Tocqueville and Totalitarian Democracy in America

By |2021-02-24T16:39:22-06:00February 24th, 2021|Categories: Alexis de Tocqueville, American Republic, Civilization, Community, Equality, Freedom|

American democracy has proven to be a success in its representation of interests but a failure in cultivating citizenship; it has protected some civil liberties while allowing others to erode away. One lesson we can draw from its history of successes and failures is this: For a republic to succeed, institutions are not enough; civic [...]

Tocqueville on America’s Colonial Experience & the Seeds of Democracy

By |2020-11-04T16:18:48-06:00November 4th, 2020|Categories: Alexis de Tocqueville, American Republic, Bradley J. Birzer, Democracy, Democracy in America, History, Senior Contributors|

As Alexis de Tocqueville’s writings demonstrate, despite its flaws and failings, America remains the best case study for the greatest successes of democracy. This success comes from the ability to integrate—to the point of inseparability—the love of religion and the love of liberty. Just as the continent of Europe was entering upon its phase of [...]

The Administrative Revolution & the End of Democracy

By |2020-10-07T07:14:07-05:00October 7th, 2020|Categories: Alexis de Tocqueville, American Republic, Civil Society, Constitution, Democracy, Democracy in America, Government, Great Books|

If Alexis de Tocqueville were alive today and observing the situation of America, he would probably not be surprised that the democratic ethos of civil society, the township, and the autonomous local county have been crushed by the royal prerogatives of the executive and the administrative bureaucracy built around it. Most Americans are somewhat familiar [...]

Tocqueville and a New Science of Politics

By |2020-09-14T11:33:29-05:00September 15th, 2020|Categories: Alexis de Tocqueville, American Republic, Bradley J. Birzer, Democracy, Democracy in America, Politics, Senior Contributors|

According to Tocqueville, a new political science must account for both the immediate and the universal, the moment and the eternal. When we fail to understand the choice that God has given us with democracy—that is, a science to guide, attenuate, and hone democracy—the baser instincts will rise to the fore. Tocqueville breaks his own [...]

Reflections on Tocqueville: The Pervasiveness of Equality

By |2020-08-31T14:44:00-05:00September 1st, 2020|Categories: Alexis de Tocqueville, American Republic, Bradley J. Birzer, Democracy, Democracy in America, Equality, Great Books, Senior Contributors|

To this day, though America has changed in size, shape, demographics, and technology, “Democracy in America” remains the single finest description of the American experiment. Introducing his work to the world, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote that nothing struck him more than the pervasiveness of the idea of equality in the United States. Alexis de Tocqueville [...]

A Restless Tocqueville

By |2021-04-27T20:15:09-05:00April 15th, 2020|Categories: Alexis de Tocqueville, Books, Bruce Frohnen, Liberalism, Peter A. Lawler, Philosophy, Politics|

At the heart of Alexis de Tocqueville’s thought lies the “restless mind”—a mind that sees the essence of humanity in the realization that each of us “dies alone” and that life is but a fleeting moment hedged in between the abysses of the pre-born and the dead. The Restless Mind: Alexis de Tocqueville on the [...]

A Reading of the Gettysburg Address

By |2021-04-27T20:21:10-05:00November 18th, 2019|Categories: Abraham Lincoln, Alexis de Tocqueville, American Republic, Civil War, Declaration of Independence, E.B., Eva Brann, In Honor of Eva Brann at 90 Series, St. John's College|

Liberal education ought to be less a matter of becoming well-read than a matter of learning to read well, of acquiring arts of awareness, the interpretative or “trivial” arts. Some works, written by men who are productive masters of these arts, are exemplary for their interpretative application. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is such a text. Liberal [...]

Leviathan, Inc.: Robert Nisbet & the Modern Nation-State

By |2020-09-08T15:47:21-05:00May 5th, 2019|Categories: Alexis de Tocqueville, American Republic, Bradley J. Birzer, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Robert Nisbet, Senior Contributors, Western Civilization|

Robert Nisbet feared that modern totalitarians had succeeded in undermining the very foundations of goodness, truth, and morality. They had not only redefined liberty as power, but they had transformed the modern political state into a secular church, exchanging real religion for civic religion, creating a “New Leviathan.” Like most Americans during the Great Depression, [...]

The Quest for Modern Conservatism

By |2019-04-04T12:04:08-05:00January 28th, 2018|Categories: Alexis de Tocqueville, Bradley J. Birzer, Community, Conservatism, Edmund Burke, History, Robert Nisbet, Russell Kirk|

The job of every conservative is twofold: First, he must fight tirelessly against the centralized, unitary state; second, he must do everything possible to promote that which makes the free society not just an ordered one, but a good one… Prior to the publication of Russell Kirk’s masterful The Conservative Mind in 1953, no real [...]

Not One of Us: Immigration, Equality, & the Common Good

By |2020-06-16T16:48:03-05:00January 16th, 2018|Categories: Alexis de Tocqueville, American Founding, Christianity, Conservatism, Democracy, Equality, Freedom of Religion, George Stanciu, History, St. John's College|

God unequally bestows gifts to us that are to be used for the common good. The wise can guide others; the well-organized can administer businesses that provide employment; the strong can protect the weak. With such an understanding, equality and a hierarchical social structure are not incompatible, but complement each other. My three children grew [...]

The Three Big Questions

By |2021-04-27T14:03:56-05:00November 18th, 2017|Categories: Alexis de Tocqueville, Aristotle, Art, Civil Society, Community, Culture, George Stanciu, Modernity, Religion, Science, St. Thomas Aquinas|

Members of democratic nations, especially Americans, have almost unlimited personal freedom because the constraints of class, local communities, and family have been greatly weakened. But we are also free to choose to step off the consumer treadmill, refuse to seek material success for us alone, and attempt to serve others, materially, emotionally, and spiritually. In [...]

Is a “Liberal Conservative” an Oxymoron?

By |2021-05-10T19:47:26-05:00November 1st, 2017|Categories: Alexis de Tocqueville, Conservatism, Featured, Freedom, Gleaves Whitney, History, Liberalism, Liberty, Politics, Russell Kirk, Stephen Tonsor series|

The liberal conservative must be discerning. For he believes in freedom as well as in order. He believes in individualism as well as in community. He believes in the equality of all men as well as in hierarchy, natural aristocracy, and excellence… After the trip to Washington, DC, where I thrilled at seeing the U.S. [...]

Cultural Obstacles to Dialogue

By |2021-04-29T09:56:28-05:00October 24th, 2017|Categories: Alexis de Tocqueville, Culture, Featured, George Stanciu, Socrates|

To engage in dialogue, we must be good listeners, seeking to hear an insight, perhaps fuzzily formulated and unclear even to the speaker, but nevertheless worthy of exploration. Every culture has its own conversational style that often inhibits genuine dialogue. In Japan, for instance, the division of scholars and scientists at universities and research institutes [...]

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