Acton Institute Powerblog

Promoting free societies characterized by liberty & religious principles

Tocqueville and Novak at the Heritage Foundation

This week, I gave a public lecture at the Heritage Foundation as part of its speakers’ series on the theme “Free Markets: The Ethical Economic Choice.” At a time in which many Americans, at least according to opinion polls, say that they are attracted to socialism, I thought it would be helpful to consider what two observers of socialism, the French political philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville and the American theologian Michael Novak, had to say about this subject. Continue Reading...

Alexis de Tocqueville, socialism, and the American Way

Tocqueville determined that the one defining factor in the United States was equality of condition, says John Wilsey in this week’s Acton Commentary. Tocqueville noticed that Americans apparently had the singular ability to prevent equality of conditions from yielding democratic despotism. Continue Reading...

What did Alexis de Tocqueville actually think?

Samuel Gregg, research director at the Acton Institute, recently published a review on the new translation of Alexis de Tocqueville’s Recollections: The French Revolution of 1848 and Its Aftermath in which Tocqueville, the “quintessential man of theory,” gets dirty about the politics of the French Revolution. Continue Reading...

‘Instruction by which we may profit’: A guide to reading Tocqueville’s ‘Democracy in America’ (Part 1)

When Alexis de Tocqueville authored Democracy in America, a two-volume treatment of America, he wrote it “to find there instruction by which we ourselves may profit.” By “we,” Tocqueville was referring to his fellow Frenchmen, but although he may have written those words in 1835, we as Americans of the 21st century also have plenty to profit from Tocqueville’s wisdom, if we’ll but receive it. Continue Reading...

Samuel Gregg on Tocqueville and democracy’s fall in America

‘Democracy in America’ by Alexis de Tocqueville is a 19th century book that serves as a guide to explain how the American political system has evolved into its current state. In this book, Tocqueville describes what he noticed about American democracy when he traveled through the country in 1831.   Continue Reading...