The Making of Tocqueville s America

Author: Kevin Butterfield
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 9780226297118
Release Date: 2015-11-19
Genre: History

Alexis de Tocqueville was among the first to draw attention to Americans’ propensity to form voluntary associations—and to join them with a fervor and frequency unmatched anywhere in the world. For nearly two centuries, we have sought to understand how and why early nineteenth-century Americans were, in Tocqueville’s words, “forever forming associations.” In The Making of Tocqueville’s America, Kevin Butterfield argues that to understand this, we need to first ask: what did membership really mean to the growing number of affiliated Americans? Butterfield explains that the first generations of American citizens found in the concept of membership—in churches, fraternities, reform societies, labor unions, and private business corporations—a mechanism to balance the tension between collective action and personal autonomy, something they accomplished by emphasizing law and procedural fairness. As this post-Revolutionary procedural culture developed, so too did the legal substructure of American civil society. Tocqueville, then, was wrong to see associations as the training ground for democracy, where people learned to honor one another’s voices and perspectives. Rather, they were the training ground for something no less valuable to the success of the American democratic experiment: increasingly formal and legalistic relations among people.

The Making of Tocqueville s Democracy in America

Author: James T. Schleifer
ISBN: 0865972044
Release Date: 2000
Genre: Philosophy

It is impossible fully to understand the American experience apart from Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America. Moreover, it is impossible fully to appreciate Tocqueville by assuming that he brought to his visitation to America, or to the writing of his great work, a fixed philosophical doctrine. James T. Schleifer documents where, when, and under what influences Tocqueville wrote different sections of his work. In doing so, Schleifer discloses the mental processes through which Tocqueville passed in reflecting on his experiences in America and transforming these reflections into the most original and revealing book ever written about Americans. For the first time the evolution of a number of Tocqueville's central themes—democracy, individualism, centralization, despotism—emerges into clear relief. As Russell B. Nye has observed, "Schleifer's study is a model of intellectual history, an account of the intertwining of a man, a set of ideas, and the final product, a book." The Liberty Fund second edition includes a new preface by the author and an epilogue, "The Problem of the Two Democracies." James T. Schleifer is Professor of History and Director of the Gill Library at the College of New Rochelle

The Chicago Companion to Tocqueville s Democracy in America

Author: James T. Schleifer
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 9780226737058
Release Date: 2012-04-02
Genre: History

One of the greatest books ever to be written on the United States, Democracy in America continues to find new readers who marvel at the lasting insights Alexis de Tocqueville had into our nation and its political culture. The work is, however, as challenging as it is important; its arguments can be complex and subtle, and its sheer length can make it difficult for any reader, especially one coming to it for the first time, to grasp Tocqueville’s meaning. The Chicago Companion to Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America” is the first book written expressly to help general readers and students alike get the most out of this seminal work. Now James T. Schleifer, an expert on Tocqueville, has provided the background and information readers need in order to understand Tocqueville’s masterwork. In clear and engaging prose, Schleifer explains why Democracy in America is so important, how it came to be written, and how different generations of Americans have interpreted it since its publication. He also presents indispensable insight on who Tocqueville was, his trip to America, and what he meant by equality, democracy, and liberty. Drawing upon his intimate knowledge of Tocqueville’s papers and manuscripts, Schleifer reveals how Tocqueville’s ideas took shape and changed even in the course of writing the book. At the same time, Schleifer provides a detailed glossary of key terms and key passages, all accompanied by generous citations to the relevant pages in the University of Chicago Press Mansfield/Winthrop translation. The Chicago Companion will serve generations of readers as an essential guide to both the man and his work.

Tocqueville between Two Worlds

Author: Sheldon S. Wolin
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 1400824796
Release Date: 2009-02-09
Genre: Philosophy

Alexis de Tocqueville may be the most influential political thinker in American history. He also led an unusually active and ambitious career in French politics. In this magisterial book, one of America's most important contemporary theorists draws on decades of research and thought to present the first work that fully connects Tocqueville's political and theoretical lives. In doing so, Sheldon Wolin presents sweeping new interpretations of Tocqueville's major works and of his place in intellectual history. As he traces the origins and impact of Tocqueville's ideas, Wolin also offers a profound commentary on the general trajectory of Western political life over the past two hundred years. Wolin proceeds by examining Tocqueville's key writings in light of his experiences in the troubled world of French politics. He portrays Democracy in America, for example, as a theory of discovery that emerged from Tocqueville's contrasting experiences of America and of France's constitutional monarchy. He shows us how Tocqueville used Recollections to reexamine his political commitments in light of the revolutions of 1848 and the threat of socialism. He portrays The Old Regime and the French Revolution as a work of theoretical history designed to throw light on the Bonapartist despotism he saw around him. Throughout, Wolin highlights the tensions between Tocqueville's ideas and his activities as a politician, arguing that--despite his limited political success--Tocqueville was ''perhaps the last influential theorist who can be said to have truly cared about political life.'' In the course of the book, Wolin also shows that Tocqueville struggled with many of the forces that constrain politics today, including the relentless advance of capitalism, of science and technology, and of state bureaucracy. He concludes that Tocqueville's insights and anxieties about the impotence of politics in a ''postaristocratic'' era speak directly to the challenges of our own ''postdemocratic'' age. A monumental new study of Tocqueville, this is also a rich and provocative work about the past, the present, and the future of democratic life in America and abroad.

Parrot and Olivier in America

Author: Peter Carey
Publisher: Random House Canada
ISBN: 9780307358363
Release Date: 2010-04-20
Genre: Fiction

From the two-time Booker Prize-winning author: an irrepressible, audacious, trenchantly funny new novel set in the 19th century and inspired in part by the life of Alexis de Tocqueville. With dazzling exuberance and all the richness of characterization, story, and language that we have come to expect from this superlative writer, Peter Carey explores the birth of democracy, the limits of friendship and whether people really can remake themselves in a New World. The two men at the heart of the novel couldn't be any more different: Olivier is the son of French aristocrats who (barely) survived the French Revolution. Parrot is the motherless son of an itinerate English printer. But when young Parrot is separated from his father (after a stupendous conflagration at a house of forgery) he runs into the powerful embrace of a one-armed marquis who will be his conduit - like it or not - into a life as closely (mis)allied with Olivier's as if they were connected by blood. And when Olivier sets sail for America - ostensibly to make a study of the American penal system, but more precisely to save his neck from the latest guillotineurs - Parrot, unable to loosen the Marquis's grip, is there too: as spy, scribe, comptroller, protector, foe and foil. As the narrative unfurls, shifting between the perspectives of Olivier and Parrot, between their picaresque adventures apart and together, in love and politics, prisons and finance, homelands and brave new lands - a most unlikely friendship begins to take hold. From the Hardcover edition.

Tocqueville in Arabia

Author: Joshua Mitchell
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 9780226087450
Release Date: 2013-08-27
Genre: Political Science

The Arab Spring, with its calls for sweeping political change, marked the most profound popular uprising in the Middle East for generations. But if the nascent democracies born of these protests are to succeed in the absence of a strong democratic tradition, their success will depend in part on an understanding of how Middle Easterners view themselves, their allegiances to family and religion, and their relationship with the wider world in which they are increasingly integrated. Many of these same questions were raised by Alexis de Tocqueville during his 1831 tour of America, itself then a rising democracy. Joshua Mitchell spent years teaching Tocqueville’s classic account, Democracy in America, in America and the Arab Gulf and, with Tocqueville in Arabia, he offers a profound personal take. One of the reasons for the book’s widespread popularity in the region is that its commentary on the challenges of democracy and the seemingly contradictory concepts of equality and individuality continue to speak to current debates. While Mitchell’s American students tended to value the individualism of commercial self-interest, his Middle Eastern students had grave doubts about individualism and a deep suspicion for capitalism, which they saw as risking the destruction of long-held loyalties and obligations. When asked about suffering, American students answered in psychological or sociological terms, while Middle Eastern students understood it in terms of religion. Mitchell describes modern democratic man as becoming what Tocqueville predicted: a “distinct kind of humanity” that would be increasingly isolated and alone. Whatever their differences, students in both worlds were grappling with a sense of disconnectedness that social media does little to remedy. We live in a time rife with mutual misunderstandings between America and the Middle East, and Tocqueville in Arabia offers a guide to the present, troubled times, leavened by the author’s hopes about the future.

Letters from America

Author: Alexis de Tocqueville
Publisher: Yale University Press
ISBN: 9780300153835
Release Date: 2010-01-01

Young Alexis de Tocqueville arrived in the United States for the first time in May 1831, commissioned by the French government to study the American prison system. For the next nine months he and his companion, Gustave de Beaumont, traveled and observe

The Art of Being Free

Author: James Poulos
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 9781250134042
Release Date: 2017-01-17
Genre: Political Science

Most of us probably don’t learn about Alexis de Tocqueville in school anymore, but his masterpiece, Democracy in America, is still surprisingly resonant. When he came to America in 1831 to study our great political experiment, he puzzled over our strange struggles with religion and politics, work and money, sex and gender, and love and death. Clearly we haven’t come as far as one might hope. But it wasn’t all doom and gloom—and it isn’t now. Tocqueville didn’t just catalog our problems; he provided a manual on how to flourish despite them. In The Art of Being Free, journalist and scholar James Poulos puts Tocqueville’s advice to work for a contemporary audience, showing us how to live sane, healthy, and happy lives amid our hectic, shifting world. Poulos reveals what Tocqueville’s beloved study tells us about everything from our relationship to technology and our obsession with appearances to our workaholism, our listlessness, and our ways of coping with stress. He explores how our uniquely American malaise can be alleviated—not by the next wellness fad or self-help craze, but by the kind of fearless inventory-taking that has fallen out of fashion.

Tocqueville and the Nature of Democracy

Author: Pierre Manent
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
ISBN: 0847681165
Release Date: 1996
Genre: Political Science

One of France's leading and most controversial political thinkers explores the central themes of Tocqueville's writings: the democratic revolution and the modern passion for equality. What becomes of people when they are overcome by this passion and how does it transform the contents of life? Pierre Manent's analysis concludes that the growth of state power and the homogenization of society are two primary consequences of equalizing conditions. The author shows the contemporary relevance of Tocqueville's teaching: to love democracy well, one must love it moderately. Manent examines the prophetic nature of Tocqueville's writings with breadth, clarity, and depth. His findings are both timely and highly relevant as people in Eastern Europe and around the world are grappling with the fragile, complicated, and frequently contradictory nature of democracy. This book is essential reading for students and scholars of political theory and political philosophy, as well as general readers interested in the nature of modern democracy.

Writings on Empire and Slavery

Author: Alexis de Tocqueville
Publisher: JHU Press
ISBN: 0801865093
Release Date: 2001
Genre: History

After completing his research for Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville turned to the French consolidation of its empire in North Africa, which he believed deserving of similar attention. Tocqueville began studying Algerian history and culture, making two trips to Algeria in 1841 and 1846. He quickly became one of France's foremost experts on the country and wrote essays, articles, official letters, and parliamentary reports on such diverse topics as France's military and administrative policies in North Africa, the people of the Maghrib, his own travels in Algeria, and the practice of Islam. Throughout, Tocqueville consistently defended the French imperial project, a position that stands in tension with his admiration for the benefits of democracy he witnessed in America. Although Tocqueville never published a book-length study of French North Africa, his various writings on the subject provide as invaluable a portrait of French imperialism as Democracy in America does of the Early Republic period in American history. In Writings on Empire and Slavery, Jennifer Pitts has selected and translated nine of his most important dispatches on Algeria, which offer startling new insights into both Tocqueville's political thought and French liberalism's attitudes toward the political, military, and moral aspects of France's colonial expansion. The volume also includes six articles Tocqueville wrote during the same period calling for the emancipation of slaves in France's Caribbean colonies.

Ku Klux Kulture

Author: Felix Harcourt
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 9780226376158
Release Date: 2017-11-22
Genre: History

Felix Harcourt examines the cultural life of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s, revealing how deeply the racist and hate-filled organization was embedded in American life. The Klan owned radio stations, newspapers, sports teams, and more, and its members were more engaged than the average American with popular songs, movies, plays, and literature. Harcourt shows how the Klan's ideology became subsumed in sunnier popular portrayals, and in the process he challenges prevailing depictions of the 1920s, which may be best understood not as the Jazz Age or the Age of Prohibition but as the Age of the Klan.

Tocqueville s Nightmare

Author: Daniel R. Ernst
Publisher: Oxford University Press (UK)
ISBN: 9780199920860
Release Date: 2014
Genre: History

De Tocqueville once wrote that 'insufferable despotism' would prevail if America ever acquired a national administrative state. Between 1900 and 1940, radicals created vast bureaucracies that continue to trample on individual freedom. Ernst shows, to the contrary, that the nation's best corporate lawyers were among the creators of 'commission government'; that supporters were more interested in purging government of corruption than creating a socialist utopia; and that the principles of individual rights, limited government, and due process were designed into the administrative state.