On American Minds

“I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion as in America.”

Alexis de Tocqueville, in Democracy in America

In Democracy in America, published in 1835, Tocqueville wrote of the New World and its burgeoning democratic order. Observing from the perspective of a detached social scientist, Tocqueville wrote of his travels through America (both in the United States and Canada) in the early 19th century when the market revolution, Western expansion, and Jacksonian democracy were radically transforming the fabric of American life. He saw democracy as an equation that balanced liberty and equality, concern for the individual as well as the community. A critic of individualism, Tocqueville thought that association, the coming together of people for common purpose, would bind Americans to an idea of nation larger than selfish desires, thus making a civil society which wasn’t exclusively dependent on the state.

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[tags]alexis de tocqueville, intellectual, reflections on america, quotation, quote, independence of mind, freedom of discussion, freedom of speech, democracy in america, civil society[/tags]


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