Thursday, August 11, 2011

Tocqueville: The Social Theory God Wants, Not What I Want

My annual Theory Camp is reading Tocqueville's Democracy in America.

Tocqueville the liberty-loving aristocrat works very hard to appreciate the value of equality. Throughout the book he makes the claim that democracy is a better form of social organization than aristocracy because democracy reduces many great harms for the mass of people, even at the cost of limiting some of the excellences achieved by the best.

At the end of the book he raises the stakes for this argument, by arguing that God favors equality.

“It is natural to believe that what is most satisfying to the eye of man’s creator and keeper is not the singular prosperity of a few but the greater well-being of all: what seems decadence to me is therefore progress in his eyes; what pains me pleases him. Equality is less lofty, perhaps, but more just, and its justice is the source of its grandeur and beauty.”

The spectacle of Tocqueville wrestling to subordinate his class prejudice to his theological conviction is a fine example of the distinctive virtues of a religious social theory.

1 comment:

Mr. Mcgranor said...

Then the 'aristocracy' of liberty must fall -- for the g-d of socialism.