Acton Institute Powerblog

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.

There are many themes which link the ideas of these men, what’s especially noticeable is that their critique of socialism went far beyond economics. It also embraced questions of culture and ethics. Whether the economics of socialism is expressed in the form of a command economy or a type of mild Western European social democracy, the political concerns and philosophical basis of socialism remain the same. Novak and Tocqueville understood this point very well.

Anyone who is interested in hearing more about this topic can watch the lecture here.

Samuel Gregg

is director of research at the Acton Institute. He has written and spoken extensively on questions of political economy, economic history, ethics in finance, and natural law theory. He has an MA in political philosophy from the University of Melbourne, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in moral philosophy and political economy from the University of Oxford.