restricted access Chapter 3. Social State of the Anglo-Americans
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74 s4s4s4s4s4 c h a p t e r 3 Social State of the Anglo-Americans [Definition of the words social state.a/ I will speak so frequently about the social state of the Anglo-Americans that, first and foremost, I need to say what I mean by the words social state. In my view, the social state is the material and intellectual condition in which a people finds itself in a given period.] The social state is ordinarily the result of a fact, sometimes of laws,most often of these two causes together. But once it exists, it can itself be considered the first cause of most of the laws, customs and ideas that regulate the conduct of nations; what it does not produce, it modifies.b So to know the legislation and the mores of a people, it is necessary to begin by studying its social state.c a. Hervé de Tocqueville: “I do not know if this definition is very useful. It slows the transition from the second to the third chapter. In any case, mores should be put before the other causes that modify social state. Mores come before the fact whatever it may be. They precede laws. Example: Puritan mores precede and lead to the fact of emigration.” Édouard de Tocqueville: “I do not share this opinion” (YTC, CIIIb, 2, p. 92). b. “Among a people property is divided in a certain way, enlightenment is more or less equal, morality is more or less high, that is what I call its social state./ “In general the social state is the result of a fact predating the laws, but the laws develop its consequences and modify it” (YTC, CVh, 5, p. 9). The socialstateaccordingtoTocquevillerecallsMontesquieu’sconceptof thegeneral spirit of the nation (cf. L’esprit des lois, book XIX, chapters IV and V). On this question, see Anna Maria Battista, “Lo stato sociale democratico nella analisi di Tocqueville,”Pensiero Politico 4, no. 3 (1973): 336–95. c. In the margin, in pencil: “Vague, indeterminate. Perhaps examples instead of definitions.” social state of the anglo-americans 75 That the Salient Point of the Social State of the Anglo-Americans Is to Be Essentially Democratic First emigrants of New England.—Equal among themselves.— Aristocratic laws introduced in the South.—Period of the Revolution.—Change in the inheritance laws.—Effects produced by this change.—Equality pushed to its extreme limits in the new states of the West.—Intellectual equality. Several important remarks about the social state of the Anglo-Americans could be made, but one dominates all the others.d The social state of the Americans is eminently democratic. It has had this character since the birth of the colonies; it has it even more today.e [⫽As soon as you look at the civil and political society of the United States, you discover two great facts that dominate all the others and from d. Causes of the social state and current government of America: 1. Their origin: excellent point of departure. Intimate mix of religion and of the spirit of liberty. Cold and rational race. 2. Their geographic position: no neighbors. 3. Their commercial and industrial activity. Everything, eventheir vices,isfavorable to them now. 4. The material good fortune that they enjoy. 5. The religious spirit that reigns: republican and democratic religion. 6. The diffusion of useful knowledge. 7. Very pure morals. 8. The division into small States. They prove nothing for a large one. 9. The absence of a great capital where everything is concentrated. Care to avoid it. 10. Commercial and provincial activity that means that each person finds something to do at home (Alphabetic Notebook A, YTC, BIIa and Voyage, OC, V, 1, p. 207). e. Hervé de Tocqueville: This is too absolute. At least you should say nearly all the colonies, in order to be in agreement with page 128 (chap. 4), where you speak about the aristocratic influence long exercisedtothesouthandwestof theHudson.Thisdifficultyarisesfromchapter 2 where Alexis recognized only two political divisions of the territory, which forced him to generalize too much. Another division and a few sentences added, and everything will be fine (YTC, CIIIb, 2, p. 92). Page 128 of the copy read by Hervé and the other critics corresponds to pages 50–51 of this edition. 76 social state of the anglo-americans which the others are derived. Democracy constitutes the social state; the dogma of the sovereignty of the people, the political law. Thesetwothingsarenotanalogous.Democracyissociety’swayof being. Sovereignty of the people, a...


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