The New Democracy of Alexis de Tocqueville

The Overlay of Liberalism

Alexis de Tocqueville summarizes all his components of new democracy with himself. In one phrase, he claims to have the highest respect for religion as unprecedented in the history of liberalism, a commitment to morality, order, and a love for law and justice. Montesquieu and John Locke’s liberalism build a willful attachment to religion and morality. Although they certainly respect order, law, and justice, they also see morality as the foundation of their liberalism. However, they did not lay down religion. However, religion also remains an uncomfortable partner for their liberalism. For Tocqueville, their understanding of morality is more secular. According to Tocqueville, the great mistake of eighteenth-century liberals lay in their misunderstanding of the relationship between religion and freedom.

Religious fervor leads to failure if people generally uphold and propagate freedom. According to them, the companion of all battles considered freedom. On the other hand, Tocqueville considered how the distinguishing mark of 19th century French liberalism was the belief that people could not enforce freedom without religion. He yearned for a different kind of freedom. Tocqueville is a Roman Catholic, stressing the importance of institutionalized religion in the public domain to make people moral. He emphasized the institution of the church as the guardian of religious truth in the public sphere. Morality implies the individual’s effort to reconcile human free will with God’s will. The sect differs from Benjamin Constant, a Protestant, emphasizing liberalism on the individual’s enjoyment and placing religion separately.

Henri de Boulainvilliers

By the eighteenth century in France, republicanism had become. According to Keith Michael Baker, the language of opposition to the increasingly administrative state is simultaneously fed by the individualism of modern commercial society. It also witnessed a strong revival of aristocratic liberalism in the eighteenth century. However, republicanism is not the only, or even the most critical, political tradition. Criticism of the absolute pretensions of the monarchy by the nobility was widespread in the sixteenth century. At the time, people used the mixed constitution’s idea to argue for the rights of the nobility to participate in power. While aristocratic claims to freedom had disappeared under Louis XIV, 18th-century aristocratic liberalism was not a coherent ideology.

While all agree that the nobility was necessary to preserve freedom, it took a very different position in pre-revolutionary political debates. Henri de Boulainvilliers identified feudal liberties first, primarily as property rights. He emphasized that the land-owning aristocrats had absolute ownership rights over the land and the occupants and enslaved people. Consistently, the military responsibilities of owning a territory underestimate in history. Boulainvilliers believes that conquest during the Frankish invasion of Gaul initially established feudal property rights. Charlemagne later instituted genuine feudalism. He created territories in the image of the Lombard apparatus, which he admired during his expeditions. In other words, it is wrong to claim that people usurped feudal rights during the reign of Hugh Capet.

Liberal Catholicism

In contrast to Liberal Catholicism founded by Félicité de La Mennais in 1830, which has lost the authority and power to mobilize a democratic society, the apparatus must distribute individual rights to everyone. Regardless of which, Tocqueville is indebted to Montesquieu and Jean-Jacques Rousseau for taking a sociological approach to political philosophy as his departure from philosophy. On the other hand, Liberal Catholicism sacrifices the claim of political freedom to the church’s sovereignty. Therefore, Tocqueville did not believe the church could govern a democracy. The fundamental tenet of the new liberalism is that people can only seek freedom within the state and society, not in the state and society.

Based on his thoughts of a new democracy, people suspected Alexis de Tocqueville as a conservative Catholic disguised. Therefore, he was unwilling to sacrifice the church’s claim as state sovereignty. Contrary to the philosophers of the Enlightenment, he did not believe that reason could rule or liberate individuals. More profoundly, he argues that reason freed from faith and tradition is a destructive force. The rule of reason destroys knowledge based on traditional authority. He understood freedom as the victory of reason over superstition and pre-trial. In line with his thinking, the scientific procedure is not the path to knowledge but religion.

The Dialectic Tradition of Tocqueville

Tocqueville always considered himself part of the Enlightenment, sharing the same concerns with democracy and liberalism. However, his project so deviated from the Enlightenment. On the other hand, he does not believe that reason can liberate or govern individuals. The Enlightenment was based on the premise that purely natural reason would judge opinion better than those who believed in ancient books. It is a universally valid premise. Therefore, it leaves all beliefs and theories to individual personal judgment. Tocqueville argued that reason, freed from tradition and faith, was destructive. He saw the Enlightenment as a political program rather than a new philosophy.

Moreover, the prime movers are dissatisfied and doubt the bargain rather than searching for truth. Finally, Tocqueville accused the Enlightenment of falsely opposing authority over reason. He argues that philosophers refuse to be guided by a higher authority. It traded a single authority for countless authorities that conferred prestige. He also argued that authority was not a consequence of conquest. However, it is an acknowledgment of higher insight and judgment. Therefore, it is not an abuse of reason. In general, he asserts truth: living truth and not determining causal relationships.

Alexis de Tocqueville did not believe that reason is powerless in acting according to its light or that the individual is stupid while such new democracy is wise. Denying excuses is as much a mistake as only allowing excuses. Intellect is a precious gift that must be used to make assumptions about nature and events. It creates a synthesis that can overcome differences in interests and ideas. The facts of everyday life and general experience represent knowledge, although it expresses itself to Tocqueville in prejudice and tradition rather than personal reason.

The Utilitarian Monarchy

Tocqueville’s new liberalism incorporates a thorough understanding of individualism, considered integral to the moral community. He argues that moral community is a social form of human creation pattern. However, God shaped the moral community. The individual is not the utilitarian individualism of Jeremy Bentham, John Locke, and Thomas Hobbes. The highest goal for Tocqueville is not the victory of individuality as other liberal thinkers. However, the development of the capacity to exercise proper choice for the sake of the individual soul. Individualism, according to him, is religious, namely the development of one’s soul to achieve eternal happiness and virtue. Therefore, utilitarian individualism for him only fosters mere egoism.

The republican government for Tocqueville was unbalanced because it promised more. However, it provides less freedom than a constitutional monarchy. He is better off in a hereditary monarchy than a republic. Constitutional monarchies are considered more successful in controlling the passions of the majority. In a constitutional monarchy, the citizen would force the king to share the authority with the aristocracy. The aristocratic social structure has advantages. It is because it has a calling and interest. After all, it maintains local independence. It also resists the concentration of authority. As with Montesquieu, Tocqueville believed that good governance always depended on an intermediary authority in local government.

The Democratic Civilization

It was clear to everyone that a significant democratic revolution was taking place. However, there are two opinions about the consequences and their nature. To specific people, it seemed like a new accident. On the other hand, it seems unbearable. That is because it is the most permanent, ancient, and uniform trend to be found in history. Immediately, the political power of the clergy was established and began to exert itself; the clergy opened the ranks to all classes, whether for the poor, rich, criminals, or masters. Equality penetrates government through the church. As a servant, the being had to thrive in eternal slavery took his place.

As a priest amid the nobles, it is not infrequently over the head of the king. When reviewed through history, slavery has been advocated by evil and slave-minded people. In addition, the independent and warm-hearted fight hopelessly to save humanity’s freedom. However, people of high character and benevolence must now be encountered. On the other hand, speaking in the name of freedom, specific people can feel the majesty and holiness. Loudly, it claims human rights that people have consistently denied.

Tocqueville’s fundamental premise is that peaceful and moral people are sincerely in love with a good country. For their health, they are willing to make huge sacrifices. On the other hand, they conflate civilization’s harmful and beneficial features.

The Individual Education

Alexis de Tocqueville was a proponent of universal political equality and new democracy. Every individual has the potential to make a positive impact on the world. However, he does not believe that equitable distribution of material goods, civic rights, or politics contribute to citizens’ development. According to him, redistribution of material possessions exacerbated existing divisions. It is incapable of forming moral bonds. Tocqueville rejected the concept of legal charity in this instance. It is because it acts as a barrier to developing a public spirit.

For Tocqueville, it is a delusion that society’s conditions can alleviate poverty without eroding civic commitment. According to Tocqueville, the government should not be involved in education. In essence, the family is the most critical factor in the education and upbringing of children. He claimed that state-run education produces a generation of citizens subject to the state’s authority. In essence, education must promote the autonomy of individual judgment growth.


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