Paul Rahe–Soft Despotism, Democracy’s Drift: Montesquieu, Rousseau, Tocqueville, and the Modern Prospect–Videos

Posted on June 21, 2010. Filed under: Blogroll, Demographics, Economics, Employment, Federal Government, Fiscal Policy, government, government spending, history, Immigration, Investments, Law, liberty, Life, Links, media, Monetary Policy, People, Philosophy, Politics, Quotations, Rants, Raves, Regulations, Talk Radio, Taxes, Technology, Video, War, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

 

“The sovereign extends its arms about the society as a whole; it covers its surface with a network of petty regulations—complicated, minute, and uniform—through which even the most original minds and the most vigorous souls know not how to make their way… it does not break wills; it softens them, bends them, and directs them; rarely does it force one to act, but it constantly opposes itself to one’s acting on one’s own … it does not tyrannize, it gets in the way: it curtails, it enervates, it extinguishes, it stupefies, and finally reduces each nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.”

 ~Alexis de Tocqueville

Soft Despotism with Paul Rahe: Chapter 1 of 5

Soft Despotism with Paul Rahe: Chapter 2 of 5

Soft Despotism with Paul Rahe: Chapter 3 of 5

Soft Despotism with Paul Rahe: Chapter 4 of 5

Soft Despotism with Paul Rahe: Chapter 5 of 5

“Every device employed to bolster individual freedom must have as its chief purpose the impairment of the absoluteness of power. The indications are that such an impairment is brought about not by strengthening the individual and pitting him against the possessors of power, but by distributing and diversifying power and pitting one category or unit of power against the other. Where power is one, the defeated individual, however strong and resourceful, can have no refuge and no recourse .”

~Eric Hoffer 

Background Articles and Videos

 

DR. PAUL RAHE in the movie “A New America”.

WGN Radio- Paul Rahe

Dr. Paul A. Rahe
http://www.hillsdalesites.org/personal/prahe/

 

We’re All Fascists Now II: American Tyranny

Michael Ledeen

“…The tyranny he foresees for us does not have much in common with the vicious dictatorships of the last century, or with contemporary North Korea, Iran, or Saudi Arabia.  He apologizes for lacking the proper words with which to define it.  He hesitates to call it either tyranny or despotism, because it does not rule by terror or oppression.  There are no secret police, no concentration camps, and no torture.  “The nature of despotic power in democratic ages is not to be fierce or cruel, but minute and meddling.”  The vision and even the language anticipate Orwell’s 1984, or Huxley’s Brave New World. Tocqueville describes the new tyranny as “an immense and tutelary power,” and its task is to watch over us all, and regulate every aspect of our lives.

It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd.

We will not be bludgeoned into submission; we will be seduced.  He foresees the collapse of American democracy as the end result of two parallel developments that ultimately render us meekly subservient to an enlarged bureaucratic power: the corruption of our character, and the emergence of a vast welfare state that manages all the details of our lives.  His words are precisely the ones that best describe out current crisis:

That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident and mild.  It would be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing.  For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances: what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living? …”

http://pajamasmedia.com/michaelledeen/2009/02/14/were-all-fascists-now-ii-american-tyranny/

Soft Despotism

“…Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by “a network of small complicated rules” might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called ‘hard despotism’) in the sense that it is not obvious to the people. Soft despotism gives people the illusion that they are in control, when in fact they have very little influence over their government. Soft despotism breeds fear, uncertainty, and doubt in the general populace. Alexis de Tocqueville observed that this trend was avoided in America only by the “habits of the heart” of its 19th-century populace.

Dr. Samuel Gregg of The Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty (a religious[1] institute), explains:

In Democracy in America, Tocqueville suggested that democracy was capable of breeding its own form of despotism, albeit one without the edges of Jacobin or Bonapartist dictatorship with which Europeans were all too familiar. The book spoke of “an immense protective power” which took all responsibility for everyone’s happiness-just so long as this power remained “sole agent and judge of it.” This power, Tocqueville wrote, would “resemble parental authority” but would try to keep people “in perpetual childhood” by relieving people “from all the trouble of thinking and all the cares of living.”

Such circumstances might arise, Tocqueville noted, if democracy’s progress was accompanied by demands for a leveling of social conditions. The danger was that an obsession with equality was very compatible with increasingly centralized state-power. Leveling social conditions, Tocqueville observed, usually involved using the state to subvert those intermediate associations that reflected social differences, but also limited government-power.

Tocqueville’s vision of “soft-despotism” is thus one of arrangements that mutually corrupt citizens and the democratic state. Citizens vote for those politicians who promise to use the state to give them whatever they want. The political-class delivers, so long as citizens do whatever it says is necessary to provide for everyone’s desires. The “softness” of this despotism consists of people’s voluntary surrender of their liberty and their tendency to look habitually to the state for their needs.[2]

In Volume II, Book 4, Chapter 6 of Democracy in America, de Tocqueville writes the following about soft despotism:

Thus, After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.

I have always thought that servitude of the regular, quiet, and gentle kind which I have just described might be combined more easily than is commonly believed with some of the outward forms of freedom, and that it might even establish itself under the wing of the sovereignty of the people.

Our contemporaries are constantly excited by two conflicting passions: they want to be led, and they wish to remain free. As they cannot destroy either the one or the other of these contrary propensities, they strive to satisfy them both at once. They devise a sole, tutelary, and all-powerful form of government, but elected by the people. They combine the principle of centralization and that of popular sovereignty; this gives them a respite: they console themselves for being in tutelage by the reflection that they have chosen their own guardians. Every man allows himself to be put in leading-strings, because he sees that it is not a person or a class of persons, but the people at large who hold the end of his chain.

By this system the people shake off their state of dependence just long enough to select their master and then relapse into it again. A great many persons at the present day are quite contented with this sort of compromise between administrative despotism and the sovereignty of the people; and they think they have done enough for the protection of individual freedom when they have surrendered it to the power of the nation at large. This does not satisfy me: the nature of him I am to obey signifies less to me than the fact of extorted obedience. I do not deny, however, that a constitution of this kind appears to me to be infinitely preferable to one which, after having concentrated all the powers of government, should vest them in the hands of an irresponsible person or body of persons. Of all the forms that democratic despotism could assume, the latter would assuredly be the worst. [3] …”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soft_despotism

 

Related Posts On Pronk Palisades

Fouad Ajami–The Foreigner’s Gift–Videos

Michael Barone–Our First Revolution–Videos

Philip Bobbitt–Terror and Consent–Videos

Patrick J. Buchanan–Churchill, Hitler, and The Unnecessary War–Videos

Ron Chernow–Alexander Hamilton–Videos

Thomas J. DiLorenzon–Hamilton’s Curse: How Jefferson’s Arch Enemy Betrayed the American Revolution – And What It Means for Americans Today–Videos

Joseph J. Ellis–His Excellency: George Washington–Videos

Bruce Feiler–Walking the Bible–Videos

Milton Friedman–Free To Choose–On Donahue –Videos

Brigitte Gabriel–Because They Hate: A Survivor of Islamic Terror Warns America–Videos

Brigitte Gabriel–They Must Be Stopped: Why We Must Defeat Radical Islam and How We Can Do It –Videos

Jonah Goldberg–Liberal Fascism–Videos

David Goodwillie–American Subversive–A Novel

Victor Davis Hansen–A War Like No Other–Videos

Peter Huber–The Bottomless Well–Videos

Donald Kagan–On The Origins Of War–Videos

George Lakoff–Videos

Mark Levin–Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto–Videos

Barack Obama Cartoon Concisely Communicates What’s Wrong With Progressive Radical Socialism–Why Do We Need Jobs For?–A Hayek and Mises Moment!

Andrew C. McCarthy–Willful Blindness–Videos

Melanie Phillips–Londonistan–Videos

Melanie Phillips–The World Turned Upside Down: The Global Battle over God, Truth, and Power–Video

James Piereson–Camelot and The Cultural Revolution–Videos

Ayn Rand–Videos

The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged and The Ideas of Ayn Rand

Yaron Brook On Capitalism and Atlas Shrugged–Videos

Roy Spencer–The Great Global Warming Blunder: How Mother Nature Fooled the World’s Top Climate Scientists –Videos

Mark Steyn–America Alone: The End of The World As We Know It–Videos

John Stossel On Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged

Daniel Suarez–Daemon and Freedom TM–Videos

Peter Robinson–Conversations With Authors–Videos

Murry Rothbard–For A New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto–Audio Book

Murray Rothbard– What Has Government Done to Our Money?–Videos

Amity Shlaes–The Forgotten Man–Videos

Thomas Sowell and Conflict of Visions–Videos

Thomas Sowell–Black Rednecks and White Liberals–The Missing Nobel Laureates–Videos

Thomas Sowell–Intellectuals and Society–Videos

Thomas Sowell On The Housing Boom and Bust–Videos

Marc Thiessen’s Courting Disaster–A Clear and Present Danger To The American People–President Barack Obama!

Thomas E. Woods Jr.–Meltdown–Videos

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...