Friday, November 24, 2006

De Tocqueville is De Man

[posted by Callimachus]

Hugh Brogan's new biography of de Tocqueville looks like a keeper, according to this review:

One is his insight that despotism has no dates, but can be ancient or modern, monarchical or democratic. The other is a conviction, shared with the ancient Greeks and Machiavelli, that good citizens matter more to free societies than good institutions. Tocquevillian liberals believe that governments should encourage better citizenship. Economics liberals distrust fiddling with markets, however worthy the goal. It is unsure if the two can be more than tactical allies.

In that last insight may lie a great deal of the difference between me and many people with whom I seem to share a worldview, but with whom I often end in disagreement.