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Democracy in America (Penguin Classics) af…

Democracy in America (Penguin Classics) (udgave 2003)

af Alexis de Tocqueville, Isaac Kramnick (Redaktør), Gerald Bevan (Oversætter)

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
1,737139,382 (4.06)10
A brilliant new translation of de Tocqueville's masterpiece also includes an account of Tocqueville's travels in Michigan among the Iroquois.
Titel:Democracy in America (Penguin Classics)
Forfattere:Alexis de Tocqueville
Andre forfattere:Isaac Kramnick (Redaktør), Gerald Bevan (Oversætter)
Info:Penguin Classics (2003), Paperback, 992 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek, Læser for øjeblikket

Work Information

Democracy in America; and Two essays on America af Alexis de Tocqueville

Nyligt tilføjet afCMDoherty, sapstone103, privat bibliotek, lschiff, PenrodsBookFair, strulock, GYelbid

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Viser 1-5 af 13 (næste | vis alle)
One of the most pivotal books in my college education. It got me to start rethinking the concept of prisons and mass incarceration in America. ( )
  beckyrenner | Aug 3, 2023 |
Democracy in America and Two Essays on America (Penguin Classics) by Alexis de Tocqueville (1805–1859)

Why I picked this book up: as a kid in school I was bored to death by history. I saw it as needing to memorize dates, the classes were often thought by boring teachers, in a boring a way. I had difficulty focusing because it was monotonous with no interesting things. In college I took a history course that was FUN! I remember thinking, “What? This is history!?” The professor made it thrilling, it became super interesting. He introduced drama and tracking backgrounds that were exciting and I learned the importance f learning history. Ever since then I can't seem to get enough. With this history, I was excited to read this so I bought it. He wrote two essays one where he traveled around seeing what he saw and then he critiqued the pocibility of what democracy can bring.

Thoughts: this book had five main things. Equality of conditions and political equality. He said democracy is where the majority rules. I often hear “we are a democracy” all the time and yes I know we elect people in but I was taught we were given a Constitutional Republic based on laws. Some people say we are a democratic Republic but I don't like the idea of becoming a democracy. We need to hold onto the republic as long as we can.

Our history had mobility and change. Westward expansion, land speculation, social mobility, individualism, a talent for innovation, and a fearless quest for material well-being. He thinks “They encounter good fortune nearly everywhere, but not happiness.”

Women he sees a strong link between women and religion. He sees woman can decide who she wants to marry before deciding to wed.

Tyranny of the Majority and mild despotism. He sees how to negotiate problems, with times a decentralized authority, voluntary associations, lawyers, juries, and court systems. He was concerned with the liberty of the individual and the tyranny of the majority rights which I understand. Be thought the majority could stifle the individuals thought

Self-interest, well understood. He knows individual interest is not to be confused with selfishness. Instead it is an outlook that properly calibrated the relative weight of individualism vs. Group cooperation.

Why I finished this read: I enjoy history and seeing how smart Tocqueville was and seeing how in tune he was so early in my country and watching society now, the whole Covid-19 government overstepping appears to be somewhat prophetic and I did not want to miss anything he had to say.

Given that I view this author as intelligent, before his time, I am very impressed and I rated this with 5 stars. I am excited to read more history. ( )
  DrT | Feb 25, 2022 |
It was unpredictable. Some chapters I loved. Others were predictable and repetitive. He ends with a stong argument, though. ( )
  OutOfTheBestBooks | Sep 24, 2021 |
Hadn't read since college humanities. Filled with plenty of right-on-the-money predictions and a good balance of how far we've come / how nothing has changed moments. Even where the author is a product of his times and the material hasn't aged well he is always instructive to see his reasoning. The freedom of the press segment really pegs current media spot on. ( )
  albertgoldfain | Mar 15, 2021 |
Like many people, I think that Donald Trump might not give up power if he loses the presidential election. And if he tries a coup, I'm afraid that he could succeed. I don’t think that’s the likely outcome, but it’s not something I’d discount. Deeply I want to believe in the robustness of American democracy, whose persistence (with its own specific glories, quirks, failures and hypocrisies) is something I've always taken more or less for granted. But tyranny has its own momentum, which, with some bad luck, can become unstoppable.

So I've turned to Tocqueville's Democracy in America for insight. After all, he's the guy who really believed in the wisdom of the American people (or at least of that part guided by New England mores).

I read the book many years ago, but this time I wanted to read it analytically in the light of the present moment. Specifically I wanted to look at what fundamentals might have changed in recent times – or slowly and incrementally – that could account for the USA’s lurch to authoritarianism.

So here are some scattergun thoughts about the book's possible lessons for today’s crisis. I put them forward less as theses than as starting points for discussion, should anyone wish to join in:

a) Most relevant so far has been Chapter 9 in the first volume: Causes Which Tend to Maintain a Democratic Republic.

What in those circumstances has changed that could give rise to Trump and possibly (shudder) to the end of democracy in America?

Having stated that "general prosperity supports the stability of all governments, but especially democratic governments which depend on the attitudes of the greatest number and primarily upon the attitudes of those most exposed to privations," Tocqueville goes on to describe how the natural bounty of America irresistibly furnishes that prosperity; the uncultivated wilderness that offers successive generations the opportunity for new wealth and fosters a repeating cycle of enterprise and dynamism.

Comparing this to the European nature, he writes (trans. Gerald Bevan):

“We Europeans are accustomed to look upon a restless spirit, an inordinate desire for wealth and an extreme passion for independence as grave social dangers. Yet precisely all these things guarantee a long and peaceful future for the republics of America Without those disquieting passions, the population would be concentrated around certain places and would soon experience, as we do, needs which are difficult to satisfy. What a fortunate country the New World is, where man's vices are almost as valuable to society as his virtues! This exerts a great influence upon the way human behaviour is judged in the two hemispheres. What we call the love of gain is often laudable hard work for the Americans who see a certain faintheartedness in what we consider to be moderation of one's desires.”

And summarising, he says:

“Prosperity influences Americans even more freely than foreigners. The American has always seen orderliness and public prosperity linked together and marching in step; he cannot imagine their existing apart.”

So here's my question/thesis/half-baked thought: If the USA, having been thoroughly populated from sea to shining sea, and having come to the end of a protracted period of post-war military and cultural expansion beyond its borders, and having come to the end of bubbles of artificial wealth creation promoted in different ways by Reagan and Clinton and the Bushes, and having (finally) experienced the decoupling of prosperity from orderliness, having run out roads as it were, could it be that the country's vices are now (finally) harmful to society? And that moderation of desires (Jimmy Carter style frugality?) is needed, but is too anathema to the Make America Great Again brigade, who are so used to seeing excess as a virtue?

Or is that typically European prejudice/faintheartedness on my part?

Or have there been other protracted periods in American history which have seen prosperity divorced from orderliness? (The Great Depression springs to mind, but the period is arguably too short; although I suppose the exceptional 4-term election of FDR might speak to a taste for strong leaders (admittedly of a vastly different stripe) in times of economic distress and national crisis.) ( )
  antao | Sep 25, 2020 |
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If the number of times an individual is cited by politicians, journalists, and scholars is a measure of their influence, Alexis de Tocqueville—not Jefferson, Madison, or Lincoln—is America’s public philosopher.
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Democracy in America AND Two Essays on America - please don't combine with "Democracy in America" proper.
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A brilliant new translation of de Tocqueville's masterpiece also includes an account of Tocqueville's travels in Michigan among the Iroquois.

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