Alexis de TocquevilleAlexis de Tocqueville, [Alexis Charles Henri Maurice Clerel, le Comte de Tocqueville] (1805-1859) French historian

Alexis de Tocqueville Quote

“After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small, complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.”

Alexis de TocquevilleAlexis de Tocqueville
~ Alexis de Tocqueville

Democracy in America, Volume II (1840), Book Four, Chapter VI

Ratings and Comments


He was a great thinker of his time. I love his writing particulaly relating to constitution, freedom of thought, liberty etc.

J Carlton, Calgary

What he is describing is what we know as bureaucracy. And bureaucracy was also used to great effect by Hitler and Stalin.

jim k, Austin, Tx

Great quote and the last line pretty well sums it up. And once again J Carlton got it right.

E Archer, NYC

Brilliantly said. And this is what 'progressive' socialism brings -- reams and reams of red tape all designed to keep us in our places under the thumb of the State. Fascists, communists, totalitarians, monarchs, dictators, authoritarians of all stripes -- a system of bureaucratic control keeps it all going. Few understand that the world runs along just fine without it, but not so well for the bureaucrats...


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