Essay about How Are We Less Free And Democratic?

827 Words Apr 23rd, 2015 4 Pages
In 1835 Alexis de Tocqueville published the first edition of his book De la démocratie en Amérique (Democracy in America). Here he made observations on the democracy being established in the United States, and the threats it could face. In this paper I will address and analyze the question: How are we less free and democratic in the United States today? I will use Tocqueville’s insights from Democracy in America and pull from a variety of other authors to back his claims. As well, I will build upon his threats using more contemporary theorists and thinkers.
In his book Tocqueville discussed two threats to democracy in America, tyranny of the majority, and soft despotism. The threat that is most interesting, in regards to this paper, is his idea of soft despotism. Tocqueville made sure to make the distinction between despotism and soft despotism. He described despotism as “[the] tyrannical, and absolute government of only one (or of only one power).” (Tocqueville 1245-261) What he was referring to however is very different; it would arise as a product of individualism and would establish itself unknowingly. Tocqueville described it in vivid terms: “I see an innumerable crowd of similar and equal men who spin around restlessly, in order to gain small and vulgar pleasures with which they fill their souls. Each one of them, withdrawn apart, is like a stranger to the destiny of all others.” (Tocqueville 1245-261) Here Tocqueville described two different, but equally important…

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