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"After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small, complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd."
Alexis de Tocqueville (more quotes by Alexis de Tocqueville or books by/about Alexis de Tocqueville)
[Alexis Charles Henri Maurice Clerel, le Comte de Tocqueville] (1805-1859) French historian
Democracy in America, Volume II (1840), Book Four, Chapter VI
Government, Power, Legislation, Uniformity, Society, Law, Servitude, Oppression, Corruption