How America Got Here…

Dr. John Lukacs, Historian

Dr. John Lukacs, Historian

“In the two volumes [of Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America] there is also a subtle difference in emphasis.  What struck many readers in the first volume―and for a long time reduced Tocqueville’s appeal to modern liberals―was his exposition of a new kind of danger, that of the tyranny of a majority.  But in the second volume Tocqueville describes another kind of danger: the eventual growth of an all-provident and all-powerful government, which would rule more and more spheres of life, until its unwitting subjects became so accustomed to its powers that the independence of their thinking vanished―in sum, the devolution of democracy into a new kind of bureaucratic state.  This idea corresponds to another important Tocqueville thesis, set forth in the chapter “Why Great Revolutions Will Become More Rare,” in which he states that the exact opposite of the political conditions feared by the opponents of democracy might develop.  These opponents thought that an unbridled democratic society would necessarily tend to extremes.  On the contrary, Tocqueville wrote; the incessant agitation on the surface of a democratic society merely obscures the slowing down of the true advancement of ideas, and a kind of agitated intellectual stagnation prevails.” ― Remembered Past; On History, Historians, and Historical Knowledge, by John Lukacs, Chapter II, Page 239, edited by Mark G. Malvasi and Jeffrey O. Nelson, ISI Books, Wilmington, Delaware, © 2005 ISI Books.

About Michael

Retired military officer; retired Air Force civil servant; retired executive, DS Information Systems Corporation; writer; researcher; reader and avid yachtsman.
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