Tocqueville – Democracy in America

 Imagine a playground of children. Many are running around, tussling with the dirt, mulch, rocks, and various other things, and playing games with their friends. As you look around, you spot Johnny playing by himself. Why is that? In this particular situation with little Johnny, the idea that “individualism proceeds from erroneous judgment more than depraved feelings” is quite relevant (27). Innately, humans did not come into the world with a desire to be alone, or strictly an individual. Because of the way he carries himself due to his disability, Johnny is then labeled an individual because of his decreased interaction with others and how others approach him.

Tocqueville would view Johnny’s situation as a need for true association. Explaining the ins and outs of two major nations at that time, primarily aristocratic and democratic nations, Johnny would be placed in a democratic nation, unlike the aristocratic nation; the democratic nation has a severing quality that tears others apart. With “the interest of man [being] confined to those in close proximity”, the children exemplify an attitude that only accepts those that are similar to them- those who are not Johnny (28). Because of their actions he has to endure the “solitude of his own heart” (29). Tradition, like in the aristocratic nation, is uncommon in the democracy’s viewpoint. Not having the responsibility to carry on a tradition is taking off a heavy burden, allowing self and personal fulfillment to become priority, which can have the ability to feed into “selfishness”.

Highlighting the characteristics of the despot’s “get in where you fit in”, separate sides persona, Tocqueville decides that it is important to bring about an association to create a greater society. An association has the ability to compel those compassions and discover “mutual assistance” instead of having the idea that things should be dealt with only by one individual. Offering “entertainment… [and] books” could’ve provided Johnny with the belief that “men are to remain civilized or to become so [with] the art of associating together (34) – similar to a Friendship 101 course. Associations are definitely seen of high importance in American life because they believe in creating a group, mostly comprised of similar beliefs, to help better their surroundings.

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