Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Alexis de Tocqueville

1805 – 1859 CE

Pioneering researcher into the conflicts between freedom and equality

French diplomat, historian, political scientist, and one of the founding theorists of sociology; de Tocqueville analyzed social conditions, living standards and the relationship of the individual to the state. Active in politics and strong proponent of political freedom, he traveled through the United States in an effort that produced one of the most influential books of the time—Democracy in America—as well as helping Europe transition from an aristocratic to a more democratic political order. Although the rallying cry of the revolutions he supported was “Freedom and Equality”, he described the conflict between the two and the need for balance. Pointing out the potential of a tyranny of the minority, the dangers of individualism, materialism, and majority rule leading to mediocrity; he predicted many of the social issues we grapple with today.


Unlisted Sources

Democracy in America (1835-9)

Democracy in America, 1835

Quotes by Alexis de Tocqueville (14 quotes)

“Democracy extends the sphere of individual freedom, socialism restricts it. Democracy attaches all possible value to each man; socialism makes each man a mere agent, a mere number. Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.”

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“Americans are so enamored of equality, they would rather be equal in slavery than unequal in freedom”

Themes: Equality

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“Nothing is more wonderful than the art of being free, but nothing is harder to learn how to use than freedom.”

Themes: Freedom

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“But one also finds in the human heart a depraved taste for equality, which impels the weak to want to bring the strong down to their level, and which reduces men to preferring equality in servitude to inequality in freedom”

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“when citizens are all almost equal, it becomes difficult for them to defend their independence against the aggressions of power. As none of them is strong enough to fight alone with advantage, the only guarantee of liberty is for everyone to combine forces.”

Themes: Power

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“A man's support for absolute government is in direct proportion to the contempt he feels for his country.”

Themes: Government

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“Men will not accept truth at the hands of their enemies, and truth is seldom offered to them by their friends”

Themes: Truth Enemy

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“Slavery...dishonors labor. It introduces idleness into society, and with idleness, ignorance and pride, luxury and distress. It enervates the powers of the mind and benumbs the activity of man.”

Themes: Slavery

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“Under wage labor, the art advances, the artisan declines.”

Themes: Livelihood

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“Those who regard universal suffrage as a guarantee for good choices are under a complete illusion. Universal suffrage has other advantages, but not that one.”

Themes: Illusion

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“Nothing is more necessary to the culture of the higher sciences, or of the more elevated departments of science, than meditation”

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“Men seldom take the opinion of their equal, or of a man like themselves, upon trust.”

from Democracy in America, 1835

Themes: Opinion

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“I can see the whole destiny of America contained in the first Puritan who landed on those shores,”

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“In democracies, nothing is more great or more brilliant than commerce: it attracts the attention of the public, and fills the imagination of the multitude; all energetic passions are directed toward it.”

from Democracy in America (1835-9)

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