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Alexis de Tocqueville

Tocqueville’s Consideration of Aristocracy and Democracy

In the New Criterion, Harvard professor Harvey Mansfield reviews Lucien Jaume’s 2008 book Tocqueville: The Aristocratic Sources of Liberty (recently translated by Arthur Goldhammer). In his review, he asks if a democracy can sustain itself without the help of its rival, aristocracy?


Are Americans still bowling alone?

In Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote of his visit to America that “Americans of all ages, all stations in life, and all types of dispositions are forever forming associations. . . . Nothing, in my view, deserves more attention than the intellectual and moral associations in America.” Writing 160 years after Tocqueville, the American political scientist Robert Putnam described in his book Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community that Americans were becoming less likely to participate in these associations—that instead of joining bowling leagues, they were “bowling alone.” That was over ten years ago. How are Americans faring today?


The Tocquevillean moment

In the current issue of The Wilson Quarterly, Wilfred McClay, SunTrust Chair of Excellence in Humanities at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, has an essay about “the Tocquevillean moment…and ours.” This moment, McClay writes, is “when social change arrives at a crossroads, and awaits further direction. [… It] involves the ways in which we come to terms, not only as individuals but also as citizens and societies, with whatever fatal circle our times and conditions have drawn around us.”