"Democracy extends the sphere of individual freedom, socialism restricts it.
Democracy attaches all possible value to each man;
socialism makes each man a mere agent, a mere number.
Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality.
But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty,
socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude."
Alexis de Tocqueville
[Alexis Charles Henri Maurice Clerel, le Comte de Tocqueville] (1805-1859) French historian
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Our Republic became a democracy, and has deteriorated to a congressional tyrany. Term limits would be a giant step toward our return to a Republic.
 -- Joel, Rochester, MI     
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    De Tocqueville was an idiot. All the quotes i've seen of his seem to show someone who just doesn't understand socialism. It threatened his way of life so he chose to condemn it and those who believe in it not on ideological grounds, or by illuminating any dialectic inconsistencies but by flinging infantile insults. This quote for example shows the extent of his shalow understanding. He tries to critisice socialism by comparing it to democracy which is a contradition because theoreticaly socialism is itself an extream form of democracy. What he is actualy doing is comparing his stunted understanding of socialism with westurn liberal capitalist, elitist democracy. But putting that in the quote wouldn't sound as good would it?
     -- Matthew Jewell, Salford, UK     
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    And this country and the UK are now ruled by socialists who, despite their idiocies, have not progressed beyond the limits imposed by their kindergarten political understanding - except for the schoolground ethic that 'might is right.'
     -- john-douglas, nassau     
  • 3
    Matt, just because he shows the bad side of socialism, does not make him an idiot. You're just mad that he dislikes your political idiology, so you insult him.
     -- Yndrd1984, Ames, IA     
    If only he were correct. He isn't, however. Democracy and socialism are very much compatible. Democracy is only a method of choosing leaders, it doesn't pertain to the quality of those elected officials.
     -- Devon, Edmonton, AB     
    Get ready, ladies and gentlemen, for you are about to have your freedoms restrained with the policies of the Obama administration. Never in my life have i witnessed us descending into socialism as i witness it now. And how is the "forced equality" paid for? Who picks up the bill for national health care, redistribution of wealth, or for those on the dole. You know whose backs its gonna fall on? THE WORKING CLASS. Congrats, you've now got equality! equality in restraint and servitude. YOU'RE NOW OWNED. And while i'm at it, two days ago--Feb 5, 2009, our "illustrious" new president released the mastermind of the USS Cole bombing. Russia is friendly with Chavez and Castro 2, and China is involved, though discreetly. Good luck, comrades. The country we knew is coming to an end. Kiss the last bit of freedoms goodbye. "CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN?" Get real.
     -- Bill, Chicago     
  • 2
    Democracy and socialism are the tyranny of the majority and the elite rulers. It speaks in terms of slaves and masters. Nothing worse than being a minority when the majority is greedy. America is going down the welfare-warfare path of destruction. Greed of the masses. Greed for power and control with the elite.
     -- Classical Liberal, MN     
  • 1
    Usually, de Tocqueville is very accurate. This time he missed it by a mile. Democracy does not extend the sphere of individual freedom or attach any value to a person but rather, by not recognizing any one individual i.e. recognizing only the herd / mob (the forest, not a tree) a democracy makes might right with no equality or liberty. His understanding of socialism is closer to the point.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    Two distinctions, very prevalent, Bastiat, as with Tocqueville, Bastiat separates, property from liberty, Tocqueville entwines democracy with " inalienable rights ". I do suspect the source text trusted, shows the difference of depth perception with both they and our Founding Fathers who clearly saw a separation from man to God in trust. The " way ". opening the matrix by God's law, one must give God his due praise. Just outside the garden in the, way, sits a Whore by the gate. Now God has made man upright, but there are many devices. Our founding fathers turned neither to the left or the right. That they and " we the people " may board onto, and have access into our Ship of Liberty. Therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God. The whole world is drunk with the whores wine, who would make merchandise of God's gift of Liberty.
     -- Ronw13, Yachats Or     
    Remember the time and place of the writing. France did throw off the yoke of monarchy, only to have the socialists steal the show once the dust cleared. "Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood" is the motto of the French, even today. Taken in context, democracy is considered 'liberty' compared to monarchy. De Tocqueville does touch upon the 'Equality' aspect -- he is comparing democracy in America with democracy in France.

    Mike, isn't the very title of the book 'Democracy in America' a misnomer as America is not a democracy? Note that is it democracy in America not American Democracy -- there is democracy in America, that is true, our republican form of government utilizes democratic processes as per the Constitution. Without getting caught up in the 'US is not a democracy', de Tocqueville is not really off here.

    Classic liberalism is different than progressive liberalism in the same way that de Tocqueville's 'democracy in America' is different than European socialist democracy. How they each define 'equality' determines whether the individual is considered his own master or subject to the dictates of the group.

    De Tocqueveille is correct in his comparison of equality, so 5 stars from me.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
    If anything, this quote may help Democrats who believe in Liberty more than the progressive liberalism that has taken over the party's agenda. Most American socialists DON'T KNOW THEY ARE SOCIALISTS! They think they are Democrats (or even Republicans).

    Quotes like this highlight the distinctions of 'equality' and 'rights' -- two terms that the libertarian and the socialist define differently. A representative democratic republic can be called 'democracy' -- maybe not A democracy, but democracy in action as a process. Of course, there are limits to what can be voted on, most everyone understands that. The definition of a 'republic' can be as varied as the definitions of a 'democracy' (communist republics come to mind). As long as the people call their government a 'democracy', we ought to make clear what the American definition of a democracy is.

    We are not going to get rid of the word 'democracy' -- so take ownership of it, don't make it a bad word, and keep clarifying the limits of 'Democracy in America.' ;-)
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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