Monday, August 2, 2010

Great Speeches - Alexis de Tocqueville

This is a departure from the regular Saturday post in that it is not Saturday, it is not a speech and it does not come from an American - in fact, oh, the horror, it comes from a French political thinker and historian who also happened to be a very astute observer of American society in the 19th century. He published Democracy in America in two volumes in the mid-1800's (Volume 1 in 1835 and 2 in 1840). The below comment is from an unpublished scrap of paper in his notes and describes the moral strength that comes from limited government.

One of the happiest consequences of the absence of government (when a people is fortunate enough to be able to do without it, which is rare) is the development of individual strength that inevitably follows from it. Each man learns to think, to act for himself, without counting on the support of an outside force which, however vigilant one supposes it to be, can never answer all social needs. Man, thus accustomed to seek his well-being only through his own efforts, raises himself in his own opinion as he does in the opinion of others; his soul becomes larger and stronger at the same time.

WOW! That sounds like it could have come from a Ronald Reagan speech.

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