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Friday, January 21, 2005

Tocqueville’s Clear Perception

Alexis de Tocqueville is celebrated as having accurately described American religion, politics, and customs in “Democracy in America.”  His description of society in his native France was equally on the mark.

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In Tocqueville Revisited - Part One I wrote:

“Tocqueville would have said that present-day American liberals’ advocacy of libertine license represents all the worst elements of French political life, the very sources of France’s social and political instability. French revolutionaries had destroyed the monarchy and the Catholic Church, making the nation a secular and socialist republic. It was the absence of religious moral restraint that had permitted the slaughter of more than 70,000 people in the name of perfecting humanity. This same secular irreligion was to murder more than twenty million people in Soviet Russia, National Socialist Germany, Mao’s China, Castro’s Cuba, Cambodia, and other socialistic countries.”

and in Tocqueville Revisited - Part Two I wrote:

“Assessing conditions in the United States from his vantage point of forty years of French experience under socialism, Tocqueville saw Christianity as a crucial bulwark preserving American democratic institutions. In France, which was officially secular, people became entirely selfish and self-centered, prepared to endure any form of political despotism in the name of equality. The French, he said, cared nothing for national concerns. They were indifferent toward their neighbors and wanted only their personal entitlements.

“In contrast, religion in America drew the people together in common cause and made them concerned about their neighbors and the general well-being of society.

“Tocqueville concluded, “For my own part, I doubt whether man can ever support at the same time complete religious independence and entire political freedom. And I am inclined to think that if faith be wanting in him, he must be subject; and if he be free, he must believe.”

“The great danger of socialism is its inherent tendency toward totalitarian despotism. This is true in all its forms: American liberalism, French socialism, Soviet Communism, Mussolini’s Fascism, Hitler’s National Socialism, and so on.

“Liberal-socialists want to play God and regulate all aspects of personal conduct. To do that, they have to get rid of the spiritual aspects of Christianity, which teaches people to be personally responsible for moral conduct and to look upward to God for guidance. Liberals prefer to look no higher than the collectivized National State for guidance from intellectual planners and bureaucratic social engineers.”

Today’s Wall Street Journal carries an op-ed article that provides details from present-day France to validate Tocqueville’s analysis.  Nanny Diaries by Mathieu Laine,  begins:  “Slowly, with almost no one noticing, France is sinking into the “mild, regular and peaceful” tyranny that Alexis de Tocqueville foresaw with remarkable lucidity.”

To see the utterly silly dimensions of the Nanny State when projected on a global scale, read A Practical Plan to End Poverty by Jeffrey D. Sachs, in today’s Washington Post Op-Ed page.

The Great Society produced a disaster in the United States.  With liberal-socialist technocrats like Mr. Sachs, who needs WMD?