The Reagan Speech Preservation Society

Alexis de Tocqueville

Modified: Tuesday, 10 March 2020 18:52 by admin - Uncategorized
Alexis de Tocqueville was a Frenchman, best known in the United States for a roughly 9-month tour in 1831 which helped him formulate, write and publish Democracy in America.


Speech Relevance

Reagan mentions de Tocqueville in his Great Myth of the Great Society speech in 1966 and in some of the radio commentaries.

From Great Myth of the Great Society:
The French philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville a hundred years ago said, "The end of freedom comes when the party in power learns it can perpetuate itself through taxation."
This quote has been attributed to, not just de Tocqueville, but several leading thinkers, but no evidence has been found of it in his writings.

To quote de Tocqueville again he warned that such a government would cover the face of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, and thus the will of man is not shattered, but softened and guided, until the nation is reduced to a flock of timid and industrious animals of which government is the shepherd.
This line is found in Democracy in America and is part of de Tocqueville's discussion on "soft despotism."

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