How American Democracy Has Changed From The Days Of Tocqueville

ISBN: 0140447601

A French nobleman named Alexis de Tocqueville traveled to study America’s then fifty-year-old democracy. The book that followed, Democracy In America, would soon be known as one of the most important ever written about democracy and essential reading for those interested in American history. Tocqueville starts off by giving his philosophy on government and democratic ideals before easing into an analysis of America’s land, history, and style of government.

Millions of men are marching at once towards the same horizon; their language, their religion, their manners differ, their object is the same. The gifts of fortune are promised in the West, and to the West they bend their course.

[…]

In perusing the pages of our history, we shall scarcely meet with a single great event, in the lapse of seven hundred years, which has not turned to the advantage of equality. The Crusades and the wars of the English decimated the nobles and divided their possessions; the erection of communities introduced an element of democratic liberty into the bosom of feudal monarchy; the invention of fire-arms equalized the villein and the noble on the field of battle; printing opened the same resources to the minds of all classes; the post was organized so as to bring the same information to the door of the poor man’s cottage and to the gate of the palace; and Protestantism proclaimed that all men are alike able to find the road to heaven. The discovery of America offered a thousand new paths to fortune, and placed riches and power within the reach of the adventurous and the obscure.

[…]

If, in polished countries, the lowest of the people are rude and uncivil, it is not merely because they are poor and ignorant, but that, being so, they are in daily contact with rich and enlightened men. The sight of their own hard lot and of their weakness, which is daily contrasted with the happiness and power of some of their fellow-creatures, excites in their hearts at the same time the sentiments of anger and of fear: the consciousness of their inferiority and of their dependence irritates while it humiliates them. This state of mind displays itself in their manners and language; they are at once insolent and servile. The truth of this is easily proved by observation; the people are more rude in aristocratic countries than elsewhere, in opulent cities than in rural districts. In those places where the rich and powerful are assembled together the weak and the indigent feel themselves oppressed by their inferior condition. Unable to perceive a single chance of regaining their equality, they give up to despair, and allow themselves to fall below the dignity of human nature.

He discusses the people who seeded America:

Persecuted by the Government of the mother-country, and disgusted by the habits of a society opposed to the rigor of their own principles, the Puritans went forth to seek some rude and unfrequented part of the world, where they could live according to their own opinions, and worship God in freedom.

[…]

The population of New England increased rapidly; and whilst the hierarchy of rank despotically classed the inhabitants of the mother-country, the colony continued to present the novel spectacle of a community homogeneous in all its parts. A democracy, more perfect than any which antiquity had dreamt of, started in full size and panoply from the midst of an ancient feudal society.

[…]

The English Government was not dissatisfied with an emigration which removed the elements of fresh discord and of further revolutions. On the contrary, everything was done to encourage it, and great exertions were made to mitigate the hardships of those who sought a shelter from the rigor of their country’s laws on the soil of America. It seemed as if New England was a region given up to the dreams of fancy and the unrestrained experiments of innovators.

He was amazed at the advanced democratic ideals that the first settlers possessed:

If, after having cast a rapid glance over the state of American society in 1650, we turn to the condition of Europe, and more especially to that of the Continent, at the same period, we cannot fail to be struck with astonishment. On the Continent of Europe, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, absolute monarchy had everywhere triumphed over the ruins of the oligarchical and feudal liberties of the Middle Ages. Never were the notions of right more completely confounded than in the midst of the splendor and literature of Europe; never was there less political activity among the people; never were the principles of true freedom less widely circulated; and at that very time those principles, which were scorned or unknown by the nations of Europe, were proclaimed in the deserts of the New World, and were accepted as the future creed of a great people.

He notes a total lack of aristocratic desire in America where aspiring nobles would accumulate landed estates to be passed on in whole. In America, land is parceled out to inheritors, encouraging diminution of great properties and less motivation on the part of inheritors to carry on the family name for generations.

…it is not by privileges alone, nor by birth, but by landed property handed down from generation to generation, that an aristocracy is constituted. A nation may present immense fortunes and extreme wretchedness, but unless those fortunes are territorial there is no aristocracy, but simply the class of the rich and that of the poor.

[…]

In the South, one man, aided by slaves, could cultivate a great extent of country: it was therefore common to see rich landed proprietors. But their influence was not altogether aristocratic as that term is understood in Europe, since they possessed no privileges; and the cultivation of their estates being carried on by slaves, they had no tenants depending on them, and consequently no patronage. Still, the great proprietors south of the Hudson constituted a superior class, having ideas and tastes of its own, and forming the centre of political action.

[…]

In America the aristocratic element has always been feeble from its birth; and if at the present day it is not actually destroyed, it is at any rate so completely disabled that we can scarcely assign to it any degree of influence in the course of affairs. The democratic principle, on the contrary, has gained so much strength by time, by events, and by legislation, as to have become not only predominant but all-powerful. There is no family or corporate authority, and it is rare to find even the influence of individual character enjoy any durability.

Why progressivism seems to advance linearly:

When a nation modifies the elective qualification, it may easily be foreseen that sooner or later that qualification will be entirely abolished. There is no more invariable rule in the history of society: the further electoral rights are extended, the greater is the need of extending them; for after each concession the strength of the democracy increases, and its demands increase with its strength. The ambition of those who are below the appointed rate is irritated in exact proportion to the great number of those who are above it. The exception at last becomes the rule, concession follows concession, and no stop can be made short of universal suffrage.

[…]

It cannot be denied that democratic institutions have a very strong tendency to promote the feeling of envy in the human heart; not so much because they afford to every one the means of rising to the level of any of his fellow-citizens, as because those means perpetually disappoint the persons who employ them. Democratic institutions awaken and foster a passion for equality which they can never entirely satisfy.

He believes there ought to be a mix of patriotism combined with local government:

Whatever exertions may be made, no true power can be founded among men which does not depend upon the free union of their inclinations; and patriotism and religion are the only two motives in the world which can permanently direct the whole of a body politic to one end.

Laws cannot succeed in rekindling the ardor of an extinguished faith, but men may be interested in the fate of their country by the laws. By this influence the vague impulse of patriotism, which never abandons the human heart, may be directed and revived; and if it be connected with the thoughts, the passions, and the daily habits of life, it may be consolidated into a durable and rational sentiment.

[…]

What resistance can be offered to tyranny in a country where every private individual is impotent, and where the citizens are united by no common tie? Those who dread the license of the mob, and those who fear the rule of absolute power, ought alike to desire the progressive growth of provincial liberties.

[…]

…in England I found others who attacked the aristocracy openly, but I know of no one who does not regard provincial independence as a great benefit. In both countries I have heard a thousand different causes assigned for the evils of the State, but the local system was never mentioned amongst them. I have heard citizens attribute the power and prosperity of their country to a multitude of reasons, but they all placed the advantages of local institutions in the foremost rank.

[…]

There is no country in the world in which everything can be provided for by the laws, or in which political institutions can prove a substitute for common sense and public morality.

[…]

It is clear that the greater the privileges of the executive authority are, the greater is the temptation; the more the ambition of the candidates is excited, the more warmly are their interests espoused by a throng of partisans who hope to share the power when their patron has won the prize. The dangers of the elective system increase, therefore, in the exact ratio of the influence exercised by the executive power in the affairs of State.

It’s clear that the President had far less power than today. Tocqueville made the office seem so ceremonial that only a man without ambition would want to pursue it.

Hitherto no citizen has shown any disposition to expose his honor and his life in order to become the President of the United States; because the power of that office is temporary, limited, and subordinate. The prize of fortune must be great to encourage adventurers in so desperate a game. No candidate has as yet been able to arouse the dangerous enthusiasm or the passionate sympathies of the people in his favor, for the very simple reason that when he is at the head of the Government he has but little power, but little wealth, and but little glory to share amongst his friends; and his influence in the State is too small for the success or the ruin of a faction to depend upon the elevation of an individual to power.

[…]

In the States the executive power is vested in the hands of a magistrate, who is apparently placed upon a level with the Legislature, but who is in reality nothing more than the blind agent and the passive instrument of its decisions. He can derive no influence from the duration of his functions

Federal powers grew over time, even though the Constitution was designed to place a considerable amount of power in the hands of the states. The Federal branch has usurped that power and now dominates.

It is true the Constitution had laid down the precise limits of the Federal supremacy, but whenever this supremacy is contested by one of the States, a Federal tribunal decides the question.

He explains the need for a balance between nation states: be small enough to govern effectively on a local level but large enough to defend yourself against external threats. Small states are good for the people, but if that small state can be invaded and overrun, its main benefit would then be mute. The trend then becomes one of self-preservation instead of proper governance.

Small nations are often impoverished, not because they are small, but because they are weak; the great empires prosper less because they are great than because they are strong. Physical strength is therefore one of the first conditions of the happiness and even of the existence of nations. Hence it occurs that, unless very peculiar circumstances intervene, small nations are always united to large empires in the end, either by force or by their own consent: yet I am unacquainted with a more deplorable spectacle than that of a people unable either to defend or to maintain its independence.

He was astonished to find that the Senate was filled with highly intelligent men while the House Of Representatives was stocked full of vulgar fools who could barely read. The reason? Back then, the Senate wasn’t chosen by the people.

What then is the cause of this strange contrast, and why are the most able citizens to be found in one assembly rather than in the other? Why is the former body remarkable for its vulgarity and its poverty of talent, whilst the latter seems to enjoy a monopoly of intelligence and of sound judgment? Both of these assemblies emanate from the people; both of them are chosen by universal suffrage; and no voice has hitherto been heard to assert in America that the Senate is hostile to the interests of the people. From what cause, then, does so startling a difference arise? The only reason which appears to me adequately to account for it is, that the House of Representatives is elected by the populace directly, and that the Senate is elected by elected bodies.

[…]

The time may be already anticipated at which the American Republics will be obliged to introduce the plan of election by an elected body more frequently into their system of representation, or they will incur no small risk of perishing miserably amongst the shoals of democracy.

His omen has proved to be correct.

With the problems that America has today in the form of completely inept and bought-for politicians, would an aristocracy really be worse?

In aristocratic governments the individuals who are placed at the head of affairs are rich men, who are solely desirous of power. In democracies statesmen are poor, and they have their fortunes to make. The consequence is that in aristocratic States the rulers are rarely accessible to corruption, and have very little craving for money; whilst the reverse is the case in democratic nations.

[…]

In a democracy private citizens see a man of their own rank in life, who rises from that obscure position, and who becomes possessed of riches and of power in a few years; the spectacle excites their surprise and their envy, and they are led to inquire how the person who was yesterday their equal is to-day their ruler. To attribute his rise to his talents or his virtues is unpleasant; for it is tacitly to acknowledge that they are themselves less virtuous and less talented than he was. They are therefore led (and not unfrequently their conjecture is a correct one) to impute his success mainly to some one of his defects; and an odious mixture is thus formed of the ideas of turpitude and power, unworthiness and success, utility and dishonor.

[…]

The mass of the people may be led astray by ignorance or passion; the mind of a king may be biased, and his perseverance in his designs may be shaken—besides which a king is not immortal—but an aristocratic body is too numerous to be led astray by the blandishments of intrigue, and yet not numerous enough to yield readily to the intoxicating influence of unreflecting passion: it has the energy of a firm and enlightened individual, added to the power which it derives from perpetuity.

[…]

When an individual or a party is wronged in the United States, to whom can he apply for redress? If to public opinion, public opinion constitutes the majority; if to the legislature, it represents the majority, and implicitly obeys its injunctions; if to the executive power, it is appointed by the majority, and remains a passive tool in its hands; the public troops consist of the majority under arms; the jury is the majority invested with the right of hearing judicial cases; and in certain States even the judges are elected by the majority.

God help you if you go against the majority, as many of us face at the moment:

“You are free to think differently from me, and to retain your life, your property, and all that you possess; but if such be your determination, you are henceforth an alien among your people. You may retain your civil rights, but they will be useless to you, for you will never be chosen by your fellow-citizens if you solicit their suffrages, and they will affect to scorn you if you solicit their esteem. You will remain among men, but you will be deprived of the rights of mankind. Your fellow-creatures will shun you like an impure being, and those who are most persuaded of your innocence will abandon you too, lest they should be shunned in their turn. Go in peace! I have given you your life, but it is an existence in comparably worse than death.”

He greatly overestimated an American’s desire for true freedom in the face of being terrorized by external boogeymen made up by the state:

I am persuaded that, if ever a despotic government is established in America, it will find it more difficult to surmount the habits which free institutions have engendered than to conquer the attachment of the citizens to freedom.

The irony, of course, is that many American citizens still cling to their “freedom” while living in one of the most repressed police states in the world where a militarized police force can invade homes and kill nearly at will while the federal government spies on all his private affairs.

It’s often said that America was “founded by immigrants” as a justification for allowing millions of poor Mexicans to cross the border, but those advocates don’t mention the quality of immigrants that initially populated America.

The number of foreign immigrants into the United States in the last fifty years (from 1820 to 1871) is stated to be 7,556,007. Of these, 4,104,553 spoke English—that is, they came from Great Britain, Ireland, or the British colonies; 2,643,069 came from Germany or northern Europe; and about half a million from the south of Europe.

A more apt statement would be “America was founded by people from the most advanced civilizations that existed at the time.” He captures the vigorous spirit and energy of those early Americans:

At this very time thirteen millions of civilized Europeans are peaceably spreading over those fertile plains, with whose resources and whose extent they are not yet themselves accurately acquainted. Three or four thousand soldiers drive the wandering races of the aborigines before them; these are followed by the pioneers, who pierce the woods, scare off the beasts of prey, explore the courses of the inland streams, and make ready the triumphal procession of civilization across the waste.

[…]

It is difficult to describe the rapacity with which the American rushes forward to secure the immense booty which fortune proffers to him. In the pursuit he fearlessly braves the arrow of the Indian and the distempers of the forest; he is unimpressed by the silence of the woods; the approach of beasts of prey does not disturb him; for he is goaded onwards by a passion more intense than the love of life. Before him lies a boundless continent, and he urges onwards as if time pressed, and he was afraid of finding no room for his exertions.

[…]

Sometimes the progress of man is so rapid that the desert reappears behind him. The woods stoop to give him a passage, and spring up again when he has passed. It is not uncommon in crossing the new States of the West to meet with deserted dwellings in the midst of the wilds; the traveller frequently discovers the vestiges of a log house in the most solitary retreats, which bear witness to the power, and no less to the inconstancy of man. In these abandoned fields, and over these ruins of a day, the primeval forest soon scatters a fresh vegetation, the beasts resume the haunts which were once their own, and Nature covers the traces of man’s path with branches and with flowers, which obliterate his evanescent track.

[…]

If we listen to their eulogies, we shall hear that nothing is more praiseworthy than to exchange the pure and homely pleasures which even the poor man tastes in his own country for the dull delights of prosperity under a foreign sky; to leave the patrimonial hearth and the turf beneath which his forefathers sleep; in short, to abandon the living and the dead in quest of fortune.

He spoke about the black man, adding that slavery was destined to end because it was not economically productive (states without slaves grew faster than those which had them):

The negro of the United States has lost all remembrance of his country; the language which his forefathers spoke is never heard around him; he abjured their religion and forgot their customs when he ceased to belong to Africa, without acquiring any claim to European privileges. But he remains half way between the two communities; sold by the one, repulsed by the other; finding not a spot in the universe to call by the name of country, except the faint image of a home which the shelter of his master’s roof affords.

[…]

If he becomes free, independence is often felt by him to be a heavier burden than slavery; for having learned, in the course of his life, to submit to everything except reason, he is too much unacquainted with her dictates to obey them. A thousand new desires beset him, and he is destitute of the knowledge and energy necessary to resist them: these are masters which it is necessary to contend with, and he has learnt only to submit and obey. In short, he sinks to such a depth of wretchedness, that while servitude brutalizes, liberty destroys him.

[…]

The negro makes a thousand fruitless efforts to insinuate himself amongst men who repulse him; he conforms to the tastes of his oppressors, adopts their opinions, and hopes by imitating them to form a part of their community. Having been told from infancy that his race is naturally inferior to that of the whites, he assents to the proposition and is ashamed of his own nature.

Economic growth was low in the South partly because labor was stigmatized as beneath the white man. So whites loafed around, letting slaves do all the work while immigrants who were ready to work hard populated the North.

He spoke about the Native American:

The native of North America retains his opinions and the most insignificant of his habits with a degree of tenacity which has no parallel in history. For more than two hundred years the wandering tribes of North America have had daily intercourse with the whites, and they have never derived from them either a custom or an idea.

[…]

The negro, who earnestly desires to mingle his race with that of the European, cannot effect if; while the Indian, who might succeed to a certain extent, disdains to make the attempt. The servility of the one dooms him to slavery, the pride of the other to death.

[…]

The Europeans introduced amongst the savages of North America fire-arms, ardent spirits, and iron: they taught them to exchange for manufactured stuffs, the rough garments which had previously satisfied their untutored simplicity. Having acquired new tastes, without the arts by which they could be gratified, the Indians were obliged to have recourse to the workmanship of the whites; but in return for their productions the savage had nothing to offer except the rich furs which still abounded in his woods. Hence the chase became necessary, not merely to provide for his subsistence, but in order to procure the only objects of barter which he could furnish to Europe. Whilst the wants of the natives were thus increasing, their resources continued to diminish.

[…]

Their instinctive love of their country attaches them to the soil which gave them birth, even after it has ceased to yield anything but misery and death.

[…]

Men who have once abandoned themselves to the restless and adventurous life of the hunter, feel an insurmountable disgust for the constant and regular labor which tillage requires.

Religion, while not perfect, did constrain the worst of human behavior.

Religion is often unable to restrain man from the numberless temptations of fortune; nor can it check that passion for gain which every incident of his life contributes to arouse, but its influence over the mind of woman is supreme, and women are the protectors of morals. There is certainly no country in the world where the tie of marriage is so much respected as in America, or where conjugal happiness is more highly or worthily appreciated.

[…]

In France I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom pursuing courses diametrically opposed to each other; but in America I found that they were intimately united, and that they reigned in common over the same country.

[…]

Man alone, of all created beings, displays a natural contempt of existence, and yet a boundless desire to exist; he scorns life, but he dreads annihilation. These different feelings incessantly urge his soul to the contemplation of a future state, and religion directs his musings thither. Religion, then, is simply another form of hope; and it is no less natural to the human heart than hope itself. Men cannot abandon their religious faith without a kind of aberration of intellect, and a sort of violent distortion of their true natures; but they are invincibly brought back to more pious sentiments; for unbelief is an accident, and faith is the only permanent state of mankind.

We still have religion in America, but instead of believing in god, we have brainwashed citizens believing in progressivism, feminism, social justice, and homosexual lifestyles. Can we get the old god back?

Tocqueville remarks how South American countries copy-and-pasted the American constitution and its laws, but they remained basket cases. He suggests that it’s the people themselves which have allowed America to prosper into a democratic nation, not just the written laws. Of course this is not allowed to be mentioned in schools today, and we’re supposed to believe than an American man, an Asian man, and a Saudi Arabian man are all equal and possess the same propensity and desire for democracy and freedom.

The manners of the Americans of the United States are, then, the real cause which renders that people the only one of the American nations that is able to support a democratic government; and it is the influence of manners which produces the different degrees of order and of prosperity that may be distinguished in the several Anglo-American democracies.

Here are some Tocqueville observations about America that have undoubtedly changed since his time.

The conduct of the Federal Government is more fair and more temperate than that of the States, its designs are more fraught with wisdom, its projects are more durable and more skilfully combined, its measures are put into execution with more vigor and consistency.

[…]

The men who are entrusted with the direction of public affairs in the United States are frequently inferior, both in point of capacity and of morality, to those whom aristocratic institutions would raise to power. But their interest is identified and confounded with that of the majority of their fellow-citizens. They may frequently be faithless and frequently mistaken, but they will never systematically adopt a line of conduct opposed to the will of the majority; and it is impossible that they should give a dangerous or an exclusive tendency to the government.

[…]

…unless some extraordinary event occurs, the Government of the Union will grow weaker and weaker every day.

A few additional quotes:

A long war almost always places nations in the wretched alternative of being abandoned to ruin by defeat or to despotism by success.

[…]

…it is easy to perceive that the wealthy members of the community entertain a hearty distaste to the democratic institutions of their country. The populace is at once the object of their scorn and of their fears.

[…]

The words of a strong-minded man, which penetrate amidst the passions of a listening assembly, have more power than the vociferations of a thousand orators;

[…]

No political form has hitherto been discovered which is equally favorable to the prosperity and the development of all the classes into which society is divided.

[…]

There are no great men without virtue, and there are no great nations—it may almost be added that there would be no society—without the notion of rights; for what is the condition of a mass of rational and intelligent beings who are only united together by the bond of force?

His closing thoughts:

It cannot be denied that the British race has acquired an amazing preponderance over all the other European races in the New World; and that it is very superior to them in civilization, in industry, and in power.

[…]

When I contemplate the ardor with which the Anglo-Americans prosecute commercial enterprise, the advantages which befriend them, and the success of their undertakings, I cannot refrain from believing that they will one day become the first maritime power of the globe. They are born to rule the seas, as the Romans were to conquer the world.

A lamentation I had while reading this book is how men today are limited in their pursuit of adventure, exploration, and conquest. Back then, if you were hungry, ambitious, and brave, you could venture to a new American frontier and help establish entirely new cities with little government interference. Your opportunity would only be limited by your willingness to work and defend yourself. But today, all cities and social places are defined. There is no new frontier where you can be self-made unless you want be a programmer or e-book hustler. Men of the past have created a great civilization so that we can comfortably sit today in front of computer screens and fit into existing pegs instead of carving out our own.

This is one of the most dry books I’ve read, but if you’re interested in American history or government, or if you’re an American yourself, it’s an essential read. I can’t say I enjoyed much of it, but I am satisfied at the knowledge and insights I gained.

Read More: “Democracy In America” on Amazon

58 thoughts on “How American Democracy Has Changed From The Days Of Tocqueville”

  1. so much content to needle through .
    Economic growth was low in the South partly because labor was stigmatized as beneath the white man. So whites loafed around, letting slaves do all the work while immigrants who were ready to work hard populated the North.
    this is a myth that is floated around in public schools. Only wealthy had slaves; the majority didn’t. Economic growth was poorer in the south, but it wasn’t because of the laziness of whites.

  2. Great review. This book is definitely worth reading. It’s a bit dated but does go well with another early American classic, Hector St. John de Crevecoeur’s “Letters from an American Farmer.”
    Sometimes it’s worth remembering just what has been lost. I find this quote by D.H. Lawrence to be worth mentioning:
    “Men are free when they are in a living homeland, not when they are straying and breaking away. Men are free when they are obeying some deep, inward voice of religious belief. Obeying from within. Men are free when they belong to a living, organic, believing community, active in fulfilling some unfulfilled, perhaps unrealized purpose. Not when they are escaping out to some wild west…Men are not free when they are doing just what they like. The moment you can do just what you like, there is nothing you care about doing. Men are only free when they are doing what the deepest soul likes.”

    1. It’s also quite possible that there is no such thing as actual, total freedom. Seems to me all freedom is relative to the environmental conditions man finds himself in. Whether out in the wild, or in a social construct.

      1. I agree and that’s quite like Heidegger, funny enough. A thinker who influenced the left, but who himself was a member of the NSDAP

    2. Lawrence was the antithesis to Nietzsche it appears. That would have been his definition on the profoundest lack of freedom. A lack of freedom that has been internalised.

    3. Lawrence was quite beta though, and his wife……well… can we speculate – quite loose or somewhat slutty.

      1. His writings do possess worthwhile insights for the red pill man, however beta he may have been in his personal life. I was reading one of his novellas, The Captain’s Doll recently and found several passages to be keenly perceptive.

        1. Agree – I wasn’t commenting on his work though. Not the same writers, but Andy Warhol was extremely perceptive as well, especially of women.

        2. True perception doesn’t always lead to best actions, or correcting oneself in your personal affairs. Andy certainly had some certifiable crazy women in his circle.

    4. Yes, agree and thanks for sharing it. It is very interesting to see how things have changed over the years from where we were (back then) up to present day.
      Change is constant. Some things have changed for the better but some things have definitely changed for the worse.

    5. And if the deepest soul likes quiet contemplation after a hard day’s work, in the company of other loners out on the range? What then? Cowboys were stoics, a version of MGTOW after the Civil War, and rather content and happy to take life by the horns and eke out a place for themselves by their own merit. They were not anti-community, but they were pro-rugged individualist in the *positive* sense.
      The life of a rancher seems ideal; open plains, you deal with people in your day to day business when required, otherwise you and your ranch hands tend to the herd and business of the ranch unmolested by “communities” up to the point that you voluntarily choose to ride into town and deal with them on yours, and their, terms.

  3. He was astonished to find that the Senate was filled with highly intelligent men while the House Of Representatives was stocked full of vulgar fools who could barely read. The reason? Back then, the Senate wasn’t chosen by the people.

    With the problems that America has today in the form of completely inept and bought-for politicians, would an aristocracy really be worse?
    In aristocratic governments the individuals who are placed at the head of affairs are rich men, who are solely desirous of power. In democracies statesmen are poor, and they have their fortunes to make. The consequence is that in aristocratic States the rulers are rarely accessible to corruption, and have very little craving for money; whilst the reverse is the case in democratic nations.

    These passages make a good argument for a plutocracy/technocracy of some sort. Bedsides the rich being less corruptible, economically they have more to lose. Putting the richest and most successful in power (a plutocracy) could be a good idea because they have the most to lose if things so wrong, so in an act of selfish self-preservation to save their own interests, the nation benefits as a whole. http://greyenlightenment.com/?p=1796

    1. I doubt this would work in the 21st century. We are living in a de-facto plutocracy with a nihilistic military police state as its guardian, the Brazil-ification of America. Today they are in competition with each other and other’s around the world to acquire more and more for themselves at the expense of everyone else. If things get really sour they can easily relocate somewhere else and take their money along with them – something which rich people in the early days of America couldn’t so they felt a genuine need to prevent any rot from within from spreading too far. They also share none of the ideas of the founding father’s that made America unique. Not even the majority of the population remotely shares the same beliefs. They want and have the opposite of that actually – a nation of atomized drone-slaves who live and work to consume.
      http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/28722-eighty-people-control-half-of-the-world-s-wealth-and-all-of-the-elected-officials

      1. very true, global corporatism makes nation states largely a defunct concept. with faceless shareholders to appease the elite in terms of wealth really are appealing not to provide for their own constituents like in The Greek or Roman Republics but to a global audience that may benefit from the weakness of its own nation state. Cheaper wages isn’t necessarily great for america but may benefit a shareholder in X corp. This is why immigration has been so hard to stem. The left are blinded by idealism while the wealthy right are blinded by greed.

        1. So the question is, do corporate executives, provided they
          stay within the law, have responsibilities in their business activities other
          than to make as much money for their stockholders as possible? And my answer to
          that is, no, they do not. – Milton Friedman

        2. The world is now divided into economic provinces: North America, Israel, Japan, Saudi and OPEC and the BRICS primarily. To the elite, these are the ‘nations’ of the Earth. National boarders are traversed freely and the boundaries with national flags mean nothing to them with their free roam in their private business jets. National flags are for the assorted ‘bread and circus’ adherants coralled and ‘kept’ in their respective national bleachers and for the wage slaves. For the elite there are no customs, sex fantasy islands and no TSA proctology exams. A writer during the 70’s wrote a piece how he ‘hitch hiked’ around the world in several years. The only obstacle was Red China where he had to detour and go ‘AROUND IT THE LONG WAY’. Now there are checkpoints everywhere east and west and high tech scanning and tracking for non-elite commoners and citizens.

    2. This is a horrible idea. You understand that the rich ruling over everyone else (Soviet Russia, modern day America, pretty much any dictatorship ever) is completely different than a technocracy, which is a merit based, or standards based system of leadership? I wouldn’t think it’s necessary to go into why the rich ruling over everyone else is bad, but suffice it to say that that is basically the current system we have, richness is no measure of the quality of a person or his leadership ability, and the rich have no motive to care about the other 99.9%.
      A technocracy (never really been tried) or a monarchy could work. Either system would be much better than the “democracy” we have today. Monarchy is superior to most other forms because a) it has a long time horizon (the monarch makes the best decision for the next 100 years, not the next 100 days (Chinese also have this, as they have a system that shares some traits with monarchy)) b) leaders and rulers are trained and educated for years on how to be good leaders c) there is no selfish motive of reelection or working for personal gain d) the monarch is able to make unpopular decisions that are in the best interest of its people, but may not have 51% of their support and e) far less likely to enter into wars of choice, as he is spending his nations own riches and blood and there had better be a payoff.

    3. Disagree, human greed knows no bonds, many millionares strive to become billionaires. The wealthy often have the least to lose due to having resouces abroad unlike most of the poor and middleclass. A worldwide cap an personal wealth say max of 100 million per person would be a good start.

  4. De Tocqueville discusses how american democracy would end, and it was prescient. Some choice bits
    “…I seek to trace the novel features under which despotism may appear 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 all 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 he sees
    them not—he touches them, but he feels them not; he exists but in
    himself and for himself alone; and if his kindred still remain to him, he
    may be said at any rate to have lost his country…”
    “…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. That power is
    absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild. It would be like the
    authority of a parent, if, like that authority, its object was to prepare
    men for manhood; but it seeks on the contrary to keep them in perpetual
    childhood…”
    “..It covers the surface of society with a
    net-work 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: such a power does not destroy, but it
    prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates,
    extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to be
    nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the
    government is the shepherd… ”
    “..Every man allows himself to be put in leading-strings, because
    he sees that it is not a person or a class of persons, but the people at
    large that holds the end of his chain. By this system the people shake off
    their state of dependence just long enough to select their master, and
    then relapse into it again. 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…”

  5. Roosh don’t romanticize about days past because that “freedom” and adventurism wasn’t meant for all people. Some men can work and think and have all the faculties and still be at a disadvantage compared to a lesser member of the white man in those days, including the very poor Anglo Saxon. Land and Nations existed in what is now “America” for thousands of years before Europeans arrived. Ironic how people seeking religious freedoms here in these lands persecuted others who did not practice or believe in the same way the Puritans did. Quality, what do you mean “Quality” The Mexicans were swindled out of their entire northern Territory, and Immigrants into the territory of Texas brought their slaves which was Illegal in Mexico which had abolished the practice decades before the Civil War. The biggest Welfare was the American settlers that were given large acres of land and home, opportunities we can only dream of now after systematically swindling the natives out of their territories. Far beyond any measly “entitlements” many complain about now. Entitlements actually being things you actually worked hard for and paid into the system for example Social Security.
    “Savages” ironically the real savages get to paint the majority of the victims “savages” and if they did fight back they were also called brutal. The American Constitution itself was partially influenced by Native Laws, and some white men and women left their colonial communities to live with the natives as they saw their way of life more balanced. Yes the constitution is strong in America but would it operate effectively if a more powerful nation was tampering with it, and installing their own leaders outside our own Constitution? Natives who went to Europe remarked at how European Societies so rich can have their own people starving to death in the streets. We love to criticize the Liberals in the internet, but also turn a blind eye to Conservatives who openly support Upper Class “Welfare” and allow the rich to not contribute to American Society by finding tax havens for their companies who operate outside of American laws to abuse foreign workers so you can get a cheap t shirt to wear for your BBQ get together.
    On Slaves of course they would have a hard time, education is the great equalizer and being beaten out of an education it would be obviously hard to compete as free men and women. Obviously freedom wasn’t beaten out of all slaves as there were countless Slave insurrections the first successful one occurring in Haiti 1804. Many protested the emancipation of the Slaves including many of the Irish who rioted in New York City and killed countless black people who they viewed as competition to their blue collar jobs, when in reality their original protest should have remained focused on the W.A.S.P. Upper-class who were not drafted in large numbers into the Civil War while the Irish were. (Draft Riots 1863).
    Religion was used to control the masses and to control Slaves by eliminating their original beliefs and presenting “God” in the appearance of the very same ruling class, which is overwhelmingly false to begin with. Although Religion and spiritually does provide benefits for people who truly use it for their own well being.
    We don’t have capitalism we have a gigantic wealth gap in this country with the very few at the top making ridiculous amounts of money with a shrinking middle class and the poor class which is growing by the day. Many Americans live paycheck to paycheck now and the situation is rather pathetic.

    1. What are you talking about?
      IN the Americas, peaceful abused tribes joined the Europeans to fight the violent warlike Apaches , a word that means enemy, and a name they quite well deserved..
      The Apache,, whom were not one tribe but many autonomous ones, pillaged , raped, enslaved , conquered and scalped any and all they came across.
      It’s you that are romanticizing , not Roosh
      As for your economic notions, the money matters, and quality of life is all relative. Americans just 100 years ago would be astonished if someone claimd that someday the poor would be the fattest , and most self involved of all peoples.
      A fat poor person? Amazing! Pictures that move? Unbelievable? Typeset that you can display for all the world to see? Outstanding!
      What wealth these offspring of ours must possess if they have all that !

      1. He’s all about spreading and infecting the world with white guilt.
        Pays more to ignore him than waste labor in reading him.

      2. They should all have united against the common enemy in my opinion at the onset. I never stated all Tribes were non violent but they surely were not ALL warring and savage as the European narrative to justify the taking of the lands and their low levels of depravity would lead you to believe. In fact the Pilgrims who were eating their dead because of hunger were helped and taught how to survive by native groups in Massachusetts, as well as the Caribbean. some native tribes united with various European Powers such as England against the Colonists for obvious reasons they also warred against the various other European Monarchies actively carving up the so called “Americas.” Some Europeans actually preferred native lifestyles to their own poor existence back in overcrowded and polluted European capital centers.
        Again I don’t “romanticize,” …your statement is just part of the larger narrative already displayed the last 500 years anyway. Also Scalping was already in practice in Europe and greater Eurasia hundreds of years before the birth of Christ. European TRIBAL warfare also used scalping for example between Visi-goth tribes and Anglo Saxons who were considered Barbarians by the Romans.
        As for economics yes its all relative, but being “fat” is not ideal form of living. The cheapest foods are the most unhealthy which is what the poor in this country usually eat. Economic disparity is high, and everyone is killing each other for a piece of stinking green fiat paper that has no inherent value. The richest country America and other Western Countries also experience high levels of suicide and mental illness which are mitigated with legal drug used prescribed before children reach puberty. Living longer but living worse.
        Also we are polluting and destroying natural habitats and creating climate change (Global Warming cant be used cause morons will state “well its snowing so there’s no Global Warming duuuhhh”) This is the consensus with scientists worldwide. Yes we do have some luxury but there is heavy imbalances everywhere…so overall not too much progress.

        1. Not all tribes, correct.
          But those tribes joined with the Europeans to fight the apaches.
          No one thought anyone was destroying “habitats” , certainly not the indian tribes, who had no concept of land ownership, only conquest of others , and no concept of the earth being some sort of God above man
          You are imbuing notions onto the natives that did not possess.
          There were no natives “trying to preserve the land” , no natives advocating for animal rights

        2. Natives had their own Nations and some had currency and laws and traded with each other…to say they only knew of “conquest of others” again is an extreme and blanket incorrect statement. The settlers and the U.S. Government engaged in backdoor and sneaky deals going back on their word and breaking their own contracts forcing the natives out of their lands, and the natives understood they were being swindled. In fact they grew to not trust the European because they were masters of the double cross.
          Many natives believed in not taking more than they needed and they made use of the animals they killed efficiently using all parts of the animal which is different than the killing for sport that occurs today and the materialism and lack of respect for the environment that goes on in “Modern Society.” Today we pollute the environment hunt for sport inefficiently kill the animals and capitalism turns everything in a commodity to be sold like water and even air if it could be sold as well. Now we actually NEED groups that advocate cleaner environments and preservation of animals because of runaway capitalism and corporations which make everything about valueless paper currency.
          In many ways I prefer the ways of many of the native nations which existed, but not all obviously. I think there needs to be a balance and we are definitely not there yet.

      3. The fat/poor thing is in relation to health. When a country’s peasants (I’m English, our history is a little different) were skinny, it meant they were undernourished…i.e. an easy indicator of low wealth. Lack of resources correlated with lack of physical health and early death.
        Now the opposite is true, but a poverty and obesity correlation is, of course, because the cheaper foods are fatty and unhealthy. The richer you are, the better and more expensive your food (in some cases more leisure), more education regarding basic nutrition and so on.
        So again, poverty shows a correlation between poor health and early death.

  6. Also Tocqueville on gender relations, “There are people in Europe who, confounding together the different characteristics of the sexes, would make man and woman into beings not only equal but alike. They would give to both the same functions, impose on both the same duties, and grant to both the same rights; they would mix them in all things–their occupations, their pleasures, their business. It may readily be con- ceived that by thus attempting to make one sex equal to the other, both are degraded, and from so preposterous a medley of the works of nature nothing could ever result but weak men and disorderly women.”

  7. I’m always impressed with the original Europeans who ‘seeded’ America, from the Vikings during the time of Erik the Red to the Dutch pilgrims who founded New Holland and the town of New Amsterdam which later became New York City under the British.
    What determines a successful colony versus an unsuccessful colony is gagued by the degree that the host country maintains and preserves its cultural and ethnic identity in the colony.
    Note how the Dutch and British sent both men AND women to colonize while Spain and Portugal sent only males (conquistadors) followed by missionaries. The Spanish FUCKED THE NATIVES the minute they landed on shore. They were horny as hell from the long journey that unfortunately DID NOT INCLUDE their Spanish belles. Once ashore they fucked anything on two legs and BOOM the mestizo was born. Their numbers of offspring exploded far beyond the slow plodding crafty territorial ‘housekept’ landscape that the northern Europeans with their wee wives in tow were cementing.
    But the northern pilgrim women were strong women. They had to be. And loyal ‘wifey’ traditional women? Indeed the true essence of what western women SHOULD BE and were in the past.
    If you were to load a boat like the MAYFLOWER today with the typical modern western FEMICUNT, hell you can bet THE BOAT WOULD SINK. I doubt the original Mayflower had one single fat entitled bi-polar carouselling nut bag aboard. They didn’t exist back then.
    But like Spain, Portugal left it’s women behind as well. During the time of Henry the navigator, the country literally liquidated it’s males in the colonizing craze of the 1400’s and many lonely Portugese women took negro slaves as house pets and later house mates. Writers during the era were astounded at the number of slaves wandering the streets of Lisbon and accompanying the women. The Portugese socialite women were said to have popularized the trend. (like Hollywood ho’s today)

    1. “Indeed the true essence of what western women SHOULD BE and were in the past.”
      I’ve spent many hours in the Old Salem graveyard.
      “More weight!”

    2. I would say it’s was a fault in Spanish Catholicism which was very focused on short term financial gain of the king and Vatican.Spain plundered South America and controlled much of the spice trade yet were still bankrupt.While the missionaries were essentially monopolising all local trade and had the protection of the Vatican racquet to defend their interest. It’s no wonder that many of the pilgrims of the north were highly sceptical of allowing catholics into the new world.

  8. “Persecuted by the Government of the mother-country, and disgusted by the habits of a society opposed to the rigor of their own principles…” Sounds like today as history echoes once again.
    America is now a soft tyranny. But it’s a tyranny nonetheless. I realize this every time I leave and then compare and contrast the two different societies I’ve just been in. The lofty ideals the nation was founded upon lost along the wayside.
    Things are only going to get worse. The police, surveillance, and nanny states and churches of political correctness and misandry are metastasizing cancers. Doesn’t really matter to me though, I know my future is not here. I’m the first member of my family in 500 years to plant roots outside its borders. That alone says a lot about where we are as a society.

    1. Just curious. Your post implies that you are or were an American, but also that your family has lived in the same political nation for 500 years?

      1. Yes, they were here from Europe before it was called the United States of America. Remember, this was a British colony in North America until 1776.

        1. Hm. The first English settlement in America was at Jamestown, Virginia in 1607, about 400 years ago. Just sayin’

        2. Just curious really. Thought maybe you were a native American, or descended straight from De Soto or something. Not many people can trace their ancestry here prior to 1776!

  9. The best quote (almost) of the piece: “Men who have once abandoned themselves to the restless and adventurous life of the hunter, feel an insurmountable disgust for the constant and regular labor which tillage requires”.

  10. These longer more in depth posts are great – It’ll turn ROK into Playboy or Rolling Stone in their heyday. Worth reading.

  11. If de Tocqueville is aware of what America has become, he’s surely spinning in his grave fast enough to power all of Los Angeles.
    My favorite de Tocqueville quote:

    In the end, the state of the Union comes down to the character of the people. I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers, and it was not there. In the fertile fields and boundless prairies, and it was not there. In her rich mines and her vast world commerce, and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits, aflame with righteousness, did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.

    Contrast with our mores and manners of today.

    1. I agree with the overall gist of that quote, that America ceased to be great because it ceased to be good. However the quote implies that religiousness = righteousness. Most of the non-muslim world is moving away from religion. America has still stubbornly clung to its Christianity, but this doesn’t seem to have made it any more “good” than the rest of the first world. On the contrary, it seems much worse than secular Europe.
      While many of the past generation were wise, they also did not have the scientific knowledge we have today and were more prone to believe in fairytales. I do not fault them for this, but it must be acknowledged.

    1. We must conquer our women before we can gain the order to springboard into space. Until then we are trapped here on ‘mother’ terra firma. We have nearly conquered ‘her’ but just as we think we understand ‘mother’ nature, just as we get close enough to her ‘bosom’ to try and harness her back and ‘ride’ her in our journey through space, she BITCH SMACKS us with a deluge flood or pole shift on tektonic plate upheaval and we are as helpless screaming ants once again, much like the ‘ant people’ screaming helpless in the Godzilla movies and getting squashed. Yes mother nature is THE ULTIMATE CONTROLLING BITCH but we must conquer her FIRST after of course we conquer and tame our other half.

  12. “The irony, of course, is that many American citizens still cling to their ‘freedom’ while living in one of the most repressed police states in the world”
    This needs to be repeated over and over. Slaves think they’re free, and persecute those who know otherwise.

  13. This is a very good review. Articles written by Roosh are clearly of a higher intellectual quality compared to the average ROK article.
    Tocqueville had some real insights on the US, democracy and religion. This is a must read.
    “I can’t say I enjoyed much of it, but I am satisfied at the knowledge and insights I gained.”
    Interesting or enlightening reads are often not easy or light reads. They require effort, but it is really rewarding when you have pushed yourself to become more knowledgeable.

  14. Thanks for the review, Roosh. Got the Harvey Mansfield (Harvard professor known for saying things like “women innately have less capacity than men at the highest level of science…It’s common sense if you just look at who the top scientists
    are”) translation several months ago. Looking forward to digging into it.

  15. Were Alexis de Tocqueville to return, this is how he would undoubtedly see it today. The U.S. aristocracy is made up of, collectively, banking, big-industry and defense contractors starting at the end of WW2. Amply armed with the big, nationwide, indeed worldwide media, they define more and more to this day who will win, who will lose backed with their wealthy political class firmly ensconced in the legislative halls once so revered 150 years back. Financed by a banking system of their own greedy design, serving only their own interest, they milked away the cream of the American labor pool for over 100 years with their control of the currency and capital.
    They define our morals, they set the avarice of women against the industrious interest of the men who were the source of labor up to the 60s and promptly doubled the workforce for the “factories” of the future, the office. They knew all along weak bodies could accomplish the work they had planned for the American workforce for they intended all along to ship manufacturing off to the the faraway lands conquered and subjugated in WW2, in Korea, in Vietnam, in South America. Families? Theirs were protected. With the happy acquiescence of women, there were no families in the traditional sense. Lands conquered by the strong men of America now betrayed a mere 20 years later, became environmental nightmares, ruled by the despots willing to subjugate their populations and lands in order to do the American Aristocracy’s bidding. The world became our workshop, the new Aristocracy pocketed the profits. The labors of strong men were no longer needed but for the regional skirmishes in the name of the American patriotism. The interest of the family, of society, of the children that followed were as of nothing to them and they thought their families secure.
    The weak fingers of women and weak men, bred by years of sloth, drugs and drink and indolence, feminized by media and psychotropic drugs, a loosening, indeed loss of the mores that build strong men all served the Aristocracy. Weaklings and the world’s impoverished could do the work and at the same time, present little opposition to their own conquest. They pocketed the tuition from the halls of higher “education”, the mortgage and credit interest, and even that wasn’t enough, they stole the fruits of retirement and savings from even the smallest of populations in the U.S.
    And now, those that have set all regulation against those without, backed by massive state military and police powers, all to protect that which they own and to educate and protect the privilege of their children against the interest of the children of those that have not. The frontier gone, morality eaten away by the purchase of privilege in Washington, academia and finance, the American Aristocracy is frozen in the ice of their own indifference hanging on by a bare thread against the international hordes that now edge closer because even the Aristocracy have become fat, feminine and weak. They are subject now to the savagery of resurgent populations willing to beset the Aristocrats with a brutality not seen since the Aristocratic heyday.
    They are the worst of men. Entitled, greedy, willing to turn us against each other for their own profit and distraction. The political halls rigged by two elements, Democrat and Republican, both are well and truly bought and paid for so that whatever result is required in commerce, war and peace, that result is assured. The divisive debates between Democrat and Republican provide great distraction as the privileged classes steal the last morsels of a decayed and hollowed-out society.
    Curious and confusing, Alexis de Tocqueville would have found, that having dominated all areas of life in these United States, the new Aristocrats neglected one area of dominion, the private ownership of firearms. From that one seed, being just one man, I see hope. It may be, they need us men yet. If not, guard yourselves and your own. One hopes we don’t have to fight back against our own, but if we do, they aren’t of our own anyway and maybe we will be happy to see them go. The halls of Democracy must sometimes be flushed with the blood of tyrants. The Jeffersonian Patriots recognized that particular rule of human nature. Sometimes, the little people simply stand by and watch their tyrants fall. As the hordes descend upon our land, perhaps our tyrants falling is the better outcome. They surely have no further use for us.

  16. I don’t care much for the man’s blatant racism. He clearly doesn’t give neither the Red man nor the Black man their due.
    It was Native Americans who helped save the early colonists from starvation, teaching them wilderness survival skills that their ancestors once knew but had since lost in their displacement from towns and villages to the slums of Europe.
    Black African slaves were artisans, carpenters, blacksmiths and herdsmen in their own homelands whose skills helped early America prosper.
    As was stated with Julius Evola and other great thinkers, their flaws and shortcomings do not detract from the wisdom of what they say. You don’t have to agree with everything they say or believe, but when they’re right, they’re right.

  17. As a historian and a philosopher, Alexis de Tocqueville had many valid insights on America and her people. However, find with many European scholars, both in his time and ours, with rare exception, they focus on White people to the exclusion of the Black and Native peoples.
    The Europeans who first came here were city folk whose only hunting skills were poaching wild game from an aristocrat’s private estate. They didn’t know how to fish or farm, and even if they did, adapting their skills to the environment in the New World proved challenging. If the Native peoples didn’t share their food with them and taught them how to farm, fish and hunt, the early colonists would have all starved to death just like the Pilgrims.
    The Pilgrims came to America searching for freedom, but only after they were kicked out of Europe after their attempts to get the governments to impose their strict morality on everyone else backfired. At the start, they were starving and may have resorted to cannibalism. The Natives shared their food with them and helped them grow their own, only to see those ingrates turn on them. That’s why Native Americans don’t celebrate Thanksgiving…or Columbus Day.
    The Blacks who came here were craftsmen in their home countries, and were valued for their skills in animal husbandry, metallurgy (blacksmiths), farmers, etc.
    Funny those details almost never get mentioned and White people get all the credit for everything good that America has accomplished.

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