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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Homo democraticus

In doing some research for the thesis, I ran across this:

"Homo democraticus, as Tocqueville characterised him, is obsessive about rights, neglectful of duties, reluctant to believe in anything, anxious, and solitary. These defects make him prey to what Tocqueville called ‘soft despotism’ whereby freedom is abandoned, and a bloated central power administers to the needs of an infantilised population.

"In an egalitarian, democratic but atomised society, Tocqueville believed that people would not turn to each other to meet their needs through free exchange, civic association and the pursuit of what Tocqueville called ‘self-interest rightly understood’. Instead, they would look to an omnipotent state, which would remove in a paternal-like manner all the trouble of thinking and acting for oneself.

"Thus, in Tocqueville’s view, it appears that C.S. Lewis’ ‘men without chests’ will eventually be the natural denizens of democracies. For although Tocqueville regarded the aristocratic regime to be unjust—based as it was on an unnatural convention of hereditary superiority—its hierarchical order still preserved room for standards transcending the individual will."



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