deTocqueville on Socialism

The Online Library of Liberty (here) is a project of Liberty Fund, Inc., which was founded in 1960 by Pierre F. Goodrich, an Indiana businessman and lawyer.  This site contains a wealth of references pertaining to man’s pursuit of liberty.   I mentioned in a previous post  that I was going to read DeTocqueville for inspiration and I’ve been finding some true gems worth sharing.   The Online Library of Liberty contains a very good selection of deTocqueville’s work.   Hopefully, most people reading this blog are already familiar with deTocqueville’s most famous work, a detailed study of American culture and politics in America.  In 1931 two young Frenchmen,  Alexis DeTocqueville and Gustave  deBeaumont, embarked on a year-long trip around America to study democracy in America.  Their detailed study of America led to a perennial political science and US history teachers’  favorite work, deTocqueville’s, “Democracy In America“.

As on most topics, deTocqueville,  succinctly explained the evils of socialism.  Following is a paragraph from the Online Library of Liberty website, where the entire speech deTocqueville gave to the Constituent Assembly in February 1848 can be found.  He was speaking out against the French government’s program that was set up to alleviate unemployment in Paris – a government works program (dejavu all over again, sadly), where the government created jobs at a certain wage, for all who wanted them.  Here’s the paragraph:

“Now, a third and final trait, one which, in my eyes, best describes socialists of all schools and shades, is a profound opposition to personal liberty and scorn for individual reason, a complete contempt for the individual. They unceasingly attempt to mutilate, to curtail, to obstruct personal freedom in any and all ways. They hold that the State must not only act as the director of society, but must further be master of each man, and not only master, but keeper and trainer. [“Excellent.”] For fear of allowing him to err, the State must place itself forever by his side, above him, around him, better to guide him, to maintain him, in a word, to confine him. They call, in fact, for the forfeiture, to a greater or less degree, of human liberty, [Further signs of assent.] to the point where, were I to attempt to sum up what socialism is, I would say that it was simply a new system of serfdom. [Lively assent.]”  (from the Online Library of Liberty- here)

What more can I say, when deTocqueville said it so much better.  I encourage you to read the entire speech, which is at the above link.  An additional excellent resource on deTocqueville is the The Alexis deTocqueville Tour, Exploring Democracy in America (here).

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