The View From 1776
Sunday, August 05, 2012
Following Tocqueville’s 1833 Script
The Democrat/Socialist Party, particularly under President Obama, and RINO Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City, are dedicated to reducing us to servile dependence upon the liberal-progressive welfare state.
In Democracy in America, Tocqueville discussed the danger, evident then in France, inherent in reliance upon public opinion in democracies. Such reliance fostered envy and class warfare, which inevitably entrained the rise of collectivist tyranny. He wrote:
I think, then, that the species of oppression by which democratic nations are menaced is unlike anything that ever before existed in the world… The first thing that strikes the observation is an innumerable multitude of men, all equal and alike, incessantly endeavoring to procure the petty and paltry pleasures with which they glut their lives. Each of them, living apart, is as a stranger to the fate of the rest; his children and his private friends constitute to him the whole of mankind. As for the rest of his fellow citizens, he is close to them, but does not see them… he exists only in himself and for himself alone…
Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications and to watch over their fate… For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances: what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?
Thus it every day renders the exercise of free agency of man less useful and less frequent… The principle of equality has prepared men for these things; it has predisposed men to endure them and often to look on them as benefits.
After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting ... Every man allows himself to be put in lead-strings, because he sees that it is not a person or a class of persons, but the people at large who hold the end of his chain…
... A great many persons at the present day are quite contented with this sort of compromise between administrative despotism and the sovereignty of the people; and they think they have done enough for the protection of individual freedom when they have surrendered it to the power of the nation at large.
... It must not be forgotten that it is especially dangerous to enslave men in the minor details of life… It does not drive men to resistance, but it crosses them at every turn, til they are led to surrender the exercise of their own will. Thus their spirit is gradually broken and their character enervated… It is in vain to summon a people who have been rendered so dependent on the central power to choose from time to time the representatives of that power; this rare and brief exercise of their free choice, however important it may be, will not prevent them from gradually losing the faculties of thinking, feeling, and acting for themselves
It is indeed difficult to conceive how men who have entirely given up the habit of self-government should succeed in making a proper choice of those by whom they are to be governed…
Like the French, Americans are ready to vote (to the extent that they are prepared to go to the polls at all) for anyone who promises welfare handouts at someone else’s expense, as this comports with the goal of economic equality. This has become especially dangerous to survival of the Constitution, because roughly half the population now pay no income taxes at all. New welfare-state handouts appear to them to cost nothing; who cares, when taxes on “the rich” fund benefits. Small wonder that politicians promising pie-in-the-sky attract such voters.