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Democracy in America

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by , July 15th, 2017 at 01:34 AM (225 Views)
Between the ongoing Alt-Right and 2nd Amendment-related discussions going on CC right now, I would like to recommend one great book to the community at large-

De Tocqueville's Democracy in America.

Alexis De Tocqueville was a French civil servant and aristocrat who was granted a trip to the US to observe and report on our justice system and prisons in the 1830's.

De Tocqueville was young and ambitious, and full of ideas. He went above and beyond the call of duty and composed a report on America's culture, society, and government This report is Democracy in America.

He touches everything. And as such makes missteps here and there, but there is no better place to start if you want to understand what makes the American way distinctive and from where and what that American way arose.

The Americans on the forum would benefit from learning this aspect of their own history and reflect on how and why things have changed. It may also bring more humility and understanding when a foreigner quibbles on a certain point.

That and when De Tocqueville disagrees with or criticizes the American way. His disagreements are typically well-founded, but expressed with a degree of respect and recognition that no way is perfect.

As much as Americans would love and have loved this book, Non-Americans would, I suspect, stand to gain more from reading it. You, as it were, are De Tocqueville's intended audience.

Those things that make America distinctive are highlighted very well. The things that likely frustrate you will be given better context and you may even find points of agreement.

A lot of arguments between Westerners and particularly between Anglophonic peoples are couched in a very polarizing mentality. If someone stands on the opposite side of a social argument they are often considered ignorant at best, stupid at a median, or evil at the absolute worst.
We are too quick to forget that a lot of our points of contrast are, in fact, competing virtues. That there is not perfect system. That there is a cost and benefit to every action, especially in the realm of governance.

De Tocqueville was not perfect, but reading him can at least reacquaint us with that reality. So I hope you pick him up!
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  1. Galatea's Avatar
    Thanks for the book review, I have not read it, but intend to read it.
    Desdichado likes this.
  2. Desdichado's Avatar
    I suspect you would like it given your broad social knowledge. It would fire a lot of synapses.