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Alexis de Tocquevilles Democracy in America (1835, 1840) and John Stuart Mill On Liberty (1859) - Essay Example

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The democratic rule of the majority is paradoxically ethical and tyrannical. “Democracy in America,” by Alexis De Tocqueville analyzes the tyranny of the majority theory and its role in forming political ideology and the constitution in America…
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Alexis de Tocquevilles Democracy in America (1835, 1840) and John Stuart Mill On Liberty (1859)
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Download file to see previous pages The system of democracy has arisen as a result of oppression by aristocracy and monarchy. Aristocrats and monarchs pledged allegiance to Catholicism and often suppressed certain liberties. As the world’s first modern democracy, America stands as a beacon to the world. Marked disparities lie in both narratives of De Tocqueville and Mill. Both De Tocqueville and Mill carry onerous burdens about the tyranny of the majority in their theses; however they both attack the same topic, justifying their fears about the majority rule using different premises. On one hand, De Tocqueville takes note of American democracy as it implements the majority as its government its distinguishing traits and also downfalls; on the other, Mill is more predisposed to liberty considerations, detailing the distinctive qualities of liberty – both tackling the pitfalls of governing the individual, threats to individuality and by extension the nation under the rule of the majority. The combination of all these causes forms so great a mass of influences hostile to Individuality, that it is not easy to see how it can stand its ground. It will do so with increasing difficulty, unless the public can be made to feel its value—to see that it is good there should be differences, even though not for the better, even though, as it may appear to them, some should be for the worse. If the claims of Individuality are ever to be asserted, the time is now, while much is still lacking to complete the enforced assimilation.  De Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America” and John Stuart Mill’s “On Liberty,’ are similar because they both have numerous legitimate concerns about the right and plight of the minority and individual in the face of a system of politics ruled by the majority. Both thinkers delve into these pertinent subjects to substantiate their points. The narratives of both political thinkers also concur because they continue to dissect all forms of government and trace the effects of certain governmental structures and distributions of power, concentrating power into the hands of the public. De Tocqueville’s main preoccupation is the definition and sovereignty of the American people, whereas Mill’s is the supremacy of the general will. These differences exist because De Tocqueville’s argument centers on the system of democracy – a brand of government for the people, of the people and by the people. De Tocqueville reasons that for government, one party must be lesser, while the next must be greater. Following this logic, he realizes that even democracy has its inequalities. He refers to the origins of democracy – a system of government put into effect by the people, for the people and of the people. However, he is quick to underscore that there are some weighty implications with the rule of the people. Collective government is evidently encapsulated in the U.S. Constitution, “We, the people.” The elections, the democratic process, is actually glaring evidence of the rule of the majority in which the people elect a government based on a majority count. Since minorities are not given enough say or authority, American democracy ultimately tyrannizes the minority, empowered with the ability to ignore conveniently, prosecute and persecute dissidents. By elucidating on the repressive origin and character of democracy, De Tocqueville informs that American democracy is ruled by a majority, suppresses the minority, conforming to the general will. Likewise, John Stuart Mill critiques the power of the general wil ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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