Tocqueville Individualism Analysis

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American democracy is driven by the foundation of equality. According to Tocqueville, the American Revolution had produced a great degree of social equality among the social classes. Conditions of equality in America, gives its citizens the ability to strive for equal status—socially and economically. Democracy allowed influence to be taken from a few aristocrats and given to the people—which leads to the end of legal differences in status, of noble ranks and titles, and of hereditary privileges. However, this is not to say that there is not a potential for a highly individualized society brought about through equality. As the citizens become more equal, their drive toward individualism and materialism proliferates which causes people to focus …show more content…
Individualism allows Americans to isolate themselves from the mass of those similar; individualism allows for the creation of small societies for personal use, which leads Americans to abandon society. While individualism and social isolation can be problematic for the existence of a democracy, associations can help aid this condition of equality. Associations are an important characteristic of American culture and its private citizens. Tocqueville observed that belonging to one or more association was one of the more pronounced activities in American culture. Associations help develop solidarity among American citizens, Tocqueville emphasized associations because he believed they provided a crucial characteristic among American citizens in fighting against the problems of individualism. “In order that men remain civilized or become so, the art of associating must be developed and perfected among them in the same ratio as equality of conditions increases” (De Tocqueville, 1835, 492). Tocqueville believed that equality encourages individualism and that individualism can be susceptible to selfish tendencies. However, associations provide necessary means in solving the problems with individualism. Associations moderate the potential excesses of individualism and self-interest in America because they allow individuals to act together and unite to preserve their equality and …show more content…
Materialism results from a passion for equality that American citizens have, they believe that they ought to be equal with their fellow citizens and have as much wealth as they do. “Materialism is a dangerous malady of the human mind in all nations; but one must dread it particularity in a democratic people because it combines marvelously with the most familiar vice of the heart in these peoples” (De Tocqueville, 1835, 519). The effect materialism has on American citizens is that they become absorbed in their personal pursuit that they abandon their freedom in order to ensure material prosperity. Tocqueville describes the character of American citizens with the observation that even if the most enlightened man was placed in the happiest condition, a “cloud” masked over the happiness in his pleasures. “The principle reason for this is that the first do not think about the evils they endure, whereas the others dream about constantly of the goods they do not have” (De Tocqueville, 1835, 511). Although it is evident that materialism can distract men from being truly happy, Tocqueville recognizes the existence of religion as an aid for materialism. “The main business of religions is to purify, control, and restrain that excessive and exclusive taste for well-being which men acquire in times of equality” (De Tocqueville, 1835, 520). Tocqueville further illustrates that religion and exalted spirituality

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