restricted access Chapter 4. Of Political Association in the United States
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302 s4s4s4s4s4 c h a p t e r 4 Of Political Association in the United States Daily use that the Anglo-Americans make of the right of association.—Three types of political associations.—How the Americans apply the representative system to associations.— Dangers that result for the State.—Great convention of 1831 relating to the tariff.—Legislative character of this convention.—Why the unlimited exercise of the right of association is not as dangerous in the United States as elsewhere.—Why it can be considered necessary there.— Utility of associations among democratic peoples. Of all the countries in the world, America has taken greatest advantage of association and has applied this powerful means of actiona to the greatest variety of objectives. Apart from permanent associations created by the law, known as towns, cities and counties, a multitude of others owe their birth and development only to individual wills. The inhabitant of the United States learns from birth that he must depend on himself in the struggle against the ills and difficulties of life; he looks upon social authority only with a defiant and uneasy eye, and calls upon its power only when he cannot do without it. This begins to be noticed as early as school where children, even in their games, submit to their a. Variant: “⫽Of all the countries in the world, America is where government is least centralized. It is also the one that has taken greatest advantage of association. There is a correlation between these two things.⫽” of political association 303 own rules and punish their own infractions.b The same spirit is found in all the actions of social life. An obstruction occurs on the public road; the way is interrupted; traffic stops; the neighbors soon get together as a deliberative body; out of this improvised assembly will come an executivepower that will remedy the difficulty, before the idea of an authority pre-dating that of those interested has occurred to anyone’s imagination. If it is a matter of pleasure, the Americans will associate to give more splendor and order to the festival. Lastly, they unite to resist entirely intellectualenemies: together they fight intemperance. In the United States, they associate for purposes of public security, commerce and industry, [pleasure], morality and religion. There is nothing that human will despairs of achieving by the free action of the collective power of individuals. Later I will have the opportunity to speak about the effects that association produces in civil life.c At the moment, I must stay within the political world. [⫽After the press, association is the great means that parties use to get into public affairs and to gain the majority. In America the freedom of association for political ends is unlimited. The freedom of assembly in order to discuss together the views of the association is equally unlimited.⫽] Once the right of association is recognized, citizenscanuseitindifferent ways. An association consists only of the public support that a certain number of individuals give to such and such doctrines and of the promise that they make to work in a particular way toward making those doctrines prevail. Thus the right to associate almost merges with freedom to b. “So how to move hearts and develop love of country and its laws? Dare I say? By the games of children; by institutions, pointless in the eyes of superficial men, but which form cherished habits and invincible attachments” (Rousseau, Considérations sur le gouvernement de Pologne, chapter I, in Œuvres complètes [Paris: Pléiade, 1964], III, p. 955). c. In the margin: “⫽Perhaps the chapter should begin here and what precedes should be kept for the chapter on ordinary associations?⫽” 304 of political association write;d but the association already has more power than the press. When an opinion is represented by an association, it is forced to take a clearer and more precise form. It counts its partisans and involves them in its cause. The latter learn to know each other, and their ardor increases with their number. The association gathers the efforts of divergent minds into a network and vigorously pushes them toward a single, clearly indicated goal []. The second level in the exercise of the right of association is the power to assemble. When a political association is allowed to locate centers of action at certain important points of the country, its activity becomes greater and its influence more extensive. There, men see each other; the means of action combine; opinions are expressed...


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