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Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America. English Edition. Vol. 2. [2012]

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Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America. English Edition. Edited by Eduardo Nolla. Translated from the French by James T. Schleifer. (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2012). Vol. 2.

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About this Title:

Volume 2 of a two volume English only version of Liberty Fund’s 4 volume bi-lingual critical edition. In 1831, Alexis de Tocqueville and his friend Gustave de Beaumont visited the United States. From Tocqueville’s copious notes of what he had seen and heard came the classic text De la Démocratie en Amérique, published in two large volumes, the first in 1835, the second in 1840. The first volume focused primarily on political society; the second, on civil society.

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The copyright to this edition, in both print and electronic forms, is held by Liberty Fund, Inc.

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This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.

Table of Contents:

Edition: current; Page: [i]
democracy in america
Edition: current; Page: [ii] Edition: current; Page: [iii]
Edition: current; Page: [iv] Edition: current; Page: [v]
Alexis de Tocqueville DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA
Edited by Eduardo Nolla
Translated from the French by James T. Schleifer
volume 2
liberty fund
Edition: current; Page: [vi]

This book is published by Liberty Fund, Inc., a foundation established to encourage study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.


The cuneiform inscription that serves as our logo and as the design motif for our endpapers is the earliest-known written appearance of the word “freedom” (amagi), or “liberty.” It is taken from a clay document written about 2300 bc in the Sumerian city-state of Lagash.

English translation, translator’s note, index, © 2010 by Liberty Fund, Inc.

Foreword to this edition, © 2012 by Liberty Fund, Inc.

The French text on which this translation is based is De la démocratie en Amérique, première édition historico-critique revue et augmentée. Edited by Eduardo Nolla. Librairie Philosophique J. Vrin; 6, Place de la Sorbonne; Paris, 1990.

Frontispiece: Portrait of Alexis de Tocqueville by Léon Noël, reproduced with kind permission of the Beineke Library, Yale University.

Map of the United States appearing in the first edition of

Democracy in America (1835), reproduced with kind permission of the Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

All rights reserved

Printed in the United States of America

c 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Tocqueville, Alexis de, 1805-1859

[De la démocratie en Amérique. English]

Democracy in America/Alexis de Tocqueville; edited by Eduardo Nolla; translated from the French by James T. Schleifer.—[Student ed.]

p. cm.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

isbn 978-0-86597-840-9 (set: pbk.: alk. paper)

isbn 978-0-86597-838-6 (v. 1: pbk.: alk. paper)

isbn 978-0-86597-839-3 (v. 2: pbk.: alk. paper)

1. United States—Politics and government. 2. United States—Social conditions—To 1865. 3. Democracy—United States. I. Nolla, Eduardo. II. Schleifer, James T., 1942– III. Title.

jk216.t713 2012



liberty fund, inc.

8335 Allison Pointe Trail, Suite 300

Indianapolis, Indiana 46250-1684

Edition: current; Page: [vii]


Edition: current; Page: [viii] Edition: current; Page: [ix]


  • Translator’s Note xxi
  • Key Terms xxvi
  • Foreword xxviii
  • Map xliv
  • Editor’s Introduction xlvii
  • Foreword to This Edition cli
  • volume i
  • Introduction 3
  • Part I
    • chapter 1: Exterior Configuration of North America 33
    • chapter 2: Of the Point of Departure and Its Importance for the Future of the Anglo-Americans 45
      • Reasons for Some Singularities That the Laws and Customs of the Anglo-Americans Present 71
    • chapter 3: Social State of the Anglo-Americans 74
      • That the Salient Point of the Social State of the Anglo-Americans Is to Be Essentially Democratic 75 Edition: current; Page: [x]
      • Political Consequences of the Social State of the Anglo-Americans 89
    • chapter 4: Of the Principle of the Sovereignty of the People in America 91
    • chapter 5: Necessity of Studying What Happens in the Individual States before Speaking about the Government of the Union 98
      • Of the Town System in America 99
      • Town District 103
      • Town Powers in New England 104
      • Of Town Life 108
      • Of Town Spirit in New England 110
      • Of the County in New England 114
      • Of Administration in New England 115
      • General Ideas on Administration in the United States 129
      • Of the State 135
      • Legislative Power of the State 136
      • Of the Executive Power of the State 139
      • Of the Political Effects of Administrative Decentralization in the United States 142
    • chapter 6: Of the Judicial Power in the United States and Its Action on Political Society 167
      • Other Powers Granted to American Judges 176
    • chapter 7: Of Political Jurisdiction in the United States 179
    • chapter 8: Of the Federal Constitution 186
      • Historical Background of the Federal Constitution 186
      • Summary Picture of the Federal Constitution 191
      • Attributions of the Federal Government 193
      • Federal Powers 195
      • Legislative Powers 196
      • [Difference between the Constitution of the Senate and That of the House of Representatives]
      • Another Difference between the Senate and the House of Representatives 200 Edition: current; Page: [xi]
      • Of Executive Power 201
      • How the Position of the President of the United States Differs from That of a Constitutional King in France 204
      • Accidental Causes That Can Increase the Influence of the Executive Power 209
      • Why the President of the United States, to Lead Public Affairs, Does Not Need to Have a Majority in the Chambers 210
      • Of the Election of the President 211
      • Mode of Election 218
      • Election Crisis 222
      • Of the Re-election of the President 225
      • Of the Federal Courts 229
      • Way of Determining the Jurisdiction of the Federal Courts 234
      • Different Cases of Jurisdiction 236
      • The Federal Courts’ Way of Proceeding 241
      • Elevated Rank That the Supreme Court Occupies among the Great Powers of the State 244
      • How the Federal Constitution Is Superior to the State Constitutions 246
      • What Distinguishes the Federal Constitution of the United States of America from All Other Federal Constitutions 251
      • Of the Advantages of the Federal System in General, and of Its Special Utility for America 255
      • What Keeps the Federal System from Being within the Reach of All Peoples; And What Has Allowed the Anglo-Americans to Adopt It 263
  • Part II
    • chapter 1: How It Can Be Strictly Said That in the United States It Is the People Who Govern 278
    • chapter 2: Of Parties in the United States 279
      • Of the Remnants of the Aristocratic Party in the United States 287
    • chapter 3: Of Freedom of the Press in the United States 289
      • That the Opinions Established under the Dominion of Freedom of the Press in the United States Are Often More Tenacious than Those That Are Found Elsewhere under the Dominion of Censorship 298
      Edition: current; Page: [xii]
    • chapter 4: Of Political Association in the United States 302
      • Different Ways in Which the Right of Association Is Understood in Europe and in the United States, and the Different Use That Is Made of That Right 309
    • chapter 5: Of the Government of Democracy in America 313
      • Of Universal Suffrage 313
      • Of the Choices of the People and of the Instincts of American Democracy in Its Choices 314
      • Of the Causes That Can Partially Correct These Democratic Instincts 318
      • Influence That American Democracy Has Exercised on Electoral Laws 322
      • Of Public Officials under the Dominion of American Democracy 324
      • Of the Arbitrariness of Magistrates under the Dominion of American Democracy 327
      • Administrative Instability in the United States 331
      • Of Public Expenses under the Dominion of American Democracy 333
      • Of the Instincts of American Democracy in Determining the Salary of Officials 340
      • Difficulty of Discerning the Causes That Lead the American Government to Economy 343
      • [Influence of the Government of Democracy on the Tax Base and on the Use of the Tax Revenues] 345
      • [Influence of Democratic Government on the Use of Tax Revenues] 346
      • Can the Public Expenditures of the United States Be Compared with Those of France 349
      • Of the Corruption and Vices of Those Who Govern in Democracy; Of the Effects on Public Morality That Result from That Corruption and Those Vices 356
      • Of What Efforts Democracy Is Capable 360
      • Of the Power That American Democracy Generally Exercises over Itself 364
      • Of the Manner in Which American Democracy Conducts the Foreign Affairs of the State 366
      Edition: current; Page: [xiii]
    • chapter 6: What Are the Real Advantages That American Society Gains from the Government of Democracy? 375
      • Of the General Tendency of Laws under the Dominion of American Democracy, and Of the Instinct of Those Who Apply Them 377
      • Of Public Spirit in the United States 384
      • Of the Idea of Rights in the United States 389
      • Of the Respect for the Law in the United States 393
      • Activity That Reigns in All Parts of the Political Body in the United States; Influence That It Exercises on Society 395
    • chapter 7: Of the Omnipotence of the Majority in the United States and Its Effects 402
      • How the Omnipotence of the Majority in America Increases the Legislative and Administrative Instability That Is Natural to Democracies 407
      • Tyranny of the Majority 410
      • Effects of the Omnipotence of the Majority on the Arbitrariness of American Public Officials 415
      • Of the Power Exercised by the Majority in America over Thought 416
      • Effect of Tyranny of the Majority on the National Character of the Americans; Of the Courtier Spirit in the United States 420
      • That the Greatest Danger to the American Republics Comes from the Omnipotence of the Majority 424
    • chapter 8: Of What Tempers Tyranny of the Majority in the United States 427
      • Absence of Administrative Centralization 427
      • Of the Spirit of the Jurist in the United States, and How It Serves as Counterweight to Democracy 430
      • Of the Jury in the United States Considered as a Political Institution 442
    • chapter 9: Of the Principal Causes That Tend to Maintain the Democratic Republic in the United States 451
      • Of the Accidental or Providential Causes That Contribute to Maintaining the Democratic Republic in the United States 452
      • Of the Influence of Laws on Maintaining the Democratic Republic in the United States 465 Edition: current; Page: [xiv]
      • Of the Influence of Mores on Maintaining the Democratic Republic in the United States 466
      • Of Religion Considered as a Political Institution, How It Serves Powerfully to Maintain the Democratic Republic among the Americans 467
      • Indirect Influence Exercised by Religious Beliefs on Political Society in the United States 472
      • Of the Principal Causes That Make Religion Powerful in America 478
      • How the Enlightenment, Habits, and Practical Experience of the Americans Contribute to the Success of Democratic Institutions 488
      • That Laws Serve More to Maintain the Democratic Republic in the United States than Physical Causes, and Mores More than Laws 494
      • Would Laws and Mores Be Sufficient to Maintain Democratic Institutions Elsewhere than in America? 500
      • Importance of What Precedes in Relation to Europe 505
    • chapter 10: Some Considerations on the Present State and Probable Future of the Three Races That Inhabit the Territory of the United States 515
      • Present State and Probable Future of the Indian Tribes That Inhabit the Territory Possessed by the Union 522
      • Position That the Black Race Occupies in the United States; Dangers to Which Its Presence Exposes the Whites 548
      • What Are the Chances for the American Union to Last? What Dangers Threaten It? 582
      • Of Republican Institutions in the United States, What Are Their Chances of Lasting? 627
      • Some Considerations on the Causes of the Commercial Greatness of the United States 637
  • Conclusion 649
  • Notes 658 Edition: current; Page: [xv]
  • volume ii
  • Foreword 690
  • Part I: Influence of Democracy on the Intellectual Movement in the United States
    • chapter 1: Of the Philosophical Method of the Americans 697
    • chapter 2: Of the Principal Source of Beliefs among Democratic Peoples 711
    • chapter 3: Why the Americans Show More Aptitude and Taste for General Ideas than Their Fathers the English 726
    • chapter 4: Why the Americans Have Never Been as Passionate as the French about General Ideas in Political Matters 737
    • chapter 5: How, in the United States, Religion Knows How to Make Use of Democratic Instincts 742
    • chapter 6: Of the Progress of Catholicism in the United States 754
    • chapter 7: What Makes the Minds of Democratic Peoples Incline toward Pantheism 757
    • chapter 8: How Equality Suggests to the Americans the Idea of the Indefinite Perfectibility of Man 759
    • chapter 9: How the Example of the Americans Does Not Prove That a Democratic People Cannot Have Aptitude and Taste for the Sciences, Literature, and the Arts 763
    • chapter 10: Why the Americans Are More Attached to the Application of the Sciences than to the Theory 775
    • chapter 11: In What Spirit the Americans Cultivate the Arts 788
    • chapter 12: Why Americans Erect Such Small and Such Large Monuments at the Same Time 796 Edition: current; Page: [xvi]
    • chapter 13: Literary Physiognomy of Democratic Centuries 800
    • chapter 14: Of the Literary Industry 813
    • chapter 15: Why the Study of Greek and Latin Literature Is Particularly Useful in Democratic Societies 815
    • chapter 16: How American Democracy Has Modified the English Language 818
    • chapter 17: Of Some Sources of Poetry among Democratic Nations 830
    • chapter 18: Why American Writers and Orators Are Often Bombastic 843
    • chapter 19: Some Observations on the Theater of Democratic Peoples 845
    • chapter 20: Of Some Tendencies Particular to Historians in Democratic Centuries 853
    • chapter 21: Of Parliamentary Eloquence in the United States 861
  • Part II: Influence of Democracy on the Sentiments of the Americans
    • chapter 1: Why Democratic Peoples Show a More Ardent and More Enduring Love for Equality than for Liberty 872
    • chapter 2: Of Individualism in Democratic Countries 881
    • chapter 3: How Individualism Is Greater at the End of a Democratic Revolution than at Another Time 885
    • chapter 4: How the Americans Combat Individualism with Free Institutions 887
    • chapter 5: Of the Use That Americans Make of Association in Civil Life 895 Edition: current; Page: [xvii]
    • chapter 6: Of the Relation between Associations and Newspapers 905
    • chapter 7: Relations between Civil Associations and Political Associations 911
    • chapter 8: How the Americans Combat Individualism by the Doctrine of Interest Well Understood 918
    • chapter 9: How the Americans Apply the Doctrine of Interest Well Understood in the Matter of Religion 926
    • chapter 10: Of the Taste for Material Well-Being in America 930
    • chapter 11: Of the Particular Effects Produced by the Love of Material Enjoyments in Democratic Centuries 935
    • chapter 12: Why Certain Americans Exhibit So Excited a Spiritualism 939
    • chapter 13: Why the Americans Appear So Restless Amid Their Well-Being 942
    • chapter 14: How the Taste for Material Enjoyment Is United, among the Americans, with the Love of Liberty and Concern for Public Affairs 948
    • chapter 15: How from Time to Time Religious Beliefs Divert the Soul of the Americans toward Non-material Enjoyments 954
    • chapter 16: How the Excessive Love of Well-Being Can Harm Well-Being 963
    • chapter 17: How, in Times of Equality and Doubt, It Is Important to Push Back the Goal of Human Actions 965
    • chapter 18: Why, among the Americans, All Honest Professions Are Considered Honorable 969
    • chapter 19: What Makes Nearly All Americans Tend toward Industrial Professions 972
    • chapter 20: How Aristocracy Could Emerge from Industry 980 Edition: current; Page: [xviii]
  • Part III: Influence of Democracy on Mores Properly So Called
    • chapter 1: How Mores Become Milder as Conditions Become Equal 987
    • chapter 2: How Democracy Makes the Habitual Relations of the Americans Simpler and Easier 995
    • chapter 3: Why the Americans Have So Little Susceptibility in Their Country and Show Such Susceptibility in Ours 1000
    • chapter 4: Consequences of the Three Preceding Chapters 1005
    • chapter 5: How Democracy Modifies the Relationships of Servant and Master 1007
    • chapter 6: How Democratic Institutions and Mores Tend to Raise the Cost and Shorten the Length of Leases 1020
    • chapter 7: Influence of Democracy on Salaries 1025
    • chapter 8: Influence of Democracy on the Family 1031
    • chapter 9: Education of Young Girls in the United States 1041
    • chapter 10: How the Young Girl Is Found Again in the Features of the Wife 1048
    • chapter 11: How Equality of Conditions Contributes to Maintaining Good Morals in America 1052
    • chapter 12: How the Americans Understand the Equality of Man and of Woman 1062
    • chapter 13: How Equality Divides the Americans Naturally into a Multitude of Small Particular Societies 1068
    • chapter 14: Some Reflections on American Manners 1071
    • chapter 15: Of the Gravity of Americans and Why It Does Not Prevent Them from Often Doing Thoughtless Things 1080 Edition: current; Page: [xix]
    • chapter 16: Why the National Vanity of the Americans Is More Anxious and More Quarrelsome than That of the English 1085
    • chapter 17: How the Appearance of Society in the United States Is at the Very Same Time Agitated and Monotonous 1089
    • chapter 18: Of Honor in the United States and in Democratic Societies 1093
    • chapter 19: Why in the United States You Find So Many Ambitious Men and So Few Great Ambitions 1116
    • chapter 20: Of Positions Becoming an Industry among Certain Democratic Nations 1129
    • chapter 21: Why Great Revolutions Will Become Rare 1133
    • chapter 22: Why Democratic Peoples Naturally Desire Peace and Democratic Armies Naturally Desire War 1153
    • chapter 23: Which Class, in Democratic Armies, Is the Most Warlike and the Most Revolutionary 1165
    • chapter 24: What Makes Democratic Armies Weaker than Other Armies while Beginning a Military Campaign and More Formidable When the War Is Prolonged 1170
    • chapter 25: Of Discipline in Democratic Armies 1176
    • chapter 26: Some Considerations on War in Democratic Societies 1178
  • Part IV: Of the Influence That Democratic Ideas and Sentiments Exercise on Political Society
    • chapter 1: Equality Naturally Gives Men the Taste for Free Institutions 1191
    • chapter 2: That the Ideas of Democratic Peoples in Matters of Government Naturally Favor the Concentration of Powers 1194 Edition: current; Page: [xx]
    • chapter 3: That the Sentiments of Democratic Peoples Are in Agreement with Their Ideas for Bringing Them to Concentrate Power 1200
    • chapter 4: Of Some Particular and Accidental Causes That End Up Leading a Democratic People to Centralize Power or That Turn Them Away from Doing So 1206
    • chapter 5: That among the European Nations of Today the Sovereign Power Increases although Sovereigns Are Less Stable 1221
    • chapter 6: What Type of Despotism Democratic Nations Have to Fear 1245
    • chapter 7: Continuation of the Preceding Chapters 1262
    • chapter 8: General View of the Subject 1278
  • Notes 1286
  • Appendixes 1295
  • appendix 1: Journey to Lake Oneida 1295
  • appendix 2: A Fortnight in the Wilderness 1303
  • appendix 3: Sects in America 1360
  • appendix 4: Political Activity in America 1365
  • appendix 5: Letter of Alexis de Tocqueville to Charles Stoffels 1368
  • appendix 6: Foreword to the Twelfth Edition 1373
  • Works Used by Tocqueville 1377
  • Bibliography 1396
  • Index 1431
Edition: current; Page: [688]

VOLUME II Edition: current; Page: [689] : DEMOCRACY IN AMERICAa

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The Americans have a democratic social state that has naturally suggested to them certain laws and certain political mores.c

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This same social state has, moreover, given birth among them to a multitude of sentiments and opinions that were unknown in the old aristocratic societies of Europe. It has destroyed or modified relationships that formerly existed and established new ones. The appearance of civil society has been no less changed than the physiognomy of the political world.

I dealt with the first subject in the work that I published five years ago on American democracy. The second is the subject of the present book. These two parts complement one another and form only a single work.d

I must immediately warn the reader against an error that would be very prejudicial to me.

Seeing me attribute so many diverse effects to equality, he could conclude Edition: current; Page: [692] that I consider equality as the unique cause of all that happens today.e This would assume a very narrow view on my part.

There is, in our time, a host of opinions, sentiments, instincts that owe their birth to facts foreign or even contrary to equality. Thus, if I took the United States as an example, I would easily prove that the nature of the country, the origin of the inhabitants, the religion of the first founders, their acquired enlightenment, their previous habits, exercised and still exercise, independently of democracy, an immense influence on their way of thinking and feeling. Different causes, also distinct from the fact of equality, would be found in Europe and would explain a great part of what is happening there.

I recognize the existence of all these different causes and their power, but talking about them is not my subject. I have not undertaken to show Edition: current; Page: [693] the reason for all our inclinations and all our ideas; I have only wanted to show to what extent equality had modified both.f

You will perhaps be surprised that, since I am firmly of the opinion that the democratic revolution we are witnessing is an irresistible fact against which it would be neither desirable nor wise to struggle, I have often ended up addressing such harsh words in this book to the democratic societies created by this revolution.

I will simply reply that it is because I was not an adversary of democracy that I have wanted to be candid about it.g

Men do not receive the truth from their enemies, and their friends hardly ever offer the truth to them; that is why I have spoken it.

I have thought that many would take it upon themselves to announce the new good things that equality promises to men, but that few would dare to point out from a distance the perils with which it threatens them. So it Edition: current; Page: [694] is principally toward these perils that I have directed my attention, and, believing that I have clearly discerned them, I have not had the cowardice to say nothing about them.h

I hope that you will find again in this second work the impartialityj that seemed to be noted in the first. Placed in the middle of the contradictory opinions that divide us, I have tried to eradicate temporarily in my heart the favorable sympathies or contrary instincts that each one of them inspires in me. [I have wanted to live alone in order to keep my mind free.] If those who read my book find a single sentence that aims to flatter one of the great parties that have agitated our country, or one of the small factions that bother and enervate it today, may those readers raise their voices and accuse me.

The subject that I have wanted to embrace is immense; for it includes most of the sentiments and ideas that the new state of the world brings forth. Such a subject assuredly exceeds my powers;k while treating it, I have not succeeded in satisfying myself.

But, if I have not been able to achieve the goal that I set, readers will at least do me the justice of granting that I have conceived and followed my enterprise in the spirit that could make me worthy to succeed in it.m

Edition: current; Page: [695] Edition: current; Page: [696]

FIRST PARTa: Influence of Democracy on the Intellectual Movement in the United States

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CHAPTER 1a: Of the Philosophical Method of the Americansb

I think that in no country in the civilized world is there less interest in philosophy than in the United States.

The Americans have no philosophical school of their own, and they worry very little about all those that divide Europe; they hardly know their names.

Edition: current; Page: [699]

It is easy to see, however, that nearly all the inhabitants of the United States direct their minds in the same way, and conduct them according to the same rules; that is to say, they possess, without ever having taken the trouble to define its rules, a certain philosophical method that is common to all of them.

To escape from the spirit of system, from the yoke of habits, from the maxims of family,c from the opinions of class, and, to a certain point, from the prejudices of nation; to take tradition only as information, and present facts only as a useful study for doing otherwise and better; to seek by yourself and in yourself alone the reason for things, to strive toward the result without allowing yourself to be caught up in the means, and to aim for substance beyond form: such are the principal features that characterize what I will call the philosophical method of the Americans.d

If I go still further and, among these various features, look for the principal one and the one that can sum up nearly all the others, I discover that, in most operations of the mind, each American appeals only to the individual effort of his reason.

So America is one of the countries of the world where the precepts of Descartes are least studied and best followed.e That should not be a surprise.

Edition: current; Page: [700]

Americans do not read the works of Descartes, because their social state diverts them from speculative studies, and they follow his maxims because the same social state naturally disposes their mind to adopt them.f

Amid the constant movement that reigns within a democratic society,g the bond that links generations together weakens or breaks; each man easily loses track of the ideas of his ancestors, or is hardly concerned about them.

Nor can the men who live in such a society draw their beliefs from the opinions of the class to which they belong, for there are so to speak no longer any classes, and those that still exist are composed of elements so fluid, that the corps can never exercise a true power over its members.h

As for the action that the intelligence of one man can have on that of another, it is necessarily very limited in a country where citizens, having become more or less similar, all see each other at very close range; and, not noticing in any one of them the signs of incontestable greatness and superiority, they are constantly brought back to their own reasonj as the most Edition: current; Page: [701] visible and nearest source of truth. Then it is not only confidence in a particular man that is destroyed, but the taste to believe any man whatsoever on his word.

So each person withdraws narrowly into himself and claims to judge the world from there.

The custom that the Americans have of only taking themselves as guide for their judgment leads their mind to other habits.

Since they see that they manage without help to solve all the small difficulties that their practical life presents, they easily conclude that everything in the world is explicable, and that nothing goes beyond the limits of intelligence.

Thus, they readily deny what they cannot understand; that gives them little faith in the extraordinary and an almost invincible distaste for the supernatural.

Since they are accustomed to relying on their own witness, they love to see the matter that they are dealing with very clearly; so in order to see it more closely and in full light, they rid it as fully as they can of its wrapping; they push aside all that separates them from it, and clear away everything that hides it from their view. This disposition of their mind soon leads them to scorn forms, which they consider as useless and inconvenient veils placed between them and the truth.

So the Americans did not need to draw their philosophical method from books, they found it within themselves. I will say the same about what happened in Europe.

This same method became established and popularized in Europe only as conditions there became more equal and men more similar.

Let us consider for a moment the train of events:

Edition: current; Page: [702]

In the XVIth century, the men of the Reformationk subject some of the dogmas of the ancient faith to individual reason; but they continue to exclude all the others from discussion.m In the XVIIth, Bacon, in the natural sciences, and Descartes, in philosophy strictly speaking, abolish accepted formulas, destroy the rule of traditions and overthrow the authority of the master.n

Edition: current; Page: [703]

The philosophers of the XVIIIth century, finally generalizing the same principle, undertake to submit to the individual examination of each man the object of all his beliefs.o

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Who does not see that Luther, Descartesp and Voltaire used the same method, and that they differ only in the greater or lesser use that they claimed to make of it?

Why did the men of the Reformation enclose themselves so narrowly in the circle of religious ideas? Why did Descartes want to use it only in certain matters, although he made his method applicable to everything, and declare that only philosophical and not political things must be judged by oneself? How did it happen that in the XVIIIth century general applications that Descartes and his predecessors had not noticed or had refused to see were all at once drawn from that same method? Finally, why in that period did the method we are speaking about suddenly emerge from the schools to penetrate society and become the common rule of intelligence, and why, after becoming popular among the French, was it openly adopted or secretly followed by all the peoples of Europe?

The philosophical method in question was able to arise in the XVIth century, to take shape and become general in the XVIIth; but it could not be commonly adopted in either one of the two. Political laws, the social state, the habits of the mind that flow from these first causes, were opposed to it.

It was discovered in a period when men began to become equal and similar to each other. It could only be generally followed in centuries Edition: current; Page: [705] when conditions had finally become nearly similar and men almost the same.

So the philosophical method of the XVIIIth century is not only French, but democratic,q which explains why it was so easily accepted everywhere in Europe, whose face it so much contributed to changing. It is not because the French changed their ancient beliefs and modified their ancient mores that they turned the world upside down; it is because they were the first to generalize and bring to light a philosophical method by the aid of which you could easily attack all things old and open the way to all things new.

If someone now asks me why, today, this same method is followed more rigorously and applied more often among the French than among the Americans, among whom equality is nonetheless as complete and older, I will answer that it is due in part to two circumstances that must first be made clear.

It is religion that gave birth to the Anglo-American societies: that must never be forgotten; so in the United States religion merges with all national habits and all sentiments that the country brings forth; that gives it a particular strength.r

Edition: current; Page: [706] Edition: current; Page: [707]

To this powerful reason add this other one, which is no less so: in America, religion has so to speak set its own limits; the religious order there has remained entirely distinct from the political order, so that they were able to change ancient laws easily without shaking ancient beliefs.

So Christianity retained a great dominion over the mind of the Americans, and, what I want to note above all, it reigns not only as a philosophy that you adopt after examination, but also as a religion that you believe without discussion.

In the United States, Christian sects vary infinitely and are constantly changing, but Christianity itself is an established and irresistible fact that no one attempts to attack or defend.

The Americans, having admitted the principal dogmas of the Christian religion without examination, are obliged to receive in the same way a great number of moral truths that arise from it and are due to it. That confines the work of individual analysis within narrow limits, and excludes from it several of the most important human opinions.s

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The other circumstance that I spoke about is this:

The Americans have a democratic social state and a democratic constitution, but they have not had a democratic revolution. They arrived on the soil that they occupy more or less as we see them. That is very important.

There are no revolutions that do not turn ancient beliefs upside down, enervate authority and cloud common ideas. So every revolution has more or less the effect of leaving men to themselves and of opening before the mind of each one of them an empty and almost limitless space.

When conditions become equal following a prolonged struggle between the different classes that formed the old society, envy, hatred and contempt for neighbor, pride and exaggerated confidence in self, invade, so to speak, the human heart and for some time make it their domain. This, apart from equality, contributes powerfully to divide men, to make them mistrust each other’s judgment and seek enlightenment only within themselves alone.t

Each person then tries to be self-sufficient and glories in having beliefs that are his own. Men are no longer tied together except by interests and Edition: current; Page: [709] not by ideas, and you would say that human opinions no longer form anything other than a kind of intellectual dust that swirls on all sides, powerless to come together and settle.

Thus, the independence of mind that equality suggests is never so great and never appears so excessive as at the moment when equality begins to become established and during the painful work that establishes it. So you must carefully distinguish the type of intellectual liberty that equality can provide, from the anarchy that revolution brings. These two things must be considered separately, in order not to conceive exaggerated hopes and fears about the future.

I believe that the men who will live in the new societies will often make use of their individual reason; but I am far from believing that they will often abuse it.

This is due to a cause more generally applicable to all democratic countries and that, in the long run, must keep individual independence of thought within fixed and sometimes narrow limits.

I am going to speak about it in the chapter that follows.u

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CHAPTER 2a: Of the Principal Source of Beliefs among Democratic Peoplesb

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Dogmatic beliefs are more or less numerous, depending on the times. They are born in different ways and can change form and object; but you cannot make it so that there are no dogmatic beliefs, that is to say, opinions that men receive on trust and without discussion. If each person undertook to form all his opinions himself and to pursue truth in isolation, along paths opened up by himself alone, it is improbable that a great number of men would ever unite together in any common belief.c

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Now, it is easy to see that no society is able to prosper without similar beliefs, or rather none can continue to exist in such a way; for, without common ideas, there is no common action, and, without common action, there are still men, but not a social body. So for society to exist, and, with even more reason, for this society to prosper, all the minds of the citizens must always be brought and held together by some principal ideas; and that cannot happen without each one of them coming at times to draw his opinions from the same source and consenting to receive a certain number of ready-made beliefs.d

If I now consider man separately, I find that dogmatic beliefs are no less indispensable for him to live alone than to act in common with his fellows.e

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If man was forced to prove to himself all the truths that he uses every day, he would never finish doing so; he would wear himself out with preliminary demonstrations without advancing; as he has neither the time, because of the short span of his life, nor the ability, because of the limitations of his mind, to act in this way, he is reduced to holding as certain a host of facts and opinions that he has had neither the leisure nor the power to examine and to verify by himself, but that those more clever have found or that the crowd adopts. On this foundation he builds himself the structure of his own thoughts. It is not his will that leads him to proceed in this manner; the inflexible law of his condition compels him to do so.

There is in this world no philosopher so great that he does not believe Edition: current; Page: [715] a million things on the faith of others, and who does not assume many more truths than he establishes.f

This is not only necessary but desirable. A man who would undertake to examine everything by himself would only be able to give a little time and attention to each thing; this work would keep his mind in a perpetual agitation that would prevent him from penetrating any truth deeply and from settling reliably on any certitude. His intelligence would be independent and weak at the very same time. So, among the various subjects of human opinions, he must make a choice and adopt many beliefs without discussing them, in order to go more deeply into a small number that he has reserved to examine for himself.g

[<In this manner he is misled more, but he deceives himself less.>]

It is true that every man who receives an opinion on the word of others Edition: current; Page: [716] puts his mind into slavery; but it is a salutary servitude that allows making a good use of liberty.h

[That is noticeable above all in dogmatic beliefs whose subject is religion.

Religion, by providing the mind with a clear and precise solution to a great number of metaphysical and moral questions as important as they are difficult to resolve, leaves the mind the strength and the leisure to proceed with calmness and with energy in the whole area that religion abandons to it; and it is not precisely because of religion, but with the help of the liberty and the peace that religion gained for it, that the human mind has often done such great things in the centuries of faith.]j

So, no matter what happens, authority must always be found somewhere in the intellectual and moral world. Its place is variable, but it necessarily Edition: current; Page: [717] has a place. Individual independence can be greater or lesser; it cannot be limitless. Thus, the question is not to know if an intellectual authorityk exists in democratic centuries, but only to know where its repository is and what its extent will be.

I showed in the preceding chapter how equality of conditions made men conceive a kind of instinctive unbelief in the supernatural, and a very high and often exaggerated idea of human reason.

So men who live during these times of equality are not easily led to place the intellectual authority to which they submit outside and above humanity. It is in themselves or their fellows that they ordinarily look for the sources of truth. That would be enough to prove that a new religion cannot be established during these centuries, and that all attempts to bring it to life would be not only impious, but also ridiculous and unreasonable. You can predict that democratic peoples will not easily believe in divine missions, that they will readily scoff at new prophets and that they will want to find the principal arbiter of their beliefs within the limits of humanity and not beyond.

When conditions are unequal and men dissimilar, there are some individuals very enlightened, very learned, very powerful because of their intelligence, and a multitude very ignorant and very limited. So men who live in times of aristocracy are naturally led to take as guide for their opinions the superior reason of one man or of one class, while they are little disposed to recognize the infallibility of the mass.

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The contrary happens in centuries of equality.m As citizens become more equal and more similar, the tendency of each blindly to believe a certain man or a certain class decreases. The disposition to believe the mass increases, and more and more it is opinion that leads the world.

Not only is common opinion the sole guide that remains for individual reason among democratic peoples; but also it has among these peoples an infinitely greater power than among any other. In times of equality, men, Edition: current; Page: [719] because of their similarity, have no faith in each other; but this very similarity gives them an almost unlimited confidence in the judgment of the public; for it does not seem likely to them that, since all have similar enlightenment, truth is not found on the side of the greatest number.n

When the man who lives in democratic countries compares himself individually to all those who surround him, he feels with pride that he is equal to each of them; but, when he comes to envisage the ensemble of his fellows and to place himself alongside this great body, he is immediately overwhelmed by his own insignificance and weakness.

This same equality that makes him independent of each one of his fellow citizens in particular, delivers him isolated and defenseless to the action of the greatest number.o

So the public among democratic peoples has a singular power the idea of which aristocratic nations would not even be able to imagine. It does not persuade, it imposes its beliefs and makes them penetrate souls by a kind of immense pressure of the mind of all on the intelligence of each.

In the United States, the majority takes charge of providing individuals with a host of ready-made opinions, and thus relieves them of the obligation to form for themselves opinions that are their own. A great number of theories in matters of philosophy, morality and politics are adopted in this way by each person without examination on faith in the public; and, Edition: current; Page: [720] if you look very closely, you will see that religion itself reigns there much less as revealed doctrine than as common opinion.p

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I know that, among Americans, political laws are such that the majority governs society as a sovereign;q that greatly increases the dominion that it naturally exercises over intelligence. For there is nothing more familiar to man than recognizing a superior wisdom in the one who oppresses him.r

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This political omnipotence of the majority in the United States increases, in fact, the influence that the opinions of the public would have without it on the mind of each citizen there; but it does not establish it. The sources of this influence must be sought in equality itself, and not in Edition: current; Page: [724] the more or less popular institutions that equal men can give themselves. It is to be believed that the intellectual dominion of the greatest number would be less absolute among a democratic people subject to a king, than within a pure democracy; but it will always be very absolute, and, whatever the political laws may be that govern men in centuries of equality, you can predict that faith in common opinion will become a sort of religion whose prophet will be the majority.

Thus intellectual authority will be different, but it will not be less; and, far from believing that it must disappear, I foresee that it would easily become too great and that it might well be that it would finally enclose the action of individual reason within more narrow limits than are suitable for the grandeur and happiness of the human species. I see very clearly in equality two tendencies: one that leads the mind of each man toward new thoughts and the other that readily reduces him to thinking no more. And I notice how, under the dominion of certain laws, democracy would extinguish the intellectual liberty that the democratic social state favors, so that after breaking all the obstacles that were formerly imposed on it by classes or men, the human mind would bind itself narrowly to the general wills of the greatest number [volontés générales du plus grand nombre —Trans.].s

If, in place of all the diverse powers that hindered or slowed beyond measure the rapid development of individual reason, democratic peoples substituted the absolute power of a majority, the evil would only have changed character. Men would not have found the means to live independently; they would only have discovered, a difficult thing, a new face of servitude. I cannot say it enough: for those who see liberty of the mind as Edition: current; Page: [725] a holy thing, and who hate not only the despot but also despotism, there is in that something to make them reflect deeply. For me, when I feel the hand of power pressing on my head, knowing who is oppressing me matters little to me, and I am no more inclined to put my head in the yoke, because a million arms present it to me.

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CHAPTER 3a: Why the Americans Show More Aptitude and Taste for General Ideas Than Their Fathers the English

God does not consider the human species in general. He sees at a single glance and separately all the beings who make up humanity, and he notices Edition: current; Page: [727] each of them with the similarities that bring each closer to the others and the differences that isolate each.

So God does not need general ideas; that is to say he never feels the necessity to encompass a very great number of analogous objects within the same form in order to think about them more comfortably.

It is not so with man. If the human mind undertook to examine and to judge individually all the particular cases that strike it, it would soon be lost amid the immensity of details and would no longer see anything; in this extremity, it resorts to an imperfect, but necessary procedure that helps its weakness and proves it.b

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After considering a certain number of matters superficially and noticing that they are alike, the human mind gives them all the same name, puts them aside and goes on its way.

General ideas do not attest to the strength of human intelligence, but rather to its insufficiency, for there are no beings exactly the same in nature: no identical facts; no rules applicable indiscriminately and in the same way to several matters at once.c

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General ideas are admirable in that they allow the human mind to make rapid judgements about a great number of matters at the same time; but, on the other hand, they never provide it with anything other than incomplete notions, and they always make it lose in exactitude what it gains in breadth.

As societies grow older, they acquire knowledge of new facts and each day, almost without knowing it, they take hold of a few particular truths.

As man grasps more truths of this nature, he is naturally led to conceive a greater number of general ideas. You cannot see a multitude of particular facts separately, without finally discovering the common bond that holds them together. Several individuals make the notion of the species emerge; several species lead necessarily to that of the genus. So the older and more extensive the enlightenment of a people, the greater will always be their habit of and taste for general ideas.

But there are still other reasons that push men to generalize their ideas or move them away from doing so.

The Americans make much more frequent use than the English of general ideas and delight much more in doing so; that seems very strange at first, if you consider that these two peoples have the same origin, that they lived for centuries under the same laws and that they still constantly communicate their opinions and their mores to one another. The contrast seems even much more striking when you concentrate your attention on our Europe and compare the two most enlightened peoples that live there.d

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You would say that among the English the human mind tears itself away from the contemplation of particular facts only with regret and pain in order to return from there to causes, and that the human mind generalizes only in spite of itself.

It seems, on the contrary, that among us the taste for general ideas has become a passion so unrestrained that it must be satisfied in the slightest thing. I learn each morning upon waking that a certain general and eternal law has just been discovered that I had never heard of until then [and <I am assured> that I obey with all the rest of my fellows some primary causes of which I was unaware]. There is no writer so mediocre for whom it is enough in his essay to discover truths applicable to a great kingdom and who does not remain discontent with himself if he has not been able to contain humanity within the subject of his discourse.e

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Such a dissimilarity between two very enlightened peoples astonishes me. If finally I turn my mind toward England and notice what has been happening for half a century within that country, I believe I am able to assert that the taste for general ideas is developing there as the ancient constitution of the country is becoming weaker.

So the more or less advanced state of enlightenment alone is not sufficient to explain what suggests love of general ideas to the human mind or turns it away from them.

When conditions are very unequal, and inequalities are permanent, individuals become little by little so dissimilar that you would say that there are as many distinct humanities as there are classes; you see only one of them at a time, and, losing sight of the general bond that gathers all within the vast bosom of the human species, you envisage only certain men and not man.

So those who live in these aristocratic societies never conceive very general ideas relative to themselves, and that suffices to give them a habitual distrust of these ideas, and an instinctive disgust for them.

The man who inhabits democratic countries, on the contrary, sees near Edition: current; Page: [732] him only more or less similar beings; so he cannot consider whatever part of the human species, without having his thought widen and expand to embrace the whole. All the truths that are applicable to himself seem to him to apply equally or in the same way to each one of his fellow citizens and of his fellow men.f Having contracted the habit of general ideas in the one area of his studies that concerns him most and that interests him more, he transfers this same habit to all the others, and this is how the need to find common rules in everything, to encompass a great number of matters within the same form, and to explain an ensemble of facts by a sole cause, becomes an ardent and often blind passion of the human mind.g

Nothing shows the truth of what precedes better than the opinions of antiquity relative to slaves.

The most profound and far-reaching geniuses of Rome and of Greece were never able to reach this idea so general, but at the same time so simple, Edition: current; Page: [733] of the similarity of men and of the equal right to liberty that each one of them bears by birth; and they struggled hard to prove that slavery was in nature and that it would always exist. Even more, everything indicates that those of the ancients who had been slaves before becoming free, several of whom have left us beautiful writings, themselves envisaged servitude in the same way.

All the great writers of antiquity were part of the aristocracy of masters, or at least they saw this aristocracy established without dispute before their eyes; so their minds, after expanding in several directions, were limited in that one, and Jesus Christ had to come to earth in order to make it understood that all members of the human species were naturally similar and equal.h

In centuries of equality, all men are independent of each other, isolated and weak; you see none whose will directs the movements of the crowd in Edition: current; Page: [734] a permanent fashion; in these times, humanity always seems to march by itself. So in order to explain what is happening in the world, you are reduced to searching for some general causes that, acting in the same way on each one of our fellows, therefore lead them all voluntarily to follow the same route. That also naturally leads the human mind to conceive general ideas and causes it to contract the taste for them.

I showed previously how equality of conditions brought each man to search for truth by himself. It is easy to see that such a method must imperceptibly make the human mind tend toward general ideas.

When I repudiate the traditions of class, of profession and of family, when I escape from the rule of example in order, by the sole effort of my reason, to search for the path to follow, I am inclined to draw the grounds of my opinions from the very nature of man, which brings me necessarily and almost without my knowing, toward a great number of very general notions.j

Everything that precedes finally explains why the English show much less aptitude and taste for the generalization of ideas than their sons, the Americans, and above all than their neighbors, the French, and why the English today show more of such aptitude and taste than their fathers did.k

The English have for a long time been a very enlightened and at the same time very aristocratic people; their enlightenment made them tend constantly toward very general ideas, and their aristocratic habits held them in very particular ideas. From that this philosophy, at the very same time bold Edition: current; Page: [735] and timid, broad and narrow, that dominated in England until now, and that still keeps so many minds there restricted and immobile.m

Apart from the causes that I showed above, you find still others, less apparent, but no less effective, that produce among nearly all democratic peoples the taste and often the passion for general ideas.

These sorts of ideas must be clearly distinguished. There are some that are the product of a slow, detailed, conscientious work of intelligence, and those enlarge the sphere of human knowledge.

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There are others that arise easily from a first rapid effort of the mind, and that lead only to very superficial and very uncertain notions.

Men who live in centuries of equality have a great deal of curiosity and little leisure; their life is so practical, so complicated, so agitated, so active, that little time remains for them to think. The men of democratic centuries love general ideas, because they exempt them from studying particular cases; they contain, if I can express myself in this way, many things within a small volume and in little time produce a great result. So when, after an inattentive and short examination, they believe they notice among certain matters a common relationship, they push their research no further, and, without examining in detail how these diverse matters are similar or different, they hasten to arrange them according to the same formula, in order to move on.

One of the distinctive characteristics of democratic centuries is the taste that all men there feel for easy success and present enjoyments. This is found in intellectual careers as in all others. Most of those who live in times of equality are full of an ambition intense and soft at the same time; they want to gain great successes immediately, but they would like to excuse themselves from great efforts. These opposing instincts lead them directly to the search for general ideas, by the aid of which they flatter themselves to portray very vast matters at little cost, and to attract the attention of the public without difficulty.

And I do not know if they are wrong to think this way; for their readers are as much afraid to go deeper as they themselves are and ordinarily seek in the works of the mind only easy pleasures and instruction without work.

If aristocratic nations do not make enough use of general ideas and often show them an ill-considered scorn, it happens, on the contrary, that democratic peoples are always ready to abuse these sorts of ideas and to become impassioned excessively for them.n

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CHAPTER 4a: Why the Americans Have Never Been as Passionate as the French about General Ideas in Political Matters

[<I showed in the preceding chapter that equality of conditions suggested to the human mind the taste for general ideas. I do not want to abandon this subject without pointing out here in passing how the great liberty that the Americans enjoy prevents them from giving themselves blindly to this very taste in politics.>]

I said before that the Americans showed a less intense taste than the Edition: current; Page: [738] French for general ideas. That is above all true for general ideas relative to politics.

Although the Americans introduce infinitely more general ideas into legislation than the English, and although they concern themselves much more than the latter with adjusting the practice of human affairs to the theory, you have never seen in the United States political bodies as in love with general ideas as were our own Constituent Assembly and Convention; never has the entire American nation had a passion for these sorts of ideas in the same way that the French people of the XVIIIth century did, and never has it shown so blind a faith in the goodness and in the absolute truth of any theory.

This difference between the Americans and us arises out of several causes, but principally this one:

The Americans form a democratic people that has always run public affairs by themselves, and we are a democratic people that, for a long time, has only been able to think about the best way to conduct them.

Our social state already led us to conceive very general ideas in matters of government, while our political constitution still prevented us from rectifying these ideas by experience and from discovering little by little their inadequacy; while among the Americans these two things constantly balanced and mutually corrected each other.

It seems, at first view, that this is strongly opposed to what I said previously, that democratic nations drew from the very agitation of their practical life the love that they show for theories. A closer examination reveals that there is nothing contradictory there.b

Men who live in democratic countries are very avid for general ideas, because they have little leisure and because these ideas excuse them from wasting their time in examining particular cases; that is true, but it must be extended only to the matters that are not the habitual and necessary Edition: current; Page: [739] object of their thoughts.c Tradesmen will grasp eagerly and without looking very closely all the general ideas that are presented to them relative to philosophy, politics, the sciences and the arts; but they will accept only after examination those that have to do with commerce and accept them only with reservation.

The same thing happens to statesmen, when it is a matter of general ideas relative to politics.

So when there is a subject on which it is particularly dangerous for democratic peoples to give themselves to general ideas blindly and beyond measure, the best corrective that you can employ is to make them concern themselves with it every day and in a practical way; then it will be very necessary for them to enter into details, and the details will make them see the weak aspects of the theory.

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The remedy is often painful, but its effect is certain.

In this way democratic institutions, which force each citizen to be occupied in a practical way with government, moderate the excessive taste for general theories in political matters that equality suggests.d

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CHAPTER 5a: How, in the United States, Religion Knows How to Make Use of Democratic Instinctsb

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I established in one of the preceding chapters that men cannot do without dogmatic beliefs, and that it was even much to be desired that they had such beliefs. I add here that, among all dogmatic beliefs, the most desirable seem to me to be dogmatic beliefs in the matter of religion; that very clearly follows, even if you want to pay attention only to the interests of this world alone.

[≠Religions have the advantage that they provide the human mind with the clear and precise answer to a very great number of questions.≠]

There is hardly any human action, no matter how particular you assume it to be, that is not born out of a very general idea that men have conceived of God, of God’s relationships with humanity, of the nature of their soul and of their duties toward their fellows. You cannot keep these ideas from being the common source from which all the rest flows.c

[Experience has proved that they were necessary to all men and that each man needed them daily in order to solve the smallest problems of his existence.]

So men have an immense interest in forming very fixed ideas about God, their soul, their general duties toward their creator and toward their fellows; for doubt about these first points would leave all their actions to chance and would condemn them in a way to disorder and impotence.

So this matter is the one about which it is most important for each one of us to have fixed ideas, and unfortunately it is also the one on which it is most difficult for each person, left to himself and by the sole effort of his reason, to come to fix his ideas.

Only minds very emancipated from the ordinary preoccupations of life, Edition: current; Page: [744] very perceptive, very subtle, very practiced are able with the help of a great deal of time and care to break through to such necessary truths.

Yet we see that these philosophers themselves are almost always surrounded by uncertainties; at each step the natural light that illumines them grows dark and threatens to go out, and despite all their efforts they still have been able to discover only a small number of contradictory notions, in the middle of which the human mind has drifted constantly for thousands of years, unable to grasp the truth firmly or even to find new errors. Such studies are far beyond the average capacity of men, and, even if most men were capable of devoting themselves to such studies, it is clear that they would not have the leisure to do so.

Fixed ideas about God and human nature are indispensable for the daily practice of their life, and this practice prevents them from being able to acquire those ideas.

That seems unique to me. Among the sciences, there are some, useful to the crowd, that are within its grasp; others are only accessible to a few persons and are not cultivated by the majority, which needs only the most remote of their applications. But the daily practice of this science is indispensable to all, even though its study is inaccessible to the greatest number.

General ideas relative to God and to human nature are, therefore, among all ideas, those most suitable to remove from the habitual action of individual reason, and for which there is the most to gain and the least to lose by recognizing an authority.

The first object, and one of the principal advantages of religions, is to provide for each of these primordial questions a clear, precise answer, intelligible to the crowd and very enduring.

There are very false and very absurd religions. You can say however that every religion that remains within the circle that I have just pointed out and that does not claim to go outside of it, as several have tried to do in order to stop the free development of the human mind in all directions, imposes a salutary yoke on the intellect; and it must be recognized that, if religion does not save men in the other world, it is at least very useful to their happiness and to their grandeur in this one.

This is above all true of men who live in free countries.

When religion is destroyed among a people, doubt takes hold of the Edition: current; Page: [745] highest portions of the intellect and half paralyzes all the others. Each person gets accustomed to having only confused and changing notions about the matters that most interest his fellows and himself. You defend your opinions badly or you abandon them, and, since you despair of being able, by yourself, to solve the greatest problems that human destiny presents, you are reduced like a coward to not thinking about them.

Such a state cannot fail to enervate souls; it slackens the motivating forces of will and prepares citizens for servitude.

Then not only does it happen that the latter allow their liberty to be taken, but they often give it up.

When authority no longer exists in religious matters, any more than in political matters, men are soon frightened by the sight of this limitless independence. This perpetual agitation [<and this continual mutation>] of all things disturbs and exhausts them. Since everything shifts in the intellectual world, they at least want everything to be firm and stable in the material order, and, no longer able to recapture their ancient beliefs, they give themselves a master.

For me, I doubt that man can ever bear complete religious independence and full political liberty at the same time; and I am led to think that, if he does not have faith, he must serve, and, if he is free, he must believe.

I do not know, however, if this great utility of religions is not still more visible among peoples where conditions are equal, than among all others.

It must be recognized that equality, which introduces great advantages into the world, nevertheless suggests, as will be shown below, very dangerous instincts to men; it tends to isolate them from one another and to lead each one of them to be interested only in himself alone.

It opens their souls excessively to love of material enjoyments.

The greatest advantage of religions is to inspire entirely opposite instincts. There is no religion that does not place the object of the desires of men above and beyond the good things of the earth, and that does not naturally elevate his soul toward realms very superior to those of the senses. Nor is there any religion that does not impose on each man some duties toward the human species or in common with it, and that does not in this way drag him, from time to time, out of contemplation Edition: current; Page: [746] of himself. This is found in the most false and most dangerous religions.

So religious peoples are naturally strong precisely in the places where democratic peoples are weak; this makes very clear how important it is for men to keep their religion while becoming equal.

I have neither the right nor the will to examine the supernatural means that God uses to make a religious belief reach the heart of man. At this moment I am envisaging religions only from a purely human viewpoint. I am trying to find out how they can most easily retain their dominion in the democratic centuries that we are entering.d

I have shown how, in times of enlightenment and equality, the human mind agreed to receive dogmatic beliefs only with difficulty and strongly felt the need to do so only as regards religion [<and dogmatic beliefs are readily adopted in the form of common opinions>]. This indicates first of all that, in those centuries, religions must be more discreet than in all other centuries in staying within the limits that are appropriate to them and must not try to go beyond them; for, by wanting to extend their power beyond religious matters, they risk no longer being believed in any matter. So they must carefully draw the circle within which they claim to stop the human mind, and beyond that circle they must leave the mind entirely free to be abandoned to itself.

Mohammed made not only religious doctrines, but also political maxims, civil and criminal laws, and scientific theories descend from heaven and placed them in the Koran. The Gospel, in contrast, speaks only of the general relationships of men with God and with each other. Beyond that, it teaches nothing and requires no belief in anything. That alone, among Edition: current; Page: [747] a thousand other reasons, is enough to show that the first of these two religions cannot long dominate during times of enlightenment and democracy, whereas the second is destined to reign during these centuries as in all others.e

If I continue this same inquiry further, I find that for religions to be able, humanly speaking, to persist in democratic centuries, they must not only carefully stay within the circle of religious matters; their power also depends a great deal on the nature of the beliefs that they profess, on the external forms that they adopt, and on the obligations that they impose.

What I said previously, that equality brings men to very general and very vast ideas, must principally be understood in the matter of religion. Men similar and equal easily understand the notion of a single God, imposing on each one of them the same rules and granting them future happiness at the same cost. The idea of the unity of the human race leads them constantly to the idea of the unity of the Creator, while in contrast men very separate from each other and strongly dissimilar readily come to make as many divinities as there are peoples, castes, classes and families, and to mark out a thousand particular roads for going to heaven.

You cannot deny that Christianity itself has not in some way been subjected Edition: current; Page: [748] to the influence exercised by the social and political state on religious beliefs.

At the moment when the Christian religion appeared on earth, Providence, which without doubt prepared the world for its coming, had gathered together a great part of the human species, like an immense flock under the scepter of the Caesars. The men who made up this multitude differed a great deal from one another, but they nevertheless had this point in common, they all obeyed the same laws; and each of them was so weak and so small in relation to the greatness of the prince, that they all seemed equal when compared to him.

It must be recognized that this new and particular state of humanity had to dispose men to receive the general truths that Christianity teaches, and it serves to explain the easy and rapid way in which it then penetrated the human mind.f

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The counter-proof came about after the destruction of the Empire.

The Roman world was then broken so to speak into a thousand pieces; each nation reverted to its original individuality. Soon, within the interior of these nations, ranks became infinitely graduated; races became marked; castes divided each nation into several [enemy] peoples. In the middle of this common effort that seemed to lead human societies to subdivide themselves into as many fragments as it was possible to imagine, Christianity did not lose sight of the principal general ideas that it had brought to light. But it seemed nonetheless to lend itself, as much as it could, to the new tendencies given birth by the splitting up of the human species. Men continued to adore only a single God, creator and sustainer of all things; but each people, each city, and so to speak each man believed in the ability to gain some separate privilege and to create particular protectors next to the sovereign master. Not able to divide Divinity, his agents at least were multiplied and enlarged beyond measure; the homage due to angels and saints became for most Christians a nearly idolatrous worship, and it could be feared at one time that the Christian religion was regressing toward the religions that it had vanquished.

It seems clear to me that the more the barriers that separated nations within humanity and citizens within the interior of each people tend to disappear, the more the human mind heads as if by itself toward the idea of a single and omnipotent being, dispensing equally and in the same way the same laws to each man. So particularly in these centuries of democracy, it is important not to allow the homage given to secondary agents to be confused with the worship due only to the Creator.

[So you can foresee in advance that every religion in a democratic century that comes to establish intermediary powers between God and men and indicates certain standards of conduct to certain men will come to clash Edition: current; Page: [750] with the irresistible tendencies of intelligence; it will not acquire authority or will lose the authority that it had acquired at a time when the social state suggested opposite notions.]

Another truth seems very clear to me; religions must attend less to external practices in democratic times than in all others.

I have shown, in relation to the philosophical method of the Americans, that nothing revolts the human mind more in times of equality than the idea of submitting to forms. Men who live during these times endure representations impatiently; symbols seem to them puerile artifices that you use to veil or keep from their eyes truths that it would be more natural to show them entirely naked and in full light of day; the trappings of ceremonies leave them cold, and they are naturally led to attach only a secondary importance to the details of worship.

Those who are charged with regulating the external form of religions in democratic centuries must pay close attention to these natural instincts of human intelligence, in order not to struggle needlessly against them.

I firmly believe in the necessity of forms;g I know that they fix the human mind in the contemplation of abstract truths, and forms, by helping the mind to grasp those truths firmly, make it embrace them with fervor. I do not imagine that it is possible to maintain a religion without external practices, but on the other hand I think that, during the centuries we are entering, it would be particularly dangerous to multiply them inordinately; that instead they must be restricted and that you should retain only those that are absolutely necessary for the perpetuation of the dogma itself, which is the substance of religions,1 of which worship is only the form. A religion that would become more minutely detailed, more inflexible and more burdened by small observances at the same time that men are becoming more equal, would soon see itself reduced to a troop of passionate zealots in the middle of an unbelieving multitude.

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I know that some will not fail to object that religions, all having general and eternal truths as their object, cannot bend in this way to the changing instincts of each century, without losing the character of certitude in the eyes of men. I will answer here again that you must distinguish very carefully between the principal opinions that constitute a belief and that form what theologians call the articles of faith, and the incidental notions that are linked to them. Religions are obliged always to hold firm in the first, whatever the particular spirit of the times; but they must very carefully keep from binding themselves in the same way to the second, during centuries when everything changes position constantly and when the mind, accustomed to the moving spectacle of human affairs, reluctantly allows itself to be fixed. Immobility in external and secondary things does not seem to me a possibility for enduring except when civil society itself is immobile; everywhere else, I am led to believe that it is a danger.

We will see that, among all the passions to which equality gives birth or favors, there is one that it makes particularly intense and that it deposits at the same time in the heart of all men; it is the love of well-being. The taste for well-being forms like the salient and indelible feature of democratic ages.

It can be believed that a religion that undertook to destroy this fundamental passion would in the end be destroyed by it; if a religion wanted to drag men away entirely from the contemplation of the good things of this world in order to deliver them solely to the thought of those of the other, you can predict that souls would finally escape from its hands and go far from it to plunge into material and present pleasures alone.

The principal business of religions is to purify, to regulate and to limit the overly ardent and overly exclusive taste for well-being that men feel in times of equality; but I believe that religions would be wrong to try to overcome it entirely and to destroy it. Religions will not succeed in turning men away from love of riches; but they can still persuade them to enrich themselves only by honest means.h

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This leads me to a final consideration that, in a way, includes all the others. As men become more similar and more equal, it is more important for religions, while still keeping carefully out of the daily movement of affairs, not unnecessarily to go against generally accepted ideas and the permanent interests that rule the mass; for common opinion appears more and more as the first and most irresistible of powers; outside of it there is no support strong enough to allow resistance to its blows for long.j That is no less true among a democratic people, subjected to a despot, than in a republic. In centuries of equality, kings often bring about obedience, but it is always the majority that brings about belief; so it is the majority that must be pleased in everything not contrary to faith.

[It would be wrong to attribute only to the Puritan origin of Americans the power that religion retains among them; there are many other causes as well. The object of what precedes was to make the reader better understand the principal ones.]k I showed, in my first work, how American priests stand aside from public affairs. This is the most striking example, but not the only example, of self-restraint. In America, religion is a world apart where the priest reigns but which he is careful never to leave; within its limits, he leadsm minds; outside he leaves men to themselves and abandons them to the independence and to the instability that are appropriate to their nature and to the time. I have not seen a country where Christianity was less enveloped by forms, practices and images than in the United States, and where it presented more clear, more simple and more general ideas to the human mind. Although the Christians of America are divided into a Edition: current; Page: [753] multitude of sects, they all see their religion from this same perspective. This applies to Catholicism as well as to the other beliefs. There are no Catholic priests who show less taste for small individual observances, extraordinary and particular methods of gaining your salvation [indulgences, pilgrimages and relics], or who are attached more to the spirit of the law and less to its letter than the Catholic priests of the United States; nowhere is the doctrine of the Church that forbids giving the saints the worship that is reserved only for God taught more clearly and followed more. Still, the Catholics of America are very dutiful and very sincere.

Another remark is applicable to the clergy of all communions. American priests do not try to attract and fix the entire attention of man on the future life; they willingly abandon a part of his heart to the cares of the present; they seem to consider the good things of this world as important, though secondary matters. If they themselves do not participate in industry, they are at least interested in its progress and applaud it, and, while constantly pointing out the other world to the faithful man as the great object of his fears and of his hopes, they do not forbid him to seek well-being honestly in this one. Far from showing him how the two things are separate and opposite, they pay particular attention instead to finding in what place they touch and are connected.

All American priests know the intellectual dominion exercised by the majority and respect it. They support only necessary struggles against the majority. They do not get involved in party quarrels, but they willingly adopt the general opinions of their country and their time, and they go along without resistance with the current of sentiments and ideas that carries everything along around them. They try hard to correct their contemporaries, but do not separate from them. So public opinion is never their enemy; instead it sustains and protects them, and their beliefs reign simultaneously with the strengths that are their own and those that they borrow from the majority.

In this way, by respecting all the democratic instincts that are not contrary to it and by using several of those instincts to help itself, religion succeeds in struggling with advantage against the spirit of individual independence that is the most dangerous of all to religion.

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CHAPTER 6a: Of the Progress of Catholicism in the United States

America is the most democratic country on earth, and at the same time the country where, according to trustworthy reports,b the Catholic religion is making the most progress. This is surprising at first view.

Two things must be clearly distinguished. Equality disposes men to want to judge by themselves; but, from another side, it gives them the taste and the idea of a single social power, simple and the same for all. So men who live in democratic centuries are very inclined to avoid all religious authority. But, if they consent to submit to such an authority, they at least want it to be unitary and uniform; religious powers that do not all lead to the same center [or in other words national churches] are naturally shocking to their Edition: current; Page: [755] intelligence, and they imagine almost as easily that there is no religion as that there are several.c

You see today, more than in earlier periods, Catholics who become unbelievers and Protestants who turn into Catholics. If you consider Catholicism internally, it seems to lose; if you look at it from the outside, it gains. That can be explained.

Men today are naturally little disposed to believe; but as soon as they have a religion, they find a hidden instinct within themselves that pushes them without their knowing toward Catholicism. Several of the doctrines and practices of the Roman Church astonish them;d but they experience a secret admiration for its government, and its great unity attracts them.

If Catholicism succeeded finally in escaping from the political hatreds to which it gave birth, I hardly doubt that this very spirit of the century, which seems so contrary to it, would become very favorable to it,e and that it would suddenly make great conquests.

It is one of the most familiar weaknesses of human intelligence to want to reconcile contrary principles and to buy peace at the expense of logic. Edition: current; Page: [756] So there have always been and will always be men who, after submitting a few of their religious beliefs to an authority, will want some other religious beliefs to elude it, and will allow their minds to float haphazardly between obedience and liberty. But I am led to believe that the number of the latter will be fewer in democratic centuries than in other centuries, and that our descendants will tend more and more to divide into only two parts, some leaving Christianity entirely, others going into the Roman Church.

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CHAPTER 7: What Makes the Minds of Democratic Peoples Incline toward Pantheisma

I will show later how the predominant taste of democratic peoples for very general ideas is found again in politics; but now I want to point out its principal effect in philosophy.

It cannot be denied that pantheism has made great progress in our time. The writings of a portion of Europe clearly carry its mark. The Germans introduce it into philosophy, and the French into literature. Among the works of the imagination that are published in France, most contain some opinions or some portrayals borrowed from pantheistic doctrines, or allow a sort of tendency toward those doctrines to be seen in their authors. This does not appear to me to happen only by accident, but is due to a lasting cause.b

As conditions become more equal and each man in particular becomes more similar to all the others, weaker and smaller, you get used to no longer envisaging citizens in order to consider only the people; you forget individuals in order to think only about the species.

In these times, the human mind loves to embrace all at once [and to mix up in the same view] a host of diverse matters; it constantly aspires to be able to connect a multitude of consequences to a single cause.

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The mind is obsessed by the idea of unity, looking for it in all directions, and, when it believes unity has been found, it embraces it and rests there. Not only does the human mind come to discover in the world only one creation and one creator, this first division of things still bothers it, and it readily tries to enlarge and to simplify its thought by containing God and the universe in a single whole. If I find a philosophical system according to which the things material and immaterial, visible and invisible that the world contains are no longer considered except as the various parts of an immense being that alone remains eternal amid the continual change and incessant transformation of everything that composes it, I will have no difficulty concluding that such a system, although it destroys human individuality, or rather because it destroys it, will have secret charms for men who live in democracy; all their intellectual habits prepare them for conceiving it and set them on the path to adopt it. It naturally attracts their imagination and fixes it; it feeds the pride of their mind and flatters its laziness.c

Among the different systems by the aid of which philosophy seeks to explain the world, pantheism seems to me the one most likely to seduce the human mind in democratic centuries.d All those who remain enamored of the true grandeur of man must join forces and struggle against it.

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CHAPTER 8a: How Equality Suggests to the Americans the Idea of the Indefinite Perfectibility of Manb[TN 7]

Equality suggests several ideas to the human mind that would not have occurred to it otherwise, and it modifies nearly all those that the mind already had. I take for example the idea of human perfectibility, because it is one of the principal ones that intelligence can conceive and because it Edition: current; Page: [760] constitutes by itself alone a great philosophical theory whose consequences are revealed each moment in the conduct of affairs.

Although man resembles animals in several ways, one feature is particular only to him alone; he perfects himself, and they do not perfect themselves. The human species could not fail to discover this difference from the beginning. So the idea of perfectibility is as old as the world; equality did not give birth to it, but equality gave it a new character.

When citizens are classed according to rank, profession, birth, and when all are compelled to follow the path on which chance placed them, each man believes that near him he sees the furthest limits of human power, and no one tries any more to struggle against an inevitable destiny. It is not that aristocratic peoples absolutely deny man the ability to perfect himself. They do not judge it to be indefinite; they conceive of amelioration, not change; they imagine the condition of society becoming better, but not different; and, while admitting that humanity has made great progress and that it can still make more progress, they enclose humanity in advance within impassable limits.

So they do not believe they have reached the supreme good and absolute truth (what man or what people has been so foolish ever to imagine that?), but they like to persuade themselves that they have almost attained the degree of grandeur and knowledge that our imperfect nature entails; and since nothing stirs around them, they readily imagine that everything is in its place.c That is when the lawmaker claims to promulgate eternal laws, when peoples and kings want to erect only enduring monuments and when the present generation assumes the task of sparing future generations the trouble of regulating their own destiny.

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As castes disappear, as classes come closer together, as common practices, customs, and laws vary because men are mixed tumultuously together, as new facts arise, as new truths come to light, as old opinions disappear and as others take their place, the image of an ideal and always fleeting perfection presents itself to the human mind.

Continual changes then pass before the eyes of each man at every moment. Some changes worsen his position, and he understands only too well that a people or an individual, however enlightened, is not infallible. Other changes improve his lot, and he concludes that man, in general, is endowed with the indefinite ability to improve. His failures make him see that no one can claim to have discovered absolute good; his successes inflame him in pursuing the absolute good without respite. Therefore, always searching, falling, getting up again, often disappointed, never discouraged, he tends constantly toward this immense grandeur that he half sees vaguely at the end of the long course that humanity must still cover.

[When conditions are equal each man finds himself so small next to the mass that he imagines nothing equivalent to the efforts of the latter. The sentiment of his own weakness leads him each day to exaggerate the power of the human species.]

You cannot believe how many facts flow naturally from this philosophical theory that man is indefinitely perfectible,d and the prodigious influence Edition: current; Page: [762] that it exercises on even those who, occupied only with acting and not with thinking, seem to conform their actions to it without knowing it.

I meet an American sailor, and I ask him why the vessels of his country are constituted so as not to last for long, and he answers me without hesitation that the art of navigation makes such rapid progress each day, that the most beautiful ship would soon become nearly useless if it lasted beyond a few years.e

In these chance words said by a coarse man and in regard to a particular fact, I see the general and systematic idea by which a great people conducts all things.

Aristocratic nations are naturally led to compress the limits of human perfectibility too much, and democratic nations to extend them sometimes beyond measure.

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CHAPTER 9a: How the Example of the Americans Does Not Prove That a Democratic People Cannot Have Aptitude and Taste for the Sciences, Literature, and the Artsb

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It must be recognized that, among the civilized people of today, there are few among whom the advanced sciences have made less progress than in the United States, and who have provided fewer great artists, illustrious poets and celebrated writers.c

Some Europeans, struck by this spectacle, have considered it as a natural and inevitable result of equality, and they have thought that, if the democratic social state and institutions came at some time to prevail over all the Edition: current; Page: [765] earth,d the human mind would see the enlightenment that illuminates it darken little by little, and man would fall back into the shadows.

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Those who reason in this way confuse, I think, several ideas that it would be important to separate and to examine apart. Without wanting to, they mix what is democratic with what is only American.e

The religion that the first emigrants professed and that they handed down to their descendants, simple in its worship, austere and nearly primitive in its principles, enemy of external signs and of the pomp of ceremonies, is naturally little favorable to the fine arts and permits literary pleasures only reluctantly.

[≠At their arrival on the shores of the New World, these men were at first assailed by such great needs and threatened by such great dangers, that they had to dedicate all the resources of their intelligence to satisfying the first and overcoming the second. ≠]

The Americans are a very ancient and very enlightened people, who encountered a new and immense country in which they can expand at will, and that they make fruitful without difficulty. That is without example in Edition: current; Page: [767] the world. So in America, each man finds opportunities unknown elsewhere to make or to increase his fortune. Greed is always in good condition there, and the human mind, distracted at every moment from the pleasures of the imagination and the works of intelligence, is drawn only into the pursuit of wealth. Not only do you see in the United States, as in all other countries, industrial and commercial classes; but, what has never been seen, all men there are busy at the same time with industry and with commerce.

I am persuaded however that, if the Americans had been alone in the universe, with the liberties and enlightenment acquired by their fathers and the passions that were their own, they would not have taken long to discover that you cannot make progress for long in the application of the sciences without cultivating the theory; that all the arts improve by their interaction, and however absorbed they might have been in the pursuit of the principal object of their desires, they would soon have recognized that to reach it better, they had to turn away from it from time to time.

The taste for pleasures of the mind is, moreover, so natural to the heart of civilized man that, among the cultured nations that are least disposed to devote themselves to it, there is always a certain number of citizens who develop it. This intellectual need, once felt, would have soon been satisfied.

But, at the same time that the Americans were led naturally to ask of science only its particular applications, of the arts only the means to make life easy, learned and literary Europe took care of going back to the general sources of truth, and perfected at the same time all that can work toward the pleasures of man as well as all that must serve his needs.f

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At the head of the enlightened nations of the Old World, the inhabitants of the United States particularly singled out one with whom a common origin and analogous habits closely united them. They found among this people famous scientists, skilled artists, great writers, and they could reap the rewards of intelligence without needing to work to accumulate them.

I cannot agree to separate America from Europe, despite the Ocean that divides them. I consider the people of the United States as the portion of the English people charged with exploiting the forests of the New World, while the rest of the nation, provided with more leisure and less preoccupied by the material cares of life, is able to devote itself to thought and to develop the human mind in all aspects.

[<≠So I think that democracy must no more be judged by America than the different nations of Europe by one of the commercial and manufacturing classes that are found within them. ≠>]

So the situation of the Americans is entirely exceptional, and it may be believed that no democratic people will ever be put in the same situation. Their entirely Puritan origin, their uniquely commercial habits, even the country that they inhabit and that seems to divert their intelligence from the study of the sciences, letters and the arts; the proximity of Europe, that allows them not to study them without falling back into barbarism; a thousand particular causes, of which I have been able to show only the principal ones, had to concentrate the American mind in a singular way in the concern for purely material things. The passions, needs, education, circumstances, everything seems in fact to combine to bend the inhabitant of the Edition: current; Page: [769] United States toward the earth. Religion alone makes him, from time to time, turn a fleeting and distracted gaze toward heaven.

So let us stop seeing all democratic nations with the face of the American people, and let us try finally to consider them with their own features.g

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You can imagine a people among whom there would be neither caste, nor hierarchy, nor class; where the law, recognizing no privileges, would divide inheritances equally; and who, at the same time, would be deprived of enlightenment and liberty. This is not an empty hypothesis: a despot can find it in his interest to make his subjects equal and to leave them ignorant, in order to keep them slaves more easily.

Not only would a democratic people of this type show neither aptitude nor taste for the sciences, literature and the arts, but also you may believe that it will never show them.

The law of inheritance would itself undertake in each generation to destroy fortunes, and no one would create new ones. The poor man, deprived of enlightenment and liberty, would not even conceive the idea of rising toward wealth, and the rich man would allow himself to be carried along toward poverty without knowing how to defend himself. A complete and Edition: current; Page: [771] invincible equality would soon be established between these two citizens. No one would then have either the time or the taste for devoting himself to the works and pleasures of the mind. But everyone would live benumbed in the same ignorance and in an equal servitude.

When I come to imagine a democratic society of this type, I immediately think I feel myself in one of these low, dark and suffocating places, where lights, brought in from outside, soon grow dim and are extinguished. It seems to me that a sudden weight overwhelms me, and that I am dragging myself along among the shadows around me in order to find the exit that should lead me back to the air and daylight. But all of this cannot apply to men already enlightened who remain free after destroying the particular and hereditary rights that perpetuated property in the hands of certain individuals or certain bodies.

[<In democratic societies of this type equality encounters necessary limits that it cannot go beyond.>]

When the men who live within a democratic society are enlightened, they discover without difficulty that nothing either limits them or fixes their situation or forces them to be content with their present fortune.

So they all conceive the idea of increasing it, and, if they are free, they all try to do so, but all do not succeed in the same way. The legislature, it is true, no longer grants privileges, but nature gives them. Since natural inequality is very great, fortunes become unequal from the moment when each man makes use of all his abilities in order to grow rich.

The law of inheritance is still opposed to the establishment of rich families, but it no longer prevents the existence of the rich. It constantly leads citizens back toward a common level from which they constantly escape; they become more unequal in property the more their enlightenment increases and the greater their liberty is.

In our time a sect celebrated for its genius and its extravagances arose; it claimed to concentrate all property in the hands of a central power and to charge the latter with distributing it afterward, according to merit, to all individuals. You were shielded in this way from the complete and eternal equality that seems to threaten democratic societies.

There is another simpler and less dangerous remedy; it is to grant privilege to no one, to give everyone equal enlightenment and an equal independence, Edition: current; Page: [772] and to leave to each man the care of making his place for himself. Natural inequality will soon appear and wealth will pass by itself toward the most able.h

So [enlightened] and free democratic societies will always contain within them a multitude of wealthy or well-to-do men. These rich men will not be bound as closely together as members of the old aristocratic class; they will have different instincts and will hardly ever possess a leisure as secure and as complete; but they will be infinitely more numerous than those who composed this class could have been. These men will not be narrowly confined within the preoccupations of material life and they will be able, although to varying degrees, to devote themselves to the works and pleasures of the mind. So they will devote themselves to them; for, if it is true that the human mind leans from one side toward the limited, the material and the useful, from the other, it rises naturally toward the infinite, the non-material and the beautiful. Physical needs attach the mind to the earth, but, as soon as you no longer hold it down, it stands up by itself.

Not only will the number of those who can interest themselves in the works of the mind be greater, but also the taste for intellectual enjoyments will descend, from one person to the next, even to those who, in aristocratic societies, seem to have neither the time nor the capacity to devote themselves to those enjoyments.

When there are no more hereditary riches, privileges of class and prerogatives of birth, and when each man no longer draws his strength except from himself, it becomes clear that what makes the principal difference among the fortunes of men is intelligence. All that serves to fortify, to expand and to embellish intelligence immediately acquires a great value.

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The utility of knowledge reveals itself with an extremely particular clarity to the very eyes of the crowd. Those who do not appreciate its charms value its effects and make some efforts to achieve it.

In enlightened and free democratic centuries, men have nothing that separates them or anything that keeps them in their place; they go up or go down with a singular rapidity. All classes see each other constantly, because they are very close. They communicate and mingle every day, imitate and envy each other; that suggests to the people a host of ideas, notions, desires that they would not have had if ranks had been fixed and society immobile. In these nations, the servant never considers himself as a complete stranger to the pleasures and works of the master, the poor to those of the rich; the man of the country tries hard to resemble the man of the city, and the provinces, the metropolis.

Thus, no one allows himself easily to be reduced to the material cares of life alone, and the most humble artisan casts, from time to time, a few eager and furtive glances into the superior world of intelligence. People do not read in the same spirit and in the same way as among aristocratic peoples; but the circle of readers expands constantly and ends by including all citizens.j

From the moment when the crowd begins to be interested in the works of the mind, it discovers that a great means to acquire glory, power or wealth is to excel in a few of them. The restless ambition given birth by equality [v: democracy] immediately turns in this direction as in all the others. The number of those who cultivate the sciences, letters and the arts becomes immense. A prodigious activity reveals itself in the world of the mind; each man seeks to open a path for himself there and tries hard to attract the eye of the public. Something occurs there analogous to what happens in the United States in political society; works are often imperfect, but they are Edition: current; Page: [774] innumerable; and, although the results of individual efforts are ordinarily very small, the general result is always very great.

So it is not true to say that men who live in democratic centuries are naturally indifferent to the sciences, letters and the arts; only it must be recognized that they cultivate them in their own way, and that they bring, from this direction, qualities and defects that are their own.

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CHAPTER 10a: Why the Americans Are More Attached to the Application of the Sciences Than to the Theoryb

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If the democratic social state and democratic institutions do not stop the development of the human mind, it is at least incontestable that they lead it in one direction rather than another. Their efforts, limited in this way, are still very great, and you will pardon me, I hope, for stopping a moment to contemplate them.

When it was a matter of the philosophical method of the Americans, I made several remarks that we should benefit from here.

Equality develops in every man the desire to judge everything by himself; it gives him, in everything, the taste for the tangible and the real, scorn for traditions and forms. These general instincts make themselves seen principally in the particular subject of this chapter.

Those who cultivate the sciences among democratic peoples are always afraid of being lost in utopias. They distrust systems; they love to stay very close to the facts and to study them by themselves; since they do not allow themselves to be easily impressed by the name of any one of their fellows, they are never inclined to swear on the word of the master; but, on the contrary, you see them constantly occupied with searching for the weak part of his doctrine. Scientific traditions have little sway over them; they never stop for long in the subtleties of a school, and they spin out a lot of fancy words with difficulty; they enter as much as they can into the principal parts of the subject that occupies them, and they love to explain them in Edition: current; Page: [777] common language. The sciences then have a freer and more certain, but less lofty allure.c

The mind can, it seems to me, divide science into three parts.

The first contains the most theoretical principles, the most abstract notions, the ones whose application is unknown or very distant.

The second is made up of general truths that, though still pure theory, lead nevertheless by a direct and short path to application.

The processes of application and the means of execution fulfilld the third.e

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Each one of these different portions of science can be cultivated separately, even though reason and experience make it known that none of them can prosper for long when it is separated absolutely from the other two.

In America, the purely applied part of the sciences is admirably cultivated, and the theoretical portion immediately necessary to application is carefully attended to; in this regard the Americans reveal a mind always clear, free, original and fruitful; but there is hardly anyone in the United States who devotes himself to the essentially theoretical and abstract portion of human knowledge. In this the Americans show the excess of a tendency that will be found, I think, although to a lesser degree, among all democratic peoples.f

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Nothing is more necessary to the cultivation of the advanced sciences, or of the higher portion of the sciences, than meditation; and nothing is less appropriate to meditation than the interior of a democratic society. There you do not find, as among aristocratic peoples, a numerous class that remains at rest because it finds itself well-off, and another that does not stir because it despairs of being better-off. Each man is in motion; some want to attain power, others to take hold of wealth. Amid this universal tumult, this repeated clash of contrary interests, this continual march of men toward fortune, where to find the calm necessary for profound intellectual syntheses? How to fix your thoughts on some point, when around you everything moves, and you yourself are dragged along and tossed about each day by the impetuous current that drives everything?g

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The type of permanent agitation that reigns within a tranquil and already constituted democracy must be clearly distinguished from the tumultuous and revolutionary movements that almost always accompany the birth and development of a democratic society.

When a violent revolution takes place among a very civilized people, it cannot fail to give a sudden impulse to sentiments and to ideas.

This is true above all of democratic revolutions, that, by moving at once all of the classes that make up a people, give birth at the same time to immense ambitions in the heart of each citizen.

If the French suddenly made such admirable progress in the exact sciences, at the very moment when they finally destroyed the remnants of the old feudal society, this sudden fertility must be attributed, not to democracy, but to the unparalleled revolution that accompanied its development. What occurred then was a particular fact; it would be imprudent to see in it the indication of a general law.

Great revolutions are not more common among democratic peoples than among other peoples; I am even led to believe that they are less so. But within these nations there reigns a small uncomfortable movement, a sort of incessant rotation of men that troubles and distracts the mind without enlivening or elevating it.

Not only do men who live in democratic societies devote themselves with difficulty to meditation, but also they naturally have little regard for it. The democratic social state and democratic institutions lead most men to act constantly; now, the habits of mind that are appropriate to action are not always appropriate to thought. The man who acts is often reduced to being content with approximation, because he would never reach the end of his plan if he wanted to perfect each detail. He must rely constantly on ideas that he has not had the leisure to study in depth, for he is helped much more by the expediency of the idea that he is using than by its rigorous correctness; and everything considered, there is less risk for him in making use of a few false principles, than in taking up his time establishing the Edition: current; Page: [781] truth of all his principles. The world is not controlled by long, learned proofs. The rapid view of a particular fact, the daily study of the changing passions of the crowd, the chance of the moment and the skill to grab hold of it, decide all matters there.

So in centuries when nearly everyone acts, you are generally led to attach an excessive value to the rapid flights and to the superficial conceptions of the mind, and, on the contrary, to depreciate excessively its profound and slow work.

This public opinion influences the judgment of the men who cultivate the sciences; it persuades them that they can succeed in the sciences without meditation, or turns them away from those sciences that require it.h

There are several ways to study the sciences. You find among a host of men a selfish, mercenary and industrial taste for the discoveries of the mind that must not be confused with the disinterested passion that is aroused in the heart of a small number; there is a desire to utilize knowledge and a pure desire to know. I do not doubt that occasionally, among a few, an ardent and inexhaustible love of truth is born that feeds on itself and gives constant delight without ever being able to satisfy itself. It is this ardent, proud and disinterested love of the true that leads men to the abstract sources of truth in order to draw generative ideas from there.

If Pascalj had envisaged only some great profit, or even if he had been Edition: current; Page: [782] moved only by the sole desire for glory, I cannot believe that he would ever have been able to summon up, as he did, all the powers of his intelligence to reveal more clearly the most hidden secrets of the Creator. When I see him, in a way, tear his soul away from the midst of the cares of life, in order to give it entirely to this inquiry, and, prematurely breaking the ties that hold the soul to the body, die of old age before reaching forty years of age, I stop dumbfounded; and I understand that it is not an ordinary cause that can produce such extraordinary efforts.

The future will prove if these passions, so rare and so fruitful, arise and develop as easily amid democratic societies as within aristocratic ones. As for me, I admit that I find it difficult to believe.

In aristocratic societies, the class that leads opinion and runs public affairs, being placed above the crowd in a permanent and hereditary way, naturally conceives a superb idea of itself and of man. It readily imagines glorious enjoyments for man and sets magnificent ends for his desires. Aristocracies often undertake very tyrannical and very inhuman actions, but they rarely conceive low thoughts; and they show a certain proud disdain for small pleasures, even when they give themselves over to them; that gives all souls there a very lofty tone. In aristocratic times, you generally get very vast ideas about the dignity, power and grandeur of man. These opinions influence those who cultivate the sciences, like all the others; it facilitates the natural impulse of the mind toward the highest regions of thought and naturally disposes the mind to conceive the sublime and nearly divine love of truth.

So the scientists of these times are carried toward theory, and it even often happens that they conceive an ill-considered scorn for application. “Archimedes,” says Plutarch,k “had a heart so noble that he never deigned Edition: current; Page: [783] to leave any written work on how to erect all of these war machines [<for which he gained glory and fame, not for human knowledge but rather for divine wisdom>]; and considering all of this science of inventing and making machines and generally any art that brings some utility when put into practice, as vile, low and mercenary, he used his mind and his study to write only things whose beauty and subtlety were in no way mixed with necessity.” Such is the aristocratic aim of the sciences.

It cannot be the same among democratic nations.

[Among these peoples, the opinions of the class that governs and the general mores of the nation hardly ever raise the human mind toward theory; on the contrary they draw it every day toward application.]

Most of the men who compose these nations are very greedy for material and present enjoyments; since they are always discontent with the position that they occupy, and always free to leave it, they think only about the means to change their fortune or to increase it. [Men naturally have the desire to take pleasure quickly and easily, but that is particularly true of those who live in democracies.

This sentiment to which scientists themselves are not strangers leads them to look for the consequences of a principle already known rather than to find a new principle; their work is at the very same time easier and better understood.

The same sentiment makes the public attach much more value to applications than to abstract truths.]m For minds so disposed, every new method that leads to wealth by a shorter road, every machine that shortens work, every instrument that reduces the costs of production, every discovery that facilitates and increases pleasures, seems the most magnificent effort of human intelligence. It is principally from this side that democratic peoples are attached to the sciences, understand them and honor Edition: current; Page: [784] them.n In aristocratic centuries [v.: societies], people particularly demand enjoyments of the mind from the sciences; in democratic ones, those of the body.

Depend on the fact that the more a nation is democratic, enlightened and free, the larger the number of these self-seeking men who appreciate scientific genius will grow, and the more discoveries immediately applicable to industry will yield profit, glory and even power to their authors; for, in democracies, the class that works takes part in public affairs, and those who serve it have to look to it for honors as well as for money.

You can easily imagine that, in a society organized in this manner, the human mind is led imperceptibly to neglect theory and that it must, on the contrary, feel pushed with an unparalleled energy toward application, or at least toward the portion of theory necessary to those who do applications.

An instinctive tendency raises the human mind in vain toward the highest spheres of intelligence; interest leads it back toward the middle ones. That is where it puts forth its strength and restless activity, and brings forth miracles. These very Americans, who have not discovered a single one of the general laws of mechanics, have introduced to navigation a new machine that is changing the face of the world.

Certainly, I am far from claiming that the democratic peoples of today are destined to see the transcendent light of the human mind extinguished, or even that they must not kindle new light within their midst. At the age of the world in which we find ourselves and among so many lettered nations that are tormented incessantly by the ardor of industry, the ties that bind the different parts of science together cannot fail to be striking; and the very taste for application, if it is enlightened, must lead men not to neglect theory. In the middle of so many attempts at application, so many experiments repeated each day, it is often nearly impossible for very general laws Edition: current; Page: [785] not to happen to appear; so that great discoveries would be frequent, even though great inventors were rare.

I believe moreover in high scientific vocations. If democracy does not lead men to cultivate the sciences for their own sake, on the other hand it immensely increases the number of those who cultivate the sciences. It cannot be believed that, among so great a multitude, there is not born from time to time some speculative genius inflamed by the sole love of truth. You can be sure that the latter will work hard to penetrate the most profound mysteries of nature, whatever the spirit of his country and of his time. There is no need to aid his development; it is enough not to stop it. All that I want to say is this: permanent inequality of conditions leads men to withdraw into proud and sterile research for abstract truths; while the democratic social state and democratic institutions dispose them to ask of the sciences only their immediate and useful applications.

This tendency is natural and inevitable. It is interesting to know it, and it can be necessary to point it out.

If those who are called to lead the nations of today saw clearly and from a distance these new instincts that will soon be irresistible, they would understand that with enlightenment and liberty, the men who live in democratic centuries cannot fail to improve the industrial portion of the sciences, and that henceforth all the effort of the social power must go to sustain the theoretical sciences and to create great scientific passions.

Today, the human mind must be kept to theory, it runs by itself toward application, and instead of leading it back constantly toward the detailed examination of secondary effects, it is good to distract it sometimes in order to raise it to the contemplation of first causes.

Because Roman civilization died following the invasion of the barbarians, we are perhaps too inclined to believe that civilization cannot die otherwise.

If the light that enlightens us ever happened to go out, it would grow dark little by little and as if by itself. By dint of limiting yourself to application, you would lose sight of principles, and when you had entirely forgotten the principles, you would badly follow the methods that derive from them; no longer able to invent new methods, you would employ without Edition: current; Page: [786] intelligence and without art the learned processes that you no longer understood.

When the Europeans reached China three hundred years ago, they found all the arts at a certain degree of perfection, and they were astonished that, having arrived at this point, the Chinese had not advanced more. Later they discovered the vestiges of some advanced knowledge that had been lost. The nation was industrial; most of the scientific methods were preserved within it; but science itself no longer existed. That explained to the Europeans the singular type of immobility in which they found the mind of the people. The Chinese, while following the path of their fathers, had forgotten the reasons that had guided the latter. They still used the formula without looking for the meaning; they kept the instrument and no longer possessed the art of modifying and of reproducing it. So the Chinese could not change anything. They had to give up improvement. They were forced to imitate their fathers always and in all things, in order not to throw themselves into impenetrable shadows, if they diverged for an instant from the road that the latter had marked. The source of human knowledge had nearly dried up; and although the river still flowed, it could no longer swell its waves or change its course.

China had subsisted peacefully for centuries however; its conquerors had taken its mores; order reigned there. A sort of material well-being was seen on all sides. Revolutions there were very rare, and war was so to speak unknown.o

So you must not feel reassured by thinking that the barbarians are still far from us; for if there are some peoples who allow light to be wrested from their hands, there are others who trample it underfoot themselves.p

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CHAPTER 11a: In What Spirit the Americans Cultivate the Artsb

I believe it would be wasting my time and that of my readers, if I applied myself to showing how the general mediocrity of fortune, the lack of superfluity, the universal desire for well-being and the constant efforts made by each person to gain well-being for himself, make the taste for the useful Edition: current; Page: [789] predominate over the love of the beautiful in the heart of man. Democratic nations, where all these things are found, will therefore cultivate the arts that serve to make life comfortable in preference to those whose object is to embellish it; they will by habit prefer the useful to the beautiful, and they will want the beautiful to be useful.c

But I intend to go further, and, after pointing out the first feature, to outline several others.

It happens ordinarily, in centuries of privilege, that the exercise of nearly all the arts becomes a privilege and that each profession is a world apart where no one is at liberty to enter. And, even when industry is free, the immobility natural to aristocratic nations makes all those who are occupied by the same art end up nevertheless forming a distinct class, always composed of the same families, all of whose members know each other and a class in which public opinion and corporate pride soon arise. In an industrial class of this type, each artisan has not only his fortune to make, but also his reputation to keep. It is not only his interest that regulates his behavior, or even that of the buyer, but that of the corps, and the interest of the corps is that each artisan produces masterpieces. So in aristocratic centuries, the aim of the arts is to make the best possible, and not the most rapid or the cheapest.d

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When on the contrary each profession is open to all, when the crowd enters and leaves each constantly, and when its different members, because of their great number, become unknown, indifferent and nearly invisible to each other, the social bond is destroyed, and each worker, led back to himself, seeks only to earn the greatest amount of money possible at the least cost. There is nothing more than the will of the consumer to limit him. Now it happens that, at the same time, a corresponding revolution makes itself felt among the last.

In countries where wealth, like power, is concentrated in a few hands and remains there, the use of most of the wealth of this world belongs to always the same small number of individuals; necessity, opinion, the moderation of desires exclude all others.

Since this aristocratic class keeps itself immobile at the point of grandeur where it is placed, without narrowing or expanding, it always experiences the same needs and feels them in the same way. The men who compose it draw naturally from the superior and hereditary position that they occupy the taste for what is very well made and very lasting.

That gives a general turn to the ideas of the nation as regards the arts.

It often happens, among these peoples, that the peasant himself prefers to do entirely without the objects that he covets than to acquire them imperfect.

So in aristocracies, workers labor only for a limited number of buyers, who are very difficult to satisfy. The gain that they expect depends principally on the perfection of their works.

This is no longer so when, all privileges being destroyed, ranks mingle and all men constantly go down and rise up the social scale.

You always find, within a democratic people [≠and particularly in the period when they finally come to be so ≠], a host of citizens whose patrimony divides and decreases. They have contracted, in better times, certain Edition: current; Page: [791] needs that they continue to have after the ability to satisfy them no longer exists, and they try restlessly to find if there is not some indirect means to provide for them.

On the other hand, you always see in democracies a very large number of men whose fortune grows, but whose desires grow very much faster than their fortune and who greedily eye the goods that their fortune promises them, before it delivers them. These men try to open in all directions shorter paths to these nearby enjoyments. The result of the combination of these two causes is that in democracies you always meet a multitude of citizens whose needs are beyond their resources and who would readily agree to being satisfied incompletely rather than renouncing entirely the object of their covetous desire.

The worker easily understands these passions because he shares them himself. In aristocracies, he tried to sell his products very expensively to a few; now he understands that there would be a more expedient means to become rich, it would be to sell his products inexpensively to all [<for he begins to discover that a small profit that is repeated every day would be preferable to a considerable gain that you can expect only rarely.>

That sets his mind on a new path. He no longer tries to make the best possible but at the lowest price.].

Now, there are only two ways to arrive at lowering the price of merchandise.

The first is to find better, shorter and more skillful means of producing it.e The second is to fabricate in greater quantity objects more or less similar, but of less value. Among democratic peoples, all the intellectual abilities of the worker are directed toward these two ends.

He tries hard to invent procedures that allow him to work, not only better, but faster and at less cost, and if he cannot manage to do so, to reduce the intrinsic qualities of the thing that he is making without making it entirely inappropriate to its intended use. When only the rich had watches, Edition: current; Page: [792] nearly all were excellent. Now hardly any are made that are not mediocre, but everyone has them. Thus, democracy not only tends to direct the human mind toward the useful arts, it leads artisans to make many imperfect things very rapidly, and leads the consumer to content himself with these things.

It isn’t that in democracies art is not capable, as needed, of producing marvels. That is revealed sometimes, when buyers arise who agree to pay for time and effort. In this struggle of all the industries, amid this immense competition and these innumerable trials, excellent workers are formed who get to the furthest limits of their profession. But the latter rarely have the opportunity to show what they know how to do; they carefully moderate their efforts. They stay within a skillful mediocrity that is self-assessing and that, able to go beyond the goal that it sets for itself, aims only for the goal that it attains. In aristocracies, in contrast, workers always do all that they know how to do, and, when they stop, it is because they are at the limit of their knowledge.

When I arrive in a country and I see the arts provide some admirable products, that teaches me nothing about the social state and political constitution of the country.f But if I notice that the products of the arts there Edition: current; Page: [793] are generally imperfect, in very great number and at a low price, I am sure that, among the people where this is occurring, privileges are becoming weak, and the classes are beginning to mingle and are soon going to blend.g

Artisans who live in democratic centuries not only seek to put their useful products in the reach of all citizens, they also try hard to give all their products shining qualities that the latter do not have.

In the confusion of all classes, each man hopes to be able to appear to be what he isn’t and devotes great efforts to succeeding in doing so. Democracy does not give birth to this sentiment, which is only too natural to the heart of man; but it applies it to material things. The hypocrisy of virtue exists in all times; that of luxury belongs more particularly to democratic centuries.

In order to satisfy these new needs of human vanity, there is no imposture to which the arts do not resort; industry sometimes goes so far in this direction that it ends by harming itself. The diamond has already been so perfectly imitated that it is easy to make a mistake. Once the art of producing false diamonds has been invented so that you can no longer distinguish false from true ones, both will probably be abandoned, and they will again become stones.

This leads me to talk about those arts that are called, par excellence, the fine arts.

I do not believe that the necessary effect of the democratic social state and democratic institutions is to decrease the number of men who cultivate the fine arts. [<I even think that their number increases with democracy>]; but these causes powerfully influence the manner in which they are cultivated. Since most of those who had already contracted the taste for the fine arts have become poor, and, on the other hand, many of those who are not yet rich have begun, by imitation, to conceive the taste for the fine arts, the quantity of consumers in general increases, and very rich and Edition: current; Page: [794] very refined consumers become more rare. Something analogous to what I already demonstrated when I talked about the useful arts then occurs in the fine arts. They multiply their works and reduce the merit of each one of them.

No longer able to aim at the great, you seek the elegant and the pretty; you tend less to reality than to appearance.

In aristocracies you do a few great paintings, and, in democratic countries, a multitude of small pictures. In the first, you raise bronze statues, and, in the second, you cast plaster statues.

When I arrived for the first time in New York by the part of the Atlantic Ocean called the East River, I was surprised to notice, along the river bank, at some distance from the city, a certain number of small palaces of white marble,h several of which were of a classical architecture; the next day, able to consider more closely the one that had particularly attracted my attention, I found that its walls were of white-washed brick and its columns of painted wood. It was the same for all the buildings that I had admired the day before.

The democratic social state and democratic institutions give as well, to all the imitative arts, certain particular tendencies that are easy to point out. [<I know that here I am going back to ideas that I have already had the occasion to explain in relation to poetry, but the fault is due less to me than to the subject that I am treating. I am talking about man and man is a simple being, whatever effort is made to split him up in order to know him better. It is always the same individual that you envisage in various lights. All that I can do is only to point out the result here, leaving to the memory of the reader the trouble of going back to the causes.>]j They often divert them from portraying the soul in order to attach them only to portraying the Edition: current; Page: [795] body; and they substitute the representation of movements and sensations for that of sentiments and ideas; in the place of the ideal, finally, they put the real.

I doubt that Raphael made as profound a study of the slightest mechanisms of the human body as the artists of today. He did not attribute the same importance as they to rigorous exactitude on this point, for he claimed to surpass nature. He wanted to make man something that was superior to man; he undertook to embellish beauty itself.

David and his students were, on the contrary, as good anatomists as painters. They represented marvelously well the models that they had before their eyes, but rarely did they imagine anything beyond; they followed nature exactly, while Raphael sought something better than nature. They left us an exact portrait of man, but the first gave us a glimpse of divinity in his works.

You can apply to the very choice of subject what I said about the manner of treating it.

The painters of the Renaissance usually looked above themselves, or far from their time, for great subjects that left a vast scope to their imagination. Our painters often lend their talent to reproducing exactly the details of the private life that they have constantly before their eyes, and on all sides they copy small objects that have only too many originals in nature.k

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CHAPTER 12a: Why the Americans Erect Such Small and Such Large Monuments at the Same Time

I have just said that, in democratic centuries, the monuments of art tended to become more numerous and smaller. I hasten to point out the exception to this rule.

Among democratic peoples, individuals are very weak; but the State, which represents them all and holds them all in its hand, is very strong.b Nowhere do citizens appear smaller than in a democratic nation. Nowhere does the nation itself seem greater and nowhere does the mind more easily form a vast picture of it. In democratic societies, the imagination of men narrows when they consider themselves; it expands indefinitely when they think about the State. The result is that the same men who live meanly in cramped dwellings often aim at the gigantic as soon as it is a matter of public monuments.c

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The Americans have laid out on the site that they wanted to make into the capital the limits of an immense city that, still today, is hardly more populated than Pontoise, but that, according to them, should one day contain a million inhabitants; already they have uprooted trees for ten leagues around, for fear that they might happen to inconvenience the future citizens of this imaginary metropolis. They have erected, in the center of the city, a magnificent palace to serve as the seat of Congress, and they have given it the pompous name of the Capitol.

Every day, the particular states themselves conceive and execute prodigious undertakings that would astonish the genius of the great nations of Europe.

Thus, democracy does not lead men only to make a multitude of petty works; it also leads them to erect a small number of very large monuments. But between these two extremes there is nothing. So a few scattered remnants of very vast structures tell nothing about the social state and institutions of the people who erected them.

I add, although it goes beyond my subject, that they do not reveal their greatness, their enlightenment and their real prosperity any better.

Whenever a power of whatever kind is capable of making an entire people work toward a sole undertaking, it will succeed with little knowledge and a great deal of time in drawing something immense from the combination Edition: current; Page: [798] of such great efforts; you do not have to conclude from that that the people is very happy, very enlightened or even very strong.d The Spanish found the city of Mexico full of magnificent temples and vast palaces; this did not prevent Cortez from conquering the Mexican Empire with six hundred foot soldiers and sixteen horses.

If the Romans had known the laws of hydraulics better, they would not have erected all these aqueducts that surround the ruins of their cities; they would have made better use of their power and their wealth. If they had discovered the steam engine, perhaps they would not have extended to the extreme limits of their empire those long artificial stone lines that are called roman roads.

These things are magnificent witnesses to their ignorance at the same time as to their grandeur.

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People who would leave no other traces of their passage than a few lead pipes in the earth and a few iron rods on its surface could have been more masters of nature than the Romans.e

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CHAPTER 13a: Literary Physiognomy of Democratic Centuries

When you enter the shop of a bookstore in the United States, and when you go over the American books that fill their shelves, the number of works appears very large, while that of known authors seems in contrast very small.b

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First you find a multitude of elementary treatises intended to give the first notion of human knowledge. Most of these works were written in Europe. The Americans reprint them while adapting them to their use. Next comes a nearly innumerable quantity of books on religion, Bibles, sermons, pious stories, controversies, accounts of charitable institutions. Finally appears the long catalogue of political pamphlets: in America, parties, to combat each other, do not write books, but brochures that circulate with an unbelievable rapidity, live for a day and die.c

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Amid all of these obscure productions of the human mind appear the more remarkable works of only a small number of authors who are known by Europeans or who should be.d

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Although today America is perhaps the civilized country in which there is least involvement with literature,e a large number of individuals is found there who are interested in things of the mind and who make them, if not their whole life’s work, at least the attraction of their leisure. But it is England that provides to the latter most of the books that they demand.f Nearly all of the great English works are reproduced in the United States. The literary genius of Great Britain still shines its light into the depths of the forests of the New World. There is scarcely a pioneer’s cabin where you do not find a few odd volumes of Shakespeare. I recall having read for the first time the feudal drama of Henry V in a log house.g

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Not only do the Americans go each day to draw upon the treasures of English literature, but also you can truthfully say that they find the literature of England on their own soil.h Among the small number of men who are busy in the United States composing works of literature, most are English in content and above all in form. In this way they carry to the middle of democracy the ideas and the literary practices that are current within the aristocratic nation that they have taken as a model. They paint with colors borrowed from foreign mores; almost never representing in its reality the country where they were born, they are rarely popular there.

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[Read the books of Mr. W. Irving; there you will only find soft and pale reflections of a fire that is no longer seen and no longer felt {there you will find the qualities and the defects of a translation}].

The citizens of the United States themselves seem so convinced that books are not published for them, that before settling on the merit of one of their writers, they ordinarily wait for him to have been appreciated in England. This is how, in the case of paintings, you willingly leave to the author of the original the right to judge the copy.j

So the inhabitants of the United States do not yet have, strictly speaking, literature. The only authors that I recognize as Americans are journalists. The latter are not great writers, but they speak the language of the country and make themselves heard. I see only foreigners in the others. They are for the Americans what the imitators of the Greeks and the Romans were for us in the period of the renaissance of letters, an object of curiosity, not generally speaking of sympathy. They amuse the mind [<of a few>] and do not act on the mores [<of all>].

I have already said that this state of things was very far from being due only to democracy, and that it was necessary to look for the causes in several particular circumstances independent of democracy.

If the Americans, while still keeping their social state and their laws, had another origin and found themselves transported to another country, I do not doubt that they would have a literature. As they are, I am sure that in the end they will have one; but it will have a character different from the one that shows itself in the American writings of today, one that will be its own. It is not impossible to sketch this character in advance.

I suppose an aristocratic people among whom letters are cultivated [some of this type are found in the world]; the works of the mind, as well as the affairs of government, are regulated there by a sovereign class. Literary life, Edition: current; Page: [806] like political existence, is concentrated nearly entirely in this class or in those closest to it. This is enough for me to have the key to all the rest.

When a small number of always the same men are involved at the same time in the same matters, they easily agree and decide in common on certain principal rules that must guide each one of them. If the matter that attracts their attention is literature, the works of the mind will soon be subjected by them to a few precise laws that you will no longer be allowed to avoid.

If these men occupy a hereditary position in the country, they will naturally be inclined not only to adopt a certain number of fixed rules for themselves, but also to follow those that their ancestors imposed on themselves; their set of laws will be rigorous and traditional at the same time.

Since they are not necessarily preoccupied with material things, since they have never been so, and since their fathers were not either, they were able over several generations to take an interest in works of the mind. They understood literary art and in the end they love it for itself and take a learned pleasure in seeing that you conform to it.

That is still not all; the men I am speaking about began their life and finish it in comfort or in wealth; so they have naturally conceived the taste for studied enjoyments and the love of refined and delicate pleasures.

In addition, a certain softness of mind and heart that they often contract amid this long and peaceful use of so many worldly goods, leads them to avoid in their very pleasures whatever could be found too unexpected and too intense. They prefer to be amused than to be intensely moved; they want to be interested, but not carried away.k

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Now imagine a great number of literary works executed by the men I have just described or for them, and you will easily conceive of a literature where everything is regulated and coordinated in advance. The least work will be meticulous in its smallest details; art and work will be seen in everything; each genre will have particular rules that it will not be free to depart from and that will isolate it from all the others.

The style will seem almost as important as the idea, form as content; the tone will be polished, moderate, elevated. The mind will always have a noble bearing, rarely a brisk pace, and writers will be more attached to perfection than to production.

It will sometimes happen that the members of the lettered class, since they live only with each other and write only for themselves, will entirely lose sight of the rest of the world; this will throw them into the affected and the false; they will make small literary rules for their sole use, which will imperceptibly turn them away from good sense and finally take them away from nature.

By dint of wanting to speak in a way other than common they attain a sort of aristocratic jargonm that is hardly less removed from fine language than the dialect of the people.

Those are the natural pitfalls of literature in aristocracies.

Every aristocracy that sets itself entirely apart from the people becomes powerless. That is true in letters as well as in politics.1

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Now let us turn the picture around and consider the reverse side.

Let us take ourselves to a democracy whose ancient traditions and present enlightenment make it sensitive to the enjoyments of the mind. Ranks are mixed and confused; knowledge like power is infinitely divided and, if I dare say so, scattered in all directions.

Here is a confused crowd with intellectual needs to satisfy. These new amateurs of the pleasures of the mind have not all received the same education; they do not possess the same enlightenment, they do not resemble their fathers, and at every instant they differ from themselves; for they are constantly changing place, sentiments and fortune. So the mind of each one of them is not linked with that of all the others by common traditions and habits, and they have never had either the power, or the will, or the time to agree among themselves.

It is, however, from within this incoherent and agitated multitude that authors arise, and it is this multitude that distributes profits and glory to the latter.

It is not difficult for me to understand that, things being so, I must expect to find in the literature of such a people only a small number of those rigorous conventions that readers and writers recognize in aristocratic centuries. If it happened that the men of one period fell into agreement on a few, that would still prove nothing for the following period for, among democratic nations, each new generation is a new people. So among these nations, letters can be subjected to strict rules only with difficulty, and it is nearly impossible that they might ever be subjected to permanent rules.

In democracies, all the men who occupy themselves with literature are far from having received a literary education, and, of those among them able to have some smattering of literature, most follow a political career or embrace a profession from which they can turn away only for moments to sample surreptitiously the pleasures of the mind. So they do not make these pleasures the principal charm of their existence; but they consider them as a temporary and necessary relaxation amid the serious work of life. Such men can never acquire sufficiently advanced knowledge of literary art to sense its niceties; the small nuances escape them. Having only a very short time to give to letters, they want to turn it entirely to account. They love Edition: current; Page: [809] books that can be obtained without difficulty, that are quickly read, that do not require learned research to be understood. They demand easy things of beauty that reveal themselves and that can be enjoyed at once; above all they must have the unexpected and the new. Accustomed to a practical, contentious, monotonous existence, they need intense and rapid emotions, sudden insights, striking truths or errors that immediately draw them out of themselves and introduce them suddenly and as if by violence into the middle of the subject.n

What more do I need to say about it? And, without my explaining it, who does not understand what is about to follow?

Taken as a whole, the literature of democratic centuries cannot present, as in the time of aristocracy, the image of order, regularity, science and art; form will ordinarily be neglected and sometimes scorned. Style will often appear bizarre, incorrect, overdone and dull, and almost always bold and vehement. Authors will aim for rapidity of execution rather than for perfection of details. Short writings will be more frequent than big books, spirit more frequent than erudition, imagination more frequent than depth. A rough and almost wild strength of thought will reign, and often there will be a very great variety and singular fertility in production. They will try to astonish rather than please, and will strive more to carry passions away than to charm taste.o

Writers will undoubtedly be found here and there who would like to take another path, and, if they have superior merit, they will succeed in being read, despite their faults and qualities. But these exceptions will be Edition: current; Page: [810] rare, and even those who, in the whole of their work, depart in this way from common practice, will always return to it in some details.p

I have just portrayed two extreme states; but nations do not go suddenly from the first to the second; they arrive there only gradually and through infinite nuances. During the passage that leads a lettered people from one to the other, a moment almost always occurs when as the literary genius of democracies meets that of aristocracies, both seem to want to reign in agreement over the human mind.

Those are transient, but very brilliant periods:q then you have fertility without exuberance, and movement without confusion [liberty in order]. Such was French literature of the XVIIIth century.r

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I would go beyond my thought, if I said that the literature of a nation is always subordinated to its social state and political constitution. I know that, apart from these causes, there are several others that give certain characteristics to literary works; but the former seem to me the principal ones.

The connections that exist between the social and political state of a people and the genius of its writers are always very numerous; whoever knows the one is never completely ignorant of the other.

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CHAPTER 14a: Of the Literary Industryb

Democracy not only makes the taste for letters penetrate the industrial classes, it introduces the industrial spirit into literature.

[In aristocratic centuries you often take literature as a career, and in the others as a trade.]

In aristocracies, readers are particular and few; in democracies, it is less difficult to please them, and their number is prodigious. As a result, among aristocratic peoples, you can hope to succeed only by immense efforts, and these efforts which can bring a great deal of glory cannot ever gain much money; while among democratic nations, a writer can hope to obtain without Edition: current; Page: [814] much cost a mediocre fame and a great fortune.c For that, he does not have to be admired; it is enough that he is enjoyed.d

The always growing crowd of readers and the continual need that they have for something new assures the sales of a book that they hardly value.

In times of democracy, the public often acts toward authors like kings ordinarily do toward their courtiers; it enriches them and despises them. What more is needed for the venal souls who are born in courts, or who are worthy to live there?

Democratic literatures always swarm with these authors who see in letters only an industry,e and, for the few great writers that you see there, you count sellers of ideas by the thousands.

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CHAPTER 15a: Why the Study of Greek and Latin Literature Is Particularly Useful in Democratic Societies

What was called the people in the most democratic republics of antiquity hardly resembled what we call the people. In Athens, all citizens took part in public affairs; but there were only twenty thousand citizens out of more than three hundred fifty thousand inhabitants; all the others were slaves and fulfilled most of the functions that today belong to the people and even to the middle classes.

So Athens, with its universal suffrage, was, after all, only an aristocratic republic in which all the nobles had an equal right to government.

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You must consider the struggle of the patricians and the plebeians of Rome in the same light and see in it only an internal quarrel between the junior members and the elders of the same family. All belonged in fact to the aristocracy and had its spirit.b

It must be noted, moreover, that in all of antiquity books were rare and expensive, and that it was highly difficult to reproduce them and to circulate them. These circumstances, coming to concentrate in a small number of men the taste and practice of letters, formed like a small literary aristocracy of the elite within a larger political aristocracy. Also nothing indicates that, among the Greeks and the Romans, letters were ever treated like an industry.

So these peoples, who formed not only aristocracies, but who were also very civilized and very free nations, had to give to their literary productions the particular vices and special qualities that characterize literature in aristocratic centuries.

It is sufficient, in fact, to cast your eyes on the writings that antiquity has left to us to discover that, if writers there sometimes lacked variety and fertility in subjects, boldness, movement and generalization in thought, they always demonstrated an admirable art and care in details; nothing in their works seems done in haste or by chance; everything is Edition: current; Page: [817] written for connoisseurs, and the search for ideal beauty is shown constantly. There is no literature that puts more into relief the qualities that are naturally lacking in writers of democracies than that of the ancients. So no literature exists that is more appropriate to study in democratic centuries. This study is, of all, the most appropriate for combatting the literary defects inherent in these centuries; as for their natural qualities, they will arise all by themselves without the need to learn how to acquire them.

Here I must make myself clear.

A study can be useful to the literature of a people and not be appropriate for their social and political needs.

If you persisted stubbornly in teaching only literature in a society where each man was led by habit to make violent efforts to increase his fortune or to maintain it, you would have very polished and very dangerous citizens; for since the social and political state gives them needs every day that education would never teach them to satisfy, they would disturb the State, in the name of the Greeks and the Romans, instead of making it fruitful by their industry.

It is clear that in democratic societies the interest of individuals, as well as the security of the State, requires that the education of the greatest number be scientific, commercial, and industrial rather than literary.

Greek and Latin must not be taught in all schools; but it is important that those destined by their nature or their fortune to cultivate letters, or predisposed to appreciate them, find schools where they can perfectly master ancient literature and be thoroughly penetrated by its spirit. A few excellent universities would be worth more to achieve this goal than a multitude of bad colleges where superfluous studies done badly prevent necessary studies from being done well.

All those who have the ambition to excel in letters, among democratic nations, must be nourished often by the works of antiquity. It is a healthy regimen.

It is not that I consider the literary productions of the ancients as irreproachable. I think only that they have special qualities that can serve marvelously to counterbalance our particular defects. They support us as we lean over the edge.

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CHAPTER 16a: How American Democracy Has Modified the English Languageb

If what I have said previously concerning letters in general has been well understood by the reader, he will easily imagine what type of influence the democratic social state and democratic institutions can exercise on language itself, which is the first instrument of thought.

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American authors live more, truly speaking, in England than in their own country, since they constantly study English writers and take them daily as models. It is not like this for the population itself; the latter is subjected more immediately to the particular causes that can have an effect on the United States. So you must pay attention not to the written language, but to the spoken language, if you want to see the modifications that the idiom of an aristocratic people can undergo while becoming the language of a democracy.c

Educated Englishmen, and judges more competent to appreciate these fine nuances than I am able to be myself,d have often assured me that the Edition: current; Page: [820] Edition: current; Page: [821] enlightened classes of the United States differed notably, in their language, from the enlightened classes of Great Britain.e

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They not only complained that the Americans had put many new words into use; the difference or the distance between the two countries was enough to explain that; but they also complained that these new words were particularly borrowed either from the jargon of parties, or from the mechanical arts, or from the language of business. They added that old English words were often taken by the Americans in a new sense. Finally, they said that the inhabitants of the United States frequently intermingled styles in a singular way, and that they sometimes put together words that, in the language of the mother country, were customarily kept apart. [This is how they happened, for example, to introduce a familiar or common expression into the pomp of a speech.]

These remarks, which were made to me at various times by men who seemed to me to merit belief, led me to reflect upon this subject, and my reflections brought me, by theory, to the same place that they had reached by practice.

In aristocracies, where everything remains at rest, language must naturally share that rest. Few new words are made, because few new things happen; and if you did new things, you would try hard to portray them with known words whose meaning has been fixed by tradition.

If it happens that the human mind there finally stirs by itself, or that enlightenment, penetrating from outside, awakens it, the new expressions that are created have a learned, intellectual and philosophical character that indicates that they do not to owe their birth to a democracy. When the fall of Constantinople made the sciences and letters flow back toward the West [and when the enlightenment of antiquity after being revived in Italy finally penetrated among us], the French language found itself almost all at once invaded by a multitude of new words, all of which had their roots in Greek and Latin. You then saw in France an erudite neologism, which was practiced only by the enlightened classes, and whose effects were never felt by the people or only reached them in the long run.

All the nations of Europe successively presented the same spectacle. Milton alone introduced into the English language more than six hundred words, almost all drawn from Latin, Greek and Hebrew.f

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The perpetual movement that reigns within a democracy tends on the contrary constantly to renew the face of language like that of public affairs. Amid this general agitation and this competition of all minds, a great number of new ideas are formed; old ideas are lost or reappear; or they become subdivided into infinite small nuances.

So words are often found there that must go out of use, and others that must be brought into use.

Democratic nations moreover love movement for itself. That is seen in language as well as in politics. Even when they do not need to change words, they sometimes feel the desire to do so.

The genius of democratic peoples shows itself not only in the great number of new words that they put into use, but also in the nature of the ideas that these new words represent.

Among these peoples, the majority makes the law in the matter of language, as in everything else. Its spirit reveals itself there as elsewhere. Now, Edition: current; Page: [824] the majority is occupied more with public affairs than studies, more with political and commercial interests than with philosophical speculation or literature. Most of the words created or accepted by the majority will bear the mark of these habits; they will serve principally to express the needs of industry, the passions of parties or the details of public administration. Language will expand constantly in that way, while on the contrary it will little by little abandon the terrain of metaphysics and theology.

As for the source from which democratic nations draw their new words and the manner in which they set about to fabricate them, it is easy to say.

Men who live in democratic countries hardly know the language that was spoken in Rome and in Athens, and they do not bother about going back to antiquity in order to find the expression they are lacking. If they sometimes resort to learned etymologies, it is ordinarily vanity that makes them search the content of the dead languages, and not erudition that brings certain words naturally to their minds. It even happens sometimes that it is the most ignorant among them who make the most use of such etymologies. The entirely democratic desire to go beyond your sphere often leads men in democracies to want to enhance a very coarse profession by a Greek or Latin name. The lower an occupation and the more removed from knowledge, the more pompous and erudite is the name. This is how our tightrope walkers have transformed themselves into acrobats and funambulists.

Lacking dead languages, democratic peoples willingly borrow words from living languages; for they communicate constantly among themselves, and the men of different countries willingly imitate each other, because they resemble each other more each day.

But democratic peoples look principally to their own language for the means to innovate. From time to time, they take up in their vocabulary forgotten expressions that they bring to light again, or they take from a particular class of citizens a term that is its own in order to bring the term into the regular language with a figurative meaning; a multitude of expressions that at first belonged only to the special language of a party or a profession thus find themselves brought into general circulation.

The most usual expedient that democratic peoples employ to innovate Edition: current; Page: [825] with regard to language consists of giving an uncommon meaning to an expression already in use. This method is very simple, very quick and very easy. Knowledge is not needed to use it well; and ignorance even facilitates its use. But it makes language run great risks. By doubling the meaning of a word in this way, democratic peoples sometimes make it doubtful which meaning they are leaving aside and which one they are giving to it.

An author begins by turning a known expression a little bit away from its original meaning and after having modified it in this way, he adapts it as well as he can to his subject. Another appears who pulls the meaning in another direction; a third carries it with him along a new path; and since there is no common arbiter, no permanent tribunal that can definitely settle the meaning of the word, the latter remains in a variable situation. As a result, writers almost never have an air of being attached to a single thought; instead they always seem to aim at the middle of a group of ideas, leaving to the reader the trouble of judging which one is hit.

This is an unfortunate consequence of democracy. I would prefer that you sprinkled the language with Chinese, Tartar or Huron words, than to make the meaning of French words uncertain. Harmony and homogeneity are only the secondary beauties of language. There is much more convention in this kind of thing, and you can, if necessary, do without them. But there is no good language without clear terms.g

Equality necessarily brings several other changes to language.

In aristocratic centuries, when each nation tends to hold itself apart from all the others and loves to have a physiognomy that is its own, it often happens that several peoples who have a common origin become very foreign to each other, so that, without ceasing to be able to understand each other, they no longer all speak in the same way.

In these same centuries, each nation is divided into a certain number of classes that see each other little and do not mingle; each one of these classes invariably takes on and keeps intellectual habits that belong only to it, and adopts by preference certain words and certain terms that pass afterward Edition: current; Page: [826] from generation to generation like inheritances. You then find in the same idiom a language of the poor and a language of the rich, a language of commoners and a language of nobles, a learned language and a vulgar language. The more profound the divisions and the more insurmountable the barriers, the more this must be so. I would readily bet that, among the castes of India, language varies prodigiously, and that almost as much difference is found between the language of a pariah and that of a Brahmin as between their forms of dress.

When, on the contrary, men no longer held in their place see each other and communicate constantly, when castes are destroyed, and when classes are renewed and mixed together, all the words of a language are mingled. Those words that cannot suit the greatest number perish; the rest form a common mass from which each person draws more or less haphazardly. Nearly all the different dialects that divided the idioms of Europe are noticeably tending to disappear; there are no patois in the New World, and they are disappearing daily in the Old World.h

This revolution in the social state influences style as well as language. Not only does everyone use the same words, but they also get accustomed to employing each of them indiscriminately. The rules that style had created are almost destroyed. You hardly find expressions that, by their nature, seem vulgar, and others that appear refined. Since individuals from various ranks bring with them, to whatever station they rise, expressions and terms that they have used, the origin of words is lost like that of men, and a confusion is developed in language as in society.

I know that in the classification of words rules are found that are not due to one form of society rather than to another, but that derive from the Edition: current; Page: [827] very nature of things. There are expressions and turns which are vulgar because the sentiments that they must express are truly low, and others which are elevated because the objects that they want to portray are naturally very high.

Ranks, by mingling, will never make these differences disappear. But equality cannot fail to destroy what is purely conventional and arbitrary in the forms of thought. I do not even know if the necessary classification which I pointed out above will not always be less respected among a democratic people than among another; because, among such a people, there are no men whose education, enlightenment and leisure permanently dispose them to study the natural laws of language and who make those laws respected by observing them themselves.

I do not want to abandon this subject without portraying democratic languages with a last feature that will perhaps characterize them more than all the others.

I showed previously that democratic peoples had the taste and often the passion for general ideas; that is due to qualities and defects that are their own. This love of general ideas shows itself, in democratic languages, in the continual use of generic terms and abstract words, and by the manner in which they are used. That is the great merit and the great weakness of these languages.j

Democratic peoples passionately love generic terms and abstract words, because these expressions enlarge thought and, by allowing many objects to be included in a little space, aid the work of the mind.k

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A democratic writer will willingly say in an abstract way the capable for capable men, and without getting into details about the things to which this capacity applies. He will speak about actualities in order to depict all at once the things that are happening at this moment before his eyes, and he will understand by the word eventualities all that can happen in the universe beginning from the moment when he is speaking.

Democratic writers constantly create abstract words of this type, or they take the abstract words of language in a more and more abstract sense.

Even more, to make discourse more rapid, they personify the object of the abstract words and make it act like a real individual. They will say that the force of things wants the capable to govern.m

I cannot do better than to explain my thought by my own example.

I have often used the word equality in an absolute sense; I have, as well, personified equality in several places, and in this way I have happened to say that equality did certain things or refrained from certain others. You can maintain that the men of the century of Louis XIV would not have spoken in this way; it would never have occurred to the mind of any one of them to use the word equality without applying it to a particular thing, and they would rather have renounced using it than agree to making equality into a living person.

These abstract words that fill democratic languages and that you use Edition: current; Page: [829] for the slightest reason without connecting them to any particular fact, enlarge and veil thought. They make the expression more rapid and the idea less clear. But, as regards language, democratic peoples prefer obscurity to labor.

I do not know, moreover, if vagueness does not have a certain secret charm for those who speak and write among these peoples.

Men who live there, since they are often left to the individual efforts of their intellect, are almost always tormented by doubt. Moreover, since their situation changes constantly, they are never held firmly to any one of their opinions by the very immobility of their fortune.

So the men who inhabit democratic countries often have vacillating thoughts; they must have very broad expressions in order to contain them. Since they never know if the idea they express today will suit the new situation that they will have tomorrow, they naturally conceive the taste for abstract terms. An abstract word is like a box with a false bottom; you put the ideas that you want into it, and you take them out without anyone seeing.

[I am so persuaded of the influence that the social state and political institutions of a people exercise on its language, that I think that you could easily succeed in discovering these first facts solely by inspecting the words of the language, and I am astonished that this idea has not been applied more often and more perfectly to the idioms that we know without knowing the men who use or have used them.]

Among all peoples, generic and abstract words form the basis of language; so I am not claiming that you find these words only in democratic languages. I am only saying that the tendency of men, in times of equality, is particularly to augment the number of words of this type, always to take them singly in their most abstract sense, and to use them for the slightest reason, even when the needs of speech do not require it.

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CHAPTER 17a: Of Some Sources of Poetry among Democratic Nationsb

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Several very different meanings have been given to the word poetry. It would tire readers to try to find out which one of these different meanings is most suitable to choose; I prefer to tell them immediately which one I have chosen.

Poetry, in my view, is the search for and the portrayal of the ideal.c

The poet is the one who, by taking away a part of what exists, adding some imaginary features to the picture, and combining certain real circumstances that are not found together, completes, enlarges nature. Thus, the aim of poetry will not be to represent truth, but to embellish it and to offer a higher image to the mind.d

Verse will seem to me like the ideal of beauty for language, and in this sense it will be eminently poetic; but in itself alone, it will not constitute poetry.

[<Poetry always takes as the subject of its portraits beings who are really found in nature or who at least live in the imagination of the men to whom it is addressed. It changes, enlarges, embellishes what exists; it does not create what does not exist, and if it attempts to do so, it can still amuse or surprise, but it no longer rouses and becomes the puerile game of an idle imagination.>]e

I want to find out if, among the actions, sentiments and ideas of democratic peoples, some are found that lend themselves to the imagination of the ideal and that must, for this reason, be considered as natural sources of poetry.

It must first be recognized that the taste for the ideal and the pleasure that is taken in seeing its portrayal are never as intense and as widespread among a democratic people as within an aristocracy.

[In democratic societies the human mind finds itself constantly bound Edition: current; Page: [833] by the small details of real [v: present] life. That results not only from the fact that all men work, but above all from the fact that they carry out all their works with fervor and I could almost say with love.]f

Among aristocratic nations, it sometimes happens that the body acts as if by itself, while the soul is plunged into a repose that weighs it down. Among these nations, the people themselves often show poetic tastes, and their spirit sometimes soars above and beyond what surrounds them.g

But, in democracies, the love of natural enjoyments, the idea of something better, competition, the charm of impending success, are like so many spurs that quicken the steps of each man in the career that he has embraced and forbid him from standing aside from it for a single moment. The principal effort of the soul goes in this direction. Imagination is not extinguished, but it devotes itself almost exclusively to imagining the useful and to representing the real.

Equality not only diverts men from portraying the ideal; it decreases the number of subjects to portray.

[You cannot deny that equality [v: democracy], while becoming established among men, does not make a great number of these subjects that lent themselves to the portrayal of the ideal disappear from their view, and does not in this way dry up several of the most abundant sources of poetry.]

Aristocracy, by holding society immobile, favors the steadiness and duration of positive religions, as well as the stability of political institutions.

Not only does it maintain the human spirit in faith, but it disposes it to adopt one faith rather than another. An aristocratic people will always be inclined to place intermediary powers between God and man.

You can say that in this aristocracy shows itself very favorable to poetry. When the universe is populated with supernatural powers that do not fall within the senses, but are discovered by the mind, imagination feels at ease, Edition: current; Page: [834] and poets, finding a thousand diverse subjects to portray, find innumerable spectators ready to be interested in their portraits.

In democratic centuries, on the contrary, it sometimes happens that beliefs go drifting away like the laws. Doubt then brings the imagination of poets back to earth and encloses them within the visible and real world.h

Even when equality does not shake religions, it simplifies them; it diverts attention from secondary agents in order to bring it principally to the sovereign master.

Aristocracy naturally leads the human mind to the contemplation of the past, and fixes it there. Democracy, on the contrary, gives men a sort of instinctive distaste for what is ancient. In that, aristocracy is very much more favorable to poetry, for things ordinarily enlarge and become obscure as they become more distant; and from this double perspective they lend themselves more to the portrayal of the ideal.

After removing the past from poetry, equality partially removes the present.

Among aristocratic peoples, a certain number of privileged individuals exist, whose existence is so to speak above and beyond the human condition; power, wealth, glory, spirit, delicacy and distinction in all things seem to belong by right to the latter. The crowd never sees them very closely, or does not follow them in detail; there is little that you have to do to make the portrayal of these men poetic.

On the other hand, there exists among these same peoples ignorant, humble and subservient classes; and the latter lend themselves to poetry by the very excess of their coarseness and misery, as the others do by their refinement and their grandeur. Moreover, since the different classes that make up an aristocratic people are very separated from each other and know each other badly, imagination can always, while representing them, add something to or subtract something from the real.

In democratic societies, where men are all very small and very similar, Edition: current; Page: [835] each one, while viewing himself, sees all the others at the same instant. So poets who live in democratic centuries cannot ever take one man in particular as the subject of their portrait; for a subject with mediocre greatness, which you also see clearly on all sides, will never lend itself to the ideal.

Therefore equality, while becoming established on the earth, dries up most of the ancient sources of poetry.

Let us try to show how it finds new ones.

When doubt depopulated heaven and when the progress of equality reduced each man to better known and smaller proportions, poets, not yet imagining what they could put in place of these great subjects that withdrew with aristocracy, turned their eyes toward inanimate nature. Losing heroes and gods from view, they undertook at first to portray rivers and mountains.

That gave birth in the last century to the poetry that was called, par excellence, descriptive.

Some have thought that this embellished portrayal of the material and inanimate things which cover the earth was poetry appropriate to democratic centuries; but I think that is a mistake. I believe that it only represents a period of transition.

I am persuaded that in the long run democracy diverts the imagination from everything that is external to man, in order to fix it only on man.j

Democratic peoples can be very amused for a moment by considering nature; but they get really excited only by the sight of themselves. Here alone are the natural sources of poetry to be found among these peoples, and it may be believed that all poets who do not want to draw upon these sources will lose all sway over the souls of those whom they claim to charm, and will end by no longer having anything except cold witnesses to their transports.

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I have demonstrated how the idea of the progress and of the indefinite perfectibility of the human species was appropriate to democratic ages.

Democratic peoples hardly worry about what has been, but they readily dream about what will be, and their imagination has no limits in this direction; it expands and grows without measure.

This offers a vast opening to poets and allows them to move their portrayal far away from what is seen. Democracy, which closes the past to poetry, opens the future.

[≠In democratic centuries poets cannot take as the subject of their portrait a hero or a prince. ≠]

Since all the citizens who make up a democratic society are nearly equal and similar, poetry cannot attach itself to any one of them; but the nation offers itself to its brush. The similarity of all individuals, which makes each one of them separately inappropriate for becoming the subject of poetry, allows poets to include them all in the same image and to consider finally the people itself. Democratic nations see their own figure more clearly than all others and this great figure lends itself marvelously to the portrayal of the ideal.

I will easily acknowledge that the Americansk do not have poets; I cannot admit as well that they do not have poetic ideas.m

Some in Europe are very much interested in the American wilderness, but the Americans themselves hardly think about it. The wonders of inanimate nature leave them indifferent, and so to speak they see the admirable forests that surround them only at the moment when they fall under their blows.n Their sight is filled with another spectacle. The American Edition: current; Page: [837] people see themselves marching across this wilderness, draining swamps, straightening rivers, populating empty areas, and subduing nature. [Every day they notice their size growing and their strength increasing, and they already perceive themselves in the future leading as absolute masters the vast continent that they have made fruitful and cleared.] This magnificent image of themselves does not only present itself now and then to the imagination of the Americans; you can say that it follows each one of them in the least as well as in the principal of his actions, and that it remains always hovering in his mind.

You cannot imagine anything so small, so colorless, so full of miserable interests, so anti-poetical, in a word, than the life of a man in the United States; but among the thoughts that direct him one is always found that is full of poetry, and that one is like a hidden nerve which gives vigor to all the rest.o [You must not be astonished by this for how could you think that men who do such great things would be entirely devoid of great ideas?]p

In aristocratic centuries, each people, like each individual, is inclined to hold itself immobile and separate from all the others.

In democratic centuries the extreme mobility of men and their impatient desires make them constantly change place, and make the inhabitants of different countries mingle together, see and hear each other, and borrow from each other. So it is not only the members of the same nation who become similar; nations themselves assimilate, and all together form in the eye of the beholder nothing more than a vast democracy in which each Edition: current; Page: [838] citizen is a people. That brings to light for the first time the figure of the human species.

All that relates to the existence of the human species taken as a whole, its vicissitudes, its future becomes a very fertile mine for poetry.q

Poets who lived in aristocratic ages made admirable portraits by taking as subjects certain incidents in the life of a people or of a man; but not one of them ever dared to include in his tableau the destinies of the human species, while poets who write in democratic ages can undertake to do so.

At the same time that each person, raising his eyes above his country, finally begins to notice humanity itself, God reveals himself more and more to the human mind in his full and entire majesty.

If in democratic centuries faith in positive religions is often shaky and beliefs in intermediary powers, whatever name you give them, grow dim, men on the other hand are disposed to conceive a much more vast idea of Divinity itself, and the intervention of the divine in human affairs appears to them in a new and greater light.

Seeing the human species as a single whole, they easily imagine that the same design rules over its destinies, and in the actions of each individual, they are led to recognize the mark of this general and constant plan by which God leads the species.r

This can also be considered as a very abundant source of poetry that opens in these centuries.

Democratic poets will always seem small and cold if they try to give bodily forms to gods, demons or angels, and try to make them descend from heaven to quarrel over the earth.

But, if democratic poets want to connect the great events that they are relating to the general designs of God for the universe, and, without showing Edition: current; Page: [839] the hand of the sovereign master, cause his thought to be entered into, they will be admired and understood, for the imagination of their com-patriots itself follows this road.s

You can equally foresee that poets who live in democratic ages will portray passions and ideas rather than persons and actions. [and that they will apply themselves to relating the general features of human passions and ideas rather than those that depend on a time and on a country.t

This is easy to understand.]

Language, dress and the daily actions of men in democracies are resistant to the imagination of the ideal. These things are not poetic in themselves, and they would moreover cease to be so, because they are too well known by all those to whom you undertook to speak about them. That forces poets constantly to penetrate below the external surface that the senses reveal to them, in order to glimpse the soul itself. Now there is nothing that lends Edition: current; Page: [840] itself more to portraying the ideal than man envisaged in this way in the depths of his non-material nature.u

I do not need to travel across heaven and earth to find a marvelous subject full of contrast, of grandeur and infinite pettiness, of profound obscurities and singular clarity, capable at the same time of giving birth to pity, admiration, contempt, terror. I have only to consider myself. Man comes out of nothing, passes through time, and goes to disappear forever into the bosom of God. You see him only for a moment wandering at the edge of the two abysses where he gets lost.

If man were completely unaware of himself, he would not be poetic; for what you have no idea about you cannot portray. If he saw himself clearly, his imagination would remain dormant and would have nothing to add to the picture. But man is revealed enough for him to see something of himself, and hidden enough for the rest to disappear into impenetrable shadows, into which he plunges constantly and always in vain, in order finally to understand himself.v

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So among democratic peoples, you must not wait for poetry to live by legends, for it to be nourished by traditions and ancient memories, for it to try to repopulate the universe with supernatural beings in whom readers and poets themselves no longer believe, or for it coldly to personify virtues and vices that you can see in their own form. It lacks all these resources; but man remains for it, and that is enough. Human destinies, man, taken apart from his time and country and placed in front of nature and God, with his passions, his doubts, his unprecedented prosperity and incomprehensible miseries, will become for these peoples the principal and almost unique subject of poetry; and this is what you can already ascertain if you consider what has been written by the great writers who have appeared since the world began to turn toward democracy.

Writers who, today, have so admirably reproduced the features of Childe Harold, of René and of Jocelynw did not claim to recount the actions of one man; they wanted to illuminate and enlarge certain still obscure aspects of the human heart.

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Those are the poems of democracy.

So equality does not destroy all the subjects of poetry; it makes them less numerous and more vast.x

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CHAPTER 18a: Why American Writers and Orators Are Often Bombasticb

I have often noticed that the Americans, who generally treat matters with a clear and spare language devoid of all ornamentation, and whose extreme simplicity is often common, fall readily into bombast as soon as they want to take up poetic style. They then appear pompous without letup from one end of the speech to the other; and seeing them lavish images at every turn in this way, you would think that they never said anything simply.

The English fall more rarely into a similar fault.

The cause of this can be pointed out without much difficulty.

In democratic societies, each citizen is habitually busy contemplating a very small object, which is himself. If he comes to raise his eyes higher, he then sees only the immense image of society, or the still greater figure of the human species. He has only very particular and very clear ideas, or very general and very vague notions; the intermediate space is empty.

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So when you have drawn him out of himself, he is always waiting for you to offer him some prodigious object to look at, and it is only at this price that he agrees to keep himself away for a moment from the small complicated concerns that agitate and charm his life.

This seems to me to explain well enough why men of democracies who in general have such narrow affairs, demand from their poets such vast conceptions and portraits so beyond measure.

For their part, writers hardly fail to obey these instincts that they share; they inflate their imagination constantly, and expanding it beyond measure, they make it reach the gigantesque, for which they often abandon the great.

In this way, they hope immediately to attract the eyes of the crowd and to fix them easily on themselves, and they often succeed in doing so; for the crowd, which seeks in poetry only very vast subjects, does not have time to measure exactly the proportions of all the subjects that are presented to it, or taste sure enough to see easily in what way they are disproportionate. The author and the public corrupt each other at the same time.

We have seen, moreover, that among democratic peoples the sources of poetry were beautiful, but not very abundant. You soon end by exhausting them. Finding no more material for the ideal in the real and in the true, poets leave them entirely and create monsters.

I am not afraid that the poetry of democratic peoples may show itself to be timid or that it may stay very close to the earth. I am apprehensive instead that it may lose itself at every moment in the clouds, and that it may finish by portraying entirely imaginary realms. I fear that the works of democratic poets may offer immense and incoherent images, over-charged portraits, bizarre compositions, and that the fantastic beings that have emerged from their mind may sometimes cause the real world to be missed.

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CHAPTER 19a: Some Observations on the Theater of Democratic Peoplesb

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When the revolution that changed the social and political state of an aristocratic people begins to make itself felt in literature, it is generally in the theater that it is first produced, and it is there that it always remains visible.

The spectator of a dramatic work is in a way taken unprepared by the impression that is suggested to him. He does not have time to search his memory or to consult experts; he does not think about fighting the new literary instincts that are beginning to emerge in him; he yields to them before knowing them.

Authors do not take long to discover which way public taste is thus secretly leaning. They turn their works in that direction; and plays, after serving to make visible the literary revolution that is being prepared, soon end by carrying it out. If you want to judge in advance the literature of a people that is turning toward democracy, study its theater.

Among aristocratic nations themselves, moreover, plays form the most democratic portions of literature. There is no literary enjoyment more accessible to the crowd than those that you experience seeing the stage. Neither preparation nor study is needed to feel them. They grip you amid your preoccupations and your ignorance. When the love, still half crude, for the pleasures of the mind begins to penetrate a class of citizens, it immediately drives them to the theater. The theaters of aristocratic nations have always been full of spectators who do not belong to the aristocracy. It is only in Edition: current; Page: [847] the theater that the upper classes have mingled with the middle and lower classes, and that they have agreed if not to accept the advice of the latter, at least to allow them to give it. It is in the theater that the learned and the lettered have always had the most difficulty making their taste prevail over that of the people, and keeping themselves from being carried away by the taste of the people. There the pit has often laid down the law for the boxes.

[So democracy not only introduces the lower classes into the theater, it makes them dominate there.]

If it is difficult for an aristocracy not to allow the theater to be invaded by the people, you will easily understand that the people must rule there as a master once democratic principles have penetrated laws and mores, when ranks merge and minds like fortunes become more similar, and when the upper class loses its power, its traditions and its leisure, along with its hereditary wealth.

So the tastes and instincts natural to democratic peoples as regards literature, will show themselves first in the theater, and you can predict that they will be introduced there with violence. In written works, the literary laws of the aristocracy will become modified little by little in a general and so to speak legal manner. In the theater, they will be overthrown by riots.

[All that I have said in a general way about the literature of democracies is particularly applicable to the works of the theater.]

The theater puts into relief most of the qualities and nearly all the vices inherent in democratic literatures.

Democratic peoples have only very mediocre esteem for learning, and they scarcely care about what happened in Rome and in Athens; they mean for you to talk about themselves, and they ask for the present to be portrayed.

Consequently, when the heroes and mores of antiquity are often reproduced on stage, and care is taken to remain very faithful to ancient traditions, that is enough to conclude that the democratic classes do not yet dominate the theater.

Racine excuses himself very humbly, in the preface of Britannicus, for having made Junie enter among the vestal virgins, where, according to Aulu-Gelle, he says, “no one younger than six or older than nine years of age was Edition: current; Page: [848] received.” It may be believed that he would not have thought to accuse himself or to defend himself from such a crime, if he had written today.c

Such a fact enlightens me not only about the state of literature in the times in which it took place, but also about that of the society itself. A democratic theater does not prove that the nation is democratic; for, as we have just seen, even in aristocracies it can happen that democratic tastes influence the stage. But when the spirit of aristocracy alone rules the theater, that demonstrates invincibly that the whole society is aristocratic, and you can boldly conclude that this same learned and lettered class that directs authors commands citizens and leads public affairs.

It is very rare that the refined tastes and haughty tendencies of the aristocracy, when it governs the theater, do not lead it to make a choice, so the speak, in human nature. Certain social conditions interest it principally, and it is pleased to find them portrayed on the stage; certain virtues, and even certain vices, seem to the aristocracy to merit more particularly being reproduced on stage: it accepts the portrayal of these while it removes all the others from its sight. In the theater, as elsewhere, it only wants to find great lords, and it is moved only by kings. It is the same for styles. An aristocracy willingly imposes certain ways of speaking on authors; it wants all to be said with this tone.

The theater therefore often happens to portray only one of the dimensions of man, or even sometimes to represent what is not found in human nature; it rises above human nature and leaves it behind.

In democratic societies spectators do not have such preferences, and they rarely exhibit similar antipathies; they love to find on stage the confused mixture of conditions, of sentiments and ideas that they find before their eyes. The theater becomes more striking, more popular and more true.

Sometimes, however, those who write for the theater in democracies also go beyond human nature, but in another way than their precursors. By dint of wanting to reproduce minutely the small singularities of the present Edition: current; Page: [849] moment and the particular physiognomy of certain men, they forget to relate the general features of the species.

When the democratic classes rule the theater, they introduce as much liberty in the manner of treating the subject as in the very choice of this subject.

The love of the theater being, of all literary tastes, the one most natural to democratic peoples, the number of authors and that of spectators, like that of the performances, increases constantly among these peoples. Such a multitude, composed of such diverse elements and spread over so many different places, cannot accept the same rules and be subject to the same laws. No agreement is possible among very numerous judges who do not know where to meet; each separately makes his judgment. If the effect of democracy is in general to make literary rules and conventions doubtful, in the theater it abolishes them entirely, in order to substitute only the caprice of each author and each public.

It is equally in the theater above all that what I have already said elsewhere in a general way concerning style and art in democratic literatures is revealed. When you read the criticism brought forth by the dramatic works of the century of Louis XIV, you are surprised to see the great esteem of the public for verisimilitude, and the importance that it placed on the fact that a man, remaining always true to himself, did nothing that could not be easily explained and understood. It is equally surprising how much value was then attached to the forms of language and what small quarrels over words were made with dramatic authors.

It seems that the men of the century of Louis XIV attached a very exaggerated value to these details, which are noticed in the study but that elude the stage.d For, after all, the principal object of a play is to be presented, and its first merit is to stir emotion. That came from the fact that the spectators of this period were at the same time the readers. Leaving the Edition: current; Page: [850] performance, they waited at home for the writer, in order to complete their judgment of him.

In democracies, you listen to plays, but you do not read them. Most of those who attend stage plays are not seeking the pleasures of the mind, but the intense emotions of the heart. They are not waiting to find a work of literature, but a spectacle, and provided that the author speaks the language of the country correctly enough to make himself understood and that the characters excite curiosity and awaken sympathy, they are content; without asking anything more of the fiction, they immediately reenter the real world. So style there is less necessary; for on the stage observation of these rules escapes more and more.

As for verisimilitudes, it is impossible to be often new, unexpected, rapid, while remaining faithful to them. So they are neglected, and the public pardons it. You can count on the fact that they will not worry about the roads you have led them along, if you lead them finally to an object that touches them. They will never reproach you for having moved them in spite of the rules.

[Two things must be clearly distinguished.

Complicated intrigues, forced effects, improbability are often due to scorn for art and sometimes to ignorance of it. These faults are found in all theaters that are beginning, and for this reason aristocratic theaters have often provided an example of them, because it is ordinarily aristocracy that leads the youthful period of peoples. The oddities, coarseness and extravagance that are sometimes found in Lope de Vega and in Shakespearee do not prove that these great men followed the natural taste of the aristocracy, but only that they were the first to write for it.f Their genius subsequently perpetuated their errors.g When a great dramatic author does not purge the stage of the vices that he finds there, he fixes them Edition: current; Page: [851] there, and all those who follow imitate those courtiers of Alexander who found it easier to tilt their heads to the side like their master than to conquer Asia.

Democratic writers know in general the conventions of the stage, and the rules of dramatic art, but often they willingly neglect them in order to go faster or to strike more forcefully.]

The Americans bring to full light the different instincts that I have just depicted, when they go to the theater.h But it must be recognized that there is still only a small number of them who go. Although spectators and spectacles have prodigiously increased since forty years ago in the United States, the population still goes to this type of amusement only with extreme reticence.

That is due to particular causes that the reader already knows and that it is sufficient to recall to him in two words.

The Puritans, who founded the American republics, were not only enemies of pleasure; they professed in addition an entirely special horror of the theater. They considered it as an abominable diversion, and as long as their spirit reigned unrivaled, dramatic presentations were absolutely unknown among them. These opinions of the first fathers of the colony left profound traces in the mind of their descendants.

The extreme regularity of habits and the great rigidity of mores that are seen in the United States, moreover, have not been very favorable to the development of theatrical art until now.

There are no subjects for drama in a country that has not witnessed great political catastrophesj and where love always leads by a direct and easy road to marriage. Men who use every day of the week for making Edition: current; Page: [852] their fortune and Sunday for praying to God do not lend themselves to the comic muse.

A single fact suffices to show that the theater is not very popular in the United States.

The Americans, whose laws authorize freedom and even license of speech in everything, have nonetheless subjected dramatic authors to a kind of censorship.k Theatrical presentations can only take place when the administrators of the town allow them. This demonstrates clearly that peoples are like individuals. They give themselves without caution to their principal passions, and then they are very careful not to yield to the impetus of tastes that they do not have.

There is no portion of literature that is tied by tighter and more numerous bonds to the current state of society than the theater.

The theater of one period can never suit the following period if, between the two, an important revolution has changed mores and laws.

The great writers of another century are still studied. But plays written for another public are no longer attended. Dramatic authors of past time live only in books.

The traditional taste of a few men, vanity, fashion, the genius of an actor can for a time sustain or bring back an aristocratic theater within a democracy; but soon it collapses by itself. It is not overthrown; it is abandoned.

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CHAPTER 20a: Of Some Tendencies Particular to Historians in Democratic Centuriesb

Historians who write in aristocratic centuries ordinarily make all events depend on the particular will and the mood of certain men, and they readily link the most important revolutions to the slightest accidents. They wisely make the smallest causes stand out, and often they do not see the greatest ones.

Historians who live in democratic centuries show completely opposite tendencies.

Most of them attribute to the individual almost no influence on the destiny of the species, or to citizens on the fate of the people. But, in return, they give great general causes to all the small particular facts. [In their eyes, Edition: current; Page: [854] all events are linked together by a tight and necessary chain, and therefore they sometimes end up by denying nations control over themselves and by contesting the liberty of having been able to do what they did.]c These contrasting tendencies can be explained.

When historians in aristocratic centuries cast their eyes on the world theater, they notice first of all a very small number of principal actors who lead the whole play. These great characters, who keep themselves at the front of the stage, stop their view and hold it; while they apply themselves to uncovering the secret motives that make the latter act and speak, they forget the rest.

The importance of the things that they see a few men do gives them an exaggerated idea of the influence that one man is able to exercise, and naturally disposes them to believe that you must always go back to the particular action of an individual to explain the movements of the crowd.

When, on the contrary, all citizens are independent of each other, and when each one of them is weak, you do not discover any one of them who exercises a very great or, above all, a very enduring power over the mass. At first view, individuals seem absolutely powerless over the mass, and you would say that society moves all by itself by the free and spontaneous participation of all the men who compose it.d

That naturally leads the human mind to search for the general reason Edition: current; Page: [855] that has been able to strike so many minds all at once in this way and turn them simultaneously in the same direction.e

I am very persuaded that, among democratic nations themselves, the genius, the vices or the virtues of certain individuals delay or precipitate the natural course of the destiny of the people; but these sorts of fortuitous and secondary causes are infinitely more varied, more hidden, more complicated, less powerful, and consequently more difficult to disentangle and to trace in times of equality than in the centuries of aristocracy, when it is only a matter of analyzing, amid general facts, the particular action of a single man or of a few men.f

The historian soon becomes tired of such a work; his mind becomes lost amid this labyrinth, and, not able to succeed in seeing clearly and in bringing sufficiently to light individual influences, he denies them. He prefers to speak to us about the nature of races, about the physical constitution of a country, or about the spirit of civilization [<great words that I cannot hear said without involuntarily recalling the abhorrence of a vacuum that was Edition: current; Page: [856] attributed to nature before the heaviness of air was discovered>]. That shortens his work, and, at less cost, better satisfies the reader.g

M. de Lafayette said somewhere in his Mémoiresh that the exaggerated system of general causes brought marvelous consolations to mediocre public men. I add that it gives admirable consolations to mediocre historians. It always provides them with a few great reasons that promptly pull them through at the most difficult point in their book, and it favors the weakness or laziness of their minds, all the while honoring its depth.

For me, I think that there is no period when one part of the events of this world must not be attributed to very general facts, and another to very particular influences. These two causes are always found; only their relationship differs. General facts explain more things in democratic centuries than in aristocratic centuries, and particular influences fewer. In times of aristocracy, it is the opposite; particular influences are stronger, and general causes are weaker, as long as you do not consider as a general cause the very fact of inequality of conditions, which allows a few individuals to thwart the natural tendencies of all the others.

So historians who try to portray what is happening in democratic societies are right to give a large role to general causes and to apply themselves principally to discovering them; but they are wrong to deny entirely the particular action of individuals, because it is difficult to find and to follow Edition: current; Page: [857] it [and to content themselves often with great words when great causes elude them].

Not only are historians who live in democratic centuries drawn to giving a great cause to each fact, but also they are led to linking facts and making a system emerge.

In aristocratic centuries, since the attention of historians is diverted at every moment toward individuals, the sequence of events escapes them, or rather they do not believe in such a sequence. The thread of history seems to them broken at every instant by the passage of a man.

In democratic centuries, on the contrary, the historian, seeing far fewer actors and many more actions, can easily establish a relationship and a methodical order among them.

Ancient literature, which has left us such beautiful histories, offers not a single great historical system, while the most miserable modern literatures are swarming with them. It seems that ancient historians did not make enough use of these general theories that our historians are always ready to abuse.

Those who write in democratic centuries have another, more dangerous tendency.

When the trace of the action of individuals or nations becomes lost, it often happens that you see the world move without uncovering the motor. Since it becomes very difficult to see and to analyze the reasons that, acting separately on the will of each citizen, end by producing the movement of the people, you are tempted to believe that the movement is not voluntary and that societies, without knowing it, obey a superior force that dominates them.

Even if you should discover on earth the general fact that directs the particular will of all individuals, that does not save human liberty. A cause vast enough to be applied at the same time to millions of men, and strong enough to bend all of them in the same direction, easily seems irresistible; after seeing that you yielded to it, you are very close to believing that it could not be resisted.

So historians who live in democratic times not only deny to a few citizens the power to act on the destiny of the people, they also take away from peoples themselves the ability to modify their own fate, and subject them Edition: current; Page: [858] either to an inflexible providence or to a sort of blind fatality. According to these historians, each nation is invincibly tied, by its position, its origin, its antecedents, its nature, to a certain destiny that all its efforts cannot change. They make the generations stand together with each other, and, going back in this way, from age to age and from necessary events to necessary events, to the origin of the world, they make a tight and immense chain that envelops the entire human species and binds it.

It is not enough for them to show how facts happened; they like as well to reveal that it could not have happened otherwise. They consider a nation that has reached a certain place in its history, and assert that it has been forced to follow the road that led it there. That is easier than teaching what it could have done to take a better route.j

It seems, while reading the historians of aristocratic ages and particularly those of antiquity, that, in order to become master of his fate and govern his fellows, man has only to know how to control himself. You would say, while surveying the histories written in our time, that man can do nothing, either for himself or around him. The historians of antiquity taught how to command; those of our days scarcely teach anything except how to obey. In their writings, the author often appears great, but humanity is always small.

If this doctrine of fatality, which has so many attractions for those who write history in democratic times, by passing from the writers to their readers, in this way penetrated the entire mass of citizens and took hold of the public mind, you can predict that it would soon paralyze the movement of new societies and would reduce Christians to Turks.k

I will say, moreover, that such a doctrine is particularly dangerous in this period in which we live; our contemporaries are all too inclined to doubt free will, because each of them feels limited on all sides by his weakness, Edition: current; Page: [859] but they still readily grant strength and independence to men gathered in a social body. Care must be taken not to obscure this idea, for it is a matter of lifting up souls and not finally demoralizing them.m

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CHAPTER 21a: Of Parliamentary Eloquence in the United Statesb

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Among aristocratic peoples all men stand together and depend on each other; among all men there is a hierarchical bond by the aid of which each one can be kept in his place and the whole body can be kept in obedience. Something analogous is always found within the political assemblies of these peoples. Parties there line up naturally behind certain leaders, whom they obey by a kind of instinct that is only the result of habits contracted elsewhere. They bring to the small society of the assembly the mores of the larger society.

[In the public assemblies of aristocratic nations there are only a few men who act as spokesmen. All the others assent and keep quiet. Orators speak only when something is useful to the party. They say only what can serve the general interests of the party and they do not needlessly repeat what has already been said. The discussion is clear, rapid and concise.

Breadth and depth are often lacking in the discussions of the Parliament of England, but the debate is almost always conducted admirably and speeches are very pertinent to the subject. ≠It is not always so in Congress. ≠

I at first believed that this way of treating public affairs came from the long use that the English have of parliamentary life. But it must be clearly admitted that it is due to some other cause, since the Americans, with the same experience, do not follow the same method.

In the democratic countries most accustomed to the representative regime, it often happens that a great number of those who are part of the assemblies have not sufficiently reflected in advance about the suitable way to act there. The reason is that among these peoples public life is rarely a career. You go there by chance; you soon depart. It is a road that you cross and that you do not follow. So to it you bring your natural enlightenment, and not an acquired knowledge.

In aristocratic countries that have had assemblies for a long time, it is not the same. Since there is only a small number of men who can enter national councils, those men apply themselves to becoming part of those councils and study in advance the art of how to conduct themselves there. Since the same men are part of the legislature over a long period of time, they have the time to recognize the methods that best serve the conduct of affairs, and they are always numerous enough to force the new arrivals to conform.

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This reason seems good, but it does [not (ed.)] suffice to explain the difference that is noticeable here between the Americans and the English. In the United States, deliberative bodies are so numerous and public assemblies so multiplied that there is no man, who has reached maturity, who has not very often had the occasion to enter into some gathering of this type and who has not been able to see the game. If there are no classes in America that are specially destined for public affairs, all classes get actively involved and constantly think about them. Almost all of even those who remain in private life thus receive a political education. So you must look for a more general and deeper cause than the one indicated above.

Not only do the Americans not always have very precise notions about the parliamentary art, but also they are more strongly inclined to violate the rules of that art when they know them.]

In democratic countries, a great number of citizens often happen to head toward the same point; but each one marches or at least professes to march there only by himself. Accustomed not to regulate his movements except according to his personal impulses, he yields with difficulty to receiving his rules from outside. This taste for and this practice of independence follow him into national councils. If he agrees to associate himself with others for the pursuit of the same plan, he at least wants to remain master of his own way of cooperating in the common success.

That is why, in democratic countries, parties so impatiently endure someone leading them and appear subordinate only when the danger is very great. Even so, the authority of leaders, which in these circumstances can go as far as making parties act and speak, almost never extends to the power of making parties keep quiet.

Among aristocratic peoples, the members of political assemblies are at the same time members of the aristocracy. Each one of them possesses by himself a high and stable rank, and the place that he occupies in the assembly is often less important in his eyes than the one that he fills in the country. That consoles him for not playing a role in the discussion of public affairs, and disposes him not to seek a mediocre role with too much ardor.

In America, it ordinarily happens that the deputy amounts to something only by his position in the assembly. So he is constantly tormented by the Edition: current; Page: [864] need to gain importance, and he feels a petulant desire to bring his ideas fully to light every moment.c

He is pushed in this direction not only by his vanity, but also by that of his constituents and by the continual necessity to please them.

Among aristocratic peoples, the member of the legislature rarely has a narrow dependence on voters; for them he is often in some way a necessary representative; sometimes he holds them in a narrow dependency, and if they come finally to refuse him their vote, he easily has himself appointed elsewhere; or, renouncing a political career, he shuts himself up in an idleness that still has splendor.

In a democratic country, like the United States, the deputy hardly ever has an enduring hold on the mind of his constituents. However small the electoral body, democratic instability makes it change face constantly. So it must be captivated every day. He is never sure of them; and if they abandon him, he is immediately without resources; for he does not naturally have a position elevated enough to be easily noticed by those who are not nearby; and, in the complete independence in which citizens live, he cannot hope that his friends or the government will easily impose him on an electoral body that will not know him. So it is in the district that he represents that all the seeds of his fortune are sown; it is from this corner of the earth that he must emerge in order to rise to command the people and to influence the destinies of the world.

Thus, it is natural that, in democratic countries, the members of political assemblies think more about their constituents than about their party, while in aristocracies, they attend more to their party than to their constituents.d

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Now, what must be said to please voters is not always what would be suitable for serving well the political opinion that they profess.

The general interest of a party is often that the deputy who is a member never speak about the great public affairs that he understands badly; that he speak little about the small affairs that would hinder the march of the great one; and most often finally, that he keep completely quiet. To maintain silence is the most useful service that a mediocre speaker can render to public matters.

But this is not the way that the voters understand it.

The population of a district charges a citizen to take part in the government of the State, because it has conceived a very grand idea of his merit. Since men appear greater in proportion to being surrounded by smaller objects, it may be believed that the rarer the talents among those represented, the higher the opinion that will be held about the representative. So it often happens that the less the voters have to expect from their deputy, the more they will hope from him; and, however incompetent he may be, they cannot fail to require from him signal efforts that correspond to the rank that they give him.

Apart from the legislator of the State, the voters see also in their representative the natural protector of the district in the legislature; they are not even far from considering him as the agent of each one of those who elected him, and they imagine that he will display no less ardor insisting on their particular interests than on those of the country.

Thus, the voters hold it as certain in advance that the deputy they will choose will be an orator; that he will speak often if he can, and that, in the case where he would have to limit himself, he will at least try hard in his Edition: current; Page: [866] rare speeches to include the examination of all the great affairs of the State along with the account of all the petty grievances that they themselves have complained about; so that, not able to appear often, he shows on each occasion that he knows what to do, and, instead of spouting forth incessantly, he every now and then compresses his remarks entirely into a small scope, providing in this way a kind of brilliant and complete summary of his constituents and of himself. For this price, they promise their next votes.

This pushes into despair honest, mediocre men who, knowing themselves, would not have appeared on their own. The deputy, carried away in this way, speaks up to the great distress of his friends, and, throwing himself imprudently into the middle of the most celebrated orators, he muddles the debate and tires the assembly.

All the laws that tend to make the elected more dependent on the voter therefore modify not only the conduct of the legislators, as I noted elsewhere, but also their language. They influence at the very same time public affairs and the manner of speaking about them.

[I think as well that the more the electoral body is divided into small parts, the more discussions will become droning within the legislative body. You can count on the fact that such a system will fill the assembly with mediocre men[*] and that all the mediocre men whom it sends there will make as many efforts to appear as if they were superior men.]

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There is, so to speak, not a member of Congress who agrees to return home without having given at least one speech, or who bears being interrupted before he is able to include within the limits of his harangue everything that can be said about what is useful to the twenty-four states that compose the Union, and especially to the district he represents. So he puts successively before the minds of his listeners great general truths that he often does not notice himself and that he points out only in a confused way, and small highly subtle particularities that he does not find and explain very easily. Consequently, it often happens that, within this great body, discussion becomes vague and muddled, and it seems to crawl toward the goal that is proposed rather than marching toward it.

Something analogous will always be revealed, I believe, in the public assemblies of democracies.

Happy circumstances and good laws could succeed in drawing to the legislature of a democratic people men much more noteworthy than those who are sent by the Americans to Congress; but you will never prevent the mediocre men who are found in it from putting themselves on public display, smugly and on all sides.

The evil does not appear entirely curable to me, because it is due not only to the regulations of the assembly, but also to its constitution and even to that of the country.

The inhabitants of the United States seem themselves to consider the matter from this point of view, and they testify to their long practice of parliamentary life not by abstaining from bad speeches, but by subjecting themselves courageously to hearing them. They resign themselves to hearing them as if to an evil that experience had made them recognize as inevitable.

[<Some insist that sometimes they are sleeping, but they never grumble.>]

We have shown the petty side of political discussions in democracies; let us reveal the great one.

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What has happened for the past one hundred fifty years in the Parliament of England has never caused a great stir outside; the ideas and sentiments expressed by orators have never found much sympathy among the very peoples who found themselves placed closest to the great theater of British liberty, while, from the moment when the first debates took place in the small colonial assemblies of America in the period of the revolution, Europe was moved.e

That was due not only to particular and fortuitous circumstances, but also to general and lasting causes.

I see nothing more admirable or more powerful than a great orator discussing great affairs within a democratic assembly. Since there is never a class that has its representatives in charge of upholding its interests, it is always to the whole nation, and in the name of the whole nation that they speak.f That enlarges thought and elevates language.g

Since precedents there have little sway; since there are no more privileges linked to certain properties or rights inherent to certain bodies or certain men, the mind is forced to go back to general truths drawn from human nature, in order to treat the particular affairs that concern it. Out of that Edition: current; Page: [869] is born, in the political discussions of a democratic people, however small it may be, a character of generality that often makes those discussions captivating to the human species. All men are interested in them because it is a question of man, who is everywhere the same.

Among the greatest aristocratic peoples, on the contrary, the most general questions are almost always dealt with by a few particular reasons drawn from the customs of a period or from the rights of a class; this interests only the class in question, or at most the people among whom this class is found.

It is to this cause as much as to the grandeur of the French nation, and to the favorable dispositions of the peoples who hear it, that you must attribute the great effect that our political discussions sometimes produce in the world.

Our orators often speak to all men, even when they are only addressing their fellow citizens.h

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SECOND PART: Influence of Democracy on the Sentiments of the Americansa

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CHAPTER 1a: Why Democratic Peoples Show a More Ardent and More Enduring Love for Equality Than for Libertyb

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The first and most intense of the passions given birth by equality of conditions, I do not need to say, is the love of this very equality. So no one will be surprised that I talk about it before all the others.

Everyone has noted that in our time, and especially in France, this passion for equality has a greater place in the human heart every day. It has been said a hundred times that our contemporaries have a much more ardent and much more tenacious love for equality than for liberty; but I do not find that we have yet adequately gone back to the causes of this fact. I am going to try.c

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You can imagine an extreme point where liberty and equality meet and merge.

Suppose that all citizens participate in the government and that each one has an equal right to take part in it.

Since no one then differs from his fellows, no one will be able to exercise a tyrannical power; men will be perfectly free, because they will all be entirely equal; and they will all be perfectly equal, because they will be entirely free. Democratic peoples tend toward this ideal.

That is the most complete form that equality can take on earth; but there are a thousand other forms that, without being as perfect, are scarcely less dear to these peoples.

Equality can become established in civil society and not reign in the political world. Everyone can have the right to pursue the same pleasures, to enter the same professions, to meet in the same places; in a word, to live in the same way and to pursue wealth by the same means, without all taking the same part in government.

A kind of equality can even become established in the political world, even if political liberty does not exist. Everyone is equal to all his fellows, Edition: current; Page: [875] except one, who is, without distinction, the master of all, and who takes the agents of his power equally from among all.

It would be easy to form several other hypotheses according to which a very great equality could easily be combined with institutions more or less free, or even with institutions that would not be free at all.

So although men cannot become absolutely equal without being entirely free, and consequently equality at its most extreme level merges with liberty, you are justified in distinguishing the one from the other.d

The taste that men have for liberty and the one that they feel for equality are, in fact, two distinct things, and I am not afraid to add that, among democratic peoples, they are two unequal things.

If you want to pay attention, you will see that in each century, a singular and dominant fact is found to which the other facts are related; this fact almost always gives birth to a generative thought, or to a principal passion that then ends by drawing to itself and carrying along in its course all sentiments and all ideas. It is like the great river toward which all of the surrounding streams seem to flow.

Liberty has shown itself to men in different times and in different forms; it has not been linked exclusively to one social state, and you find it elsewhere than in democracies. So it cannot form the distinctive characteristic of democratic centuries.

The particular and dominant fact that singles out these centuries is equality of conditions; the principal passion that agitates men in those times is love of this equality.

Do not ask what singular charm the men of democratic ages find in living equal; or the particular reasons that they can have to be so stubbornly attached to equality rather than to the other advantages that society presents to them. Equality forms the distinctive characteristic of the period in which they live; that alone is enough to explain why they prefer it to everything else.

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But, apart from this reason, there are several others that, in all times, will habitually lead men to prefer equality to liberty.

If a people could ever succeed in destroying by itself or only in decreasing the equality that reigns within it, it would do so only by long and difficult efforts. It would have to modify its social state, abolish its laws, replace its ideas, change its habits, alter its mores. But, to lose political liberty, it is enough not to hold on to it, and liberty escapes.

So men do not hold on to equality only because it is dear to them; they are also attached to it because they believe it must last forever.

You do not find men so limited and so superficial that they do not discover that political liberty may, by its excesses, compromise tranquillity, patrimony, and the life of individuals. But only attentive and clear-sighted men see the dangers with which equality threatens us, and ordinarily they avoid pointing these dangers out. They know that the miseries that they fear are remote, and they imagine that those miseries affect only the generations to come, about whom the present generation scarcely worries. The evils that liberty sometimes brings are immediate; they are visible to all, and more or less everyone feels them. The evils that extreme equality can produce appear only little by little; they gradually insinuate themselves into the social body; they are seen only now and then, and, at the moment when they become most violent, habit has already made it so that they are no longer felt.

The good things that liberty brings show themselves only over time, and it is always easy to fail to recognize the cause that gives them birth.

The advantages of equality make themselves felt immediately, and every day you see them flow from their source.

Political liberty, from time to time, gives sublime pleasures to a certain number of citizens.

Equality provides a multitude of small enjoyments to each man every day. The charms of equality are felt at every moment, and they are within reach of all; the most noble hearts are not insensitive to them, and they are the delight of the most common souls. So the passion to which equality gives birth has to be at the very same time forceful and general.

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Men cannot enjoy political liberty without purchasing it at the cost of some sacrifices, and they never secure it except by a great deal of effort. But the pleasures provided by equality are there for the taking. Each one of the small incidents of private life seems to give birth to them, and to enjoy them, you only have to be alive.

Democratic peoples love equality at all times, but there are certain periods when they push the passion that they feel for it to the point of delirium. This happens at the moment when the old social hierarchy, threatened for a long time, is finally destroyed, after a final internal struggle, when the barriers that separated citizens are at last overturned. Men then rush toward equality as toward a conquest, and they cling to it as to a precious good that someone wants to take away from them. The passion for equality penetrates the human heart from all directions, it spreads and fills it entirely. Do not tell men that by giving themselves so blindly to one exclusive passion, they compromise their dearest interests; they are deaf. Do not show them that liberty is escaping from their hands while they are looking elsewhere; they are blind, or rather they see in the whole universe only one single good worthy of desire.

What precedes applies to all democratic nations. What follows concerns only ourselves.

Among most modern nations, and in particular among all the peoples of the continent of Europe, the taste and the idea of liberty only began to arise and to develop at the moment when conditions began to become equal, and as a consequence of this very equality. It was absolute kings who worked hardest to level ranks among their subjects. Among these peoples, equality preceded liberty; so equality was an ancient fact, when liberty was still something new; the one had already created opinions, customs, laws that were its own, when the other appeared alone, and for the first time, in full view. Thus, the second was still only in ideas and in tastes, while the first had already penetrated habits, had taken hold of mores, and had given a particular turn to the least actions of life. Why be surprised if men today prefer the one to the other?e

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I think that democratic peoples have a natural taste for liberty; left to themselves, they seek it, they love it, and it is only with pain that they see themselves separated from it. But they have an ardent, insatiable, eternal, invincible passion for equality; they want equality in liberty, and if they cannot obtain that, they still want equality in slavery. They will suffer poverty, enslavement, barbarism, but they will not suffer aristocracy.

This is true in all times, and above all in our own. All men and all powers that would like to fight against this irresistible power will be overturned and destroyed by it.f In our day, liberty cannot be established without its support, and despotism itself cannot reign without it.

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CHAPTER 2a: Of Individualism in Democratic Countries

I have shown how, in centuries of equality, each man looked for his beliefs within himself; I want to show how, in these same centuries, he turns all his sentiments toward himself alone.

Individualismb is a recent expression given birth by a new idea. Our fathers knew only egoism.

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Egoism is a passionate and exaggerated love of oneself, which leads man to view everything only in terms of himself alone and to prefer himself to everything.c

Individualism is a considered and peaceful sentiment that disposes each citizen to isolate himself from the mass of his fellows and to withdraw to the side with his family and his friends; so that, after thus creating a small society for his own use, he willingly abandons the large society to itself.

Egoism is born out of blind instinct; individualism proceeds from an erroneous judgment rather than from a depraved sentiment. It has its source in failings of the mind as much as in vices of the heart.d

Egoism parches the seed of all virtues; individualism at first dries up only the source of public virtues, but, in the long run, it attacks and destroys all the others and is finally absorbed into egoism.

Egoism is a vice as old as the world. It hardly belongs more to one form of society than to another.

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Individualism is of democratic origin, and it threatens to develop as conditions become equal.

Among aristocratic peoples, families remain for centuries in the same condition, and often in the same place. That, so to speak, makes all generations contemporaries. A man almost always knows his ancestors and respects them; he believes he already sees his grandsons, and he loves them. He willingly assumes his duty toward both, and he often happens to sacrifice his personal enjoyments for these beings who are no more or who do not yet exist.

Aristocratic institutions have, moreover, the effect of tying each man closely to several of his fellow citizens.

Since classes are very distinct and unchanging within an aristocratic people, each class becomes for the one who is part of it a kind of small country, more visible and dearer than the large one.

Because, in aristocratic societies, all citizens are placed in fixed positions, some above others, each citizen always sees above him a man whose protection he needs, and below he finds another whose help he can claim.

So men who live in aristocratic centuries are almost always tied in a close way to something that is located outside of themselves, and they are often disposed to forget themselves. It is true that, in these same centuries, the general notion of fellow is obscure, and that you scarcely think to lay down your life for the cause of humanity; but you often sacrifice yourself for certain men.e

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In democratic centuries, on the contrary, when the duties of each individual toward the species are much clearer, devotion toward one man [<or one class>] becomes more rare; the bond of human affections expands and relaxes.

Among democratic peoples, new families emerge constantly out of nothing, others constantly fall back into nothing, and all those that remain change face; the thread of time is broken at every moment, and the trace of the generations fades. You easily forget those who preceded you, and you have no idea about those who will follow you. Only those closest to you are of interest.

Since each class is coming closer to the others and is mingling with them, its members become indifferent and like strangers to each other. Aristocracy had made all citizens into a long chain that went from the peasant up to the king; democracy breaks the chain and sets each link apart.

As conditions become equal, a greater number of individuals will be found who, no longer rich enough or powerful enough to exercise a great influence over the fate of their fellows, have nonetheless acquired or preserved enough enlightenment and wealth to be able to be sufficient for themselves. The latter owe nothing to anyone, they expect nothing so to speak from anyone; they are always accustomed to consider themselves in isolation, and they readily imagine that their entire destiny is in their hands.

Thus, not only does democracy make each man forget his ancestors, but it hides his descendants from him and separates him from his contemporaries; it constantly leads him back toward himself alone and threatens finally to enclose him entirely within the solitude of his own heart.[*]

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CHAPTER 3: How Individualism Is Greater at the End of a Democratic Revolution than at Another Timea

It is above all at the moment when a democratic society finally takes form on the debris of an aristocracy, that this isolation of men from each other, and the egoism that follows are most easily seen.

These societies not only contain a great number of independent citizens, they are filled daily with men who, having reached independence only yesterday, are intoxicated with their new power; these men conceive a presumptuous confidence in their strength, and not imagining that from then on they might need to ask for the help of their fellows, they have no difficulty showing that they think only of themselves.

An aristocracy usually succumbs only after a prolonged struggle, during which implacable hatreds are kindled among the different classes. These passions survive victory, and you can follow their traces amid the democratic confusion that follows.b

Those among the citizens who were first in the destroyed hierarchy cannot immediately forget their former greatness; for a long time they consider themselves like strangers within the new society. They see in all the men made equal to them by this society, oppressors whose destiny cannot provoke Edition: current; Page: [886] sympathy; they have lost sight of their former equals and no longer feel tied by a common interest to their fate; so each one, withdrawing apart, thinks he is reduced to being concerned only with himself. Those, on the contrary, who formerly were placed at the bottom of the social ladder, and who had been brought closer to the general level by a sudden revolution, enjoy only with a kind of secret uneasiness their newly acquired independence; if they find at their side a few of their former superiors, they look at them with triumph and fear, and move apart from them.

So it is usually at the beginning of democratic societies that citizens show themselves most disposed to separate themselves.

Democracy leads men not to draw nearer to their fellows; but democratic revolutions dispose them to flee each other and perpetuate within equality the hatreds given birth by inequality.

The great advantage of the Americans is to have arrived at democracy without having to suffer democratic revolutions, and to have been born equal instead of becoming so.c

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CHAPTER 4a: How the Americans Combat Individualism with Free Institutionsb

Despotism, which, by its nature, is fearful, sees in the isolation of men the most certain guarantee of its own duration, and it ordinarily puts all its efforts into isolating them. There is no vice of the human heart that pleases it as much as egoism: a despot easily pardons the governed for not loving him, provided that they do not love each other.c He does not ask them to help him lead the State; it is enough that they do not claim to run it themselves.d Edition: current; Page: [888] Those who claim to unite their efforts in order to create common prosperity, he calls unruly and restless spirits; and, changing the natural meaning of words, he calls good citizens those who withdraw narrowly into themselves.e

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Thus, the vices given birth by despotism are precisely those that equality favors. The two things complement each other and help one another in a fatal way.

Equality places men side by side, without a common bond to hold them. Despotism raises barriers between them and separates them. It disposes them not to think about their fellows and makes indifference into a kind of public virtue.

So despotism, which is dangerous in all times, is to be particularly feared in democratic centuries.f

It is easy to see that in these same centuries men have a particular need for liberty.

When citizens are forced to occupy themselves with public affairs, they are necessarily drawn away from the middle of their individual interests and are, from time to time, dragged away from looking at themselves.

From the moment when common affairs are treated together, each man notices that he is not as independent of his fellows as he first imagined, and that, to gain their support, he must often lend them his help.

When the public governs, there is no man who does not feel the value of the public’s regard and who does not seek to win it by gaining the esteem and affection of those among whom he must live.

Several of the passions that chill and divide hearts are then forced to withdraw deep into the soul and hide there. Pride conceals itself; scorn dares not to show itself. Egoism is afraid of itself. [You dread to offend and you love to serve.]

Under a free government, since most public functions are elective, the men who feel cramped in private life because of the loftiness of their souls or the restlessness of their desires, sense every day that they cannot do without the population that surrounds them.

It then happens that you think about your fellows out of ambition, and that often, in a way, you find it in your interest to forget yourself. [This Edition: current; Page: [890] finally produces within democratic nations something analogous to what was seen in aristocracies.

In aristocratic countries men are bound tightly together by their very inequalities. In democratic countries where the various representatives of public power are elected, men attach themselves to each other by the exertion of their own will, and it is in this sense then that you can say that in those countries election replaces hierarchy to a certain degree.]gh I know that you can raise the objection here of all the intrigues given birth by an election, the shameful means that the candidates often use and the slanders that their enemies spread. Those are occasions of hatred, and they present themselves all the more often as elections become more frequent [≠which never fails to happen in proportion as municipal liberties develop ≠].j

These evils are no doubt great, but they are temporary, while the good things that arise with them endure.

The desire to be elected can, for a short while, lead certain men to make war on each other; but this same desire leads all men in the long run to lend each other natural support; and, if it happens that an election accidentally divides two friends, the electoral system draws closer together in a permanent way a multitude of citizens who would always have remained strangers to each other. Liberty creates particular hatreds, but despotism gives birth to general indifference.

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The Americans fought, by means of liberty, against the individualism given birth by equality, and they defeated it.

The law-makers of America did not believe that to cure an illness so natural and so fatal to the social body in democratic times, it was sufficient to grant the nation a single way of representing itself as a whole; they thought, as well, that it was appropriate to give political life to each portion of the territory, in order infinitely to multiply for citizens the occasions to act together, and to make the citizens feel every day that they depend on each other.k

This was to behave with wisdom.

The general affairs of a country occupy only the principal citizens. The latter gather together in the same places only from time to time; and, as it often happens that afterward they lose sight of each other, no lasting bonds are established among them. But, when it is a matter of having the particular affairs of a district regulated by the men who live there, the same individuals are always in contact, and they are in a way forced to know each other and to please each other.

You draw a man out of himself with difficulty in order to interest him in the destiny of the entire State, because he poorly understands the influence that the destiny of the State can exercise on his fate. But if it is necessary to have a road pass by the end of his property, he will see at first glance that there is a connection between this small public affair and his greatest private affairs, and he will discover, without anyone showing him, the close bond that here unites particular interest to general interest.

So it is by charging citizens with the administration of small affairs, much more than by giving them the government of great ones, that you Edition: current; Page: [892] interest them in the public good and make them see the need that they constantly have for each other in order to produce that good.

You can, by a dazzling action, suddenly capture the favor of a people; but, to win the love and respect of the population that surrounds you, there must be a long succession of small services provided, humble good offices, a constant habit of benevolence and a well-established reputation of disinterestedness.

So local liberties, which make a great number of citizens put value on the affection of their neighbors and of those nearby, constantly bring men back toward each other despite the instincts that separate them, and force them to help each other.

In the United States, the most opulent citizens are very careful not to isolate themselves from the people; on the contrary, they constantly draw closer to them, they readily listen to them and speak with them every day. They know that in democracies the rich always need the poor and that, in democratic times, the poor are attached by manners more than by benefits. The very grandeur of these benefits, which brings out the difference of conditions, causes a secret irritation to those who profit from them; but simplicity of manners has nearly irresistible charms; familiarity of manners seduces and even their coarseness does not always displease.

This truth does not at first sight penetrate the mind of the rich. Usually, they resist it as long as the democratic revolution lasts, and they do not even admit it immediately after the revolution is accomplished. They willingly agree to do good for the people; but they want to continue to hold them carefully at a distance. They believe that is enough; they are wrong. They would ruin themselves in this way without rekindling the heart of the population that surrounds them. It is not the sacrifice of their money that is demanded of them; it is the sacrifice of their pride.m

You would say that in the United States there is no imagination that does not exhaust itself inventing means to increase wealth and to satisfy the needs of the public. The most enlightened inhabitants of each district are constantly using their knowledge to discover new secrets appropriate for Edition: current; Page: [893] increasing common prosperity; and, when they have found some, they hasten to give them to the crowd.n

While closely examining the vices and weaknesses often shown by those who govern in America, you are astonished by the growing prosperity of the people, and you are mistaken.o It is not the elected magistrate who makes the American democracy prosper; but it prospers because the magistrate is elective.p

It would be unjust to believe that the patriotism of the Americans and the zeal that each of them shows for the well-being of his fellow citizens has nothing real about it. Although private interest directs most human actions in the United States as well as elsewhere, it does not determine all of them.

I must say that I have often seen Americans make great and true sacrifices for public affairs, and I have observed a hundred times that they hardly ever fail to lend faithful support to each other as needed.

The free institutions that the inhabitants of the United States possess, and the political rights that they use so much, recall constantly, and in a thousand ways, to each citizen that he lives in society. They lead his mind at every moment toward this idea, that the duty as well as the interest of men is to make themselves useful to their fellows; and, as he sees no particular cause to hate them, since he is never either their slave or their master, his heart inclines easily in the direction of benevolence. You first get involved in the general interest by necessity, and then by choice; what was calculation becomes instinct; and by working for the good of your fellow citizens, you finally acquire the habit and taste of serving them.

[When men, unequal to each other, put all their political powers in the hands of one man, that is not enough for them to become indifferent and cold toward each other, because they continue to need each other constantly in civil life.

But when equal men do not take part in government, they almost entirely Edition: current; Page: [894] lack the occasion to harm each other or to make use of each other. Each one forgets his fellows to think only of the prince and himself.

So political liberty, which is useful when conditions are unequal, becomes necessary in proportion as they become equal.]q

Many people in France consider equality of conditions as a first evil, and political liberty as a second. When they are forced to submit to the one, they try hard at least to escape the other. As for me, I say that, to combat the evils that equality can produce, there is only one effective remedy: political liberty.

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CHAPTER 5a: Of the Use That Americans Make of Association in Civil Lifeb

I do not want to talk about those political associations by the aid of which men seek to defend themselves against the despotic action of a majority or against the encroachments of royal power. I have already treated this subject elsewhere. It is clear that, if each citizen, as he becomes individually weaker and therefore more incapable of preserving his liberty by himself alone, did not learn the art of uniting with his fellows to defend his liberty, tyranny Edition: current; Page: [896] would necessarily grow with equality.c Here it is a matter only of the associations that are formed in civil life and whose aim has nothing political about it.

The political associations that exist in the United States form only a detail amid the immense tableau that associations as a whole present there.

Americans of all ages, of all conditions, of all minds, constantly unite. Not only do they have commercial and industrial associations in which they all take part, but also they have a thousand other kinds: religious, moral, [intellectual,] serious ones, useless ones, very general and very particular ones, immense and very small ones;d Americans associate to celebrate holidays, establish seminaries, build inns, erect churches, distribute books, send missionaries to the Antipodes; in this way they create hospitals, prisons, schools. If, finally, it is a matter of bringing a truth to light or of developing a sentiment with the support of a good example, they associate. Wherever, at the head of a new undertaking, you see in France the government, and in England, a great lord, count on seeing in the United States, an association.

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I found in America some kinds of associationse of which, I confess, I had not even the idea, and I often admired the infinite art with which the inhabitants of the United States succeeded in setting a common goal for the efforts of a great number of men, and in making them march freely toward it.

I have since traveled across England, from where the Americans took some of their laws and many of their customs, and it seemed to me that there one was very far from making such constant and skillful use of association.

It often happens that the English individually carry out very great things, while there is scarcely so small an enterprise for which the Americans do not unite. It is clear that the first consider association as a powerful means of action; but the second seem to see it as the only means they have to act.

Thus the most democratic country on earth is, out of all, the one where men today have most perfected the art of pursuing in common the object of their common desires and have applied this new science to the greatest number of things.f Does this result from an accident, or could it be that in fact a necessary connection exists between associations and equality?

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Aristocratic societies always contain within them, amid a multitude of individuals who can do nothing by themselves, a small number of very powerful and very rich citizens; each of the latter can by himself carry out great enterprises.

In aristocratic societies, men do not need to unite in order to act, because they are held tightly together.

There, each citizen, rich and powerful, is like the head of a permanent and compulsory association that is composed of all those who are dependent on him and who are made to cooperate in the execution of his plans.

Among democratic peoples, on the contrary, all citizens are independent and weak; they can hardly do anything by themselves, and no one among them can compel his fellows to lend him their help. So they all fall into impotence if they do not learn to help each other freely.g

If men who live in democratic countries had neither the right nor the taste to unite for political ends, their independence would run great risks, but they could for a long time retain their wealth and their enlightenment; while, if they did not acquire the custom of associating in ordinary life, civilization itself would be in danger.h A people among whom individuals Edition: current; Page: [899] lost the power to do great things separately without acquiring the ability to achieve them together would soon return to barbarism.

Unfortunately, the same social state that makes associations so necessary to democratic peoples makes them more difficult for them than for all other peoples.

When several members of an aristocracy want to associate, they easily succeed in doing so. As each one of them has great strength in society, the number of members of the association can be very small, and, when the numbers are few, it is very easy for them to know and understand each other and to establish fixed rules.

The same facility is not found among democratic nations, where those in the association must always be very numerous so that the association has some power.

[The liberty to associate is, therefore, more precious and the science of association more necessary among those peoples than among all others and <it becomes more precious and more necessary as equality is greater.>]

I know that there are many of my contemporaries who are not hindered by this. They claim that as citizens become weaker and more incapable, the government must be made more skillful and more active, in order for society to carry out what individuals are no longer able to do. They believe they have answered everything by saying that. But I think they are mistaken.

A government could take the place of a few of the largest American associations, and within the Union several particular states have already Edition: current; Page: [900] tried to do so. But what political power would ever be able to be sufficient for the innumerable multitude of small enterprises that the American citizens carry out every day with the aid of the association?j

It is easy to foresee that the time is coming when man will be less and less able to produce by himself alone the things most common and most necessary to his life.k So the task of the social power will grow constantly, and its very efforts will make it greater every day. The more it puts itself in the place of associations, the more individuals, losing the idea of associating, will need it to come to their aid. These are causes and effects that engender each other without stopping. Will the public administration end up directing all the industries for which an isolated citizen cannot suffice?m And if a moment finally arrives when, as a consequence of the extreme division of landed property, the land is infinitely divided, so that it can no longer be cultivated except by associations of farm workers, will the head of government have to leave the tiller of the State in order to come to hold the plow?

The morals and intelligence of a democratic people would run no lesser dangers than their trade and industry, if the government came to take the place of associations everywhere.n

Sentiments and ideas are renewed, the heart grows larger and the human mind develops only by the reciprocal action of men on each other.

I have demonstrated that this action is almost nil in democratic countries. So it must be created there artificially. And this is what associations alone are able to do.

When the members of an aristocracy adopt a new idea or conceive of a Edition: current; Page: [901] new sentiment, they place them, in a way, next to them on the great stage where they are themselves, and, in this way exposing those new ideas or sentiments to the sight of the crowd, they introduce them easily into the mind or heart of those who surround them.

In democratic countries only the social power is naturally able to act in this way, but it is easy to see that its action is always insufficient and often dangerous.o

A government can no more suffice for maintaining alone and for renewing the circulation of sentiments and ideas among a great people than for conducting all of the industrial enterprises. From the moment it tries to emerge from the political sphere in order to throw itself into the new path, it will exercise an unbearable tyranny, even without wanting to do so; for government only knows how to dictate precise rules; it imposes the sentiments and ideas that it favors, and it is always difficult to distinguish its counsels from its orders.p

It will be still worse if a government believes itself really interested in having nothing move. It will then keep itself immobile and allow itself to become heavy with a voluntary sleep.

So it is necessary that it does not act alone.

Associations, among democratic peoples, must take the place of the powerful individuals that equality of conditions has made disappear.

As soon as some inhabitants of the United States have conceived of a sentiment or an idea that they want to bring about in the world, they seek each other out, and when they have found each other, they unite. From that moment, they are no longer isolated men, but a power that is seen from afar, and whose actions serve as an example; a power that speaks and to which you listen.

The first time I heard in the United States that one hundred thousand men[*] had publicly pledged not to use strong liquor, the thing seemed to Edition: current; Page: [902] me more amusingq than serious, and I did not at first see clearly why these citizens, who were so temperate, would not be content to drink water within their families.

I ended by understanding that these hundred thousand Americans, frightened by the progress that drunkenness was making around them, had wanted to give their patronage to temperance. They had acted precisely like a great lord who dressed very plainly in order to inspire disdain for luxury among simple citizens. It may be believed that if these hundred thousand menr lived in France, each one of them would have individually addressed the government in order to beg it to oversee the taverns throughout the entire kingdom.

There is nothing, in my opinion, that merits our attention more than the intellectual and moral associations of America. The political and industrial associations of the Americans easily fall within our grasp, but the others escape us; and, if we discover them, we understand them badly, because we have hardly ever seen anything analogous. You must recognize, however, that the intellectual and moral associations are as necessary as the political and industrial ones to the American people, and perhaps more.

In democratic countries, the science of association is the mother science; the progress of all the others depends on the progress of the former.s

Among the laws that govern human societies, there is one that seems more definitive and clearer than all the others. For men to remain civilized or to become so, the art of associating must become developed among them and be perfected in the same proportion as equality of conditions grows.

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[Of the Manner in Which American Governments Act toward Associations]t

[In England, the State mingles strictly only in its own affairs. Often it even relies on individuals for the task of undertaking and of completing works whose usefulness or grandeur has an almost national appearance.

The English think they have done enough for the citizens by allowing them to give themselves unreservedly to their industry, or by allowing them to associate freely if they need to do so.

The Americans go further: it often happens that they lend to certain associations the support of the State or even charge the State with taking their place.

≠There are works that do not precisely have a national character, but whose execution is very difficult, in which the government takes part in the United States, or that it carries out at its expense. Such a thing is hardly seen in England. ≠

That is explained when you consider that, if associations are more necessary in a democratic country, they are at the same time more difficult.

Among an aristocratic people, an association can have very great power and be composed of only a few men. In democratic countries, in order to create a similar association, you must unite a multitude of citizens all without Edition: current; Page: [904] defenses, keep them together and lead them. So in aristocratic countries the State can rely on individuals and associations for everything. In democratic countries it cannot do the same.

Those who govern democratic societies are in a very difficult position. If they always want to take the place of great associations, they prevent the spirit of association from developing and they take on a burden that weighs them down; and if they rely only on associations, very useful and often necessary things are not done by anyone.

Men who live in democratic centuries have more need than others to be allowed to do things by themselves, and more than others, they sometimes need things to be done for them. That depends on circumstances.

The greatest art of government in democratic countries consists in clearly distinguishing the circumstances and acting according to how circumstances lead it.

I will say only in a general way that since the first interest of a people of this type is that the spirit of association spreads and becomes secure within it, all the other interests must be subordinated to that one.

So the government [v. social power], even when it lends its support to individuals, must never discharge them entirely from the trouble of helping themselves by uniting; often it must deny them its help in order to let them find the secret of being self-sufficient, and it must withdraw its hand as they better understand the art of doing so.

This is, moreover, not particular to the subject of associations or to democratic times.

The principal aim of good government has always been to make the citizens more and more able to do without its help. That is more useful than the help can be.

If men learn in obedience only the art of obeying and not that of being free, I do not know what privileges they will have over the animals except that the shepherd would be taken from among them.]u

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CHAPTER 6a: Of the Relation between Associations and Newspapersb

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When men are no longer bound together in a solid and permanent way, you cannot get a large number to act in common, unless by persuading each one whose help is needed that his particular interest obliges him to unite his efforts voluntarily with the efforts of all the others.

That can usually and conveniently be done only with the aid of a newspaper;c only a newspaper can succeed in putting the same thought in a thousand minds at the same instant.

A newspaper is an advisor that you do not need to go to find, but which appears by itself and speaks to you daily and briefly about common affairs, without disturbing you in your private affairs.

So newspapers become more necessary as men are more equal and individualism more to be feared. It would diminish their importance to believe that they serve only to guarantee liberty; they maintain civilization.

I will not deny that, in democratic countries, newspapers often lead citizens Edition: current; Page: [907] to do in common very ill-considered undertakings; but if there were no newspapers, there would be hardly any common action. So the evil that they produce is much less than the one they cure.

A newspaper not only has the effect of suggesting the same plan to a large number of men; it provides them with the means to carry out in common the plans that they would have conceived by themselves.

The principal citizens who inhabit an aristocratic country see each other from far away; and, if they want to combine their strength, they march toward each other, dragging along a multitude in their wake.

It often happens, on the contrary, in democratic countries, that a large number of men who have the desire or the need to associate cannot do so; since all are very small and lost in the crowd, they do not see each other and do not know where to find each other. Along comes a newspaper that exposes to view the sentiment or the idea that came simultaneously, but separately, to each of them. All head immediately for this light, and these wandering spirits, who have been looking for each other for a long time in the shadows, finally meet and unite.

[<In aristocratic countries you group readily around one man, and in democratic countries around a newspaper, and it is in this sense that you can say that newspapers there take the place of great lords.>]

The newspaper has drawn them closer together, and they continue to need it to hold them together.

For an association among a democratic people to have some power it must be numerous. Those who compose it are thus spread over a large area, and each of them is kept in the place that he inhabits by the mediocrity of his fortune and by the multitude of small cares that it requires. They must find a means to talk together every day without seeing each other, and to march in accord without getting together. Thus there is hardly any democratic association that can do without a newspaper.d

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So a necessary relation exists between associations and newspapers; newspapers make associations, and associations make newspapers; and if it was true to say that associations must multiply as conditions become equal, it is no less certain that the number of newspapers grows as associations multiply.e

Consequently America is the only country in the world where at the same time you find the most associations and the most newspapers.

This relationship between the number of newspapers and that of associations leads us to discover another one between the condition of the periodical press and the administrative form of the country, and we learn that the number of newspapers must decrease or increase among a democratic people in proportion as administrative centralization is more or less great. For among democratic peoples, you cannot entrust the exercise of local powers to the principal citizens as in aristocracies. These powers must be abolished, or their use handed over to a very great number of men. These men form a true association established in a permanent manner by the law for the administration of one portion of the territory, and they need a newspaper to come to find them each day amid their small affairs, and to teach them the state of public affairs. The more numerous the local powers are, the greater is the number of those called by the law to exercise them; and the more this necessity makes itself felt at every moment, the more newspapers proliferate.

It is the extraordinary splitting up of administrative power, much more than great political liberty and the absolute independence of the press, that so singularly multiplies the number of newspapers in America. If all the inhabitants of the Union were voters under the rule of a system that limited their electoral right to the choice of the legislators of the State, they would need only a small number of newspapers, because they could have only a few very important, but very rare occasions to act together; but within the great national association, the law established in each province and in each city, and so to speak in each village, small associations Edition: current; Page: [909] with the purpose of local administration. The law-maker in this way forced each American to cooperate daily with some of his fellow citizens in a common work, and each of them needs a newspaper to teach him what the others are doing.

I think that a democratic people,1 who would not have national representation, but a great number of small local powers, would end by having more newspapers than another people among whom a centralized administration would exist alongside an elected legislature. What best explains to me the prodigious development that the daily press has undergone in the United States, is that I see among the Americans the greatest national liberty combined with local liberties of all types.

It is generally believed in France and in England that it is enough to abolish the duties that burden the press in order to increase newspapers indefinitely. That greatly exaggerates the effects of such a reform. Newspapers multiply not only following low cost, but also following the more or less repeated need that a large number of men have to communicate together and to act in common.

I would equally attribute the growing power of newspapers to more general reasons than those that are often used to explain it.

A newspaper can continue to exist only on the condition of reproducing a common doctrine or common sentiment for a large number of men. So a newspaper always represents an association whose members are its habitual readers.

This association can be more or less defined, more or less limited, more or less numerous; but it exists in minds, at least in germ; for that reason alone the newspaper does not die.

This leads us to a final reflection that will end this chapter.

The more conditions become equal, the weaker men are individually, Edition: current; Page: [910] the more they allow themselves to go along easily with the current of the crowd and the more difficulty they have holding on alone to an opinion that the crowd abandons.

The newspaper represents the association; you can say that it speaks to each one of its readers in the name of all the others, and the weaker they are individually, the more easily it carries them along.f

So the dominion of newspapers must grow as men become more equal.

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CHAPTER 7a: Relations between Civil Associations and Political Associationsb

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There is only one nationc on earth where the unlimited liberty of associating for political ends is used daily. This same nation is the only one in the world where the citizens have imagined making continual use of the right of association in civil life and have succeeded in gaining in this way all the good things civilization can offer.

Among all peoples where political association is forbidden, civil association is rare.

It is hardly probable that this is a result of an accident; but you must instead conclude from it that there exists a natural and perhaps necessary relationship between the two types of associations.

[≠Men can associate in a thousand ways, but the spirit of association is a whole, and you cannot stop one of its principal developments without weakening it everywhere else. ≠]

Some men have by chance a common interest in a certain affair. It concerns a commercial enterprise to direct, an industrial operation to conclude; they meet together and unite; in this way they become familiar little by little with association [and when it becomes necessary to associate for a political end, they feel more inclined to attempt it and more capable of succeeding in doing so.]

The more the number of these small common affairs increases, the more men acquire, even without their knowing, the ability to pursue great affairs together.

Civil associations therefore facilitate political associations; but, on the other hand, political association develops and singularly perfects civil association.

In civil life, each man can, if need be, believe that he is able to be self-sufficient. In politics, he can never imagine it. So when a people has a public life, the idea of association and the desire to associate present themselves each day to the mind of all citizens; whatever natural reluctance men have to act in common, they will always be ready to do so in the interest of a party.

Thus politics generalizes the taste and habit of association; it brings Edition: current; Page: [913] about the desire to unite and teaches the art of associating to a host of men who would have always lived alone.

Politics not only gives birth to many associations, it creates very vast associations.

In civil life it is rare for the same interest to attract naturally a large number of men toward a common action. Only with a great deal of art can you succeed in creating something like it.

In politics, the occasion presents itself at every moment. Now, it is only in great associations that the general value of association appears. Citizens individually weak do not form in advance a clear idea of the strength that they can gain by uniting; you must show it to them in order for them to understand it. The result is that it is often easier to gather a multitude for a common purpose than a few men; a thousand citizens do not see the interest that they have in uniting; ten thousand see it. In politics, men unite for great enterprises, and the advantage that they gain from association in important affairs teaches them, in a practical way, the interest that they have in helping each other in the least affairs.

A political association draws a multitude of individuals out of themselves at the same time; however separated they are naturally by age, mind, fortune, it brings them closer together and puts them in contact. They meet once and learn how to find each other always.

You can become engaged in most civil associations only by risking a portion of your patrimony; it is so for all industrial and commercial companies. When men are still little versed in the art of associating and are ignorant of its principal rules, they fear, while associating for the first time in this way, paying dearly for their experience. So they prefer doing without a powerful means of success, to running the dangers that accompany it. But they hesitate less to take part in political associations, which seem without danger to them, because in them they are not risking their own money. Now, they cannot take part for long in those associations without discovering how you maintain order among a great number of men, and by what process you succeed in making them march, in agreement and methodically, toward the same goal. They learn to submit their Edition: current; Page: [914] will to that of all the others, and to subordinate their particular efforts to common action, all things that are no less necessary to know in civil associations than in political associations.

So political associations can be considered as great free schools, where all citizens come to learn the general theory of associations.

So even if political association would not directly serve the progress of civil association, it would still be harmful to the latter to destroy the first.

When citizens can associate only in certain cases, they regard association as a rare and singular process, and they hardly think of it.

When you allow them to associate freely in everything, they end up seeing in association the universal and, so to speak, unique means that men can use to attain the various ends that they propose. Each new need immediately awakens the idea of association. The art of association then becomes, as I said above, the mother science; everyone studies it and applies it.

When certain associations are forbidden and others allowed, it is difficult in advance to distinguish the first from the second. In case of doubt, you refrain from all, and a sort of public opinion becomes established that tends to make you consider any association like a daring and almost illicit enterprise.1

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So it is a chimera to believe that the spirit of association, repressed at one point, will allow itself to develop with the same vigor at all the others, and that it will be enough to permit men to carry out certain enterprises together, for them to hurry to try it. When citizens have the ability and the habit of associating for all things, they will associate as readily for small ones as for great ones. But if they can associate only for small ones, they will not even find the desire and the capacity to do so. In vain will you allow them complete liberty to take charge of their business together; they will only nonchalantly use the rights that you grant them; and after you have exhausted yourself with efforts to turn them away from the forbidden associations, you will be surprised at your inability to persuade them to form the permitted ones.

I am not saying that there can be no civil associations in a country where political association is forbidden; for men can never live in society without giving themselves to some common enterprise. But I maintain that in such a country civil associations will always be very few in number, weakly conceived, ineptly led, and that they will never embrace vast designs, or will fail while wanting to carry them out.

This leads me naturally to think that liberty of association in political matters is not as dangerous for public tranquillity as is supposed, and that it could happen that after disturbing the State for a time, liberty of association strengthens it.d

In democratic countries, political associations form, so to speak, the only powerful individuals who aspire to rule the State. Consequently the governments [v. princes] of today consider these types of associations in the same way that the kings of the Middle Ages saw the great vassals of the crown: they feel a kind of instinctive horror for them and combat them at every occasion.

They have, on the contrary, a natural favor for civil associations, because they have easily discovered that the latter, instead of leading the mind of citizens toward public affairs, serve to distract it from these affairs, and by Edition: current; Page: [916] engaging citizens more and more in projects that cannot be accomplished without public peace, civil associations turn them away from revolutions. But the governments of today do not notice that political associations multiply and prodigiously facilitate civil associations, and that by avoiding a dangerous evil, they are depriving themselves of an effective remedy. When you see the Americans associate freely each day, with the purpose of making a political opinion prevail, of bringing a statesman to the government, or of wresting power from another man, you have difficulty understanding that men so independent do not at every moment fall into license.

If, on the other hand, you come to consider the infinite number of industrial enterprises that are being pursued in common in the United States, and you see on all sides Americans working without letup on the execution of some important and difficult plan, which would be confounded by the slightest revolution, you easily conceive why these men, so very busy, are not tempted to disturb the State or to destroy a public peace from which they profit.

Is it enough to see these things separately? Isn’t it necessary to find the hidden bond that joins them? It is within political associations that the Americans of all the states, all minds and all ages, daily acquire the general taste for association and become familiar with its use. There they see each other in great number, talk together, understand each other and become active together in all sorts of enterprises. They then carry into civil life the notions that they have acquired in this way and make them serve a thousand uses.

So it is by enjoying a dangerous liberty that the Americans learn the art of making the dangers of liberty smaller.

If you choose a certain moment in the existence of a nation, it is easy to prove that political associations disturb the State and paralyze industry; but when you take the entire life of a people, it will perhaps be easy to demonstrate that liberty of association in political matters is favorable to the well-being and even to the tranquillity of citizens.

I said in the first part of this work: “The unlimited freedom of association cannot be confused with the freedom to write: the first is both less necessary and more dangerous than the second. A nation can set limits on the first without losing control over itself; sometimes it must set limits in Edition: current; Page: [917] order to continue to be in control.” And later I added: “You cannot conceal the fact that, of all liberties, the unlimited freedom of association, in political matters, is the last one that a people can bear. If unlimited freedom of association does not make a people fall into anarchy, it puts a people on the brink, so to speak, at every moment.”

Thus, I do not believe that a nation is free at all times to allow its citizens the absolute right to associate in political matters; and I even doubt that there is any country in any period in which it would be wise to set no limits to the liberty of association.

A certain people, it is said, cannot maintain peace internally, inspire respect for the laws or establish enduring government, if it does not enclose the right of association within narrow limits. Such benefits are undoubtedly precious, and I conceive that, to acquire or to retain them, a nation agrees temporarily to impose great burdens on itself; but still it is good that the nation knows precisely what these benefits cost it.

That, to save the life of a man, you cut off his arm, I understand; but I do not want you to assure me that he is going to appear as dexterous as if he were not a one-armed man.

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CHAPTER 8a: How the Americans Combat Individualism by the Doctrine of Interest Well Understoodb

[I showed in a preceding chapter how equality of conditions developed among all men the taste for well-being, and directed their minds toward the search for what is useful.

Elsewhere, while talking about individualism, I have just shown how this same equality of conditions broke the artificial bonds that united citizens in aristocratic societies, and led each man to search for what is useful to himself alone.

These various changes in the social constitution and in the tastes of humanity cannot fail to influence singularly the theoretical idea that men form of their duties and their rights.]c

When the world was led by a small number of powerful and rich individuals, the latter loved to form a sublime idea of the duties of man; they took pleasure in professing that it is glorious to forget self and that it is right Edition: current; Page: [919] to do good without interest, just like God. That was the official doctrine of this time in the matter of morality [{moral philosophy}].

I doubt that men were more virtuous in aristocratic centuries than in others, but it is certain that they then talked constantly about the beauties of virtue; they only studied in secret how it was useful. But as imagination soars less and as each person concentrates on himself, moralists become afraid of this idea of sacrifice, and they no longer dare to offer it to the human mind; so they are reduced to trying to find out if the individual advantage of citizens would not be to work toward the happiness of all, and, when they have discovered one of these points where particular interest meets with general interest and merges with it, they hasten to bring it to light; little by little similar observations multiply. What was only an isolated remark becomes a general doctrine, and you believe finally that you see that man, by serving his fellows, serves himself, and that his particular interest is to do good.d

[<But this doctrine is not accepted all at once or by all. Many receive a few parts of it and reject the rest. Some adopt it at the bottom of their hearts and reject it with disdain before the eyes of the world.>]e

I have already shown, in several places in this work, how the inhabitants of the United States almost always knew how to combine their own well-being with that of their fellow citizens. What I want to note here is the general theory by the aid of which they succeed in doing so.f

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In the United States, you almost never say that virtue is beautiful. You maintain that it is useful, and you prove it every day. American moralists do not claim that you must sacrifice yourself for your fellows because it is great to do so; but they say boldly that such sacrifices are as necessary to the person who imposes them on himself as to the person who profits from them.g

They have noticed that, in their country and time, man was led back toward himself by an irresistible force and, losing hope of stopping him, they have thought only about guiding him.

So they do not deny that each man may follow his interest, but they strive to prove that the interest of each man is to be honest.

Here I do not want to get into the details of their reasons, which would take me away from my subject; it is enough for me to say that they have persuaded their fellow citizens.

A long time ago, Montaigne said: “When I would not follow the right road because of rectitude, I would follow it because I found by experience that in the end it is usually the happiest and most useful path.”h

So the doctrine of interest well understood is not new; but, among the Americans of today, it has been universally admitted; it has become popular; you find it at the bottom of all actions; it pokes through all discussions. You find it no less in the mouths of the poor than in those of the rich.

In Europe the doctrine of interest is much cruder than in America, but at the same time, it is less widespread and above all less evident, and great devotions that are felt no more are still feigned among us every day.

The Americans, in contrast, take pleasure in explaining almost all the Edition: current; Page: [921] actions of their life with the aid of interest well understood; they show with satisfaction how enlightened love of themselves leads them constantly to help each other and disposes them willingly to sacrifice for the good of the State a portion of their time and their wealth. I think that in this they often do not do themselves justice; for you sometimes see in the United States, as elsewhere, citizens give themselves to the disinterested and unconsidered impulses that are natural to man; but the Americans hardly ever admit that they yield to movements of this type; they prefer to honor their philosophy rather than themselves.j

I could stop here and not try to judge what I have just described. The extreme difficulty of the subject would be my excuse. But I do not want to take advantage of it, and I prefer that my readers, clearly seeing my purpose, refuse to follow me rather than remain in suspense.

Interest well understood is a doctrine not very lofty, but clear and sure. It does not try to attain great objectives, but without too much effort it attains all those it targets. Since the doctrine is within reach of all minds, each man grasps it easily and retains it without difficulty. Accommodating itself marvelously to the weaknesses of men, it easily gains great dominion and it is not difficult for it to preserve that dominion, because the doctrine turns personal interest back against itself and, to direct passions, uses the incentive that excites them.

The doctrine of interest well understood does not produce great devotions; but it suggests small sacrifices every day; by itself, it cannot make a Edition: current; Page: [922] man virtuous, but it forms a multitude of steady, temperate, moderate, farsighted citizens who have self-control; and, if it does not lead directly to virtue by will, it imperceptibly draws closer to virtue by habits.k

If the doctrine of interest well understood came to dominate the moral world entirely, extraordinary virtues would undoubtedly be rarer. But I also think that then the coarsest depravities would be less common. The doctrine of interest well understood perhaps prevents some men from rising very far above the ordinary level of humanity; but a great number of others who fall below encounter the doctrine and cling to it. Consider a few individuals, it lowers them. Envisage the species, it elevates it.

I will not be afraid to say that the doctrine of interest well understood seems to me, of all philosophical theories, the most appropriate to the needs of the men of our time, and that I see in it the most powerful guarantee remaining to them against themselves. So it is principally toward this doctrine that the mind of the moralists of today should turn. Even if they were to judge it as imperfect, it would still have to be adopted as necessary.

I do not believe, everything considered, that there is more egoism among us than in America; the only difference is that there it is enlightened and here it is not. Each American knows how to sacrifice a portion of his particular interests in order to save the rest. We want to keep everything, and often everything escapes us.

I see around me only men who seem to want to teach their contemporaries, every day by their word and their example, that what is useful is never dishonorable. Will I never finally find some men who undertake to make their contemporaries understand how what is honorable can be useful?

There is no power on earth that can prevent the growing equality of Edition: current; Page: [923] conditions from leading the human mind toward the search for what is useful, and from disposing each citizen to become enclosed within himself.

So you must expect individual interest to become more than ever the principal, if not the sole motivating force of the actions of men; but how each man will understand his individual interest remains to be known.

If citizens, while becoming equal, remained ignorant and coarse, it is difficult to predict to what stupid excess their egoism could be led, and you cannot say in advance into what shameful miseries they would plunge themselves, out of fear of sacrificing something of their well-being to the prosperity of their fellows.m

I do not believe that the doctrine of interest, as it is preached in America, is evident in all its parts; but it contains a great number of truths so evident that it is enough to enlighten men in order for them to see them. So enlighten them at all cost, for the century of blind devotions and instinctive virtues is already fleeing far from us, and I see the time drawing near when liberty, the public peace and the social order itself will not be able to do without enlightenment.n

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CHAPTER 9a: How the Americans Apply the Doctrine of Interest Well Understood in the Matter of Religionb

If the doctrine of interest well understood had only this world in view, it would be far from enough; for a great number of sacrifices can find their reward only in the other; and whatever intellectual effort you make to feel the usefulness of virtue, it will always be difficult to make a man live well who does not want to die.

So it is necessary to know if the doctrine of interest well understood can be easily reconciled with religious beliefs.

The philosophers who teach this doctrine say to men that, to be happy in life, you must watch over your passions and carefully repress their excesses; that you cannot gain lasting happiness except by denying yourself Edition: current; Page: [927] a thousand passing enjoyments, and that finally you must triumph over yourself constantly in order to serve yourself better.

The founders of nearly all religions adhered more or less to the same language. Without pointing out another path to men, they only placed the goal further away; instead of placing in this world the prize for the sacrifices that they impose, they put it in the other.c

Nonetheless, I refuse to believe that all those who practice virtue because of the spirit of religion act only with a reward in view.

I have met zealous Christians who constantly forgot themselves in order to work with more fervor for the happiness of all, and I have heard them claim that they acted this way only to merit the good things of the other world; but I cannot prevent myself from thinking that they are deluding themselves. I respect them too much to believe them.

Christianity tells us, it is true, that you must prefer others to self in order to gain heaven; but Christianity also tells us that you must do good to your fellows out of love of God. That is a magnificent expression; man penetrates divine thought with his intelligence, he sees that the purpose of God is order; he associates freely with this great design; and even while sacrificing his particular interests to this admirable order of all things, he expects no other recompense than the pleasure of contemplating it.

So I do not believe that the sole motivating force of religious men is interest; but I think that interest is the principal means that religions themselves use to lead men, and I do not doubt that it is from this side that they take hold of the crowd and become popular.

So I do not see clearly why the doctrine of interest well understood would put off men of religious beliefs, and it seems to me, on the contrary, that I am sorting out how it brings them closer.

[All the actions of the human mind are linked together, and once man is set by his will on a certain path, he then marches there without wanting to, and he feels himself carried along by his own inertia.]

I suppose that, to attain happiness in this world, a man resists instinct in all that he encounters and coldly considers all the actions of his life, that Edition: current; Page: [928] instead of yielding blindly to the heat of his first desires, he has learned the art of combating them, and that he has become accustomed to sacrificing effortlessly the pleasure of the moment to the permanent interest of his entire life.

If such a man has faith in the religion that he professes, it will hardly cost him anything to submit to the inconveniences that it imposes. Reason itself counsels him to do it, and custom prepared him in advance to endure it.

If he has conceived doubts about the object of his hopes, he will not let himself be stopped easily, and he will judge that it is wise to risk a few of the good things of this world in order to maintain his rights to the immense heritage that has been promised to him in the other.

“To be mistaken in believing the Christian religion true,” said Pascal, “there is not much to lose; but what misfortune to be mistaken in believing it false!”d

The Americans do not affect a crude indifference for the other life; they do not assume a puerile pride in scorning the perils that they hope to escape.

So they practice their religion without shame and without weakness; but you ordinarily see, even amid their zeal, something so tranquil, so methodical and so calculated, that it seems that it is the reason much more than the heart that leads them to the steps of the altar.e

Not only do Americans follow their religion by interest, but they often place in this world the interest that you can have in following religion. In the Middle Ages, priests spoke only about the other life: they hardly worried about proving that a sincere Christian can be a happy man here below.

But American preachers come back to earth constantly, and only with Edition: current; Page: [929] great pain can they take their eyes away from it. To touch their listeners better, they show them every day how religious beliefs favor liberty and public order, and it is often difficult to know, hearing them, if the principal object of religion is to gain eternal felicity in the other world or well-being in this one.

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CHAPTER 10a: Of the Taste for Material Well-Being in Americab

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In America, the passion for material well-being is not always exclusive, but it is general; if everyone does not experience it in the same way, everyone feels it. The concern to satisfy the slightest needs of the body and to provide for the smallest conveniences of life preoccupies minds universally.

Something similar is seen more and more in Europe.

Among the causes that produce these similar effects in two worlds, several are close to my subject, and I must point them out.

When wealth is fixed in the same families by inheritance, you see a great number of men who enjoy material well-being, without feeling the exclusive taste for well-being.

What most strongly holds the human heart is not the peaceful possession of a precious object but the imperfectly satisfied desire to possess it and the constant fear of losing it.

In aristocratic societies the rich, never knowing a state different from their own, do not fear its changing; they scarcely imagine another one. So for them material well-being is not the goal of life; it is a way of living. They consider it, in a way, like existence, and enjoy it without thinking about it.

Since the natural and instinctive taste that all men feel for well-being is thus satisfied without difficulty and without fear, their soul proceeds elsewhere Edition: current; Page: [932] and attaches itself to some more difficult and greater enterprise that animates it and carries it away.

In this way, in the very midst of material enjoyments, the members of an aristocracy often demonstrate a proud scorn for these very enjoyments and find singular strength when they must finally do without them. All the revolutions that have disturbed or destroyed aristocracies have shown with what ease men accustomed to superfluity were able to do without necessities, while men who have laboriously attained comfort are hardly ever able to live after losing it.c

If, from the upper ranks, I pass to the lower classes, I will see analogous effects produced by different causes.

Among nations where aristocracy dominates society and keeps it immobile, the people end by becoming accustomed to poverty as the rich are to their opulence. The latter are not preoccupied by material well-being, because they possess it without difficulty; the former do not think about material well-being, because they despair of gaining it and do not know it well enough to desire it.d

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In these sorts of societies the imagination of the poor is pushed toward the other world; the miseries of real life cramp their imagination; but it escapes those miseries and goes to find its enjoyments beyond.

When, on the contrary, ranks are mingled and privileges destroyed, when patrimonies divide and enlightenment and liberty spread, the desire to gain well-being occurs to the imagination of the poor, and the fear of losing it to the mind of the rich.e A multitude of mediocre fortunes is established. Those who possess them have enough material enjoyments to conceive the taste for these enjoyments, and not enough to be content with them. They never obtain these enjoyments except with effort and devote themselves to them only with trepidation.

So they are constantly attached to pursuing or to retaining these enjoyments so precious, so incomplete and so fleeting. [Preoccupied by this sole concern, they often forget all the rest.

It is not the wealth, but the work that you devote to obtaining it for yourself that encloses the human heart within the taste for well-being.]f

I seek a passion that is natural to men who are excited and limited by the obscurity of their origin or the mediocrity of their fortune, and I find none more appropriate than the taste for well-being. The passion for well-being is essentially a passion of the middle class; it grows and spreads with Edition: current; Page: [934] this class; it becomes preponderant with it. From there it gains the upper ranks of society and descends to the people.

I did not meet, in America, a citizen so poor who did not cast a look of hope and envy on the enjoyments of the rich, and whose imagination did not grasp in advance the good things that fate stubbornly refused him.

On the other hand, I never saw among the rich of the United States this superb disdain for material well-being that is sometimes shown even within the heart of the most opulent and most dissolute aristocracies.

Most of these rich have been poor; they have felt the sting of need; they have long fought against a hostile fortune, and now that victory is won, the passions that accompanied the struggle survive it; they remain as if intoxicated amid these small enjoyments that they have pursued for forty years.

It is not that in the United States, as elsewhere, you do not find a fairly large number of rich men who, holding their property by inheritance, possess without effort an opulence that they have not gained. But even these do not appear less attached to the enjoyments of material life. The love of well-being has become the national and dominant taste. The great current of human passions leads in this direction, it sweeps everything along in its wake.g

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CHAPTER 11a: Of the Particular Effects Produced by the Love of Material Enjoyments in Democratic Centuriesb

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You could believe, from what precedes, that the love of material enjoyments must constantly lead the Americans toward disorder in morals, disturb families and in the end compromise the fate of society itself.

But this is not so; the passion for material enjoyments produces within democracies other effects than among aristocratic peoples.

It sometimes happens that weariness with public affairs, the excess of wealth, the ruin of beliefs, the decadence of the State, little by little turn the heart of an aristocracy toward material enjoyments alone. At other times, the power [v. tyranny] of the prince or the weakness of the people, without robbing the nobles of their fortune, forces them to withdraw from power, and by closing the path to great undertakings to them, abandons them to the restlessness of their desires; they then fall heavily back onto themselves, and they seek in the enjoyments of the body to forget their past grandeur.

When the members of an aristocratic body turn exclusively in this way toward material enjoyments, they usually gather at this point alone all the energy that the long habit of power gave them.

To such men the pursuit of well-being is not enough; they require a sumptuous depravity and a dazzling corruption. They worship the material magnificently and seem to vie with one another in their desire to excel in the art of making themselves into brutes.

The more an aristocracy has been strong, glorious and free, the more it will appear depraved, and whatever the splendor of its virtues had been, I dare to predict it will always be surpassed by the brilliance of its vices.c

The taste for material enjoyments does not lead democratic peoples to Edition: current; Page: [937] such excesses.d There the love of well-being shows itself to be a tenacious, exclusive, universal passion, but contained. It is not a question of building vast palaces, of vanquishing or of deceiving nature, of exhausting the universe, in order to satisfy better the passions of a man; it is a matter of adding a few feet to his fields, of planting an orchard, of enlarging a house, of making life easier and more comfortable each moment, of avoiding discomfort and satisfying the slightest needs effortlessly and almost without cost. These goals are small, but the soul becomes attached to them; it thinks about them every day and very closely; these goals finish by hiding from the soul the rest of the world, and they sometimes come to stand between the soul and God.

This, you will say, cannot be applied except to those among the citizens whose fortune is mediocre; the rich will show tastes analogous to those that the rich reveal in aristocratic centuries. That I dispute.e

Concerning material enjoyments, the most opulent citizens of a democracy will not show tastes very different from those of the people, whether, because having emerged from the people, they really share their tastes, or whether they believe they must submit to them. In democratic societies, the sensuality of the public has taken on a certain moderate and tranquil appearance, to which all souls are obliged to conform. It is as difficult to escape the common rule in its vices as in its virtues.

So the rich who live amid democratic nations aim for the satisfaction of their slightest needs rather than for extraordinary enjoyments; they satisfy a multitude of small desires and do not give themselves to any great disordered passion. They fall therefore into softness rather than debauchery.

This particular taste that the men of democratic centuries conceive for Edition: current; Page: [938] material enjoyments is not naturally opposed to order; on the contrary, it often needs order to satisfy itself. Nor is it the enemy of regularity of morals; for good morals are useful to public tranquillity and favor industry. Often it even comes to be combined with a sort of religious morality; you want to be as well-off as possible in this world, without renouncing your chances in the other.

Among material goods, there are some whose possession is criminal; you take care to do without them. There are others whose use is allowed by religion and morality; to the latter you give unreservedly your heart, your imagination, your life, and by trying hard to grasp them, you lose sight of these more precious goods that make the glory and the grandeur of the human species.

What I reproach equality for is not carrying men toward the pursuit of forbidden enjoyments; it is for absorbing them entirely in the pursuit of permitted enjoyments.

In this way there could well be established in the world a kind of honest materialism that would not corrupt souls, but would soften them and end by silently relaxing all their springs of action.

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CHAPTER 12a: Why Certain Americans Exhibit So Excited a Spiritualismb

Although the desire to acquire the goods of this world is the dominant passion of the Americans, there are moments of respite when their soul seems suddenly to break the material bonds that hold it and to escape impetuously toward heaven.c

In all of the states of the Union, but principally in the half-populated regions of the West, you sometimes meet itinerant preachers who peddle the divine word from place to place.

Entire families, old people, women and children cross difficult places and go through uninhabited woods in order to come from far away to hear them; and when these people have found the preachers, for several days and Edition: current; Page: [940] several nights, while listening to them, they forget their concern for public and private affairs and even the most pressing needs of the body.

[<≠America is assuredly the country in the world in which the sentiment of individual power has the most sway. But several religious sects have been founded in the United States that, despairing of moderating the taste for material enjoyments, have gone as far as destroying the incentive of property by establishing community of goods within them.≠ >]d

You find here and there, within American society, some souls totally filled with an excited and almost fierce spiritualism that you hardly find in Europe. From time to time bizarre sects arise there that try hard to open extraordinary paths to eternal happiness. Religious madness is very common there.

This must not surprise us.

Man has not given himself the taste for the infinite and the love of what is immortal. These sublime instincts do not arise from a caprice of the will; they have their unchanging foundation in his nature; they exist despite his efforts. He can hinder and deform them, but not destroy them.

The soul has needs that must be satisfied; and whatever care you take to distract it from itself, it soon grows bored, restless and agitated amid the enjoyments of the senses.e

If the spirit of the great majority of humanity ever concentrated solely on the pursuit of material goods, you can expect that a prodigious reaction would take place in the souls of some men. The latter would throw themselves frantically into the world of spirits, for fear of remaining hampered in the overly narrow constraints that the body wanted to impose on them.

So you should not be astonished if, within a society that thinks only about the earth, you would find a small number of individuals who wanted Edition: current; Page: [941] to look only to heaven. I would be surprised if, among a people solely preoccupied by its well-being, mysticism did not soon make progress.f

It is said that the persecutions of the emperors and the tortures of the circus populated the deserts of the Thebaid; as for me, I think that it was much more the delights of Rome and the Epicurean philosophy of Greece.g

If the social state, circumstances and laws did not so narrowly confine the American spirit to the pursuit of well-being, it is to be believed that when the American spirit came to occupy itself with non-material things, it would show more reserve and more experience, and that it would control itself without difficulty. But it feels imprisoned within the limits beyond which it seems it is not allowed to go. As soon as it crosses those limits, it does not know where to settle down, and it often runs without stopping beyond the bounds of common sense.h

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CHAPTER 13a: Why the Americans Appear So Restless Amid Their Well-Being

You still sometimes find, in certain remote districts of the Old World, small populations that have been as if forgotten amid the universal tumult and that have remained unchanged when everything around them moved. Most of these peoples are very ignorant and very wretched; they are not involved in governmental affairs and often governments oppress them. But they usually show a serene face, and they often exhibit a cheerful mood.

I saw in America the most free and most enlightened men placed in the Edition: current; Page: [943] happiest condition in the world; it seemed to me that a kind of cloud habitually covered their features; they appeared to me grave and almost sad, even in their pleasures.b

The principal reason for this is that the first do not think about the evils that they endure, while the others think constantly about the goods that they do not have.c

It is a strange thing to see with what kind of feverish ardor the Americans pursue well-being, and how they appear tormented constantly by a vague fear of not having chosen the shortest road that can lead to it.d

The inhabitant of the United States is attached to the goods of this world, as if he was assured of not dying, and he hastens so much to seize those goods that pass within his reach, that you would say that at every instant he is afraid of ceasing to live before enjoying them. He seizes all of Edition: current; Page: [944] them, but without gripping them, and he soon lets them escape from his hands in order to run after new enjoyments.e

A man, in the United States, carefully builds a house in which to spend his old age, and he sells it while the ridgepole is being set; he plants a garden and he rents it as he is about to taste its fruits; he clears a field, and he leaves to others the trouble of gathering the harvest. He embraces a profession, and he leaves it. He settles in a place that he soon leaves in order to carry his changing desires elsewhere. If his private affairs give him some respite, he immediately plunges into the whirl of politics. And when, near the end of a year filled with work, he still has a little leisure, he takes his restless curiosity here and there across the vast limits of the United States. He will do as much as five hundred leagues in a few days in order to distract himself better from his happiness.

Death finally intervenes and stops him before he has grown weary of this useless pursuit of a complete felicity that always escapes.

You are at first astounded contemplating this singular agitation exhibited by so many happy men, in the very midst of abundance. This spectacle is, however, as old as the world; what is new is to see it presented by an entire people.

The taste for material enjoyments must be considered as the primary source of this secret restlessness that is revealed in the actions of Americans, and of this inconstancy that they daily exemplify.

The man who has confined his heart solely to the pursuit of the goods of this world is always in a hurry, for he has only a limited time to find them, to take hold of them and to enjoy them. The memory of the brevity of life goads him constantly. Apart from the goods that he possesses, at every instant he imagines a thousand others that death will prevent him from tasting if he does not hurry. This thought fills him with uneasiness, fears, Edition: current; Page: [945] and regrets, and keeps his soul in a kind of constant trepidation that leads him to change plans and places at every moment.

If the taste for material well being is joined with a social state in which neither law nor custom any longer holds anyone in his place, it is one more great excitement to this restlessness of spirit; you will then see men continually change path, for fear of missing the shortest road that is to lead them to happiness.

It is easy to understand, moreover, that if the men who passionately seek material enjoyments do desire strongly, they must be easily discouraged; since the final goal is to enjoy, the means to get there must be quick and easy, otherwise the difficulty of obtaining the enjoyment would surpass the enjoyment. So most souls are at the same time ardent and soft, violent and enervated. Often death is less feared than constant efforts toward the same goal.

Equality leads by a still more direct road toward several of the effects that I have just described.

When all the prerogatives of birth and fortune are destroyed, when all the professions are open to everyone, and when you can reach the summit of each one of them on your own, an immense and easy career seems to open before the ambition of men, and they readily imagine that they are called to great destinies.f But that is an erroneous view that experience corrects every day. The same equality that allows each citizen to conceive vast hopes makes all citizens individually weak. It limits their strengths on all sides, at the same time that it allows their desires to expand.

Not only are they powerless by themselves, but also they find at each step immense obstacles that they had not at first noticed.

They destroyed the annoying privileges of a few of their fellows; they encounter the competition of all. The boundary marker has changed form rather than place. When men are more or less similar and follow the same road, it is very difficult for any one of them to march quickly and cut through the uniform crowd that surrounds and crushes him.

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This constant opposition that reigns between the instincts given birth by equality and the means that equality provides to satisfy them torments and fatigues souls.g

You can imagine men having arrived at a certain degree of liberty that satisfies them entirely. They then enjoy their independence without restlessness and without fervor. But men will never establish an equality that is enough for them.

Whatever efforts a people may make, it will not succeed in making conditions perfectly equal within it; and if it had the misfortune to arrive at this absolute and complete leveling, there would still be inequality of intelligence that, coming directly from God, will always escape the laws.

No matter how democratic the social state and political constitution of a people, you can therefore count on each of its citizens always seeing near himself several points that are above him, and you can predict that he will obstinately turn his attention solely in their direction. When inequality is the common law of a society, the greatest inequalities do not strike the eye. When all is nearly level, the least inequalities offend it. This is why the desire for equality always becomes more insatiable as equality is greater.h

Among democratic peoples, men easily gain a certain equality; they cannot attain the equality they desire. The latter retreats from them every day, but without ever hiding from their view, and by withdrawing, it draws them in pursuit. They constantly believe that they are about to grasp it, and it constantly escapes their grip. They see it close enough to know its charms, they do not come close enough to enjoy it, and they die before having fully savored its sweet pleasures.

It is to these causes that you must attribute the singular melancholy that the inhabitants of democratic countries often reveal amid their abundance, and this disgust for life that sometimes comes to seize them in the middle of a comfortable and tranquil existence.

Some complain in France that the number of suicides is growing; in Edition: current; Page: [947] America suicide is rare, but we are assured that insanity is more common than anywhere else.

These are different symptoms of the same disease.

Americans do not kill themselves, however agitated they are, because religion forbids them to so do, and because among them materialism does not so to speak exist, although the passion for material well-being is general.

Their will resists, but often their reason gives way.j

In democratic times enjoyments are more intense than in aristocratic centuries, and above all the number of those who sample them is infinitely greater; but on the other hand, it must be recognized that hopes and desires are more often disappointed there, souls more excited and more restless, and anxieties more burning.k

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CHAPTER 14a: How the Taste for Material Enjoyments Is United, among the Americans, with the Love of Liberty and Concern for Public Affairs

When a democratic Stateb turns to absolute monarchy, the activity that was brought previously to public and private affairs comes suddenly to be concentrated on the latter, and a great material prosperity results for some time; but soon the movement slows and the development of production stops.c

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I do not know if you can cite a single manufacturing and commercial people, from the Tyrians to the Florentines and to the English, who have not been a free people. So there is a close bond and a necessary connection between these two things: liberty and industry.

That is generally true of all nations, but especially of democratic nations.

I showed above how men who live in centuries of equality had a continual need for association in order to obtain nearly all the goods they covet, and on the other hand, I showed how great political liberty perfected and spread widely within their midst the art of association. So liberty, in these centuries, is particularly useful for the production of wealth. You can see, on the contrary, that despotism is particularly the enemy of the production of wealth.

The nature of absolute power, in democratic centuries, is neither cruel nor savage, but it is minutely detailed and irksome. A despotism of this type, although it does not trample humanity underfoot, is directly opposed to the genius of commerce and to the instincts of industry.

Thus the men of democratic times need to be free, in order to obtain more easily the material enjoyments for which they are constantly yearning.

It sometimes happens, however, that the excessive taste that they conceive for these very enjoyments delivers them to the first master who presents himself. The passion for well-being then turns against itself and, without noticing, drives away the object of its desires.

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There is, in fact, a very perilous transition in the life of democratic peoples.

When the taste for material enjoyments develops among one of these peoples more rapidly than enlightenment and the habits of liberty, there comes a moment when men are carried away, as if beyond themselves, by the sight of these new goods that they are ready to grasp. Preoccupied by the sole concern to make a fortune, they no longer notice the close bond that unites the particular fortune of each one of them to the prosperity of all. There is no need to take away from such citizens the rights that they possess; they willingly allow them to escape. The exercise of their political rights seems to them a tiresome inconvenience that distracts them from their industry. Whether it is a matter of choosing their representatives, coming to the assistance of the authorities, dealing together with common affairs, they lack the time; they cannot waste such precious time on useless works. Those are games for idle men that are not suitable for grave men who are busy with the serious interests of life. The latter believe that they are following the doctrine of interest, but they have only a crude idea of it, and in order to see better to what they call their affairs, they neglect the principal one which is to remain their own masters.

Since the citizens who work do not want to think about public matters, and since the class that could fill its leisure hours by shouldering these concerns no longer exists, the place of the government is as though empty.

If, at this critical moment, a clever man of ambition comes to take hold of power, he finds that the path to all usurpations is open [<and he will have no difficulty turning against liberty the very passions developed or given birth by liberty>].

As long as he sees for a while that all material interests prosper, he will easily be discharged from the rest. Let him, above all, guarantee good order. Men who have a passion for material enjoyments usually find how the agitations of liberty disturb well-being, before noticing how liberty serves to gain it; and at the slightest noise of public passions that penetrates into the petty enjoyments of their private life, they wake up and become anxious; for a long time the fear of anarchy keeps them constantly in suspense and always ready to jump away from liberty at the first disorder.

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I agree without difficulty that public peace is a great good, but I do not want to forget that it is through good order that all peoples have arrived at tyranny. It assuredly does not follow that peoples should scorn public peace; but it must not be enough for them. A nation that asks of its government only the maintenance of order is already a slave at the bottom of its heart. The nation is a slave of its well-being, and the man who is to put it in chains can appear.

The despotism of factions is to be feared no less than that of one man.

When the mass of citizens wants only to concern itself with private affairs, the smallest parties do not have to despair of becoming masters of public affairs.

It is then not rare to see on the world’s vast stage, as in our theaters, a multitude represented by a few men. The latter speak alone in the name of the absent or inattentive crowd; alone they take action amid the universal immobility; they dispose of everything according to their caprice; they change laws and tyrannize mores at will; and you are astonished to see into what a small number of weak and unworthy hands a great people can fall.

Until now, the Americans have happily avoided all the pitfalls that I have just pointed out; and in that they truly merit our admiration.

There is perhaps no country on earth where you find fewer men of leisure than in America, and where all those who work are more inflamed in the pursuit of well-being. But if the passion of the Americans for material enjoyments is violent, at least it is not blind, and reason, powerless to moderate it, directs it.

An American is busy with his private interests as if he were alone in the world, and a moment later, he devotes himself to public matters as if he had forgotten his private interests. He seems sometimes animated by the most egotistical cupidity and sometimes by the most intense patriotism. The human heart cannot be divided in this manner. The inhabitants of the United States bear witness alternately to such a strong and so similar a passion for their well-being and for their liberty that it is to be believed that these passions unite and blend some place in their soul. The Americans, in fact, see in their liberty the best instrument and the greatest Edition: current; Page: [953] guarantee of their well-being. They love both of these two things. So they do not think that getting involved in public matters is not their business; they believe, on the contrary, that their principal business is to secure by themselves a government that allows them to acquire the goods that they desire, and that does not forbid them to enjoy in peace those they have acquired.

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CHAPTER 15a: How from Time to Time Religious Beliefs Divert the Soul of the Americans toward Non-Material Enjoymentsb

[≠However animated the Americans are in the pursuit of well-being, there are moments when they stop and turn away for a moment to think about God and about the other life. ≠]

In the United States, when the seventh day of each week arrives, commercial and industrial life seems suspended; all noise ceases. A profound rest, or rather a kind of solemn recollection follows; the soul, finally, regains self-possession and contemplates itself.

During this day, the places consecrated to commerce and industry are deserted; each citizen, surrounded by his children, goes to church; there strange discourses are held forth that do not seem much made for his ears. He hears about the innumerable evils caused by pride and covetousness. Edition: current; Page: [955] He is told about the necessity to control his desires, about the fine enjoyments attached to virtue alone, and about the true happiness that accompanies it.

Back at home, you do not see him run to his business ledgers. He opens the book of the Holy Scriptures; there he finds sublime or touching portrayals of the grandeur and the goodness of the Creator, of the infinite magnificence of the works of God, of the elevated destiny reserved formen, of their duties and their rights to immortality.

This is how, from time to time, the American escapes in a way from himself, and how, tearing himself away for a moment from the petty passions that agitate his life and from the transitory interests that fill it, he enters suddenly into an ideal world where everything is great, pure, eternal.

[So I am constantly led to the same subjects by different roads; and I discover more and more the close bond that unites the two parts of my subject.]

In another place in this work, I looked for the causes to which the maintenance of political institutions in America had to be attributed, and religion seemed to me one of the principal ones. Today, when I am concerned with individuals, I find religion again and notice that it is no less useful to each citizen than to the whole State.

The Americans show, by their practice, that they feel the entire necessity of moralizing democracy by religion. What they think in this regard about themselves is a truth that must penetrate every democratic nation.

I do not doubt that the social and political constitution of a people disposes them to certain beliefs and to certain tastes in which they easily abound afterward; while these same causes turn them away from certain opinions and certain tendencies without their working at it themselves, and so to speak without their suspecting it.

All the art of the legislator consists in clearly discerning in advance these natural inclinations of human societies, in order to know where the effort of the citizens must be aided, and where it would instead be necessary to slow it down. For these obligations differ according to the times. Only the end toward which humanity must always head is unchanging; the means to reach that end constantly vary.

[≠There are vices or erroneous opinions that can only be established Edition: current; Page: [956] among a people by struggling against the general current of society. These are not to be feared; they must be considered as unfortunate accidents. But there are others that, having a natural rapport with the very constitution of the people, develop by themselves and effortlessly among the people. Those, however small they may be at their beginning and however rare they seem, deserve to attract the great care of the legislator. ≠]c

If I were born in an aristocratic century, amid a nation in which the hereditary wealth of some and the irremediable poverty of others diverted men from the idea of the better and, as well, held souls as if benumbed in the contemplation of another world, I would want it to be possible for me to stimulate among such a people the sentiment of needs; I would think about finding more rapid and easier means to satisfy the new desires that I would have brought about, and, diverting the greatest efforts of the human mind toward physical study, I would try to excite the human mind in the pursuit of well-being.d

If it happened that some men caught fire thoughtlessly in the pursuit of wealth and exhibited an excessive love for material enjoyments, I would not become alarmed; these particular traits would soon disappear in the common physiognomy.

Legislators of democracies have other concerns.

Give democratic peoples enlightenment and liberty and leave them alone. They will easily succeed in drawing from this world all the [material] goods that it can offer; they will perfect each one of the useful arts and daily make life more comfortable, easier, sweeter; their social state pushes them naturally in this direction. I am not afraid that they will stop.

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But while man takes pleasure in this honest and legitimate pursuit of well-being, it is to be feared that in the end he may lose the use of his most sublime faculties, and that by wanting to improve everything around him, he may in the end degrade himself. The danger is there and nowhere else.

So legislators in democracies and all honest and enlightened men who live in democracies must apply themselves without respite to lifting up souls and keeping them pointed toward heaven. It is necessary that all those who are interested in the future of democratic societies unite, and that all in concert make continual efforts to spread within these societies the taste for the infinite, the sentiment for the grand and the love for non-material pleasures.

If among the opinions of a democratic people there exist a few of these harmful theories that tend to make you believe that everything perishes with the body, consider the men who profess them as the natural enemies of the people.

There are many things that offend me in the materialists. Their doctrines seem pernicious to me, and their pride revolts me. If their system could be of some use to man, it seems that it would be in giving him a modest idea of himself. But they do not show that this is so; and when they believe that they have sufficiently established that men are only brutes, they appear as proud as if they had demonstrated that men were gods.e

Materialism is, among all nations, a dangerous sickness of the human mind; but it must be particularly feared among a democratic people, because it combines marvelously with the vice of the heart most familiar to these people.

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Democracy favors the taste for material enjoyments. This taste, if it becomes excessive, soon disposes men to believe that everything is only matter; and materialism, in turn, finally carries them with an insane fervor toward these same enjoyments. Such is the fatal circle into which democratic nations are pushed. It is good that they see the danger and restrain themselves.

Most religions are only general, simple and practical means to teach men the immortality of the soul. That is the greatest advantage that a democratic people draws from belief, and what makes these beliefs more necessary for such a people than for all others.

So when no matter which religion has put down deep roots within a democracy, be careful about weakening it; but instead protect it carefully as the most precious heritage of aristocratic centuries;f do not try to tear men away from their ancient religious opinions in order to substitute new ones, for fear that, during the transition from one faith to another, when the soul finds itself for one moment devoid of beliefs, love of material enjoyments comes to spread and fill the soul entirely.

[I do not believe that all religions are equally true and equally good, but I think that there is none so false or so bad that it would not still be advantageous for a democratic people to profess.]

Assuredly, metempsychosis is not more reasonable than materialism; but if it were absolutely necessary for a democracy to make a choice between the two, I would not hesitate, and I would judge that its citizens risk becoming brutalized less by thinking that their soul is going to pass into the body of a pig than by believing that it is nothing.g

The belief in a non-material and immortal principle, united for a time to matter, is so necessary for the grandeur of man, that it still produces beautiful effects even when you do not join the opinion of rewards and punishments with it and when you limit yourself to believing that after Edition: current; Page: [959] death the divine principle contained in man is absorbed in God or goes to animate another creature.h

Even the latter consider the body as the secondary and inferior portion of our nature; and they scorn it even when they undergo its influence; while they have a natural esteem and secret admiration for the non-material part of man, even though they sometimes refuse to submit themselves to its dominion. This is enough to give a certain elevated turn to their ideas and their tastes, and to make them tend without interest, and as if on their own, toward pure sentiments and great thoughts.

It is not certain that Socrates and his school had well-fixed opinions on what must happen to man in the other life; but the sole belief on which they were settled, that the soul has nothing in common with the body and survives it, was enough to give to platonic philosophy the sort of sublime impulse that distinguishes it.

When you read Plato, you notice that in the times prior to him and in his time, many writers existed who advocated materialism. These writers have not survived to our time or have survived only very incompletely. It has been so in nearly all the centuries; most of the great literary reputations are joined with spiritualism. The instinct and the taste of humanity uphold this doctrine; they often save this doctrine despite the men themselves and make the names of those who are attached to it linger on. So it must not be believed that in any time, and in whatever political state, the passion for material enjoyments and the opinions that are linked with it will be able Edition: current; Page: [960] to suffice for an entire people.j The heart of man is more vast than you suppose; it can at the same time enclose the taste for the good things of the earth and the love of the good things of heaven; sometimes the heart seems to give itself madly to one of the two; but it never goes for a long time without thinking of the other.k

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If it is easy to see that, particularly in times of democracy, it is important to make spiritual opinions reign, it is not easy to say what those who govern democratic peoples must do for those opinions to reign.

I do not believe in the prosperity any more than in the duration of official philosophies, and as for State religions, I have always thought that if sometimes they could temporarily serve the interests of political power, they always sooner or later become fatal to the Church.

Nor am I one of those who judge that in order to raise religion in the eyes of the people, and to honor the spiritualism that religion professes, it is good to grant indirectly to its ministers a political influence that the law refuses to them.

[I would even prefer that you gave the clergy a definite power than to allow them to hold an irregular and hidden power. For, in the first case, Edition: current; Page: [962] you at least see clearly the political circle in which priests can act; while in the other, there are no limits at which the imagination of the people must stop, or public misfortunes for which the people will not be tempted to blame the priests.]m

I feel so convinced of the nearly inevitable dangers that beliefs run when their interpreters mingle in public affairs, and I am so persuaded that Christianity must at all cost be maintained within the new democracies, that I would prefer to chain priests within the sanctuary than to allow them out of it.

So what means remain for authority to lead men back toward spiritualistic opinions or keep them in the religion that suggests these opinions?

What I am going to say is going to do me harm in the eyes of politicians. I believe that the only effective means that governments can use to honor the dogma of the immortality of the soul is to act each day as if they believed it themselves; and I think that it is only by conforming scrupulously to religious morality in great affairs that they can claim to teach citizens to know, love and respect religious morality in little affairs.n

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CHAPTER 16a: How the Excessive Love of Well-Being Can Harm Well-Beingb

There is more of a connection than you think between the perfection of the soul and the improvement of the goods of the body; man can leave these two things distinct and alternately envisage each one of them; but he cannot separate them entirely without finally losing sight of both of them.

Animals have the same senses that we have and more or less the same desires: there are no material passions that we do not have in common with them and whose germ is not found in a dog as well as in ourselves.

So why do the animals only know how to provide for their first and most crude needs, while we infinitely vary our enjoyments and increase them constantly?

What makes us superior in this to animals is that we use our soul to find the material goods toward which their instinct alone leads them. With man, the angel teaches the brute the art of satisfying himself. Man is capable of rising above the goods of the body and even of scorning life, an idea animals Edition: current; Page: [964] do not even conceive; he therefore knows how to multiply these very advantages to a degree that they also cannot imagine.

Everything that elevates, enlarges, expands the soul, makes it more capable of succeeding at even those enterprises that do not concern it.

Everything that enervates the soul, on the contrary, or lowers it, weakens it for all things, the principal ones as well as the least ones, and threatens to make it almost as powerless for the first as for the second. Thus, the soul must remain great and strong, if only to be able, from time to time, to put its strength and its greatness at the service of the body.

If men ever succeed in being content with material goods, it is to be believed that they would little by little lose the art of producing them, and that they would end by enjoying them without discernment and without progress, like the animals.

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CHAPTER 17a: How, in Times of Equality and Doubt, It Is Important to Push Back the Goal of Human Actionsb

In centuries of faith, the final aim of life is placed after life.

So men of those times, naturally and so to speak without wanting to, become accustomed to contemplating over a long period of years an unchanging goal toward which they march constantly, and they learn, by taking imperceptible steps forward, to repress a thousand small passing desires, the better to arrive at the satisfaction of this great and permanent desire that torments them. When the same men want to concern themselves with Edition: current; Page: [966] earthly things, these habits recur. They readily set for their actions here below a general and certain goal, toward which all their efforts are directed. You do not see them give themselves each day to new attempts; but they have settled plans that they do not grow weary of pursuing.

This explains why religious peoplesc have often accomplished such enduring things. By concerning themselves with the other world, they found the great secret of succeeding in this one.

Religions give the general habit of behaving with the future in view. In this they are no less useful to happiness in this life than to felicity in the other. It is one of their great political dimensions.

But, as the light of faith grows dim, the view of men narrows; and you would say that each day the goal of human actions appears closer to them.

Once they become accustomed to no longer being concerned about what must come after their life, you see them fall easily back into that complete and brutal indifference about the future that is only too suited to certain instincts of the human species. As soon as they have lost the custom of putting their principal hopes in the long run, they are naturally led to wanting to realize their slightest desires without delay, and it seems that, from the moment they lose hope of living eternally, they are disposed to act as if they had only a single day to exist.

In the centuries of unbelief, it is therefore always to be feared that men will constantly give themselves to the daily whims of their desires and that, renouncing entirely what cannot be acquired without long efforts, they will establish nothing great, peaceful and lasting.

If it happens that, among a people so disposed, the social state becomes democratic, the danger that I am pointing out increases.

[<In aristocracies, the fixity of conditions and the immobility of the social body direct the human mind toward the idea of the future and hold it there.>]

When each man seeks constantly to change place, when an immense competition is open to all, when wealth accumulates and disappears in a few moments amid the tumult of democracy, the idea of a sudden and easy fortune, of great possessions easily gained and lost, the image of chance in Edition: current; Page: [967] all its forms occurs to the human mind. The instability of the social state comes to favor the natural instability of desires. In the middle of these perpetual fluctuations of fate, the present grows; it hides the future that fades away, and men want to think only about the next day.

In these countries where by an unhappy coincidence irreligion and democracy meet, philosophers and those governing must apply themselves constantly to pushing back the goal of human actions in the eyes of men; that is their great concern.

While enclosing himself within the spirit of his century and his country, the moralist must learn to defend himself. May he try hard each day to show his contemporaries how, even amid the perpetual movement that surrounds them, it is easier than they suppose to conceive and to carry out long-term enterprises. May he make them see that, even though humanity has changed appearance, the methods by which men can obtain the prosperity of this world have remained the same, and that, among democratic peoples, as elsewhere, it is only by resisting a thousand small particular everyday desires that you can end up satisfying the general passion for happiness that torments.

The task of those who govern is not less marked out.

At all times it is important that those who govern nations conduct themselves with a view toward the future. But that is still more necessary in democratic and unbelieving centuries than in all others. By acting in this way, the leaders of democracies not only make public affairs prosper, but by their example they also teach individuals the art of conducting private affairs.

Above all they must try hard to banish chance, as much as possible, from the political world.

The sudden and unmerited elevation of a courtier produces only a passing impression in an aristocratic country, because the ensemble of institutions and beliefs usually forces men to move slowly along paths that they cannot leave.

But nothing is more pernicious than such examples offered to the view of a democratic people. Such examples end by hurrying the heart of a democratic people down a slope along which everything is dragging it. So it is principally in times of skepticism and equality that you must carefully avoid Edition: current; Page: [968] having the favor of the people, or that of the prince, granted or denied by chance, take the place of knowledge and services. It is to be hoped that every advance there appears to be the fruit of effort, so that there is no overly easy greatness, and that ambition is forced to set its sights on the goal for a long time before achieving it.

Governments must apply themselves to giving back to men this taste for the future that is no longer inspired by religion and the social state; and without saying so, they must teach citizens every day in a practical way that wealth, fame, and power are the rewards of work; that great successes are found at the end of long desires, and that nothing lasting is gained except what is acquired with pain.

When men become accustomed to foreseeing from a great distance what must happen to them here below, and to finding nourishment in hopes, it becomes difficult for them always to stop their thinking at the precise limits of life, and they are very close to going beyond those limits in order to cast their sight farther.

So I do not doubt that by making citizens accustomed to thinking about the future in this world, you lead them closer little by little, and without their knowing it, to religious beliefs.

Thus, the means that, to a certain point, allows men to do without religion, is perhaps, after all, the only one that remains to us for leading humanity back by a long detour toward faith.

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CHAPTER 18a: Why, among the Americans, All Honest Professions Are Considered Honorableb

Among democratic peoples, where there is no hereditary wealth, each man works in order to live, or has worked, or is born from people who have worked. So the idea of work, as the necessary, natural and honest condition of humanity, presents itself on all sides to the human mind.

Not only is work not held in dishonor among these peoples, it is honored; prejudice is not against work, it is for it. In the United States, a rich man believes that he owes to public opinion the consecration of his leisure to some industrial or commercial operation or to some public duties. He would consider himself of bad reputation if he used his life only for living. It is to avoid this obligation to work that so many rich Americans come to Europe; there, they find the remnants of aristocratic societies among which idleness is still honored.

Equality not only rehabilitates the idea of work, it boosts the idea of work that gains a profit.

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In aristocracies, it is not precisely work that is scorned, it is work for profit. Work is glorious when ambition or virtue alone brings it about. Under aristocracy, however, it constantly happens that the man who works for honor is not insensitive to the allure of gain. But those two desires meet only in the depths of his soul. He takes great care to hide from all eyes the place where they come together. He willingly hides it from himself. In aristocratic countries, there are hardly any public officials who do not pretend to serve the State without interest. Their salary is a detail that they sometimes think little about and that they always pretend not to think about at all.

Thus, the idea of gain remains distinct from that of work. In vain are they joined in point of fact; the past separates them.

In democratic societies, these two ideas are, on the contrary, always visibly united. Since the desire for well-being is universal, since fortunes are mediocre and temporary, since each man needs to increase his resources or to prepare new ones for his children, everyone sees very clearly that gain is, if not wholly, at least partially what leads them to work. Even those who act principally with glory in view get inevitably accustomed to the idea that they are not acting solely for this reason, and they discover, whatever they may say, that the desire to live combines in them with the desire to make their life illustrious.

From the moment when, on the one hand, work seems to all citizens an honorable necessity of the human condition, and when, on the other hand, work is always visibly done, in whole or in part, out of consideration for a salary, the immense space that separated the different professions in aristocratic societies disappears. If the professions are not always similar, they at least have a similar feature.

There is no profession in which work is not done for money. The salary, which is common to all, gives all a family resemblance.

This serves to explain the opinions that the Americans entertain concerning the various professions.

American servants do not believe themselves degraded because they work; for around them, everyone works. They do not feel debased by the idea that they receive a salary; for the President of the United States Edition: current; Page: [971] also works for a salary. He is paid to command, just as they are paid to serve.

In the United States, professions are more or less difficult, more or less lucrative, but they are never noble or base. Every honest profession is honorable.

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CHAPTER 19a: What Makes Nearly All Americans Tend toward Industrial Professions

I do not know if, of all the useful arts, agriculture is not the one that improves most slowly among democratic nations. Often you would even say that it is stationary, because several of the other useful arts seem to race ahead.

On the contrary, nearly all the tastes and habits that arise from equality lead men naturally toward commerce and industry.b

I picture an active, enlightened, free man, comfortably well-off, full of desires. He is too poor to be able to live in idleness; he is rich enough to feel above the immediate fear of need, and he thinks about bettering his lot. This man has conceived the taste for material enjoyments; a thousand Edition: current; Page: [973] others abandon themselves to this taste before his eyes; he has begun to give himself to it, and he burns to increase the means to satisfy it more. But life passes, time presses. What is he going to do?

For his efforts, cultivation of the earth promises nearly certain, but slow results. In that way you become rich only little by little and with difficulty. Agriculture is suitable only for the rich who already have a great excess, or for the poor who ask only to live. His choice is made: he sells his field, leaves his home and goes to devote himself to some risky, but lucrative profession.c

Now, democratic societies abound in men of this type; and as equality of conditions becomes greater, their number increases.

So democracy not only multiplies the number of workers; it leads men to one work rather than another; and, while it gives them a distaste for agriculture, it directs them toward commerce and industry.1

This spirit reveals itself among the richest citizens themselves.

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In democratic countries, a man, however wealthy he is assumed to be, is almost always discontent with his fortune, because he finds himself not as rich as his father and is afraid that his sons will not be as rich as he. So most of the rich in democracies constantly dream about the means to acquire wealth, and they naturally turn their sights toward commerce and industry, which seem to them the quickest and most powerful means to gain it. On this point they share the instincts of the poor man without having his needs, or rather they are pushed by the most imperious of all needs: that of not declining.d

In aristocracies, the rich are at the same time those who govern. The Edition: current; Page: [975] attention that they give constantly to great public affairs diverts them from the small concerns that commerce and industry demand. If the will of one of them is nonetheless directed by chance toward trade, the will of the aristocratic corps immediately bars the route to him; for it is useless to resist the dominion of numbers, you never completely escape its yoke; and, even within those aristocratic corps that refuse most stubbornly to acknowledge the rights of the national majority, there is a particular majority that governs.2

In democratic countries, where money does not lead the one who has it to power, but often keeps him away from it, the rich do not know what to do with their leisure.e Restlessness and the greatness of their desires, the extent of their resources, the taste for the extraordinary, which are almost always felt by those who stand, in whatever way, above the crowd, presses them to action. Only the road to commerce is open to them. In democracies, there is nothing greater or more brilliant than commerce; that is what attracts the attention of the public and fills the imagination of the crowd; all energetic passions are directed toward commerce. Nothing can prevent the rich from devoting themselves to it, neither their own prejudices, nor those of anyone else. The rich of democracies never form a corps that has its own mores and its own organization; the particular ideas of their class do not stop them, and the general ideas of their country push them. Since, moreover, the great fortunes that are seen within a democratic people almost always have a commercial origin, several generations must pass before those who possess those fortunes have entirely lost the habits of trade.f

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Confined to the narrow space that politics leaves to them, the rich of democracies therefore throw themselves from all directions into commerce; there they can expand and use their natural advantages; and it is, in a way, by the very boldness and by the grandeur of their industrial enterprises that you must judge what little value they would have set on industry if they had been born within an aristocracy.

The same remark, moreover, is applicable to all the men of democracies, whether they are poor or rich.

Those who live amid democratic instability have constantly before their eyes the image of chance, and they end by loving all enterprises in which chance plays a role.

So they are all led toward commerce, not only because of the gain that it promises, but by love of the emotions that it gives.

The United States of America has only emerged for a half-century from the colonial dependence in which England held it; the number of great fortunes is very small there, and capital is still rare. But there is no people on earth who has made as rapid progress as the Americans in commerce and industry. They form today the second maritime nation of the world; and, although their manufacturing has to struggle against almost insurmountable natural obstacles, it does not fail to make new gains every day.

In the United States the greatest industrial enterprises are executed without difficulty, because the entire population is involved in industry, and because the poorest as well as the wealthiest citizen readily combine their efforts. So it is astonishing every day to see the immense works that are executed without difficulty by a nation that does not so to speak contain rich men. The Americans arrived only yesterday on the land that they inhabit, and they have already overturned the whole natural order to their profit. They have united the Hudson with the Mississippi and connected the Atlantic Ocean with the Gulf of Mexico, across more than five hundred leagues of the continent that separates these two seas. The longest railroads that have been constructed until now are in America.

But what strikes me most in the United States is not the extraordinary greatness of some industrial enterprises, it is the innumerable multitude of small enterprises.

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Nearly all the farmers of the United States have combined some commerce with agriculture; most have made agriculture into a trade.

It is rare for an American farmer to settle forever on the land that he occupies. In the new provinces of the West principally, you clear a field in order to resell it and not to harvest it; you build a farm with the expectation that, since the state of the country is soon going to change due to the increase of inhabitants, you will be able to get a good price.

Every year, a swarm of inhabitants from the North descends toward the South and comes to live in the countries where cotton and sugar cane grow. These men cultivate the earth with the goal of making it produce in a few years what it takes to make them rich, and they already foresee the moment when they will be able to return to their country to enjoy the comfort gained in this way. So the Americans bring to agriculture the spirit of trade, and their industrial passions are seen there as elsewhere.

The Americans make immense progress in industry, because they are all involved in industry at the same time; and for the same reason, they are subject to very unexpected and very formidable industrial crises.

Since they are all engaged in commerce, commerce among them is subject to such numerous and so complicated influences that it is impossible to foresee in advance the difficulties that can arise. Since each one of them is more or less involved in industry, at the slightest shock that business experiences, all particular fortunes totter at the same time, and the State falters.g

I believe that the recurrence of industrial crises is an illness endemic among the democratic nations of our day.h It can be made less dangerous, Edition: current; Page: [978] but cannot be cured, because it is not due to an accident, but to the very temperament of these peoples.j

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CHAPTER 20a: How Aristocracy Could Emerge from Industryb

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I showed how democracy favored the development of industry and immeasurably multiplied the number of industrialists; we are going to see in what roundabout way industry in turn could well lead men toward aristocracy.

It has been recognized that when a worker is occupied every day only with the same detail, the general production of the work is achieved more easily, more rapidly and more economically.

It has been recognized as well that the more an industry was undertaken on a large scale, with great capital and large credit, the less expensive its products were.c

These truths have been seen dimly for a long time, but they have been demonstrated in our time. They are already applied to several very important industries, and the smallest industries are successively making use of them.

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I see nothing in the political world that should occupy the legislator more than these two new axioms of industrial science.

When an artisan devotes himself constantly and solely to the fabrication of a single object, he ends by acquitting himself of this work with a singular dexterity. But he loses, at the same time, the general ability to apply his mind to directing the work. Each day he becomes more skillful and less industrious, and you can say that in him the man becomes degraded as the worker improves.

What should you expect from a man who has used twenty years of his life making pinheads? And in his case, to what in the future can the powerful human intelligence, which has often stirred the world, be applied, if not to searching for the best way to make pinheads!

When a worker has in this way consumed a considerable portion of his existence, his thought has stopped forever near the daily object of his labor; his body has contracted certain fixed habits that he is no longer allowed to give up. In a word, he no longer belongs to himself, but to the profession that he chose. Laws and mores have in vain taken care to break down all the barriers around this man and to open for him in all directions a thousand different roads toward fortune; an industrial theory more powerful than mores and laws has bound him to an occupation and often to a place in society that he cannot leave. Amid the universal movement, it has made him immobile.

As the principle of the division of labor is more completely applied, the worker becomes weaker, more limited, and more dependent. The art makes progress, the artisan goes backward. On the other hand, as it becomes clearer that the larger the scale of manufacturing and the greater the capital, the more perfect and the less expensive the products of an industry are, very rich and very enlightened men arise to exploit industries that, until then, have been left to ignorant and poor artisans. The greatness of the necessary efforts and the immensity of the results to achieve attract them.

Thus, at the same time that industrial science constantly lowers the class of workers, it raises the class of masters.

While the worker applies his intelligence more and more to the study Edition: current; Page: [983] of a single detail, the master casts his sight every day over a broader whole, and his mind expands in proportion as that of the worker contracts. Soon nothing will be needed by the worker except physical strength without intelligence; the master needs knowledge, and almost genius to succeed. The one more and more resembles the administrator of a vast empire, and the other a brute.

So the master and the worker are not in any way similar here, and every day they differ more. They are no longer held together except as the two end links of a long chain. Each one occupies a place made for him and does not leave it. The one is in a continual, narrow and necessary dependence on the other, and seems born to obey, as the latter to command.

What is this, if not aristocracy?d

As conditions become more and more equal in the body of the nation, the need for manufactured objects becomes more general and increases, and an inexpensive price that puts these objects within reach of mediocre fortunes becomes a greater element of success.

So every day more opulent and more enlightened men are found who devote their wealth and their knowledge to industry and who seek, by opening great workshops and strictly dividing labor, to satisfy the new desires that appear on all sides.

Thus, as the mass of the nation turns to democracy, the particular class that is concerned with industry becomes more aristocratic. Men show themselves more and more similar in the nation and more and more different in the particular class, and inequality increases in the small society in proportion as it decreases in the large one.

In this way, when you go back to the source, it seems that you see aristocracy come by a natural effort from the very heart of democracy.

But that aristocracy does not resemble the aristocracies that preceded it.

You will notice first that, applying only to industry and to a few of the Edition: current; Page: [984] industrial professions, it is an exception, a monstrosity, within the whole of the social state.

The small aristocratic societies formed by certain industries amid the immense democracy of our time include, like the great aristocratic societies of former times, a few very opulent men and a multitude of very miserable ones.

These poor have few means to emerge from their condition and to become rich, but the rich constantly become poor, or leave trade after having realized their profits. Thus, the elements that form the class of the poor are more or less fixed; but the elements that compose the class of the rich are not. Truly speaking, although there are rich men, the class of the rich does not exist; for these rich men have neither spirit nor aims in common, nor shared traditions or shared hopes. So there are members, but not a corps.

Not only are the rich not united solidly with each other, but you can say that there is no true bond between the poor and the rich.

They are not fixed in perpetuity next to each other; at every moment interest draws them closer and separates them. The worker depends in general on the master, but not on a particular master. These two men see each other at the factory and do not know each other elsewhere, and while they touch at one point, they remain very far apart at all others. The manufacturer asks the worker only for his work, and the worker expects from him only a salary. The one does not commit himself to protecting, nor the other to defending, and they are not linked in a permanent way, either by habit or by duty.

The aristocracy established by trade hardly ever settles amid the industrial population that it directs; its goal is not to govern the latter, but to make use of it.

An aristocracy thus constituted cannot have a great hold on those it employs; and if it manages to seize them for a moment, they soon escape. It does not know what it wants and cannot act.

The territorial aristocracy of past centuries was obligated by law, or believed itself obligated by mores, to come to the aid of those who served it and to relieve their miseries. But the manufacturing aristocracy of today, after impoverishing and brutalizing the men it uses, delivers them in times of crisis to public charity to be fed. This results naturally from what precedes. Edition: current; Page: [985] Between the worker and the master, contacts are frequent, but there is no true association.

I think that, everything considered, the manufacturing aristocracy that we see arising before our eyes is one of the harshest that has appeared on the earth; but at the same time it is one of the most limited and least dangerous.

Nonetheless, it is in this direction that the friends of democracy must with anxiety constantly turn their attention; for if permanent inequality of conditions and aristocracy ever penetrate the world again, you can predict that they will come in through this door.

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THIRD PARTa: Influence of Democracy on Mores Properly So Called

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CHAPTER 1a: How Mores Become Milder as Conditions Become Equal

We have noticed for several centuries that conditions are becoming equal, and we have found at the same time that mores are becoming milder.b Are Edition: current; Page: [988] these two things only contemporaneous, or does some secret link exist between them, so that the one cannot go ahead without making the other move?

Several causes can work together to make the mores of a people less harsh; but, among all these causes, the most powerful one seems to me to be equality of conditions. So in my view equality of conditions and mores becoming mild are not only contemporaneous events, but also correlative facts.c

[≠Equality of conditions leads men toward industrial and commercial professions, which need peace in order for men to devote themselves to those professions. Equality of conditions suggests to men the taste for material enjoyments; it distances them imperceptibly from war and violent Edition: current; Page: [989] revolutions. I have already said a portion of these things; I will show the others in the course of this work.d

Those are the indirect effects of equality of conditions; its direct effects are not less.≠]

When writers of fables want to interest us in the actions of the animals, they give them human ideas and passions. Poets do the same when they speak about spirits and angels.e No miseries are so deep, or joys so pure that they cannot capture our minds and take hold of our hearts, if we are presented to ourselves under other features.

This applies very well to the subject that occupies us presently.

When all men are arranged in an irrevocable manner, according to their profession, their property and their birth, within an aristocratic society, the members of each class, all considering themselves as children of the same family, experience for each other a continual and active sympathyf Edition: current; Page: [990] that can never be found to the same degree among the citizens of a democracy.

But it is not the same with the different classes vis-à-vis each other.

Among an aristocratic people, each caste has its opinions, its sentiments, its rights, its mores, its separate existence. Thus, the men who compose each caste are not similar to any of the others; they do not have the same way of thinking or of feeling, and they scarcely believe that they are part of the same humanity.

So they cannot understand well what the others experience, or judge the latter by themselves.

Yet you sometimes see them lend themselves with fervor to mutual aid; but that is not contrary to what precedes.

These same aristocratic institutions, which had made beings of the same species so different, had nevertheless joined them by a very close political bond.

Although the serf was not naturally interested in the fate of the nobles, he believed himself no less obligated to devote himself to the one among the nobles who was his leader; and although the noble believed himself of another nature than the serf, he nonetheless judged that his duty and his honor forced him to defend, at the risk of his own life, those who lived on his domains.

It is clear that these mutual obligations did not arise out of natural right, but political right, and that society obtained more than humanity alone was able to do. It was not to the man that you believed yourself obliged to lend support, it was to the vassal or to the lord. Feudal institutions made very tangible the misfortunes of certain men, not the miseries of the human Edition: current; Page: [991] species. They gave to mores generosity rather than mildness, and although they suggested great attachments, they did not give birth to true sympathies; for there are real sympathies only between similar people; and in aristocratic centuries, you see people similar to you only in the members of your caste.

When the chroniclers of the Middle Ages, who all, by their birth or their habits, belonged to the aristocracy, report the tragic end of a nobleman, there are infinite sorrows; while they recount in one breath and without batting an eye the massacre and tortures of the men of the people.

It is not that these writers felt a habitual hatred or a systematic disdain for the people. The war between the various classes of the State had not yet been declared. They obeyed an instinct rather than a passion; as they did not form a clear idea of the sufferings of the poor, they were little interested in their fate.

It was the same with the men of the people, as soon as the feudal bond was broken. These same centuries, which saw so much heroic devotion on the part of the vassals for their lords, had witnessed unheard of cruelties exercised from time to time by the lower classes against the upper classes.g

You must not believe that this mutual insensitivity is due only to the absence of order and enlightenment; for you again find its trace in the following centuries that, even while becoming well-ordered and enlightened, still remained aristocratic.

In the year 1675, the lower classes of Brittany were roused by a new tax. This tumultuous movement was put down with unparalleled atrocity. Here is how Madame de Sévigné, witness to these horrors, informed her daughter about them:

Aux Rochers
Rochers, Aux
30 October 1675

My heavens, my daughter, how amusing your letter from Aix is! At least reread your letters before sending them. Allow yourself to be caught up in their charm, and with this pleasure, console yourself for the burden you have of writing so many of them. So have you kissed all of Provence? There would be no satisfaction in kissing all of Brittany, unless you loved to smell of wine. [. . . (ed.) . . .] Do you want to know the news from Rennes? [. . . (ed.) . . .] A tax of one hundred thousand écus was imposed, Edition: current; Page: [992] and if this amount was not found within twenty-four hours, it would be doubled and would be collected by soldiers. One entire great street was chased away and banished, and the inhabitants were forbidden to come back under pain of death; so that all these miserable people, new mothers, old people, children, wandered in tears outside this city, without knowing where to go, without food or anywhere to sleep. The day before yesterday the violinist who began the dance and the theft of the stamped paper was broken on the wheel; he was quartered, and the four parts were displayed in the four corners of the city. [. . . (ed.) . . . ] Sixty bourgeois were taken and tomorrow they will begin to be hanged. This province is a good example to the others, above all to respect governors and the wives of governors, and not to throw stones into their gardens.1

Yesterday Madame de Tarente was in her woods in delightful weather. It is not a question of either staying there or eating there. She goes in by the gate and comes out the same way . . .

In another letter she adds:

You talk to me very amusingly about our miseries; we are no longer broken on the wheel so much; one in eight days in order to uphold justice. It is true that hanging now seems refreshing to me. I have an entirely different idea of justice since being in this country. Your men condemned to the galleys seem to me to be a society of honest men who have withdrawn from the world in order to lead a pleasant life.

We would be wrong to believe that Madame de Sévigné, who wrote these lines, was an egotistical and barbarous creature; she passionately loved her children and showed herself very sensitive to the misfortunes of her friends; and we even notice, reading her, that she treated her vassals and her servants with kindness and indulgence. But Madame de Sévigné did not clearly understand what suffering was when you were not a gentleman.

Today, the harshest man, writing to the most insensitive person, would not dare to give himself to the cruel banter that I have just reproduced, and even when his particular mores would permit him to do so, the general mores of the nation would forbid him.

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What causes that? Are we more sensitive than our fathers? I do not know; but certainly our sensibility falls on more things.

When ranks are nearly equal among a people, since all men have more or less the same way of thinking and feeling, each one of them can judge in a moment the sensations of all the others; he glances quickly at himself; that is sufficient. So there is no misery that he cannot easily imagine and whose extent is not revealed to him by a secret instinct. Whether it concerns strangers or enemies, imagination immediately puts him in their place. It mingles something personal in his pity, and makes him suffer as the body of his fellow man is torn apart.

In democratic centuries, men rarely sacrifice themselves for each other; but they show a general compassion for all the members of the human species. You do not see them inflict useless evils, and when, without hurting themselves very much, they can relieve the sufferings of others, they take pleasure in doing so; they are not disinterested, but they are mild.

Although the Americans have so to speak reduced egoism to a social and political theory, they have shown themselves no less very open to pity.

There is no country in which criminal justice is administered more benignly than in the United States. While the English seem to want to preserve carefully in their penal legislation the bloody traces of the Middle Ages, the Americans have almost made the death penalty disappear from their legal order.

North America is, I think, the only country on earth where, for the last fifty years, the life of not a single citizen has been taken for political crimes.

What finally proves that this singular mildness of the Americans comes principally from their social state, is the manner in which they treat their slaves.

Perhaps, everything considered, there is no European colony in the New World in which the physical condition of the Blacks is less harsh than in the United States. But slaves there still experience dreadful miseries and are constantly exposed to very cruel punishments.

It is easy to discover that the fate of these unfortunates inspires little pity Edition: current; Page: [994] in their masters, and that they see in slavery not only a fact from which they profit, but also an evil that scarcely touches them. Thus, the same man who is full of humanity for his fellows when the latter are at the same time his equals, becomes insensitive to their sufferings from the moment when equality ceases. So his mildness must be attributed to this equality still more than to civilization and enlightenment.

What I have just said about individuals applies to a certain degree to peoples.

When each nation has its separate opinions, beliefs, laws and customs, it considers itself as forming by itself the whole of humanity, and feels touched only by its own sufferings. If war comes to break out between two peoples so inclined, it cannot fail to be conducted with barbarism.

At the time of their greatest enlightenment, the Romans cut the throats of enemy generals, after dragging them in triumph behind a chariot, and delivered prisoners to the beasts for the amusement of the people. Cicero, who raises such loud cries at the idea of a citizen crucified, finds nothing to say about these atrocious abuses of victory. It is clear that in his eyes a foreigner is not of the same human species as a Roman.h

On the contrary, as peoples become more similar to each other, they show themselves reciprocally more compassionate toward their misfortunes, and the law of nations becomes milder.

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CHAPTER 2a: 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 Edition: current; Page: [996] 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.

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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 Edition: current; Page: [998] 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

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CHAPTER 3a: Why the Americans Have So Little Susceptibility in Their Country and Show Such Susceptibility in Oursb

The Americans have a vindictive temperament like all solemn and serious-minded peoples. They almost never forget an insult; but it is not easy to insult them, and their resentment is as slow to flare up as to go out.

In aristocratic societies, where a small number of individuals directs everything, the external relationships of men with each other are subject to more or less fixed conventions. Each man then believes that he knows, in a precise way, by what sign it is suitable to show his respect or to indicate his goodwill, and etiquette is a science of which everyone is presumed to be aware.

These customs of the first class then serve as a model for all the other classes, and in addition each one of the latter makes a separate code, to Edition: current; Page: [1001] which all its members are bound to conform [and finally there is a certain particular ceremonial that is used only between men of different classes].

The rules of good manners thus form a complicated set of laws, which is difficult to master completely, yet from which you are not allowed to deviate without risk; so that each day men constantly are involuntarily exposed to giving or receiving cruel wounds.

But, as ranks fade, as men diverse in their education and birth mix and mingle in the same places, it is almost impossible to agree on the rules of good manners. Since the laws are uncertain, to disobey them is not a crime even in the eyes of those who know them; so you are attached to the substance of actions rather than to the form, and you are at the very same time less courteous and less quarrelsome.

There is a host of small considerations that an American does not care about; he judges that he is not owed them or he supposes that you are unaware that he is owed them. So he does not notice that he is slighted, or he pardons the slight; his manners become less courteous, and his mores simpler and more manly.

This reciprocal indulgence shown by the Americans and this manly confidence that they display result also from a more general and more profound cause.

I already pointed it out in the preceding chapter.

In the United States, ranks differ only very little in civil society and do not differ at all in the political world; so an American does not believe himself bound to give particular considerations to any of his fellows, nor does he think about requiring them for himself. As he does not see that his interest is ardently to seek out the company of some of his fellow citizens, he imagines with difficulty that someone is rejecting his; not despising anyone because of condition, he does not imagine that anyone despises him because of the same reason, and until he has clearly noticed the insult, he does not believe that someone wants to offend him.

The social state [v: equality] naturally disposes the Americans not to become easily offended in small things. And, on the other hand, the democratic liberty that they enjoy finally makes this indulgence pass into the national mores.

Political institutions in the United States constantly put citizens of all Edition: current; Page: [1002] classes in contact and force them to follow great enterprises together. Men thus occupied hardly have the time to think about the details of etiquette, and moreover they have too much interest in living together harmoniously to stop over those details. So they become easily accustomed to considering, in the men they meet, sentiments and ideas rather than manners, and they do not allow themselves to be excited over trifles.

I noticed many times that, in the United States, it is not an easy thing to make a man understand that his presence is bothersome. To reach that point, indirect paths are not always sufficient.

I contradict an American at every point, in order to make him sense that his speeches fatigue me; and at every instant I see him make new efforts to persuade me; I keep a stubborn silence, and he imagines that I am reflecting profoundly on the truths that he is presenting; and when finally I suddenly escape from his pursuit, he assumes that a pressing matter calls me elsewhere. This man will not comprehend that he exasperates me unless I tell him so, and I will be able to save myself from him only by becoming his mortal enemy.

What is surprising at first is that this same man transported to Europe suddenly becomes punctilious and difficult to deal with [<he attaches himself stubbornly to the slightest details of etiquette and often he even creates imaginary ones that apply only to him>], to the point that often I have as much difficulty in not offending him as I found in displeasing him. These two so different effects are produced by the same cause.

Democratic institutions in general give men a vast idea of their country and of themselves.

The American leaves his country with his heart puffed up with pride. He arrives in Europe and notices first that we are not as preoccupied as he imagined with the United States and with the great people that inhabits them. This begins to upset him.c

He has heard it said that conditions are not equal in our hemisphere. He notices, in fact, that among the nations of Europe, the trace of ranks Edition: current; Page: [1003] is not entirely erased; that wealth and birth retain uncertain privileges that are as difficult for him to ignore as to define. This spectacle surprises him and makes him uneasy, because it is entirely new to him; nothing that he has seen in his country helps him to understand it. So he is deeply unaware of what place it is suitable to occupy in this half-destroyed hierarchy, among those classes that are distinct enough to hate and despise each other, and close enough for him to be always ready to confuse them. He is afraid of putting himself too high, and above all of being ranked too low; this double danger constantly troubles his mind and continually hinders his actions, like his conversation.

Tradition taught him that in Europe things ceremonial varied infinitely depending on conditions; this memory of another time really disturbs him, and he fears all the more not gaining the considerations that are due to him since he does not know precisely what they consist of. So he is always walking like a man surrounded by traps; society for him is not a relaxation, but a serious work. He weighs your slightest moves, questions your looks and carefully analyzes all your words, for fear that they contain some hidden allusions that injure him. I do not know if there has ever been a country gentleman more punctilious than he in the matter of good manners; he works hard to obey the least laws of etiquette himself, and he does not put up with anyone neglecting any of those laws in his regard; he is at the very same time full of scruples and demands; he would like to do enough, but is afraid of doing too much, and as he does not know very well the limits of either, he holds himself in an uneasy and haughty reserve.

This is still not all, and here is another twist of the human heart.

An American speaks every day about the admirable equality that reigns in the United States; he boasts out loud about it concerning his country; but he is secretly distressed about it concerning himself, and he aspires to show that, as for him, he is an exception to the general order that he advocates.

You hardly meet an Americand who does not want to be connected a bit Edition: current; Page: [1004] by his birth to the first settlers of the colonies, and, as for branches of the great families of England, America seemed to me totally covered by them.

When an opulent American comes to Europe, his first concern is to surround himself with all the riches of luxury; and he is so afraid that someone will take him for a simple citizen of a democracy that he twists and turns in a hundred ways in order to present before you every day a new image of his wealth. He usually finds lodging in the most conspicuous area of the city; he has numerous servants who surround him constantly. [Still he will notice that he is badly served and frequently gets worked up against these people who become familiar with their masters.]

I heard an American complain that, in the principal salons of Paris, you met only mixed society. The taste reigning there did not seem pure enough to him, and he adroitly let it be understood that in his opinion, manners there lacked distinction. He was not used to seeing wit hide in this way under common forms.

Such contrasts should not be surprising. [The same cause gives birth to them.]

If the trace of old aristocratic distinctions were not so completely erased in the United States, the Americans would appear less simple and less tolerant in their country, less demanding and less ill-at-ease in ours.

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CHAPTER 4a: Consequences of the Three Preceding Chapters

When men feel a natural pity for each other’s misfortunes, when easy and frequent relationships draw them closer each day without any susceptibility dividing them, it is easy to understand that they will, as needed, mutually lend each other their aid. When an American asks for the help of his fellows, it is very rare for the latter to refuse it to him, and I have often observed that they grant it to him spontaneously with great zeal.

If some unforeseen accident takes place on the public road, people rush from all directions to the one who is the victim; if some great unexpected misfortune strikes a family, the purses of a thousand strangers open without difficulty; modest, but very numerous gifts come to the aid of the family’s misery.

It frequently happens, among the most civilized nations of the globe, that someone unfortunate finds himself as isolated in the middle of the crowd as the savage in the woods; that is hardly ever seen in the United States. The Americans, who are always cold in their manners and often crude, hardly ever appear insensitive, and, if they do not hasten to offer their services, they do not refuse to render them.

All of this is not contrary to what I said before regarding individualism. I even see that these things, far from being in conflict, are in agreement.

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Equality of conditions, at the same time that it makes men feel their independence, shows them their weakness; they are free, but exposed to a thousand accidents, and experience does not take long to teach them that, although they do not habitually need the help of others, some moment almost always occurs when they cannot do without that help.

We see every day in Europe that men of the same profession readily help each other; they are all exposed to the same evils; that is enough for them to try mutually to protect themselves from those evils, however hard or egotistical they are elsewhere. So whenever one of them is in danger, and when, by a small temporary sacrifice or a sudden impulse, the others can shield him, they do not fail to attempt it. It is not that they are profoundly interested in his fate; for if, by chance, the efforts that they make to help him are useless, they immediately forget him and return to themselves; but a sort of tacit and almost involuntary agreement has been made between them, according to which each one owes to the others a momentary support that, in his turn, he will be able to ask for himself.

Extend to a people what I say about only a class, and you will understand my thought.

There exists, in fact, among all the citizens of a democracy, a convention analogous to the one that I am talking about; everyone feels subject to the same weakness and to the same dangers, and their interest, as well as their sympathy, makes it a law for them to lend each other mutual assistance as needed.

The more similar conditions become, the more men exhibit this reciprocal disposition for mutual obligation.

In democracies, where great services are scarcely accorded, good offices are rendered constantly. It is rare that a man appears devoted to service, but all are willing to help.

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CHAPTER 5a: How Democracy Modifies the Relationships of Servant and Master

An American,b who had traveled for a long time in Europe, said to me one day:

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The English treat their servants with a haughtiness and with absolute manners that surprise us; but, on the other hand, the French sometimes use a familiarity with theirs, or reveal in their regard a courtesy that we cannot imagine. You would say that they are afraid of giving orders. The position of superior and inferior is badly kept.

This remark is correct, and I have made it myself many times.c

I have always considered England as the country in the world where, today, the bond of domestic service is the tightest and France the country on earth where it is most loose. Nowhere has the master appeared to me higher or lower than in these two countries.

The Americans are placed between these extremes.

That is the superficial and apparent fact. We must go much further in order to discover its causes.

We have not yet seen societies in which conditions were so equal that neither rich nor poor were found, and consequently, neither masters nor servants.

Democracy does not prevent these two classes of men from existing; but it changes their spirit and modifies their relationships.

[It is easy to see that all classes that compose a society are so naturally bound together that all must move at the same time or remain immobile. It is enough to hold one of them in place for all the others to stop by themselves.

So from the moment when I find a caste of perpetual masters composed of the same families, I understand without difficulty that there exists a caste Edition: current; Page: [1009] of servants formed in the same way, and I foresee that this perpetuity is going to produce similar effects from both sides.]d

Among aristocratic peoples, servants form a particular class that does not vary any more than that of the masters. A fixed order does not take long to arise; in the first as in the second, you soon see a hierarchy, numerous classifications, marked ranks, and the generations follow each other without the positions changing. Servants and masters are two societies superimposed on each other, always distinct, but governed by analogous principles.e

This aristocratic constitution influences the ideas and mores of the servants scarcely less than those of the masters, and although the effects may be different, it is easy to recognize the same cause.

Both form small nations amid the large one; and in the end, in their midst, certain permanent notions about right and wrong are born. The different actions of human life are seen in a particular light that does not change. In the society of servants as in that of the masters, men exercise a great influence on each other. They acknowledge fixed rules, and lacking a law, they encounter a public opinion that directs them; well-regulated habits and an order reign there.

These men, whose destiny is to obey, undoubtedly do not understand glory, virtue, integrity, honor, in the same way as the masters. But they have developed a glory, virtues, and an integrity of servants, and they imagine, if I can express myself in this way, a sort of servants’ honor.1

Because a class is low, you must not believe that all those who are part Edition: current; Page: [1010] of it have a base heart. That would be a great error. However inferior the class may be, the man who is first in it and who has no idea of leaving that class, finds himself in an aristocratic position that suggests to him elevated sentiments, a noble pride and a respect for himself, which makes him fit for great virtues and uncommon actions.

Among aristocratic peoples, it was not rare to find, in the service of the great, noble and vigorous souls who bore servitude without feeling it, and who submitted to the will of their master without fearing his anger.

But it was hardly ever like this in the lower ranks of the domestic class. [<The first were placed higher in the scale of beings than the modern servant, the second fell below.>] You conceive that the one who holds the lowest place of a hierarchy of valets is very low.

The French had created a word expressly for this lowest of the servants of the aristocracy. They called him a lackey.

[<≠The lackey was this man abandoned by fate who was born, lived, died in a hereditary shame, despised and laughed at by all.≠>]

The word lackey served as an extreme word, when any other was missing, to represent human baseness; under the old monarchy, when you wanted at some moment to portray a vile and degraded being, you said of him that he had the soul of a lackey. That alone sufficed. The meaning was complete and understood.f

Permanent inequality of conditions not only gives servants certain particular virtues and certain particular vices; it also places them in a particular position vis-à-vis the masters.

Among aristocratic peoples, the poor man is trained, from birth, with the idea of being commanded. In whatever direction he turns his eyes, he immediately sees the image of hierarchy and the sight of obedience.

[If this man, prepared in this way, consecrates himself to the service of one of his fellows, he will not fail to bring to this particular state the general Edition: current; Page: [1011] notions that the view of society suggests to him. <≠ The image of the large society will be reproduced in the small one.≠>]g

So in countries where permanent inequality of conditions reigns, the master easily obtains from his servants a prompt, complete, respectful and easy obedience, because the latter revere in him, not only the master, but the class of masters. He presses on their will with all the weight of the aristocracy.

He commands their actions; to a certain degree he even directs their thoughts. The master, in aristocracies, often exercises, even without his knowing it, a prodigious sway over the opinions, habits, and mores of those who obey him; and his influence extends very much further than even his authority.h

In aristocratic societies,j not only are there hereditary families of valets, as well as hereditary families of masters; but also the same families of valets remain, over several generations, at the side of the same families of masters (they are like parallel lines that never meet or separate); this prodigiously modifies the mutual relationships of these two orders of persons.

Thus, although, under aristocracy, the master and the servant have between them no mutual resemblance; although fortune, education, opinions, rights place them, on the contrary, at an immense distance on the scale of beings, time nevertheless ends up binding them together. A long community of memories ties them together, and, however different they may be, they assimilate; while, in democracies, where they are naturally almost the same, they always remain strangers to each other. [A few slight differences in conditions separate men, great permanent differences bind them together.]

So among aristocratic peoples, the master comes to envisage his servants Edition: current; Page: [1012] like an inferior and secondary part of himself, and he often interests himself in their fate, by a final effort of egoism.

On their side, the servants are not far from considering themselves from the same point of view, and they sometimes identify with the person of the master, so that they finally become an accessory, in their own eyes, as in his.

In aristocracies, the servant occupies a subordinate position that he cannot leave; near him is found another man, who holds a superior rank that he cannot lose. On the one hand, obscurity, poverty, obedience forever; on the other, glory, wealth, command forever. These conditions are always different and always close, and the bond that unites them is as durable as are the conditions.

In this extreme, the servant ends by becoming disinterested in himself; he turns away from himself; he deserts himself in a way, or rather he transfers himself entirely to his master; there he creates an imaginary personality. He cloaks himself with satisfaction with the riches of those who command him; he takes pride in their glory, raises himself with their nobility, and feeds constantly on a borrowed grandeur, on which he sometimes puts more value than those who possess it fully and truly.

There is something at once touching and ridiculous in such a strange confusion of two existences.

These passions of masters carried into the souls of valets take the natural dimensions of the place that they occupy; they shrink and become lower. What was pride with the first becomes childish vanity and miserable pretension with the others. The servants of a great nobleman usually show themselves very particular about what is owed to him, and they are more attached to his least privileges than he is.

You still sometimes meet among us one of those old servants of the aristocracy; he outlives his race and will soon disappear with it.k

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In the United States I saw no one who resembled him. Not only do the Americans not know this man, but you have great difficulty making them understand that he exists. They find it hardly less difficult to conceive it than we ourselves have to imagine what a slave was among the Romans, or a serf in the Middle Ages. All of these men are in fact, although to different degrees, the products of the same cause. Together they withdraw far from our sight and flee daily into the obscurity of the past with the social state that gave them birth.

Equality of conditions makes new beings of the servant and of the master, and establishes new relationships between them.

When conditions are nearly equal, men constantly change place; there is still a class of valets and a class of masters; but it is not always the same individuals, or above all the same families that compose it; and there is not more permanence in command than in obedience.

Servants, not forming a separate people, do not have customs, prejudices or mores that are their own; you do not notice among them a certain turn of spirit or a particular way of feeling; they know neither the vices nor the virtues of a condition, but they share the enlightenment, ideas, sentiments, virtues and vices of their contemporaries; and they are decent or knavish just as the masters are.

Conditions are no less equal among the servants than among the masters.

As you do not find marked ranks or permanent hierarchy in the class of servants, you must not expect to find the baseness and the grandeur that are displayed in the aristocracies of valets as well as in all the others.

I never saw in the United States anything that could have reminded me of the idea of the elite servant, an idea of which we in Europe have kept Edition: current; Page: [1014] the memory; but neither did I find in the United States the idea of the lackey. The trace of the one as well as the other is lost there.

In democracies, servants are not only equal among themselves; you can say that they are, in a way, equal to their masters.

This needs to be explained in order to make it well understood.

At every instant, the servant can become the master and aspires to become so; the servant is not therefore a man different from his master.

So why does the first have the right to command and what forces the second to obey? The temporary and free agreement of their two wills. They are not naturally inferior to each other; they become so temporarily only as a result of the contract. Within the limits of this contract, one is the servant and the other the master; outside, they are two citizens, two men.

What I beg the reader to understand well is that this is not only the notion that the servants themselves form of their state. The masters consider domestic service in the same light, and the precise limits of command and obedience are as well fixed in the mind of the one as in that of the other.m

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When most citizens have for a long time attained a more or less similar condition, and when equality is an old and accepted fact, public understanding, never influenced by the exceptions, assigns in a general way to the value of man certain limits above or below which it is difficult for any man to remain for long.

In vain do wealth and poverty, command and obedience put accidentally great distances between two men; public opinion, which is founded on the usual order of things, brings them closer to the common level and creates between them a sort of imaginary equality, despite the real inequality of their conditions.

This omnipotent opinion ends up penetrating the souls even of those whose interest could fortify them against it; it modifies their judgment at the same time that it subjugates their will.

At the bottom of their souls, the master and the servant no longer see a profound dissimilarity between them, and they neither hope nor fear ever to find one. So they are without disdain and without anger, and they find themselves neither humble nor proud when they look at each other.

The master judges that the contract is the only source of his power, and the servant finds in it the only cause of his obedience. They do not argue with each other over the reciprocal position that they occupy; instead each one easily sees his own position and sticks to it. [You do not see arising between these two men ardent or deep affections, but as they have <constantly a limited need for each other, they look upon each other with a sort of tranquil benevolence.>]

In our [{democratic}] armies, the soldier is more or less taken from the same classes as the officers and can reach the same posts; outside of military ranks, the soldier considers himself as perfectly equal to his leaders, and he is in fact; but when in military service, he has no difficulty obeying, and Edition: current; Page: [1016] his obedience, although voluntary and well-defined, is no less prompt, clear and easy.

This gives an idea of what happens in democratic societies between the servant and the master.

It would be insane to believe that there could ever arise between these two men any of those ardent and deep affections that are sometimes lit within aristocratic domestic service, or that striking examples of devotion should be seen to appear.

In aristocracies, the servant and the master see each other only from time to time, and they often speak only by intermediary. But they usually depend closely on one another.

Among democratic peoples, the servant and the master are very close; their bodies are constantly in contact, their souls do not mingle; they have shared occupations, they almost never have shared interests.

Among these peoples, the servant always considers himself as a passer-by in the house of his masters. He has not known their ancestors and will not see their descendants; he has nothing lasting to expect from them. Why would he confuse his existence with theirs, and from where would this singular self-abandonment come? The reciprocal position has changed; the relationship must do so.

I would like to be able to support all that precedes with the example of the Americans; but I cannot do so without carefully distinguishing peoples and places.

In the south of the Union, slavery exists. So all that I have just said cannot apply.

In the North, most servants are emancipated slaves or the sons of those emancipated. These men occupy a disputed position in public esteem; the law brings them closer to the level of their master, mores stubbornly push them away. They themselves do not clearly discern their place, and they appear almost always insolent or cringing.

But, in these same provinces of the North, particularly in New England, you find a fairly large number of whites who consent, in return for a salary, to subject themselves temporarily to the will of their fellows. I have heard it said that the servants usually fulfill the duties of their condition with exactitude and intelligence, and that, without believing themselves naturally Edition: current; Page: [1017] inferior to the one who is giving them orders, they easily submit to obeying him.

It seemed to me that those servants brought to their service some of the manly habits given birth by independence and equality. Once having chosen a hard condition, they did not look for indirect ways to escape from it, and they respect themselves enough not to refuse to their masters an obedience that they have freely promised.

On their side, the masters demand of their servants only faithful and strict execution of the contract; they do not ask them for respect; they do not claim their love or their devotion; it is enough to find them punctual and honest.

So it would not be true to say that, under democracy, the relationships of servant and master are disorderly; they are organized in another manner; the rule is different, but there is a rule.

I do not have to search here if this new state that I have just described is inferior to that which preceded, or if it is only different. It is enough for me that it is well-ordered and fixed; for what is most important to find among men is not a certain order, but order.

But what will I say about those sad and turbulent periods during which equality is being founded amid the tumult of a revolution, while democracy, after being established in the social state, is still struggling with difficulty against prejudices and mores?

The law and, in part, opinion already proclaim that no natural and permanent inferiority exists between servant and master. But this new faith has not yet deeply penetrated the mind of the latter, or rather his heart rejects it. In the secrecy of his soul, the master still considers that he is a particular and superior species; but he does not dare to say so, and he allows himself to be drawn trembling toward the standard level. His command becomes at the very same time timid and hard; already he no longer feels for his servants the protective and benevolent sentiments that always arise from a long-standing, uncontested power, and he is astonished that having himself changed, his servant changes. He wants his servant, who is only so to speak passing through domestic service, to contract regular and permanent habits, to show himself satisfied with and proud of a servile position, from which he must sooner or later emerge; he wants his servant to Edition: current; Page: [1018] devote himself to a man who can neither protect nor ruin him, and to become attached finally, by an eternal bond, to beings who resemble him and who do not last any longer than he does.

Among aristocratic peoples, it often happens that the condition of domestic service does not debase the souls of those who submit to it, because they do not know and do not imagine any others, and because the prodigious inequality that is exhibited between them and the master seems to them the necessary and inevitable result of some hidden law of Providence.

Under democracy, the condition of domestic service has nothing degrading about it, because it is freely chosen, temporarily adopted, because public opinion does not condemn it, and because it creates no permanent inequality between the servant and the master.n

But, during the passage from one social condition to another, a moment almost always comes when the minds of men vacillate between the aristocratic notion of subjection and the democratic notion of obedience.

Obedience then loses its morality in the eyes of the one who obeys; he no longer considers it as an obligation in a way divine, and he does not yet see it in its purely human aspect; in his eyes it is neither holy or just, and he submits to it as to a degrading and useful fact.

At that moment, the confused and incomplete image of equality presents itself to the mind of the servants; they do not at first discern if it is in the very condition of domestic service or outside of it that this equality to which they have a right is found, and at the bottom of their hearts they revolt against an inferiority to which they have subjected themselves and from which they profit. They consent to serve, and they are ashamed to obey [<and while the masters still refuse to acknowledge equality outside of domestic service, the second want to find it even within these very limits>]; they love the advantages of servitude, but not the master, or, to say it better, they are not sure if they should not be the masters, and they are disposed to consider the one who commands them as the unjust usurper of their right.

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That is when you see in the house of each citizen something analogous to the sad spectacle that political society presents. A hidden and internal war goes on constantly between always suspicious and rival powers. The master shows himself ill-willed and soft, the servant ill-willed and intractable; the one wants to shirk constantly, by dishonest limitations, the obligation to protect and to pay, the other wants to shirk the obligation to obey. Between them the reins of domestic administration hang loose, and each one tries hard to seize them. The lines that divide authority from tyranny, liberty from license, right from fact, seem in their eyes muddled and confused, and no one knows precisely what he is, or what he can do, or what he should do.

Such a state is not democratic, but revolutionary.o

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CHAPTER 6a: How Democratic Institutions and Mores Tend to Raise the Cost and Shorten the Length of Leases

What I said about servants and masters applies to a certain point to landowners and tenant farmers. The subject merits, however, to be considered separately.

In America, there are, so to speak, no tenant farmers; every man owns the field that he cultivates.

It must be recognized that democratic laws tend powerfully to increase the number of landowners and to decrease that of tenant farmers. Nonetheless, what is happening in the United States must be attributed much less to the new institutions of the country than to the country itself. In America land costs little, and everyone becomes a landowner easily. The land yields little, and its products can be shared by a landowner and a tenant farmer only with difficulty.

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So America is unique in this as in other things; and it would be an error to take it as an example.

I think that in democratic countries as well as in aristocracies, landowners and tenant farmers will be found; but landowners and tenant farmers will not be bound together in the same way.

In aristocracies, farm rents are paid not only in money, but also in respect, in affection and in services. In democratic countries, they are paid only in money.b When patrimonies divide and change hands, and when the permanent relationship that existed between families and the land disappears, it is no longer anything except chance that puts the landowner and the Edition: current; Page: [1022] tenant farmer in contact. They join together for a moment to debate the conditions of the contract, and afterward lose sight of each other. They are two strangers brought together by interest who rigorously discuss a matter that concerns only money.

As property is divided and wealth is dispersed here and there over the whole surface of the country, the State fills with men whose old wealth is in decline and with the newly rich whose needs increase faster than their resources. For all of them, the least profit is of consequence, and no one among them feels disposed to allow any one of his advantages to escape, or to lose any portion whatsoever of his income.

Since ranks are mingling and the very greatest as well as the very smallest fortunes are becoming rarer, there is less distance every day between the social condition of the landowner and that of the tenant farmer; the one does not naturally have an undisputed superiority over the other. Now, between two equal men in straitened circumstances, what can the subject of a rental contract be, if not money?c

A man whose property is an entire district and who owns one hundred small farms understands that it is a matter of winning the hearts of several thousand men at the same time; this seems to him to merit his efforts. To attain such a great objective, he easily makes sacrifices.

The one who owns a hundred acres is not burdened by such concerns; it is hardly important for him to win the particular goodwill of his tenant.

An aristocracy does not die like a man, in a day. Its principle is destroyed slowly deep within souls, before being attacked in the laws. So a long time before war breaks out against an aristocracy, you see the bond that until then united the upper classes to the lower loosen little by little. Indifference and scorn betray one side; jealousy and hate, the other. Relations between the poor and the rich become rarer and less mild; the cost of leases rises. It is not yet the result of the democratic revolution, but it is the sure sign of it. For an aristocracy that has allowed the heart of the people to escape Edition: current; Page: [1023] definitively from its hands, is like a tree with dead roots; the higher it is, the more easily is it toppled by the winds.

For fifty years, the cost of farm rents has grown prodigiously, not only in France, but in most of Europe. The singular progress made by agriculture and industry during the same period is not enough, in my mind, to explain this phenomenon. You must resort to some other more powerful and more hidden cause. I think that this cause must be sought in the democratic institutions that several European peoples have adopted and in the democratic passions that more or less agitate all the others.

I have often heard great English landowners congratulate themselves that, in our times, they draw much more money from their estates than their fathers did.d

Perhaps they are right to be pleased; but certainly they do not know what they are pleased about. They think they are making a clear profit, and they are only making an exchange. It is their influence that they are giving up for cash; and what they gain in money, they are soon going to lose in power.

There is still another sign by which you can easily recognize that a great democratic revolution is being accomplished or is being prepared.

In the Middle Ages, nearly all the land was rented in perpetuity, or at least at very long term. When you study the domestic economy of that time, you see that leases of ninety-nine years were more frequent than those of twelve years are today.

Everyone believed then in the immortality of families; conditions seemed fixed forever, and the whole society appeared so immobile that no one imagined that anything ever had to move within it.

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In centuries of equality, the human mind takes a different turn. It easily believes that nothing is unchanging. The idea of instability possesses it.

In this frame of mind, the landowner and the tenant himself feel a sort of instinctive horror for long-term obligations; they fear being limited one day by an agreement that they profit from today. They vaguely expect some sudden and unforeseen change in their condition. They are afraid of themselves; they fear that, when their taste changes, they will be distressed by not being able to leave what was the object of their desires, and they are right to fear it; for in democratic centuries, what is most changeable, amid the movement of things, is the heart of man.

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CHAPTER 7a: Influence of Democracy on Salaries

Most of the remarks that I made previously, when talking about servants and masters, can be applied to masters and workers.b

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As [<{conditions become equal}; as ranks blend and>] the rules of social hierarchy are less observed, while the great descend, the small rise and poverty as well as wealth ceases to be hereditary, you see the distance that separates the worker from the master decrease every day in fact and in opinion.

The worker conceives a higher idea of his rights, of his future, of himself; a new ambition, new desires fill him, new needs assail him. At every moment, he casts eyes full of covetousness on the profits of those who employ him; in order to come to share them, he tries hard to set his work at the highest price, and he usually ends by succeeding in doing so.

[Thus equality of conditions tends to lead to the gradual elevation of salaries, and in turn, the elevation of salaries constantly increases equality of conditions. So the slow and progressive augmentation of salaries seems to me one of the general laws that govern democratic societies.

But, in our times, a great and unfortunate exception presents itself.

I showed in the first part of this work how a few of the principles of aristocracy, after being chased away from political society found refuge in the industrial world. This profoundly modifies, but only in some points, the general truth that I announced above.]c

In democratic countries, as elsewhere, most industries are conducted at little cost by men not placed by wealth and enlightenment above the common level of those they employ. These entrepreneurs of industry are very numerous; their interests differ; [their number varies and is constantly renewed] Edition: current; Page: [1027] so they cannot easily agree among themselves and combine their efforts.

On the other side, almost all the workers have some assured resources that allow them to refuse their services when someone does not want to give them what they consider as just payment for their work.

In the continual struggle that these two classes wage over salaries, strength is therefore divided; successes alternate.

It is even to be believed that in the long run the interest of the workers must prevail; for the high salaries that they have already gained make them less dependent every day on their masters, and the more independent they are, the more easily they can gain an increase in salaries.

I will take as example the industry that today is still the most practiced among us, as among nearly all the nations of the world: the cultivation of the land.

In France, most of those who rent their services to cultivate the soil themselves possess a few parcels, which if necessary, allow them to subsist without working for others. When the latter come to offer their hands to the great landowner or to a neighboring farmer, and they refuse to give them a certain salary, they withdraw to their small domain and wait for another occasion to present itself.d

I think that by taking these things as a whole, you can say that the slow and progressive elevation of salaries is one of the general laws that govern democratic societies. As conditions become more equal, salaries rise, and the higher salaries are, the more equal conditions become.

But, in our times, a great and unfortunate exception is found.

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I showed, in a preceding chapter,e how aristocracy, chased from political society, withdrew into certain parts of the industrial world, and there established its dominion under another form.

This powerfully influences the level of salaries.f

As it is necessary to be already very rich in order to undertake the great industries I am talking about, the number of those who undertake them is very small. Being few, they can easily be in league with each other, and set the price that they please for work.g

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Their workers are, on the contrary, in very great number, and the quantity grows constantly; for extraordinary prosperity arrives from time to time during which salaries rise beyond measure and attract the surrounding population to manufacturing. Now, once men have entered this career, we have seen that they cannot come out of it, because they do not take long to contract the habits of body and mind that make them unsuited to any other labor.h These men in general have little enlightenment, industry and resources; so they are almost at the mercy of their master. When competition or other fortuitous circumstances make the gains of the latter decrease, he can restrict their salaries almost at will, and easily regain from them what fortune has taken away from him.

If by common agreement they refuse work, the master, who is a rich man, can easily wait, without ruining himself, until necessity leads them back to him; but they must work every day in order to live, for they have hardly any other property except their hands. Oppression has already for a long time impoverished them, and they are easier to oppress as they become poorer. It is a vicious circle from which they can in no way emerge.

[Thus, while in the rest of society ranks mingle each day and conditions become closer, an immense distance, greater every day, separates the servant and the master here. Their position, their future, their tastes, their mores differ profoundly. Nothing in their lot is similar. Between these two men, contact is purely material; their souls do not know each other. <The master has only a confused idea of the needs, the sufferings and the joys of the worker. So he can feel for him only a little sympathy; in his eyes, the worker is not his fellow, not even his neighbor, for Christian charity hardly warms Edition: current; Page: [1030] hearts in our time.> So in these industries, the master finds himself with regard to his workers in a position analogous to the one formerly occupied by the great landed proprietor vis-à-vis the agricultural class. With this difference, nonetheless, that the aristocracy based on trade establishes no solid bond of memory, affection, and interest with the population that surrounds it; that it hardly ever settles in a permanent manner amid the surrounding population and that its goal is not to govern that population, but to make use of it.]j

So you should not be astonished if salaries, after sometimes rising suddenly, go down here in a permanent way, while in other professions, the cost of labor, which in general grows only little by little, increases constantly.

This state of dependence and misery in which a part of the industrial population finds itself in our time is an exceptional fact contrary to all that surrounds it; but for this very reason, there is no fact more serious, or one that better deserves to attract the particular attention of the legislator; for it is difficult, when the whole society moves, to hold one class immobile, and it is difficult, when the greatest number constantly open new roads to fortune, to make a few endure their needs and their desires in peace.

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CHAPTER 8a: Influence of Democracy on the Familyb

I have just examined how, among democratic peoples, and in particular among the Americans, equality of conditions modifies the relationships of citizens with each other.

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I want to penetrate further, and enter the bosom of the family. My goal here is not to look for new truths, but to show how facts already known are related to my subject.

Everyone has noticed that in our time new relationships have been established among the different members of the family, that the distance that formerly separated the father from his son has diminished, and that paternal authority has been, if not destroyed, at least altered.

Something analogous, but still more striking, is seen in the United States.

In America, the family, taking this word in its Roman and aristocratic sense, does not exist.c Some remnants are found only during the first years following the birth of the children. The father then exercises, without opposition, the domestic dictatorship that the weakness of his sons requires and that their interest, as well as his incontestable superiority, justifies.d

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But from the moment when the young American approaches manhood, the bonds of filial obedience loosen day by day. Master of his thoughts, the young American is soon master of his conduct. In America, there is no adolescence strictly speaking. Coming out of childhood, the man is revealed and begins to follow his own path.

You would be wrong to believe that this happens following a domestic struggle, in which the son gained, by a kind of moral violence, the liberty that his father refused to him. The same habits, the same principles that push the son to seize independence, dispose the other to consider the use of that independence as an incontestable right.

So you notice in the first none of these wild passions, full of hatred, that agitate men for a long time after they have escaped from an established power. The second does not feel those regrets, full of bitterness and anger, that usually outlast the deposed power. The father saw from afar the limits at which his authority had to expire; and when time has brought him to those limits, he abdicates without difficulty. The son foresaw in advance the precise period when his own will would become his rule, and he takes hold of liberty without rushing and without effort, as a good that he is due and that no one seeks to take away from him.1

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It is perhaps useful to demonstrate how these changes that took place in the family are closely tied to the social and political revolution that is finally being accomplished before our eyes.f

There are certain great social principles that a people apply everywhere or allow to subsist nowhere.

In countries organized aristocratically and hierarchically, power never addresses itself directly to the whole of the governed. Since men depend on each other, you limit yourself to leading the first ones. The rest follow. This applies to the family, as to all associations that have a head. Among aristocratic peoples, society knows, strictly speaking, only the father. It holds onto the sons only by the hands of the father; it governs him and he governs them. So the father has not only a natural right. He is given a political right to command. He is the author and the sustainer of the family; he is also its magistrate.

In democracies, where the arm of the government goes to find each man in particular in the middle of the crowd in order to bend him separately to the common laws, there is no need for such an intermediary; the father is, in the eyes of the law, only a citizen older and richer than his sons.

When most conditions are very unequal, and when inequality of conditions is permanent, the idea of the superior grows in the imagination of men; should the law not grant him prerogatives, custom and opinion concede them to him.g When, on the contrary, men differ little from each other and do not always remain dissimilar, the general notion of the superior Edition: current; Page: [1036] becomes weaker and less clear; in vain does the will of the legislator try hard to place the one who obeys far below the one who commands; mores bring these two men closer to each other and draw them every day toward the same level.

So if I do not see, in the legislation of an aristocratic people, particular privileges accorded to the head of the family, I will not fail to be assured that his power is very respected and more extensive than within a democracy; for I know that, whatever the laws, the superior will always seem higher and the inferior lower in aristocracies than among democratic peoples.

When men live in the memory of what was rather than in the preoccupation with what is, and when they are much more concerned about what their ancestors thought than about trying to think for themselves, the father is the natural and necessary bond between the past and the present, the link where these two chains end and join together.h In aristocracies, the father is therefore not only the political head of the family; he is the organ of traditions, the interpreter of customs, the arbiter of mores. You listen to him with deference; you approach him only with respect, and the love that you give him is always tempered by fear.

When the social state becomes democratic, and men adopt as general principle that it is good and legitimate to judge everything for yourself while taking ancient beliefs as information and not as a rule, the power of opinion exercised by the father over the sons, as well as his legal power, becomes less great.

The division of patrimonies that democracy brings contributes perhaps more than all the rest to changing the relationships of father and children.

When the father of the family has little property, his son and he live constantly in the same place and are busy together with the same work. Edition: current; Page: [1037] Habit and need draw them closer and force them to communicate with each other at every moment; so a sort of familial intimacy cannot fail to be established between them, which makes authority less absolute, and which is badly adapted to external forms of respect.j

Now, among democratic peoples, the class that possesses these small fortunes is precisely the one that empowers ideas and shapes mores. It at the same time makes its opinions, like its will, prevail everywhere, and even those who are most inclined to resist its commands end up letting themselves be led by its examples. I have seen fiery enemies of democracy who had their children address them with tu [the familiar form].

Thus, at the same time that power is escaping from aristocracy, you see disappear what there was of [the] austere, conventional and legal in paternal power, and a kind of equality becomes established around the domestic hearth.

I do not know if, everything considered, society loses with this change; but I am led to believe that the individual gains. I think that as mores and laws are more democratic, the relationships of father and son become more intimate and milder; rule and authority are encountered less often; confidence and affection are often greater, and it seems that the natural bond tightens, while the social bond loosens.

In the democratic family, the father exercises hardly any power other than the one that you are pleased to grant to the tenderness and experience of an old man. His orders would perhaps be unrecognized; but his advice is usually full of power. If he is not surrounded by official respect, his sons at least approach him with confidence. There is no recognized formula for speaking to him; but he is spoken to constantly and readily consulted every day. The master and the magistrate have disappeared; the father remains.

It is sufficient, to judge the difference between these two social states on this point, to skim through the domestic correspondence that aristocracies Edition: current; Page: [1038] have left us. The style is always correct, ceremonial, rigid, and so cold that the natural warmth of the heart can hardly be felt through the words.

There reigns, in contrast, in all the words that a son addresses to his father, among democratic peoples, something free, familiar, and tender at the same time that reveals at first glance that new relationships have been established within the family.

[Here, moreover, as elsewhere, the democratic revolution is accompanied and sometimes followed by great excesses.

When the barriers that separated the different members of the family go down, before new limits are yet fixed and well-known, it often happens that the father and the children mix in a kind of unnatural equality and gross familiarity. The father is then no longer a tender, but grave and a bit austere friend; he is a joyful companion of pleasure and sometimes a vile comrade of debauchery. He does not work to elevate the reason of his sons to the level of his. To please them better, he reduces his maturity to the level of their juvenile passions.

This is anarchy and corruption, and not democracy.]k An analogous revolution modifies the mutual relationships of the children.

In an aristocratic family, as well as in aristocratic society, all the places are marked. Not only does the father there occupy a separate rank and enjoy immense privileges; the children themselves are not equal to each other; age and gender fix irrevocably for each his rank and assure him certain prerogatives. Democracy overturns or reduces most of these barriers.

In the aristocratic family, the eldest of the sons, since he inherits the greatest part of the property and almost all the rights, becomes the head and to a certain point the master of his brothers. Greatness and power are his; mediocrity and dependence are theirs. Nonetheless, it would be a mistake to believe that, among aristocratic peoples, the privileges of the eldest were advantages to him alone, and that they excited around him only envy and hate.

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The eldest usually tries hard to obtain wealth and power for his brothers, because the general splendor of the house is reflected on the one who represents it; and the younger brothers try to facilitate all the enterprises of the eldest, because the grandeur and strength of the head of the family make him more and more able to elevate all the branches.

So the various members of the aristocratic family are very tightly bound together; their interests go together, their minds are in agreement; but it is rare that their hearts understand each other.

Democracy also joins the brothers to each other; but it goes about it in another way.

Under democratic laws, the children are perfectly equal, consequently independent; nothing necessarily draws them closer together, but also nothing pushes them apart; and since they have a common origin, grow up under the same roof, are the object of the same concerns, and since no particular prerogative differentiates or separates them, you see arising easily among them the sweet and youthful intimacy of childhood. With the bond thus formed at the beginning of life, occasions for breaking that bond hardly present themselves, for fraternity draws them closer each day without hampering them.

So it is not by interests, it is by the community of memories and the free sympathy of opinions and tastes that democracy attaches brothers to each other. It divides their inheritance, but it allows their souls to blend.

The sweet pleasure of these democratic mores is so great that the partisans of aristocracy themselves allow themselves to adopt it, and after enjoying it for a time, they are not tempted to return to the respectful and cold forms of the aristocratic family. They willingly keep the domestic habits of democracy, provided that they can reject its social state and its laws. But these things go together, and you cannot enjoy the first without undergoing the others.

What I have just said about filial love and fraternal tenderness must be understood about all the passions that spontaneously have their sources in nature itself.

When a certain way of thinking or of feeling is the product of a particular state of humanity, once this state changes, nothing remains. Thus, the law can tie two citizens very closely together; once the law is abolished, they Edition: current; Page: [1040] separate [and again become strangers]. There was nothing tighter than the knot that joined the vassal to the lord in the feudal world. Now these two men no longer know each other. The fear, the recognition and the love that formerly bound them have disappeared. You do not find a trace of them.

But it is not so with the natural sentiments of the human species. It is rare that the law, by trying hard to bend those sentiments in a certain way, does not weaken them, that by wanting to add to them, the law does not take something away from them, and that, left to themselves, those sentiments are not always stronger.

Democracy, which destroys or obscures nearly all the old social conventions and prevents men from stopping easily at new ones, makes most of the sentiments that arise from these conventions disappear entirely. But it only modifies the others, and often it gives them an energy and a sweetness that they did not have.

I think that it is not impossible to contain in a single sentence the entire meaning of this chapter and of several others that precede it. Democracy loosens social bonds, but it tightens natural bonds. It brings family members closer together at the same time that it separates citizens.

[This in my view is one of the most incontestable advantages of democratic institutions. When men are naturally strangers [v: far apart], it can be good to draw them toward each other and tie them together in an artificial way. But when they are naturally close and keep together, the science of the legislator rarely adds to their union and can harm it.]m

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CHAPTER 9a: Education of Young Girls in the United Statesb

There have never been free societies without morals, and as I said in the first part of this work, it is the woman who molds the morals. So everything that influences the condition of women, their habits and their opinions, has a great political interest in my view.c

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Among nearly all the Protestant nations, young girls are infinitely more in control of their actions than among Catholic peoples.

This independence is still greater in Protestant countries that, like England, have kept or acquired the right to govern themselves. Liberty then penetrates the family by political habits and by religious beliefs.

In the United States, the doctrines of Protestantism come to combine with a very free constitution and a very democratic social state; and nowhere is the young girl more quickly or more completely left to herself.

A long time before the young American girl has reached nubile age, she begins to be freed little by little from maternal protection; she has not yet entirely left childhood when already she thinks by herself, speaks freely and acts alone; the great world scene is exposed constantly before her; far from trying to hide it from her view, it is laid bare more and more every day before her sight, and she is taught to consider it with a firm and calm eye. Thus, the vices and perils presented by society do not take long to be revealed to her; she sees them clearly, judges them without illusion and faces them without fear; for she is full of confidence in her strength, and her confidence seems shared by all those who surround her.

So you must almost never expect to find with the American young girl this virginal guilelessness amid awakening desires, anymore than these naïve and ingenuous graces that usually accompany the European girl in the passage from childhood to youth. It is rare that the American, whatever her age, shows puerile timidity and ignorance. Like the European young girl, she wants to please, but she knows the cost precisely. If she does not give Edition: current; Page: [1043] herself to evil, at least she knows about it; she has pure morals, rather than a chaste mind.

I was often surprised and almost frightened by seeing the singular dexterity and happy boldness with which the American young girls knew how to direct their thoughts and their words amid the pitfalls of a lively conversation; a philosopher would have stumbled a hundred times on the narrow path that they traveled without accident and without difficulty.

It is easy in fact to recognize that, even amid the independence of her earliest youth, the American girl never entirely ceases to be in control of herself; she enjoys all permitted pleasures without abandoning herself to any one of them, and her reason never relinquishes the reins, although it often seems to let them hang loosely.d

In France, where we still mix in such a strange way the debris of all the ages in our opinions and in our tastes, it often happens that we give women a timid, secluded and almost monastic education, as in the time of aristocracy; and we then abandon them suddenly, without guide and without help, amid the disorders inseparable from a democratic society.

The Americans are in better harmony with themselves.

They have seen that, within a democracy, individual independence could not fail to be very great, youth precocious, tastes badly restrained, custom changeable, public opinion often uncertain or powerless, paternal authority weak and marital power in question.e

In this state of things, they judged that there was little chance of being able to repress in the woman the most tyrannical passions of the human heart, and that it was surer to teach her the art of combatting them herself. As they could not prevent her virtue from often being in danger, they wanted her to know how to defend her virtue, and they counted more on the free effort of her will than on weakened or destroyed barriers. So instead of keeping her distrustful of herself, they try constantly to increase her Edition: current; Page: [1044] confidence in her own strength. Having neither the possibility nor the desire to keep the young girl in a perpetual and complete ignorance, they hastened to give her a precocious knowledge of everything. Far from hiding the corrupt things of the world from her, they wanted her to see them first and train herself to flee them, and they preferred to guarantee her honesty than to respect her innocence too much.f

Although the Americans are a strongly religious people, they did not rely on religion alone to defend the virtue of the woman; they sought to arm her reason. In this, as in many other circumstances, they followed the same Edition: current; Page: [1045] method. They first made incredible efforts to get individual independence to regulate itself, and it is only after arriving at the farthest limits of human strength, that they finally called religion to their help [and made it sustain them in its arms].g

I know that such an education is not without danger; nor am I unaware that it tends to develop judgment at the expense of imagination, and to make honest and cold women rather than tender wives and amiable companions to man. If society is more tranquil and better ordered because of it, private life often has fewer charms. But those are secondary evils that must be faced because of a larger interest. Having come to the point where we are, we are no longer allowed to make a choice. A democratic education is needed to protect the woman from the perils with which the institutions and mores of democracy surround her.

[Fragment of rubish that was to have served to link this chapter to the one following.

[The beginning is missing (ed.)] her family? To each she addresses a word, a smile, a look. Young men who met her in a public gathering approach her; and while walking, she converses familiarly with them. By the freedom of all her movements, you easily find that nothing in her actions should surprise those who see her or trouble herself. Liberty and at the same time the discreet reserve of her words show that, despite her young age, she has already ceased to see the world through the virginal veil of first innocence and that, if she has not yet learned at her expense to know human perversity, the example of others has at least been enough to teach her about it. Do not be afraid that the flow of a lively conversation will lead her beyond the limits of propriety; she is the mistress of her thought like all the rest, and she knows how to hold herself easily within the narrow space that separates innocent banter from licentious speech. Philosophers have argued among themselves for six thousand years to determine the precise point where virtue ends and vice begins, but here is a young girl who seems to have known how to separate them at first glance. Constantly, you see her approach with assurance these formidable limits that she almost never crosses.

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Do you want more? Do you desire to know her better still? Follow her in these brilliant circles where, perhaps alone, she is going this evening. There you will be able to contemplate her in the full use of her independence and in all the splendor of triumph. That is where she enjoys beyond measure, you could almost say that she abuses without regret, the triple dominion given by spirit, youth and beauty. She carries along in her wake, she enlivens those around her. You say to her that she is beautiful, and she does not try to hide that she is pleased to receive these tributes that admiration lavishes on her. Some come forward to listen to her, others draw her aside in order to enjoy alone the pleasure of hearing her. She speaks about literature, politics, clothes, morals, love, religion, the fine arts, following the occasion of the moment and her desires. Sometimes she herself seems intoxicated by her own words.

But then where is her father? Enclosed in a dusty corner of his house, he is calculating . . . [large blank (ed.)]

And her mother? Her mother consecrates every instant to the care of a still young family; perhaps at this moment she is breast-feeding a twelfth infant just sent to her by Providence. The one, like the other, is little concerned about the actions of their daughter. Do not conclude that they are indifferent to her fate; they trust more in her precocious reason than in their surveillance.

<I am in truth sorry to find fortuitously a connection between something as gracious and as light as the emerging coquetry [v: innocent liberty] of a young girl and a matter as grave and as austere as philosophy, but the necessity of my subject forces me.

So I think, since it must be said, that it is in the philosophical method of the Americans that you must seek one of the first causes of this great liberty left to youth by a common [v: tacit] agreement.

The inhabitants of the United States have accepted in a general manner that it was good not to chain the human mind by precedents and customs, that you must not bind the mind to form or enslave it to means, but that to a certain point it must be left to its natural independence, and you must allow each person to march toward truth by his own path.

Starting from this doctrine, they are not afraid to base society on foundations unknown to their predecessors. They have imposed new rules on comm[erce (ed.)] and uncovered new resources for human industry.

It is by virtue of this same doctrine that young American girls remain Edition: current; Page: [1047] themselves and can without shame obey the free impulses of their nature in everything that is not criminal.>

It is true that in America the independence of the woman becomes lost . . . (In the jacket entitled to profit from the ideas of this chapter (if i have not already done it) by seeing again the chapters on the woman, Rubish, 2).]

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CHAPTER 10a: How the Young Girl Is Found Again in the Features of the Wife

In America, the independence of the woman becomes irretrievably lost amid the bonds of marriage. If the young girl is less restrained there than anywhere else, the wife submits to the most strict obligations. The one makes the paternal home a place of liberty and pleasure, the other lives in the house of her husband as in a cloister.b

These two conditions so different are perhaps not so contrary as you suppose, and it is natural that American women pass by the one in order to reach the other.

Religious peoples and industrial nations have a particularly serious idea of marriage. The first consider the regularity of the life of a woman as the best guarantee and the most certain sign of the purity of her morals. The others see in it the sure proof of the order and the prosperity of the house.

The Americans form at the very same time a Puritan nation and a commercial people; so their religious beliefs, as well as their industrial habits, Edition: current; Page: [1049] lead them to require from the woman an abnegation of herself and a continual sacrifice of her pleasures to her business, which it is rare to ask of her in Europe. Thus, an inexorable public opinion reigns in the United States that carefully encloses the woman in the small circle of domestic interests and duties, and that forbids her to go beyond it.c

Coming into the world, the young American woman finds these notions firmly established; she sees the rules that derive from them; she does not take long to be convinced that she cannot escape one moment from the customs of her contemporaries without immediately endangering her tranquillity, her honor and even her social existence, and in the firmness of her reason and in the manly habits that her education gave her, she finds the energy to submit.

You can say that it is from the practice of independence that she drew the courage to endure the sacrifice without struggle and without complaint, when the moment has come to impose it on herself.

The American woman, moreover, never falls into the bonds of marriage as into a trap set for her simplicity and ignorance. She has been taught in advance what is expected of her, and it is by herself and freely that she puts herself under the yoke. She courageously bears her new condition because she has chosen it.

As in America paternal discipline is very lax and the conjugal bond is very strict, it is only with circumspection and with fear that a young girl incurs it. Premature unions are scarcely seen. So American women marry only when their reason is trained and developed; while elsewhere most women begin to train and to develop their reason only in marriage.

I am, moreover, very far from believing that this great change that takes place in all the habits of women in the United States, as soon as they are married, must be attributed only to the constraint of public opinion. Often they impose it on themselves solely by the effort of their will.

When the time has arrived to choose a husband, this cold and austere Edition: current; Page: [1050] reason, which the free view of the world has enlightened and strengthened, indicates to the American woman that a light and independent spirit in the bonds of marriage is a matter of eternal trouble, not of pleasure; that the amusements of the young girl cannot become the diversions of the wife, and that for the woman the sources of happiness are in the conjugal home. Seeing in advance and clearly the only road that can lead to domestic felicity, she takes it with her first steps, and follows it to the end without trying to go back.

This same vigor of will that the young wives of America display, by bowing suddenly and without complaint to the austere duties of their new state, is found as well in all the great trials of their life.

There is no country in the world where particular fortunes are more unstable than in the United States. It is not rare that, in the course of his existence, the same man climbs and again descends all the degrees that lead from opulence to poverty.

The women of America bear these [sudden] revolutions with a tranquil and indomitable energy. You would say that their desires narrow with their fortune, as easily as they expand.

Most of the adventurers who go each year to people the uninhabited areas of the west belong, as I said in my first work,d to the old Anglo-American race of the North. Several of these men who run with such boldness toward wealth already enjoyed comfort in their country. They lead their companions with them and make them share the innumerable perils and miseries that always signal the beginning of such enterprises. I often met at the limits of the wilderness young women who, after being raised amid all of the refinements of the great cities of New England, had passed, almost without transition, from the rich homes of their parents to a badly sealed hut in the middle of a wood. Fever, solitude, boredom had not broken the main springs of their courage. Their features seemed altered and faded, but their view was firm. They appeared at once sad and resolute.

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I do not doubt that these young American women had amassed, in their first education, this internal strength that they then used.

So the young girl in the United States is still found in the features of the wife; the role has changed, the habits differ, the spirit is the same.

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CHAPTER 11a: How Equality of Conditions Contributes to Maintaining Good Morals in America

There are philosophers and historians who have said, or implied, that women were more or less severe in their morals depending on whether they lived farther from or closer to the equator. That is getting out of the matter cheaply, and in this case, a globe and a compass would suffice to resolve in an instant one of the most difficult problems that humanity presents.

I do not see that this materialistic doctrine is established by the facts.

The same nations have shown themselves, in different periods of their history, chaste or dissolute. So the regularity or the disorderliness of their Edition: current; Page: [1053] morals is due to a few changeable causes, and not only to the nature of the country, which did not change.

I will not deny that, in certain climates, the passions that arise from the mutual attraction of the sexes are particularly ardent; but I think that this natural ardor can always be excited or restrained by the social state and the political institutions.

Although the travelers who have visited North America differ among themselves on several points, they all agree in noting that morals there are infinitely more severe than anywhere else.

It is clear that, on this point, the Americans are very superior to their fathers, the English. A superficial view of the two nations is enough to show it.b

In England, as in all the other countries of Europe, public spite is constantly brought to bear on the weaknesses of women. You often hear philosophers and statesmen complain that morals are not regular enough, and literature assumes it every day.

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In America, all books, without excepting novels, assume women to be chaste, and no one tells racy escapades.

This great regularity of American morals is undoubtedly due in part to the country, to race, to religion.c But all these causes, which are found elsewhere, are still not enough to explain it. For that you must resort to some particular reason.

This reason appears to me to be equality and the institutions that derive from it.

Equality of conditions does not by itself alone produce regularity of morals; but you cannot doubt that it facilitates and augments it.

Among aristocratic peoples, birth and fortune often make men and women beings so different that they can never succeed in uniting. Passions draw them together, but the social state and the ideas that the social state suggests prevent them from joining in a permanent and open way. From that a great number of fleeting and clandestine unions necessarily arise. Nature compensates in secret for the constraint that the laws impose.

The same thing does not happen when equality of conditions has made all the imaginary or real barriers that separate the man from the woman fall. There is then no young woman who does not believe herself able to become the wife of the man she prefers; this makes disorderliness in morals before marriage very difficult. For, whatever the credulity of passions, there is hardly any way for a woman to be persuaded that someone loves her when he is perfectly free to marry her and does not do so.

The same cause acts, although in a more indirect manner, in marriage.

Nothing serves better to legitimate illegitimate love in the eyes of those who feel it or in the eyes of the crowd who contemplate it, than forced unions or unions made by chance.1

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In a country where the woman always freely exercises her choice, and where education has made her able to choose well, public opinion is unrelenting about her faults.

The rigor of the Americans arises in part from that. They consider marriage as an often onerous contract, but one by which you are nonetheless bound strictly to execute all the clauses, because you were able to know them in advance and you enjoyed complete liberty not to commit yourself to anything.d

What makes fidelity more obligatory makes it easier.

In aristocratic countries the purpose of marriage is to join property rather than persons; consequently it sometimes happens that the husband is chosen while in school and the wife while in the care of a wet-nurse. It is not surprising that the conjugal bond that holds the fortunes of the two married individuals together allows their hearts to wander at random. That flows naturally from the spirit of the contract.

When, on the contrary, each person always chooses his own companion, without anything external hindering or even guiding him, it is usually only Edition: current; Page: [1056] similarity of tastes and ideas that draw the man and the woman closer; and this same similarity holds and settles them next to one another.

Our fathers had conceived a singular opinion in regard to marriage.

As they had noticed that the small number of marriages by inclination that took place in their time had almost always had a disastrous outcome, they had concluded resolutely that in such matters it was very dangerous to consult your own heart. Chance seemed more clear-sighted than choice.

It was not very difficult to see, however, that the examples they had before their eyes proved nothing.e

I will remark first that, if democratic peoples grant to women the right to choose freely their husbands, they take care in advance to provide their minds with the enlightenment, and their wills with the strength, that can be necessary for such a choice; while the young women who, among aristocratic peoples, escape furtively from paternal authority in order to throw themselves into the arms of a man whom they have been given neither the time to know nor the capacity to judge, lack all of these guarantees. You cannot be surprised that they make bad use of their free will, the first time that they use it; or that they fall into such cruel errors when, not having received democratic education, they want to follow, in marrying, the customs of democracy.

But there is more.

When a man and a woman want to come together across the inequalities of the aristocratic social state, they have immense obstacles to overcome. After breaking or loosening the bonds of filial obedience, they have to escape, by a final effort, the rule of custom and the tyranny of opinion; and when finally they have reached the end of this hard undertaking, they find themselves like strangers in the middle of their natural friends and close relatives; the prejudice that they overcame separates them from these friends and relatives. This situation does not take long to drain their courage and to embitter their hearts.

So if it happens that spouses united in this way are at first unhappy, and Edition: current; Page: [1057] then guilty, it must not be attributed to the fact that they freely chose each other, but rather to the fact that they live in a society that does not accept such choices.

You must not forget, moreover, that the same effort that makes a man depart violently from a common delusion almost always carries him beyond reason; that, to dare to declare a war, even a legitimate one, against the ideas of your century and your country, the spirit must have a certain fierce and adventurous disposition, and that men of this character, whatever direction they take, rarely attain happiness and virtue. And, to say so in passing, this is what explains why, in the most necessary and most holy of revolutions, so few moderate and honest revolutionaries are found.

That, in an aristocratic century, a man dares by chance to consult, concerning the conjugal union, no other preferences than his particular opinion and his taste, and that disorderliness of morals and misery do not subsequently take long to enter his household, must not there fore be surprising. But, when this same way of acting is the natural and usual order of things, when the social state facilitates it, when paternal power goes along with it and when public opinion advocates it, you must not doubt that the internal peace of families becomes greater and that conjugal faith is better kept.

Nearly all the men of democracies follow a political career or exercise a profession, and on the other hand, the mediocrity of fortunes obliges the woman there to enclose herself every day within the interior of her house, in order to preside herself, and very closely, over the details of domestic administration.

All these distinct and forced labors are like so many natural barriers that, separating the sexes, make the solicitations of the one rarer and less intense, and the resistance of the other easier.

It is not that equality of conditions can ever succeed in making men chaste; but it gives to the disorderliness of their morals a less dangerous character. Since no one then has any longer either the leisure or the occasion to attack the virtues that want to defend themselves, you see at the very same time a great number of courtesans and a multitude of honest women.f

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Such a state of things produces deplorable individual miseries, but it does not prevent the social body from being in good form and strong; it does not destroy the bonds of family and does not enervate national mores. What puts society in danger is not great corruption among a few, it is the laxity of all. In the eyes of the legislator, prostitution is less to fear than love affairs.

This tumultuous and constantly fretful life, which equality gives to men, not only diverts them from love by removing the leisure to devote themselves to it; it also turns them away by a more secret, but more certain road.

All the men who live in democratic times contract more or less the intellectual habits of the industrial and commercial classes; their minds take a serious, calculating and positive turn; they willingly turn away from the ideal in order to aim for some visible and immediate goal that presents itself as the natural and necessary object of desires. Equality does not in this way destroy imagination; but it limits it and allows it to fly only by skimming over the earth.g

No one is less of a dreamer than the citizens of a democracy, and you hardly see any who want to give themselves to these idle and solitary contemplations Edition: current; Page: [1059] that ordinarily precede and that produce the great agitations of the heart.

They put, it is true, a great value on gaining for themselves the kind of profound, regular and peaceful affection that makes the charm and the security of life; but they do not readily run after the violent and capricious emotions that disturb and shorten it.

I know that all that precedes is completely applicable only to America and cannot, for now, be extended in a general way to Europe.

During the half-century that laws and habits have with an unparalleled energy pushed several European peoples toward democracy, you do not see that among these nations the relations of man and woman have become more regular and more chaste. The opposite even allows itself to be seen in some places. Certain classes are better regulated; general morality seems more lax. I will not be afraid to note it, for I feel myself no better disposed to flatter my contemporaries than to speak ill of them.

This spectacle must be distressing, but not surprising.

The happy influence that a democratic social state can exercise on the regularity of habits is one of those facts that can only be seen in the long run. If equality of conditions is favorable to good morals, the social effort, which makes conditions equal, is very deadly to them.h

During the fifty years that France has been undergoing transformation, we have rarely had liberty, but always disorderliness. Amid this universal confusion of ideas and this general disturbance of opinions, among this incoherent mixture of the just and the unjust, of the true and the false, of the right and the fact, public virtue has become uncertain, and private morality unsteady.

But all revolutions, whatever their objective or their agents, have at first produced similar effects. Even those that ended by tightening the bond of morals began by loosening it.

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So the disorders that we often witness do not seem to be an enduring fact. Already strange signs herald it.

There is nothing more miserably corrupt than an aristocracy that keeps its wealth while losing its power, and that, reduced to vulgar enjoyments, still possesses immense leisure. The energetic passions and great thoughts that formerly had animated it then disappear, and you hardly find anything else except a multitude of small gnawing vices that attach themselves to the aristocracy like worms to a cadaver.j

No one disputes that the French aristocracy of the last century was very dissolute; while ancient habits and old beliefs still maintained respect for morals in the other classes.

Nor will anyone have any difficulty coming to agreement that, in our time, a certain severity of principles shows itself among the debris of this same aristocracy, while disorderliness of morals has seemed to spread in the middle and inferior ranks of society. So that the same families that appeared, fifty years ago, the most lax, appear today the most exemplary, and that democracy seems to have made only the aristocratic classes moral.k

[There are men who see in this fact a cause for fears about the future.

I find in it a reason for hope.]

The Revolution, by dividing the fortunes of the nobles, by forcing them Edition: current; Page: [1061] to occupy themselves assiduously with their affairs and with their families, by enclosing them with their children under the same roof, finally by giving a more reasonable and more serious turn to their thoughts, suggested to them, without their noticing it themselves, respect for religious beliefs, love of order, of peaceful pleasures, of domestic joys and of well-being; while the rest of the nation, which naturally had these same tastes, was carried toward [added: moral] disorderliness by the very effort that had to be made in order to overturn the laws and political customs.

The old French aristocracy suffered the consequences of the Revolution, and it did not feel the revolutionary passions, or share the often anarchic impulse that it produced; it is easy to imagine that it experiences in its morals the salutary influence of this revolution even before those who brought it about.

So it is permissible to say, although at first view it seems surprising, that, today, it is the most anti-democratic classes of the nation who best show the type of morality that it is reasonable to expect from democracy.

I cannot prevent myself from believing that, when we will have gained all the effects of the democratic revolution, after emerging from the tumult that arose from it, what is true today only of a few will little by little become true of all.

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CHAPTER 12a: How the Americans Understand the Equality of Man and of Womanb

I showed how democracy destroyed or modified the various inequalities given birth by society; but is that all, and does democracy not succeed finally Edition: current; Page: [1063] in acting on this great inequality of man and woman, which has seemed, until today, to have its eternal foundation in nature?

I think that the social movement that brings closer to the same level the son and the father, the servant and the master, and in general, the inferior and the superior, elevates the woman and must more and more make her the equal of the man.

But here, more than ever, I feel the need to be well understood; for there is no subject on which the coarse and disorderly imagination of our century has been given a freer rein.

There are men in Europe who, confusing the different attributes of the sexes, claim to make the man and the woman beings, not only equal, but similar.c They give to the one as to the other the same functions, impose the same duties on them, and grant them the same rights; they mix them in everything, work, pleasures, public affairs. It can easily be imagined that by trying hard in this way to make one sex equal to the other, both are degraded; and that from this crude mixture of the works of nature only weak men and dishonest women can ever emerge.

This is not how the Americans understood the type of democratic equality that can be established between the woman and the man.d They thought that, since nature had established such a great variation between the physical and moral constitution of the man and that of the woman, its clearly indicated goal was to give a different use to their different faculties; and they judged that progress did not consist of making almost the same things out of dissimilar beings, but of having each of them fulfill his task to the best possible degree. The Americans applied to the two sexes the great principle of political economy that dominates industry today. They carefully divided the functions of the man and the woman, in order that the great work of society was better accomplished.

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America is the country in the world where the most constant care has been taken to draw clearly separated lines of action for the two sexes, and where the desire has been that both marched with an equal step, but always along different paths. You do not see American women lead matters outside of the family, conduct business, or finally enter into the political sphere; but you also do not find any who are forced to give themselves to the hard work of plowing or to any one of the difficult exercises that require the development of physical strength. There are no families so poor that they make an exception to this rule.e

If the American woman cannot escape the peaceful circle of domestic occupations, she is, on the other hand, never forced to leave it. [<She has been enclosed in her home, but there she rules.>]

The result is that American women, who often show a male reason and an entirely manly energy, conserve in general a very delicate appearance, and always remain women by manners, although they reveal themselves as men sometimes by mind and heart.

Nor have the Americans ever imagined that the consequence of democratic principles was to overturn marital authority and to introduce confusion of authority into the family.f They thought that every association, to be effective, must have a head, and that the natural head of the conjugal association was the man. So they do not deny to the latter the right to direct his companion; and they believe that, in the small society of husband and wife, as in the great political society, the goal of democracy is to regulate necessary powers and to make them legitimate, and not to destroy all power. [The Americans have, however, drawn the man and the woman closer than any other people, but it is only in the moral order.]

This opinion is not particular to one sex and contested by the other.

I did not notice that American women considered conjugal authority as Edition: current; Page: [1065] a happy usurpation of their rights, or that they believed that it was degrading to submit to it. I seemed to see, on the contrary, that they took a kind of glory in the voluntary surrender of their will, and that they located their grandeur in bending to the yoke themselves and not in escaping it. That, at least, was the sentiment expressed by the most virtuous; the others kept silent, and you do not hear in the United States the adulterous wife noisily claim the rights of woman, while trampling her most holy duties under foot.

It has often been remarked that in Europe a certain disdain is found even amid the flatteries that men lavish on women; although the European man often makes himself the slave of the woman, you see that he never sincerely believes her his equal.g

In the United States, women are scarcely praised; but it is seen every day that they are respected.

American men constantly exhibit a full confidence in the reason of their companion, and a profound respect for her liberty. They judge that her mind is as capable as that of man of discovering the naked truth, and her heart firm enough to follow the truth; and they have never sought to shelter the virtue of one more than that of the other from prejudices, ignorance or fear.h

It seems that in Europe, where you submit so easily to the despotic rule of women, you nonetheless refuse them some of the greatest attributes of the human species [added: while obeying them], and that you consider them as seductive [v: inferior] and incomplete beings; and, what you cannot find too astonishing, women themselves finish by seeing themselves in the same light, and they are not far from considering as a privilege the ability that is left to them to appear frivolous, weak and fearful. American women do not demand such rights.

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You would say, on the other hand, that as regards morals, we have granted to the man a kind of singular immunity; so that there is as it were one virtue for him, and another one for his companion; and that, according to public opinion, the same act may be alternatively a crime or only a failing.

The Americans do not know this iniquitous division of duties and rights. Among them, [purity of morals in marriage and respect for conjugal faith are imposed equally on the man and on the woman and] the seducer is as dishonored as his victim.

It is true that American men rarely show to women these attentive considerations with which we enjoy surrounding them in Europe; but they always show, by their conduct, that they assume them to be virtuous and delicate; and they have such a great respect for their moral liberty that in their presence each man carefully watches his words, for fear that the women may be forced to hear language that wounds them. In America, a young girl undertakes a long journey, alone and without fear.j

The legislators of the United States, who have made nearly all the provisions of the penal code milder, punish rape with death; and there is no crime that public opinion pursues with a more inexorable ardor. This can be explained: since the Americans imagine nothing more precious than the honor of the woman, or nothing so respectable as her independence, they consider that there is no punishment too severe for those who take them away from her against her will.

In France, where the same crime is struck by much milder penalties, it is often difficult to find a jury that convicts. Would it be scorn for modesty or scorn for the woman? I cannot prevent myself from believing that it is both.

Thus, the Americans do not believe that man and woman have the duty or the right to do the same things, but they show the same respect for the role of each one of them, and they consider them as beings whose value is equal, although their destinies differ. They do not give the courage of the woman the same form or the same use as that of the man; but they never Edition: current; Page: [1067] doubt her courage; and if they consider that the man and his companion should not always use their intelligence and their reason in the same way, they judge, as least, that the reason of the one is as certain as that of the other, and her intelligence as clear.k

So the Americans, who have allowed the [<natural>] inferiority of the woman to continue to exist in society, have with all their power elevated her, in the intellectual and moral world, to the level of the man; and in this they seem to me to have understood admirably the true notion of democratic progress. [They have not imagined for the woman a greatness similar to that of the man, but they have imagined her as great as the man, and they have made her their equal even when they have kept the necessary right to command her.]

As for me, I will not hesitate to say it: although in the United States the woman hardly leaves the domestic circle, and although she is, in certain respects, very dependent, nowhere has her position seemed higher to me; and if, now that I am approaching the end of this book, in which I have shown so many considerable things done by the Americans, you asked me to what I think the singular prosperity and growing strength of this people must be principally attributed, I would answer that it is to the superiority of their women.m

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CHAPTER 13a: How Equality Divides the Americans Naturally into a Multitude of Small Particular Societiesb

You would be led to believe that the ultimate consequence and necessary effect of democratic institutions is to mix citizens in private life as well as in public life, and to force them all to lead a common existence [<to mingle them constantly in the same pleasures and in the same affairs.

Some of the legislators of antiquity had tried it and the Convention attempted it in our times.>]

That is to understand in a very crude and very tyrannical way the equality that arises from democracy.

There is no social state or laws that can make men so similar that education, fortune and tastes do not put some difference between them, and if different men can sometimes find it in their interest to do the same things in common, you must believe that they will never find their pleasure in doing so. So they will always, whatever you do, slip out of the hand of the Edition: current; Page: [1069] legislator; and escaping in some way from the circle in which you try to enclose them, they will establish, alongside the great political society, small private societies, whose bond will be the similarity of conditions, habits and mores.

In the United States, citizens do not have any preeminence over each other; they owe each other reciprocally neither obedience nor respect; they administer justice together and govern the State, and in general they all join together to deal with the matters that influence the common destiny; but I never heard it said that anyone claimed to lead them all to amuse themselves in the same way or to enjoy themselves mixed haphazardly together in the same places.

The Americans, who mingle so easily within political assemblies and courtrooms, on the contrary, separate themselves with great care into small very distinct associations, in order to enjoy the pleasures of private life all by themselves. Each one of them readily recognizes all of his fellow citizens as his equals, but he receives only a very small number among his friends and guests.

That seems very natural to me. As the circle of public society expands, it must be expected that the sphere of private relations will narrow; instead of imagining that the citizens of new societies are going to end up living in common, I am afraid indeed that they will finally end up by forming nothing more than very small cliques.

Among aristocratic peoples, the different classes are like vast enclosures which you cannot leave and which you cannot enter. The classes do not communicate with each other; but within the interior of each one of them, men inevitably talk to each other every day. Even when they do not naturally suit each other, the general affinity of the same condition draws them closer.c

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But, when neither law nor custom takes charge of establishing frequent and habitual relations between certain men, the accidental similarity of opinions and propensities decides it; which varies particular societies infinitely.

In democracies, where citizens never differ much from one another and are naturally so close that at each instant they can all blend into a common mass, a multitude of artificial and arbitrary classifications is created by the aid of which each man tries to set himself apart, for fear of being dragged despite himself into the crowd.

It can never fail to be so; for you can change human institutions, but not man. Whatever the general effort of a society to make citizens equal and similar, the particular pride of individuals will always try to escape from the level, and will want to form somewhere an inequality from which he profits.

In aristocracies, men are separated from each other by high immobile barriers; in democracies, they are divided by a multitude of small, nearly invisible threads, which break at every moment and change place constantly.

Thus, whatever the progress of equality, a large number of small private associations among democratic peoples will always be formed amid the great political society. But none of them will resemble, in manners, the upper class that directs aristocracies.

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CHAPTER 14a: Some Reflections on American Mannersb

There is nothing, at first view, that seems less important than the external form of human actions, and there is nothing to which men attach more Edition: current; Page: [1072] value; they become accustomed to everything, except living in a society that does not have their manners. So the influence that the social and political state exercises on manners is worth the trouble to be examined seriously.c

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Manners generally come from the very heart of mores; and sometimes they result as well from an arbitrary convention between certain men. They are at the same time natural and acquired.

When men see that they are first without question and without difficulty; when every day they have before their eyes the great matters that occupy them, leaving the details to others, and when they live with a wealth that they did not acquire and they are not afraid of losing, you easily imagine that they feel a sort of superb disdain for the petty interests and material Edition: current; Page: [1074] cares of life, and that they have a natural grandeur in thought that words and manners reveal.

In democratic countries, manners usually have little grandeur, because private life in them is very limited. Manners are often common, because thought has only a few opportunities to rise above the preoccupation with domestic interests.d

True dignity of manners consists of always appearing in your place, neither higher, nor lower;e that is within reach of the peasant as of the prince. In democracies all places seem doubtful; as a result, it happens that manners, which are often arrogant there, are rarely dignified. Moreover, they are never either very well-ordered or very studied.f

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Men who live in democracies are too mobile for a certain number of them to succeed in establishing a code of savoir-faire and to be able to make sure that it is followed. So each man there acts more or less as he likes, and a certain incoherence in manners always reigns, because manners conform to the individual sentiments and ideas of each man, rather than to an ideal model given in advance for the imitation of all.

Nonetheless, this is much more apparent at the moment when aristocracy has just fallen than when it has been destroyed for a long time.

The new political institutions and the new mores then gather in the same places men still made prodigiously dissimilar by education and habits and often force them to live together; this makes great colorful mixtures emerge at every moment. You still remember that a precise code of politeness existed; but you no longer know either what it contains or where it is to be found. Men have lost the common law of manners, and they have not yet decided to do without it; but each one tries hard to form a certain arbitrary and changing rule out of the debris of former customs; so that manners have neither the regularity nor the grandeur that they often exhibit among aristocratic peoples, nor the simple and free turn that you sometimes notice in democracy; they are at the very same time constrained and unconstrained.

That is not the normal state.

When equality is complete and old, all men, having more or less the same ideas and doing more or less the same things, have no need to agree or to copy each other in order to act and to speak in the same way; you constantly see a multitude of small dissimilarities in their manners; you do not notice any great differences. They never resemble each other perfectly, because they do not have the same model; they are never very dissimilar, Edition: current; Page: [1076] because they share the same condition. At first view, you would say that the manners of all Americans are exactly the same. It is only when considering them very closely that you notice the particularities by which they all differ.g

The English have made much fun of American manners; and what is peculiar is that most of those who have given us such an amusing portrait belonged to the middle classes of England, to whom this same portrait very much applies. So that these merciless detractors usually offer the example of what they are blaming in the United States; they do not notice that they are scoffing at themselves, to the great delight of the aristocracy of their country.h

Nothing harms democracy more than the external form of its mores. Many men would readily become accustomed to its vices, who cannot bear its manners.

I cannot, however, accept that there is nothing to praise in the manners of democratic peoples.

Among aristocratic nations, all those who are near the first class usually try hard to resemble it, which produces very ridiculous and very insipid imitations. If democratic peoples do not possess the model of grand manners, they at least escape from the obligation of seeing bad copies every day.

In democracies, manners are never as refined as among aristocratic peoples; but they also never appear as crude. You hear neither the gross words of the populace, nor the noble and select expressions of the great lords. There is often triviality in the mores, but not brutality or baseness.

[If it is true that the men who live among these peoples scarcely ever offer to render small services, they readily oblige you in your needs; manners are less polite than in aristocracies and more benevolent.]

I said that in democracies a precise code regarding savoir-faire cannot evolve. This has its disadvantage and its advantages. In aristocracies, the Edition: current; Page: [1077] rules of propriety impose on each man the same appearance; they make all the members of the same class similar, despite their particular propensities; they adorn the natural and hide it. Among democratic peoples, manners are neither as studied nor as well-ordered; but they are often more sincere. They form like a light and poorly woven veil, through which the true sentiments and individual ideas of each man are easily seen. So the form and the substance of human actions there often have an intimate rapport, and, if the great tableau of humanity is less ornate, it is more true. This is why, in a sense, you can say that the effect of democracy is not precisely to give men certain manners, but to prevent them from having manners.

You can sometimes find again in a democracy some of the sentiments, passions, virtues and vices of aristocracy, but not its manners. The latter are lost and disappear forever, when the democratic revolution is complete.j

It seems that there is nothing more durable than the manners of an aristocratic class; for it still preserves them for some time after having lost its property and its power; nor anything as fragile, for scarcely have they disappeared than any trace of them is no longer found, and it is difficult to say what they were from the moment that they are no more. A change in the social state works this wonder; a few generations are enough.

The principal features of aristocracy remain engraved in history when aristocracy is destroyed, but the light and delicate forms of its mores disappear from the memory of men, almost immediately after its fall. Men cannot imagine them once they are no longer before their eyes. They escape without men seeing or feeling it. For, in order to feel the type of refined pleasure obtained by the distinction and the choice of manners, habit and education must have prepared the heart, and the taste for manners is easily lost with the practice.

Thus, not only can democratic peoples not have the manners of aristocracy, but they do not conceive or desire them; they do not imagine them; Edition: current; Page: [1078] the manners of aristocracy are, for democratic peoples, as if they had never been.

[You would be wrong to believe that the model of aristocratic manners can at least be preserved among a few remnants of the old aristocracy. The members of a fallen aristocracy can indeed preserve the prejudices of their fathers, but not their manners.]

Too much importance must not be attached to this loss; but it is permitted to regret it.k

I know that more than once it has happened that the same men have had very distinguished mores and very vulgar sentiments; the interior of courts has shown enough that great appearance could often hide very base hearts. But, if the manners of aristocracy did not bring about virtue, they sometimes ornamented virtue itself. It was not an ordinary spectacle to see a numerous and powerful class, in which all of the external actions of life seemed, at every instant, to reveal natural nobility of sentiments and thoughts, refinement and consistency of tastes, and urbanity of mores.

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The manners of aristocracy gave beautiful illusions about human nature; and, although the tableau was often false, you experienced a noble pleasure in looking at it.m

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CHAPTER 15a: Of the Gravity of Americans and Why It Does Not Prevent Them from Often Doing Thoughtless Thingsb

The men who live in democratic countries do not value those sorts of unsophisticated, turbulent and crude diversions to which the people devote themselves in aristocracies; they find them childish or insipid. They show scarcely more taste for the intellectual and refined amusements of the aristocratic classes; they must have something productive and substantial in their pleasures, and they want to mix material enjoyments with their joy.

In aristocratic societies, the people readily abandon themselves to the impulses of a tumultuous and noisy gaiety that abruptly tears them away from the contemplation of their miseries; the inhabitants of democracies do not like to feel drawn violently out of themselves in this way, and they always lose sight of themselves with regret. To these frivolous transports, they prefer the grave and silent relaxations that resemble business affairs and do not cause them to forget them entirely. [In this sense you can say that gambling is an entirely democratic pastime.]

There is an American who, instead of going during his moments of leisure to dance joyously in the public square, as the men of his profession Edition: current; Page: [1081] continue to do in a great part of Europe, withdraws alone deep within his house to drink. This man enjoys two pleasures at once: he thinks about his trade, and he gets drunk decently at home.c

[≠I have visited peoples very ignorant, very miserable and completely strangers to their own affairs; to me, they appeared, in general, joyous. I have traveled across a country whose inhabitants, enlightened and rich, directed themselves in everything; I always found them grave and often sad [v: worried and taciturn].≠]

I believed that the English formed the most serious nation that existed on earth, but I saw the Americans, and I changed my opinion.d

[≠The inhabitant of the United States has an austere appearance, something anxious and preoccupied reigns in his look; his manner is constrained and you easily see that he never opens to external impressions anything except the smallest part of his soul. He is sometimes somber and always grave.≠]

I do not want to say that temperament does not count for much in the character of the inhabitants of the United States. I think, nonetheless, that the political institutions contribute to it still more.

I believe that the gravity of the Americans arises in part from their pride. In democratic countries, the poor man himself has a high idea of his personal value. He views himself with satisfaction and readily believes that others are looking at him. In this frame of mind, he carefully watches his words and his actions and does not let himself go, for fear of disclosing what he lacks. He imagines that, in order to appear dignified, he must remain grave.

But I notice another more intimate and more powerful cause that instinctively produces among the Americans this gravity that astonishes me.

Under despotism, peoples give themselves from time to time to outbursts of a wild joy; but, in general, they are cheerless and reserved, because they are afraid.

In absolute monarchies, which custom and mores temper, peoples often Edition: current; Page: [1082] display an even-tempered and lively mood, because having some liberty and great enough security, they are excluded from the most important cares of life; but all free peoples are grave, because their minds are habitually absorbed by the sight of some dangerous or difficult project.

It is so above all among free peoples who are constituted as democracies. Then, in all classes, an infinite number of men is found who are constantly preoccupied by the serious matters of government, and those who do not think about directing the public fortune give themselves entirely to the concern of increasing their private fortune. Among such a people, gravity is no longer particular to certain men; it becomes a national habit.

You speak about the small democracies of antiquity, whose citizens came to the public square with crowns of roses, and who spent nearly all their time in dances and in spectacles. I do not believe in such republics any more than that of Plato; or, if things happened there as we are told, I am not afraid to assert that these so-called democracies were formed out of elements very different from ours, and that they had with the latter only the name in common.

[<As for me, I cannot prevent myself from believing that a people will be more serious as its institutions and its mores become more democratic.>]

It must not be believed, however, that amid all their labors, the men who live in democracies consider themselves to be pitied; the opposite is noticed. There are no men who value their conditions as much as those men do. They would find life without savor, if you delivered them from the cares that torment them, and they are more attached to their concerns than aristocratic peoples to their pleasures.

[Although the Americans are more serious than the English, you meet among them far fewer melancholy men.e Among a people where all citizens work, there are sometimes great anxieties, miseries and bitter distresses, but not melancholy.]

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I wonder why the same democratic peoples, who are so grave, sometimes behave in so thoughtless a way.f

The Americans, who almost always maintain a steady bearing and a cold manner, nonetheless allow themselves often to be carried very far beyond the limits of reason by a sudden passion or an unthinking opinion, and it happens that they seriously commit singular blunders.

This contrast should not be surprising.

[<Amid the tumult and the thousand discordant noises that are heard within a democracy, sometimes the voice of truth becomes lost.>]

There is a sort of ignorance that arises from extreme publicity. In despotic States, men do not know how to act, because they are told nothing; among democratic nations, they often act haphazardly, because the desire has been to tell them everything. The first do not know, and the others forget. The principal features of each tableau disappear for them among the multitude of details.

You are astonished by all the imprudent remarks that a public man sometimes allows himself in free States and above all in democratic States, without being compromised by them; while, in absolute monarchies, a few words that escape by chance are enough to expose him forever and ruin him without resources.

That is explained by what precedes. When you speak in the middle of a great crowd, many words are not heard, or are immediately erased from the memory of those who hear; but in the silence of a mute and immobile multitude, the slightest whispers strike the ear.

In democracies, men are never settled; a thousand chance occurrences make them constantly change place, and almost always something unexpected and, so to speak, improvised reigns in their life. Consequently they are often forced to do what they learned badly, to speak about what they scarcely understand, and to give themselves to work for which a long apprenticeship has not prepared them.

In aristocracies, each man has only a single goal that he pursues constantly. But among democratic peoples, the existence of man is more complicated; Edition: current; Page: [1084] it is rare that the same mind there does not embrace several things at once, and often things very foreign to each other. Since he cannot understand all of them well, he easily becomes satisfied with imperfect notions.

When the inhabitant of democracies is not pressed by his needs, he is at least by his desires; for among all the goods that surround him, he sees none that is entirely out of his reach. So he does everything with haste, contents himself with approximations, and never stops except for a moment to consider each of his actions.

His curiosity is at once insatiable and satisfied at little cost, for he values knowing a lot quickly, rather than knowing anything well.

He hardly has time, and he soon loses the taste to go deeper.

Thus, democratic peoples are grave, because their social and political state leads them constantly to concern themselves with serious things; and they act thoughtlessly, because they give only a little time and attention to each one of these things.

The habit of inattention must be considered as the greatest vice of the democratic mind.

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CHAPTER 16a: Why the National Vanity of the Americans Is More Anxious and More Quarrelsome Than That of the Englishb

All free peoples take pride in themselves, but national pride does not appear among all in the same manner.

The Americans, in their relationships with foreigners, seem impatient with the least censure and insatiable for praise. The slightest praise pleases them, and the greatest rarely is enough to satisfy them; they badger you every moment to get you to praise them; and, if you resist their insistent demands, they praise themselves. You would say that, doubting their own merit, they want to have its picture before their eyes at every instant. Their vanity is not only greedy, it is anxious and envious. It grants nothing while constantly asking. It seeks compliments and is quarrelsome at the same time.

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I say to an American that the country that he inhabits is beautiful; he replies: “It is true, there is no country like it in the world!” I admire the liberty enjoyed by the inhabitants and he answers me: “What a precious gift liberty is! But there are very few peoples who are worthy to enjoy it.” I remark on the purity of morals that reigns in the United States: “I imagine,” he says, “that a foreigner, who has been struck by the corruption that is seen in all the other nations, is astonished by this spectacle.” I finally abandon him to self-contemplation; but he returns to me and does not leave until he has succeeded in making me repeat what I have just said to him. You cannot imagine a patriotismc more troublesome and more talkative. It tires even those who honor it.d

It is not like this with the English. The Englishman calmly enjoys the real or imaginary advantages that in his eyes his country possesses. If he grants nothing to other nations, he also asks nothing for his own. The disapproval of foreigners does not upset him and their praise hardly gratifies him. He maintains vis-à-vis the entire world a reserve full of disdain and ignorance. His pride does not need to be fed; it lives on itself.e

That two peoples, who not long ago sprang from the same stock, appear so opposite to each other in the manner of feeling and speaking, is remarkable.

In aristocratic countries, the great possess immense privileges, on which their pride rests, without trying to feed on the slight advantages that are Edition: current; Page: [1087] related. Since these privileges came to them by inheritance, they consider them, in a way, as a part of themselves, or at least as a natural right, inherent in their person. So they have a calm sentiment of their superiority; they do not think about praising prerogatives that everyone notices and that no one denies to them. They are not surprised enough by them to speak about them. They remain immobile in their solitary grandeur, sure that everyone sees them without their trying to show themselves, and sure that no one will undertake to take their grandeur away from them.

When an aristocracy leads public affairs, its national pride naturally takes this reserved, unconcerned and haughty form, and all the other classes of the nation imitate it.

When on the contrary conditions differ little, the least advantages have importance. Since each man sees around him a million men who possess all the same or analogous advantages, pride becomes demanding and jealous; it becomes attached to miserable nothings and defends them stubbornly.

In democracies, since conditions are very mobile, men almost always have recently acquired the advantages they possess; this makes them feel an infinite pleasure in putting them on view, in order to show to others and to attest to themselves that they enjoy those advantages; and since, at every instant, these advantages can happen to escape them, they are constantly alarmed and work hard to demonstrate that they still have them. Men who live in democracies love their country in the same way that they love themselves, and they transfer the habits of their private vanity to their national vanity.

The anxious and insatiable vanity of democratic peoples is due so much to the equality and to the fragility of conditions, that the members of the proudest nobility show absolutely the same passion in the small parts of their existence where there is something unstable or disputed.

An aristocratic class always differs profoundly from the other classes of the nation by the extent and the perpetuity of its prerogatives; but sometimes it happens that several of its members differ from each other only by small fleeting advantages that they can lose and gain every day.

We have seen the members of a powerful aristocracy, gathered in a capital or in a court, argue fiercely over the frivolous privileges that depend on the Edition: current; Page: [1088] caprice of fashion or on the will of the master. They then showed toward one another precisely the same puerile jealousies that animate the men of democracies, the same ardor to grab the least advantages that their equals disputed with them, and the same need to put on view to all the advantages that they enjoyed.

If courtiers ever dared to have national pride, I do not doubt that they would show a pride entirely similar to that of democratic peoples.

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CHAPTER 17a: How the Appearance of Society in the United States Is at the Very Same Time Agitated and Monotonousb

It seems that nothing is more appropriate for exciting and feeding curiosity than the appearance of the United States. Fortunes, ideas, laws vary constantly there. You would say that immobile nature itself is mobile, so much is it transformed every day under the hand of man.

In the long run, however, the sight of so agitated a society seems monotonous, and after contemplating for a while a tableau so changeable, the spectator becomes bored.

Among aristocratic peoples, each man is more or less fixed in his sphere; but men are prodigiously dissimilar; they have essentially different passions, ideas, habits and tastes. Nothing stirs, everything varies.

In democracies, on the contrary, all men are similar and do more or less similar things. They are subject, it is true, to great and continual vicissitudes; Edition: current; Page: [1090] but, since the same successes and the same reverses recur continually, only the name of the actors is different; the play is the same. The appearance of American society is agitated, because men and things change constantly; and it is monotonous, because all the changes are the same.

The men who live in democratic times have many passions; but most of their passions end in the love of wealth or come from it. That is not because their souls are smaller, but because then the importance of money is really greater.c

When fellow citizens are all independent and indifferent, it is only by paying that you can obtain the cooperation of each one of them; this infinitely multiplies the use of wealth and increases its value.

Since the prestige that was attached to ancient things has disappeared, birth, state, profession no longer distinguish men, or scarcely distinguish them; there remains hardly anything except money that creates very visible differences between them and that can put a few of them beyond comparison. The distinction that arises from wealth is increased by the disappearance and lessening of all the other distinctions.

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Among aristocratic peoples, money leads to only a few points on the vast circumference of desires; in democracies, it seems to lead to all.

So love of wealth, as principal or accessory, is usually found at the bottom of the actions of Americans; this gives all their passions a family air, and does not take long to make the tableau tiring.

This perpetual return of the same passion is monotonous; the particular procedures that this passion uses to become satisfied are monotonous as well.

In a sound and peaceful democracy, like that of the United States, where you cannot become rich either by war, or by public employment, or by political confiscations, love of wealth directs men principally toward industry. Now, industry, which often brings such great disturbances and such great disasters, can nonetheless prosper only with the aid of very regular habits and by a long succession of small, very uniform actions. Habits are all the more regular and actions more uniform as the passion is more intense. You can say that it is the very violence of their desires that makes the Americans so methodical. It disturbs their soul, but it makes their life orderly.

What I say about America applies, moreover, to nearly all the men of our times. Variety is disappearing from the human species; the same ways of acting, thinking and feeling are found in all the corners of the world.d That happens not only because all peoples are frequenting each Edition: current; Page: [1092] other more and are copying each other more faithfully, but also because in each country men, putting aside more and more the ideas and sentiments particular to a caste, to a profession, to a family, come simultaneously to what is closest to the constitution of man, which is everywhere the same.e They thus become similar, although they do not imitate each other. They are like travelers spread throughout a large forest in which all roads lead to the same point. If all see the central point at the same time and turn their steps in this direction, they come imperceptibly closer to one another, without seeking each other, without seeing each other, without knowing each other, and finally they will be surprised to see themselves gathered in the same place.f All peoples who take as the aim of their studies and their imitation, not a particular man, but man himself, will end up by meeting with the same mores, like these travelers at the center point.

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CHAPTER 18a: Of Honor in the United States and in Democratic Societies1

It seems that men use two very distinct methods in the public judgment that they make about the actions of their fellows: sometimes they judge Edition: current; Page: [1094] them according to the simple notions of the just and the unjust, which are spread over the whole earth; sometimes they assess them with the aid of very particular notions that belong only to one country and to one period. Often it happens that these two rules differ; sometimes they conflict with each other, but never do they merge entirely or cancel each other out.b

Honor, in the time of its greatest power, governs the will more than belief, and men, even if they submit without hesitation and without murmuring to its commandments, still feel, by a kind of obscure but powerful instinct, that a more general, more ancient and more holy law exists, which they sometimes disobey without ceasing to know it. There are actions that have been judged upright and dishonoring at the same time. The refusal of a duel has often been in this category.

I believe that you can explain these phenomena other than by the caprice of certain individuals and certain peoples, as has been done until now.

[The whim of men enters into it only partly.]

Humanity feels permanent and general needs, which have given birth to moral laws; to their disregard all men have naturally attached, in all places and in all times, the ideas of blame and shame. They have called doing evil to evade them, doing good to submit to them.c

Established as well, within the vast human association, are more restricted associations, which are called peoples, and amid the latter, others smaller still, which are called classes or castes.

Each one of these associations forms like a particular species within the Edition: current; Page: [1095] human race; and although it does not differ essentially from the mass of men, it holds itself a little apart and feels needs that are its own. These are the special needs that modify in some fashion and in certain countries the way of envisaging human actions and the esteem that is suitable to give to them.d

The general and permanent interest of humanity is that men do not kill each other; but it can happen that the particular and temporary interest of a people or of a class is, in certain cases, to excuse and even to honor the homicide.e

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Honor is nothing other than this particular rule based on a particular condition, with the aid of which a people or a class distributes blame or praise.f

There is nothing more unproductive for the human mind than an abstract idea. So I hasten to run toward facts. An example will cast light on my thought.

I will choose the most extraordinary type of honor that has ever appeared in the world, and the one that we know the best: aristocratic honor born Edition: current; Page: [1097] within feudal society. I will explain it with the aid of what precedes, and I will explain what precedes by it.g

I do not have to search here when and how the aristocracy of the Middle Ages was born, why it separated itself so profoundly from the rest of the nation, what had established and consolidated its power. I find it in place, and I seek to understand why it considered most human actions in such a particular light.

What strikes me first is that in the feudal world actions were not always praised or blamed by reason of their intrinsic value, but that sometimes they happened to be valued solely in relation to the author or the subject of the actions, which is repugnant to the general conscience of humanity. So certain actions that dishonored a nobleman were indifferent on the part of the commoner; others changed character depending on whether the person who suffered them belonged to the aristocracy or lived outside of it.

When these different opinions were born, the nobility formed a separate body, in the middle of the people, whom it dominated from the inaccessible heights to which it had withdrawn. To maintain this particular position that created its strength, it not only needed political privileges; it had to have virtues and vices for its exclusive use [in order to continue to distinguish itself in all things from what was outside or below it].

That some particular virtue or some particular vice belonged to the nobility rather than to commoners; that some particular action was neutral when it involved a villein or blameworthy when it concerned a nobleman, that is what was often arbitrary; but that honor or shame was attached to the actions of a man depending on his condition, that is what resulted from the very constitution of an aristocratic society. That was seen, in fact, in all the countries that had an aristocracy. As long as a single vestige of it remains, these singularities are still found: to seduce a young woman of color hardly harms the reputation of an American man; to marry her dishonors him.h

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In certain cases, feudal honor prescribed vengeance and stigmatized pardoning insults; in others it imperiously commanded men to master themselves; it ordered forgetting self. It did not make a law of humanity or of gentleness; but it praised generosity; it valued liberality more than benevolence; it allowed someone to enrich himself by games of chance, by war, but not by work; it preferred great crimes to small gains. Greed revolted it less than avarice, violence often pleased it, while guile and treason always appeared contemptible to it.

These bizarre notions were not born solely out of the caprice of those who had conceived them.

A class that has succeeded in putting itself above and at the head of all the others, and that makes constant efforts to maintain itself at this supreme rank, must particularly honor the virtues that have grandeur and brilliance, and that can be easily combined with pride and love of power. Such a class Edition: current; Page: [1099] is not afraid of upsetting the natural order of conscience, in order to put these virtues above all the others. You even conceive that it readily raises certain bold and brilliant vices above peaceful and modest virtues. It is in a way forced to do so by its condition.

[≠These singular opinions arise naturally from the singularities of the social state.≠]

Before all virtues and in the place of a great number of them, the nobles of the Middles Ages put military courage [while they considered fear as the most shameful and most irreparable of weaknesses].

That too was a singular opinion that arose necessarily from the singularity of the social state.

Feudal aristocracy was born by war and for war; it had found its power in arms and it maintained it by arms; so nothing was more necessary for it than military courage; and it was natural that the aristocracy glorified it above all the rest. So everything that exhibited military courage externally, even if it were at the expense of reason and humanity, was approved and often commanded by the aristocracy. The whim of men was found only in the detail.

That a man regarded receiving a slap on the cheek as an enormous insult and was obliged to kill in single combat the man who had lightly struck him in this way, that was arbitrary; but that a nobleman could not receive an insult peacefully and was dishonored if he allowed himself to be struck without fighting, that sprang from the very principles and needs of a military aristocracy.

So it was true, to a certain point, to say that honor had capricious aspects; but the caprices of honor were always confined within certain necessary limits. This particular rule, called honor by our fathers, is so far from seeming to me an arbitrary law, that I would easily undertake to connect its most incoherent and most bizarre prescriptions to a small number of fixed and invariable needs of feudal societies.

If I followed feudal honor into the field of politics, I would not have any more difficulty explaining its workings.

The social state and political institutions of the Middle Ages were such that national power never directly governed the citizens. National power did not so to speak exist in their eyes; each man knew only a certain man Edition: current; Page: [1100] whom he was obliged to obey. It was by the latter that, without knowing it, all the others were attached. So in feudal societies, all public order turned on the sentiment of fidelity to the very person of the lord. That destroyed, you fell immediately into anarchy.

Fidelity to the political head was, moreover, a sentiment whose value all the members of the aristocracy saw every day, for each one of them was at the same time lord and vassal and had to command as well as obey.

To remain faithful to your lord, to sacrifice yourself for him as needed, to share his good or bad fortune, to help him in his undertakings whatever they were, such were the first prescriptions of feudal honor in political matters. The treason of the vassal was condemned by opinion with an extraordinary severity. A particularly ignominious name was created for it; it was called a felony.

[≠Fidelity to the feudal head becomes {on the contrary, a kind of religion}.≠]

You find, on the contrary, in the Middle Ages only a few traces of a passion that animated ancient societies [≠and that reappeared amongmodern ones as the feudal world was transformed. ≠]. I mean patriotism.j The very noun patriotism is not old in our language.2

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Feudal institutions concealed country from view; they made love of it less necessary. They caused the nation to be forgotten while making you passionate about one man. Consequently you do not see that feudal honor ever made it a strict law to remain faithful to your country.

It is not that love of country did not exist in the hearts of our fathers; but it formed a kind of weak and obscure instinct, which became clearer and stronger as classes were destroyed and [≠political≠] power was centralized.

This is clearly seen in the contrasting judgments that the peoples of Europe bring to the different facts of their history, depending on the generation that judges them. What principally dishonored the High Constable de Bourbon in the eyes of his contemporaries is that he bore arms against his king; what dishonors him most in our eyes is that he waged war on his country. We stigmatize his actions as much as our ancestors, but for other reasons.

I have chosen feudal honor to clarify my thought, because feudal honor has more marked and better features than any other. I could have taken my example from elsewhere; I would have reached the same end by another road.k

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Although we know the Romans less well than our ancestors, we nonetheless know that there existed among them, in regard to glory and dishonor, particular opinions that did not flow only from general notions of good and evil. Many human actions there were considered in a different light, depending on whether it concerned a citizen or a foreigner, a free man or a slave; certain vices were glorified, certain virtues were raised above all others.

“Now in that time,” says Plutarch in the life of Coriolanus, “valor was honored and valued in Rome above all other virtues. What attests to this is that it was called virtus, the very noun for virtue, attributing the name of the common type to a particular species. So much so that virtue in Latin was just like saying valor.” Who does not recognize in that the particular need of that singular association formed to conquer the world?

Each nation will lend itself to analogous observations; for, as I said above, every time that men gather together in a particular society, a code of honor becomes immediately established among them, that is to say an ensemble of opinions that is proper to them about what must be praised or blamed; and these particular rules always have their source in the special habits and special interests of the association.

That applies, in a certain measure, to democratic societies as to others. We are going to find the proof of it among the Americans.3

You still find scattered, among the opinions of the Americans, a few detached notions of the ancient aristocratic honor of Europe. These traditional opinions are in very small number; they have weak roots and little power. It is a religion of which you allow a few temples to continue to exist, but in which you no longer believe.

Amid these half-obliterated notions of an exotic honor, appear a few new opinions that constitute what could today be called American honor.

I have shown how the Americans were pushed incessantly toward commerce Edition: current; Page: [1103] and industry. Their origin, their social state, their political institutions, and the very place that they inhabit draw them irresistibly in this direction. So they form, at present, an almost exclusively industrial and commercial association, placed at the heart of a new and immense country that its principal purpose is to exploit. Such is the characteristic feature that, today, most particularly distinguishes the American people from all the others.

All the peaceful virtues that tend to give a regular bearing to the social body and tend to favor trade must therefore be especially honored among this people, and you cannot neglect them without falling into public scorn.

All the turbulent virtues that often give brilliance, but even more often give trouble to a society, occupy on the contrary a subordinate rank in the opinion of this same people. You can neglect them without losing the esteem of your fellow citizens, and you would perhaps risk losing it by acquiring them.

The Americans make no less an arbitrary classification of the vices.

There are certain tendencies, blameworthy in the eyes of the general reason and of the universal conscience of humanity, that find themselves in agreement with the particular and temporary needs of the American association; and it condemns them only weakly, sometimes it praises them. I will cite particularly the love of wealth and the secondary tendencies that are connected to it. In order to clear, to make fruitful, to transform this vast uninhabited continent that is his domain, the American must have the daily support of an energetic passion; this passion can only be the love of wealth; so the passion for wealth has no stigma attached to it in America, and provided that it does not go beyond the limits assigned to it by public order, it is honored. The American calls a noble and estimable ambition what our fathers of the Middle Ages named servile cupidity; in the same way the American gives the name of blind and barbaric fury to the conquering fervor and warrior spirit that threw our fathers into new battles every day.

In the United States, fortunes are easily destroyed and rise again. The country is without limits and full of inexhaustible resources. The people have all the needs and all the appetites of a being who is growing, and Edition: current; Page: [1104] whatever efforts he makes, he is always surrounded by more goods than he is able to grasp. What is to be feared among such a people is not the ruin of a few individuals, soon repaired, it is the inactivity and indolence of all. Boldness in industrial enterprises is the first cause of its rapid progress, its strength, its grandeur. Industry is for it like a vast lottery in which a small number of men lose every day, but in which the State wins constantly; so such a people must see boldness with favor and honor it in matters of industry. Now, every bold enterprise imperils the fortune of the one who devotes himself to it and the fortune of all those who trust in him. The Americans, who make commercial temerity into a kind of virtue, cannot, in any case whatsoever, stigmatize those who are daring.

That is why in the United States such a singular indulgence is shown for the merchant who goes bankrupt; the honor of the latter does not suffer from such an accident. In that, the Americans differ, not only from European peoples, but from all the commercial nations of today; but then, in their position and their needs, they do not resemble any of them.

In America, all the vices that are of a nature to alter the purity of morals and to destroy the conjugal union are treated with a severity unknown to the rest of the world. That contrasts strangely, at first view, with the tolerance that is shown there on other points. You are surprised to meet among the same people a morality so lax and so austere.

These things are not as inconsistent as you suppose. Public opinion, in the United States, only mildly represses love of wealth, which serves the industrial greatness and prosperity of the nation; and it particularly condemns bad morals, which distract the human mind from the search for well-being and disturbs the internal order of the family, so necessary to the success of business. So in order to be respected by their fellows, Americans are forced to yield to regular habits. In this sense you can say that they put their honor in being chaste.

American honor agrees with the old honor of Europe on one point: it puts courage at the head of virtues, and makes it the greatest of moral necessities for man; but it does not envisage courage in the same way.

In the United States, warrior valor is little prized; the courage that is known the best and esteemed the most is the one that makes you face the Edition: current; Page: [1105] furies of the Ocean in order to arrive earliest in port, bear without complaint the miseries of the wilderness, and its solitude, more cruel than all the miseries; the courage that makes you almost insensitive to the sudden reversal of a fortune painfully acquired, and immediately suggests new efforts to build a new one. Courage of this type is principally necessary for the maintenance and the prosperity of the American association, and it is particularly honored and glorified by it. You cannot show yourself lacking in it, without dishonor.

I find a final feature; it will really put the idea of this chapter into relief.

In a democratic society, like that of the United States, where fortunes are small and poorly assured, everyone works, and work leads to everything. That has turned the point of honor around and directed it against idleness.

I sometimes met in America rich young men, enemies by temperament of all difficult effort, who were forced to take up a profession. Their nature and their fortune allowed them to remain idle; public opinion imperiously forbid it to them, and they had to obey.n I have often seen, on the contrary, among European nations where the aristocracy still struggles against the torrent that carries it along, I have seen, I say, men goaded constantly by their needs and their desires who remain idle in order not to lose the esteem of their equals, and who subject themselves more easily to boredom and want than to work.

Who does not see in these two so opposite obligations two different rules, both of which emanate nonetheless from honor?

What our fathers called honor above all was, truly speaking, only one of its forms. They gave a generic name to what was only a type. [If the aristocratic honor of the Middle Ages had more marked features and a physiognomy more extraordinary than all that had preceded and followed it, that was only because it was born amidst the most exceptional social state that ever existed and the one most removed from the natural and ordinary condition of humanity. Never in fact, in our western world, had men been separated by so many artificial barriers and felt more particular Edition: current; Page: [1106] needs.]o So honor is found in democratic centuries as in times of aristocracy. But it will not be difficult to show that in the former it presents another physiognomy.

Not only are its prescriptions different, we are going to see that they are fewer and less clear and that its laws are followed with less vigor.

A caste is always in a much more particular situation than a people. There is nothing more exceptional in the world than a small society always composed of the same families, like the aristocracy of the Middle Ages, for example, and whose objective is to concentrate and to hold enlightenment, wealth and power in its hands exclusively and by heredity.

Now, the more exceptional the position of a society is, the more numerous are its special needs, and the more the notions of its honor, which correspond to its needs, increase.

So the prescriptions of honor will always be fewer among a people that is not divided into castes, than among another. If nations come to be established where it is difficult even to find classes, honor will be limited there to a small number of precepts, and those precepts will be less and less removed from the moral laws adopted by the generality of humanity.

Thus the prescriptions of honor will be less bizarre and fewer in a democratic nation than in an aristocratic one.

They will also be more obscure; that results necessarily from what precedes.

Since the characteristic features of honor are less numerous and less singular, it must often be difficult to discern them.

There are still other reasons.

Among the aristocratic nations of the Middle Ages the generations succeeded each other in vain; each family was like an immortal and perpetually immobile man;p ideas varied scarcely more than conditions.

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So each man had always before his eyes the same objects, which he envisaged from the same point of view; little by little he saw into the slightest details, and his perception could not fail, in the long run, to become clear and distinct. Thus, not only did the men of feudal times have very extraordinary opinions that constituted their honor, but also each one of these opinions was shaped in their minds in a clear-cut and precise way.

It can never be the same in a country like America, where all the citizens are in motion; where society, itself changing every day, changes its opinions with its needs. In such a country, you catch a glimpse of the rule of honor; you rarely have the leisure to consider it intently.

Were society immobile, it would still be difficult to fix the meaning that must be given to the word honor.

In the Middle Ages, since each class had its honor, the same opinion was never accepted simultaneously by a very great number of men, which allowed giving it a fixed and precise form; all the more so since all those who accepted it, all having a perfectly identical and very exceptional position, found a natural disposition to agree on the prescriptions of a law that was made only for them alone.

Honor thus became a complete and detailed code in which everything was foreseen and ordered in advance, and which presented a fixed and always visible rule to human actions. Among a democratic nation like the American people, where ranks are mixed and where the entire society forms only a single mass, all of whose elements are analogous without being entirely the same, you can never exactly agree in advance about what is allowed and forbidden by honor.

There exist indeed, within this people, certain national needs that give birth to common opinions in the matter of honor; but such opinions never present themselves at the same time, in the same manner and with equal force to the mind of all the citizens; the law of honor exists, but it often lacks interpreters.

The confusion is even still greater in a democratic country like ours,q in which the different classes that composed the old society, starting to mingle Edition: current; Page: [1108] without yet being able to blend, bring to each other every day the various and often contradictory notions of their honor; in which each man, following his caprices, abandons one part of the opinions of his fathers and holds onto the other; so that amid so many arbitrary measures, a common rule can never be established. It is nearly impossible then to say in advance what actions will be honored or stigmatized. These are miserable times, but they do not last.

Among democratic nations, honor, not being well defined, is necessarily less powerful; for it is difficult to apply with certainty and firmness a law that is imperfectly known.r Public opinion, which is the natural and sovereign interpreter of the law of honor, not seeing distinctly in which direction it is appropriate to tip blame or praise, only delivers its judgment with hesitation. Sometimes it happens that it contradicts itself; often it remains immobile and lets things happen.

[≠The law of honor, were it clear, would still be weak among democratic peoples by the sole fact that its not very numerous prescriptions are few. For the principal strength of a body of laws comes from the fact that it extends at the same time to a multitude of matters and, every day in a thousand diverse ways, bends the human mind to obedience. A law that provides for just a few cases and that is only applied here and there is always feeble.

Now, the prescriptions of honor are always more numerous and less detailed to the extent that classes, not being as close to each other, have fewer interests apart from the mass and fewer particular needs.≠]

The relative weakness of honor in democracy is due to several other causes.

In aristocratic countries, the same honor is never accepted except by a certain, often limited number of men, always separated from the rest of their fellows. So honor easily mixes and mingles, in the minds of those men, Edition: current; Page: [1109] with the idea of all that distinguishes them. It appears to them like the distinctive feature of their physiognomy; they apply its different rules with all the ardor of personal interest, and if I can express myself in this way, they bring passion to obeying it.

This truth manifests itself very clearly when you read the customary laws of the Middle Ages, on the point of legal duels.s You see there that the nobles were bound, in their quarrels, to use the lance and the sword, while the villeins used the cudgel with each other, “it being understood,” the laws add, “that the villeins have no honor.” That did not mean, as we imagine today, that those men were dishonorable; it meant only that their actions were not judged by the same rules as those of the aristocracy.t

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What is astonishing, at first view, is that, when honor reigns with this full power, its prescriptions are in general very strange, so that it seems to be obeyed better the more it appears to diverge from reason; from that it has sometimes been concluded that feudal honor was strong, because of its very extravagance.

These two things have, in fact, the same origin; but they are not derived from each other.

Honor is bizarre in proportion as it represents more particular needs felt by a smaller number of men; and it is powerful because it represents needs of this type. So honor is not powerful because it is bizarre; but it is bizarre and powerful because of the same cause.

I will make another remark.

Among aristocratic peoples, all ranks differ, but all ranks are fixed; each man occupies in his sphere a place that he cannot leave, and in which he lives amid other men bound around him in the same way. So among these nations, no one can hope or fear not being seen; there is no man placed so low who does not have his stage, and who can, by his obscurity, escape from blame or from praise.

In democratic States, on the contrary, where all citizens are merged in the same crowd and are constantly in motion, public opinion has nothing to hold on to; its subject disappears at every instant and escapes.u So honor will always be less imperious and less pressing; for honor acts only with the public in mind, different in that from simple virtue,v which lives on its own and is satisfied with its testimony.

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If the reader has well grasped all that precedes, he must have understood that there exists, between inequality of conditions and what we have called honor, a close and necessary connection that, if I am not wrong, had not yet been clearly pointed out. So I must make a final effort to bring it clearly to light.w

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A nation takes up a separate position within humanity. Apart from certain general needs inherent in the human species, it has its own particular interests and needs. Immediately established within the nation in the matter of blame and praise are certain opinions that are its own and that its citizens call honor.

Within this same nation, a caste becomes established, which, separating itself in turn from all the other classes, contracts particular needs, and the latter, in turn, give rise to special opinions.x The honor of this caste, bizarre mixture of the particular notions of the nation and of the still more particular notions of the caste, will diverge as far as you can imagine from the simple and general opinions of men. We have reached the extreme point; let us go back.

Ranks mingle, privileges are abolished. Since the men who compose the nation have again become similar and equal, their interests and their needs blend, and you see successively vanish all the singular notions that each caste called honor; honor now derives only from the particular needs of the nation itself; it represents its individuality among peoples.

If it were finally allowed to suppose that all races were blended and that all the peoples of the world had reached the point of having the same interests, the same needs, and of no longer being different from each other by any characteristic feature, you would cease entirely to attribute a conventional value to human actions; everyone would envisage them in the same light; the general needs of humanity, which conscience reveals to every man, would be the common measure. Then, you would no longer find in this world anything except the simple and general notions of good and evil, to which would be linked, by a natural and necessary bond, the ideas of praise and blame.

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Thus finally to contain in a single formula my whole thought, it is the dissimilarities and the inequalities of men that created honor; it grows weaker as these differences fade away, and it would disappear with them.y

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CHAPTER 19a: Why in the United States You Find So Many Ambitious Men and So Few Great Ambitionsb

The first thing that strikes you in the United States is the innumerable multitude of those who seek to leave their original condition; and the second is the small number of great ambitions which stand out among this universal movement of ambition.c There are no Americans who do not Edition: current; Page: [1117] appear to be devoured by the desire to rise; but you see hardly any who seem to nourish very vast hopes or to aim very high. All want constantly to acquire property, reputation, power; few envisage all these things on a large scale. And at first view that is surprising, since you notice nothing, either in the mores or in the laws of America, that should limit desires and prevent them from taking off in all directions.d

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It seems difficult to attribute this singular state of things to equality of conditions [{democracy}]; for, at the moment when the same equality became established among us, it immediately caused almost limitless ambitions to develop.e I believe, however, that it is principally in the social state and democratic mores of the Americans that the cause of what precedes must be sought.

Every revolution magnifies the ambition of men. That is above all true of the revolution that overthrows an aristocracy.f

[The revolution that finally creates a democratic social state must be clearly distinguished from the democratic social state itself.

When a powerful aristocracy disappears suddenly amid the popular waves raised against it, it is not only men who change place; laws, ideas, mores are renewed; the entire world seems to change appearance. The old order on which humanity rested finally collapses and a new order comes to light. The authors and the witnesses of these wonders, while contemplating them, feel as if transported beyond themselves; the grandeur of the things that are taking place before their eyes and by their hands expands their soul and fills it with vast thoughts and immense desires.

Ambition then takes on an audacious and grandiose character. It appears sometimes disinterested, often sublime. That is due not to the social state of the people, but to the singular revolution that it is undergoing.]g

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Since the old barriers that separated the crowd from fame and power have fallen suddenly, an impetuous and universal upward movement takes place toward these long desired splendors whose enjoyment is finally allowed. In this first exaltation of triumph, nothing seems impossible to anyone. Not only do desires have no limits, but the power to satisfy them has hardly any. Amid this general and sudden renewal of customs and laws, in this vast confusion of all men and all rules, citizens rise and fall with an unheard-of rapidity, and power passes so quickly from hand to hand that no one should despair of seizing it in his turn.

You must remember clearly, moreover, that the men who destroy an aristocracy lived under its laws; they saw its splendors and allowed themselves, without knowing it, to be penetrated by the sentiments and the ideas that the aristocracy had conceived. So at the moment when an aristocracy dissolves, its spirit still hovers over the mass, and its instincts are conserved for a long time after it has been vanquished.

So ambitions always appear very great, as long as the democratic revolution endures; after it has finished, it will still be the same for some time.

The recollection of the extraordinary events that they have witnessed does not fade in one day from the memory of men. The passions that revolution had suggested do not disappear with it.h The sentiment of instability Edition: current; Page: [1120] is perpetuated amid order. The idea of the ease of success outlives the strange vicissitudes that have given it birth. Desires remain very vast, while the means to satisfy them diminishes every day. The taste for great fortunes subsists, even though great fortunes become rare, and you see taking fire on all sides disproportionate and unfortunate ambitions that burn secretly and fruitlessly in the heart that harbors them.

Little by little, however, the last traces of the struggle fade; the remnants of the aristocracy finally disappear. You forget the great events that accompanied its fall; rest follows war, the dominion of rules is reborn within the new world; desires become proportionate to means; needs, ideas and sentiments become linked together; men finally come to the same level; democratic society is finally established.

If we consider a democratic people having reached this permanent and normal state, it will present to us a spectacle entirely different from the one that we have just contemplated, and we will be able to judge without difficulty that, if ambition becomes great while conditions are becoming equal, it loses this characteristic when they are equal.

Since great fortunes are divided and knowledge is widespread, no one is absolutely deprived of enlightenment or of property; since privileges and disqualifications of classes are abolished, and since men have forever broken the bonds that held them immobile, the idea of progress presents itself to the mind of each one of them; the desire to rise is born at the same time in all hearts; each man wants to leave his place. Ambition is the universal sentiment.

But, if equality of conditions gives some resources to all citizens, it prevents any one among them from having very extensive resources; this necessarily encloses desires within rather narrow limits.

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So among democratic peoples, ambition is ardent and continuous, but it cannot habitually aim very high; and life ordinarily is spent there ardently coveting small objects that you see within your reach.j

What above all diverts men of democracies from great ambition is not the smallness of their fortune, but the violent effort that they make to improve it every day. They force their soul to use all its strength in order to do mediocre things, which cannot soon fail to limit its view and to circumscribe its power. They could be very much poorer and remain greater.

The small number of opulent citizens who are found within a democracy do not make an exception to this rule. A man who rises by degrees toward wealth and power contracts, in this long effort, habits of prudence and restraint which he cannot afterward give up. You do not gradually enlarge your soul like your house.k

An analogous remark is applicable to the sons of this same man. They Edition: current; Page: [1122] are born, it is true, in a high position, but their parents were humble; they grew up amid sentiments and ideas which are difficult for them to escape later; and it is to be believed that the sons will inherit at the same time the instincts of their father and his property.

It can happen, on the contrary, that the poorest offspring of a powerful aristocracy exhibits a vast ambition, because the traditional opinions of his race and the general spirit of his caste still sustain him for some time above his fortune.

What also prevents the men of democratic times from easily devoting themselves to the ambition for great things is the time that they foresee must pass before they are able to embark upon them. “A great advantage of quality,” Pascal said, “is to put a man, at eighteen or twenty years of age, in as strong a position as another man would be at fifty; this is thirty years gained without difficulty.”m Those thirty years are usually lacking for the ambitious men of democracies. Equality, which allows each man the ability to reach everything, prevents him from growing up quickly.

In a democratic society, as elsewhere, there are only a certain number of great fortunes to make; and because the careers that lead to them are open to each citizen without distinction, the progress of all must indeed slow down. Since the candidates appear more or less the same, and since it is difficult to make a choice from among them without violating the principle of equality, which is the supreme law of democratic societies, the first idea that presents itself is to make all march with the same step and to subject them all to the same tests.

So as men become more similar and as the principle of equality penetrates institutions and mores more peacefully and profoundly, the rules for advancement become more inflexible, advancement slower; the difficulty of quickly attaining a certain degree of grandeur increases.

By hatred of privilege and by overabundance of choices, you come to the point of forcing all men, whatever their size, to pass through the same channel, and you subject them all without distinction to a multitude of small preliminary exercises, in the middle of which their youth is lost and Edition: current; Page: [1123] their imagination grows dim; so that they despair of ever being able to enjoy fully the advantages that you offer to them; and when they are finally able to do extraordinary things, they have lost the taste for them.

In China, where equality of conditions is very great and very ancient, a man passes from one public office to another only after being subjected to a competitive examination. This test is found at each step of his career, and the idea of it has entered the mores so well that I remember reading a Chinese novel in which the hero, after many vicissitudes, finally touches the heart of his mistress by doing well on an examination. Great ambitions breathe badly in such an atmosphere.

What I say about politics extends to everything; equality produces the same effects everywhere; wherever the law does not undertake to regulate and to slow the movement of men, competition suffices.

In a well-established democratic society, great and rapid rises are therefore rare; they form exceptions to the common rule. It is their singularity that makes you forget their small number.

The men of democracies end up catching sight of all these things; in the long run they notice that the legislator opens before them a limitless field, in which everyone can easily take a few steps, but which no one can imagine crossing quickly. Between them and the vast and final object of their desires, they see a multitude of small, intermediary barriers, which they must clear slowly; this sight fatigues their ambition in advance and discourages it. So they renounce these distant and doubtful hopes, in order to seek less elevated and easier enjoyments close to them. The law does not limit their horizon, but they narrow it themselves.

I said that great ambitions were more rare in democratic centuries than in times of aristocracy;n I add that, when, despite natural obstacles, great ambitions are born, they have another physiognomy.

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In aristocracies, the course of ambition is often extensive; but its limits are fixed. In democratic countries, it moves usually in a narrow field; but if it happens to go beyond those limits, you would say that there is no longer anything that limits it. Since men there are weak, isolated and changing, and since precedents there have little sway and laws little duration, resistance to innovations is soft and the social body never seems very sound or very settled. So that, when those who are ambitious once have power in hand, they believe they are able to dare anything; and when power escapes them, they immediately think about overturning the State in order to regain it.o

That gives to great political ambition a violent and revolutionary character, which is rare to see, to the same degree, in aristocratic societies.

A multitude of small, very judicious ambitions, out of which now and then spring a few great, badly ordered desires: such usually is the picture presented by democratic nations. A measured, moderate and vast ambition is hardly ever found there.p

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I showed elsewhere by what secret strength equality made the passion for material enjoyments and the exclusive love of the present predominate in the human heart; these different instincts mingle with the sentiment of ambition and tinge it, so to speak, with their colors.

I think that the ambitious men of democracies are preoccupied less than all the others by the interests and judgments of the future; the present moment alone occupies them and absorbs them. They rapidly complete many undertakings rather than raising a few very enduring monuments; they love success much more than glory. What they ask above all from men is obedience. What they want above all is dominion. Their mores almost always remain less elevated than their condition; this means that very often they bring very vulgar tastes to an extraordinary fortune, and that they seem to have risen to sovereign power only in order to gain more easily for themselves small and coarse pleasures.

I believe that today it is very necessary to purify, to regulate and to adjust the sentiment of ambition, but that it would be very dangerous to want to impoverish it and to curb it beyond measure. You must attempt in advance to set extreme limits for it, which you will never allow it to surpass; but you must take care not to hinder its impetus too much within the allowed limits.

I admit that I fear boldness much less, for democratic societies, than mediocrity of desires; what seems to me most to fear is that, amid the small incessant occupations of private life, ambition may lose its impetus and its grandeur; that human passions may become calmer and lower at the same time, so that each day the bearing of the social body may become more tranquil and less elevated.

So I think that the heads of these new societies would be very wrong to want to put the citizens to sleep in a happiness that is too smooth and Edition: current; Page: [1126] peaceful, and that it is good that they sometimes give them difficult and perilous things to do, in order to elevate ambition there and to open a theater to it.q

Moralists complain constantly that the favorite vice of our period is pride.

That is true in a certain sense: there is no one, in fact, who does not believe himself worth more than his neighbor and who agrees to obey his superior. But that is very false in another sense; for this same man, who cannot bear either subordination or equality, nonetheless despises himself to the point that he believes himself made only for appreciating vulgar pleasures. He stops willingly at mediocre desires without daring to embark upon high undertakings; he scarcely imagines them.

So far from believing that humility must be recommended to our contemporaries, I would like you to try hard to give them a more vast idea of themselves and of their species;r humility is not healthy for them; what they lack most, in my opinion, is pride. I would willingly give up several of our small virtues for this vice.

[In a jacket with the manuscript of the chapter:

Piece of the end that I am not very sure of having correctly deleted. Have it copied and read./

I must not yet despair of combining this with the original version./

Seeing the general movement of ambition that today torments all men and the senseless passions that often agitate them, there are many men who suppose that the principal business of the legislator in democratic Edition: current; Page: [1127] centuries is to extinguish ambition and to narrow their desires. This seems true to me only to a certain measure.

It is in fact very important in those times to give fixed and visible limits to ambition.

<I am led to believe that among democratic nations it can be useful to entrust sovereign power to only a single family in order for sovereign power not to appear each day within reach of every man.>

I think that among democratic nations more than among all others it is important carefully to contain powers, however great they may be, within known and unsurpassable limits before which immoderate imaginations stop in advance. I imagine that you must work harder than elsewhere to make the constitution of the country seem strong and unchanging [v: unassailable] and, where the law fails, to make public opinion secure enough to raise an immobile barrier against unrestrained passions.

Thus, I understand that among democratic peoples it is particularly necessary to limit great ambition, but I believe that it would be dangerous to hinder its impetus too much within the allowed limits.

I admit straight on that I fear the boldness of desires much less for future generations than the mediocrity of desires. What, according to me, is principally to fear in the coming centuries is that in the midst of the small, incessant and tumultuous occupations of life, ambition may lose its impetus and its grandeur; that human passions may become exhausted and lower and that each day the appearance of humanity may become more peaceful and less elevated.

If, therefore, the legislators of the new world want men to remain at the level attained by our fathers and to go beyond it, they must take great care not to discourage the sentiment of ambition too much.

So instead of excessively plunging citizens into the contemplation of their particular interests so that they more easily abandon the direction of the State to their leaders, it is important to tear them away from themselves often in order to occupy them with public affairs and, if possible, to substitute the love of fame and the taste for great things for the passion for well-being.

I think as well that in democratic societies you must be very careful not to imprison rare virtues too narrowly within the ordinary rules; it is good there to prepare in advance great places which, by great talents and by great Edition: current; Page: [1128] efforts, you can imagine reaching quickly and where you can imagine acting with independence.

This is what occurs naturally with liberty, and nothing shows its necessity better when conditions are equal.

Free institutions constantly force men to forget the petty affairs of individuals in order to preoccupy them with the great interests of peoples; they elevate ambition and open a theater for it.

An absolute prince who becomes established within a people among whom conditions are equal {democratic} is always obliged, in order to have his power excused, to limit himself in the choice of his agents, to subject advancement to fixed and invariable rules, to profess an exaggerated respect for equality of rights, for there is no power in the world which is able to make a democratic people bear at the same time tyranny and privilege.

A self-governing nation never allows itself to be imprisoned by such fetters, and its omnipotent will constantly creates, despite customs and laws, great quick fortunes which leave vast hopes for ambition.

So may the legislators of today seek to purify and to regulate ambition, but may they take care not to want to diminish it too much.

Ambition must be given an honest, reasonable and great end, not extinguished.

≠The more I consider what is coming in the future, the more I think that from now on the great goal of the legislator must be to regulate and to adjust ambition, rather than to diminish it.

So there is nothing that seems more appropriate to the new social state than liberties in a monarchy, an hereditary prince and great elective powers.≠]

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CHAPTER 20a: Of Positions Becoming an Industry among Certain Democratic Nations

[I have talked about how as conditions become equal the sentiment of ambition spreads.

That is seen among all peoples whose social state is becoming democratic, but among them all ambition does not use the same means to satisfy itself.]

In the United States, as soon as a citizen has some enlightenment and some resources, he seeks to enrich himself in commerce and industry, or he buys a field covered with forest and becomes a pioneer. All that he asks of the State is not to come to disturb him in his labors and to ensure the fruit of those labors.

Among most European peoples, when a man begins to feel his strength and to expand his desires, the first idea that occurs to him is to gain a public post.b These different results, coming from the same cause, are worth our stopping a moment here to consider.

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When public offices are few, badly paid, unreliable, and on the other hand, industrial careers are numerous and productive, the new and impatient desires that arise every day from equality are led from all directions toward industry and not toward administration.

But if, at the same time that ranks are becoming equal, enlightenment remains incomplete or spirits timid, or commerce and industry, hampered in their development, offer only difficult and slow means to make a fortune, citizens, losing hope of improving their lot by themselves, rush tumultuously toward the head of the Statec and ask his help. To make themselves more comfortable at the expense of the public treasury seems to them to be, if not the only path open to them, at least, the easiest path and the one most open to all for leaving a condition that is no longer enough for them. The search for positions becomes the most popular of all industries.

It must be so, above all, in large, centralized monarchies, in which the number of paid officials is immense and the existence of the office holders is adequately secure, so that no one loses hope of obtaining a post there and of enjoying it peacefully like a patrimony.d

I will not say that this universal and excessive desire for public office is a great social evil; that it destroys, within each citizen, the spirit of independence and spreads throughout the entire body of the nation a venal and servile temper; that it suffocates the manly virtues; nor will I make the observation that an industry of this type creates only an unproductive activity and agitates the country without making it fruitful: all of that is easily understood.

But I want to remark that the government that favors such a tendency risks its tranquillity and puts its very life in great danger.

I know that, in a time like ours, when we see the love and respect that was formerly attached to power being gradually extinguished, it can appear necessary to those governing to bind each man more tightly by his interest, and that it seems easy to them to use his very passions to keep him in order and in silence; but it cannot be so for long, and what can appear for a certain Edition: current; Page: [1131] period as a cause of strength becomes assuredly in the long run a great cause of trouble and of weakness.

Among democratic peoples, as among all others, the number of public posts ends by having limits; but among these same peoples, the number of ambitious men has no limits; the number increases constantly, by a gradual and irresistible movement, as conditions become equal; the number reaches its limit only when men are lacking.

So when ambition has no outlet except the administration alone, the government necessarily ends by encountering a permanent opposition; for its task is to satisfy with limited means, desires that multiply without limits. You have to be well aware that, of all the peoples of this world, the one most difficult to contain and to lead is a people of place seekers. Whatever the efforts made by its leaders, they can never satisfy such a people, and you must always fear that it will finally overturn the constitution of the country and change the face of the State, solely for the need to open up positions.e

[<≠It is very insane to want to contain in a single streambed the always swelling torrent of human ambitions. It would be wiser in my opinion to divide up the mass and to separate it into a thousand various channels.>

I am persuaded on my part that in a democratic society the interest of Edition: current; Page: [1132] those governing as well as that of the governed is to multiply private careers infinitely.≠]

The princes of our times, who work hard to draw toward themselves alone all the new desires aroused by equality, and to satisfy them, will therefore finish, if I am not mistaken, by regretting being engaged in such an enterprise; they will discover one day that they have risked their power by making it so necessary, and that it would have been more honest and more sure to teach each one of their subjects the art of being self-sufficient.

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CHAPTER 21a: Why Great Revolutions Will Become Rareb

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A people who has lived for centuries under the regime of castes and classes arrives at a democratic social state only through a long succession of more or less painful transformations, with the aid of violent efforts, and after numerous vicissitudes during which goods, opinions and power rapidly change place.

Even when this great revolution is finished, you see the revolutionary habits that it created still continue to exist, and profound agitation follows it.

Since all of this occurs at the moment when conditions are becoming equal, you conclude that a hidden connection and a secret bond exist between equality itself and revolutions, so that the one cannot exist without the others arising.

On this point, reasoning seems in agreement with experience.

Among a people where ranks are nearly equal no apparent bond unites men and holds them firmly in their place. No one among them has the permanent right or the power to command, and no one’s condition is to obey; but each man, finding himself provided with some enlightenment and some resources, can choose his path and walk apart from all his fellows.

The same causes that make citizens independent of each other push them each day toward new and restless desires, and goad them constantly.

So it seems natural to believe that, in a democratic society, ideas, things and men must eternally change forms and places, and that democratic centuries will be times of rapid and constant transformations.

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Is that the case in fact? Does equality of conditions lead men in a habitual and permanent way toward revolutions? Does it contain some disturbing principle that prevents society from becoming settled and disposes citizens constantly to renew their laws, their doctrines and their mores? I do not believe so. The subject is important; I beg the reader to follow me closely.c

Nearly all the revolutions that have changed the face of peoples have been made in order to sanction or to destroy inequality. Take away the secondary causes that have produced the great agitations of men, you will almost always arrive at inequality. It is the poor who have wanted to steal the property of the rich, or the rich who have tried to put the poor in chains. So if you can establish a state of society in which each man has something to keep and little to take, you will have done a great deal for the peace of the world.

I am not unaware that, among a great democratic people, there are always very poor citizens and very rich citizens; but the poor, instead of forming the immense majority of the nation as always happens in aristocratic societies, are small in number, and the law has not tied them together by the bonds of an irremediable and hereditary misery.

The rich, on their side, are few and powerless; they do not have privileges that attract attention; their wealth itself, no longer incorporated in and represented by the land, is elusive and as if invisible. Just as there are no longer races of the poor, there are no longer races of the rich; the latter emerge each day from within the crowd, and return to it constantly. So they do not form a separate class that you can easily define and despoil; and since, moreover, the rich are attached by a thousand secret threads to the mass of their Edition: current; Page: [1136] fellow citizens, the people can scarcely hope to strike them without hitting themselves. Between these two extremes of democratic societies, is found an innumerable multitude of almost similar men who, without being precisely rich or poor, possess enough property to desire order, and do not have enough property to arouse envy.

Those men are naturally enemies of violent movements; their immobility keeps at rest everything above and below them, and secures the social body in its settled position.

It isn’t that those same men are satisfied with their present fortune, or that they feel a natural horror for a revolution whose spoils they would share without experiencing its evils; on the contrary, they desire to become rich with unequaled ardor; but the difficulty is to know from whom to take the wealth. The same social state that constantly suggests desires to them contains those desires within necessary limits. It gives men more liberty to change and less interest in changing.d

Not only do men of democracies not naturally desire revolutions, but they fear them.

There is no revolution that does not more or less threaten acquired property. Most of those who inhabit democratic countries are property owners; they not only have properties; they live in the condition in which men attach the highest value to their property.e

If you attentively consider each one of the classes that compose society, it is easy to see that in no class are the passions that arise from property more ruthless and more tenacious than among the middle class.

Often the poor hardly worry about what they possess, because they suffer from what they lack much more than they enjoy the little that they have. The rich have many other passions to satisfy than that of wealth, and besides, the long and difficult use of a great fortune sometimes ends by making them as if insensitive to its sweet pleasures.

But the men who live in a comfort equally removed from opulence and Edition: current; Page: [1137] from misery put an immense value on their property. Since they are still very close to poverty, they see its rigors close up, and fear them; between poverty and them, there is nothing except a small patrimony on which they soon fix their fears and their hopes. At every instant, they become more interested in their property because of the constant concerns that it gives them, and they become attached to it because of the daily efforts that they make to augment it. The idea of giving up the least part of it is unbearable to them, and they consider its complete loss as the greatest of misfortunes. Now, it is the number of these ardent and anxious small property owners that equality of conditions increases incessantly.

Thus, in democratic societies, the majority of citizens does not see clearly what it could gain from a revolution, and it feels at every instant and in a thousand ways what it could lose.f

I said, in another place in this work, how equality of conditions pushed men naturally toward industrial and commercial careers, and how it increased and diversified property in land; finally I showed how equality of conditions inspired in each man an ardent and constant desire to augment his well-being. There is nothing more contrary to revolutionary passions than all these things.

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A revolution, in its final result, can happen to serve industry and commerce; but its first effect will almost always beg to ruin the industrialists and the merchants, because it cannot fail, first of all, to change the general state of consumption and to reverse temporarily the relation that existed between production and needs.

Moreover, I know nothing more opposed to revolutionary mores than commercial mores. Commerce is naturally hostile to all violent passions. It loves moderation, takes pleasure in compromises, very carefully flees from anger. It is patient, flexible, ingratiating, and it resorts to extreme means only when the most absolute necessity forces it to do so. Commerce makes men independent of each other; it gives them a high idea of their individual value; it leads them to want to conduct their own affairs, and teaches them to succeed in doing so; so it disposes them to liberty, but distances them from revolutions.

[≠Thus the effects of equality of conditions are diverse. Equality, making men independent of each other, puts them at full liberty to innovate and at the same time gives them tastes which need stability in order to be satisfied.≠]

In a revolution, the owners of personal propertyh have more to fear than all the others; for on the one hand, their property is often easy to seize, and Edition: current; Page: [1139] on the other hand, at every moment it can disappear completely. This is less to be feared by owners of landed property who, while losing the income from their lands, hope at least throughout the vicissitudes, to keep the land itself. Consequently you see that the first are much more frightened than the second at the sight of revolutionary movements.

So peoples are less disposed to revolutions as personal property is multiplied and diversified among them and as the number of those who possess personal property becomes greater.

Moreover, whatever profession men embrace and whatever type of property they enjoy, one feature is common to all.

No one is fully satisfied with his present fortune, and everyone works hard every day, by a thousand diverse means, to augment it. Consider each one among them at whatever period of his life, and you will see him preoccupied with some new plans whose goal is to increase his comfort; do not speak to him about the interests and rights of humanity; this small domestic enterprise absorbs all of his thoughts for the moment and makes him wish to put public agitations off to another time.

That not only prevents them from making revolutions, but turns them away from wanting to do so. Violent political passions have little hold on men who have in this way attached their entire soul to the pursuit of well-being. The ardor that they give to small affairs calms them down about great ones.

It is true that from time to time in democratic societies enterprising and ambitious citizens arise whose immense desires cannot be satisfied by following the common path. These men love revolutions and call them forth; but they have great difficulty bringing them about, if extraordinary events do not come to their aid.

You do not struggle effectively against the spirit of your century and country; and one man, however powerful you suppose him to be, has difficulty getting his contemporaries to share sentiments and ideas that the whole of their desires and their sentiments reject. So once equality of conditions has become an old and uncontested fact and has stamped its character on mores, you must not believe that men easily allow themselves to rush into dangers following an imprudent leader or a bold innovator.

It is not that they resist him in an open way, with the aid of intelligent Edition: current; Page: [1140] contrivances, or even by a premeditated plan to resist. They do not fight him with energy; sometimes they even applaud him, but they do not follow him. To his ardor, they secretly oppose their inertia; to his revolutionary instincts, their conservative interests; their stay-at-home tastes to his adventurous passions; their good sense to the flights of his genius; to his poetry, their prose. With a thousand efforts, he arouses them for one moment, and soon they escape him; and as if brought down by their own weight, they fall back. He exhausts himself, wanting to animate this indifferent and inattentive crowd, and he finally sees himself reduced to impotence, not because he is vanquished, but because he is alone.

I do not claim that men who live in democratic societies are naturally immobile; I think, on the contrary, that within such a society an eternal movement reigns and that no one knows rest; but I believe that men there become agitated within certain limits beyond which they hardly ever go. They vary, alter, or renew secondary things every day; they take great care not to touch principal ones. They love change; but they fear revolutions.

Although the Americans are constantly modifying or repealing some of their laws, they are very far from exhibiting revolutionary passions. By the promptness with which they stop and calm themselves down when public agitation begins to become threatening, even at the moment when passions seem the most excited, it is easy to discover that they fear a revolution as the greatest of misfortunes, and that each one among them is inwardly resolved to make great sacrifices to avoid it. There is no country in the world where the sentiment of property shows itself more active and more anxious than in the United States, and where the majority shows less of a tendency toward doctrines that threaten to alter in any manner whatsoever the constitution of property.j

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I have often remarked that theories that are revolutionary by their nature, in that they can only be realized by a complete and sometimes sudden change in the state of property and persons, are infinitely less in favor in the United States than in the great monarchies of Europe. If a few men profess them, the mass rejects them with a kind of instinctive horror.

I am not afraid to say that most of the maxims that are customarily called democratic in France would be proscribed by the democracy of the United States. That is easily understood. In America, you have democratic ideas and passions; in Europe, we still have revolutionary passions and ideas.

If America ever experiences great revolutions, they will be brought about by the presence of Blacks on the soil of the United States: that is to say that it will be not equality of conditions, but on the contrary inequality of conditions that gives birth to them.

When conditions are equal, each man willingly becomes isolated within himself and forgets the public. If the legislators of democratic peoples did not seek to correct this fatal tendency or favored it, with the thought that this tendency diverts citizens from political passions and thus turns them away from revolutions, they could themselves end up producing the evil that they want to avoid. And a moment could arrive when the disorderly passions of a few men, making use of the unintelligent egoism and faint-heartedness of the greatest number, would end up forcing the social body to undergo strange vicissitudes.

In democratic societies,k hardly any one other than small minorities desires revolutions; but minorities can sometimes make them.m

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I am not saying that democratic nations are safe from revolutions; I am only saying that the social state of these nations does not lead them to, but rather distances them from revolutions. Democratic peoples, left to themselves, do not easily become engaged in great adventures; they are carried toward revolutions only unknowingly; they sometimes undergo revolutions, but they do not make them. And I add that, when they have been permitted to acquire enlightenment and experience, they do not allow them to be made.n

I know well that in this matter public institutions themselves can do a great deal; they favor or restrain the instincts that arise from the social state. So I am not maintaining, I repeat, that a people is safe from revolution for the sole reason that, within it, conditions are equal; but I believe that, whatever the institutions of such a people, great revolutions there will always be infinitely less violent and rarer than is supposed; and I easily foresee such a political state that, combining with equality, would make society more stationary [<and more immobile>] than it has ever been in our West.

What I have just said about facts applies in part to ideas.

Two things are astonishing in the United States: the great mobility of most human actions and the singular fixity of certain principles. Men stir constantly, the human mind seems almost immobile.

Once an opinion has spread over the American soil and taken root, you could say that no power on earth is able to eradicate it. In the United States the general doctrines in matters of religion, philosophy, morals, and even of politics, do not vary, or at least they are only modified after a hidden Edition: current; Page: [1143] and often imperceptible effort;o the crudest prejudices themselves fade only with an inconceivable slowness amid the friction repeated a thousand times between things and men.

I hear it said that it is in the nature and in the habits of democracies to change sentiments and thoughts at every moment. That is perhaps true of small democratic nations,[*] such as those of antiquity [added: or of the Middle Ages], which were gathered all together in the public square and then stirred up at the pleasure of an orator. I saw nothing similar within the great democratic people that occupies the opposite shores of our ocean. What struck me in the United States was the difficulty experienced in dis-abusing the majority of an idea that it has conceived and in detaching the majority from a man that it adopts. Writings or speeches can hardly succeed in doing so; experience alone achieves it in the end; sometimes experience must be repeated.p

This is astonishing at first view; a more attentive examination explains it.

[<≠It is ideas that, most often, produce facts, and in turn facts constantly modify ideas.≠>]

I do not believe that it is as easy as you imagine to uproot the prejudices of a democratic people; to change its beliefs; to substitute new religious, philosophical, political and moral principles for those that were once established; in a word, to make great and frequent intellectual revolutions. It Edition: current; Page: [1144] is not that the human mind is idle there; it is in constant motion; but it exerts itself to vary infinitely the consequences of known principles and to discover new consequences rather than to seek new principles. It turns back on itself with agility, rather than rushing forward by a rapid and direct effort; it extends its sphere little by little by continuous and quick small movements; it does not shift ground suddenly.

Men equal in rights, in education, in fortune, and to say everything in a phrase, of similar condition, necessarily have almost similar needs, habits and tastes. Since they see matters in the same way, their mind is inclined naturally toward analogous ideas, and although each one of them can withdraw from his contemporaries and create his own beliefs, they end up, without knowing it and without wanting to, by finding themselves all with a certain number of common opinions.

[The intellectual anarchy of democratic societies is more apparent than real. Men differ infinitely on questions of detail, but on the great principles they are in agreement.]

The more attentively I consider the effects of equality on the mind, the more I am persuaded that the intellectual anarchy of which we are witnesses is not, as some suppose, the natural state of democratic peoples.q I believe that the intellectual anarchy must instead be considered as Edition: current; Page: [1145] an accident particular to their youth, and that it shows itself only during the period of transition when men have already broken the old bonds that tied them together, and still differ prodigiously by origin, education and mores; so that, having retained very diverse ideas, instincts and tastes, nothing prevents them any longer from bringing them forth. The principal opinions of men become similar as conditions become alike. Such seems to me to be the general and permanent fact; the rest is fortuitous and fleeting.r

I believe that rarely, in a democratic society, will a man come to imagine, at a single stroke, a system of ideas very removed from the one that his contemporaries have adopted; and if such an innovator appeared, I imagine that he would at first have great difficulty making himself heard and still more making himself believed.s

When conditions are almost the same, one man does not easily allow himself to be persuaded by another. Since all see each other very close up, since together they have learned the same things and lead the same life, they Edition: current; Page: [1146] are not naturally disposed to take one among them as a guide and to follow him blindly; you hardly believe your fellow or your equal on his word.

It is not only confidence in the enlightenment of certain individuals that becomes weak among democratic nations; as I said elsewhere, the general idea of the intellectual superiority that any man can gain over all the others does not take long to grow dim.

As men become more alike, the dogma of the equality of minds insinuates itself little by little in their beliefs, and it becomes more difficult for an innovator, whoever he may be, to gain and to exercise a great power over the mind of a people. So in such societies, sudden intellectual revolutions are rare; for if you cast your eyes over the history of the world, you see that it is much less the strength of an argument than the authority of a name that has produced the great and rapid mutations of human opinions.

Note, moreover, that since the men who live in democratic societiest are not attached by any bond to each other, each one of them must be persuaded. While in aristocratic societies it is enough to be able to act on the mind of a few; all the others follow. If Luther had lived in a century of equality, and if he had not had lords and princes as an audience, he would perhaps have had more difficulty changing the face of Europe.

It is not that the men of democracies are naturally very convinced of the certitude of their opinions and very firm in their beliefs; they often have doubts that no one, in their view, can resolve. It sometimes happens in those times that the human mind would willingly change position; but, since nothing either pushes it strongly or directs it, it oscillates in place and does not move.1

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When the confidence of a democratic people has been won, it is still a great matter to gain its attention. It is very difficult to make the men who live in democracies listen, when you are not talking to them about themselves.u They do not listen to the things that you say to them, because they are always very preoccupied with the things that they are doing.

There are, in fact, few idle men among democratic nations. Life there passes amid movement and noise, and men there are so occupied with acting that little time remains to them for thinking. What I want to note above all is that not only are they occupied, but they are passionate about their occupations. They are perpetually in action, and each one of their actions absorbs their soul; the heat that they bring to their affairs prevents them from catching fire about ideas.

I think that it is very difficult to excite the enthusiasm of a democratic people for any theory whatsoever that does not have a visible, direct and immediate connection to the daily conduct of life. So such a people does not easily abandon its ancient beliefs. For it is enthusiasm that hurls the human mind out of beaten paths and that creates great intellectual revolutions like great political revolutions.

Thus democratic peoples have neither the leisure nor the taste to go in search of new opinions. Even when they come to doubt those they possess, they nevertheless maintain them because it would require too much time Edition: current; Page: [1148] and investigation for them to change their opinions; they keep them, not as certain, but as established.

There are still other and more powerful reasons that are opposed to a great change taking place easily in the doctrines of a democratic people. I have already pointed it out at the beginning of this book.

If, within such a people, individual influences are weak and almost nonexistent, the power exercised by the mass on the mind of each individual is very great. I have given the reasons for it elsewhere. What I want to say at this moment is that you would be wrong to believe that this depended solely on the form of government, and that the majority there had to lose its intellectual dominion with its political power.

In aristocracies men often have a greatness and a strength that is their own. When they find themselves in contradiction with the greatest number of their fellows, they withdraw within themselves, sustain and console themselves apart. It is not the same among democratic peoples. Among them, public favor seems as necessary as the air that you breathe, and to be in disagreement with the mass is, so to speak, not to live. The mass does not need to use laws to bend those who do not think as it does. It is enough to disapprove of them. The sentiment of their isolation and of their powerlessness overwhelms them immediately and reduces them to despair.

Every time that conditions are equal, general opinion presses with an immense weight on the mind of each individual; opinion envelops, directs and oppresses it; that is due to the very constitution of the society much more than to its political laws. As all men resemble each other more, each one feels more and more weak in the face of all. Not finding anything that raises him very far above them and that distinguishes him from them, he mistrusts himself as soon as they fight him; not only does he doubt his strength, but he also comes to doubt his right, and he is very close to acknowledging that he is wrong, when the greatest number assert it. The majority does not need to constrain him; it convinces him.v

So in whatever way you organize the powers of a democratic society and Edition: current; Page: [1149] balance them, it will always be very difficult to believe in what the mass rejects and to profess what it condemns.

This marvelously favors the stability of beliefs.

When an opinion has taken root among a democratic people and has become established in the mind of the greatest number, it then subsists by itself and perpetuates itself without effort, because no one attacks it. Those who had at first rejected it as false end by receiving it as general, and those who continue to combat it at the bottom of their hearts reveal nothing; they are very careful not to become engaged in a dangerous and useless struggle.

It is true that, when the majority of a democratic people changes opinion, it can at will bring about strange and sudden revolutions in the intellectual world; but it is very difficult for its opinion to change, and almost as difficult to notice that it has changed.

It sometimes happens that time, events or the individual and solitary effort of minds, end by shaking or by destroying a belief little by little without anything being outwardly visible. It is not fought openly. Men do not gather together to make war on it. Its partisans leave it quietly one by one; but each day a few abandon it, until finally it is shared only by a small number.

In this state, it still reigns.

Since its enemies continue to be silent, or communicate their thoughts only surreptitiously, they themselves are for a long time unable to be sure that a great revolution has taken place, and in doubt they remain immobile. They observe and they are silent. [<They still tremble before the power that no longer exists and yield in a cowardly way to an imaginary authority.>] The majority no longer believes; but it still has the appearance of believing, and this empty phantom of public opinion is enough to chill innovators and to keep them in silence and respect.

[≠That is seen in all centuries but particularly in democratic centuries.

Take liberty of the press away from a democratic nation and the human mind falls asleep.≠]

We live in a period that has seen the most rapid changes take place in the mind of men. It could happen, however, that soon the principal human Edition: current; Page: [1150] opinions will be more stable than they have been in the preceding centuries of our history; this time has not come, but perhaps it is approaching.

As I examine more closely the natural needs and instincts of democratic peoples, I am persuaded that, if equality is ever established in a general and permanent way in the world, great intellectual and political revolutions will become very difficult and rarer than we suppose.w

Because the men of democracies appear always excited, uncertain, breathless, ready to change will and place, [<thoughts, careers]> you imagine that they are suddenly going to abolish their laws, to adopt new beliefs and to take up new mores. You do not consider that, if equality leads men to change, it suggests to them interests and tastes that need stability in order to be satisfied; it pushes them and, at the same time, stops them; it spurs them on and ties them to the earth; it inflames their desires and limits their strength.

This is what is not revealed at first. The passions that push citizens away from each other in a democracy appear by themselves. But you do not notice at first glance the hidden force that holds them back and gathers them together.

Will I dare to say it amid the ruins that surround me? What I dread most for the generations to come is not revolutions.x

If citizens continue to enclose themselves more and more narrowly within the circle of small domestic interests and to be agitated there without respite, you can fear that they will end by becoming as if impervious to these great and powerful public emotions that disturb peoples, but which develop and renew them. When I see property become so mobile, and the love of property so anxious and so ardent, I cannot prevent myself from fearing that men will reach the point of regarding every new theory as a danger, every innovation as an unfortunate trouble, every social progress as a first step toward a revolution, and that they will refuse entirely to move Edition: current; Page: [1151] for fear that they would be carried away. I tremble, I confess, that they will finally allow themselves to be possessed so well by a cowardly love of present enjoyments, that the interest in their own future and that of their descendants will disappear, and that they will prefer to follow feebly the course of their destiny, than to make, if needed, a sudden and energetic effort to redress it.

You believe that the new societies are going to change face every day, and as for me, I fear that they will end by being too invariably fixed in the same institutions, the same prejudices, the same mores; so that humanity comes to a stop and becomes limited; that the mind eternally turns back on itself without producing new ideas; that man becomes exhausted in small solitary and sterile movements, and that, even while constantly moving, humanity no longer advances.

[At the end of the manuscript of this chapter:

This piece interrupted the natural course of ideas. Put it in a note.y

<It is not only the results of revolutions that frighten democratic peoples. The extreme violence of revolutionary methods is repugnant to them.>[*]

I showed how equality of conditions, by making men alike, interested them mutually in their miseries and made their mores milder.

These habits of private life are found again in public life and prevent political passions [v: hatreds] from being too cruel and too implacable.

Here you must not confuse revolutions that are made to establish equality Edition: current; Page: [1152] with those that take place after equality is established, and you must be very careful about applying to the second the character of the first.

Revolutions that are made to establish equality are almost always cruel because the struggle takes place between men who are already equal enough to be able to make war on each other and who are dissimilar enough to strike each other without pity.z

This harshness of sentiments no longer exists from the moment when citizens have become equal and alike. Among a democratic people the general and permanent mildness of mores imposes a certain restraint on the most intense political hatreds. Men willingly allow a revolution to go as far as injustice, but not as far as cruelty. The confiscation of property is repugnant to them, the sight of human blood is offensive to them; they allow you to oppress, but they do not want you to kill.

This softening of political passions is seen clearly in the United States. America is, I believe, the only country in the world where for the last fifty years not a single man has been condemned to death for a political offense. There have, nonetheless, been a few great political crimes; there has been no scaffold. It is true that several times in the United States and above all in more recent times, you have seen the population give itself to horrible excesses against Blacks and concerning slavery. But even that proves what I am asserting. The political passions of the Americans become barbaric only when an aristocratic institution is found (this is good but has already been said previously).]

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CHAPTER 22a: Why Democratic Peoples Naturally Desire Peace and Democratic Armies Naturally Desire War

The same interests, the same fears, the same passions that divert democratic peoples from revolutions distance them from war; the military spirit and the revolutionary spirit grow weaker at the same time and for the same reasons.b

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The ever-increasing number of property owners friendly to peace, the development of personal wealth, which war so rapidly devours, this leniency of morals, this softness of heart, this predisposition toward pity that equality inspires, this coldness of reason that makes men hardly sensitive to the poetic and violent emotions which arise among arms, all these causes join together to extinguish military spirit.

I believe that you can accept as a general and constant rule that, among civilized peoples, warrior passions will become rarer and less intense, as conditions will be more equal.

War, however, is an accident to which all peoples are subject, democratic peoples as well as others. Whatever taste these nations have for peace, they must clearly keep themselves ready to repulse war, or in other words, they must have an army.

Fortune, which has done such distinctive things to favor the inhabitants of the United States, placed them in the middle of a wilderness where they have, so to speak, no neighbors. A few thousand soldiers are sufficient for them, but this is American and not democratic.

Equality of conditions, and the mores as well as the institutions that derive from it, do not release a democratic people from the obligation to maintain armies, and its armies always exercise a very great influence on its fate. So it is singularly important to inquire what the natural instincts are of those who compose its armies.

Among aristocratic peoples, among those above all in which birth alone determines rank, inequality is found in the army as in the nation; the officer is the noble, the soldier is the serf. The one is necessarily called to command, the other to obey. So in aristocratic armies, the ambition of the soldier has very narrow limits.

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Nor is that of the officers unlimited.

An aristocratic body is not only part of a hierarchy; it always contains an internal hierarchy; the members who compose it are placed some above the others, in a certain way that does not vary. This one is naturally called by birth to command a regiment, and that one a company; having reached the extreme limits of their hopes, they stop on their own and remain satisfied with their lot.

There is first of all one great cause that in aristocracies tempers the desire of the officer for advancement.

Among aristocratic peoples, the officer, apart from his rank in the army, still occupies an elevated rank in society; the first is almost always in his eyes only an accessory to the second; the noble, by embracing the career of arms, obeys ambition less than a sort of duty that his birth imposes on him. He enters the army in order to employ honorably the idle years of his youth, and in order to be able to bring back to his household and to his peers a few honorable memories of military life; but his principal objective there is not to gain property, consideration and power; for he possesses these advantages on his own and enjoys them without leaving home.

In democratic armies, all the soldiers can become officers, which generalizes the desire for advancement and extends the limits of military ambition almost infinitely.

On his side, the officer sees nothing that naturally and inevitably stops him at one rank rather than at another, and each rank has an immense value in his eyes, because his rank in society depends almost always on his rank in the army.

Among democratic peoples, it often happens that the officer has no property except his pay, and can expect consideration only from his military honors. So every time he changes offices, he changes fortune and is in a way another man. What was incidental to existence in aristocratic armies has thus become the main thing, everything, existence itself.

Under the old French monarchy,c officers were given only their title of Edition: current; Page: [1156] nobility. Today, they are given only their military title. This small change in the conventions of language is sufficient to indicate that a great revolution has taken place in the constitution of society and in that of the army.

Within democratic armies, the desire to advance is almost universal; it is ardent, tenacious, continual; it increases with all the other desires, and is extinguished only with life. Now, it is easy to see that, of all the armies of the world, those in which advancement must be slowest in time of peace are democratic armies. Since the number of ranks is naturally limited, the number of competitors almost innumerable, and the inflexible law of equality bears on all, no one can make rapid progress, and many cannot budge. Thus the need to advance is greater, and the ease of advancing less than elsewhere.d

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All of the ambitious men contained in a democratic army therefore wish vehemently for war, because war empties places and finally allows violation of the right of seniority, which is the only privilege natural to democracy.

We thus arrive at this singular consequence that, of all armies, the ones that most ardently desire war are democratic armies, and that, among peoples, those who most love peace are democratic peoples; and what really makes the thing extraordinary is that it is equality which produces these opposite effects simultaneously.

Citizens, being equal, conceive daily the desire and discover the possibility of changing their condition and of increasing their well-being; that disposes them to love peace, which makes industry prosper and allows each Edition: current; Page: [1158] man to push his small enterprises tranquilly to their end; and from the other side, this same equality, by augmenting the value of military honors in the eyes of those who follow the career of arms, and by making honors accessible to all, makes soldiers dream of battlefields. From both sides, the restlessness of heart is the same, the taste for enjoyments is as insatiable, ambition is equal; only the means to satisfy it is different.

These opposing predispositions of the nation and of the army make democratic societies run great dangers.

When the military spirit deserts a people, the military career immediately ceases to be honored, and men of war fall to the lowest rank of public officials. They are little esteemed and no longer understood. Then the opposite of what is seen in aristocratic centuries happens. It is no longer the principal citizens who enter the army, but the least. Men give themselves to military ambition only when no other is allowed. This forms a vicious circle from which it is difficult to escape. The elite of the nation avoids the military career, because this career is not honored; and it is not honored, because the elite of the nation no longer enters it.

[≠Although the military man has in general a better-regulated and milder existence in democratic times than in all the others, he nonetheless experiences an unbearable uneasiness there; his body is better nourished, better clothed, but his soul suffers.≠]

So you must not be astonished if democratic armies often appear restless, muttering, and poorly satisfied with their lot, even though the physical condition there is usually very much milder and discipline less rigid than in all the others. The soldier feels himself in an inferior position, and his wounded pride ends by giving him the taste for war, which makes him necessary, or the love of revolutions, during which he hopes to conquer, weapons in hand, the political influence and the individual consideration that others deny him.

The composition of democratic armies makes this last danger very much to be feared.

In democratic society, nearly all citizens have some property to preserve; but democratic armies are led, in general, by proletarians. Most among them have little to lose in civil disturbances. The mass of the nation naturally Edition: current; Page: [1159] fears revolutions more than in centuries of aristocracy; but the leaders of the army fear them much less.

Moreover, since among democratic peoples, as I have said before, the wealthiest, most educated, most capable citizens hardly enter the military career, it happens that the army, as a whole, ends up becoming a small nation apart, in which intelligence is less widespread and habits are cruder than in the large nation. Now, this small uncivilized nation possesses the weapons, and it alone knows how to use them.

What, in fact, increases the danger that the military and turbulent spirit of the army presents to democratic peoples is the pacific temperament of the citizens; there is nothing so dangerous as an army within a nation that is not warlike; the excessive love of all the citizens for tranquillity daily puts the constitution at the mercy of soldiers.

So you can say in a general way that, if democratic peoples are naturally led toward peace by their interests and their instincts, they are constantly drawn toward war and revolutions by their armies.

Military revolutions, which are almost never to be feared in aristocracies, are always to be feared in democratic nations. These dangers must be ranked among the most formidable of all those that their future holds; the attention of statesmen [v: of good citizens] must be applied unrelentingly to finding a remedy for them.

When a nation feels itself tormented internally by the restless ambition of its army, the first thought that presents itself is to give war as a goal for this troublesome ambition.

I do not want to speak ill of war; war almost always enlarges the thought of a people and elevates the heart. There are cases where it alone can arrest the excessive development of certain tendencies that arise naturally from equality, and where war must be considered as necessary for certain inveterate illnessese to which democratic societies are subject.

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War has great advantages; but it must not be imagined that war decreases the danger that has just been indicated. It only defers it, and it comes back more terrible after the war, for the army bears peace much more impatiently after having tasted war. War would only be a remedy for a [democratic] people who always wanted glory.

[Napoleon often let it be understood that he would have willingly stopped in the middle of his triumphs if the passions of his soldiers had not, so to speak, compelled him to throw himself constantly into new endeavors.]f

I foresee that all the warrior princes who arise within great democratic nations will find that it is much easier for them to conquer with their army than to make the army live in peace after the victory. There are two things that a democratic people will always have a great deal of difficulty doing: beginning a war and ending it.g

If, moreover, war has particular advantages for democratic peoples, on the other hand it makes them run certain dangers that aristocracies do not have to fear to the same degree. I will cite only two of them.

If war satisfies the army, it hinders and often drives to despair that innumerable crowd of citizens whose small passions daily need peace to be satisfied. So it risks bringing about in another form the disorder that it should prevent.

There is no long war that, in a democratic country, does not put liberty at great risk. It is not that you must fear precisely to see, after each victory, conquering generals seize sovereign power by force, in the manner of Sylla or of Caesar.h The danger is of another kind. War does not always deliver democratic peoples to military government; but it cannot fail to increase immensely, among these peoples, the attributions of the civil government; Edition: current; Page: [1161] it almost inevitably centralizes in the government’s hands the direction of all men and the use of everything. If it does not lead suddenly to despotism by violence, it goes there softly by habits.j

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All those who seek to destroy liberty within a democratic nation should know that the surest and shortest means to succeed in doing so is war. That is the first axiom of the science.

A remedy seems to offer itself when the ambition of officers and of soldiers comes to be feared; it is to increase the number of places available, by augmenting the army. This relieves the present evil, but mortgages the future even more.

To augment the army can produce a lasting effect in an aristocratic society, because in these societies military ambition is limited to a single type of men, and stops, for each man, at a certain limit; so that you can manage to satisfy almost all of those who feel military ambition.

But among a democratic people, nothing is gained by increasing the army, because the number of ambitious men always increases in exactly the same proportion as the army itself. Those whose wishes you have fulfilled by creating new posts are immediately replaced by a new crowd that you cannot satisfy, and the first soon begin to complain again; for the same agitation of spirit that reigns among the citizens of a democracy shows itself in the army;k what men want there is not to gain a certain rank, but always to advance. If the desires are not very vast, they are reborn constantly. So a democratic people that augments its army only softens, for a moment, Edition: current; Page: [1163] the ambition of men of war; but soon it becomes more formidable, because those who feel it are more numerous.m

I think, for my part, that a restless and turbulent spirit is an evil inherent in the very constitution of democratic armies, and that we must give up on curing it. The legislators of democracies must not imagine finding a military organization that by itself has the strength to calm and to contain men of war; they would exhaust themselves in vain efforts before attaining it.

It is not in the army that you can find the remedy for the vices of the army, but in the country.

Democratic peoples naturally fear trouble and despotism. It is only a matter of making these instincts into thoughtful, intelligent and stable tastes. When citizens have finally learned to make peaceful and useful use of liberty and have felt its benefits; when they have contracted a manly love of order and have voluntarily yielded to the established rule, these same citizens, while entering into the career of arms, bring these habits and these mores to the army without knowing it and as if despite themselves. The general spirit of the nation, penetrating the particular spirit of the army, tempers the opinions and the desires that arise from the military state, or by the omnipotent force of public opinion, it suppresses them. Have enlightened, well-ordered, steady and free citizens, and you will have disciplined and obedient soldiers.

Every law that, while repressing the turbulent spirit of the army, would tend to diminish, within the nation, the spirit of civil liberty and to obscure Edition: current; Page: [1164] the idea of law and of rights would therefore go against its purpose. It would favor the establishment of a military tyranny much more than it would harm it.

After all, and no matter what you do, a great army within a democratic people will always be a great danger; and the most effective means of decreasing this danger will be to reduce the army; but it is a remedy that not all peoples are able to use.n

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CHAPTER 23a: Which Class, in Democratic Armies, Is the Most Warlike and the Most Revolutionary

It is the essence of a democratic army to be very numerous, relative to the people who furnish it; I will talk about the reasons further along.

On the other hand, the men who live in democratic times scarcely ever choose the military career.

So democratic peoples are soon led to renounce voluntary recruitment in order to resort to compulsory enlistment.b The necessity of their condition obliges them to take this last measure, and you can easily predict that all will adopt it.

Since military service is compulsory, the burden is shared indiscriminately and equally by all citizens. That again follows necessarily from the condition of these peoples and from their ideas. The government can more or less do what it wants provided that it addresses itself to everyone at the Edition: current; Page: [1166] same time; it is the inequality of the burden and not the burden itself that ordinarily makes you resist.

Now, since military service is common to all citizens, the clear result is that each of them remains in the service only a few years.

Thus in the nature of things the soldier is in the army only in passing, while among most aristocratic nations, the military state is a profession that the soldier takes or that is imposed on him for life.

This has great consequences. Among the soldiers who make up a democratic army, some become attached to military life; but the greatest number, brought in spite of themselves into the service and always ready to return to their homes, do not consider themselves seriously engaged in the military career and think only about getting out of it. The latter do not contract the needs and only half-share the passions that arise from this career. They comply with their military duties, but their soul remains attached to the interests and the desires that occupied it in civilian life. So they do not take on the spirit of the army; instead they bring into the army the spirit of the society and preserve it there. Among democratic peoples, it is the simple soldiers who most remain citizens; national habits retain the greatest hold and public opinion the most power over them. It is through the soldiers above all that you can hope to make the love of liberty and respect for rights, which you knew how to inspire among the people themselves, penetrate into a democratic army. The opposite happens among aristocratic nations, in which the soldiers end up having nothing at all in common with their fellow citizens, living among them like strangers and often like enemies.

In aristocratic armies, the conservative element is the officer, because the officer alone has kept close ties to civilian society and never gives up the will to resume sooner or later his position there; in democratic armies, it is the soldier and for entirely similar reasons.

It often happens, on the contrary, that in these same democratic armies, the officer contracts tastes and desires entirely separate from those of the nation. That is understandable.

Among democratic peoples, the man who becomes an officer breaks all the ties that attached him to civilian life; he emerges from it forever and he has no interest in returning to it. His true country is the army, since he is Edition: current; Page: [1167] nothing except by the rank that he occupies there; so he follows the fortune of the army, grows or declines with it, and it is toward the army alone that from now on he directs his hopes. Since the officer has needs very distinct from those of the country, it can happen that he ardently desires war or works for a revolution at the very moment when the nation aspires most to stability and peace.

Nonetheless there are causes that temper the warrior and restless temperament in him. If ambition is universal and continuous among democratic peoples, we have seen that it is rarely great there. The man who, coming out of the secondary classes of the nation, has arrived, through the lower ranks of the army, at the rank of officer, has already taken an immense step. He has entered into a sphere superior to the one he occupied within civilian society, and he has acquired rights there that most democratic nations will always consider as inalienable.1 He stops willingly after this great effort, and thinks about enjoying his conquest. The fear of compromising what he possesses already softens in his heart the desire to acquire what he does not have. After having overcome the first and the greatest obstacle that stopped his progress, he resigns himself with less impatience to the slowness of his march. This cooling of ambition increases as, rising higher in rank, he finds more to lose from risks. If I am not mistaken, the least warlike as well as the least revolutionary part of a democratic army will always be the head.

What I have just said about the officer and the soldier is not applicable to a numerous class that, in all armies, occupies the intermediary place between them; I mean the non-commissioned officers.

This class of non-commissioned officers, which before the present century had not yet appeared in history, is henceforth called, I think, to play a role.

Just like the officer, the non-commissioned officer has broken in his thought all the ties that attached him to civilian society; just like him, he Edition: current; Page: [1168] has made the military life his career and, more than the officer perhaps, he has turned all of his desires solely in this direction; but unlike the officer he has not yet reached an elevated and solid place where it is permissible for him to stop and to breathe comfortably, while waiting to be able to climb higher.

By the very nature of his functions that cannot change, the non-commissioned officer is condemned to lead an obscure, narrow, uneasy and precarious existence. So far he sees only the perils of the military life. He knows only privations and obedience, more difficult to bear than the perils. He suffers all the more from his present miseries, because he knows that the constitution of society and that of the army allow him to free himself from these miseries; from one day to the next, in fact, he can become an officer. Then he commands, has honors, independence, rights, enjoyments; not only does this object of his hopes seem immense to him, but before grasping it, he is never sure of attaining it. There is nothing irrevocable about his rank; he is left each day entirely to the arbitrariness of his leaders; the needs of discipline require imperatively that it be so. A slight fault, a caprice, can always make him lose, in a moment, the fruit of several years of work and efforts. Until he has reached the rank he covets, he has therefore done nothing.d Only then does he seem to enter into the career. With a man thus incited constantly by his youth, his needs, his passions, the spirit of his times, his hopes and his fears, a desperate ambition cannot fail to catch fire.

So the non-commissioned officer wants war, he wants it always and at any price, and if you refuse him war, he desires revolutions which suspend the authority of the rules; in the midst of these revolutions he hopes, by means of confusion and political passions, to expel his officer and take his place; and it is not impossible for him to bring about revolutions, because he exercises a great influence over the soldiers by shared origins and habits, even though he differs greatly from them by passions and desires.

You would be wrong to believe that these various predispositions of the Edition: current; Page: [1169] officer, of the non-commissioned officer and of the soldier depend on a time or a country. They will appear in all periods and among all democratic nations.

In every democratic army, it will always be the non-commissioned officer who will least represent the pacific and regular spirit of the country, and the soldier who will best represent it. The soldier will bring to the military career the strength or the weakness of national mores; there he will manifest the faithful image of the nation. If the nation is ignorant and weak, he will allow himself to be carried away to disorder by his leaders, without his knowing or despite himself. If the nation is enlightened and energetic, he will keep them in order himself.

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CHAPTER 24a: What Makes Democratic Armies Weaker Than Other Armies While Beginning a Military Campaign and More Formidable When the War Is Prolongedb

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Every army that begins a military campaign after a long peace risks being defeated; every army that has waged war for a long time has great chances to win: this truth is particularly applicable to democratic armies.

In aristocracies, the military life, being a privileged career, is honored even in times of peace. Men who have great talents, great enlightenment and a great ambition embrace it; the army is, in everything, at the level of the nation; often it even surpasses it.

We have seen how, on the contrary, among democratic peoples, the elite of the nation moves little by little away from the military career in order to seek, by other roads, consideration, power and above all wealth. After a long peace, and in democratic times periods of peace are long, the army is always inferior to the country itself. War finds it in this state;c and until war has changed it, there is a danger for the country and for the army.

I showed how, in democratic armies and in times of peace, the right of seniority is the supreme and inflexible law for advancement. That follows Edition: current; Page: [1172] not only, as I said, from the constitution of these armies, but also from the very constitution of the people, and will always be found.

Moreover, since among these peoples the officer is something in the country only because of his military position, and since he draws all his consideration and all his comfort from it, he only withdraws or is excluded from the army at the very end of life.

The result of these two causes is that when, after a long peace, a democratic people finally takes up arms, all the leaders of its army are found to be old men. I am not speaking only about the generals, but about the subordinate officers, most of whom have remained immobile, or have been able to move only step by step. If you consider a democratic army after a long peace, you see with surprise that all the soldiers are not far from childhood and all the leaders are in their waning years; so that the first lack experience; and the second, vigor.

That is a great cause of reverses; for the first condition to conduct war well is to be young; I would not have dared to say it, if the greatest captain of modern times had not said so.

These two causes do not act in the same way on aristocratic armies.

Since you advance there by right of birth much more than by right of seniority, you always find in all the ranks a certain number of young men who bring to war all the first energy of body and soul.

Moreover, as men who seek military honors among an aristocratic people have an assured position in civilian society, they rarely wait in the army for the approach of old age to surprise them. After devoting to the career of arms the most vigorous years of their youth, they withdraw and go to spend the remainder of their mature years at home.

A long peace not only fills democratic armies with old officers, it also gives to all the officers habits of body and mind that make them little suited to war. The man who has lived for a long time amid the peaceful and halfhearted atmosphere of democratic mores yields with difficulty at first to the hard work and austere duties that war imposes. If he does not absolutely lose the taste for arms, he at least takes on ways of living that prevent him from winning.

Among aristocratic peoples, the softness of civilian life exercises less influence Edition: current; Page: [1173] on military mores, because among these peoples the aristocracy leads the army. Now, an aristocracy, however immersed in delights it may be, always has several other passions than that of well-being, and it readily makes the temporary sacrifice of its well-being in order to satisfy those passions better.

I showed how in democratic armies, in times of peace, the delays in advancement are extreme. The officers at first bear this state of things with impatience; they become agitated, restless and despairing; but in the long run, most of them resign themselves to it. Those who have the most ambition and resources leave the army; the others, finally adjusting their tastes and their desires to their mediocre lot, end up considering the military life from a civilian perspective. What they value most about it is the comfort and the stability that accompany it; on the assurance of this small fortune, they base the entire picture of their future, and they ask only to be able to enjoy it peacefully.

Thus, not only does a long peace fill democratic armies with old officers, but it often gives the instincts of old men even to those who are still at a vigorous age.d

I have equally shown how among democratic nations, in times of peace, the military career was little honored and not much followed.

This public disfavor is a very heavy burden that weighs on the spirit of the army. Souls are as if bent down by it; and when war finally arrives, they cannot regain their elasticity and their vigor in a moment.

A similar cause of moral weakness is not found in aristocratic armies. Edition: current; Page: [1174] [<Among aristocratic peoples the career of arms is always honored, whatever the current of public opinion might otherwise be.>] Officers there never find themselves lowered in their own eyes and in those of their fellows, because apart from their military grandeur, they are great by themselves.

If the influence of peace made itself felt in the two armies in the same way, the results would still be different.

When the officers of an aristocratic army have lost the warrior spirit and the desire to raise themselves by the profession of arms, they still keep a certain respect for the honor of their order and an old habit of being first and giving the example. But when the officers of a democratic army no longer have love of war and military ambition, nothing remains.

So I think that a democratic people who undertakes a war after a long peace risks being defeated much more than another; but it must not allow itself to be easily demoralized by reverses, for the chances of its army increase with the very duration of the war.

When war, by continuing, has finally torn all citizens away from their peaceful labors and made all their small undertakings fail, it happens that the same passions that made them attach so much value to peace turn toward arms. War, after destroying all industries, becomes itself the great and sole industry, and then the ardent and ambitious desires given birth by equality are directed from all sides toward it alone. This is why these same democratic nations that are so hard to drag onto the field of battle sometimes do such prodigious things there, once you have finally succeeded in having them take up arms.

As war more and more draws all eyes toward the army, as you see it create in a short time great reputations and great fortunes, the elite of the nation takes up the career of arms; all the naturally enterprising, proud and war like spirits produced not only by the aristocracy, but by the entire country, are drawn in this direction.

Since the number of competitors for military honors is immense, and since war pushes each man roughly into his place, great generals always end up being found. A long war brings about in a democratic army what a revolution brings about in the people itself. It breaks the rules and makes all the extraordinary men appear suddenly. The officers whose soul and Edition: current; Page: [1175] body have become old during the peace are pushed aside, retire or die. In their place presses a crowd of young men whom the war has already hardened and whose desires it has expanded and inflamed. The latter want to grow greater at any price and constantly; after them come others who have the same passions and the same desires; and after those, others still, without finding any limits except those of the army. Equality allows ambition to all, and death takes care of providing chances to all ambitions. Death constantly opens ranks, empties places, closes and opens careers.

There is, moreover, a hidden connection between military mores and democratic mores that war exposes.

Men of democracies naturally have the passionate desire to acquire quickly the goods that they covet and to enjoy them easily. Most of them adore chance and fear death much less than pain. In this spirit they conduct commerce and industry; and this same spirit, carried by them on to the fields of battle, leads them readily to risk their lives in order to assure, in one moment, the rewards of victory. No greatness is more satisfying to the imagination of a democratic people than military greatness, a brilliant and sudden greatness that is obtained without work, by risking only your life.

Thus, while interest and tastes move the citizens of a democracy away from war, the habits of their soul prepare them to wage war well; they easily become good soldiers as soon as you have been able to tear them away from their affairs and their well-being.

If peace is particularly harmful to democratic armies, war therefore assures them advantages that other armies never have; and these advantages, although not very noticeable at first, cannot fail, in the long run, to give them victory.e

An aristocratic people who, fighting against a democratic nation, does not succeed in destroying it immediately with the first military campaigns, always greatly risks being defeated by it.

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CHAPTER 25a: Of Discipline in Democratic Armies

It is a very widespread opinion, above all among aristocratic peoples, that the great social equality that reigns within democracies makes the soldier independent of the officer in the long run and thus destroys the bond of discipline.

It is an error. There are, in fact, two types of discipline that must not be confused.

When the officer is the noble and the soldier the serf; the one the rich man, and the other the poor man; when the first is enlightened and strong, and the second ignorant and weak, it is easy to establish between these two men the closest bond of obedience. The soldier has yielded to military discipline before entering the army, so to speak, or rather military discipline is only a perfecting of social servitude. In aristocratic armies, the soldier ends up easily enough being as though indifferent to everything except to the order of his leaders. He acts without thinking, triumphs without ardor, and dies without complaining. In this state, he is no longer a man, but more a very fearsome animal trained for war.

Democratic peoples must give up hope of ever obtaining from their soldiers this blind, scrupulous, resigned and totally constant obedience that aristocratic peoples impose on their soldiers without difficulty. The state of society does not prepare their soldiers for it; democratic peoples risk losing their natural advantages by wanting to gain that obedience artificially.

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Among democratic peoples, military discipline must not try to obliterate the free impulse of souls; it can only aspire to direct it; the obedience that it creates is less exact, but more impetuous and more intelligent. Its root is in the very will of the man who obeys; it rests not on his instinct alone, but on his reason; consequently discipline often grows tighter on its own as danger makes it more necessary. The discipline of an aristocratic army readily relaxes in war, because this discipline is based on habits, and because war disturbs these habits. The discipline of a democratic army, on the contrary, becomes firmer before the enemy, because each soldier then sees very clearly that to conquer he must remain silent and obey.

The peoples who have done the most considerable things by war have known no other discipline than the one I am talking about. Among the ancients, only free men and citizens, who differed little from each other and were accustomed to treating each other as equals, were received in the armies. In this sense, you can say that the armies of antiquity were democratic, although they came from the aristocracy; consequently in those armies a sort of fraternal familiarity reigned between the officer and the soldier. You will be convinced by reading Plutarch’s Lives of the Great Captains. The soldiers there speak constantly and very freely to their generals, and the latter listen willingly to the speeches of their soldiers and respond to them. It is by these words and these examples, much more than by compulsion and punishments that they lead them. You would say they were companions as much as leaders.

I do not know if Greek and Roman soldiers ever perfected to the same degree as the Russiansb the small details of military discipline; but that did not prevent Alexander from conquering Asia, and Rome, the world.

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CHAPTER 26a: Some Considerations on War in Democratic Societies

[<War exercises such a prodigious influence on the fate of all peoples that you will pardon me, I hope, for not abandoning the subject that deals with it without trying to exhaust it.>]

When the principle of equality develops not only in one nation, but at the same time among several neighboring nations, as is seen today in Europe, the men who inhabit these various countries, despite the disparity of languages, customs and laws, are nevertheless similar on this point that they equally fear war and conceive the same love for peace.1 In vain does Edition: current; Page: [1179] ambition or anger arm princes; a sort of apathy and universal benevolence pacifies them in spite of themselves and makes them drop the sword from their hands. Wars become rarer.

As equality, developing at the same time in several countries, simultaneously pushes the men who inhabit them toward industry and commerce, not only are their tastes similar, but also their interests mingle and become entangled, so that no nation can inflict harm on others that does not come back on itself, and all end by considering war as a calamity almost as great for the victor as for the defeated.

Thus, on the one hand, it is very difficult in democratic centuries to bring peoples to fight with each other, but, on the other hand, it is almost impossible for two of them to make war in isolation. The interests of all are so intertwined, their opinions and their needs so similar, that no people can keep itself at rest when the others are agitated. So wars become rarer; but when they arise, they are on a field more vast.

Democratic peoples who are neighbors do not become similar only on a few points, as I have just said; they end by resembling each other in nearly everything.2

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Now this similitude of peoples has very important consequences concerning war.

When I ask myself why the Helvetic confederation of the XVth century made the largest and most powerful nations of Europe tremble, while today its power is in exact proportion to its population, I find that the Swiss have become similar to all the men who surround them, and those men to the Swiss; so that, since numbers alone make the difference between them, victory necessarily belongs to the biggest battalions. One of the results of the democratic revolution taking place in Europe is therefore to make the force of numbers prevail on every battlefield, and to compel all the small nations to become incorporated into the large ones, or at least to take part in the policy of the latter.c

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[≠This must necessarily make wars rarer and greater.

This resemblance that the citizens of different peoples have with each other has still many other consequences.≠]

Since the determining factor for victory is numbers, the result is that each people must with all its efforts strain to bring the most men possible onto the field of battle.

When you could enroll under the colors a type of troops superior to all the others, such as the Swiss infantry or the French cavalry of the XVIth century, you did not consider that you had the need to levy very large armies; but it is not so when all soldiers are equally valuable.

The same cause that gives birth to this new need also provides the means to satisfy it. For, as I said, when all men are similar, they are all weak. The social power is naturally much stronger among democratic peoples than anywhere else. So these peoples, at the same time that they feel the desire to call all the male population to arms, have the ability to assemble them there; this means that, in centuries of equality, armies seem to grow as the military spirit fades.d

In the same centuries, the manner of making war is also changed by the same causes.

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Machiavellie says in his book The Prince “that it is much more difficult to subjugate a people who have a prince and barons for leaders than a nation which is led by a prince and slaves.” Let us put, in order not to offend anyone, public officials in the place of slaves and we will have a great truth, very applicable to our subject.

It is very difficult for a great aristocratic people to conquer its neighbors and to be conquered by them. It cannot conquer them, because it can never gather all its forces and hold men together for a long time; and it can never be conquered, because the enemy finds everywhere small centers of resistance that stop it. I will compare war in an aristocratic country to war in a country of mountains; the defeated find at every instant the occasion to rally in new positions and to hold firm there.

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Precisely the opposite makes itself seen among democratic nations.

The latter easily bring all their available forces to the field of battle, and when the nation is rich and numerous, it easily becomes victorious; but once it has been defeated and its territory has been penetrated, few resources remain to it, and if it gets to the point of having its capital taken, the nation is lost. That is very easily explained; since each citizen is individually very isolated and very weak, no one can either defend himself or offer a point of support to others. In a democratic country only the State is strong; since the military strength of the State is destroyed by the destruction of its army and its civil power paralyzed by the taking of its capital, the rest forms nothing more than a multitude without rule and without strength that cannot struggle against the organized power that attacks it. I know that you can reduce the danger by creating liberties and, consequently, provincial entities, but this remedy will always be insufficient.

Not only will the population then no longer be able to continue the war, but it is to be feared that it will not want to try.

[≠The greatest difficulty that a democratic population finds is not to defend itself with weapons in hand, but to want to defend itself in such a way.≠]f

According to the law of nations adopted by civilized nations, wars do not have as a purpose to appropriate the goods of individuals, but only to seize political power. Private property is destroyed only accidentally and in order to attain the second objective.

When an aristocratic nation is invaded after the defeat of its army, the nobles, although they are at the same time the rich, prefer to continue to defend themselves individually rather than to submit; for if the conqueror remained master of the country, he would take away their political power to which they are even more attached than to their property; so they prefer combat to conquest, which is for them the greatest misfortune, and they easily carry the people with them, because the people have contracted the long custom of following and obeying them, and besides have almost nothing to risk in war.

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In a nation where equality of conditions reigns,g each citizen takes, on the contrary, only a small part in political power, and often takes no part at all; on the other hand, everyone is independent and has property to lose; so that there conquest is feared much less and war much more than among an aristocratic people. It will always be very difficult to cause a democratic population to take up arms when war is brought to its territory.h This is why it is necessary to give to these peoples rights and a political spirit that suggests to each person some of the interests that cause nobles to act in aristocracies.

It is very necessary that princes and other leaders of democratic nations remember: only the passion and the habit of liberty can, with advantage, combat the habit and the passion of well-being. I imagine nothing better prepared for conquest, in case of reverses, than a democratic people who does not have free institutions.

Formerly you began military campaigns with few soldiers; you fought small battles and conducted long sieges. Now you fight great battles, and as soon as you can march freely ahead, you race toward the capital in order to end the war with one blow.

Napoleon, it is said, invented this new system. It did not depend on one man, whoever he was, to create such a system. The manner in which Napoleon made war was suggested to him by the state of society of his time, and it succeeded for him because it was marvelously suited to this state and because he put it to use for the first time. Napoleon is the first to have traveled at the head of an army the path to all the capitals. But it is the ruin of feudalj society that had opened this road to him. It is to be believed that, if this extraordinary man had been born three centuries ago, he would not have gathered the same fruits from his method, or rather he would have had another method.

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I will add only one more word about civil wars, for I am afraid of tiring the patience of the reader.

Most of the things I have said concerning foreign wars apply with stronger reason to civil wars [<and it is there above all that the strength of the State and the weakness of individuals are revealed>]. Men who live in democratic countries do not naturally have the military spirit; they sometimes take it on when they are dragged, despite themselves, onto the fields of battle. But to rise up by himself, in a body, and to expose himself willingly to the miseries that war and above all civil war bring, is a choice that the man of democracies does not make. Only the most adventurous citizens agree to throw themselves into such a risk; the mass of the population remains immobile.

Even when the mass of the population would like to act, it does not easily succeed in doing so; for it does not find within it ancient and well-established influences to which it wishes to submit, no already known leaders to gather the malcontents, to regulate and to lead them; no political powers placed below the national power, which effectively come to support the resistance put up against the nation’s power.

In democratic countries, the moral power of the majority is immense, and the material forces at its disposal are out of proportion with those that, at first, it is possible to unite against it. The party in the majority’s seat, which speaks in its name and uses its power, triumphs therefore, in one moment and without difficulty, over all particular resistances. It does not even allow them the time to be born; it crushes them in germ.

So those who, among these peoples, want to make a revolution by arms, have no other resources than to seize unexpectedly the already functioning machine of the government, which can be carried out by a surprise attack rather than by a war; for from the moment when a war is official, the party which represents the State is almost always sure to win.

The only case in which a civil war could arise would be the one in which, the army being divided, one portion raised the banner of revolt and the other remained faithful. An army forms a very tightly bound and very hardy small society which is able to be self-sufficient for a while. The war could be bloody, but it would not be long; for either the army in revolt would draw the government to its side just by showing its strength or by its first Edition: current; Page: [1186] victory, and the war would be over; or the battle would begin, and the portion of the army not supported by the organized power of the State would soon disperse on its own or be destroyed.

So you can accept, as a general truth, that in the centuries of equality, civil wars will become much rarer and shorter.3

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FOURTH PARTa: Of the Influence That Democratic Ideas and Sentiments Exercise on Political Societyb

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After having shown the ideas and the sentiments suggested by equality, I would badly fulfill the purpose of this book if, while concluding, I did not show what general influence these same sentiments and these same ideas can exercise on the government of human societies.

To succeed in doing that, I will often be obliged to retrace my steps. But I hope that the reader will not refuse to follow me when roads that he knows lead him toward some new truth.

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CHAPTER 1: Equality Naturally Gives Men the Taste for Free Institutions

Equality, which makes men independent of each other, makes them contract the habit and the taste to follow only their will in their personal actions. This complete independence, which they enjoy continually vis-à-vis their equals and in the practice of private life, disposes them to consider all authority with a discontented eye, and soon suggests to them the idea and the love of political liberty. So men who live in these times march on a natural slope that leads them toward free institutions. Take one of them at random; go back, if possible, to his primitive instincts; you will discover that, among the different governments, the one that he conceives first and that he prizes most, is the government whose leader he has elected and whose actions he controls.a

Of all the political effects that equality of conditions produces, it is this love of independence that first strikes our attention and that timid spirits fear even more; and we cannot say that they are absolutely wrong to be afraid, for anarchy has more frightening features in democratic countries than elsewhere.b Since citizens have no effect on each other, at the instant Edition: current; Page: [1192] when the national power that keeps them all in their place becomes absent, it seems that disorder must immediately be at its height and that, with each citizen on his own, the social body is suddenly going to find itself reduced to dust.

I am convinced nevertheless that anarchy is not the principal evil that democratic centuries must fear, but the least.

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Equality produces, in fact, two tendencies: one leads men directly to independence and can push them suddenly as far as anarchy; the other leads them by a longer, more secret, but surer road toward servitude.

Peoples easily see the first and resist it; they allow themselves to be carried along by the other without seeing it; it is particularly important to show it.

As for me,c far from reproaching equality for the unruliness that it inspires, I praise it principally for that. I admire equality when I see it deposit deep within the mind and heart of each man this obscure notion of and this instinctive propensity for political independence. In this way equality prepares the remedy for the evil to which it gives birth. It is from this side that I am attached to it.

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CHAPTER 2a: That the Ideas of Democratic Peoples in Matters of Government Naturally Favor the Concentration of Powersb

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[The principal notions that men form in the matter of government are not entirely arbitrary. They are born in each period out of the social state, and the mind receives them rather than creating them.]c

The idea of secondary powers, placed between the sovereign and the subjects, presented itself naturally to the imagination of aristocratic peoples, because these powers included within them individuals or familiesthat birth, enlightenment, wealth kept unrivaled and that seemed destined to command. This same idea is naturally absent from the minds of men in centuries of equality because of opposite reasons; you can only introduce it to their minds artificially, and you can only maintain it there with difficulty; while without thinking about it, so to speak, they conceive the idea of a unique and central power that by itself leads all citizens.

In politics, moreover, as in philosophy and in religion, the minds of democratic peoples receive simple and general ideas with delight. They are repulsed by complicated systems, and they are pleased to imagine a great nation all of whose citizens resemble a single model and are directed by a single power.

After the idea of a unique and central power, the one that presents itself most spontaneously to the minds of men in centuries of equality is the idea of a uniform legislation. As each one of them sees himself as little different from his neighbors, he understands poorly why the rule that is applicable to one man would not be equally applicable to all the others. The least privileges are therefore repugnant to his reason. The slightest dissimilarities in the political institutions of the same people wound him, and legislative uniformity seems to him to be the first condition of good government.

I find, on the contrary, that the same notion of a uniform rule, imposed equally on all the members of the social body, is as if foreign to the human mind in aristocratic centuries. It does not accept it, or it rejects it.

These opposite tendencies of the mind end up, on both sides, by becoming such blind instincts and such invincible habits, that they still direct actions, in spite of particular facts. Sometimes, despite the immense variety Edition: current; Page: [1196] of the Middle Ages, perfectly similar individuals were found; this did not prevent the legislator from assigning to each one of them diverse duties and different rights. And, on the contrary, in our times, governments wear themselves out in order to impose the same customs and the same laws on populations that are not yet similar.

As conditions become equal among a people, individuals appear smaller and society seems larger; or rather, each citizen, having become similar to all the others, is lost in the crowd, and you no longer notice anything except the vast and magnificent image of the people itself.d

This naturally gives men of democratic times a very high opinion of the privileges of the society and a very humble idea of the rights of the individual.e They easily agree that the interest of the one is everything and that the interest of the other is nothing. They grant readily enough that the power that represents the society possesses much more enlightenment and wisdom than any one of the men who compose it, and that its duty, as well as its right, is to take each citizen by the hand and to lead him.f

If you really want to examine our contemporaries closely, and to penetrate to the root of their political opinions, you will find a few of the ideas that I have just reproduced, and you will perhaps be astonished to find so much agreement among men who are so often at war with each other.

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The Americans believe that, in each state,TN8 social power must emanate directly from the people; but once this power is constituted, they imagine, so to speak, no limits for it; they readily recognize that it has the right to do everything.

As for the particular privileges granted to cities, to families or to individuals, they have lost even the idea. Their minds have never foreseen that the same law could not be applied uniformly to all the parts of the same state and to all the men who inhabit it.

[≠In Europe we reject the dogma of sovereignty of the people that the Americans accept; we give power another origin.≠]g

These same opinions are spreading more and more in Europe; they are being introduced within the very heart of nations that most violently reject the dogma of sovereignty of the people. These nations give power a different origin than the Americans; but they envisage power with the same features. Among all nations, the notion of intermediary power is growing dim and fading.h The idea of a right inherent in certain individuals is disappearing rapidly from the minds of men; the idea of the all-powerful and so to speak unique right of society is coming to take its place. These ideas take root and grow as conditions become more equal and men more similar; equality gives birth to them and they in their turn hasten the progress of equality.j

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In France, where the revolution I am speaking about is more advanced than in any other people of Europe, these same opinions have entirely taken hold of the mind. When you listen attentively to the voices of our different parties, you will see that there is not one of them that does not adopt them. Most consider that the government acts badly; but all think that the government must act constantly and put its hand to everything. Even those who wage war most harshly against each other do not fail to agree on this point. The unity, ubiquity, omnipotence of the social power, the uniformity of its rules, form the salient feature that characterizes all the political systems born in our times. You find them at the bottom of the most bizarre utopias.k The human mind still pursues these images when it dreams.

If such ideas present themselves spontaneously to the mind of individuals, they occur even more readily to the imagination of princes.

While the old social state of Europe deteriorates and dissolves, sovereigns develop new beliefs about their abilities and their duties; they understand for the first time that the central power that they represent can and must, by itself and on a uniform plan, administer all matters and all men. This opinion, which, I dare say, had never been conceived before our time by the kings of Europe, penetrates the mind of these princes to the deepest Edition: current; Page: [1199] level; it remains firm there amid the agitation of all the other opinions.m [A few perceive it very clearly, everyone glimpses it.]n

So the men of today are much less divided than you imagine; they argue constantly in order to know into which hands sovereignty will be placed; but they agree easily about the duties and about the rights of sovereignty. All conceive the government in the image of a unique, simple, providential and creative power.

All the secondary ideas in political matters are in motion; that one remains fixed, inalterable; it never changes.o Writers and statesmen adopt it; the crowd seizes it avidly; the governed and those who govern agree about pursuing it with the same ardor; it comes first; it seems innate.

So it does not come from a caprice of the human mind, but it is a natural condition of the present state of men.

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CHAPTER 3: 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 Edition: current; Page: [1201] 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

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[<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

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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, Edition: current; Page: [1204] 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. Edition: current; Page: [1205] 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.

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CHAPTER 4a: Of Some Particular and Accidental Causes That End up Leading a Democratic People to Centralize Power or That Turn Them Away from Doing Sob

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If all democratic peoples are carried instinctively toward centralization of powers, they are led there in an unequal manner. It depends on particular circumstances that can develop or limit the natural effects of the social state. These circumstances are in very great number; I will only speak about a few.

Among men who have lived free for a long time before becoming equal, the instincts that liberty gave combat, up to a certain point, the tendencies suggested by equality; and although among those men the central power increases its privileges, the individuals there never entirely lose their independence.

But when equality happens to develop among a people who have never known or who, for a long time, have no longer known liberty, as is seen on the continent of Europe, and when the old habits of the nation come to combine suddenly and by a sort of natural attraction with the new habits and doctrines that arise from the social state, all powers seem to rush by themselves toward the center; they accumulate there with a surprising rapidity, and the State all at once attains the extreme limits of its strength, while the individuals allow themselves to fall in a moment to the lowest degree of weakness.

The English who came, three centuries ago, to establish a democratic society in the wilderness of the New World were all accustomed in the mother country to take part in public affairs; they knew the jury; they had freedom of speech and freedom of the press, individual liberty, [added: independent courts], the idea of right and the custom of resorting to it. They carried these Edition: current; Page: [1209] free institutions and these manly mores to America, and these institutions and mores sustained them against the invasions of the State.

Among the Americans, it is therefore liberty that is old; equality is comparatively new. The opposite happens in Europe where equality, introduced by absolute power and under the eyes of the kings, had already penetrated the habits of the people long before liberty entered their ideas.

I have said that, among democratic peoples, government naturally presented itself to the human mind only under the form of a unique and central power, and that the notion of intermediary powers was not familiar to it. That is particularly applicable to democratic nations that have seen the principle of equality triumph with the aid of a violent revolution. Since the classes that directed local affairs [<served as intermediary between the sovereign and the people>] disappear suddenly in this tempest, and the confused mass that remains still has neither the organization nor the habits that allow it to take in hand the administration of these same affairs, you see nothing except the State itself which can take charge of all the details of government. Centralization becomes in a way a necessary fact.c

Napoleon [{the national Convention}]d must be neither praised nor Edition: current; Page: [1210] blamed for having concentrated in his hands alone all administrative powers; for, after the abrupt disappearance of the nobility and of the upper bourgeoisie, these powers came to him by themselves; it would have been as difficult for him to reject them as to take them. [<He must be reproached for the tyrannical use that he often made of his power, rather than for his power.>]e Such a necessity has never been felt by the Americans, who, not having had a revolution and being from the beginning governed by themselves, have never had to charge the State with temporarily serving them as tutor.f

Thus, among a democratic people, centralization develops not only according to the progress of equality, but also according to the manner in which this equality is established.g

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[When conditions have become equal among a nation only following a long and difficult social effort, the sentiments that led to the democratic revolution and those given birth by it subsist for a long time after the revolution. The memory of privileges is joined with the privileges themselves. The trace of former ranks is perpetuated. The people still see the destroyed remnants with hatred and envy, and the nobles envisage the people with terror. You find former adversaries around you on both sides, and you outdo each other throwing yourselves into the arms of the government for fear of falling under the oppression of your neighbors.

This is how the political tendencies that equality imparts are that much stronger among a people as conditions have been more unequal and as equality has had more difficulty becoming established.

The Americans arrived equal on the soil that they occupy. They never had privileges of birth or fortune to destroy. They naturally feel no hatred of some against others. So they subject themselves readily to the administration of those close at hand, because they neither hate nor fear them.]h

At the beginning of a great democratic revolution, and when the war between the different classes has only begun, the people try hard to centralize public administration in the hands of the government, in order to tear the direction of local affairs away from the aristocracy. Toward the end of this same revolution, on the contrary, it is ordinarily the vanquished aristocracy which attempts to deliver to the State the direction of all [{local}] affairs, because it fears the petty tyranny of the people, who have become its equal and often its master.

Thus, it is not always the same class of citizens that applies itself to increasing the prerogatives of power; but as long as the democratic revolution lasts, a class, powerful by numbers or by wealth, is always found in the nation that is led to centralize the public administration by special passions and particular interests, apart from hatred of the government of the neighbor, which is a general and permanent sentiment among democratic peoples. You can see today that it is the lower classes of England that work Edition: current; Page: [1212] with all their strength to destroy local independence and to carry the administration of all points from the circumference to the center, while the upper classes try hard to keep this same administration within its ancient limits. I dare to predict that a day will come when you will see an entirely opposite spectacle.j

What precedes makes it well understood why, among a democratic people who has arrived at equality by a long and difficult social effort, the social power must always be stronger and the individual weaker than in a democratic society where, from the beginning, citizens have always been equal. This is what the example of the Americans finally proves.

The men who inhabit the United States have never been separated by any privilege; they have never known the reciprocal relation of inferior and master, and since they do not fear and do not hate one another, they have never known the need to call upon the sovereign to direct the details of their affairs.k The destiny of the Americans is singular; they took from the aristocracy of England the idea of individual rights and the taste for local liberties; and they were able to preserve both, because they did not have to combat aristocracy.

If in all times enlightenment is useful to men for defending their independence, Edition: current; Page: [1213] that is above all true in democratic centuries. It is easy, when all men are similar, to establish a unique and omnipotent government; instincts are sufficient. But men need a great deal of intelligence, science and art, in order to organize and to maintain, in the same circumstances, secondary powers, and in order to create, amid the independence and individual weakness of citizens, free associations able to struggle against tyranny without destroying order [{and in order to replace the individual power of a few families with free associations of citizens}].

So concentration of powers and individual servitude will grow, among democratic nations, not only in proportion to equality, but also by reason of ignorance.m

It is true that, in centuries less advanced in knowledge, the government often lacks the enlightenment to perfect despotism, as the citizens lack the enlightenment to escape it. But the effect is not equal on the two sides.

However uncivilized a democratic people may be, the central power that directs it is never completely without enlightenment, because it easily attracts what little enlightenment there is in the country, and because, as needed, it goes outside to seek it. So among a nation that is ignorant as well as democratic, a prodigious difference between the intellectual capacity of the sovereign power and that of each one of its subjects cannot fail to manifest itself. The former ends by easily concentrating all powers in its hands. Edition: current; Page: [1214] The administrative power of the State expands constantly, because only the State is skillful enough to administer.n

Aristocratic nations, however little enlightened you suppose them, never present the same spectacle, because enlightenment there is distributed equally between the prince and the principal citizens.

The Pasha who reigns today over Egypt found the population of the country composed of very ignorant and very equal men, and to govern it he appropriated the science and the intelligence of Europe. The particular enlightenment of the sovereign thus coming to combine with the ignorance Edition: current; Page: [1215] and the democratic weakness of his subjects, the farthest limit of centralization has been attained without difficulty, and the prince has been able to make the country into his factory and the inhabitants into his workers.o

I believe that the extreme centralization of political power ends by enervating society and thus by weakening the government itself in the long run. But I do not deny that a centralized social force is able to execute easily, in a given time and at a determined point, great enterprises.p That is above all true in war, when success depends much more on the ease that you find in bringing all your resources rapidly to a certain point, than even on the extent of those resources. So it is principally in war that peoples feel the desire and often the need to increase the prerogatives of the central power. All warrior geniuses love centralization, which increases their forces, and all centralizing geniuses love war, which obliges nations to draw all powers into the hands of the State. Thus, the democratic tendency which leads Edition: current; Page: [1216] men constantly to multiply the privileges of the State and to limit the rights of individuals is much more rapid and more continuous among democratic peoples who are subject by their position to great and frequent wars, and whose existence can often be put in danger, than among all others.

I have said how the fear of disorder and the love of well-being imperceptibly led democratic peoples to augment the attributions of the central government, the sole power that seems to them by itself strong enough, intelligent enough, stable enough to protect them against anarchy. I hardly need to add that all the particular circumstances that tend to make the state of a democratic society disturbed and precarious increase this general instinct and lead individuals, more and more, to sacrifice their rights to their tranquillity.

So a people is never so disposed to increase the attributions of the central power than when emerging from a long and bloody revolution that, after tearing property from the hands of its former owners, has shaken all beliefs, filled the nation with furious hatreds, opposing interests and conflicting factions. The taste for public tranquillity then becomes a blind passion, and citizens are subject to becoming enamored with a very disordered love of order.

I have just examined several accidents, all of which contribute to aiding the centralization of power. I have not yet spoken about the principal one.

The first of all the accidental causes which, among democratic peoples, can draw the direction of all affairs into the hands of the sovereign is the origin of the sovereign himself and his inclinations.

Men who live in centuries of equality love the central power naturallyq and willingly expand its privileges; but if it happens that this same Edition: current; Page: [1217] power faithfully represents their interests and exactly reproduces their instincts, the confidence that they have in it has hardly any limits, and they believe that they are granting to themselves all that they are giving away.r

Drawing administrative powers toward the center will always be less easys and less rapid with kings who are still attached at some point to the old aristocratic order than with new princes, self-made men, who seem to be tied indissolubly to the cause of equality by birth, prejudices, instincts and habits. I do not want to say that the princes of aristocratic origin who live in the centuries of democracy do not seek to centralize. I believe that they apply themselves to that as diligently as all the others. For them, the only advantages of equality are in this direction; but their opportunities are fewer, because the citizens, instead of naturally anticipating their desires, often lend themselves to those desires only with difficulty. In democratic societies, centralization will always be that much greater as the sovereign is less aristocratic: there is the rule.

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[I do not believe in the hereditary and imprescriptible rights of princes, and I know how difficult it is to maintain the old families of kings in the midst of new ideas. Ancient dynasties have some particular advantages in centuries of equality, however, that I want to acknowledge.]t

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When an old race of kings directs an aristocracy, since the natural prejudices of the sovereign are in perfect accord with the natural prejudices of the nobles, the vices inherent in aristocratic societies develop freely and find no remedy. The opposite happens when the offshoot of a feudal branch is placed at the head of a democratic people. The prince is inclined each day by his education, his habits and his memories, toward sentiments that inequality of conditions suggests; and the people tend constantly, by its social state, toward the mores to which equality gives birth. So it often happens that the citizens seek to contain the central power, much less as tyrannical than as aristocratic; and that they firmly maintain their independence, not only because they want to be free, but above all because they intend to remain equal. [It is in this sense that you can say that old dynasties lead aristocratic peoples to despotism and democratic nations to liberty.

<It is difficult for such a struggle to last for long without leading to a revolution, but as long as it lasts, you cannot deny that it powerfully serves the political education of the democracy.>]

A revolution that overturns an old family of kings, in order to place new men at the head of a democratic people, can temporarily weaken the central power; but however anarchic it seems at first, you must not hesitate to predict that its final and necessary result will be to expand and to assure the prerogatives of this very power.

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The first, and in a way the only necessary condition for arriving at centralization of the public power in a democratic society is to love equality or make people believe that you do. Thus, the science of despotism, formerly so complicated, is simplified; it is reduced, so to speak, to a unique principle.u

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CHAPTER 5: That among the European Nations of Today the Sovereign Power Increases Although Sovereigns Are Less Stablea

If you come to reflect on what precedes, you will be surprised and frightened to see how, in Europe, everything seems to contribute to increasing indefinitely the prerogatives of the central power and each day to make individual existence weaker, more subordinate and more precarious.

The democratic nations of Europe have all the general and permanent tendencies that lead the Americans toward centralization of powers, and moreover they are subject to a multitude of secondary and accidental causes that the Americans do not know. You would say that each step that they take toward equality brings them closer to despotism.

It is enough to look around us and at ourselves to be convinced of it.

During the aristocratic centuries that preceded ours, the sovereigns of Europe had been deprived of or had let go of several of the rights inherent in their power. Not yet one hundred years ago, among most European nations, almost independent individuals or bodies were found that administered justice, called up and maintained soldiers, collected taxes, and often even made or explained the law. Everywhere the State has, for itself alone, taken back these natural attributions of sovereign power; in everything that relates to government, it no longer puts up with an intermediary between it and the citizens, and it directs the citizens by itself in general affairs. I Edition: current; Page: [1222] am very farb from censuring this concentration of power; I am limiting myself to showing it.

In the same period, a great number of secondary powers existed in Europe that represented local interests and administered local affairs. Most of these local authorities have already disappeared; all are tending rapidly to disappear or to fall into the most complete dependency. From one end of Europe to the other, the privileges of lords, the liberties of cities, the provincial administrations are destroyed or are going to be.

Europe has experienced, for a half-century, many revolutions and counter-revolutions that have moved it in opposite directions.c But all these movements are similar on one point: all have shaken or destroyed secondary powers. Local privileges that the French nation had not abolished in countries conquered by it have finally succumbed under the efforts of the princes who defeated France. These princes rejected all the novelties that the [French] Revolution had created among them, except centralization. It is the only thing that they have agreed to keep from it.

What I want to note is that all these diverse rights that in our time have been successively taken away from classes, corporations, men, have not served to raise new secondary powers on a more democratic foundation, but have been concentrated on all sides in the hands of the sovereign. Everywhere the State arrives more and more at directing by itself the least citizens and at alone leading each one of them in the least affairs.1

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Nearly all the charitable establishments of old Europe were in the hands of individuals or of corporations; they have all more or less fallen into dependence on the sovereign, and in several countries they are governed by the sovereign. It is the State that has undertaken almost alone to give bread to those who are hungry, relief and a refuge to the sick, work to those without it; it has made itself the almost unique repairer of all miseries.

Education, as well as charity, has become a national affair among most of the peoples of today. The State receives and often takes the child from the arms of its mother in order to entrust it to its agents; it is the State that takes charge of inspiring sentiments in each generation and providing each generation with ideas. Uniformity reigns in studies as in all the rest; there diversity, like liberty, disappears each day.

Nor am I afraid to advance that, among nearly all the Christian nations of today, Catholic as well as Protestant, religion is threatened with falling into the hands of the government.e It is not that sovereigns show themselves very eager to fix dogma themselves;f but more and more they are taking hold of the will of the one who explains dogma; they take away from the cleric his property, assign him a salary, deflect and use for their sole profit the influence that the priest possesses; they make him one of their officials Edition: current; Page: [1224] and often one of their servants, and with him they penetrate to the deepest recesses of the soul of each man.2

But that is still only one side of the picture.

Not only has the power of the sovereign expanded, as we have just seen, into the entire sphere of old powers; this is no longer enough to satisfy it; it overflows that sphere on all sides and spreads over the domain that until now has been reserved to individual independence. A multitude of actions which formerly escaped entirely from the control of society has been subjected to it today, and their number increases constantly.g

Among aristocratic peoples, the social power usually limited itself to directing and to overseeing citizens in everything that had a direct and visible connection to the national interest; it willingly abandoned them to their free will in everything else. Among these peoples, the government seemed often to forget that there is a point at which the failings and the miseries Edition: current; Page: [1225] of individuals compromise universal well-being, and that sometimes preventing the ruin of an individual must be a public matter.

Democratic nations of our time lean toward an opposite extreme.

It is clear that most of our princes do not want only to direct the whole people; you would say that they consider themselves responsible for the actions and for the individual destiny of their subjects,h that they have undertaken Edition: current; Page: [1226] to lead and to enlighten each one of them in the different acts of his life, and as needed, to make him happy despite himself.j

On their side, individuals more and more envisage the social power in the same way; they call it to their aid in all their needs, and at every moment they set their sight on it as on a tutor or on a guide.

I assert that there is no country in Europe in which the public administration has not become not only more centralized, but also more inquisitorial and more detailed; everywhere it penetrates more than formerly into private affairs; it regulates in its own way more actions and smaller actions, and every day it establishes itself more and more beside, around and above each individual in order to assist him, advise him and constrain him.k

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Formerly, the sovereign lived from the revenue of his lands or from tax income. It is no longer the same today now that his needs have grown with his power. In the same circumstances in which formerly a prince established a new tax, today we resort to a loan. Little by little the State thus becomes the debtor of most of the rich, and it centralizes in its hands the largest capital.m

It attracts the smallest capital in another way.

As men mingle and conditions become equal, the poor man has more resources, enlightenment and desires. He conceives the idea of bettering his lot, and he seeks to succeed in doing so by savings. So savings give birth each day to an infinite number of small accumulations of capital, slow and successive fruits of work; they increase constantly. But the greatest number would remain unproductive if they stayed scattered. That has given birth to a new philanthropic institution which will soon become, if I am not mistaken, one of our greatest political institutions. Charitable men conceived the thought of gathering the savings of the poor and utilizing the Edition: current; Page: [1228] earnings. In some countries, these benevolent associations have remained entirely distinct from the State; but in almost all they tend visibly to merge with it, and there are even a few in which the government has replaced them and undertaken the immense task of centralizing the daily savings of several million workers in a single place and of turning those savings to good account by its hands alone.

Thus, the State draws to itself the money of the rich by borrowing, and by savings banks it disposes as it wills of the pennies of the poor. The wealth of the country rushes constantly toward it and into its hand; wealth accumulates there all the more as equality of conditions becomes greater [{the country is more democratic}]; for among a democratic nation, only the State inspires confidence with individuals, because only it alone seems to them to have some strength and some duration.3

Thus, the sovereign power does not limit itself to directing public fortune; it also gets into private fortunes;n it is the leader of each citizen and often his master, and moreover, it becomes his steward and his cashier.

Not only does the central power alone fill the entire sphere of old powers, expand and go beyond it, but it moves there with more agility, strength and independence than it ever did formerly.

All the governments of Europe have in our time prodigiously perfected administrative science;o they do more things, and they do each thing with Edition: current; Page: [1229] more order, rapidity and with less expense; they seem to enrich themselves constantly with all the enlightenment which they have taken from individuals. Each day the princes of Europe hold their delegated agents in a more narrow dependence, and they invent new methods to direct them more closely and to oversee them with less difficulty. It is not enough for them to conduct all affairs by their agents; they undertake to direct the conduct of their agents in all their affairs; so that the public administration depends not only on the same power, it draws itself more and more into the same place and becomes concentrated in fewer hands. The government centralizes its actions at the same time that it increases its prerogatives: double cause of strength.

When you examine the constitution that the judicial power formerly had among most of the nations of Europe, two things are striking: the independence of this power and the extent of its attributions.

Not only did the courts of justice decide nearly all the quarrels among individuals; in a great number of cases, they served as arbiters between each individual and the State.

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I do not want to speak here about the administrative and political attributions that the courts had usurped in some countries, but about the judicial attributions that they possessed in all. Among all the peoples of Europe, there were and there still are many individual rights, most related to the general right of property, which were placed under the safeguard of the judge and which the State could not violate without the permission of the former.

It is this semi-political power which principally distinguished the courts of Europe from all the others; for all peoples have had judges, but all have not given judges the same privileges.

If we now examine what is happening among the democratic nations of Europe which are called free, as well as among the others, we see that on all sides, alongside these courts, other more dependent ones are being created, whose particular purpose is to decide in exceptional instances the litigious questions that can arise between the public administration and the citizens. The old judicial power is left with its independence, but its jurisdiction is narrowed, and more and more the tendency is to make it only an arbiter between particular interests.p

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The number of these special courts increases constantly, and their attributions grow. So the government escapes more every day from the obligation to have its will and its rights sanctioned by another power. Not able to do without judges, it wants, at least, to choose its judges itself and to hold them always in its hand; that is to say, between it and individuals, it places still more the image of justice rather than justice itself.q

Thus, it is not enough for the State to draw all affairs to itself; it also ends more and more by deciding all of these by itself without control and without recourse.4

There is among the modern nations of Europe one great cause that, a part from all those that I have just pointed out, contributes constantly to expand the action of the sovereign power or to augment its prerogatives; we have not taken enough notice of it. This cause is the development of industry, which the progress of equality favors.r

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[<The goods created by industry are rightly regarded by all enlightened nations as particularly appropriate to be taxed. Thus, as industry develops, you see new taxes arise, and these taxes are in general more complicated, more difficult and more exacting to collect than all the others.s

It must be remarked on the other hand that . . .>]t

Industry usually gathers a multitude of men in the same place; it establishes new and complicated relationships among them. It exposes them to great and sudden shifts between abundance and poverty, during which public tranquillity is threatened. It can happen finally that these works compromise the health and even the lives of those who profit from them or of those who devote themselves to them. Thus, the industrial class has more need to be regulated, supervised and restrained than all the other classes, and it is natural that the attributions of the government grow with it.

This truth is generally applicable; but here is what relates more particularly to the nations of Europe.

In the centuries that have preceded those in which we live, the aristocracy possessed the land and was able to defend it. So landed property was surrounded by guarantees, and its owners enjoyed a great independence. That created laws and habits that have been perpetuated despite the division of lands and the ruin of the nobles; and today the landowners and farmers are still, of all citizens, those who escape most easily from the control of the social power.

In these same aristocratic centuries, where all the sources of our history are found, personal property had little importance and its owners were despised and weak; the industrialists formed an exceptional class in the middle of the aristocratic world. Since they did not have assured patronage, they were not protected, and often they were not able to protect themselves.u

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So it became a habit to consider industrial property as a property of a particular nature, which did not merit the same guarantees as property in general, and to consider the industrialists as a small, separate class in the social order, whose independence had little value, and as a class that it was fitting to abandon to the regulatory passion of princes. If, in fact, you open the codes of the Middle Ages, you are astonished to see how, in these centuries of individual independence, industry was constantly regulated by kings, up to the smallest details; on this point, centralization is as active and as detailed as it could be.

Since this time, a great revolution has taken place in the world; industrial property, which was only in germ, has developed; it covers Europe; the industrialv class has expanded; it has enriched itself from the remnants of all the others; it has grown in number, in importance, in wealth; it grows constantly; nearly all those who are not part of it are connected to it, at least at some point; after having been the exceptional class, it threatens to become the principal class and, so to speak, the sole class;w but the political ideas and habits to which it formerly gave birth have remained. These ideas and these habits have not changed, because they are old, and then because they are in perfect harmony with the new ideas and general habits of the men of our times.x

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So industrial property does not augment its rights with its importance. The industrial class does not become less dependent by becoming more numerous; but you would say, on the contrary, that it carries despotism within it, and that despotism expands naturally as it develops.5

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In proportion as the nation becomes more industrial, it feels a greater need for roads, canals, ports and other works of a semi-public nature, which facilitate the acquisition of wealth; and in proportion as the nation is more democratic, individuals experience more difficulty in executing such works, and the State more ease in doing them. I am not afraid to assert that the manifest tendency of all the sovereigns of our time is to undertake alone the execution of such enterprises; in that way, they enclose populations each day within a more narrow dependence.

On the other hand, as the power of the State increases and as its needs augment, the State itself consumes an always greater quantity of industrial products, which it fabricates ordinarily in its arsenals and its factories. In this way, in each kingdom, the sovereign power becomes the greatest industrialist;z it draws to and retains in its service a prodigious number of engineers, architects, mechanics and artisans.a

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It is not only the first of industrialists; it tends more and more to make itself the leader or rather the master of all the others.b

Since citizens have become weak while becoming more equal,c they can do nothing in industry without associating; now, the public power naturally wants to place these associations under its control.

It must be recognized that these kinds of collective beings, which are called associations, are stronger and more formidable than a simple individual can be, and that they have less responsibility than the latter for their own actions; the result is that it seems reasonable to allow to each one of them less independence from the social power than would be allowed for an individual.

Sovereigns have that much more inclination to act in this way since it suits their tastes. Among democratic peoples it is only by association that Edition: current; Page: [1239] the resistance of citizens to the central power can come about; consequently the latter never sees associations that are not under its control except with disfavor; and what is very worth noting is that, among democratic peoples, citizens often envisage these same associations, which they need so much, with a secret sentiment of fear and jealousy which prevents them from defending them. The power and the duration of these small particular societies, amid the general weakness and instability, astonishes them and worries them, and citizens are not far from considering as dangerous privileges the free use that each association makes of its natural powers.

All these associations that are arising today are, moreover, so many new persons, for whom time has not consecrated rights and who enter into the world at a period when the idea of particular rights is weak, and when the social power is without limits; it is not surprising that associations lose their liberty at birth.

Among all the peoples of Europe, there are certain associations that can be formed only after the State has examined their statutes and authorized their existence. Among several, efforts are being made to extend this rule to all associations. You see easily where the success of such an undertaking would lead.

If the sovereign power had once the general right to authorize, on certain conditions, associations of all types, it would not take long to claim that of overseeing them and of directing them, so that the associations would not able to evade the rule that it had imposed on them. In this way, the State, after making all those who desire to associate dependent on it, would make all those who have associated dependent as well, that is to say, nearly all the men who are alive today.

The sovereign powers thus appropriate more and more, and put to their use the greatest part of this new force that industry creates today in the world. Industry leads us, and they lead industry.d

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[As for those who still work alone in the industrial world, their number and above all their importance is constantly decreasing; and for a long time, moreover, the government has exercised the right to regulate them as it pleases and has imposed on them each day new laws of which the government itself alone is the administrator and the interpreter.

<≠Perhaps you will find that I have expanded too much on this last part. Its importance will be my excuse.

The progress of equality and the development of industry are the two greatest facts of our times.

I wanted to show how both contributed to enlarge the sphere of the central power and to restrict individual independence each day within the narrowest limits.≠>]e

I attach so much importance to all that I have just said that I am tormented with the fear of having detracted from my thought by wanting to make it clearer.

So if the reader finds that the examples cited to support my words are insufficient or badly chosen; if he thinks that in some place I have exaggerated the progress of the social power, and that on the contrary I have limited beyond measure the sphere in which individual independence still moves, I beg him to abandon the book for a moment and to consider in his turn by himself the matters that I have undertaken to show him. Let him examine attentively what is happening each day among us and beyond us; let him question his neighbors; let him finally consider himself; I am very much mistaken if he does not arrive, without a guide and by other paths, at the point where I wanted to lead him.

[He will discover that the various rights that today have been successively wrested from classes, corporations, men, instead of serving to raise new secondary powers on another more democratic foundation, have almost all collected in the sole hands of the sovereign, that everywhere the public administration has become more clever, more intelligent and stronger, that the individual has become more isolated, more inexperienced, and weaker relative to the public administration, and that finally the State, whatever Edition: current; Page: [1242] its representative, has placed itself more every day next to and above each citizen in order to instruct him, guide him, aid him and constrain him.]f

He will notice that, during the half-century that has just gone by, centralization has grown everywhere in a thousand different fashions. Wars, revolutions, conquests have served its development; all men have worked to increase it.g During this same period, when men have with a prodigious rapidity succeeded each other at the head of affairs, their ideas, their interests, their passions have varied infinitely; but all have wanted to centralize in some ways. The instinct for centralization has been like the sole immobile point amid the singular mobility of their existence and their thoughts.h

And when the reader, after examining this detail of human affairs, will want to embrace the vast picture as a whole, he will remain astonished.

On the one hand, the firmest dynasties are shaken or destroyed; on all sides peoples escape violently from the dominion of their laws; they destroy Edition: current; Page: [1243] or limit the authority of their lords or of their princes; all the nations that are not in revolution seem at least restless and unsettled; the same spirit of revolt animates them. And, on the other, in this same time of anarchy and among these same peoples so unruly, the social power constantly increases its prerogatives; it becomes more centralized, more enterprising, more absolute, more extensive. The citizens fall under the control of the public administration at every instant; they are carried imperceptibly and as if without their knowledge to sacrifice to the public administration some new parts of their individual independence, and these same men who from time to time overturn a throne and trample kings underfoot, bow more and more, without resistance, to the slightest will of a clerk.

So therefore, two revolutions seem to be taking place today in opposite directions: one continually weakens power, and the other constantly reinforces it. In no other period of our history has it appeared either so weak or so strong.

But when you finally come to consider the state of the world more closely, you see that these two revolutions are intimately linked to each other, that they come from the same source, and that, after having had a different course, they finally lead men to the same place.

I will not be afraid again to repeat one last time what I have already said or pointed out in several places of this book. We must be very careful about confusing the very fact of equality with the revolution that finally introduces it into the social state and into the laws; that is the reason for nearly all the phenomena that astonish us.

All the ancient political powers of Europe, the greatest as well as the least, were established in the centuries of aristocracy, and they more or less represented or defended the principle of inequality and of privilege. To make the new needs and interests suggested by growing equality prevail in the government, it was therefore necessary for the men of our times to overturn or restrain the ancient powers. That has led them to make revolutions and has inspired in a great number of them this wild taste for disorder and for independence to which all revolutions, whatever their objective, always give birth.

I do not believe that there is a single country in Europe where the development of equality has not been preceded or followed by some violent Edition: current; Page: [1244] changes in the state of property and of persons, and almost all these changes have been accompanied by a great deal of anarchy and license, because they were done by the least civilized portion of the nation against the portion that was most civilized.

From that have come the two opposite tendencies that I previously showed. As long as the democratic revolution was in its heat, the men occupied with destroying the ancient aristocratic powers that fought against it appeared animated by a great spirit of independence; and as the victory of equality became more complete, they abandoned themselves little by little to the natural instincts that arose from this same equality, and they reinforced and centralized the social power. They had wanted to be free in order to be able to make themselves equal; and as equality became more established with the help of liberty, it made liberty more difficult for them.

These two states have not always been successive. Our fathers have shown how a people could organize an immense tyranny within itself at the very moment when it escaped from the authority of the nobles and braved the power of all the kings, teaching the world at the same time the way to conquer its independence and to lose it.

The men of today notice that the old powers are collapsing on all sides; they see all the old influences dying, all the old barriers falling; that disturbs the judgment of the most able; they pay attention only to the prodigious revolution which is taking place before their eyes, and they believe that humanity is going to fall forever into anarchy. If they considered the final consequences of this revolution, they would perhaps imagine other fears.

As for me, I do not trust, I confess, the spirit of liberty which seems to animate my contemporaries; I see well that the nations of today are turbulent; but I do not find clearly that they are liberal, and I am afraid that at the end of these agitations, which make all thrones totter, sovereigns will find themselves stronger than they were [I am afraid finally that in this century of license, everything is being prepared for the enslavement of the generations to come].

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CHAPTER 6: What Type of Despotism Democratic Nations Have to Feara

I had noticed during my stay in the United States that a democratic social state similar to that of the Americans could offer singular opportunities for the establishment of despotism,b and I had seen on my return to Europe how most of our princes had already made use of the ideas, sentiments and Edition: current; Page: [1246] needs that arose from that social state, in order to expand the circle of their power.

That led me to believe that Christian nations would end perhaps by suffering some oppression similar to that which weighed formerly on several of the peoples of antiquity.c

A more detailed examination of the subject and five years of new meditations have not lessened my fears, but they have changed their object.

We have never in past centuries seen a sovereign so absolute and so powerful that he undertook to administer by himself, and without the help of secondary powers, all the parts of a great empire; there is none who attempted to subject all his subjects indiscriminately to the details of a uniform rule, or who descended to the side of each one of his subjects in order to rule over him and to lead him. The idea of such an undertaking had never occurred to the human mind, and if a man ever happened to imagine it, the insufficiency of enlightenment, the imperfection of administrative procedures, and above all the natural obstacles that inequality of conditions created would have soon stopped him in the execution of such a vast design.

We see that in the time of the greatest power of the Caesars, the different peoples who inhabited the Roman world had still kept diverse customs and mores. Although subjected to the same monarch, most of the provinces were administered separately; they were full of powerful and active municipalities, and although all the government of the empire was concentrated in the hands of the emperor alone, and although he remained always, as needed, the arbiter of all things, the details of social life and of individual existence ordinarily escaped his control.

The emperors possessed, it is true, an immense power without counterbalance, which allowed them to give themselves freely to their bizarre inclinations and to use the entire strength of the State to satisfy them; they Edition: current; Page: [1247] often happened to abuse this power in order arbitrarily to take away a citizen’s property or his life. Their tyranny weighed prodigiously on a few; but it did not extend to a great number; it was tied to a few great principal matters and neglected the rest; it was violent and limited.d

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It seems that, if despotism came to be established among the democratic nations of today, it would have other characteristics; it would be more extensive and milder, and it would degrade men without tormenting them.

I do not doubt that, in centuries of enlightenment and equality such as ours, sovereigns might have succeeded more easily in uniting all public powers in their hands alone, and in penetrating more habitually and more deeply into the circle of private interests, than any of those of antiquity were ever able to do. But this same equality, which facilitates despotism, tempers it; we have seen how, as men are more similar and more equal, public mores become more humane and milder; when no citizen has a great power or great wealth, tyranny lacks, in a way, opportunity and theater. Since all fortunes are mediocre, passions are naturally contained, imagination limited, pleasures simple. This universal moderation moderates the sovereign himself and stops within certain limits the disordered impulse of his desires.

Apart from these reasons drawn from the very nature of the social state, I could add many others that would take me beyond my subject; but I want to keep myself within the limits that I have set for myself.

Democratic governments will be able to become violent and even cruel in certain moments of great agitation and great dangers; but these crises will be rare and passing.

When I think about the petty passions of the men of our times, about the softness of their mores, about the extent of their enlightenment, about the purity of their religion, about the mildness of their morality, about their painstaking and steady habits, about the restraint that they nearly all maintain in vice as in virtue, I am not afraid that they will find in their leaders tyrants, but rather tutors.

So I think that the type of oppression by which democratic peoples are threatened will resemble nothing of what preceded it in the world; our contemporaries cannot find the image of it in their memories. I seek in vain myself for an expression that exactly reproduces the idea that I am forming of it and includes it; [<the thing that I want to speak about is new, and men have not yet created the expression which must portray it.>] the old words Edition: current; Page: [1249] of despotism and of tyranny do not work. The thing is new, so I must try to define it, since I cannot name it.e

I want to imagine under what new features despotism could present itself to the world; I see an innumerable crowd of similar and equal men who spin around restlessly, in order to gain small and vulgar pleasures with which they fill their souls.f Each one of them, withdrawn apart, is like a stranger to the destiny of all the others; his children and his particular friends form Edition: current; Page: [1250] for him the entire human species;g as for the remainder of his fellow citizens, he is next to them, but he does not see them; he touches them without feeling them; he exists only in himself and for himself alone, and if he still has a family, you can say that at least he no longer has a country.h

Above those men arises an immense and tutelary power that alone takes charge of assuring their enjoyment and of looking after their fate. It is absolute, detailed, regular, far-sighted and mild. It would resemble paternal power if, like it, it had as a goal to prepare men for manhood; but on the contrary it seeks only to fix them irrevocably in childhood; it likes the citizens to enjoy themselves, provided that they think only about enjoying themselves.j It works willingly for their happiness; but it wants to be the Edition: current; Page: [1251] unique agent for it and the sole arbiter; it attends to their security, provides for their needs, facilitates their pleasures, conducts their principal affairs, directs their industry, settles their estates, divides their inheritances;k how can it not remove entirely from them the trouble to think and the difficulty of living?

This is how it makes the use of free will less useful and rarer every day; how it encloses the action of the will within a smaller space and little by little steals from each citizen even the use of himself.m Equality has prepared men for all these things; it has disposed men to bear them and often even to regard them as a benefit.

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After having thus taken each individual one by one into its powerful hands, and having molded him as it pleases, the sovereign power extends its arms over the entire society; it covers the surface of society with a network of small, complicated, minute, and uniform rules, which the most original minds and the most vigorous souls cannot break through to go beyond the crowd; it does not break wills, but it softens them, bends them and directs them; [<≠in certain moments of great passions and great dangers, the sovereign power becomes suddenly violent and arbitrary. Habitually it is moderate, benevolent, regular and humane≠>] it rarely forces action, but it constantly opposes your acting; it does not destroy, it prevents birth; it does not tyrannize, it hinders, it represses, it enervates, it extinguishes, it stupifies, and finally it reduces each nation to being nothing more than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.n

I have always believed that this sort of servitude, regulated, mild and peaceful, of which I have just done the portrait, could be combined better than we imagine with some of the external forms of liberty, and that it Edition: current; Page: [1253] would not be impossible for it to be established in the very shadow of the sovereignty of the people.o

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[I suppose that a democratic nation, after destroying within it all the secondary powers, establishes in its midst a very inquisitorial, very extensive, very centralized, very powerful executive power, that it confers on this power the right to conduct all the details of public affairs and to lead a part of private affairs, that it put [sic] individuals in a strict and daily dependence on this power, but that it makes this executive power itself depend on an elected legislature which, without governing, traces the principal rules of the government.

<I go still further and I suppose that the administration, instead of being Edition: current; Page: [1255] alongside the legislative chambers, is in the very legislature, as was seen in France at the time of the Convention, so that the same elected power makes the law and executes it even in its smallest details.>

All that means, if I am not mistaken, that after allowing the sovereign power as a master to direct each citizen [v: particular wills] and to bend him every day as it pleases, the sovereign itself is subjected from time to time to the general will [volontés générales: (Translator)] of the nation.]

Our contemporaries are incessantly tormented by two hostile passions: they feel the need to be led and the desire to remain free. Unable to destroy either the one or the other of these opposite instincts, they work hard to satisfy both at the same time. They imagine a unique, tutelary, omnipotent power, but elected by the citizens. They combine centralizationp and sovereignty of the people. That gives them some relief. They console themselves about being in tutelage by thinking that they have chosen their tutors themselves. Each individual endures being bound, because he sees that it is not a man or a class, but the people itself that holds the end of the chain.

In this system, the citizens emerge for a moment from dependency in order to indicate their master, and return to it.q

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There are many men today who accommodate themselves very easily to this type of compromise between administrative despotism and sovereignty of the people, and who think they have guaranteed the liberty of individuals when it is to the national power that they deliver that liberty. That is not enough for me. The nature of the master is much less important to me than the obedience.

I will not deny, however, that such a constitution is infinitely preferable to one that, after concentrating all powers, would put them in the hands of an unaccountable man or body. Of all the different forms that democratic despotism could take, the latter would assuredly be the worst.

When the sovereign is elected or closely supervised by a legislature truly elected and independent, the oppression that it can make individuals suffer is sometimes greater; but the oppression is always less degrading because each citizen, when he is being hindered and when he is reduced to powerlessness, can still imagine that by obeying he is only submitting to himself, and that it is to one of his desires that he is sacrificing all the rest.r

I understand equally that, when the sovereign represents the nation and depends on it, the strength and the rights that are taken from each citizen do not serve only the leader of the State, but profit the State itself, and that individuals gain some advantage from the sacrifice of their independence that they have made to the public.

[I understand also that when public opinion draws certain limits and can keep the sovereign power within them, tyranny properly speaking is Edition: current; Page: [1257] little to be feared, or at least it can never become general. Thus it is not the tyranny of the social power that is the most to fear, but its regular use.]s

To create a national representation in a very centralized country, is therefore to diminish the evil that extreme centralization can produce, but not to destroy it.t

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I see clearly that, in this way, individual intervention is kept in the most important affairs; but it is no less suppressed in the small ones and the particular ones.u We forget that it is dangerous, above all, to enslave men Edition: current; Page: [1259] in the detail. I would, for my part, be led to believe liberty less necessary in the great things than in the least, if I thought that the one could ever be assured without possessing the other.

Subjection in small affairs manifests itself every day and makes itself felt indiscriminately by all citizens. It does not drive them to despair; but it thwarts them constantly and leads them to relinquish the use of their will [and finally to give up on themselves]. It thus extinguishes their spirit little by little, and enervates their souls; while the obedience that is due only in a small number of very grave, but very rare circumstances, displays servitude only now and then, and makes it weigh only on certain men. In vain will you charge these same citizens, whom you have made so dependent on the central power, with choosing from time to time the representatives of this power; this use so important, but so short and so rare, of their free will, will not prevent them from losing little by little the ability to think, to feel and to act by themselves, and from thus falling gradually below the level of humanity.v

I add that they will soon become incapable of [properly] exercising the great and sole privilege remaining to them. Democratic peoples who have introduced liberty in the political sphere, at the same time that they increased despotism in the administrative sphere, have been led to very strange peculiarities.w If small affairs, in which simple good sense can suffice, Edition: current; Page: [1260] must be managed, they consider that the citizens are incapable of it; if it is a matter of the government of the whole State, they entrust these citizens with immense prerogatives; they make them alternately the playthings of the sovereign and its masters, more than kings and less than men. After having exhausted all the different systems of election, without finding one that suits them, they are surprised and still search; as if the evil that they notice were not due to the constitution of the country much more than to that of the electoral body.

It is, in fact, difficult to imagine how men who have entirely given up the habit of directing themselves, could succeed in choosing well those who should lead them; and it cannot be believed that a liberal, energetic and wise government can ever come out of the votes of a people of servants.x

A constitution that would be republican at the head, and ultra-monarchical in all the other parts has always seemed to me an ephemeral monster. The vices of those who govern and the imbecility of the governed Edition: current; Page: [1261] would not take long to lead them to ruin; and the people, tired of its representatives and of itself, would create freer institutions, or would soon return to stretching out at the feet of a single master.y

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CHAPTER 7a: Continuation of the Preceding Chapters

I believe that it is easier to establish an absolute and despotic government among a [democratic] people where conditions are equal than among another, and I think that, if such a government were once established among such a people, not only would it oppress men, but in the long run it would rob from each of them some of the principal attributes of humanity.b

So despotism seems to me particularly to be feared in democratic ages.

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I would, I think, have loved liberty in all times; but I feel myself inclined to adore it in the times in which we live.

I am persuaded, on the other hand, that in the centuries which we are entering, all those who try to base liberty on privilege and on aristocracy will fail. All those who want to attract and keep authority within a single class will fail. There is today no sovereign power clever enough and strong enough to establish despotism by reestablishing permanent distinctions among its subjects;c nor is there any legislator so wise and so powerful who Edition: current; Page: [1264] is able to maintain free institutions if he does not take equality as first principle and as symbol. So all those among our contemporaries who want to create or to assure the independence and dignity of their fellows must appear as friends of equality; and the only means worthy of them of appearing so is to be so: the success of their holy enterprise depends on it.d

Thus, it is not a matter of reconstructing an aristocratic society, but of making liberty emerge from within the democratic society in which God makes us live.

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These two first truths seem to me simple, clear and fertile, and they lead me naturally to consider what type of free government can be established among a people in which conditions are equal.

It results from the very constitution of democratic nations and from their needs that, among them, the power of the sovereign must be more uniform, more centralized, more extensive, more penetrating, more powerful than elsewhere.e Society there is naturally more active and stronger; the individual, more subordinate and weaker. The one does more; the other less; that is inevitable.f

So in democratic countries you must not expect the circle of individual independence ever to be as wide as in countries of aristocracy. But that is not to be desired; for among aristocratic nations, society is often sacrificed to the individual, and the prosperity of the greatest number to the grandeur of a few.

It is at the very same time necessary and desirable that the central power that directs a democratic people be active and powerful. It is not a matter of making it weak or indolent, but only of preventing it from abusing its agility and strength.g

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What contributed the most to assure the independence of individuals in aristocratic centuries is that the sovereign power did not take charge alone of governing and administering the citizens; it was obliged to leave a part of this concern to the members of the aristocracy; so that the social power, always divided, never weighed entirely and in the same way on every man.h

Not only did the sovereign power not do everything by itself, but most of the officers who acted in its place, since they drew their power from the fact of their birth and not from it, were not constantly in its hand. It could not at any moment create them or destroy them, depending on its caprices, and bend them all uniformly to its least desires. That also guaranteed the independence of individuals.

I also understand that today you cannot resort to the same means, but I see democratic procedures that replace them.j

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Instead of giving to the sovereign alone all the administrative powers that were taken from the corporation or from the nobles, you can entrust a part of them to secondary bodies formed temporarily out of simple citizens; in this way, the liberty of individuals will be surer, without their equality being less.

The Americans, who are not as attached as we to words, have kept the name of county for the largest of their administrative districts; but they have in part replaced the county by a provincial assemblyk [chosen freely by the inhabitants themselves].m

I will admit without difficulty that in a period of equality like ours, it would be unjust and unreasonable to institute hereditary officials; but nothing prevents substituting for them, to a certain measure, elected officials. Election is a democratic expedient that assures the independence of the official vis-à-vis the central power, as much as and more than heredity can do among aristocratic peoples.

Aristocratic countries are full of rich and influential individuals who know how to be self-sufficient and who are not easily or secretly oppressed; and the latter keep power within the general habits of moderation and restraint [<while in democratic countries each citizen taken in isolation cannot offer any resistance and does not ever succeed in Edition: current; Page: [1268] attracting the eyes of the public to the evils that tyranny makes him suffer.>]

I know well that democratic countries do not naturally present similar individuals; but there you can artificially create something analogous.

I believe firmly that you cannot establish an aristocracyn again in the world; but I think that simple citizens by associating together can constitute very wealthy, very influential, very strong beings, in a word aristocratic persons.o

[<Thus, in whatever direction I look, I discover association as the most powerful remedy for the evils with which equality threatens us.>]

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In this manner several of the greatest political advantages of aristocracy would be obtained, without its injustices or its dangers. A political, industrial, commercial, or even scientific and literary association is an enlightened and powerful citizen whom you cannot bend at will or oppress in the shadow, and who, by defending its particular rights against the demands of power, saves common liberties.

In times of aristocracy, each man is always bound in a very tight way to several of his fellow citizens, so that you cannot attack the former without the others running to his aid. In centuries of equality, each individual is naturally isolated; he has no hereditary friends whose help he can require, no class whose sympathies for him are assured; he is easily set apart, and he is trampled underfoot with impunity.p Today, a citizen who is oppressed has therefore only one means of defending himself; it is to address himself to the whole nation, and if it is deaf to him, to humanity; he has only one means to do it, it is the press. Thus liberty of the press is infinitely more precious among democratic nations than among all others; it alone cures most of the evils that equality can produce. Equality isolates and weakens men; but the press places beside each one of them a very powerful weapon, which the weakest and most isolated can use. Equality takes away from each individual the support of those close to him; but the press allows him to call to his aid all his fellow citizens and all those similar to him. Printing hastened the progress of equality, and it is one of its best correctives.

I think that men who live in aristocracies can, if necessary, do without liberty of the press; but those who inhabit democratic countries cannot do so. [<For the latter, between independence and servitude, I see hardly anything except the press.>] To guarantee the personal independence of the latter, I do not trust great political assemblies, parliamentary prerogatives, the proclamation of sovereignty of the people.

All these things, up to a certain point, fit with individual servitude; but Edition: current; Page: [1270] this servitude cannot be complete if the press is free. The press is, par excellence, the democratic instrument of liberty.

I will say something analogous about the judicial power.q

It is the essence of the judicial power to occupy itself with particular interests and to fix its eyes on the small matters that are exposed to its view; it is also the essence of this power not to come by itself to the help of those who are oppressed, but to be constantly at the disposal of the most humble man among them. The latter, however weak you suppose him to be, can always force the judge to listen to his complaint and to respond to it: that results from the very constitution of the judicial power.

So such a power is especially applicable to the needs of liberty, in a time when the eye and the hand of the sovereign are introduced constantly into the most minute details of human actions, and when individuals, too weak to protect themselves, are too isolated to be able to count on the help of those like them. The strength of the courts has been, in all times, the greatest guarantee that can be offered to individual independence, but that is true above all in democratic centuries; particular rights and interests are always in danger there, if the judicial power does not grow and expand as conditions become equal.

Equality suggests to men several tendencies very dangerous for liberty, and the legislator must always keep his eyes open to them. I will only recall the principal ones.

Men who live in democratic centuries do not easily understand the utility of forms;r they feel an instinctive disdain for them. I spoke about the reasons for this elsewhere. Forms excite their scorn and often their hatred. Since they usually aspire only to easy and present enjoyments, they throw themselves impetuously toward the object of each one of their desires; the least delays lead them to despair. This temperament, which they bring to political life, sets them against forms which slow or stop them each day in some of their desires.

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This disadvantage that men of democracies find in forms is, however, what makes the latter so useful to liberty, their principal merit being to serve as a barrier between the strong and the weak, those who govern and the governed, to slow the first and to give to the second the time for them to figure things out. Forms are more necessary as the sovereign power is more active and more powerful and as individuals become more indolent and more feeble. Thus democratic peoples naturally need forms more than other peoples, and naturally they respect them less.s That merits very serious attention.

There is nothing more miserable than the superb disdain of most of our contemporaries for questions of forms; for today the smallest questions of forms have acquired an importance that they had not had until now. Several of the greatest interests of humanity are connected with it.

I think that, if the statesmen who lived in aristocratic centuries could sometimes scorn forms with impunity and often rise above them, those who lead peoples today must consider the least form with respect and neglect it only when an imperious necessity forces them to do so. In aristocracies, you had superstition for forms; we must have an enlightened and thoughtful cult of them.

Another instinct very natural to democratic peoples, and very dangerous, is that which leads them to scorn individual rights and to take them into little account.

Men are in general attached to a right and show it respect by reason of its importance or of the long use that they have made of it. Individual rights which are found among democratic peoples are ordinarily of little importance, very recent and very unstable; that means that they are often easily sacrificed and violated almost always without regrets.

Now it happens that, in this same time and among these same nations in which men conceive a natural scorn for the rights of individuals, the Edition: current; Page: [1272] rights of the society expand naturally and become stronger; that is to say that men become less attached to particular rights, at the moment when it would be most necessary to keep them and to defend the few of them that remain.t

So it is above all in the democratic times in which we find ourselves that the true friends of liberty and of human grandeur must, constantly, stand up and be ready to prevent the social power from sacrificing lightly the particular rights of some individuals to the general execution of its designs. In those times no citizen is so obscure that it is not very dangerous to allow him to be oppressed, or individual rights of so little importance that you can surrender to arbitrariness with impunity. The reason for it is simple. When you violate the particular right of an individual in a time when the human mind is penetrated by the importance and the holiness of the rights of this type, you do harm only to the one you rob. But to violate such a right today is to corrupt the national mores profoundly and to put the entire society at risk, because the very idea of these kinds of rights tends constantly among us to deteriorate and become lost.

[<I find as well and for entirely similar reasons that in democratic centuries, above all, sovereigns must watch themselves with the greatest care in order to repress the natural tendency which leads them to sacrifice a Edition: current; Page: [1273] particular right, however small it is, to the general execution to their designs.>]

There are certain habits, certain ideas, certain vices that belong to the state of revolution, and that a long revolution cannot fail to engender and to generalize, whatever its character, its objective and its theater are.

When whatever nation has several times in a short expanse of time changed leaders, opinions and laws, the men who compose it end by contracting the taste for movement and by becoming accustomed to all movements taking place rapidly and with the aid of force. They then naturally conceive a contempt for forms, whose impotence they see every day, and only with impatience do they bear the dominion of rules, which have been evaded so many times before their eyes.

Since the ordinary notions of equity and morality no longer suffice to explain and justify all the novelties to which the revolution gives birth each day, you latch onto the principle of social utility, you create the dogma of political necessity; and you become readily accustomed to sacrificing particular interests without scruples and to trampling individual rights underfoot, in order to attain more promptly the general goal that you propose.

These habits and these ideas, which I will call revolutionary,u because all revolutions produce them, manifest themselves within aristocracies as well Edition: current; Page: [1274] as among democratic peoples; but among the first they are often less powerful and always less durable, because there they encounter habits, ideas, flaws and failings that are contrary to them. So they fade away by themselves as soon as the revolution is finished, and the nation returns to its former political ways. It is not always so in democratic countries, where it is always to be feared that revolutionary instincts, becoming milder and more regular without dying out, will gradually turn into governmental mores and administrative habits.v

So I do not know of a country in which revolutions are more dangerous than democratic countries, because, apart from the accidental and passing evils that revolutions can never fail to produce, they always risk creating permanent and, so to speak, eternal ones.

I believe that there are honest acts of resistance and legitimate rebellions [v. revolutions]. So I am not saying, in an absolute way, that men of democratic times must never make revolutions; but I think that they are right to hesitate more than all the others before undertaking them, and that it is better for them to bear many of the inconveniences of the present state than to resort to such a perilous remedy.

I will conclude with a general idea that includes within it not only all the particular ideas that have been expressed in this present chapter, but also most of those that this book has the purpose of putting forth.

[What was above all to be feared formerly is no longer to be feared and new dangers have arisen that our fathers did not know.]w

In the centuries of aristocracy that preceded ours, there were very powerful individuals and a very feeble social authority. The very image of society was obscure and was constantly lost amid all the different powers that governed the citizens. The principal effort of the men of that time had to be to proceed to make the social power greater and to fortify it, to increase and to assure its prerogatives, and on the contrary, to restrict individual independence within more narrow limits, and to subordinate particular interest to the general interest.

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Other dangers and other concerns await the men of today.

Among most modern nations, the sovereign power, whatever its origin, its constitution and its name, has become almost omnipotent, and individuals fall more and more into the final degree of weakness and dependency.

Everything was different in the old societies. Unity and uniformity were found nowhere. In our societies, everything threatens to become so similar, that the particular figure of each individual will soon be lost entirely in the common physiognomy. Our fathers were always ready to abuse this idea that particular rights are worthy of respect, and we are naturally led to exaggerate this other, that the interest of one individual must always yield before the interest of several.

The political world is changing; from now on we must seek new remedies for new evils.

To fix for the social power extensive, but visible and immobile limits; to give to individuals certain rights and to guarantee to them the uncontested enjoyment of these rights; to preserve for the individual the little of independence, of strength and of originality that remain to him; to raise him up beside society and sustain him in the face of it: such seems to me to be the first goal of the legislator in the age we are entering.x

It could be said that the sovereigns of today only seek to create great things with men. I would like them to think a bit more about creating great men, to attach less value to the work and more to the worker,y and Edition: current; Page: [1276] to remember constantly that a nation cannot long remain strong when each man is individually weak, and that we have not yet found either social forms or political combinations that can create an energetic people by bringing together faint-hearted and soft citizens.z

I see among our contemporaries two opposite but equally fatal ideas.

Some see in equality only the anarchical tendencies that it engenders. They fear their free will; they are afraid of themselves.

The others, in smaller number, but better enlightened, have another view. Alongside the road that, starting at equality, leads to anarchy, they have finally found the path that seems to lead men invincibly toward servitude; they bend their soul in advance to this necessary servitude; and despairing of remaining free, they already adore at the bottom of their heart the master who must soon come.

The first abandon liberty because they consider it dangerous; the second because they judge it impossible.

If I had had this last belief, I would not have written the work that you Edition: current; Page: [1277] have just read; I would have limited myself to bemoaning in secret the destiny of my fellow men.

I wanted to put forth in full light the risks that equality makes human independence run, because I believe firmly that these risks are the most formidable as well as the least foreseen of all those that the future holds.a But I do not believe them insurmountable.

The men who live in the democratic centuries that we are entering naturally have the taste for independence.b Naturally they bear rules with impatience: the permanence of even the state they prefer wearies them. They love power; but they are inclined to scorn and to hate the one who exercises it, and they easily escape from between his hands because of their smallness and their very mobility.

These instincts will always be found, because they emerge from the core of the social state which will not change. For a long time they will prevent any despotism from being able to become established, and they will provide new weapons to each new generation that wants to fight in favor of the liberty of men.

So let us have for the future this salutary fear that makes us vigilant and combative, and not this sort of soft and idle terror that weakens and enervates hearts.c

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CHAPTER 8a: General View of the Subjectb

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Before leaving forever the course that I have just covered, I would like to be able to encompass with a last look all the various features that mark the face of the new world, and finally to judge the general influence that equality Edition: current; Page: [1280] must exercise on the fate of men; but the difficulty of such an enterprise stops me; in the presence of such a great matter, I feel my sight fail and my reason falter.c

This new society, which I have sought to portray and which I want to judge, has only just been born. Time has not yet set its form; the great revolution that created it is still going on, and in what is happening today, it is nearly impossible to discern what must pass away with the revolution itself, and what must remain after it.

The world that is rising is still half caught in the ruins of the world that is falling, and amid the immense confusion presented by human affairs, no one can say which old institutions and ancient mores will remain standing and which will finally disappear.

Although the revolution that is taking place in the social state, the laws, the ideas, the senti