Tocqueville on Democracy

Tocqueville says that a great democratic revolution is taking place among all of us. The origin of this movement is the equality of conditions from which every other point of democracy issues. In the distant past, conditions were unequal with hereditary lordships and monarchies. Then, the clergy became a viable option for power. Later, the commoners began to enrich themselves through commerce while Kings and Lords wasted their wealth. As new routes for power are discovered, the value of birth declines. The nobles in their struggle against royal authority have given power to the people and vice-versa. Citizens began to own land and the wealth transfer steepened. If you examine every fifty years you cannot fail to perceive that the noble has fallen on the social ladder while the commoner has risen. This gradual development of equality of conditions is universal, enduring, each day it escapes human powers, and all men serve its development. But now ranks are confused; the barriers raised among men are lowered; estates are divided, power is partitioned, enlightenment spreads, intelligence is equalized; the social state becomes more democratic and finally the empire of democracy is peacefully established over all institutions and mores. Thus, in America where democracy prevails one sees a love of the equality of conditions. When Tocqueville looks at Europe he sees conditions equalizing and democracy taking over. Turns out, he was right.

Written by Rascal Nag