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Democracy In America, Volume 2 by Alexis de Toqueville

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propensities of the men of whom these armies are composed.

Amongst aristocratic nations, especially amongst those in
which birth is the only source of rank, the same inequality
exists in the army as in the nation; the officer is noble, the
soldier is a serf; the one is naturally called upon to command,
the other to obey. In aristocratic armies, the private soldier's
ambition is therefore circumscribed within very narrow limits.
Nor has the ambition of the officer an unlimited range. An
aristocratic body not only forms a part of the scale of ranks in
the nation, but it contains a scale of ranks within itself: the
members of whom it is composed are placed one above another, in a
particular and unvarying manner. Thus one man is born to the
command of a regiment, another to that of a company; when once
they have reached the utmost object of their hopes, they stop of
their own accord, and remain contented with their lot. There is,
besides, a strong cause, which, in aristocracies, weakens the
officer's desire of promotion. Amongst aristocratic nations, an
officer, independently of his rank in the army, also occupies an
elevated rank in society; the former is almost always in his eyes
only an appendage to the latter. A nobleman who embraces the
profession of arms follows it less from motives of ambition than
from a sense of the duties imposed on him by his birth. He
enters the army in order to find an honorable employment for the
idle years of his youth, and to be able to bring back to his home
and his peers some honorable recollections of military life; but
his principal object is not to obtain by that profession either
property, distinction, or power, for he possesses these
advantages in his own right, and enjoys them without leaving his

In democratic armies all the soldiers may become officers,
which makes the desire of promotion general, and immeasurably
extends the bounds of military ambition. The officer, on his
part, sees nothing which naturally and necessarily stops him at
one grade more than at another; and each grade has immense
importance in his eyes, because his rank in society almost always
depends on his rank in the army. Amongst democratic nations it
often happens that an officer has no property but his pay, and no
distinction but that of military honors: consequently as often as
his duties change, his fortune changes, and he becomes, as it
were, a new man. What was only an appendage to his position in
aristocratic armies, has thus become the main point, the basis of
his whole condition. Under the old French monarchy officers were
always called by their titles of nobility; they are now always
called by the title of their military rank. This little change
in the forms of language suffices to show that a great revolution
has taken place in the constitution of society and in that of the
army. In democratic armies the desire of advancement is almost
universal: it is ardent, tenacious, perpetual; it is strengthened
by all other desires, and only extinguished with life itself. But
it is easy to see, that of all armies in the world, those in
which advancement must be slowest in time of peace are the armies
of democratic countries. As the number of commissions is
naturally limited, whilst the number of competitors is almost
unlimited, and as the strict law of equality is over all alike,
none can make rapid progress - many can make no progress at all.
Thus the desire of advancement is greater, and the opportunities
of advancement fewer, there than elsewhere. All the ambitious
spirits of a democratic army are consequently ardently desirous
of war, because war makes vacancies, and warrants the violation
of that law of seniority which is the sole privilege natural to

We thus arrive at this singular consequence, that of all
armies those most ardently desirous of war are democratic armies,
and of all nations those most fond of peace are democratic
nations: and, what makes these facts still more extraordinary, is
that these contrary effects are produced at the same time by the
principle of equality.

All the members of the community, being alike, constantly
harbor the wish, and discover the possibility, of changing their
condition and improving their welfare: this makes them fond of
peace, which is favorable to industry, and allows every man to
pursue his own little undertakings to their completion. On the
other hand, this same equality makes soldiers dream of fields of
battle, by increasing the value of military honors in the eyes of
those who follow the profession of arms, and by rendering those
honors accessible to all. In either case the inquietude of the
heart is the same, the taste for enjoyment as insatiable, the
ambition of success as great - the means of gratifying it are
alone different.

These opposite tendencies of the nation and the army expose
democratic communities to great dangers. When a military spirit
forsakes a people, the profession of arms immediately ceases to
be held in honor, and military men fall to the lowest rank of the
public servants: they are little esteemed, and no longer
understood. The reverse of what takes place in aristocratic ages
then occurs; the men who enter the army are no longer those of
the highest, but of the lowest rank. Military ambition is only
indulged in when no other is possible. Hence arises a circle of
cause and consequence from which it is difficult to escape: the
best part of the nation shuns the military profession because
that profession is not honored, and the profession is not honored
because the best part of the nation has ceased to follow it. It
is then no matter of surprise that democratic armies are often
restless, ill-tempered, and dissatisfied with their lot, although
their physical condition is commonly far better, and their
discipline less strict than in other countries. The soldier
feels that he occupies an inferior position, and his wounded
pride either stimulates his taste for hostilities which would
render his services necessary, or gives him a turn for
revolutions, during which he may hope to win by force of arms the
political influence and personal importance now denied him. The
composition of democratic armies makes this last-mentioned danger
much to be feared. In democratic communities almost every man
has some property to preserve; but democratic armies are
generally led by men without property, most of whom have little
to lose in civil broils. The bulk of the nation is naturally
much more afraid of revolutions than in the ages of aristocracy,
but the leaders of the army much less so.

Moreover, as amongst democratic nations (to repeat what I
have just remarked) the wealthiest, the best educated, and the
most able men seldom adopt the military profession, the army,
taken collectively, eventually forms a small nation by itself,
where the mind is less enlarged, and habits are more rude than in
the nation at large. Now, this small uncivilized nation has arms
in its possession, and alone knows how to use them: for, indeed,
the pacific temper of the community increases the danger to which
a democratic people is exposed from the military and turbulent
spirit of the army. Nothing is so dangerous as an army amidst an
unwarlike nation; the excessive love of the whole community for
quiet continually puts its constitution at the mercy of the
soldiery. It may therefore be asserted, generally speaking, that
if democratic nations are naturally prone to peace from their
interests and their propensities, they are constantly drawn to
war and revolutions by their armies. Military revolutions, which
are scarcely ever to be apprehended in aristocracies, are always
to be dreaded amongst democratic nations. These perils must be
reckoned amongst the most formidable which beset their future
fate, and the attention of statesmen should be sedulously applied
to find a remedy for the evil.

When a nation perceives that it is inwardly affected by the
restless ambition of its army, the first thought which occurs is
to give this inconvenient ambition an object by going to war. I
speak no ill of war: war almost always enlarges the mind of a
people, and raises their character. In some cases it is the only
check to the excessive growth of certain propensities which
naturally spring out of the equality of conditions, and it must
be considered as a necessary corrective to certain inveterate
diseases to which democratic communities are liable. War has
great advantages, but we must not flatter ourselves that it can
diminish the danger I have just pointed out. That peril is only
suspended by it, to return more fiercely when the war is over;
for armies are much more impatient of peace after having tasted
military exploits. War could only be a remedy for a people which
should always be athirst for military glory. I foresee that all
the military rulers who may rise up in great democratic nations,
will find it easier to conquer with their armies, than to make
their armies live at peace after conquest. There are two things
which a democratic people will always find very difficult - to
begin a war, and to end it.

Again, if war has some peculiar advantages for democratic
nations, on the other hand it exposes them to certain dangers
which aristocracies have no cause to dread to an equal extent. I
shall only point out two of these. Although war gratifies the
army, it embarrasses and often exasperates that countless
multitude of men whose minor passions every day require peace in
order to be satisfied. Thus there is some risk of its causing,
under another form, the disturbance it is intended to prevent.
No protracted war can fail to endanger the freedom of a
democratic country. Not indeed that after every victory it is to
be apprehended that the victorious generals will possess
themselves by force of the supreme power, after the manner of
Sylla and Caesar: the danger is of another kind. War does not
always give over democratic communities to military government,
but it must invariably and immeasurably increase the powers of
civil government; it must almost compulsorily concentrate the
direction of all men and the management of all things in the
hands of the administration. If it lead not to despotism by
sudden violence, it prepares men for it more gently by their
habits. All those who seek to destroy the liberties of a
democratic nation ought to know that war is the surest and the
shortest means to accomplish it. This is the first axiom of the

One remedy, which appears to be obvious when the ambition of
soldiers and officers becomes the subject of alarm, is to augment
the number of commissions to be distributed by increasing the
army. This affords temporary relief, but it plunges the country
into deeper difficulties at some future period. To increase the
army may produce a lasting effect in an aristocratic community,
because military ambition is there confined to one class of men,
and the ambition of each individual stops, as it were, at a
certain limit; so that it may be possible to satisfy all who feel
its influence. But nothing is gained by increasing the army
amongst a democratic people, because the number of aspirants
always rises in exactly the same ratio as the army itself. Those
whose claims have been satisfied by the creation of new
commissions are instantly succeeded by a fresh multitude beyond
all power of satisfaction; and even those who were but now
satisfied soon begin to crave more advancement; for the same
excitement prevails in the ranks of the army as in the civil
classes of democratic society, and what men want is not to reach
a certain grade, but to have constant promotion. Though these
wants may not be very vast, they are perpetually recurring. Thus
a democratic nation, by augmenting its army, only allays for a
time the ambition of the military profession, which soon becomes
even more formidable, because the number of those who feel it is
increased. I am of opinion that a restless and turbulent spirit
is an evil inherent in the very constitution of democratic
armies, and beyond hope of cure. The legislators of democracies
must not expect to devise any military organization capable by
its influence of calming and restraining the military profession:
their efforts would exhaust their powers, before the object is

The remedy for the vices of the army is not to be found in
the army itself, but in the country. Democratic nations are
naturally afraid of disturbance and of despotism; the object is
to turn these natural instincts into well-digested, deliberate,
and lasting tastes. When men have at last learned to make a
peaceful and profitable use of freedom, and have felt its
blessings - when they have conceived a manly love of order, and
have freely submitted themselves to discipline - these same men,
if they follow the profession of arms, bring into it,
unconsciously and almost against their will, these same habits
and manners. The general spirit of the nation being infused into
the spirit peculiar to the army, tempers the opinions and desires
engendered by military life, or represses them by the mighty
force of public opinion. Teach but the citizens to be educated,
orderly, firm, and free, the soldiers will be disciplined and
obedient. Any law which, in repressing the turbulent spirit of
the army, should tend to diminish the spirit of freedom in the
nation, and to overshadow the notion of law and right, would
defeat its object: it would do much more to favor, than to
defeat, the establishment of military tyranny.

After all, and in spite of all precautions, a large army
amidst a democratic people will always be a source of great
danger; the most effectual means of diminishing that danger would
be to reduce the army, but this is a remedy which all nations
have it not in their power to use.

Book Three - Chapters XXIII-XVI

Chapter XXIII: Which Is The Most Warlike And Most Revolutionary
Class In Democratic Armies?

It is a part of the essence of a democratic army to be very
numerous in proportion to the people to which it belongs, as I
shall hereafter show. On the other hand, men living in
democratic times seldom choose a military life. Democratic
nations are therefore soon led to give up the system of voluntary
recruiting for that of compulsory enlistment. The necessity of
their social condition compels them to resort to the latter
means, and it may easily be foreseen that they will all
eventually adopt it. When military service is compulsory, the
burden is indiscriminately and equally borne by the whole
community. This is another necessary consequence of the social
condition of these nations, and of their notions. The government
may do almost whatever it pleases, provided it appeals to the
whole community at once: it is the unequal distribution of the
weight, not the weight itself, which commonly occasions
resistance. But as military service is common to all the
citizens, the evident consequence is that each of them remains
but for a few years on active duty. Thus it is in the nature of
things that the soldier in democracies only passes through the
army, whilst among most aristocratic nations the military
profession is one which the soldier adopts, or which is imposed
upon him, for life.

This has important consequences. Amongst the soldiers of a
democratic army, some acquire a taste for military life, but the
majority, being enlisted against their will, and ever ready to go
back to their homes, do not consider themselves as seriously
engaged in the military profession, and are always thinking of
quitting it. Such men do not contract the wants, and only half
partake in the passions, which that mode of life engenders. They
adapt themselves to their military duties, but their minds are
still attached to the interests and the duties which engaged them
in civil life. They do not therefore imbibe the spirit of the
army - or rather, they infuse the spirit of the community at
large into the army, and retain it there. Amongst democratic
nations the private soldiers remain most like civilians: upon
them the habits of the nation have the firmest hold, and public
opinion most influence. It is by the instrumentality of the
private soldiers especially that it may be possible to infuse
into a democratic army the love of freedom and the respect of
rights, if these principles have once been successfully
inculcated on the people at large. The reverse happens amongst
aristocratic nations, where the soldiery have eventually nothing
in common with their fellow-citizens, and where they live amongst
them as strangers, and often as enemies. In aristocratic armies
the officers are the conservative element, because the officers
alone have retained a strict connection with civil society, and
never forego their purpose of resuming their place in it sooner
or later: in democratic armies the private soldiers stand in this
position, and from the same cause.

It often happens, on the contrary, that in these same
democratic armies the officers contract tastes and wants wholly
distinct from those of the nation - a fact which may be thus
accounted for. Amongst democratic nations, the man who becomes
an officer severs all the ties which bound him to civil life; he
leaves it forever; he has no interest to resume it. His true
country is the army, since he owes all he has to the rank he has
attained in it; he therefore follows the fortunes of the army,
rises or sinks with it, and henceforward directs all his hopes to
that quarter only. As the wants of an officer are distinct from
those of the country, he may perhaps ardently desire war, or
labor to bring about a revolution at the very moment when the
nation is most desirous of stability and peace. There are,
nevertheless, some causes which allay this restless and warlike
spirit. Though ambition is universal and continual amongst
democratic nations, we have seen that it is seldom great. A man
who, being born in the lower classes of the community, has risen
from the ranks to be an officer, has already taken a prodigious
step. He has gained a footing in a sphere above that which he
filled in civil life, and he has acquired rights which most
democratic nations will ever consider as inalienable. *a He is
willing to pause after so great an effort, and to enjoy what he
has won. The fear of risking what he has already obtained damps
the desire of acquiring what he has not got. Having conquered the
first and greatest impediment which opposed his advancement, he
resigns himself with less impatience to the slowness of his
progress. His ambition will be more and more cooled in
proportion as the increasing distinction of his rank teaches him
that he has more to put in jeopardy. If I am not mistaken, the
least warlike, and also the least revolutionary part, of a
democratic army, will always be its chief commanders.
[Footnote a: The position of officers is indeed much more secure
amongst democratic nations than elsewhere; the lower the personal
standing of the man, the greater is the comparative importance of
his military grade, and the more just and necessary is it that
the enjoyment of that rank should be secured by the laws.]

But the remarks I have just made on officers and soldiers
are not applicable to a numerous class which in all armies fills
the intermediate space between them - I mean the class of non-
commissioned officers. This class of non-commissioned officers
which have never acted a part in history until the present
century, is henceforward destined, I think, to play one of some
importance. Like the officers, non-commissioned officers have
broken, in their minds, all the ties which bound them to civil
life; like the former, they devote themselves permanently to the
service, and perhaps make it even more exclusively the object of
all their desires: but non-commissioned officers are men who have
not yet reached a firm and lofty post at which they may pause and
breathe more freely, ere they can attain further promotion. By
the very nature of his duties, which is invariable, a
non-commissioned officer is doomed to lead an obscure, confined,
comfortless, and precarious existence; as yet he sees nothing of
military life but its dangers; he knows nothing but its
privations and its discipline - more difficult to support than
dangers: he suffers the more from his present miseries, from
knowing that the constitution of society and of the army allow
him to rise above them; he may, indeed, at any time obtain his
commission, and enter at once upon command, honors, independence,
rights, and enjoyments. Not only does this object of his hopes
appear to him of immense importance, but he is never sure of
reaching it till it is actually his own; the grade he fills is by
no means irrevocable; he is always entirely abandoned to the
arbitrary pleasure of his commanding officer, for this is
imperiously required by the necessity of discipline: a slight
fault, a whim, may always deprive him in an instant of the fruits
of many years of toil and endeavor; until he has reached the
grade to which he aspires he has accomplished nothing; not till
he reaches that grade does his career seem to begin. A desperate
ambition cannot fail to be kindled in a man thus incessantly
goaded on by his youth, his wants, his passions, the spirit of
his age, his hopes, and his age, his hopes, and his fears.
Non-commissioned officers are therefore bent on war - on war
always, and at any cost; but if war be denied them, then they
desire revolutions to suspend the authority of established
regulations, and to enable them, aided by the general confusion
and the political passions of the time, to get rid of their
superior officers and to take their places. Nor is it impossible
for them to bring about such a crisis, because their common
origin and habits give them much influence over the soldiers,
however different may be their passions and their desires.

It would be an error to suppose that these various
characteristics of officers, non-commissioned officers, and men,
belong to any particular time or country; they will always occur
at all times, and amongst all democratic nations. In every
democratic army the non-commissioned officers will be the worst
representatives of the pacific and orderly spirit of the country,
and the private soldiers will be the best. The latter will carry
with them into military life the strength or weakness of the
manners of the nation; they will display a faithful reflection of
the community: if that community is ignorant and weak, they will
allow themselves to be drawn by their leaders into disturbances,
either unconsciously or against their will; if it is enlightened
and energetic, the community will itself keep them within the
bounds of order.

Chapter XXIV: Causes Which Render Democratic Armies Weaker Than
Other Armies At The Outset Of A Campaign, And More Formidable In
Protracted Warfare

Any army is in danger of being conquered at the outset of a
campaign, after a long peace; any army which has long been
engaged in warfare has strong chances of victory: this truth is
peculiarly applicable to democratic armies. In aristocracies the
military profession, being a privileged career, is held in honor
even in time of peace. Men of great talents, great attainments,
and great ambition embrace it; the army is in all respects on a
level with the nation, and frequently above it. We have seen, on
the contrary, that amongst a democratic people the choicer minds
of the nation are gradually drawn away from the military
profession, to seek by other paths, distinction, power, and
especially wealth. After a long peace - and in democratic ages
the periods of peace are long - the army is always inferior to
the country itself. In this state it is called into active
service; and until war has altered it, there is danger for the
country as well as for the army.

I have shown that in democratic armies, and in time of
peace, the rule of seniority is the supreme and inflexible law of
advancement. This is not only a consequence, as I have before
observed, of the constitution of these armies, but of the
constitution of the people, and it will always occur. Again, as
amongst these nations the officer derives his position in the
country solely from his position in the army, and as he draws all
the distinction and the competency he enjoys from the same
source, he does not retire from his profession, or is not
super-annuated, till towards the extreme close of life. The
consequence of these two causes is, that when a democratic people
goes to war after a long interval of peace all the leading
officers of the army are old men. I speak not only of the
generals, but of the non-commissioned officers, who have most of
them been stationary, or have only advanced step by step. It may
be remarked with surprise, that in a democratic army after a long
peace all the soldiers are mere boys, and all the superior
officers in declining years; so that the former are wanting in
experience, the latter in vigor. This is a strong element of
defeat, for the first condition of successful generalship is
youth: I should not have ventured to say so if the greatest
captain of modern times had not made the observation.
These two causes do not act in the same manner upon
aristocratic armies: as men are promoted in them by right of
birth much more than by right of seniority, there are in all
ranks a certain number of young men, who bring to their
profession all the early vigor of body and mind. Again, as the
men who seek for military honors amongst an aristocratic people,
enjoy a settled position in civil society, they seldom continue
in the army until old age overtakes them. After having devoted
the most vigorous years of youth to the career of arms, they
voluntarily retire, and spend at home the remainder of their
maturer years.

A long peace not only fills democratic armies with elderly
officers, but it also gives to all the officers habits both of
body and mind which render them unfit for actual service. The
man who has long lived amidst the calm and lukewarm atmosphere of
democratic manners can at first ill adapt himself to the harder
toils and sterner duties of warfare; and if he has not absolutely
lost the taste for arms, at least he has assumed a mode of life
which unfits him for conquest.

Amongst aristocratic nations, the ease of civil life
exercises less influence on the manners of the army, because
amongst those nations the aristocracy commands the army: and an
aristocracy, however plunged in luxurious pleasures, has always
many other passions besides that of its own well-being, and to
satisfy those passions more thoroughly its well-being will be
readily sacrificed. *a

[Footnote a: See Appendix V.]

I have shown that in democratic armies, in time of peace,
promotion is extremely slow. The officers at first support this
state of things with impatience, they grow excited, restless,
exasperated, but in the end most of them make up their minds to
it. Those who have the largest share of ambition and of
resources quit the army; others, adapting their tastes and their
desires to their scanty fortunes, ultimately look upon the
military profession in a civil point of view. The quality they
value most in it is the competency and security which attend it:
their whole notion of the future rests upon the certainty of this
little provision, and all they require is peaceably to enjoy it.
Thus not only does a long peace fill an army with old men, but it
is frequently imparts the views of old men to those who are still
in the prime of life.

I have also shown that amongst democratic nations in time of
peace the military profession is held in little honor and
indifferently followed. This want of public favor is a heavy
discouragement to the army; it weighs down the minds of the
troops, and when war breaks out at last, they cannot immediately
resume their spring and vigor. No similar cause of moral
weakness occurs in aristocratic armies: there the officers are
never lowered either in their own eyes or in those of their
countrymen, because, independently of their military greatness,
they are personally great. But even if the influence of peace
operated on the two kinds of armies in the same manner, the
results would still be different. When the officers of an
aristocratic army have lost their warlike spirit and the desire
of raising themselves by service, they still retain a certain
respect for the honor of their class, and an old habit of being
foremost to set an example. But when the officers of a
democratic army have no longer the love of war and the ambition
of arms, nothing whatever remains to them.

I am therefore of opinion that, when a democratic people
engages in a war after a long peace, it incurs much more risk of
defeat than any other nation; but it ought not easily to be cast
down by its reverses, for the chances of success for such an army
are increased by the duration of the war. When a war has at
length, by its long continuance, roused the whole community from
their peaceful occupations and ruined their minor undertakings,
the same passions which made them attach so much importance to
the maintenance of peace will be turned to arms. War, after it
has destroyed all modes of speculation, becomes itself the great
and sole speculation, to which all the ardent and ambitious
desires which equality engenders are exclusively directed. Hence
it is that the selfsame democratic nations which are so reluctant
to engage in hostilities, sometimes perform prodigious
achievements when once they have taken the field. As the war
attracts more and more of public attention, and is seen to create
high reputations and great fortunes in a short space of time, the
choicest spirits of the nation enter the military profession: all
the enterprising, proud, and martial minds, no longer of the
aristocracy solely, but of the whole country, are drawn in this
direction. As the number of competitors for military honors is
immense, and war drives every man to his proper level, great
generals are always sure to spring up. A long war produces upon
a democratic army the same effects that a revolution produces
upon a people; it breaks through regulations, and allows
extraordinary men to rise above the common level. Those officers
whose bodies and minds have grown old in peace, are removed, or
superannuated, or they die. In their stead a host of young men
are pressing on, whose frames are already hardened, whose desires
are extended and inflamed by active service. They are bent on
advancement at all hazards, and perpetual advancement; they are
followed by others with the same passions and desires, and after
these are others yet unlimited by aught but the size of the army.
The principle of equality opens the door of ambition to all, and
death provides chances for ambition. Death is constantly
thinning the ranks, making vacancies, closing and opening the
career of arms.

There is moreover a secret connection between the military
character and the character of democracies, which war brings to
light. The men of democracies are naturally passionately eager
to acquire what they covet, and to enjoy it on easy conditions.
They for the most part worship chance, and are much less afraid
of death than of difficulty. This is the spirit which they bring
to commerce and manufactures; and this same spirit, carried with
them to the field of battle, induces them willingly to expose
their lives in order to secure in a moment the rewards of
victory. No kind of greatness is more pleasing to the
imagination of a democratic people than military greatness - a
greatness of vivid and sudden lustre, obtained without toil, by
nothing but the risk of life. Thus, whilst the interests and the
tastes of the members of a democratic community divert them from
war, their habits of mind fit them for carrying on war well; they
soon make good soldiers, when they are roused from their business
and their enjoyments. If peace is peculiarly hurtful to
democratic armies, war secures to them advantages which no other
armies ever possess; and these advantages, however little felt at
first, cannot fail in the end to give them the victory. An
aristocratic nation, which in a contest with a democratic people
does not succeed in ruining the latter at the outset of the war,
always runs a great risk of being conquered by it.

Chapter XXV: Of Discipline In Democratic Armies

It is a very general opinion, especially in aristocratic
countries, that the great social equality which prevails in
democracies ultimately renders the private soldier independent of
the officer, and thus destroys the bond of discipline. This is a
mistake, for there are two kinds of discipline, which it is
important not to confound. When the officer is noble and the
soldier a serf - one rich, the other poor - the former educated
and strong, the latter ignorant and weak - the strictest bond of
obedience may easily be established between the two men. The
soldier is broken in to military discipline, as it were, before
he enters the army; or rather, military discipline is nothing but
an enhancement of social servitude. In aristocratic armies the
soldier will soon become insensible to everything but the orders
of his superior officers; he acts without reflection, triumphs
without enthusiasm, and dies without complaint: in this state he
is no longer a man, but he is still a most formidable animal
trained for war.

A democratic people must despair of ever obtaining from
soldiers that blind, minute, submissive, and invariable obedience
which an aristocratic people may impose on them without
difficulty. The state of society does not prepare them for it,
and the nation might be in danger of losing its natural
advantages if it sought artificially to acquire advantages of
this particular kind. Amongst democratic communities, military
discipline ought not to attempt to annihilate the free spring of
the faculties; all that can be done by discipline is to direct
it; the obedience thus inculcated is less exact, but it is more
eager and more intelligent. It has its root in the will of him
who obeys: it rests not only on his instinct, but on his reason;
and consequently it will often spontaneously become more strict
as danger requires it. The discipline of an aristocratic army is
apt to be relaxed in war, because that discipline is founded upon
habits, and war disturbs those habits. The discipline of a
democratic army on the contrary is strengthened in sight of the
enemy, because every soldier then clearly perceives that he must
be silent and obedient in order to conquer.

The nations which have performed the greatest warlike
achievements knew no other discipline than that which I speak of.
Amongst the ancients none were admitted into the armies but
freemen and citizens, who differed but little from one another,
and were accustomed to treat each other as equals. In this
respect it may be said that the armies of antiquity were
democratic, although they came out of the bosom of aristocracy;
the consequence was that in those armies a sort of fraternal
familiarity prevailed between the officers and the men.
Plutarch's lives of great commanders furnish convincing instances
of the fact: the soldiers were in the constant habit of freely
addressing their general, and the general listened to and
answered whatever the soldiers had to say: they were kept in
order by language and by example, far more than by constraint or
punishment; the general was as much their companion as their
chief. I know not whether the soldiers of Greece and Rome ever
carried the minutiae of military discipline to the same degree of
perfection as the Russians have done; but this did not prevent
Alexander from conquering Asia - and Rome, the world.

Chapter XXVI: Some Considerations On War In Democratic

When the principle of equality is in growth, not only
amongst a single nation, but amongst several neighboring nations
at the same time, as is now the case in Europe, the inhabitants
of these different countries, notwithstanding the dissimilarity
of language, of customs, and of laws, nevertheless resemble each
other in their equal dread of war and their common love of peace.
*a It is in vain that ambition or anger puts arms in the hands of
princes; they are appeased in spite of themselves by a species of
general apathy and goodwill, which makes the sword drop from
their grasp, and wars become more rare. As the spread of
equality, taking place in several countries at once,
simultaneously impels their various inhabitants to follow
manufactures and commerce, not only do their tastes grow alike,
but their interests are so mixed and entangled with one another
that no nation can inflict evils on other nations without those
evils falling back upon itself; and all nations ultimately regard
war as a calamity, almost as severe to the conqueror as to the
conquered. Thus, on the one hand, it is extremely difficult in
democratic ages to draw nations into hostilities; but on the
other hand, it is almost impossible that any two of them should
go to war without embroiling the rest. The interests of all are
so interlaced, their opinions and their wants so much alike, that
none can remain quiet when the others stir. Wars therefore
become more rare, but when they break out they spread over a
larger field. Neighboring democratic nations not only become
alike in some respects, but they eventually grow to resemble each
other in almost all. *b This similitude of nations has
consequences of great importance in relation to war.

[Footnote a: It is scarcely necessary for me to observe that the
dread of war displayed by the nations of Europe is not solely
attributable to the progress made by the principle of equality
amongst them; independently of this permanent cause several other
accidental causes of great weight might be pointed out, and I may
mention before all the rest the extreme lassitude which the wars
of the Revolution and the Empire have left behind them.]

[Footnote b: This is not only because these nations have the same
social condition, but it arises from the very nature of that
social condition which leads men to imitate and identify
themselves with each other. When the members of a community are
divided into castes and classes, they not only differ from one
another, but they have no taste and no desire to be alike; on the
contrary, everyone endeavors, more and more, to keep his own
opinions undisturbed, to retain his own peculiar habits, and to
remain himself. The characteristics of individuals are very
strongly marked. When the state of society amongst a people is
democratic - that is to say, when there are no longer any castes
or classes in the community, and all its members are nearly equal
in education and in property - the human mind follows the
opposite direction. Men are much alike, and they are annoyed, as
it were, by any deviation from that likeness: far from seeking to
preserve their own distinguishing singularities, they endeavor to
shake them off, in order to identify themselves with the general
mass of the people, which is the sole representative of right and
of might to their eyes. The characteristics of individuals are
nearly obliterated. In the ages of aristocracy even those who
are naturally alike strive to create imaginary differences
between themselves: in the ages of democracy even those who are
not alike seek only to become so, and to copy each other - so
strongly is the mind of every man always carried away by the
general impulse of mankind. Something of the same kind may be
observed between nations: two nations having the same
aristocratic social condition, might remain thoroughly distinct
and extremely different, because the spirit of aristocracy is to
retain strong individual characteristics; but if two neighboring
nations have the same democratic social condition, they cannot
fail to adopt similar opinions and manners, because the spirit of
democracy tends to assimilate men to each other.]

If I inquire why it is that the Helvetic Confederacy made
the greatest and most powerful nations of Europe tremble in the
fifteenth century, whilst at the present day the power of that
country is exactly proportioned to its population, I perceive
that the Swiss are become like all the surrounding communities,
and those surrounding communities like the Swiss: so that as
numerical strength now forms the only difference between them,
victory necessarily attends the largest army. Thus one of the
consequences of the democratic revolution which is going on in
Europe is to make numerical strength preponderate on all fields
of battle, and to constrain all small nations to incorporate
themselves with large States, or at least to adopt the policy of
the latter. As numbers are the determining cause of victory,
each people ought of course to strive by all the means in its
power to bring the greatest possible number of men into the
field. When it was possible to enlist a kind of troops superior
to all others, such as the Swiss infantry or the French horse of
the sixteenth century, it was not thought necessary to raise very
large armies; but the case is altered when one soldier is as
efficient as another.

The same cause which begets this new want also supplies
means of satisfying it; for, as I have already observed, when men
are all alike, they are all weak, and the supreme power of the
State is naturally much stronger amongst democratic nations than
elsewhere. Hence, whilst these nations are desirous of enrolling
the whole male population in the ranks of the army, they have the
power of effecting this object: the consequence is, that in
democratic ages armies seem to grow larger in proportion as the
love of war declines. In the same ages, too, the manner of
carrying on war is likewise altered by the same causes.
Machiavelli observes in "The Prince," "that it is much more
difficult to subdue a people which has a prince and his barons
for its leaders, than a nation which is commanded by a prince and
his slaves." To avoid offence, let us read public functionaries
for slaves, and this important truth will be strictly applicable
to our own time.

A great aristocratic people cannot either conquer its
neighbors, or be conquered by them, without great difficulty. It
cannot conquer them, because all its forces can never be
collected and held together for a considerable period: it cannot
be conquered, because an enemy meets at every step small centres
of resistance by which invasion is arrested. War against an
aristocracy may be compared to war in a mountainous country; the
defeated party has constant opportunities of rallying its forces
to make a stand in a new position. Exactly the reverse occurs
amongst democratic nations: they easily bring their whole
disposable force into the field, and when the nation is wealthy
and populous it soon becomes victorious; but if ever it is
conquered, and its territory invaded, it has few resources at
command; and if the enemy takes the capital, the nation is lost.
This may very well be explained: as each member of the community
is individually isolated and extremely powerless, no one of the
whole body can either defend himself or present a rallying point
to others. Nothing is strong in a democratic country except the
State; as the military strength of the State is destroyed by the
destruction of the army, and its civil power paralyzed by the
capture of the chief city, all that remains is only a multitude
without strength or government, unable to resist the organized
power by which it is assailed. I am aware that this danger may be
lessened by the creation of provincial liberties, and
consequently of provincial powers, but this remedy will always be
insufficient. For after such a catastrophe, not only is the
population unable to carry on hostilities, but it may be
apprehended that they will not be inclined to attempt it.
In accordance with the law of nations adopted in civilized
countries, the object of wars is not to seize the property of
private individuals, but simply to get possession of political
power. The destruction of private property is only occasionally
resorted to for the purpose of attaining the latter object. When
an aristocratic country is invaded after the defeat of its army,
the nobles, although they are at the same time the wealthiest
members of the community, will continue to defend themselves
individually rather than submit; for if the conqueror remained
master of the country, he would deprive them of their political
power, to which they cling even more closely than to their
property. They therefore prefer fighting to subjection, which is
to them the greatest of all misfortunes; and they readily carry
the people along with them because the people has long been used
to follow and obey them, and besides has but little to risk in
the war. Amongst a nation in which equality of conditions
prevails, each citizen, on the contrary, has but slender share of
political power, and often has no share at all; on the other
hand, all are independent, and all have something to lose; so
that they are much less afraid of being conquered, and much more
afraid of war, than an aristocratic people. It will always be
extremely difficult to decide a democratic population to take up
arms, when hostilities have reached its own territory. Hence the
necessity of giving to such a people the rights and the political
character which may impart to every citizen some of those
interests that cause the nobles to act for the public welfare in
aristocratic countries.

It should never be forgotten by the princes and other
leaders of democratic nations, that nothing but the passion and
the habit of freedom can maintain an advantageous contest with
the passion and the habit of physical well-being. I can conceive
nothing better prepared for subjection, in case of defeat, than a
democratic people without free institutions.

Formerly it was customary to take the field with a small
body of troops, to fight in small engagements, and to make long,
regular sieges: modern tactics consist in fighting decisive
battles, and, as soon as a line of march is open before the army,
in rushing upon the capital city, in order to terminate the war
at a single blow. Napoleon, it is said, was the inventor of this
new system; but the invention of such a system did not depend on
any individual man, whoever he might be. The mode in which
Napoleon carried on war was suggested to him by the state of
society in his time; that mode was successful, because it was
eminently adapted to that state of society, and because he was
the first to employ it. Napoleon was the first commander who
marched at the head of an army from capital to capital, but the
road was opened for him by the ruin of feudal society. It may
fairly be believed that, if that extraordinary man had been born
three hundred years ago, he would not have derived the same
results from his method of warfare, or, rather, that he would
have had a different method.

I shall add but a few words on civil wars, for fear of
exhausting the patience of the reader. Most of the remarks which
I have made respecting foreign wars are applicable a fortiori to
civil wars. Men living in democracies are not naturally prone to
the military character; they sometimes assume it, when they have
been dragged by compulsion to the field; but to rise in a body
and voluntarily to expose themselves to the horrors of war, and
especially of civil war, is a course which the men of democracies
are not apt to adopt. None but the most adventurous members of
the community consent to run into such risks; the bulk of the
population remains motionless. But even if the population were
inclined to act, considerable obstacles would stand in their way;
for they can resort to no old and well-established influence
which they are willing to obey - no well-known leaders to rally
the discontented, as well as to discipline and to lead them - no
political powers subordinate to the supreme power of the nation,
which afford an effectual support to the resistance directed
against the government. In democratic countries the moral power
of the majority is immense, and the physical resources which it
has at its command are out of all proportion to the physical
resources which may be combined against it. Therefore the party
which occupies the seat of the majority, which speaks in its name
and wields its power, triumphs instantaneously and irresistibly
over all private resistance; it does not even give such
opposition time to exist, but nips it in the bud. Those who in
such nations seek to effect a revolution by force of arms have no
other resource than suddenly to seize upon the whole engine of
government as it stands, which can better be done by a single
blow than by a war; for as soon as there is a regular war, the
party which represents the State is always certain to conquer.
The only case in which a civil war could arise is, if the army
should divide itself into two factions, the one raising the
standard of rebellion, the other remaining true to its
allegiance. An army constitutes a small community, very closely
united together, endowed with great powers of vitality, and able
to supply its own wants for some time. Such a war might be
bloody, but it could not be long; for either the rebellious army
would gain over the government by the sole display of its
resources, or by its first victory, and then the war would be
over; or the struggle would take place, and then that portion of
the army which should not be supported by the organized powers of
the State would speedily either disband itself or be destroyed.
It may therefore be admitted as a general truth, that in ages of
equality civil wars will become much less frequent and less
protracted. *c

[Footnote c: It should be borne in mind that I speak here of
sovereign and independent democratic nations, not of confederate
democracies; in confederacies, as the preponderating power always
resides, in spite of all political fictions, in the state
governments, and not in the federal government, civil wars are in
fact nothing but foreign wars in disguise.]

Book Four - Chapters I-IV

Influence Of Democratic Opinions On Political Society

Chapter I: That Equality Naturally Gives Men A Taste For Free

I should imperfectly fulfil the purpose of this book, if,
after having shown what opinions and sentiments are suggested by
the principle of equality, I did not point out, ere I conclude,
the general influence which these same opinions and sentiments
may exercise upon the government of human societies. To succeed
in this object I shall frequently have to retrace my steps; but I
trust the reader will not refuse to follow me through paths
already known to him, which may lead to some new truth.

The principle of equality, which makes men independent of
each other, gives them a habit and a taste for following, in
their private actions, no other guide but their own will. This
complete independence, which they constantly enjoy towards their
equals and in the intercourse of private life, tends to make them
look upon all authority with a jealous eye, and speedily suggests
to them the notion and the love of political freedom. Men living
at such times have a natural bias to free institutions. Take any
one of them at a venture, and search if you can his most
deep-seated instincts; you will find that of all governments he
will soonest conceive and most highly value that government,
whose head he has himself elected, and whose administration he
may control. Of all the political effects produced by the
equality of conditions, this love of independence is the first to
strike the observing, and to alarm the timid; nor can it be said
that their alarm is wholly misplaced, for anarchy has a more
formidable aspect in democratic countries than elsewhere. As the
citizens have no direct influence on each other, as soon as the
supreme power of the nation fails, which kept them all in their
several stations, it would seem that disorder must instantly
reach its utmost pitch, and that, every man drawing aside in a
different direction, the fabric of society must at once crumble

I am, however, persuaded that anarchy is not the principal
evil which democratic ages have to fear, but the least. For the
principle of equality begets two tendencies; the one leads men
straight to independence, and may suddenly drive them into
anarchy; the other conducts them by a longer, more secret, but
more certain road, to servitude. Nations readily discern the
former tendency, and are prepared to resist it; they are led away
by the latter, without perceiving its drift; hence it is
peculiarly important to point it out. For myself, I am so far
from urging as a reproach to the principle of equality that it
renders men untractable, that this very circumstance principally
calls forth my approbation. I admire to see how it deposits in
the mind and heart of man the dim conception and instinctive love
of political independence, thus preparing the remedy for the evil
which it engenders; it is on this very account that I am attached
to it.

Chapter II: That The Notions Of Democratic Nations On Government
Are Naturally Favorable To The Concentration Of Power

The notion of secondary powers, placed between the sovereign
and his subjects, occurred naturally to the imagination of
aristocratic nations, because those communities contained
individuals or families raised above the common level, and
apparently destined to command by their birth, their education,
and their wealth. This same notion is naturally wanting in the
minds of men in democratic ages, for converse reasons: it can
only be introduced artificially, it can only be kept there with
difficulty; whereas they conceive, as it were, without thinking
upon the subject, the notion of a sole and central power which
governs the whole community by its direct influence. Moreover in
politics, as well as in philosophy and in religion, the intellect
of democratic nations is peculiarly open to simple and general
notions. Complicated systems are repugnant to it, and its
favorite conception is that of a great nation composed of
citizens all resembling the same pattern, and all governed by a
single power.

The very next notion to that of a sole and central power, which
presents itself to the minds of men in the ages of
equality, is the notion of uniformity of legislation. As every
man sees that he differs but little from those about him, he
cannot understand why a rule which is applicable to one man
should not be equally applicable to all others. Hence the
slightest privileges are repugnant to his reason; the faintest
dissimilarities in the political institutions of the same people
offend him, and uniformity of legislation appears to him to be
the first condition of good government. I find, on the contrary,
that this same notion of a uniform rule, equally binding on all
the members of the community, was almost unknown to the human
mind in aristocratic ages; it was either never entertained, or it
was rejected. These contrary tendencies of opinion ultimately
turn on either side to such blind instincts and such ungovernable
habits that they still direct the actions of men, in spite of
particular exceptions. Notwithstanding the immense variety of
conditions in the Middle Ages, a certain number of persons
existed at that period in precisely similar circumstances; but
this did not prevent the laws then in force from assigning to
each of them distinct duties and different rights. On the
contrary, at the present time all the powers of government are
exerted to impose the same customs and the same laws on
populations which have as yet but few points of resemblance. As
the conditions of men become equal amongst a people, individuals
seem of less importance, and society of greater dimensions; or
rather, every citizen, being assimilated to all the rest, is lost
in the crowd, and nothing stands conspicuous but the great and
imposing image of the people at large. This naturally gives the
men of democratic periods a lofty opinion of the privileges of
society, and a very humble notion of the rights of individuals;
they are ready to admit that the interests of the former are
everything, and those of the latter nothing. They are willing to
acknowledge that the power which represents the community has far
more information and wisdom than any of the members of that
community; and that it is the duty, as well as the right, of that
power to guide as well as govern each private citizen.

If we closely scrutinize our contemporaries, and penetrate
to the root of their political opinions, we shall detect some of
the notions which I have just pointed out, and we shall perhaps
be surprised to find so much accordance between men who are so
often at variance. The Americans hold, that in every State the
supreme power ought to emanate from the people; but when once
that power is constituted, they can conceive, as it were, no
limits to it, and they are ready to admit that it has the right
to do whatever it pleases. They have not the slightest notion of
peculiar privileges granted to cities, families, or persons:
their minds appear never to have foreseen that it might be
possible not to apply with strict uniformity the same laws to
every part, and to all the inhabitants. These same opinions are
more and more diffused in Europe; they even insinuate themselves
amongst those nations which most vehemently reject the principle
of the sovereignty of the people. Such nations assign a different
origin to the supreme power, but they ascribe to that power the
same characteristics. Amongst them all, the idea of intermediate
powers is weakened and obliterated: the idea of rights inherent
in certain individuals is rapidly disappearing from the minds of
men; the idea of the omnipotence and sole authority of society at
large rises to fill its place. These ideas take root and spread
in proportion as social conditions become more equal, and men
more alike; they are engendered by equality, and in turn they
hasten the progress of equality.

In France, where the revolution of which I am speaking has
gone further than in any other European country, these opinions
have got complete hold of the public mind. If we listen
attentively to the language of the various parties in France, we
shall find that there is not one which has not adopted them.
Most of these parties censure the conduct of the government, but
they all hold that the government ought perpetually to act and
interfere in everything that is done. Even those which are most
at variance are nevertheless agreed upon this head. The unity,
the ubiquity, the omnipotence of the supreme power, and the
uniformity of its rules, constitute the principal characteristics
of all the political systems which have been put forward in our
age. They recur even in the wildest visions of political
regeneration: the human mind pursues them in its dreams. If
these notions spontaneously arise in the minds of private
individuals, they suggest themselves still more forcibly to the
minds of princes. Whilst the ancient fabric of European society
is altered and dissolved, sovereigns acquire new conceptions of
their opportunities and their duties; they learn for the first
time that the central power which they represent may and ought to
administer by its own agency, and on a uniform plan, all the
concerns of the whole community. This opinion, which, I will
venture to say, was never conceived before our time by the
monarchs of Europe, now sinks deeply into the minds of kings, and
abides there amidst all the agitation of more unsettled thoughts.

Our contemporaries are therefore much less divided than is
commonly supposed; they are constantly disputing as to the hands
in which supremacy is to be vested, but they readily agree upon
the duties and the rights of that supremacy. The notion they all
form of government is that of a sole, simple, providential, and
creative power. All secondary opinions in politics are
unsettled; this one remains fixed, invariable, and consistent.
It is adopted by statesmen and political philosophers; it is
eagerly laid hold of by the multitude; those who govern and those
who are governed agree to pursue it with equal ardor: it is the
foremost notion of their minds, it seems inborn. It originates
therefore in no caprice of the human intellect, but it is a
necessary condition of the present state of mankind.

Chapter III: That The Sentiments Of Democratic Nations Accord
With Their Opinions In Leading Them To Concentrate Political
If it be true that, in ages of equality, men readily adopt
the notion of a great central power, it cannot be doubted on the
other hand that their habits and sentiments predispose them to
recognize such a power and to give it their support. This may be
demonstrated in a few words, as the greater part of the reasons,
to which the fact may be attributed, have been previously stated.
*a As the men who inhabit democratic countries have no superiors,
no inferiors, and no habitual or necessary partners in their
undertakings, they readily fall back upon themselves and consider
themselves as beings apart. I had occasion to point this out at
considerable length in treating of individualism. Hence such men
can never, without an effort, tear themselves from their private
affairs to engage in public business; their natural bias leads
them to abandon the latter to the sole visible and permanent
representative of the interests of the community, that is to say,
to the State. Not only are they naturally wanting in a taste for
public business, but they have frequently no time to attend to
it. Private life is so busy in democratic periods, so excited,
so full of wishes and of work, that hardly any energy or leisure
remains to each individual for public life. I am the last man to
contend that these propensities are unconquerable, since my chief
object in writing this book has been to combat them. I only
maintain that at the present day a secret power is fostering them
in the human heart, and that if they are not checked they will
wholly overgrow it.

[Footnote a: See Appendix W.]

I have also had occasion to show how the increasing love of
well-being, and the fluctuating character of property, cause
democratic nations to dread all violent disturbance. The love of
public tranquillity is frequently the only passion which these
nations retain, and it becomes more active and powerful amongst
them in proportion as all other passions droop and die. This
naturally disposes the members of the community constantly to
give or to surrender additional rights to the central power,
which alone seems to be interested in defending them by the same
means that it uses to defend itself. As in ages of equality no
man is compelled to lend his assistance to his fellow-men, and
none has any right to expect much support from them, everyone is
at once independent and powerless. These two conditions, which
must never be either separately considered or confounded
together, inspire the citizen of a democratic country with very
contrary propensities. His independence fills him with
self-reliance and pride amongst his equals; his debility makes
him feel from time to time the want of some outward assistance,
which he cannot expect from any of them, because they are all
impotent and unsympathizing. In this predicament he naturally
turns his eyes to that imposing power which alone rises above the
level of universal depression. Of that power his wants and
especially his desires continually remind him, until he
ultimately views it as the sole and necessary support of his own
weakness. *b This may more completely explain what frequently
takes place in democratic countries, where the very men who are
so impatient of superiors patiently submit to a master,
exhibiting at once their pride and their servility.

[Footnote b: In democratic communities nothing but the central
power has any stability in its position or any permanence in its
undertakings. All the members of society are in ceaseless stir
and transformation. Now it is in the nature of all governments
to seek constantly to enlarge their sphere of action; hence it is
almost impossible that such a government should not ultimately
succeed, because it acts with a fixed principle and a constant
will, upon men, whose position, whose notions, and whose desires
are in continual vacillation. It frequently happens that the
members of the community promote the influence of the central
power without intending it. Democratic ages are periods of
experiment, innovation, and adventure. At such times there are
always a multitude of men engaged in difficult or novel
undertakings, which they follow alone, without caring for their
fellowmen. Such persons may be ready to admit, as a general
principle, that the public authority ought not to interfere in
private concerns; but, by an exception to that rule, each of them
craves for its assistance in the particular concern on which he
is engaged, and seeks to draw upon the influence of the
government for his own benefit, though he would restrict it on
all other occasions. If a large number of men apply this
particular exception to a great variety of different purposes,
the sphere of the central power extends insensibly in all
directions, although each of them wishes it to be circumscribed.
Thus a democratic government increases its power simply by the
fact of its permanence. Time is on its side; every incident
befriends it; the passions of individuals unconsciously promote
it; and it may be asserted, that the older a democratic community
is, the more centralized will its government become.]

The hatred which men bear to privilege increases in
proportion as privileges become more scarce and less
considerable, so that democratic passions would seem to burn most
fiercely at the very time when they have least fuel. I have
already given the reason of this phenomenon. When all conditions
are unequal, no inequality is so great as to offend the eye;
whereas the slightest dissimilarity is odious in the midst of
general uniformity: the more complete is this uniformity, the
more insupportable does the sight of such a difference become.
Hence it is natural that the love of equality should constantly
increase together with equality itself, and that it should grow
by what it feeds upon. This never-dying, ever- kindling hatred,
which sets a democratic people against the smallest privileges,
is peculiarly favorable to the gradual concentration of all
political rights in the hands of the representative of the State
alone. The sovereign, being necessarily and incontestably above
all the citizens, excites not their envy, and each of them thinks
that he strips his equals of the prerogative which he concedes to
the crown. The man of a democratic age is extremely reluctant to
obey his neighbor who is his equal; he refuses to acknowledge in
such a person ability superior to his own; he mistrusts his
justice, and is jealous of his power; he fears and he contemns
him; and he loves continually to remind him of the common
dependence in which both of them stand to the same master. Every
central power which follows its natural tendencies courts and
encourages the principle of equality; for equality singularly
facilitates, extends, and secures the influence of a central

In like manner it may be said that every central government
worships uniformity: uniformity relieves it from inquiry into an
infinite number of small details which must be attended to if
rules were to be adapted to men, instead of indiscriminately
subjecting men to rules: thus the government likes what the
citizens like, and naturally hates what they hate. These common
sentiments, which, in democratic nations, constantly unite the
sovereign and every member of the community in one and the same
conviction, establish a secret and lasting sympathy between them.
The faults of the government are pardoned for the sake of its
tastes; public confidence is only reluctantly withdrawn in the
midst even of its excesses and its errors, and it is restored at
the first call. Democratic nations often hate those in whose
hands the central power is vested; but they always love that
power itself.

Thus, by two separate paths, I have reached the same
conclusion. I have shown that the principle of equality suggests
to men the notion of a sole, uniform, and strong government: I
have now shown that the principle of equality imparts to them a
taste for it. To governments of this kind the nations of our age
are therefore tending. They are drawn thither by the natural
inclination of mind and heart; and in order to reach that result,
it is enough that they do not check themselves in their course.
I am of opinion, that, in the democratic ages which are opening
upon us, individual independence and local liberties will ever be
the produce of artificial contrivance; that centralization will
be the natural form of government. *c

[Footnote c: See Appendix X.]

Chapter IV: Of Certain Peculiar And Accidental Causes Which
Either Lead A People To Complete Centralization Of Government, Or
Which Divert Them From It

If all democratic nations are instinctively led to the
centralization of government, they tend to this result in an
unequal manner. This depends on the particular circumstances
which may promote or prevent the natural consequences of that
state of society - circumstances which are exceedingly numerous;
but I shall only advert to a few of them. Amongst men who have
lived free long before they became equal, the tendencies derived
from free institutions combat, to a certain extent, the
propensities superinduced by the principle of equality; and
although the central power may increase its privileges amongst
such a people, the private members of such a community will never
entirely forfeit their independence. But when the equality of
conditions grows up amongst a people which has never known, or
has long ceased to know, what freedom is (and such is the case
upon the Continent of Europe), as the former habits of the nation
are suddenly combined, by some sort of natural attraction, with
the novel habits and principles engendered by the state of
society, all powers seem spontaneously to rush to the centre.
These powers accumulate there with astonishing rapidity, and the
State instantly attains the utmost limits of its strength, whilst
private persons allow themselves to sink as suddenly to the
lowest degree of weakness.

The English who emigrated three hundred years ago to found a
democratic commonwealth on the shores of the New World, had all
learned to take a part in public affairs in their mother-country;
they were conversant with trial by jury; they were accustomed to
liberty of speech and of the press - to personal freedom, to the
notion of rights and the practice of asserting them. They carried
with them to America these free institutions and manly customs,
and these institutions preserved them against the encroachments
of the State. Thus amongst the Americans it is freedom which is
old - equality is of comparatively modern date. The reverse is
occurring in Europe, where equality, introduced by absolute power
and under the rule of kings, was already infused into the habits
of nations long before freedom had entered into their

I have said that amongst democratic nations the notion of
government naturally presents itself to the mind under the form
of a sole and central power, and that the notion of intermediate
powers is not familiar to them. This is peculiarly applicable to
the democratic nations which have witnessed the triumph of the
principle of equality by means of a violent revolution. As the
classes which managed local affairs have been suddenly swept away
by the storm, and as the confused mass which remains has as yet
neither the organization nor the habits which fit it to assume
the administration of these same affairs, the State alone seems
capable of taking upon itself all the details of government, and
centralization becomes, as it were, the unavoidable state of the
country. Napoleon deserves neither praise nor censure for having
centred in his own hands almost all the administrative power of
France; for, after the abrupt disappearance of the nobility and
the higher rank of the middle classes, these powers devolved on
him of course: it would have been almost as difficult for him to
reject as to assume them. But no necessity of this kind has ever
been felt by the Americans, who, having passed through no
revolution, and having governed themselves from the first, never
had to call upon the State to act for a time as their guardian.
Thus the progress of centralization amongst a democratic people
depends not only on the progress of equality, but on the manner
in which this equality has been established.

At the commencement of a great democratic revolution, when
hostilities have but just broken out between the different
classes of society, the people endeavors to centralize the public
administration in the hands of the government, in order to wrest
the management of local affairs from the aristocracy. Towards
the close of such a revolution, on the contrary, it is usually
the conquered aristocracy that endeavors to make over the
management of all affairs to the State, because such an
aristocracy dreads the tyranny of a people which has become its
equal, and not unfrequently its master. Thus it is not always the
same class of the community which strives to increase the
prerogative of the government; but as long as the democratic
revolution lasts there is always one class in the nation,
powerful in numbers or in wealth, which is induced, by peculiar
passions or interests, to centralize the public administration,
independently of that hatred of being governed by one's neighbor,
which is a general and permanent feeling amongst democratic
nations. It may be remarked, that at the present day the lower
orders in England are striving with all their might to destroy
local independence, and to transfer the administration from all
points of the circumference to the centre; whereas the higher
classes are endeavoring to retain this administration within its
ancient boundaries. I venture to predict that a time will come
when the very reverse will happen.

These observations explain why the supreme power is always
stronger, and private individuals weaker, amongst a democratic
people which has passed through a long and arduous struggle to
reach a state of equality than amongst a democratic community in
which the citizens have been equal from the first. The example of
the Americans completely demonstrates the fact. The inhabitants
of the United States were never divided by any privileges; they
have never known the mutual relation of master and inferior, and
as they neither dread nor hate each other, they have never known
the necessity of calling in the supreme power to manage their
affairs. The lot of the Americans is singular: they have derived
from the aristocracy of England the notion of private rights and
the taste for local freedom; and they have been able to retain
both the one and the other, because they have had no aristocracy
to combat.

If at all times education enables men to defend their
independence, this is most especially true in democratic ages.
When all men are alike, it is easy to found a sole and
all-powerful government, by the aid of mere instinct. But men
require much intelligence, knowledge, and art to organize and to
maintain secondary powers under similar circumstances, and to
create amidst the independence and individual weakness of the
citizens such free associations as may be in a condition to
struggle against tyranny without destroying public order.

Hence the concentration of power and the subjection of
individuals will increase amongst democratic nations, not only in
the same proportion as their equality, but in the same proportion
as their ignorance. It is true, that in ages of imperfect
civilization the government is frequently as wanting in the
knowledge required to impose a despotism upon the people as the
people are wanting in the knowledge required to shake it off; but
the effect is not the same on both sides. However rude a
democratic people may be, the central power which rules it is
never completely devoid of cultivation, because it readily draws
to its own uses what little cultivation is to be found in the
country, and, if necessary, may seek assistance elsewhere.
Hence, amongst a nation which is ignorant as well as democratic,
an amazing difference cannot fail speedily to arise between the
intellectual capacity of the ruler and that of each of his
subjects. This completes the easy concentration of all power in
his hands: the administrative function of the State is
perpetually extended, because the State alone is competent to
administer the affairs of the country. Aristocratic nations,
however unenlightened they may be, never afford the same
spectacle, because in them instruction is nearly equally diffused
between the monarch and the leading members of the community.

The pacha who now rules in Egypt found the population of
that country composed of men exceedingly ignorant and equal, and
he has borrowed the science and ability of Europe to govern that
people. As the personal attainments of the sovereign are thus
combined with the ignorance and democratic weakness of his
subjects, the utmost centralization has been established without
impediment, and the pacha has made the country his manufactory,
and the inhabitants his workmen.

I think that extreme centralization of government ultimately
enervates society, and thus after a length of time weakens the
government itself; but I do not deny that a centralized social
power may be able to execute great undertakings with facility in
a given time and on a particular point. This is more especially
true of war, in which success depends much more on the means of
transferring all the resources of a nation to one single point,
than on the extent of those resources. Hence it is chiefly in
war that nations desire and frequently require to increase the
powers of the central government. All men of military genius are
fond of centralization, which increases their strength; and all
men of centralizing genius are fond of war, which compels nations
to combine all their powers in the hands of the government. Thus
the democratic tendency which leads men unceasingly to multiply
the privileges of the State, and to circumscribe the rights of
private persons, is much more rapid and constant amongst those
democratic nations which are exposed by their position to great
and frequent wars, than amongst all others.

I have shown how the dread of disturbance and the love of
well-being insensibly lead democratic nations to increase the
functions of central government, as the only power which appears
to be intrinsically sufficiently strong, enlightened, and secure,
to protect them from anarchy. I would now add, that all the
particular circumstances which tend to make the state of a
democratic community agitated and precarious, enhance this
general propensity, and lead private persons more and more to
sacrifice their rights to their tranquility. A people is
therefore never so disposed to increase the functions of central
government as at the close of a long and bloody revolution,
which, after having wrested property from the hands of its former
possessors, has shaken all belief, and filled the nation with
fierce hatreds, conflicting interests, and contending factions.
The love of public tranquillity becomes at such times an
indiscriminating passion, and the members of the community are
apt to conceive a most inordinate devotion to order.

I have already examined several of the incidents which may
concur to promote the centralization of power, but the principal
cause still remains to be noticed. The foremost of the
incidental causes which may draw the management of all affairs
into the hands of the ruler in democratic countries, is the
origin of that ruler himself, and his own propensities. Men who
live in the ages of equality are naturally fond of central power,
and are willing to extend its privileges; but if it happens that
this same power faithfully represents their own interests, and
exactly copies their own inclinations, the confidence they place
in it knows no bounds, and they think that whatever they bestow
upon it is bestowed upon themselves.

The attraction of administrative powers to the centre will
always be less easy and less rapid under the reign of kings who
are still in some way connected with the old aristocratic order,
than under new princes, the children of their own achievements,
whose birth, prejudices, propensities, and habits appear to bind
them indissolubly to the cause of equality. I do not mean that
princes of aristocratic origin who live in democratic ages do not
attempt to centralize; I believe they apply themselves to that
object as diligently as any others. For them, the sole
advantages of equality lie in that direction; but their
opportunities are less great, because the community, instead of
volunteering compliance with their desires, frequently obeys them
with reluctance. In democratic communities the rule is that
centralization must increase in proportion as the sovereign is
less aristocratic. When an ancient race of kings stands at the
head of an aristocracy, as the natural prejudices of the
sovereign perfectly accord with the natural prejudices of the
nobility, the vices inherent in aristocratic communities have a
free course, and meet with no corrective. The reverse is the
case when the scion of a feudal stock is placed at the head of a
democratic people. The sovereign is constantly led, by his
education, his habits, and his associations, to adopt sentiments
suggested by the inequality of conditions, and the people tend as
constantly, by their social condition, to those manners which are
engendered by equality. At such times it often happens that the
citizens seek to control the central power far less as a
tyrannical than as an aristocratical power, and that they persist
in the firm defence of their independence, not only because they
would remain free, but especially because they are determined to
remain equal. A revolution which overthrows an ancient regal
family, in order to place men of more recent growth at the head
of a democratic people, may temporarily weaken the central power;
but however anarchical such a revolution may appear at first, we
need not hesitate to predict that its final and certain
consequence will be to extend and to secure the prerogatives of
that power. The foremost or indeed the sole condition which is
required in order to succeed in centralizing the supreme power in
a democratic community, is to love equality, or to get men to
believe you love it. Thus the science of despotism, which was
once so complex, is simplified, and reduced as it were to a
single principle.

Book Four - Chapter V

Chapter V: That Amongst The European Nations Of Our Time The
Power Of Governments Is Increasing, Although The Persons Who
Govern Are Less Stable

On reflecting upon what has already been said, the reader
will be startled and alarmed to find that in Europe everything
seems to conduce to the indefinite extension of the prerogatives
of government, and to render all that enjoyed the rights of
private independence more weak, more subordinate, and more
precarious. The democratic nations of Europe have all the
general and permanent tendencies which urge the Americans to the
centralization of government, and they are moreover exposed to a
number of secondary and incidental causes with which the
Americans are unacquainted. It would seem as if every step they
make towards equality brings them nearer to despotism. And indeed
if we do but cast our looks around, we shall be convinced that
such is the fact. During the aristocratic ages which preceded
the present time, the sovereigns of Europe had been deprived of,
or had relinquished, many of the rights inherent in their power.
Not a hundred years ago, amongst the greater part of European
nations, numerous private persons and corporations were
sufficiently independent to administer justice, to raise and
maintain troops, to levy taxes, and frequently even to make or
interpret the law. The State has everywhere resumed to itself
alone these natural attributes of sovereign power; in all matters
of government the State tolerates no intermediate agent between
itself and the people, and in general business it directs the
people by its own immediate influence. I am far from blaming
this concentration of power, I simply point it out.

At the same period a great number of secondary powers
existed in Europe, which represented local interests and
administered local affairs. Most of these local authorities have
already disappeared; all are speedily tending to disappear, or to
fall into the most complete dependence. From one end of Europe
to the other the privileges of the nobility, the liberties of
cities, and the powers of provincial bodies, are either destroyed
or upon the verge of destruction. Europe has endured, in the
course of the last half- century, many revolutions and
counter-revolutions which have agitated it in opposite
directions: but all these perturbations resemble each other in
one respect -they have all shaken or destroyed the secondary
powers of government. The local privileges which the French did
not abolish in the countries they conquered, have finally
succumbed to the policy of the princes who conquered the French.
Those princes rejected all the innovations of the French
Revolution except centralization: that is the only principle they
consented to receive from such a source. My object is to remark,
that all these various rights, which have been successively
wrested, in our time, from classes, corporations, and
individuals, have not served to raise new secondary powers on a
more democratic basis, but have uniformly been concentrated in
the hands of the sovereign. Everywhere the State acquires more
and more direct control over the humblest members of the
community, and a more exclusive power of governing each of them
in his smallest concerns. *a Almost all the charitable
establishments of Europe were formerly in the hands of private
persons or of corporations; they are now almost all dependent on
the supreme government, and in many countries are actually
administered by that power. The State almost exclusively
undertakes to supply bread to the hungry, assistance and shelter
to the sick, work to the idle, and to act as the sole reliever of
all kinds of misery. Education, as well as charity, is become in
most countries at the present day a national concern. The State
receives, and often takes, the child from the arms of the mother,
to hand it over to official agents: the State undertakes to train
the heart and to instruct the mind of each generation.
Uniformity prevails in the courses of public instruction as in
everything else; diversity, as well as freedom, is disappearing
day by day. Nor do I hesitate to affirm, that amongst almost all
the Christian nations of our days, Catholic as well as
Protestant, religion is in danger of falling into the hands of
the government. Not that rulers are over-jealous of the right of
settling points of doctrine, but they get more and more hold upon
the will of those by whom doctrines are expounded; they deprive
the clergy of their property, and pay them by salaries; they
divert to their own use the influence of the priesthood, they
make them their own ministers - often their own servants - and by
this alliance with religion they reach the inner depths of the
soul of man. *b

[Footnote a: This gradual weakening of individuals in relation to
society at large may be traced in a thousand ways. I shall
select from amongst these examples one derived from the law of
wills. In aristocracies it is common to profess the greatest
reverence for the last testamentary dispositions of a man; this
feeling sometimes even became superstitious amongst the older
nations of Europe: the power of the State, far from interfering
with the caprices of a dying man, gave full force to the very
least of them, and insured to him a perpetual power. When all
living men are enfeebled, the will of the dead is less respected:
it is circumscribed within a narrow range, beyond which it is
annulled or checked by the supreme power of the laws. In the
Middle Ages, testamentary power had, so to speak, no limits:
amongst the French at the present day, a man cannot distribute
his fortune amongst his children without the interference of the
State; after having domineered over a whole life, the law insists
upon regulating the very last act of it.]

[Footnote b: In proportion as the duties of the central power are
augmented, the number of public officers by whom that power is
represented must increase also. They form a nation in each
nation; and as they share the stability of the government, they
more and more fill up the place of an aristocracy.

In almost every part of Europe the government rules in two
ways; it rules one portion of the community by the fear which
they entertain of its agents, and the other by the hope they have
of becoming its agents.]

But this is as yet only one side of the picture. The
authority of government has not only spread, as we have just
seen, throughout the sphere of all existing powers, till that
sphere can no longer contain it, but it goes further, and invades
the domain heretofore reserved to private independence. A
multitude of actions, which were formerly entirely beyond the
control of the public administration, have been subjected to that
control in our time, and the number of them is constantly
increasing. Amongst aristocratic nations the supreme government
usually contented itself with managing and superintending the
community in whatever directly and ostensibly concerned the
national honor; but in all other respects the people were left to
work out their own free will. Amongst these nations the
government often seemed to forget that there is a point at which
the faults and the sufferings of private persons involve the
general prosperity, and that to prevent the ruin of a private
individual must sometimes be a matter of public importance. The
democratic nations of our time lean to the opposite extreme. It
is evident that most of our rulers will not content themselves
with governing the people collectively: it would seem as if they
thought themselves responsible for the actions and private
condition of their subjects - as if they had undertaken to guide
and to instruct each of them in the various incidents of life,
and to secure their happiness quite independently of their own
consent. On the other hand private individuals grow more and
more apt to look upon the supreme power in the same light; they
invoke its assistance in all their necessities, and they fix
their eyes upon the administration as their mentor or their

I assert that there is no country in Europe in which the
public administration has not become, not only more centralized,
but more inquisitive and more minute it everywhere interferes in
private concerns more than it did; it regulates more
undertakings, and undertakings of a lesser kind; and it gains a
firmer footing every day about, above, and around all private
persons, to assist, to advise, and to coerce them. Formerly a
sovereign lived upon the income of his lands, or the revenue of
his taxes; this is no longer the case now that his wants have
increased as well as his power. Under the same circumstances
which formerly compelled a prince to put on a new tax, he now has
recourse to a loan. Thus the State gradually becomes the debtor
of most of the wealthier members of the community, and
centralizes the largest amounts of capital in its own hands.
Small capital is drawn into its keeping by another method. As
men are intermingled and conditions become more equal, the poor
have more resources, more education, and more desires; they
conceive the notion of bettering their condition, and this
teaches them to save. These savings are daily producing an
infinite number of small capitals, the slow and gradual produce
of labor, which are always increasing. But the greater part of
this money would be unproductive if it remained scattered in the
hands of its owners. This circumstance has given rise to a
philanthropic institution, which will soon become, if I am not
mistaken, one of our most important political institutions. Some
charitable persons conceived the notion of collecting the savings
of the poor and placing them out at interest. In some countries
these benevolent associations are still completely distinct from
the State; but in almost all they manifestly tend to identify
themselves with the government; and in some of them the
government has superseded them, taking upon itself the enormous
task of centralizing in one place, and putting out at interest on
its own responsibility, the daily savings of many millions of the
working classes. Thus the State draws to itself the wealth of the
rich by loans, and has the poor man's mite at its disposal in the
savings banks. The wealth of the country is perpetually flowing
around the government and passing through its hands; the
accumulation increases in the same proportion as the equality of
conditions; for in a democratic country the State alone inspires
private individuals with confidence, because the State alone
appears to be endowed with strength and durability. *c Thus the
sovereign does not confine himself to the management of the
public treasury; he interferes in private money matters; he is
the superior, and often the master, of all the members of the
community; and, in addition to this, he assumes the part of their
steward and paymaster.

[Footnote c: On the one hand the taste for worldly welfare is
perpetually increasing, and on the other the government gets more
and more complete possession of the sources of that welfare.
Thus men are following two separate roads to servitude: the taste
for their own welfare withholds them from taking a part in the
government, and their love of that welfare places them in closer
dependence upon those who govern.]

The central power not only fulfils of itself the whole of
the duties formerly discharged by various authorities - extending
those duties, and surpassing those authorities - but it performs
them with more alertness, strength, and independence than it
displayed before. All the governments of Europe have in our time
singularly improved the science of administration: they do more
things, and they do everything with more order, more celerity,
and at less expense; they seem to be constantly enriched by all
the experience of which they have stripped private persons. From
day to day the princes of Europe hold their subordinate officers
under stricter control, and they invent new methods for guiding
them more closely, and inspecting them with less trouble. Not
content with managing everything by their agents, they undertake
to manage the conduct of their agents in everything; so that the
public administration not only depends upon one and the same
power, but it is more and more confined to one spot and
concentrated in the same hands. The government centralizes its
agency whilst it increases its prerogative - hence a twofold
increase of strength.

In examining the ancient constitution of the judicial power,
amongst most European nations, two things strike the mind - the
independence of that power, and the extent of its functions. Not
only did the courts of justice decide almost all differences
between private persons, but in very many cases they acted as
arbiters between private persons and the State. I do not here
allude to the political and administrative offices which courts
of judicature had in some countries usurped, but the judicial
office common to them all. In most of the countries of Europe,
there were, and there still are, many private rights, connected
for the most part with the general right of property, which stood
under the protection of the courts of justice, and which the
State could not violate without their sanction. It was this
semi-political power which mainly distinguished the European
courts of judicature from all others; for all nations have had
judges, but all have not invested their judges with the same
privileges. Upon examining what is now occurring amongst the
democratic nations of Europe which are called free, as well as
amongst the others, it will be observed that new and more
dependent courts are everywhere springing up by the side of the
old ones, for the express purpose of deciding, by an
extraordinary jurisdiction, such litigated matters as may arise
between the government and private persons. The elder judicial
power retains its independence, but its jurisdiction is narrowed;
and there is a growing tendency to reduce it to be exclusively
the arbiter between private interests. The number of these
special courts of justice is continually increasing, and their
functions increase likewise. Thus the government is more and
more absolved from the necessity of subjecting its policy and its
rights to the sanction of another power. As judges cannot be
dispensed with, at least the State is to select them, and always
to hold them under its control; so that, between the government
and private individuals, they place the effigy of justice rather
than justice itself. The State is not satisfied with drawing all
concerns to itself, but it acquires an ever-increasing power of
deciding on them all without restriction and without appeal. *d

[Footnote d: A strange sophism has been made on this head in
France. When a suit arises between the government and a private
person, it is not to be tried before an ordinary judge - in
order, they say, not to mix the administrative and the judicial
powers; as if it were not to mix those powers, and to mix them in
the most dangerous and oppressive manner, to invest the
government with the office of judging and administering at the
same time.]

There exists amongst the modern nations of Europe one great
cause, independent of all those which have already been pointed
out, which perpetually contributes to extend the agency or to
strengthen the prerogative of the supreme power, though it has
not been sufficiently attended to: I mean the growth of
manufactures, which is fostered by the progress of social
equality. Manufactures generally collect a multitude of men of
the same spot, amongst whom new and complex relations spring up.
These men are exposed by their calling to great and sudden
alternations of plenty and want, during which public tranquillity
is endangered. It may also happen that these employments
sacrifice the health, and even the life, of those who gain by
them, or of those who live by them. Thus the manufacturing
classes require more regulation, superintendence, and restraint
than the other classes of society, and it is natural that the
powers of government should increase in the same proportion as
those classes.

This is a truth of general application; what follows more
especially concerns the nations of Europe. In the centuries
which preceded that in which we live, the aristocracy was in
possession of the soil, and was competent to defend it: landed
property was therefore surrounded by ample securities, and its
possessors enjoyed great independence. This gave rise to laws
and customs which have been perpetuated, notwithstanding the
subdivision of lands and the ruin of the nobility; and, at the
present time, landowners and agriculturists are still those
amongst the community who must easily escape from the control of
the supreme power. In these same aristocratic ages, in which all
the sources of our history are to be traced, personal property
was of small importance, and those who possessed it were despised
and weak: the manufacturing class formed an exception in the
midst of those aristocratic communities; as it had no certain
patronage, it was not outwardly protected, and was often unable
to protect itself.

Hence a habit sprung up of considering manufacturing property as
something of a peculiar nature, not entitled to the same
deference, and not worthy of the same securities as property in
general; and manufacturers were looked upon as a small class in
the bulk of the people, whose independence was of small
importance, and who might with propriety be abandoned to the
disciplinary passions of princes. On glancing over the codes of
the middle ages, one is surprised to see, in those periods of
personal independence, with what incessant royal regulations
manufactures were hampered, even in their smallest details: on
this point centralization was as active and as minute as it can
ever be. Since that time a great revolution has taken place in
the world; manufacturing property, which was then only in the
germ, has spread till it covers Europe: the manufacturing class
has been multiplied and enriched by the remnants of all other
ranks; it has grown and is still perpetually growing in number,
in importance, in wealth. Almost all those who do not belong to
it are connected with it at least on some one point; after having
been an exception in society, it threatens to become the chief,
if not the only, class; nevertheless the notions and political
precedents engendered by it of old still cling about it. These
notions and these precedents remain unchanged, because they are
old, and also because they happen to be in perfect accordance
with the new notions and general habits of our contemporaries.
Manufacturing property then does not extend its rights in the
same ratio as its importance. The manufacturing classes do not
become less dependent, whilst they become more numerous; but, on
the contrary, it would seem as if despotism lurked within them,
and naturally grew with their growth. *e As a nation becomes more
engaged in manufactures, the want of roads, canals, harbors, and
other works of a semi-public nature, which facilitate the
acquisition of wealth, is more strongly felt; and as a nation
becomes more democratic, private individuals are less able, and
the State more able, to execute works of such magnitude. I do
not hesitate to assert that the manifest tendency of all
governments at the present time is to take upon themselves alone
the execution of these undertakings; by which means they daily
hold in closer dependence the population which they govern.

[Footnote e: I shall quote a few facts in corroboration of this
remark. Mines are the natural sources of manufacturing wealth: as
manufactures have grown up in Europe, as the produce of mines has
become of more general importance, and good mining more difficult
from the subdivision of property which is a consequence of the
equality of conditions, most governments have asserted a right of
owning the soil in which the mines lie, and of inspecting the
works; which has never been the case with any other kind of
property. Thus mines, which were private property, liable to the
same obligations and sheltered by the same guarantees as all
other landed property, have fallen under the control of the
State. The State either works them or farms them; the owners of
them are mere tenants, deriving their rights from the State; and,
moreover, the State almost everywhere claims the power of
directing their operations: it lays down rules, enforces the
adoption of particular methods, subjects the mining adventurers
to constant superintendence, and, if refractory, they are ousted
by a government court of justice, and the government transfers
their contract to other hands; so that the government not only
possesses the mines, but has all the adventurers in its power.
Nevertheless, as manufactures increase, the working of old mines
increases also; new ones are opened, the mining population
extends and grows up; day by day governments augment their
subterranean dominions, and people them with their agents.]

On the other hand, in proportion as the power of a State
increases, and its necessities are augmented, the State
consumption of manufactured produce is always growing larger, and
toese commodities are generally made in the arsenals or
establishments of the government. Thus, in every kingdom, the
ruler becomes the principal manufacturer; he collects and retains
in his service a vast number of engineers, architects, mechanics,
and handicraftsmen. Not only is he the principal manufacturer,
but he tends more and more to become the chief, or rather the
master of all other manufacturers. As private persons become
more powerless by becoming more equal, they can effect nothing in
manufactures without combination; but the government naturally
seeks to place these combinations under its own control.

It must be admitted that these collective beings, which are
called combinations, are stronger and more formidable than a
private individual can ever be, and that they have less of the
responsibility of their own actions; whence it seems reasonable
that they should not be allowed to retain so great an
independence of the supreme government as might be conceded to a
private individual.

Rulers are the more apt to follow this line of policy, as
their own inclinations invite them to it. Amongst democratic
nations it is only by association that the resistance of the
people to the government can ever display itself: hence the
latter always looks with ill-favor on those associations which
are not in its own power; and it is well worthy of remark, that
amongst democratic nations, the people themselves often entertain
a secret feeling of fear and jealousy against these very
associations, which prevents the citizens from defending the
institutions of which they stand so much in need. The power and
the duration of these small private bodies, in the midst of the
weakness and instability of the whole community, astonish and
alarm the people; and the free use which each association makes
of its natural powers is almost regarded as a dangerous
privilege. All the associations which spring up in our age are,
moreover, new corporate powers, whose rights have not been
sanctioned by time; they come into existence at a time when the
notion ofprivate rights is weak, and when the power of government
is unbounded; hence it is not surprising that they lose their
freedom at their birth. Amongst all European nations there are
some kinds of associations which cannot be formed until the State
has examined their by-laws, and authorized their existence. In
several others, attempts are made to extend this rule to all
associations; the consequences of such a policy, if it were
successful, may easily be foreseen. If once the sovereign had a
general right of authorizing associations of all kinds upon
certain conditions, he would not be long without claiming the
right of superintending and managing them, in order to prevent
them from departing from the rules laid down by himself. In this
manner, the State, after having reduced all who are desirous of
forming associations into dependence, would proceed to reduce
into the same condition all who belong to associations already
formed - that is to say, almost all the men who are now in
existence. Governments thus appropriate to themselves, and
convert to their own purposes, the greater part of this new power
which manufacturing interests have in our time brought into the
world. Manufacturers govern us - they govern manufactures.

I attach so much importance to all that I have just been
saying, that I am tormented by the fear of having impaired my
meaning in seeking to render it more clear. If the reader thinks
that the examples I have adduced to support my observations are
insufficient or ill-chosen - if he imagines that I have anywhere
exaggerated the encroachments of the supreme power, and, on the
other hand, that I have underrated the extent of the sphere which
still remains open to the exertions of individual independence, I
entreat him to lay down the book for a moment, and to turn his
mind to reflect for himself upon the subjects I have attempted to
explain. Let him attentively examine what is taking place in
France and in other countries - let him inquire of those about
him - let him search himself, and I am much mistaken if he does
not arrive, without my guidance, and by other paths, at the point
to which I have sought to lead him. He will perceive that for
the last half-century, centralization has everywhere been growing
up in a thousand different ways. Wars, revolutions, conquests,
have served to promote it: all men have labored to increase it.
In the course of the same period, during which men have succeeded
each other with singular rapidity at the head of affairs, their
notions, interests, and passions have been infinitely
diversified; but all have by some means or other sought to
centralize. This instinctive centralization has been the only
settled point amidst the extreme mutability of their lives and of
their thoughts.

If the reader, after having investigated these details of
human affairs, will seek to survey the wide prospect as a whole,
he will be struck by the result. On the one hand the most
settled dynasties shaken or overthrown - the people everywhere
escaping by violence from the sway of their laws -abolishing or
limiting the authority of their rulers or their princes - the
nations, which are not in open revolution, restless at least, and
excited -all of them animated by the same spirit of revolt: and
on the other hand, at this very period of anarchy, and amongst
these untractable nations, the incessant increase of the
prerogative of the supreme government, becoming more centralized,
more adventurous, more absolute, more extensive - the people
perpetually falling under the control of the public
administration - led insensibly to surrender to it some further
portion of their individual independence, till the very men, who
from time to time upset a throne and trample on a race of kings,
bend more and more obsequiously to the slightest dictate of a
clerk. Thus two contrary revolutions appear in our days to be
going on; the one continually weakening the supreme power, the
other as continually strengthening it: at no other period in our
history has it appeared so weak or so strong. But upon a more
attentive examination of the state of the world, it appears that
these two revolutions are intimately connected together, that
they originate in the same source, and that after having followed
a separate course, they lead men at last to the same result. I
may venture once more to repeat what I have already said or
implied in several parts of this book: great care must be taken
not to confound the principle of equality itself with the
revolution which finally establishes that principle in the social
condition and the laws of a nation: here lies the reason of
almost all the phenomena which occasion our astonishment. All
the old political powers of Europe, the greatest as well as the
least, were founded in ages of aristocracy, and they more or less
represented or defended the principles of inequality and of
privilege. To make the novel wants and interests, which the
growing principle of equality introduced, preponderate in
government, our contemporaries had to overturn or to coerce the
established powers. This led them to make revolutions, and
breathed into many of them, that fierce love of disturbance and
independence, which all revolutions, whatever be their object,
always engender. I do not believe that there is a single country
in Europe in which the progress of equality has not been preceded
or followed by some violent changes in the state of property and
persons; and almost all these changes have been attended with
much anarchy and license, because they have been made by the
least civilized portion of the nation against that which is most
civilized. Hence proceeded the two-fold contrary tendencies
which I have just pointed out. As long as the democratic
revolution was glowing with heat, the men who were bent upon the
destruction of old aristocratic powers hostile to that
revolution, displayed a strong spirit of independence; but as the
victory or the principle of equality became more complete, they
gradually surrendered themselves to the propensities natural to
that condition of equality, and they strengthened and centralized
their governments. They had sought to be free in order to make
themselves equal; but in proportion as equality was more
established by the aid of freedom, freedom itself was thereby
rendered of more difficult attainment.

These two states of a nation have sometimes been
contemporaneous: the last generation in France showed how a
people might organize a stupendous tyranny in the community, at
the very time when they were baffling the authority of the
nobility and braving the power of all kings - at once teaching
the world the way to win freedom, and the way to lose it. In our
days men see that constituted powers are dilapidated on every
side - they see all ancient authority gasping away, all ancient
barriers tottering to their fall, and the judgment of the wisest
is troubled at the sight: they attend only to the amazing
revolution which is taking place before their eyes, and they
imagine that mankind is about to fall into perpetual anarchy: if
they looked to the final consequences of this revolution, their
fears would perhaps assume a different shape. For myself, I
confess that I put no trust in the spirit of freedom which
appears to animate my contemporaries. I see well enough that the
nations of this age are turbulent, but I do not clearly perceive
that they are liberal; and I fear lest, at the close of those
perturbations which rock the base of thrones, the domination of
sovereigns may prove more powerful than it ever was before.

Book Four - Chapters VI,VII

Chapter VI: What Sort Of Despotism Democratic Nations Have To

I had remarked during my stay in the United States, that a
democratic state of society, similar to that of the Americans,
might offer singular facilities for the establishment of
despotism; and I perceived, upon my return to Europe, how much
use had already been made by most of our rulers, of the notions,
the sentiments, and the wants engendered by this same social
condition, for the purpose of extending the circle of their
power. This led me to think that the nations of Christendom
would perhaps eventually undergo some sort of oppression like
that which hung over several of the nations of the ancient world.
A more accurate examination of the subject, and five years of
further meditations, have not diminished my apprehensions, but
they have changed the object of them. No sovereign ever lived in
former ages so absolute or so powerful as to undertake to
administer by his own agency, and without the assistance of
intermediate powers, all the parts of a great empire: none ever
attempted to subject all his subjects indiscriminately to strict
uniformity of regulation, and personally to tutor and direct
every member of the community. The notion of such an undertaking
never occurred to the human mind; and if any man had conceived

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