de Tocqueville on the bases for Democracy In America

I already wrote my argument and I will attach the prompt below I just need a formulated thesis, for the overall paper to be reviewed and revised, and to answer the question if there is evidence of growing individualism in the US? The prompt is based of Democracy In America written by Alexis De Tocqueville Chapter VI Volume 2 “What sort of despotism democratic nations have to fear”Doesn’t have to be too long as long as it answers the prompt and criteria asked.


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Faghihi, Tina
Professor Ahrens
English 103
13 December, 2017
Final exam
In this chapter of Democracy in America, de Tocqueville talks about the danger of a
democratic despotism due to the individualistic and materialistic society he viewed in
Americans. Comparing the America we live in today compared to the American society and
government that de Tocqueville based his evaluation off of, I believe that de Tocqueville would
make some adjustments to his evaluation.
In the American society de Tocqueville saw an “age of instruction and equality”. The
sovereignty of the people and the power of public opinion were what made up equality for the
society he saw. For the people, if all are equal then no person has any right to claim rule over
another and de Tocqueville sees “how the customs of society become more humane and gentle in
proportion as men become more equal and alike”. However, Tocqueville noticed how this
tendency for equality could easily lead to democratic despotism. When the fortunes of the
society have been limited by democratic despotism, “the passions of men are naturally
circumscribed, their imagination limited, their pleasures simple”. The individualism of men is
limited, and this limit serves as a check of the “inordinate stretch” of their desires. For
democracy, there is always fear of majority overruling and becoming despotic and this was the
case back then and even today. De Tocqueville saw in American government that if there were
no checks on the power of the majority on the government, then the minority is “restrained from
acting” and at that point “the government is the shepherd.” However, Tocqueville recognized the
institutions in our American government that helped preserved liberty even with the despotic
tendencies he noticed. The judiciary system was provided the power to proclaim certain laws
unconstitutional, serving as a check on the “tyranny of the majority”. The judiciary system
allows for the rise of a local self government, which is important to allow citizens exercise their
liberty and prevent tyranny of the majority.
De Tocqueville viewed that democracy was in danger due to the individualism and
materialism of the society he viewed. De Tocqueville speculated that the reach of a democratic
despotic would be much extensive than any old tyranny. Tocqueville explains how the burdens
of the latter “fell most heavily on some” but, “never spread over a great number.” For De
Tocqueville, democratic despotism is more widespread. Tocqueville links individualism to
democratic despotism, saying how the individualism of men would be degraded “rather than
torment them.” Individualism contributes to the development of a despotic government because
if citizens become too individualistic then they will not bother to exercise their freedom and civic
duties.Tocqueville links the likelihood of despotism to materialism as well as materialism results
from the passion for equality which was present because people want to have just as much
wealth as everyone else. The effect of materialism has turned people away from using their
political freedom and has absorbed them to be so focused in their personal pursuit of wealth.
If de Tocqueville were alive today he would be optimistic to see many of the powers that
prevented individualism still present, such as our strong judicial system. Our judicial system
continues to allow people to exercise their liberty and be involved in the government, allowing
minorities to have a say and preventing the majority from tyrannizing the minority. However, De
Tocqueville would not be optimistic of the tendencies that lead to a democratic despotic such as
materialism. Today we live in a completely materialistic society where people are more focus on
pursuing and furthering their personal wealth than exercising their political powers. I think if de
Tocqueville were alive today he would revise his evaluation of the United States. I think today
when it comes down to liberty and equality, we fail to fulfill those two concepts to their true
value and although as a nation we claim that all people are “equal” and we have liberties
reserved for the people, we fail to do what we claim as a nation. In today’s America, there are
inequalities all over, especially when dealing with race and social classes. In the America we live
in today, minorities are underrepresented and given unequal and unfair treatment compared to
the white majority in this nation. When it comes to liberty, today we live in a nation that
disregards our personal freedoms, especially when it comes down to preferencing the voices of
the majority over the minority. Although de Tocqueville may have not feared the American
government we have today, de Tocqueville feared the so called “democratic” society currently
present in America.

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