Why Tocqueville believes that equality leads to a love of centralized authority.

Essay by LauraWaltersUniversity, Master's April 2002

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Equality makes men independent and unwilling to submit to another will. This love of political liberty leads to free institutions where one chooses leaders whose actions will support his own independence and freedom. In America, this has taken shape in centralized authority.

One reason for this is that centralized authority is simple. In ages of equality, human behavior tends towards individualism. The natural tendency is then to focus on individual life, rather than that of the community. It is only with effort that men "tear themselves away from their private affairs and pay attention to those of the community;". This is because in democratic times private life can be quite dynamic leaving one with little time for politics. Centralized authority is a simple political system requiring little intellectual or time commitment from its constituents.

Another reason is a love of well being and peace. With democracy comes a fear of disturbing the peace.

This fear of disturbing the peace causes people of equality to turn over authority to government in order to maintain the peace. Centralized government best ensures that peace is maintained equally throughout the country, rather than leaving each geographical area to fend for itself.

A third reason for its love of centralized authority is the hatred of privileges. Centralized government ensures that no local persons receive greater privilege because it represents people from all over the country, rather than mere local concerns.

Finally, because of the fear of secondary power (as exists in the aristocratic structure of government), egalitarian regimes more readily accept a centralized power.

Centralized power is the instinctual answer to the individual's concerns in every political area because "Every central power which follows its natural instincts loves equality and favors it. For equality singularly facilitates, extends, and secures its influence."