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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...

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