By Alan S. Kahan
Significant Conservative and Libertarian Thinkers offers entire bills of the works of seminal conservative thinkers from various sessions, disciplines and traditions. This quantity comprises an highbrow biography, ancient context, severe exposition of Alexis de Tocqueville's paintings, reception and effect, modern relevance, bibliography together with references to digital assets and an index.
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Extra resources for Alexis de Tocqueville (Major Conservative and Libertarian Thinkers, Vol. 7)
It is characteristic of Tocqueville that when he did mention his predecessors by name, it was usually to establish his difference from them and assert his own originality. For example, in The Old Regime and the Revolution Tocqueville refers seven times to Edmund Burke, the great contemporary English commentator on the French Revolution. Once he agrees with him, once he uses him as reference for a fact and five times he cites him by name only to show how wrong he was. One would never guess from the references the enormous quantity of notes Tocqueville had made on Burke, nor the considerable intellectual debt he owed him (Gannett 57–78).
However, Tocqueville did not mean to suggest that other countries simply copy what worked in the United States. ” France had a different history and a different society than America. Therefore, the mores appropriate for France would be different. Every nation will one day be as democratic as America, but every nation must find its own path to the freedom Americans enjoy – and this is a good thing. Tocqueville was an early friend of diversity: “I should regard it as a great misfortune for the human race if liberty were obliged to exhibit identical features wherever it manifests itself” (364).
Scholars debate the relationship between the two volumes. Are they really two books, perhaps with contrasting conclusions, or just one work, more or less coherent? Readers will have their own answers to this question. ” Tocqueville’s understanding of democracy changed between the two volumes of the Democracy, but in the manner of someone proceeding up a spiral staircase, he kept circling the same core issues. The essential Tocqueville remains unchanged over time; his preoccupations with freedom and with France never vary (Schleifer 1992, 194).