ad14 The whole structure of southern society before and after slavery was undemocratic. The Yankee democratic spirit described by De Tocqueville resents this most strongly. The first phase of Yankee imperialism was thus the elimination of the south, a later phase involved the elimination of the British empire.
af27 De T's brilliant diagnosis of democracy. So many aspects of life seemingly taken for granted seen by him from his point of view, ie that of his desires, as mind numbingly tedious. Servility of democracy. Idea that desire must be frustrated.
af42 De T.'s mistake possibly in seeing American democracy as the inevitable model for the future. Humanity is old, civilisation is old, prosperity is old. What may puzzle is how some people manage to escape the nightmare that may seem to be the fundamental American idea.
ah179& De T & his pessimism. America and its civilisation. Rejection of the will to power. Idea of America as a society in which will is satisfied. That this is all there is. The natural demand for equality, the utilitarianism that such a philosophy, such a psychology, suggests. One is made to seem mean and nasty not to wish for great wealth for all. And not accepting the dogma of the new society one is a misfit and unable to share to the full in the satisfactions it offers. The will to power one locates at the heart of human nature. Opposed to it is the utilitarian dogma, atomising needs and desires. De T believes in equality as probably ordained by God. But he sees much as being lost And for some people what is being lost is all that makes life worth living. He believes in classical culture. I live in a democratic age. How much do I understand of classical culture, for example? By his standard I might appear only half educated, much of the time pretending to some knowledge I do not possess.
uu159& De T. puts his finger on a number of traditional or perennial confusions, that between an admiration for liberty and a contempt for conformity, the paradoxical combination of apparent liberty and apparent conformity, admiration for the free citizen and contempt for his mediocrity. How much were the ancient Romans like De T.ís Americans? De T. himself does not escape from the confusion He was an excellent observer and observed something of supreme importance which normally beclouds the perception. I cannot accept he entirely understood what he saw but at least he perceived it which is something hard to do. He is like a man going into a fog. Those who habitually live in the fog cannot understand it as a fog, to them the fog is the clearest daylight they know. The democratic consciousness must be judged evaluatively. It is not just another point of view of equal value with the aristocratic. But how can you say this? That took Nietzsche and his idea of the will to power. I would say the rise of feminism is a natural consequence of the mediocrity De T. talks about. Betrayal of revolution. How the free spirit becomes a gregarious spirit and seeks a resting place in some collective orthodoxy. How an anarchical excitement gives itself over to a tyrannical socialism. See how the idea of progression and of the infinite perfectibility of the human race belong to democratic ages. Democratic nations care little for Tocqueville.
ww66 Nietzsche and De T Their common sense increasingly obscured as a democratic culture arises. So called alternatives set up.
yy236 His fundamental pessimism. Ever since then various efforts have been made to overcome some of the unfortunate effects of democracy (throwing out baby with bathwater.
An317 In The Old Regime and the French Revolution, he praises the warm, generous, youthful spirit of the revolution. English people might not see it like that. Like all Frenchmen, he overrates the world historical importance of that event. Also there is a problem with the enthusiasms of youth. What to make of a collective madness? One does not warm to the 'Cambridge Mafia' in Major's cabinet, those who hated the sixties. All my feelings were more ambivalent. We may see gregarious enthusiasm as directed against every superior spirit. Solidarity in collectivity. I may see a hatred in it, not love, and want to express contempt. Problem is that such contempt must extend to a lot of one's friends. This a problem faced by subjects of dictatorial regimes. The Russians, the Chileans, I cannot despise my friends, and I cannot cut myself off from friends who hold different opinions. Gregariousness which is so intense in the French and which makes the English despise them. Etc etc.
Ao242 His 'youthful and generous spirit of the revolution'. He saw no will to power. The hatred and tyranny that are essential. And what is a youthful and generous spirit compared with the seriousness of mature men?
Ap321 His pessimism. His peculiar cast of mind. Seeing democracy as the future. Against him, America is not the fulfilment of history, the consummation of enlightenment or something that will last forever. It delivered a certain prosperity the root cause of which might be related to various factors. Gobineau called it race. Churchill might have called it the English heritage. What Plato wrote about democracy certainly has relevance.
Ap330 Allan Bloom and De Tocqueville De T.'s pessimism was a personal characteristic, like a romantic trait. It was not an inevitable conclusion from what he saw. His view on the French Revolution was far from Carlyle's. He was a man divided in his sympathies. Allan Bloom and Fukayama. The adherence to liberal democracy. To Britain, America is alien and threatening to a degree. We do not entirely accept De T. because we do not accept such extreme democracy is desirable. A standard which precedes and would take precedence over democracy is freedom. An ideal which does not entail democracy and does not entail a framework of equal rights.
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