If there has been one person, who made the American way of life popular in Europe, then it has been Alexis de Tocqueville (1805 -1859).
A French aristocrat who traveled to America on a governmental mission in 1831. He studied the country for nine months and published his bestseller "De La Démocratie en Amérique" (On Democracy in America) in 1835.
He became a great admirer of American democracy and the American way of life especially equality and individualism, although he also observed that this did not apply to women and slaves. But nevertheless...
I only can mention a few subjects here. As Tocqueville understood it, this rapidly democratizing society had a population devoted to "middling" values which wanted to amass through hard work vast fortunes.
In Tocqueville's mind, this explained why the United States was so different from Europe. In Europe, he claimed, nobody cared about making money.
The lower classes had no hope of gaining more than minimal wealth while the upper classes found it crass, vulgar, and unbecoming of their sort to care about something as unseemly as money and many were virtually guaranteed wealth and took it for granted.
Tocqueville tried to understand why the United States was so different from Europe in the last throes of aristocracy.
In contrast to the European aristocratic ethic, the United States was a society where hard work and money-making was the dominant ethic,
where the common man enjoyed a level of dignity which was unprecedented, where commoners never deferred to elites and where what he described as crass individualism and market capitalism had taken root to an extraordinary degree.
It almost sounds like the American Dream, however, noting the rise of the industrial sector in the American economy,
Tocqueville, some scholars have argued, correctly predicted that an industrial aristocracy would arise from the ownership of labor.
He warned that 'friends of democracy must keep an anxious eye peeled in this direction at all times', observing that the route of the industry was the gate
by which a newfound wealthy class might potentially dominate, although he himself believed that an industrial aristocracy would differ from the formal aristocracy of the past.
And that is exactly the situation after 1870 and maybe I dare say, has been since then till today. The unequal distribution of wealth remained high during this period.
From 1860 to 1900, the wealthiest 2% of American households owned more than a third of the nation's wealth, while the top 10% owned roughly three-quarters of it.
And in such a democracy is always the fear of the tyranny of the masses, mob rule.
The Senate, Supreme Court, and the expanded powers of the president were all designed to limit the power of the people, argued Henry Maine, an influential British legal historian in a series of essays in 1885.
The American polity with its numerous checks and Balances kept the power of the people in check. By the late 1800s, the American political system had come to be regarded as a bulwark of freedom
because its institutions were less sensitive to popular demand for property redistribution than those of European parliamentary democracies.
This view of freedom and democracy was symbolically expressed in the iconic statue of Fréderic Auguste Bartholdi, a gift from the French people to the Americans.
The original message of the statue was this: it was to propagate the anti-democratic concept of freedom cherished by nineteenth-century liberals.
The project's creators and supporters wanted the image to encourage a link between freedom, order, and personal security.
That is why they had deliberately omitted the traditional symbol of freedom, the red freedom hat. It was not the scene of Delacroix that had to be the symbol, but the focus on respect for orderly freedom.
That is why the statue also has a 'tabula ansata' (tablet with dovetail handles) in the left hand. The idea was that the rule of law, not self-government by the people, was the best guarantee of freedom.
And we are heading for exciting times in which we are going to see if the torch of freedom keeps burning.
Thank you for your attention again...
MacMillan The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition
TABLE OF CONTENT -----------------------------------------------------------------
1 - 100 Philosophers 9 May 2009 Start of
2 - 25+ Women Philosophers 10 May 2009 this blog
3 - 25 Adventures in Thinking 10 May 2009
4 - Modern Theories of Ethics 29 Oct 2009
5 - The Ideal State 24 Febr 2010 / 234
6 - The Mystery of the Brain 3 Sept 2010 / 266
7 - The Utopia of the Free Market 16 Febr 2012 / 383
8. - The Aftermath of Neo-liberalism 5 Sept 2012 / 413
9. - The Art Not to Be an Egoist 6 Nov 2012 / 426
10 - Non-Western Philosophy 29 May 2013 / 477
11 - Why Science is Right 2 Sept 2014 / 534
12 - A Philosopher looks at Atheism 1 Jan 2015 / 557
13 - EVIL, a philosophical investigation 17 Apr 2015 / 580
14 - Existentialism and Free Will 2 Sept 2015 / 586
15 - Spinoza 2 Sept 2016 / 615
16 - The Meaning of Life 13 Febr 2017 / 637
17 - In Search of my Self 6 Sept 2017 / 670
18 - The 20th Century Revisited 3 Apr 2018 / 706
19 - The Pessimist 11 Jan 2020 / 819
20 - The Optimist 9 Febr 2020 / 824
21 - Awakening from a Neoliberal Dream 8 Oct 2020 / 872
22 - A World Full of Patterns 1 Apr 2021 / 912
23 - The Concept of Freedom 8 Jan 2022 / 965
[13:26] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): Thank you Herman
[13:27] herman Bergson: As you see....nothing has changed.....
[13:27] herman Bergson: A rich upper-class controls politics with its money
[13:28] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): sssss
[13:28] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed
[13:28] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): and the poor still lives in the gutter :(
[13:28] herman Bergson: Freedom is mainly defined as the freedom to amass private property, where the state only has the function to protect this....for the rest HANDS OFF
[13:28] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed
[13:28] herman Bergson: that is what they call small government.....lowering taxes etc
[13:28] oola Neruda: I am currently reading PERIL by Woodward and Costa.... and it is enough to make you want to change planets
[13:29] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ok
[13:29] oola Neruda: first thing trump did when he got office was to lower taxes on the super rich
[13:29] herman Bergson: Then I was to quick to say that I wouldn't leave the planet, oola...:-)
[13:29] herman Bergson: I am reading it too :-))
[13:29] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): the will destroy the other planets too
[13:30] herman Bergson: But what is interesting to see is that the basic political structure of society got shape around 1900
[13:31] herman Bergson: and that it all was focused on keeping the masses of workers in check...
[13:31] oola Neruda: yes
[13:31] herman Bergson: unions were a crime...like Amazon still today opposes the forming of a union among their workers
[13:32] oola Neruda: there were a few "businessmen" around who tried to take care of the workers they hired...
[13:32] herman Bergson: And Europe had a deep admiration for the American model.....
[13:33] oola Neruda: we have places in Rhode Island (where i live) that really did provide safety for workers as muche as they could.... yet, at the same time.... had children working in unsafe conditions...
[13:33] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hmm
[13:34] herman Bergson: There occurs another interesting aspect of this matter to me....
[13:34] oola Neruda: it was a very mixed bag.... women workers had a dorm (sort of) and they offered lectures etc. to keep them entertained... but the hours were long and the work hard
[13:34] herman Bergson: 1880....the American model was greatly admired.....
[13:35] Lente (lentelies.anatine) is online.
[13:35] oola Neruda: and rules... rules... rules... to keep parents off guard so they would allow their daughters to work ... and live in dorms with other women
[13:35] herman Bergson: After WWII Europe built the welfare state to keep communism out and create some more equality and fairness
[13:36] oola Neruda: but not Russia...
[13:36] oola Neruda: was hard times there... stalin and lenin
[13:36] herman Bergson: then1880 -1980...exactly 100 later Europe again embraces the American model and neo-liberalism, trickle-down economics and the demolishing of the welfare state began....
[13:36] herman Bergson: Smaller government....free market and so on and so on
[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): In russia this never happened indeed and the means of KGB ect lived on wich have culminated into what we see today.
[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but now more and more start to see the reality and turn against putin
[13:37] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): even a free market for hospitals
[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): some light maybe in the tunnel
[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hmm
[[13:37] herman Bergson: al social and medical care, Beertje
[13:38] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): yes
[13:38] herman Bergson: It is amazing to see this huge influence of the US on the Western world
[13:39] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hmm
[13:39] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): privatizing everywhere
[13:39] herman Bergson: We had a social society....where solidarity and fair sharing were accepted virtues inpolitics
[13:39] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): peoples education, future and health a cash cow
[13:40] herman Bergson: it is all gone and now we are stuck with this (American) greed and individualism and consumerism
[13:40] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): yep
[13:40] oola Neruda: follow the money
[13:40] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): true
[13:42] herman Bergson: Yes oola, that has become of a democracy and freedom
[13:42] herman Bergson: and Tocqueville foresaw it....
[13:42] oola Neruda: unfortunately
[13:42] herman Bergson: 150 years ago!
[13:43] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): no one did anything to stop it or did not want to
[13:43] herman Bergson: yes Bejiita...but it all is so complex
[13:43] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): well thats true i guess
[13:44] herman Bergson: It is not just one button to push
[13:44] bergfrau Apfelbaum: i always think so. If the salaries of politicians weren't higher than, for example, those of a lawyer, then maybe only people who WANT to do it with heart and for the people would become politicians
[13:44] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): its not just about money or not
[13:44] oola Neruda: ego... for example
[13:44] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hmm many now just do it for profit and high positions / status
[13:45] herman Bergson: Bergie. you immediately will hear the counter argument....if the salaries are so low the politicians are very susceptible for corruption
[13:46] herman Bergson: Pay them so much that money never will be an incentive....which is of course day dreaming ^_^
[13:46] bergfrau Apfelbaum: meant it only in theory :-)
[13:47] herman Bergson: I have to search for it, but we all know the saying Money is the root of all evil....
[13:47] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): a classic say
[13:47] oola Neruda: and it is true
[13:47] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): yes
[13:48] oola Neruda: the exact translation is ..... the LOVE of money is the root of all evil
[13:48] herman Bergson: In Atlas shrugged by Ian Rand there is that Francesco guy who has a holds tirade against this saying
[13:48] bergfrau Apfelbaum: that's not fair! but who could have changed it? is someone to blame Or does it just have to be that way so nobody gets bored..
[13:49] herman Bergson: What isn't fair Bergie"
[13:50] herman Bergson: I should try to find that passage again.....
[13:50] herman Bergson: But did I read it or hear it as an audiobook...???
[13:51] bergfrau Apfelbaum: well so much! like hunger and poverty, war usw
[13:53] herman Bergson: There is maybe one possitive effect of the Ukraine war......everybody is shocked that such an atrocious WWII like war still can happen in a part of the world that believes it is one of the most civilized parts
[13:53] bergfrau Apfelbaum: And politics could change that. The ones up there. together
[13:53] herman Bergson: Maybe they are shocked enough indeed Bergie
[13:54] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): P gets everything he didn't want
[13:54] herman Bergson: Exactly
[13:54] bergfrau Apfelbaum: since I was born. there was always war "somewhere". stupid stupid world! damn it all!
[13:54] bergfrau Apfelbaum: ...sorry
[13:54] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hmm
[13:54] herman Bergson: it is true Bergie....
[13:54] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed i never thought anything like that could happen again, another holocaust
[13:55] herman Bergson: There never has been a moment of 100% peace on this planet
[13:55] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): human is the only animal who kills his own species
[13:55] herman Bergson: since the past millennium at least
[13:55] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): we are destructive indeed
[13:55] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): i dont get it
[13:55] herman Bergson: not true Beertje ...chimps do the same
[13:55] herman Bergson: even wage wars among each other
[13:56] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): well some other animals do it as well but not like we do
[13:56] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): ok..
[13:56] herman Bergson: But the are 99% human in their DNA ^_^
[13:56] Lente (lentelies.anatine) is offline.
[13:56] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): (pictures monkeys firing at each other wich machine guns)
[13:56] herman Bergson: or visa versa :-))
[13:57] herman Bergson: only in cartoon movies Bejiita ^_^
[13:57] herman Bergson: So,,,I propose to end our discussion here in peace ^_^
[13:57] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hmm
[13:57] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): yes
[13:57] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): we are animals with imagination, we can imagine to live free and in peace
[13:57] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): at least we are not destroying each other
[13:57] herman Bergson: Ready to enjoy a pleasant weekend
[13:57] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): this group
[13:58] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): as u said Herman, after all most people are after all ok3
[13:58] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): after
[13:58] herman Bergson: They are....
[13:58] herman Bergson: Thank you all again...
[13:58] herman Bergson: Class dismissed....