Tocqueville Anticipates the Nanny State

9 posts

Bronze Age Pervert

Tocqueville on the nanny state, the state of the Last Man, or as some like to say, the possibility of the managerial state:


When was this written?

Bronze Age Pervert
This is from volume 2 of Democracy in America, published 1840. He based it on observations of America in the early 1830's...

Wayyyy ahead of his time.

Bronze Age Pervert
Yes, much like Nietzsche on similar subjects...this is why I'm very skeptical of theories that attribute modern degeneracy to other things...Tocqueville and Nietzsche predicted how things would turn out way ahead of when they did, so I think there's every reason to also believe their WHY...
Bob Dylan Roof

I will reply to this later, but for now I will post more prescient quotes from the Tocqueville, 1835.

There are, at the present time, two great nations in the world which seem to tend towards the same end, although they started from different points: I allude to the Russians and the Americans. Both of them have grown up unnoticed; and whilst the attention of mankind was directed elsewhere, they have suddenly assumed a most prominent place amongst the nations; and the world learned their existence and their greatness at almost the same time.

All other nations seem to have nearly reached their natural limits, and only to be charged with the maintenance of their power; but these are still in the act of growth; r4 all the others are stopped, or continue to advance with extreme difficulty; these are proceeding with ease and with celerity along a path to which the human eye can assign no term. The American struggles against the natural obstacles which oppose him; the adversaries of the Russian are men; the former combats the wilderness and savage life; the latter, civilization with all its weapons and its arts: the conquests of the one are therefore gained by the ploughshare; those of the other by the sword. The Anglo-American relies upon personal interest to accomplish his ends, and gives free scope to the unguided exertions and common-sense of the citizens; the Russian centres all the authority of society in a single arm: the principal instrument of the former is freedom; of the latter servitude. Their starting-point is different, and their courses are not the same; yet each of them seems to be marked out by the will of Heaven to sway the destinies of half the glo be.
Bronze Age Pervert

Tocqueville on the tyranny of democratic opinion. I will try to post later more about what he thinks the roots of this are:

Niccolo and Donkey

How will you tie this into Nietzsche? Most everyone here shares your thoughts and criticisms in respect to the Managerial State, but please do put this into greater context if you can.

Bronze Age Pervert
It is not hard to make a connection to Nietzsche but I'll leave this for a future post. For now it is important to say that Tocqueville unlike Nietzsche did not believe that these developments were inevitable in a democracy. Indeed Tocqueville is arguably a defender of democracy and believes that it is God's providential plan for mankind and that nothing can stand in its way. His main concern is to see if it possible to preserve liberty in a democracy. In this he is unusual for his time and especially for ours, when people simply assume that liberty and equality are synonymous.

Tocqueville saw the American regime as motivated by one principle, equality, and sought to see the reflection of this principle in all of its institutions and mores. He believed that individualism tended to make men retreat to their private lives, so that a sort of benevolent nanny govt. almost inevitably was allowed to creep as men abandoned public spiritedness. This devolution to the private sphere also went hand-in-hand with a creeping mediocrity. But Tocqueville believed certain things, like local political organizations helped to work against these trends and taught the political art to democratic men.

For Tocqueville, however, individualism properly understood is anti-individual, it is a form of democratic sheepishness in which each man considers himself interchangeable with every other (the abstract "individual") and combined with other features of democratic society in fact leads to very timid creatures who always look around before taking up any opinion.