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Posted: 5/26/2010 7:35:51 PM EDT
I'm only a few chapters into the first volume, but it seems like he got a great handle on the operation and intended functions of government here in the short time he was here.

Next on my list is John Locke's Two Treatises of Government. I wanted to pick up some Montesquieu as well, but couldn't afford to buy everything I wanted.


When the past no longer illuminates the future, the spirit walks in darkness.
Alexis de Tocqueville
Link Posted: 5/26/2010 7:36:53 PM EDT
It's a great read.  We read it over the summer for law school before a Legislation course and I soon found myself working the ideas and talking points into my papers and arguments.
Link Posted: 5/26/2010 7:42:41 PM EDT
When you consider that America was only a few decades old when de Tocqueville wrote this book, he showed a remarkable understanding not only of what America was and would become, but what would be our downfall

A democratic government is the only one in which those who vote for a tax can escape the obligation to pay it.
Link Posted: 5/26/2010 7:48:14 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Mclovin5-0:
When you consider that America was only a few decades old when de Tocqueville wrote this book, he showed a remarkable understanding not only of what America was and would become, but what would be our downfall

A democratic government is the only one in which those who vote for a tax can escape the obligation to pay it.


Jefferson was ahead of him in that. I don't remember the exact quote, but it was about large cities.

de Tocqueville confuses me somewhat since in many places he uses the word democracy, but it appears that he meant to refer to a republic, at least in the book I have.
Link Posted: 6/1/2010 8:24:01 PM EDT
"The mobs of great cities add just so much to support of pure government as sores do to the strength of the human body," Jefferson wrote.1 Though Jefferson partied in Paris and had a hand in shaping Washington D.C., he thought cities were dens of corruption and inequity that would spoil the young American republic.

He told James Madison: "I think our governments will remain virtuous for many centuries as long as they are chiefly agricultural; and this will be as long as there shall be vacant lands in any part of America. When they get plied upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, they will become corrupt as in Europe."
Link Posted: 6/1/2010 8:27:19 PM EDT
don't forget Edmund Burke and his "Reflections on the Revolutions in France".  Read part for a 19th-Century Europe class, bought a copy and haven't finished it yet.  He is considered to be the main
critic of democracy, supported constitutional monarchy in England during the 1800's.
Link Posted: 6/1/2010 8:40:08 PM EDT
A lot of these books are free from Project Gutenberg if you're willing to read them on your computer, iPad, or whatever. http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Main_Page
Link Posted: 6/1/2010 8:50:35 PM EDT
Originally Posted By SIPCAT-C:
"The mobs of great cities add just so much to support of pure government as sores do to the strength of the human body," Jefferson wrote.1 Though Jefferson partied in Paris and had a hand in shaping Washington D.C., he thought cities were dens of corruption and inequity that would spoil the young American republic.

He told James Madison: "I think our governments will remain virtuous for many centuries as long as they are chiefly agricultural; and this will be as long as there shall be vacant lands in any part of America. When they get plied upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, they will become corrupt as in Europe."


That is basically Frederick Jackson Turner's "Frontier Thesis" in a nutshell.
Link Posted: 6/1/2010 8:54:01 PM EDT
I read loads of this kind of stuff. Sounds like you're getting into the core of what you need to know about modern government in western states, at this point I'd like to recommend you start reading Marx and other like-minded fools. Knowing both sides of the theories and philosophies in government/politics is critical to smart debate. It annoys liberals immensely when you know more about their BS then they do. Dig in.
Link Posted: 6/1/2010 8:56:32 PM EDT



Originally Posted By SIPCAT-C:


"The mobs of great cities add just so much to support of pure government as sores do to the strength of the human body," Jefferson wrote.1 Though Jefferson partied in Paris and had a hand in shaping Washington D.C., he thought cities were dens of corruption and inequity that would spoil the young American republic.



He told James Madison: "I think our governments will remain virtuous for many centuries as long as they are chiefly agricultural; and this will be as long as there shall be vacant lands in any part of America. When they get plied upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, they will become corrupt as in Europe."


Guess I'm smart as them there fellers...cause large cities and their inhabitants are pretty much turd bowls.





 
Link Posted: 6/1/2010 9:15:28 PM EDT
Link Posted: 6/1/2010 10:41:11 PM EDT
The Law, by Frederic Bastiat is also worth reading.
Link Posted: 6/1/2010 11:20:01 PM EDT
Reading On Democracy in America really leaves one with a distaste for democracy.  After reading it alongside History of the Pelopponesian War by Thucydides any support that still remained (and it had really diminsed up to that point) for democracy on my part disappeared.  That we can see how right de Tocqueville was about many things only adds weight to his arguments.  His disliking of Andrew Jackson, who was the man who really made us a democracy, was very well placed.

One thng I would like to find out is which translation of the book is best.  The Everyman's edition seems pretty good.
Link Posted: 6/1/2010 11:21:41 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Forest:
Originally Posted By machinisttx:
I'm only a few chapters into the first volume, but it seems like he got a great handle on the operation and intended functions of government here in the short time he was here.

Next on my list is John Locke's Two Treatises of Government. I wanted to pick up some Montesquieu as well, but couldn't afford to buy everything I wanted.


When the past no longer illuminates the future, the spirit walks in darkness.
Alexis de Tocqueville


Has Montesquieu been translated into English?


Yes.  I have his "The Spirit of the Law."
Link Posted: 6/1/2010 11:36:29 PM EDT



Originally Posted By mcgredo:


A lot of these books are free from Project Gutenberg if you're willing to read them on your computer, iPad, or whatever. http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Main_Page


Bookmarked! Thanks mcgredo!




 
Link Posted: 6/2/2010 5:12:09 AM EDT
Originally Posted By bigstick61:
Reading On Democracy in America really leaves one with a distaste for democracy.  After reading it alongside History of the Pelopponesian War by Thucydides any support that still remained (and it had really diminsed up to that point) for democracy on my part disappeared.  That we can see how right de Tocqueville was about many things only adds weight to his arguments.  His disliking of Andrew Jackson, who was the man who really made us a democracy, was very well placed.

One thng I would like to find out is which translation of the book is best.  The Everyman's edition seems pretty good.


Are you critical of our democratic/republic or are you simply critical of a direct democracy? Clarification? I'm just curious where your frustration is aimed at.
Link Posted: 6/2/2010 9:47:04 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 6/2/2010 9:47:23 AM EDT by SIPCAT-C]
Originally Posted By swingset:

Originally Posted By SIPCAT-C:
"The mobs of great cities add just so much to support of pure government as sores do to the strength of the human body," Jefferson wrote.1 Though Jefferson partied in Paris and had a hand in shaping Washington D.C., he thought cities were dens of corruption and inequity that would spoil the young American republic.

He told James Madison: "I think our governments will remain virtuous for many centuries as long as they are chiefly agricultural; and this will be as long as there shall be vacant lands in any part of America. When they get plied upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, they will become corrupt as in Europe."

Guess I'm smart as them there fellers...cause large cities and their inhabitants are pretty much turd bowls.

 


In 1800, Jefferson summed up his views on cities: "I view great cities as pestilential to the morals, the health and the liberties of man. True, they nourish some of the elegant arts; but the useful ones can thrive elsewhere; and less perfection in the others, with more health, virtue and freedom, would be my choice."
Link Posted: 6/2/2010 9:49:12 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Flamicane:
Originally Posted By SIPCAT-C:
"The mobs of great cities add just so much to support of pure government as sores do to the strength of the human body," Jefferson wrote.1 Though Jefferson partied in Paris and had a hand in shaping Washington D.C., he thought cities were dens of corruption and inequity that would spoil the young American republic.

He told James Madison: "I think our governments will remain virtuous for many centuries as long as they are chiefly agricultural; and this will be as long as there shall be vacant lands in any part of America. When they get plied upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, they will become corrupt as in Europe."


That is basically Frederick Jackson Turner's "Frontier Thesis" in a nutshell.


One hundred years earlier than Turner, but yes, very similar observations.

By the way, KILLER, avatar.
Link Posted: 6/2/2010 9:59:11 AM EDT
when you get a chance, read john lockes second treatsie of govt.  it is a good basis for the philosophy used in those later writings.  
Link Posted: 6/2/2010 3:28:22 PM EDT
Originally Posted By satellite:
Originally Posted By bigstick61:
Reading On Democracy in America really leaves one with a distaste for democracy.  After reading it alongside History of the Pelopponesian War by Thucydides any support that still remained (and it had really diminsed up to that point) for democracy on my part disappeared.  That we can see how right de Tocqueville was about many things only adds weight to his arguments.  His disliking of Andrew Jackson, who was the man who really made us a democracy, was very well placed.

One thng I would like to find out is which translation of the book is best.  The Everyman's edition seems pretty good.


Are you critical of our democratic/republic or are you simply critical of a direct democracy? Clarification? I'm just curious where your frustration is aimed at.



I do include the form our government has taken, particularly during the 20th Century, in my criticism.  Direct democracy is not the only form of democracy, and our republic has taken the form of a representative democracy; this is even more the case for most of the State governments.  It is a terrible form of government, as it very much enables movements which lead us down the road to tyranny and we have been feeling many of its adverse effects for decades now, maybe even close to a century, but especially in the last 8 decades.  Many of de Tocueville's observations on our people and government have come to fruition, and they were not positive observations.  I do find it amazing how prescient the man was.
Link Posted: 6/2/2010 3:34:05 PM EDT
Originally Posted By bigstick61:
Originally Posted By satellite:
Originally Posted By bigstick61:
Reading On Democracy in America really leaves one with a distaste for democracy.  After reading it alongside History of the Pelopponesian War by Thucydides any support that still remained (and it had really diminsed up to that point) for democracy on my part disappeared.  That we can see how right de Tocqueville was about many things only adds weight to his arguments.  His disliking of Andrew Jackson, who was the man who really made us a democracy, was very well placed.

One thng I would like to find out is which translation of the book is best.  The Everyman's edition seems pretty good.


Are you critical of our democratic/republic or are you simply critical of a direct democracy? Clarification? I'm just curious where your frustration is aimed at.



I do include the form our government has taken, particularly during the 20th Century, in my criticism.  Direct democracy is not the only form of democracy, and our republic has taken the form of a representative democracy; this is even more the case for most of the State governments.  It is a terrible form of government, as it very much enables movements which lead us down the road to tyranny and we have been feeling many of its adverse effects for decades now, maybe even close to a century, but especially in the last 8 decades.  Many of de Tocueville's observations on our people and government have come to fruition, and they were not positive observations.  I do find it amazing how prescient the man was.


And your most suitable suggestion for the modern U.S. is what?
Link Posted: 6/2/2010 6:13:56 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Cypher15:
when you get a chance, read john lockes second treatsie of govt.  it is a good basis for the philosophy used in those later writings.  


+1

A lot of the ideas Jefferson worked into the Declaration originated in that work.
Link Posted: 6/2/2010 6:15:01 PM EDT
Originally Posted By satellite:
Originally Posted By bigstick61:
Originally Posted By satellite:
Originally Posted By bigstick61:
Reading On Democracy in America really leaves one with a distaste for democracy.  After reading it alongside History of the Pelopponesian War by Thucydides any support that still remained (and it had really diminsed up to that point) for democracy on my part disappeared.  That we can see how right de Tocqueville was about many things only adds weight to his arguments.  His disliking of Andrew Jackson, who was the man who really made us a democracy, was very well placed.

One thng I would like to find out is which translation of the book is best.  The Everyman's edition seems pretty good.


Are you critical of our democratic/republic or are you simply critical of a direct democracy? Clarification? I'm just curious where your frustration is aimed at.



I do include the form our government has taken, particularly during the 20th Century, in my criticism.  Direct democracy is not the only form of democracy, and our republic has taken the form of a representative democracy; this is even more the case for most of the State governments.  It is a terrible form of government, as it very much enables movements which lead us down the road to tyranny and we have been feeling many of its adverse effects for decades now, maybe even close to a century, but especially in the last 8 decades.  Many of de Tocueville's observations on our people and government have come to fruition, and they were not positive observations.  I do find it amazing how prescient the man was.


And your most suitable suggestion for the modern U.S. is what?


A regimen mixtum, which entails various parts/branches of government to include a divided legislature, which derive their power or authority from different sources so that they may serve as checks upon each other to create a tension or balance of power.  We do not have this now, but this is exactly what the Founders created in the original/early constitution.  All three branches were separate and had different sources of power, while also all being able to check the actions of the other.  While the branches can still for the most part check each other, their sources of power are fairly similar, i.e the people.  Traditionally this form of government has had a monarch as the head of state, but the Founders, while seriously contemplating creating a monarchy, created a republican version of such a government.

This form has many advantages over democratic government in that it is very hard to consolidate power and to expand powers.  Any teempt results in a check by another group which could stand to be adversely affected by this.  It is the best way to maintain a limited government, which in turn is the most conducive to having a liberal government, i.e. one which proteccts and respects rights and freedom.  Federalism makes it even better, and the Founders incorporated this as well; in practice, we are not really that federal anymore.  Consolidation of power is dangerous.
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