Tocqueville On Liberty Essay

1796 words - 7 pages

Susan BisnoffHonors 173November 12, 2014Midterm Question 1What are according to John Locke and Alexis Tocqueville, the assurances that citizens must have so their liberty can be protected as well as ensured? There are similarities as well as differences in these two authors arguments as to what liberty is, but both writers agree that liberty is essential for the success and endurance of a democratic society.For Tocqueville, one of the primary ways citizens liberty may be ensured and protected is civil and civic association. He wrote, "Citizens joining together in free association would replace the individual power of nobles, and the state would be protected against any tyranny and license". (Pg. 10) This means that when there is free association people will come together as a society and not lack restraint in protecting its core value system of self-governing. Hence, democracy is synonymous with equality. Additionally, Tocqueville believed "because the government really does emanate from the governed, as long as it continues to struggle its way forward, a sort of paternal pride will protect it". (Pg. 76) What this says is that as long as the government represents the people it governs, the citizens will do anything to protect that government. More importantly Tocqueville believed it was essential to have a decentralized represented government. He felt that too strong of a central government could lead to tyranny. Tocqueville believed it was vital to have a more localized government that focused on local issues. The definition of a decentralized government is to distribute authority, responsibility and financial resources for the provision of public services to local government agencies. This would further commit its citizens to be a part of their community, because a centralized government, Tocqueville believed, could lead to an overly excessive government. An over excessive government in turn could lead to tyranny of the majority.According to Locke, equality is essential to liberty. It is the basis for universal participation in society. To protect and ensure liberty the citizens must have complete independence from any authoritarian rule. He deemed "this freedom from absolute, arbitrary power, is so necessary to, and closely joined with a man's preservation, that he cannot part with it, but by what forfeits his preservation and life together: for a man, not having the power of his own life, cannot, by compact, or his own consent, enslave himself to any one, nor put himself under the absolute, arbitrary power of another, to take away his life, when he pleases. No body can give more power than he has himself; and he that cannot take away his own life, cannot give another power over it". (p. 17). This is the core of his argument. A nation must have equality to maintain a safe and democratic country. Locke thought it was vital that government be morally obliged to protect and serve its people. He mostly referred to life, liberty, and property as...

Find Another Essay On Tocqueville on Liberty

Tocqueville - "Democracy In America" Essay

1036 words - 4 pages right to do whatsoever it pleases; and yet I have asserted that all authority originates in the will of the majority" (Tocqueville, page 547). This in itself is a contradiction, and illustrates very clearly his overall thoughts on American democracy: that while we think we have a democracy, we are in fact slaves to the majority. And it is all encompassing; with regards to opinion and speech, our concepts of equality and liberty, our rights to work

Alexis deTocqueville Essay

3390 words - 14 pages men understood it – namely, participation by the many in the act of sovereignty – was compatible with tyranny as well as with liberty. More precisely, tyranny could indeed coexist with what appeared to be democratic institutions. Unlike some of his contemporaries, who believed that the gradual development of equality meant the gradual but final destruction of the possibility of tyranny on earth, Tocqueville understood that the democratic

Navigating Interstitial Spaces

2021 words - 8 pages restrictions on the individual: “the law permits the Americans to do what they please.” The danger, then, is that Americans fail to preserve virtue in the vast interstitial spaces of their free nation. Religion, mores, family, associational life and the “doctrine of self-interest rightly understood” provide fixed points for moral thinking and defend virtue in interstitial spaces. Tocqueville locates the linchpin of ordered liberty in Christianity


1100 words - 4 pages towards Europe. De Tocqueville states that: “ The first and liveliest of the passions inspired by equality is, love of that equality itself.” (Reader 321) This is why democratic nations are more concerned with equality than liberty. Because of this love for equality, De Tocqueville argues that there is a new form of oppression that threatens democracies. This type of oppression is one that has never been witnessed before in history, due to the

Who Would Rule?

1531 words - 6 pages Who Would Rule? In the book, The Spiral Road, author, Huang Shu-min makes an observation during his stay in Lin Village. The comment ignites a counter-response from his counterpart, Party Secretary Ye. Little do they know, this comment ignites a debate between the writings of many authors accredited with thorough political knowledge. Alexis de Tocqueville of the 19th century had the most accurate insight on the relationship between

Liberty in the History of America

2498 words - 10 pages important that people would fight and die for it. Tocqueville, while impressed at the amount liberty and freedoms that citizens had, believed that America had a long way to go before it could call itself a truly free country. Fast forward over a hundred years later, and John Rawls lived in a time were the conversation on equality and justice were major political issues. Rawls proposed a brand new way of looking at concepts of equality and justice and

Democracy in America

1989 words - 8 pages previous to it has failed?”1 A brilliant young historian from France devoted a major portion of his life to answer this world changing mystery. Alexis de Tocqueville revealed to Europe, which characteristics instilled in American democracy must be modeled in order to construct a proper institution of government in any nation. He did this in his work, Democracy in America.      Alexis de Tocqueville was born in Paris on July 29, 1805

From Individualism to Unionism: The Changing Meaning of Freedom in America

3137 words - 13 pages protecting the common man from the abuses of a tyrannical central government. He warned against any government intervention in economic matters, saying that, “Whenever an exception is made to the general law of the land, founded on the principle of equal rights, it will always be found to be in the favor of wealth” (Legget, 2). Legget’s principle was couched in the same rhetoric of sovereignty and liberty employed by those who had debated the

The American Character

1125 words - 5 pages , and people are respected on the basis of intellect and virtue" (chap. 3, Democracy in America). What Tocqueville is saying is that people should treat each other with equality and in a sense, fairness. Within Frederick Jackson Turner's Frontier Thesis, Turner agrees, "But the democracy born of free land, strong in selfishness and individualism, intolerant of administrative experience and education, and pressing individual liberty beyond its proper

NSA and Edward Snowden

1576 words - 6 pages founded upon. Orwellian dystopias are not built in a day, and with each step of further encroachment on our privacy, we lose our ability to explore individuality in an unhindered existence. Shall such a sacred freedom be traded for security? Knowledge proves to be a society’s best protection against such threats to liberty, and the acquisition of such knowledge would have been impossible without a Promethean figure like Snowden to jeopardize

The Views of Different Cultures in the Baptist Church, from the Mid-17th Century to The Contemporary Period

1737 words - 7 pages he moved even closer" (p.201). This statement shows how an Arab man could make an American man nervous by getting to close. Some may ask, what is too close? In the Arab culture closeness is a sign of respect, but in American culture closeness is only for people who are affectionate. Another example of attitudes in culture is in the story "Some Reflections on American Manners" by Alexis de Tocqueville. Tocqueville argues that Americans have no code

Similar Essays

Rhetorical Strategies Of Alexis De Tocqueville's Democracy In America.

992 words - 4 pages Ever since he was born, Tocqueville had been exposed to politics and government. His father was the mayor of Verneuil, which was where much of Tocqueville's childhood was spent. As he grew up he took courses in law, which eventually aided him in writing Democracy in America. While on official business to view the American penal system, Tocqueville got his first taste of democracy. When the twenty eight year old de Tocqueville returned to France

Democracy In America Essay

1294 words - 5 pages barriers to the liberty of opinions: within these barriers an author may write whatever be pleases, but he will repent it if he ever step beyond them” (Tocqueville 171). In America, religion has a contradiction role in the values of the citizen. The Americans seems to apply the principle of self-interests into the religion. This seems contradiction because in Utopia, by Thomas More, religion is seems to be based on sharing a common understanding of

Equality Vs The Tyranny Of Majority

3673 words - 15 pages tyranny of majority in democracy and saw the necessity of a civic culture that supported liberty and diversity in order to prevent such tragedy. With the idea of preventing the aforementioned adversity caused by the excesses of democracy, Mill’s proposal is to build up the political institutions. On the other hand, Tocqueville emphasized the importance of local politics participation by all of the citizens as well as dependence on the good mores of

The Liberal Democratic State: The End Of History Or Simply Another Epoch?

1276 words - 5 pages of a Liberal Democracy could not be improved on” seemingly overlooks certain contradictions within the liberal-democratic paradigm. In fact, the contention rests precariously on the assumption that “the twin principles of liberty and equality on which modern democracy is founded” are symbiotic, when several prominent thinkers have in fact challenged that very assumption.Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy is America (1835-1840