Tocqueville on Liberty

Essay by sbis2010University, Bachelor'sB+, November 2014

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Susan Bisnoff

Honors 173

November 12, 2014

Midterm Question 1

What are according to John Locke and Alexis Tocqueville, the assurances that citizens must have so their liberty can be protected as well as ensured? There are similarities as well as differences in these two authors arguments as to what liberty is, but both writers agree that liberty is essential for the success and endurance of a democratic society.

For Tocqueville, one of the primary ways citizens liberty may be ensured and protected is civil and civic association. He wrote, "Citizens joining together in free association would replace the individual power of nobles, and the state would be protected against any tyranny and license". (Pg. 10) This means that when there is free association people will come together as a society and not lack restraint in protecting its core value system of self-governing. Hence, democracy is synonymous with equality.

Additionally, Tocqueville believed "because the government really does emanate from the governed, as long as it continues to struggle its way forward, a sort of paternal pride will protect it". (Pg. 76) What this says is that as long as the government represents the people it governs, the citizens will do anything to protect that government. More importantly Tocqueville believed it was essential to have a decentralized represented government. He felt that too strong of a central government could lead to tyranny. Tocqueville believed it was vital to have a more localized government that focused on local issues. The definition of a decentralized government is to distribute authority, responsibility and financial resources for the provision of public services to local government agencies. This would further commit its citizens to be a part of their community, because a centralized government, Tocqueville believed, could lead to an overly excessive government. An...