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Grizzly Mama

There's a Grizzly who has escaped the City of Brotherly Love..(and she's going back to homeschooling!!)

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Location: Out of Philly, Pennsylvania, United States

"All who have meditated on the art of governing mankind have been convinced that the fate of empires depends on the education of youth." Aristotle - Greek Philosopher.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A New Kind of Tyranny


"I think, then, that the species of oppression by which democratic nations are menaced is unlike anything that ever before existed in the world; our contemporaries will find no prototype of it in their memories. I seek in vain for an expression that will accurately convey the whole of the idea I have formed of it; the old words despotism and tyranny are inappropriate: the thing itself is new, and since I cannot name, I must attempt to define it.

I seek to trace the novel features under which despotism may appear in the world. The first thing that strikes the observation is an innumerable multitude of men, all equal and alike, incessantly endeavoring to procure the petty and paltry pleasures with which they glut their lives...

Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing. For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances: what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?

Thus it every day renders the exercise of the free agency of man less useful and less frequent; it circumscribes the will within a narrower range and gradually robs a man of all the uses of himself. The principle of equality has prepared men for these things;it has predisposed men to endure them and often to look on them as benefits.

After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd."

Alexis de Tocqueville - Democracy in America, Chapter IV; What Sort of Despotism Democratic Nations Have to Fear.

Not bad for a French guy.

8 Comments:

Blogger Most Rev. Gregori said...

The name that Alexis de Tocqueville had trouble with is EVIL, pure unadulterated EVIL.

12 March, 2009 21:58  
Blogger Mike's America said...

There are soooo many warning from history which sadly these days go unheeded.

13 March, 2009 22:15  
Blogger Terro said...

De Tocqueville wrote with such prescience and wisdom:happiness and security define the borders of contemporary America's concern.

14 March, 2009 13:40  
Blogger Grizzly Mama said...

Rev - and Tocqueville was right, most don't recognize the creeping growth of the state, all the while thinking what a good thing it is.

Mike - Amen to that.

Terro - thank you for commenting. Tocqueville was amazing. He could have written this just yesterday - it describes our current situation so well.

Thanks all for visiting!

15 March, 2009 08:44  
Blogger tweetey30 said...

Ok am I reading this wrong or is this a book that is suppose to be read??? and enjoyed??? Or am I missing somethign here. Sorry..

16 March, 2009 03:41  
Blogger Grizzly Mama said...

De Tocqueville visited America from France before the Civil War, traveled around and wrote a book about America's politics, social order, attitudes, and prison system. He actually wrote a couple of books. Democracy in America was one of the books - and it's interesting to read his impressions of America and of Americans. This entry is an excerpt from that book. I've never read the book in full, but you will see quotes from De Tocqueville pop up here and there. I think CSPAN did a tour years ago and retraced De Tocqueville's journey - there is a bunch of info on CSPAN.com. Actually, Tweetey - you can sign up at CSPAN as a homeschooler to get some pretty cool educational tools for the girls. I tried to do it a couple of nights ago, but then my computer froze up. They have a whole thing on Tocqueville - plus tons of other stuff.

I have noticed, though, that De Tocqueville seems to bring his typical European class conscious prejudices to the writing, but I actually find that sort of amusing in a way.

16 March, 2009 08:36  
Blogger tweetey30 said...

Ok. Thanks. Maybe I will check it out later on. I am heading to bed. i am so damned tired tonight. Not enough sleep yesterday and then being outside for like 3 hours before work didnt help me any tonight.. Talk to you soon.

17 March, 2009 04:45  
Blogger Grizzly Mama said...

Sleep tight - get some good rest!

17 March, 2009 19:10  

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