De Tocqueville on Equality and Individualism - RR144Q29

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Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: 29. De Toqueville on Equality & Individualism
Course: Course - American History to 1865
Subject: Subject:History
Lesson#: 29
Length: 0:46:43
TapeCode: RR144Q29
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
American History to 1865(10).jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission

Continuing now our analysis of De Tocqueville, De Tocqueville in Book two of his second volume declares that democracy leads to a preference for equality over liberty. Moreover, equality can destroy liberty. Freedom does not require a democratic society or structure. A man can be free under other kinds of governmental structures.

Moreover, equality is not necessarily realizable simply because men desire it. Wanting equality doesn’t produce it. However there is an advantage to equality as far as the political order is concerned, when equality becomes a political goal, achievement of it can in some measure be instantaneous. You can wipe out all the wealthy men by passing a law confiscating everything, and you can then reduce them to an equality. Within a matter of a short time, Lenin reduced the people of Soviet Russia to equality. By ordering the massive execution of all of the Aristocrats, of all of the nobility and of large numbers of the middle class and military officers.

There was instant equality. Britain by a process of confiscation after World War two introduced a considerable measure of instant equality. On the other hand he pointed out, Liberty has its advantages manifested only after a long period of time. A slave who is a slave may have certain advantages. He has security, as far as food, shelter, clothing and the future is concerned. He has social security. On the other hand, if the slave is freed, the disadvantages of liberty are more manifest for a considerable length of time than any advantages. Because the first thing that hits him with liberty is the penalty of liberty, the liabilities of liberty.

Because the advantages of equality are so readily discernible, and those of liberty so slowly discernible, equality and democracy becomes very readily a political and a social goal. The mob wants immediate results, and the demand for liberty produces it.

So De Tocqueville commented and I quote: “I think the democratic communities have a natural taste for freedom, but themselves, they will seek it, cherish it and view any privation of it with regret. But for equality their passion is ardent, insatiable, incessant, invincible. They call for equality and freedom, if they cannot attain that they still call for equality in slavery. They will endure poverty, servitude, barbarism, but they will not endure aristocracy. This is true at all times, and especially true in our time. All men and all power seeking to cope with this irresistible passion, will be overthrown and destroyed by it. In our age freedom cannot be established without it, and despotism itself cannot reign without support.” [00:03:57]

This is a very telling passage

This is a very telling passage. I recall some years ago reading a book about the Soviet Union and the Russian Revolution, and then also talking with a European who had travelled in the Soviet Union, and who spoke Russian quit fluently. Europeans are not subjected to quite the same suspicion as Americans, and coming as he did from a small European country, he was not particularly a threat, as an American or a Britisher might be regarded as being. Now this book and this traveler alike pointed to a common fact. The Russian peasant, the Russian working man looked back with grief at what he had done in the Russian Revolution. When the Soviet regime overthrew Kerensky’s government, he had been incited too and earlier had been also urged to participate in the destruction of the nobility and of the middle classes, of the manufacturers.

Why? ‘The land will be divided, the wealth will be divided, and you will get it. And nobody will be better than yourself.’ The result was, indeed, in the name of equality, he allowed himself to become party to a movement which led to the destruction of the old order. And then indeed he found equality in slavery. De Tocqueville’s point, thus, is a very important one.

De Tocqueville then goes on with a study of individualism. Now this is a very interesting point, that the translator found it necessary here at this point, to add a foot note, explaining what the word individualism means, pointing out that it was a word unfamiliar with Americans, and that instead of trying to find a word to translate it since he had none, he was simply going to use the French word, Individualism, in English. Now this may seem surprising, prior to De Tocqueville we had no such word as individualism? No, we did not. We have come to think of Individualism as something highly American, as something that always existed. But we find that De Tocqueville more or less coined a French word, and now it has become a very much accepted one. [00:06:44]

Why was it that individualism was not known prior to

Why was it that individualism was not known prior to this time? The answer is that man was not seen in terms of himself. This was a new fact. De Tocqueville here was particularly brilliant, his chapter is: Of Individualism in a Democratic Country. He saw what was happening as a result of democracy, a very ugly and dangerous prediction. Previously instead of being known as an individual, being known in terms of yourself, you see, the concept of autonomous man, the idea was not of autonomous man, no such principle as that of autonomous man was recognized. But this was a logical conclusion… [Tape Skips] …De Carte, of modern philosophy. Previously you would be known as, well, a Thoburn, or a Plannigan, or you would be described as well, a inister of the Munston Hill Presbyterian Church. You would be recognized thus in terms of your family, or of your calling--- you would be a printer, a writer, a gold smith, and you would be identified in relationship to other persons, you would be Lord Baltimore’s Agent, or you would be identified as a close friend of so and so. You were understood in terms of a context, not just in terms of yourself.

Now this of course is a radically different perspective on man. A man belongs to a community, he belongs to a family, he belongs to a context. And in those days it was more common therefore, for, say, someone to be disowned. You see as a person, you were largely identified in terms of your association, your connection, your relationship. We read today, but it’s only in fiction of those days… [Tape Skips] black sheep of the family and of being disowned. …[Tape Skips] That kind of a joke from (Melladroughtie?)

Since you represented the family, if you failed to represent it, the family disowned you. We don’t have this today except among one group. Does anyone know what this group might be? The Orthodox Jews, yes. Among the Orthodox Jews, if a son disgraces them, if they feel his course of action is shameful and an abandonment of the faith, and is hopelessly beyond what they consider tolerable, they read the service of the dead over him in the Pentateuch, and then they will say: “We have no more a son.” Or a daughter. He or she is dead. They will not recognize his existence, they will tell everyone: “Our son is dead.” Or, our daughter is dead. SO that that person no longer is to be identified in terms of them. But of course that’s an anachronism now, since individualism has taken over. [00:10:25]

[Tape Skips] Cry of youth in our day

[Tape Skips] Cry of youth in our day: “I want to be myself.” Now that is (extentialism?) the logical conclusion of Cartesian philosophy, of De Carte. In (exis?) man is to understand [Tape Skips] In total isolation from his family, his heredity, any religious training or teaching, or his country, or his teachers, or his community. And he is to define himself in terms of his own lusts and appetites and desires. And so, under existentialism you do have, indeed, individualism. “I want to be myself.”

Now, De Tocqueville says and I quote: “Aristocratic institutions have the effect of closely binding every man to several of his fellow citizens. Aristocracy had made a chain of all the members of a community, from the peasant to the king. Democracy breaks that chain and severs every link of it.”

Now by Aristocracy he meant everything from a landed aristocracy as in some of the countries of Europe, to a situation where as in colonial America, one man was an outstanding citizen, Squire Jones, everybody tipped their hat when he went down the street, “Good morning Squire Jones”, and because of his position there was a prestige to what he did and everything that was attached to him, and there were loyalties to him. [00:12:11]

In my book: The Institutes of Biblical Law, I cite a custom in the Netherlands, whereby at market time, even though two men were deadly enemies and hated each other with a passion, When the farmers came on market day it was the duty of any who were deadly enemies to lock arms, both men, and to walk up and down the entire market place chatting. If they did not, they would be banned from the community. Why? Because they were not individualists, and their feeling was: “Your personal spites, your personal quarrels, no matter who is right and wrong, must not divide the community. So when we are in the market place everybody talks to everybody, and you either walk up and down together and prove your friendship, or you were cut off, both of you, from the entire community. Well, you see how this maintained association the community.

Now, De Tocqueville said, Democracy breaks this up. Instead of binding man to man, it isolates man from man, and it leads to the inability of people to tolerate each other, and to tolerate on another’s faults. And here I think De Tocqueville has one of his most brilliant and one of his most incisive insights into what democracy leads to. And I think it is at this point that we need to examine ourselves and our lives because all of us, have been infected by individualism and democracy at this point. To illustrate. When I was in on the Indian Reservation, I worked also on a sheep camp to the north, a little community, and also in some of the surrounding ranching country. And naturally, these were small communities. And in some of that ranching area which was a hundred, a hundred and fifty miles from a town or any bus or train line, very isolated and you only had a handful of neighbours, it didn’t mean they were all very sweet and agreeable people.

Now, in view of the character of some of these people, and I got to know them, I sometimes wondered why they ever bothered to talk ever again to John Doe, let us say, or Mary Doe. And I very quickly found out from them, that no matter how difficult these people were, you did not break with them. You were a community. There would be a time when you would need them, and there would be a time when they need you, and since you were a community no matter how difficult they might be, or they might think you might be, you got along. Now, in our modern society we have become to democratic and existentialist, and people are treated cheaply by all of us. There are a million people round about, where I live there are 5, 6 , 7million, maybe 9 I don’t know how many there are in southern California. [00:15:35]

“If so and so isn’t going to see things my way, I might

“If so and so isn’t going to see things my way, I might as well boot him out, send him packing. I don’t need him, I don’t have to talk to him again.” What this does is to make us less and less tolerant of human weaknesses, and less and less ready to temper our own weaknesses. As a result, it becomes more and more difficult for people to get along with each other in a community, in a church, in an office, on a job, because this individualism, plus treating one another cheaply, feeling: “Well I can make some new friends, or I can move somewhere else,” Leads to a radical independence from one another.

To illustrate this again, I know a couple whom I regard as two of the most brilliant people I have ever known, husband and wife. They are Calvinists, they have, well I would say a near genius if not genius abilities and aptitudes. However, because they have an independent income, they can live wherever they choose. So at different times they have lived in this area, they have lived in California, they have lived up and down the pacific coast of the mid-west, and at any time they can pick up and move. Sell what they have, go somewhere else, buy some new furniture, move into an apartment, and if they get fed up with the people there, move on again.

This has been the disaster in their lives; precisely because they can do this so readily and so easily, two people who could be tremendous powers in terms of the Christian faith, are irrelevant to it. They put up with nothing and anyone. They readily write people off, and just as readily, make themselves irrelevant in one situation or another, where they can be a tremendous power. You see, we tolerate very little in modern society. And we demand a great deal. [00:18:04]

To cite another illustration to confirm this tremendous

To cite another illustration to confirm this tremendous insight on the part of De Tocqueville. When I went to the University, one of the things that struck me very quickly was that, here was a university with about 14-17,000 students, I think about fourteen when I started and 17,000 when I finished. Now it’s two or three times that. And there were professors there, who had classrooms held in an auditorium with 1,000 students present, and there would be others who had a classroom with four or five students. What was the difference? One was a spell-binder of a lecturer, and the other wasn’t. It didn’t mean that they were equally good scholars, of the, I would say three scholars there who really had an influence on me, and taught me a great deal, one was a very popular lecturer, the other two were not, and yet they taught me so much. One in particular, is, was he is now dead, was one of the greatest scholars in his field that the world has seen. And yet I sat in classes on a campus of 17,000 people, when I had his courses, and there would be four or five of us learning from that man.

And if you were to ask the average student, even in the department where he taught, what they thought of Doctor so and so, “Well, you mean that bachelor who—Well, I couldn’t be interested in him you see. Its dullsville.” And so they never learned from one of the greatest minds of our generation.

You see, when we develop this democratic spirit, this existential temper, we tolerate so little in people, that we miss out on a great deal in the world around us. This is one reason why in the modern world, one country which has not yet caught this spirit, has forged to the top. Because individualism has not taken over there. What nation is that? Japan, right. Japan. In Japan when you hire a man you keep him on till he is fifty five. And if you make a mistake, well, you live with your mistake and you’re going to learn from it and you are going to teach him. And the employees feel that the employer is their father, in a sense. And he feels that he has a duty to protect them, some of them are not as good children as others. It is a semi-feudal relationship. And as a result there is a penalty in that you carry some people you would not otherwise carry, but there is a loyalty generated among all, that leaves the Japanese to command markets, and to get work out of their employees that no other country is able to get. But of course that is beginning to disappear in Japan. There are already signs of serious erosion. The habit of looking at people as individuals, purely economically, “Do the job or get out.” Not the personal element, the personal relationship, which creates in everyone a loyalty.

“So, De Tocqueville says, what the democratic spirit leads to, is loose ties, less and less ability to depend on your friends, less and less ability to depend on your relatives. That’s an interesting point to. You know, there was a time not too many years ago in this country when if you were travelling somewhere and you had a second country or a third cousin, and he knew you were going to be in the area, they would expect you to stay with them. And they take a delight in seeing a relative again. Now if you try and stay with a 1st cousin or a relative closer than that, they wonder “What in the world do you expect from us, you’re a free loader!” you see, ties have been weakened by the democratic temper. [00:22:47]

“However,” said De Tocqueville, “In America, the effect of individualism is combated by the free institutions. First of all by political freedom, working together on the local level, local self-government in the local community.” He said, “This brings them together in the town meetings and so on, and an aspect of local government which has since largely disappeared as we’ve become large urban complexes. You no longer have that sense of working together with people in your community, that you did have when each community was a very small entity. You can imagine for example, if we were to jump back a hundred years, and you had a small community like Clifton is now, and the people of Clifton came together to debate and discuss the self-government, and taking care of the problems in the area, working together on things you see. Now when you had that kind of situation, you had, as De Tocqueville saw, an undercutting of the effect of individualism.

Then second, private associations. What we dealt with earlier as tithe agencies and the like. And here he says some things about it that I think I would like to quote to a degree. He declares: “The Americans make associations to give entertainments, to found establishment for education, to build inns, to fund churches, to diffuse books, to send missionaries to the (antithapies?), and in this manner, they found hospitals, prisons, and schools.” An interesting fact, even prisons were established, so that you could deal with them as Christians. There was almost no area where they didn’t work in. “If it be proposed to advance some truth or to foster some feeling by the encouragement of great example they form a society, wherever at the head of some new undertaking, you see the government in France, or a man of rank in England, in the United States you will be sure to find an association. I met with several kinds of associations in America, of which I confess I had no previous notion, and I have often admired the extreme skill with which the inhabitants of the United States succeed in proposing a common object, to the exertions of a great many men, and of getting them voluntarily, to pursue it.” Then he continues, “The government might perform the part of some of the largest American companies, and several states, members of the Union have already attempted it. But what political power could every carry on the vast multitude of lesser under takings which the American citizens perform every day, with the assistance of the principal of associations. It is easy to perceive that the time is drawing near when man will be less and less able to produce of himself, alone the common necessities of life. The task of the governing power will therefore perpetually increase, and it’s very efforts will extend it every day. The more it stands in the place of associations, the more will individuals, losing the notion of combing together, require assistance. These are causes and effects which unceasingly engender each other. Will the administration of the country ultimately assume the management of all the manufacturers which no single citizen is able to carry on.” [00:26:24]

In other words, what De Tocqueville said, in case you

In other words, what De Tocqueville said, in case you didn’t grasp all he implied there, “Here we have all these associations taking care of doing this, that, and the other thing. It’s this kind of initiative which also leads them to this tremendous free enterprise, this voluntary principle.

Now, if this voluntary association philosophy dies out, the government is going to take over more and more, doing these things which people were doing with their tithe money, with their gifts. And how long will business as a free enterprise endure beyond the life of these private associations? Will not government at the same time, come into this area also, an attempt progressively to manage all business life, all economic in a community, in the nation. And of course De Tocqueville was right. The voluntary associations disappeared, and then controls of economic life began in this country.

And I submit that the way to freeing the economic life and the political life is to begin again with the voluntary associations. And this is why the Christian School Movement, and every kind of tithe agency that rises is so important.

“Now,” He continues, “A government can no more be competent to keep alive an renew the circulations of opinions and feelings among a great people then to manage all the speculations of productive industry. No sooner does a government attempt go beyond its political sphere, and to enter upon this new trap, then it exercises, even unintentionally, an insupportable tyranny. For government can only dictate strict rules, the opinions which it favors are rigidly enforced, and it is never easy to discriminate between its advice and its demands. Worse still will be the case if the government really believes itself interested in preventing all circulation of ideas. It will then stand motionless and oppressed by the heaviness of voluntary torpor. Governments therefore should not be the only active powers; associations ought in democratic nations to stand in lieu of those powerful private individuals whom the equality of conditions has swept away.” [00:28:54]

Ah hah, he has bade an interesting comparison has he

Ah hah, he has bade an interesting comparison has he not. Once there were great lords, who in France, in Germany, in England, commanded vast areas of activity, and people were governed by them, and it was a measure of freedom in that they were not directly under the tyranny of a central state. “The Private associations,” He said, “Are in a sense like feudal lords.” Every private association controls an area of human activity, it creates a corporate, an associative aristocracy. And if Government tries to be the only active power it will destroy itself and it will destroy the country. So if you are not going to have a feudal nobility to guide the people and to govern them at the local level, you’re going to have to have these private associations to act as government in vast areas of life, or else there is a total collapse into tyranny and stagnation.

Tremendous insight, isn’t it? De Tocqueville is really a remarkable man. As soon as several of the inhabitants of the United States have taken up an opinion or a feeling which they wish to promote in the world, they look out for mutual assistance, and as soon as they have found each other out they combine. From that moment they are no longer isolated men but a power seen from afar, whose actions serve for an example and whose language is listened to. The first time I heard in the United States that a hundred thousand men had bound themselves publicly to abstain from spirituous liquors it appeared to me more like a joke than a serious engagement, and I did not at once perceive why these temperate citizens could not content themselves with drinking water by their own firesides.” (In other words, here are a hundred thousand men who have taken a public pledge never to touch liquor again. Well, says De Tocqueville, let them do it, why not by their own fireside, why band together in a temperance association, so you know exactly how many men have taken the pledge? He said “It didn’t make sense to me, at first, but then I understood.”)

“I at last understood that these hundred thousand Americans alarmed by the progress of drunkenness around them had made up their minds to patronize temperance. They acted just in the same way as a man of high rank” (That is, a nobleman) “who should dress very plainly in order to inspire the humbler orders with a contempt of luxury. It is probable that if these hundred thousand men had lived in France, each of them would singly have memorialized the government to watch the public houses all over the kingdom.” [00:32:00]

“Nothing in my opinion is more deserving of our attention

“Nothing in my opinion is more deserving of our attention than the intellectual and moral associations of America.”

In other words, he said in Europe they would have petitioned the state to do something about it, but they would have petitioned individually. In America they united to try and set an example for all the people, they functioned as a new nobility, in their association. The associations constitute a new government, comparable to the feudal lords.

“The political and industrial associations of that country strike us forcibly but the others elude our observation, or if we discover them we understand them imperfectly, because we have hardly ever seen anything of the kind. It must however be acknowledged that they are as necessary to the American people as the former and perhaps more so.”

In other words, these voluntary associations are more necessary in America than the political and industrial aspects of the country.

“In democratic countries the science of association is the mother of science; the progress of all the rest depends upon the progress it has made.
  Amongst the laws which rule human societies there is one which seems to be more precise and clear than all others. If men are to remain civilized, or to become so, the art of associating together must grow and improve in the same ratio in which the equality of conditions is increased.” [00:33:43]

Then De Tocqueville went on to deal with newspapers

Then De Tocqueville went on to deal with newspapers. He said: “In America, Newspapers have replaced authorities in the old world. Where in Europe a bishop or a lord or a convent person speaks and everybody is concerned to know what is going on through his declaration, here, you read the paper. And the papers provide the data, supposedly, to make up your own mind. But actually they function as an authority, they make it for you. However,” He said, “The Newspapers therefore become more necessary in proportion as men become more equal, and individualism more to be feared. The evil which they produce however is much less than that which they cure.”

And the reason why is, in spite of their evils, the good they do is better, because they further common activity. They bring the people together wherein individualism is actually dividing them, to give them some kind of common interest.

He says further: “The power of the newspaper press must therefore increase as the social conditions of men become more equal.” In other words, the more democracy increases, the more the power of the communications media will increase, whether it was the newspaper in his day, or the television now, since men get less of their guidance from the pulpit and from friends, and from the family, they are going to depend on it more from the communications media. The press in his day, and today the press, radio, television.

“However,” He says, after considering all these various aspects, “Political associations have strengthened the state, and freedom here by and large has been beneficial.” And so despite his fears concerning the future of democracy, he does feel he has to commend the United States., on the whole. [00:36:09]

Then he goes on to a discussion of the principle of

Then he goes on to a discussion of the principle of interest. “Interest,” he says, “Is the enlightened regard for yourself”, which leads Americans to public action and effort. It’s a kind of liberal philosophy which had been more or less combined with a semi-Christian position, to lead to the belief that self-interest was basic to progress. He declares “I do not think upon the whole that there is more egotism among us than an American, the only difference is that there it is enlightened, here it is not. Every American will sacrifice a portion of his private interests to preserve the rest. We would feign preserve the whole, and oftentimes the whole is lost.”

Americans in other words feel that if they are going to think about their self interests, if they are going to be selfish, they had better also think of other people, because they are going to sink or swim in terms of what happens to their country. Therefore, they have a tendency to justify, participation in common ventures in spite of their individualism. In fact he says they go so far as to use this self interest to justify Christianity. After all, they say, In America, De Tocqueville reports, the church is good for the community. Therefore I am going to support the church, whether I am entirely in agreement with it or not, because the church does a great deal for the children, and my family, and every family. Therefore in terms of my enlightened self-interest, it is better for me to favor the church whatever my personal feelings may be. “Moreover,” He says, “Within the church there is also this very practical attitude of enlightened self interest. So the church furthers an attitude of practical emphasis on the affairs of every-day life.

“Let us do all that we can to build up this community, to conquer it for Christ, because we live here, and if we don’t make it a good community, we shall suffer for it.” [00:38:22]

“And so,” De Tocqueville points out, Christianity in America is pragmatically helpful in furthering a better life on earth, whereas in Europe, the churches are inclined to be other worldly. They talk more about heaven then about earth. In America the message of the church is more concerned with life here and our duties here and now, then with heaven.

We might add parenthetically, that this was a product of the post millennial emphasis in American faith. “Then,” He said, “In America in terms of this interest in the here and now and in this world, one of the most common characteristics of Americans is their strong sense of hope. They expect to get ahead. In Europe, a man who is born in a poor family expects to live and die a poor man. He is a man who feels that that is his station in life, and not often does he rise above it. However,” De Tocqueville said, “The poorest man in America hopes and expects, and dreams about getting rich. A love of well-being is the predominate taste of the nation. There is an over-whelming desire for advantages, for getting ahead. And,” He said, “There is an ever brooding for advantages they do not possess. A native of the United States clings to this worlds goods as though he were certain never to die, and he is so hasty in grasping at all within his reach, that one would suppose he was constantly afraid of not living long enough to enjoy it. He clutches everything, he holds nothing fast, and soon loosens his grasp to pursue fresh gratifications.”

Moreover he says in America men are always thinking of something better, so they are ready to drop what they have to pursue something else. So he says in United States, a man builds a house to spend his latter years in it, and he sells it before the roof is on it. He plants a garden and lets it just as the trees are coming into bearing. He brings a field into tillage and leaves other men to gather the crops. He embraces a profession, and gives it up. He settles in a place which he soon afterward leaves, to carry his changeable longings elsewhere. If his private affairs leaves him any leisure, he instantly plunges into the vortex of politics. And if after a year of unremitting labor he finds he has a few days vacation, his eager curiosity whirls him over the vast extent of the United States, and he will travel 1500 miles in a few days, to shake off his happiness. Death at last overtakes him, but it is before he is weary of his fruitless chase, that complete felicity which is forever on the wing.” [00:41:34]

Now, Americans have not changed much since then, I...

Now, Americans have not changed much since then, I forget who it was that was telling me last week of a five day vacation in which they drove from Virginia to San Francisco and back. And De Tocqueville in his day describing travelling 1500 miles in a few days, well, in those days on horseback or by carriage, you did not travel very many miles in a day, so traveling 1500 miles in a few days was a remarkable thing. And yet I have heard people talk about how short a time it took them to get from one end of the country to the other. As a matter of fact I once knew an attorney who was figuring out how he could set a record getting from Los Angeles to New York with his two sons, by carrying, by installing a very large tank, and it would not be necessary for him to make any stops, and he was even going to carry toilet facilities in the car, he had an ingenious rig with which he was working out in this recreation vehicle. The only thing which prevented him from ever trying it, and there was an automobile company which was ready to go along with him to advertise the car, there was going to be a campaign promoted, was that his wife would’ve put down and said: “Absolutely not.” But I think it was a typically America thing to dream about doing something like that. And De Tocqueville speaks very accurately that long ago about the restless spirit of the American in the midst of their prosperity.

Their taste for physical gratifications must be regarded as the original source of that secret disquietude which the actions of the Americans portray, and the inconstancy of which they afford fresh examples every day. He who has set his heart exclusively on worldly welfare, is always in a hurry, because he has a limited time at this disposal to reach it, to grasp it, and to enjoy it. The recollection of the brevity of life is a constant spur to him.

Now, he does speak of course of virtuous democratic materialism, he is aware that in America, in spite of this materialism, there is a strong sense of Godliness, the effect of morality and religion is so strong in this country that he can speak of it as a virtuous materialism. His impression of frontier religion which we discussed a few nights ago, was not very favorable.

He commented and I quote: “Religious insanity is very common in the United States.” And he simply, being a gentleman, passes over the camp meetings with a reference to them. “To a European, what went on at the camp meetings in way of the jerks, and the noise, was simply incomprehensible.”

De Tocqueville was however, fully aware of the fact that the American has a desire, at all times, to get ahead. And the result is a tremendous pressure upon Americans at all times to do more and more, to get something better, to move, to get a new job, to find a new location, creating a tremendous restlessness, and a lack of permanence in communities. [00:45:28]

“However,” He said, “one of the very happy aspects of American life is that all honest callings are honorable. Labor is respected.” As a result, as I pointed out on a previous occasion, De Tocqueville noted that if anyone became so wealthy in this country that they wanted to be the idle rich, to work no more to retire, they had to go to Europe. People would regard them as shameful creatures in the United States. You worked, period. As long as you were physically able. “And so,” He concluded, “In the United States professions are more or less profitable, but they are never either high or low. Every honest calling is honorable. This is not as true as it was then. As we have fallen sway to influences from Europe, to socialism, to the ideas of Rousseau, we have fallen… [Tape Ends] [00:46:30]

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