Consequences of the Love of Equality

Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Volume Two, Part Four, Chapter Six: What Kind of Despotism Democratic Nations Have to Fear:

I see an innumerable crowd of like and equal men who revolve on themselves without repose, procuring the small and vulgar pleasures with which they fill their souls. Each of them, withdrawn and apart, is like a stranger to the destiny of all the others: his children and his particular friends form the whole human species for him; as for dwelling with his fellow citizens, he is beside them, but he does not see them; he touches them and does not feel them; he exists only in himself and for himself alone, and if a family still remains for him, one can at least say that he no longer has a native country.

Above these an immense tutelary power is elevated, which alone takes charge of assuring their enjoyments and watching of their fate. It is absolute, detailed, regular, far-seeing, and mild. It would resemble paternal power if, like that, it had for its object to prepare men for manhood; but on the contrary, it seeks only to keep them fixed irrevocably in childhood; it likes citizens to enjoy themselves provided that they think only of enjoying themselves. It willingly works for their happiness; but it wants to be the unique agent and sole arbiter of that; it provides for their security, forsees and secures their needs, facilitates their pleasures, conducts their principal affairs, directs their industry, regulates their estates, divides their inheritances; can it not take away from them entirely the trouble of thinking and the pain of living?

So it is that every day it renders the employment of free will less useful and more rare; it confines the action of the will in a smaller space and little by little steals the very use of free will from each citizen. Equality has prepared men for all these things: it has disposed them to tolerate them and often even to regard them as a benefit.

6 Responses to Consequences of the Love of Equality

  • Very apropos Zach.

    With socialized medicine, the people will clamor for more socialist programs at the sacrifice of their individual liberty’s.

  • We are becoming “homogenized”, soon to be “human caviar”. This is an effect of social justice dominated by emotion rather than equality of justice. As a very plain thinking man of the South once said to me; “when everybody is somebody, nobody is anybody”. By the time too many will discover this, it will be too late.

    I think you really nailed it!

  • Tocqueville is a beautiful and wise writer.

  • DeTocqueville was a very wise man indeed, and worth 1000 Rousseaus.

    Another wise Frenchman (who became an American) is Jacques Barzun. When he was over 90 years old, Barzun charted the West’s decline and fall in his great book “From Dawn to Decadence.” Barzun ( still alive and lucid in San Antonio, at the astonishing age of 103 – this is a man who can still remember German air attacks on Paris during WWI) is optimistic about our future – he believes Western culture will survive and return after the assaults leveled against it during the latter half of the 20th century and continuing into our own time. I wish I could be so optimistic.

  • Interesting Donna! I’ve never heard of Barzun. I’ll have to check him out. I confess I have no idea how one would make an optimistic case for the future of Western Civilization, so I’m very interested. Thanks

  • Although I agree that the human race are trending to be one people, I dont think it is healthy. People need to be with their own cultures, while respecting other cultures and the difference between us all make us unique.
    Stefan

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