this for the place where I will speak about liberalinstincts created by equality.≠”
[f. ] “Pantheism.
“Saint-Simonianism.” (In the Rubishrelative to the idea of unity in general,Rubish, 2.)
“Saint-Simonian theory and other democratic theories. Pantheism. Agreement of the governmental and radical press on this point.” (In the jacket that bears the title: “unity, centralization, administrative despotism./
“Mixture of administrative and judicial power./
“23 March 1838” Rubish, 2.)