Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER 17: Démocratie and Egoïsme - The Making of Tocqueville's Democracy in America
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CHAPTER 17: Démocratie and Egoïsme - James T. Schleifer, The Making of Tocqueville’s Democracy in America 
The Making of Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, Foreword by George W. Pierson (2nd edition) (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2000).
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Démocratie and Egoïsme
Whether tracing the changes in Tocqueville’s attitudes toward physical causes, his concepts of despotism, or his understandings of the tyranny of the majority, we come repeatedly to what is probably the central figure of the Democracy: the independent and morally responsible individual. Tocqueville envisioned an eternal tension between the individual and the society as a whole and wondered especially how démocratie would affect that tension. Could the dignity, strength, and self-esteem of the individual be preserved in democratic times? Or would a psychology of insignificance, helplessness, and isolation triumph? To explore this vital issue, Tocqueville embarked on a private journey. His voyage of exploration predated his visit to the New World by at least a few years and was originally undertaken with eyes toward France; but in America he made some key discoveries.
In a thoughtful letter to Charles Stoffels written about a year before leaving for America, Tocqueville set forth several ideas which would become fundamental principles as the Democracy developed during the next decade. The letter posited an elaborate distinction between “un peuple demi-civilisé” and “un peuple complètement éclairé” and then explored some of the consequences of these two stages of civilization. After assuming the existence of a basic struggle between what he called la force individuelle and la force publique, Tocqueville proposed that a semicivilized social state supported la force individuelle; there “la force publique is poorly organized and the struggle between it and la force individuelle is often unequal.”1
Among a highly civilized people, however, “the social body has provided for everything; the individual undergoes the pain of birth; for the rest, the society takes him from his nurse, it oversees his education, opens before him the roads to fortune; it sustains him on his way, deflects dangers from his head; he advances in peace under the eyes of this second Providence; this guardian power which protected him during his life even oversees the repose of his ashes: that is the fate of civilized man.... The soul, asleep in this long rest, no longer knows how to awake when the opportunity occurs; individual energy (l’énergie individuelle) is nearly extinguished; people rely on one another when action is necessary; in all other circumstances, on the contrary, they withdraw into themselves; it is the reign of égoïsme.”2 But Tocqueville did mention more hopefully that in highly civilized societies the general good (l’intérêt général) was better understood (mieux entendu).3
Several of the ideas presented in this letter of 1830 would reappear in Tocqueville’s American journey notes and in the many drafts, working manuscript, and final text of the Democracy. Even some of the key terminology of this epistle would resurface in the 1835 and 1840 volumes. But most important, destined to become basic themes in his book were the underlying notion of tension between each individual and the society as a whole, Tocqueville’s profound concern that the dignity and vitality of each individual be maintained in the face of an increasingly strong force publique, and his idea that force individuelle, which he admired, was giving way to égoïsme, which he deplored.
Although Tocqueville was already thinking in 1830 about grand social developments, his thoughts were then focused on the rise of “civilization” and what that portended of mankind. His musings seemed primarily to reflect his recent attendance at and reading of François Guizot’s lectures on “The History of Civilization in France.” A fascination with a different force in the modern world, démocratie, would have to await Tocqueville’s discovery of America.
Within a few weeks of his arrival in the New World, Tocqueville attempted to reconcile observed traits of the American republic with some ideas that he had previously learned from Montesquieu. The eighteenth-century theorist had proclaimed that each form of government—monarchy, republic (aristocratic or democratic), and despotism—rested on some fundamental principle. For republics, that principle was virtue (la vertu), which Montesquieu defined as “a renouncement of self.” He had written: “This virtue can be defined: love of laws and love of country. This love, which demands the constant preference of the public interest to one’s own, produces all the private virtues; they are nothing more than this preference.... So everything depends on establishing this love in the republic.”4
But this principle of self-abnegation did not seem to fit the American republic, so Tocqueville soon found himself qualifying Montesquieu’s argument. “The principle of the republics of antiquity was to sacrifice private interests to the general good. In that sense one could say that they were virtuous. The principle of this one seems to be to make private interests harmonize with the general interests. A sort of refined and intelligent selfishness (égoïsme raffiné et intelligent) seems to be the pivot on which the whole machine turns. These people do not trouble themselves to find out whether public virtue is good, but they do claim to prove that it is useful. If the latter point is true, as I think it is in part, this society can pass as enlightened but not as virtuous. But up to what extent can the two principles of individual well-being and the general good in fact be merged?”5
These speculations soon resumed in a letter to his friend Chabrol. “What serves as a tie to these diverse elements? What makes of them a people? Interest. That’s the secret. Individual interest which sticks through at each instant, interest which, moreover, comes out in the open and calls itself a social theory. We are a long way from the ancient republics, it must be admitted, and yet this people is republican and I don’t doubt will long remain so. And the Republic is for it the best of governments.”6
So some peculiar understanding of private interest, “a sort of refined and intelligent selfishness (égoïsme raffiné et intelligent),” stood at the core of this society. Americans engaged in public affairs (practiced public virtue) not because of some abstract good, but because they believed such activity benefited their interests as individuals. On a presumed harmony between private and public interest, properly understood, they had boldly built a social theory and established a novel principle for their republic. Tocqueville was intrigued and almost persuaded.
In Boston several persons obligingly described for him how this American égoïsme intelligent operated through local self-government and associations.7 He heard repeatedly about the widespread social and political activity and the high level of practical experience and wisdom which prevailed in the United States. As early as 20 September 1831, he summarized: “One of the happiest consequences of the absence of government ... is the ripening of individual strength (force individuelle) which never fails to follow therefrom. Each man learns to think and to act for himself without counting on the support of any outside power which, however watchful it be, can never answer all the needs of man in society. The man thus used to seeking his well-being by his own efforts alone, stands the higher in his own esteem as well as in that of others: he grows both stronger and greater of soul.... But one must say it again, there are but few peoples who can manage like that without government.... For the civilized man to be able to do [so,] he must have reached that state of society in which knowledge allows a man to see clearly what is useful for him and in which his passions do not prevent him carrying it out.”8
Here was another significant amendment to his 1830 theorizing. As a result of his experiences in America, he now realized that neither égoïsme (of a certain type) nor civilization was necessarily incompatible with la force individuelle. Civilized people could develop a sophisticated understanding of private and public interest which would actually enhance the strength of individuals. The American, for example, clearly demanded and enjoyed an unusually high degree of personal independence and responsibility.
The role played in the New World republic by informed self-interest finally led Tocqueville to another qualification of Montesquieu’s premise. “Another point which America demonstrates is that virtue is not, as has long been claimed, the only thing that maintains republics, but that enlightenment (lumières), more than any other thing, makes this social condition easy. The Americans are scarcely more virtuous than others; but they are infinitely more enlightened (I speak of the masses) than any other people I know; I do not only want to say that there are more people there who know how to read and write (a matter to which perhaps more importance is attached than is due), but the body of people who have understanding of public affairs, knowledge of the laws and of precedents, feeling for the well-understood interests (intérêts bien entendus) of the nation, and the faculty to understand them, is greater than in any other place in the world.”9
So practical intelligence allowed Americans to uphold their unique social theory. What Tocqueville had earlier called “a sort of refined and intelligent selfishness” was now on the way to becoming “well-understood” or enlightened self-interest (intérêt bien entendu).
In the American West certain features common to the whole society were often exaggerated. For example, Madame la Comtesse de Tocqueville, Alexis’s mother, learned in a letter from Louisville, Kentucky, that in the Mississippi Valley a doubly new society was taking shape. “It is surely here that one must come to judge the most unique situation that has, without doubt, ever existed under the sun. A people absolutely without precedents, traditions, habits, or even dominant ideas, blazing without hesitation a new trail in civil, political, and criminal legislation, never looking around to examine the wisdom of other peoples and the heritage of the past; but cutting their institutions like their roads in the midst of the forests where they have just settled and where certainly no limits or obstacles are to be met; a society which does not yet have either political ties, or ties of social or religious hierarchy; where each individual stands by himself (est soi) because it pleases him to do so without concerning himself with his neighbor; a democracy without limits or bounds.”10
More specifically, Tocqueville and Beaumont noticed that the pioneer of Michigan, even more than Americans elsewhere, seemed too exclusively dedicated to the pursuit of material success. “Concentrating on the single object of making his fortune, the emigrant has ended by making an altogether exceptional mode of existence. Even his feelings for his family have become merged in a vast égoïsme, and one cannot be sure whether he regards his wife and children as anything more than a detached part of himself.”11 The New World republic, especially in the West, was a society without any of the usual social bonds. Each individual engaged in the pursuit of fortune by himself and was forced to rely largely on his own resources. In some ways, each person stood terribly isolated and alone. Here was the potentially more somber side of the individual independence and energy which Tocqueville had earlier described.
So by the time he left the United States, Tocqueville had recognized that démocratie with its erosion of traditional ties had at least two possible but contrary results. On the one hand, people could fall into a narrow selfishness (égoïsme), purposely ignoring interests other than their own, and single-mindedly pursue their own individual destinies. This would be the opposite of Montesquieu’s virtue. Or, on the other hand, people who were sufficiently enlightened could envision their individual and common interests in a way which would allow the fostering of both. They would devote themselves as necessary to private or public affairs, knowing that an ultimate harmony existed between the two. The result would thus be an intelligent selfishness (égoïsme intelligent) that Tocqueville eventually called enlightened self-interest (intérêt bien entendu). Tocqueville believed that in America, despite western excesses, the second alternative prevailed.
Even before the actual writing of the Democracy began, additional ideas and feelings about individual responsibility and égoïsme appeared in an exchange of letters between Tocqueville and Eugène Stoffels. In January 1833, Tocqueville admonished his close friend (and by implication all of his countrymen who, for whatever reasons, felt themselves above or apart from the politics of France):
I began, my dear friend, to feel seriously annoyed with you when I received your letter....
You speak to me of what you call your political atheism and ask if I share it. Here it is necessary to understand one another. Are you disgusted only with the parties, or also with the ideas that they exploit? In the first case, you know that such has always been my viewpoint, more or less. But in the second, I am no longer in any way your man. At the present time there is an obvious tendency to treat with indifference all ideas that can agitate society, whether they are true or false, noble or ignoble. Each person seems agreed to consider the government of his country sicut inter alios acta. Each person concentrates more and more on individual interest. Only men wanting power for themselves, and not strength and glory for their country, can rejoice at the sight of such a symptom. To count on tranquillity purchased at such a price, it is necessary not to know how to see very far into the future. It is not a healthy or virile calm. It is a sort of apoplectic torpor which, if it should last a long time, would lead us inescapably to great misfortunes.... I struggle with all my power against this bastard wisdom, this fatal indifference which in our times is sapping the energy of so many beautiful souls. I try not to make two worlds: the one moral, where I still get excited about what is beautiful and good; the other political, where to smell more comfortably the dung on which we walk, I stretch out flat on my stomach.12
The political withdrawal of legitimists and of others who saw themselves acting out of high moral principles profoundly disturbed the young nobleman. He saw an unfortunate tendency in France for individuals—especially the best individuals—to retreat into their private lives and to leave the political arena to the selfishly ambitious. Rising indifference and loss of energy made him uneasy for the future. So he urged men like Eugène to resist these temptations to peaceful solitude. As Tocqueville wrote his 1835 volumes, these apprehensions would never be far from his thoughts.
When Tocqueville finally undertook the composition of his work on America, he briefly sketched the characteristics of three basic social states.
This analysis, tentatively made for his “Introduction,”15 contained the seeds of much of Tocqueville’s later argument about égoïsme. It not only described an alarming present weakness and isolation of individuals, but also disclosed his desire to move from égoïsme individuel sans la force and la doctrine de l’intérêt sans la science (or égoïsme imbécile) to joint efforts and l’intérêt bien entendu (or égoïsme intelligent).
But most curiously, this fragment portrayed the “Democratic and Republican System” as incorporating the more positive characteristics which Tocqueville had observed in the United States; in this piece the regime of égoïsme was not the système démocratique, but the état actuel. As the letter to Eugène indicated, what Tocqueville had in mind was the contemporary condition of France. And here again, implicitly, was the concept époque de transition.
Démocratie or the movement toward equality of conditions, Tocqueville would argue in his 1835 work, broke most traditional social bonds and thus undermined the existence of independent, secondary bodies in the society.16 While individuals grew increasingly similar, weak, and isolated, the power of the society as a whole waxed strong and irresistible.17La force individuelle was in increasing jeopardy.
But nowadays, with all classes jumbled together and the individual increasingly disappearing in the crowd, where he is readily lost in the common obscurity, and nowadays, when monarchic honor has almost lost its sway without being replaced by virtue, and there is nothing left which raises a man above himself, who can say where the exigencies of authority and the yielding of weakness will stop? ...
What strength can customs have among a people whose aspect has entirely changed and is still perpetually changing, where there is already some precedent for every act of tyranny, and every crime is following some example, where nothing ancient remains which men are afraid to destroy, and where they dare to do anything new that can be conceived?
What resistance can moeurs offer when they have so often been twisted before?
What can even public opinion do when not even a score of people18 are held together by any common bond, when there is no man, no family, no body, no class, and no free association which can represent public opinion and set it in motion?
When each citizen being equally impotent, poor, and isolated cannot oppose his individual weakness to the organized force of the government?19
In part because of this sense of helplessness, individuals withdrew more and more into themselves, grew indifferent to their fellows and their country, and became reluctant to engage in any public activities whatsoever. “The inhabitant in some countries shows a sort of repugnance in accepting the political rights granted to him by the law; it strikes him as a waste of time to spend it on communal interests, and he likes to shut himself up in a narrow égoïsme, of which four ditches with hedges on top define the precise limits.”20 A draft fragment warned of the possible consequences. “Everything is favorable in the laws [and] institutions as in the moeurs for preparing servitude. Egoïsme having replaced virtue.”21
Taking lessons from America, Tocqueville would prescribe two basic tasks for those concerned by this pernicious democratic trend toward égoïsme. Efforts had to be made, first, to combine the forces of individuals who were separately powerless. “When the citizens are all more or less equal, it becomes difficult to defend their freedom from the encroachments of power. No one among them being any longer strong enough to struggle alone with success, only the combination of the forces of all is able to guarantee liberty.”22 By uniting in joint undertakings those who felt helpless apart, Tocqueville hoped to reintroduce and to encourage a sense of individual strength and independence.
Secondly, selfishness might be countered by stimulating individual participation in the public affairs of the nation. Each person would then be drawn out of his private concerns and slowly enlightened by practical political experience.
“The most powerful way, and perhaps the only remaining way, in which to interest men in their country’s fate is to make them take a share in its government. In our day it seems to me that civic spirit is inseparable from the exercise of political rights, and I think that henceforward in Europe the numbers of the citizens will be found to increase or diminish in proportion to the extension of those rights.
“How is it that in the United States, where the inhabitants arrived but yesterday in the land they occupy, where, to say it in one word, the instinct of country can hardly exist—how does it come about that each man is as interested in the affairs of his township, of his canton, and of the whole state as he is in his own affairs? It is because each man in his sphere takes an active part in the government of society.”23
A draft disclosed some of the reasoning behind this call for participation. “It is because I hear the rights of governments discussed that I think we must hasten to give rights to the governed. It is because I see Democracy triumph that I want to regulate Democracy. People tell me that, since morality has relaxed, new rights will be new arms; that, since governments are already weak, new rights will be to give new arms to their enemies; that Democracy is already too strong in society without introducing it further into government. I will answer that it is because I see morality weak that I want to put it under the safeguard of interest; it is because I see governments powerless that I would like to accustom the governed to the habit of respecting them.”24 In the margin he added: “If morality were strong enough by itself, I would not consider it so important to rely on utility. If the idea of what was just were more powerful, I would not talk so much about the idea of utility.”25
For achieving these two general goals Tocqueville’s 1835 volumes would recommend several specific institutional remedies, particularly, once again, freedom of association and local liberties.26 Tocqueville would also endorse the concept of enlightened or well-understood self-interest as a remedy for égoïsme.27 Almost all Americans, he wrote in one fragment, readily accepted the notion that “enlightened self-interest was enough to lead men to do the right thing.”28
Returning to the problem of Montesquieu’s republican principle of virtue and its relation to the United States, Tocqueville composed a brief draft of remarks entitled “Concerning Virtue in Republics” that also emphasized the crucial function of enlightened self-interest.
“The Americans are not a virtuous people and yet they are free. This does not absolutely disprove that virtue, as Montesquieu thought, is essential to the existence of republics. It is not necessary to take Montesquieu’s idea in a narrow sense. What this great man meant is that republics can survive only by the action of the society on itself. What he understood by virtue is the moral power that each individual exercises over himself and that prevents him from violating the rights of others. When this triumph of man over temptation is the result of the weakness of the temptation or of a calculation of personal interest, it does not constitute virtue in the eyes of the moralist; but it is included in the idea of Montesquieu who spoke much more of the result than of its cause. In America it is not virtue which is great, it is temptation which is small, which amounts to the same thing. It is not disinterestedness which is great, it is interest which is well-understood (bien entendu), which again almost amounts to the same thing. So Montesquieu was right even though he spoke of classical virtue, and what he said about the Greeks and Romans still applies to the Americans.”29
The Americans displayed a special, calculated sort of virtue. Enlightened self-interest, though less strictly “moral,” nonetheless served effectively to counteract the destructive democratic tendency toward égoïsme.
The tensions between selfishness and responsibility and between the individual and society as a whole profoundly influenced the type and level of citizenship which characterized each nation. In a sketch of ideas for his chapter entitled “Public Spirit in the United States,”30 Tocqueville described the prevailing “sentiment which attaches men to their own country” during each of three separate stages of society. The first phase saw “Instinctive love of the homeland. Customs, moeurs, memories. Religion is not the principal passion, but gives strength to all passions. Patrie in the person of the King.” Then came the “Intermediate epoch. Égoïsme without enlightenment (lumières). Men have no more prejudices; they do not yet have beliefs.”31 During this period civic virtues disappeared; the individual, lacking esprit decité, was “a peaceful inhabitant, an honest farmer, a good head of the family.” Tocqueville declared himself “ready for anything, provided that one does not force me to give him the name ‘citizen.’ ”32
During that time, the people devoted themselves to “Moderation without virtue or courage; moderation which arises from faintness of heart and not from virtue, from exhaustion, from fear, from égoïsme. Tranquillity which comes not from being well, but from not having the courage and the necessary energy to seek something better.” They eventually became a “Mass suspended in the middle of things, inert, égoïste, without energy, without patriotism, sensual, sybaritic, which has only instincts, which lives from day to day, which becomes one by one the plaything of all the others.”33
This middle stage was finally superseded by the third epoch which was marked by an “active, enlightened love [of country],... perhaps more reserved, more lasting, more fertile. Égoïsme éclairé.”34 During this period, which already existed in America, men learned to “interest themselves as much in public prosperity as in that of their families; they brought to patriotism all the energy of égoïsme individuel.”35 Citizens would then rise up where only inhabitants had stood before. “In order for Democracy to govern,” Tocqueville insisted in another draft, “citizens are needed who take an interest in public affairs, who have the capacity to get involved and who want to do so. Capital point to which one must always return.”36
During the making of the Democracy, Tocqueville repeatedly searched for ways to avoid the democratic tendency that undermined la force individuelle and fostered a blind and destructive selfishness. Since the “virtue” of old seemed lost, he hoped to discover new ways to interest men in public affairs and to create self-confident and self-reliant individuals. From his American journey, he learned to pose the problem in terms of moving from égoïsme imbécile to égoïsme intelligent, or, more broadly, from égoïsme to intérêt bien entendu.
What Tocqueville finally called égoïsme in the first two volumes of the Democracy appeared to have two distinct facets: first, the growing powerlessness and isolation of individuals; and secondly, the withdrawal from public life and an accelerating concentration on private affairs. So égoïsme meant both weakness and selfishness; perhaps the phrase égoïsme individuel sans la force best expressed his understanding of democratic égoïsme in 1835. By 1840, however, Tocqueville would give yet another name to this phenomenon: individualisme.
[1. ]These ideas seem to reflect the influence of François Guizot’s lectures on “The General History of Civilization in Europe” (1828) and especially his lectures on “The History of Civilization in France,” given between April 1829 and May 1830; Tocqueville attended many of these sessions. For a convenient, modern edition in English, see François Guizot, Historical Essays and Lectures.
[2. ]Compare Tocqueville’s later concept and descriptions of the New Despotism; see chapters 11 and 13 above.
[3. ]Tocqueville to Charles Stoffels, Versailles, 21 April 1830, Tocqueville and Beaumont Correspondence, 1830–April 1831, Yale, A VII.
[4. ]My translation; De l’esprit des lois, 1:39.
[5. ]“General Questions,” Sing Sing, 29 May 1831, Alph. Notebook 1, Mayer, Journey, pp. 210–11; cf. Pierson’s translation, Toc. and Bt., p. 113. Tocqueville’s viewpoint was quite unusual for the time. According to René Rémond, there was—up to the early 1830s—a widespread belief among French admirers of the United States that America did stand for virtue in the classic sense; see Rémond, Etats-Unis, 2:556–57.
[6. ]Quoted from Pierson, Toc. and Bt., pp. 129–30; see Tocqueville to Chabrol, New York, 9 June 1831, Toc. letters, Yale, BIa2.
[7. ]See especially the conversations with Quincy and Lieber, 20 and 22 September 1831, respectively, Non-Alph. Notebooks 2 and 3, Mayer, Journey, pp. 50–52, 54–56.
[8. ]Tocqueville’s own “Note” to the conversation with Quincy, 20 September 1831, Non-Alph. Notebooks 2 and 3, Mayer, Journey, pp. 51–52.
[9. ]30 November 1831, Notebook E, ibid., p. 258; this passage contains the first use of the phrase “intérêts bien entendus” which I have found in Tocqueville’s American papers. Cf., in the 1835 work, “Public Spirit in the United States,” Democracy (Mayer), pp. 235–37.
[10. ]Toc. to Madame la Comtesse de Tocqueville, Louisville, 6 December 1831, Toc. Letters Home, Yale, BIa1. Compare Democracy (Mayer), pp. 55–56, 283.
[11. ]“Fortnight in the Wilds,” Written on the Steamboat Superior, Begun on 1 August 1831, Mayer, Journey, p. 339.
[12. ]Toc. to Eugène Stoffels, Paris, 12 January 1833, O.C. (Bt.), 1:424–26. This letter not only demonstrates Tocqueville’s disapproval of the behavior of those, like his other friend, Louis, who met the final fall of the Bourbons by withdrawal into an internal exile, but also his deep aversion to the July régime, especially its political life. The letter makes clear as well, however, that—despite his disgust—Tocqueville was unable to keep out of politics.
[13. ]“The power of association” is an alternative, deleted, for the preceding phrase, “the collective power.”
[14. ]Drafts, Yale, CVh, Paquet 3, cahier 3, pp. 110–11.
[15. ]See Democracy (Mayer), pp. 9–20, especially pp. 12–16.
[16. ]Cf. ibid., pp. 53–54, 96–97, 313–14.
[17. ]Cf. ibid., p. 57; also pp. 87–88.
[18. ]Tocqueville’s mention of a score in this passage is not accidental. In April 1834 the July regime, in an effort to end organized political opposition by the republicans or other groups, instituted a new law severely restricting associational activities. The law applied to any association of over twenty persons, even if divided into sections of fewer than twenty; see Paul Bastid, Les Institutions politiques de la monarchie parlementaire française, 1814–1848, pp. 385–88. This measure effectively turned all political groups into secret societies; yet despite such official efforts at discouragement, the period from 1830 to 1848 was a time of intense activity by associations.
[19. ]Democracy (Mayer), pp. 313–14.
[20. ]Ibid., p. 243.
[21. ]Drafts, Yale, CVh, Paquet 3, cahier 1, p. 14.
[22. ]Democracy (Mayer), p. 57.
[23. ]Ibid., pp. 236–37.
[24. ]Drafts, Yale, CVh, Paquet 3, cahier 4, p. 30.
[25. ]Ibid. Concerning the idea of utility and any possible early links between Tocqueville and utilitarian theory, consult the brief but thoughtful discussion by Doris Goldstein, “Alexis de Tocqueville’s Concept of Citizenship,” pp. 39–53, especially p. 42.
[26. ]For elaboration, see the chapters above on centralization. Also consult especially the chapter on “Political Association in the United States,” Democracy (Mayer), pp. 189–95. For Tocqueville, liberty of the press was closely related to the right of association; see “Freedom of the Press in the United States,” ibid., pp. 180–88 and particularly p. 191. In the 1835 work, Tocqueville also urged the use of the jury system to combat égoïsme individuelle which he called the “rust” of societies; ibid., p. 274.
[27. ]In the 1835 volumes, the specific term intérêt bien-entendu seldom appeared. (It did however appear in the American diaries and the drafts of the 1835 Democracy.) In the work itself Tocqueville usually wrote more generally about how, in the United States, enlightenment (lumières) countered égoïsme and about the American idea of harmony between private and public interests. By 1840 the phrase intérêt bien-entendu would be more frequently used.
[28. ]Drafts, Yale, CVh, Paquet 3, cahier 2, pp. 78–79.
[29. ]In the margin of this passage, Tocqueville wrote: “concerning l’intérêt bien entendu”; Drafts, Yale, CVe, Paquet 17, pp. 66–67.
[30. ]Democracy (Mayer), pp. 235–37; also compare p. 95.
[31. ]Drafts, Yale, CVh, Paquet 3, cahier 3, p. 3. Cf., again, the idea of époque de transition.
[32. ]Ibid., cahier 1, pp. 2–4; cf. cahier 3, p. 17. On Tocqueville’s ideas about what made a citizen, see Doris Goldstein, “Alexis de Tocqueville’s Concept of Citizenship.”
[33. ]Drafts, Yale, CVh, Paquet 3, cahier 3, pp. 36–37; cf. in the 1835 work, Democracy (Mayer), pp. 87–98, especially pp. 89–94. These descriptions seem once again to reflect Tocqueville’s observations of France during the 1830s and his dislike of what he saw: a society marked by shortsightedness, materialism, boredom, and the ideal of “middlingness” or the juste milieu. On the last, consult Vincent E. Starzinger, Middlingness, “Juste Milieu” Political Theory in France and England, 1815–1848.
[34. ]Drafts, Yale, CVh, Paquet 3, cahier 3, p. 3. Cf. Democracy (Mayer), pp. 235–37.
[35. ]Drafts, Yale, CVh, Paquet 3, cahier 3, p. 6.
[36. ]Tocqueville’s emphasis: Drafts, Yale, CVe, Paquet 17, p. 65. Compare a passage from the 1835 “Introduction”: Democracy (Mayer), pp. 14–15.