Jerry Raviol's Reviews > Democracy in America

Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville
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Oct 03, 2007

really liked it
Read in September, 2007

I read this in response to my frustration with what I saw as our inability to bring democracy to other places in the world. Chapters 1-42 and 55 - 57 are the most insightful. Others tend to drag. In 1830s de Tocqueville comes to America to figure our why a democratic revolution in France lead to anarchy and despotism, while a democratic revolution in America lead to freedom. What he finds is still relevant to our trying to bring or give democracy to others.

Two things emerge- first there were many natural advantages that America had that the French or any other European nation would never have the good fortune to posses. Other places in the world seeking democracy similarly lacks these natural advantages today. Second and more to the point - regardless of your natural advantages - you cannot "give" democratic institutions to a society that has no practical experience with democracy. Democratic society must precede democratic governments if the institutions are to succeed. If you want to move to democratic governments you must begin with a government that provides order, and begin change on the social level.

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07/24 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Don Incognito (new)

Don Incognito Fascinating.


Jerry Raviol Wow Josh I had forgotten I wrote this way back in 2007. Back then I began using goodreads as a way to add some discipline to my reading habits and make sure that I spent the time to think harder about what I was reading. Thanks for waking me back up to this. I now plan to start writing more reviews. FYI - got to be into "political science" rather than "politics" to enjoy de Tocqueville. When you get done reading the book you may come to see how foreign wars that for reasons of politics must be couched in terms of brining democracy to others, must fail to achieve this goal. So when politicians appeal to our good moral values of bringing democracy to others as a tactic to sustain support for wars that are taking too long to achieve other goals, they have set up another goal that cannot be achieved. In most cases sustaining war support by appeals to spreading democracy ends up being a stalling tactic that adds an unachievable goal to the war effort.


message 3: by Don Incognito (new)

Don Incognito "Being into 'political science' rather than 'politics'"? That's probably me. I have mostly stopped reading current issues books and political nonfiction, but plan to read Democracy in America, The Wealth of Nations, The Federalist, the Anti-Federalist [Papers], and John Taylor's New Views on the Constitution of the United States. I've already read the major works of Edmund Burke, and I'm working through John Adams off and on.


Jerry Raviol Read and enjoyed all that stuff when I was in college. Got degrees in Poli Sci and Economics long long ago. Now I study that stuff for fun and work real estate for a living. Recently read Gulliver’s Travels. Although it makes good cartoons, it is not a kids book. It is political commentary from the age of enlightenment. The aristocracy gets skewered. If you want to know what I think about real estate check out my blog www.athomeaz.com. Well good reading to you. I’m back to the work a day world.


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