restricted access Chapter 11.a How Equality of Conditions Contributes to Maintaining Good Morals in America
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1052 s4s4s4s4s4 c h a p t e r 1 1a How Equality of Conditions Contributes to Maintaining Good Morals in America There are philosophers and historians who have said, or implied, that women were more or less severe in their morals depending on whetherthey lived farther from or closer to the equator. That is getting out of the matter cheaply, and in this case, a globe and a compass would suffice to resolve in an instant one of the most difficult problems that humanity presents. I do not see that this materialistic doctrine is established by the facts. The same nations have shown themselves, in different periods of their history, chaste or dissolute. So the regularity or the disorderliness of their a. Climate, race and religion are not enough to explain the great regularity of morals in the United States. You must resort to the social and political state. How democracy favors the regularity of morals. 1. It prevents disorderliness before marriage, because you can always marry. 2. It prevents it afterward. 1. Because you have loved and chosen each other and because it is to be believed that you suit each other. 2. Because if you were mistaken, public opinion no longer accepts that you fail to fulfill freely accepted commitments. 3. Other causes: 1. Continual occupation of men and women. 2. Nature of these occupations that removes the taste as well as the time to give themselves without restraint to their passions. 4. Why what is happening in Europe and in France is contrary to this, and this makes our morals become more lax as our social state more democratic (YTC, CVf, pp. 43–44). equality of conditions and good morals 1053 morals is due to a few changeable causes, and not only to the nature of the country, which did not change. I will not deny that, in certain climates, the passions that arise from the mutual attraction of the sexes are particularly ardent; but I think that this natural ardor can always be excited or restrained by the social state and the political institutions. Although the travelers who have visited North America differ among themselves on several points, they all agree in noting that morals there are infinitely more severe than anywhere else. It is clear that, on this point, the Americans are very superior to their fathers, the English. A superficial view of the two nationsisenoughtoshow it.b In England, as in all the other countries of Europe, public spite is constantly brought to bear on the weaknesses of women. You often hear philosophers and statesmen complain that morals are not regular enough, and literature assumes it every day. b. Good morals./ Democracy is favorable to good morals, even apart from religious beliefs. This is proved in two ways: 1. In England, same beliefs, but not the same morals. Recall on this subject the remark that I made in a letter to Basil Hall in which I said that, without allowing myself to judge alone the morals of American women and English women, I was however led to believe the first superior to the second. In America, no one allows himself to say a single word about the honor of women. Foreigners themselves keep quiet about it. I have even seen some corrupt enough to regret the purity of morals. All books, even novels, assume chaste women. In England, the dandies talk about getting lucky, philosophers complain that the morality of women is decreasing, foreigners tell racy escapades and books (illegible word) leave it to be assumed. 2. An aristocracy without beliefs (like that of France, for example, or that of England under Charles II). Nothing more excessive .-[you (ed.)].- then see what .-[the (ed.)].- aristocracy can do when it goes in the same direction as passions. The French aristocracy even when it was enlightenedwasstillinfinitelylessregularthantheAmerican democracy. [In the margin] Horrible excesses of the Roman aristocracy. See Properce (Rubish, 2). The letter to Basil Hall is cited in note d of p. 819. 1054 equality of conditions and good morals In America, all books, without excepting novels, assume women to be chaste, and no one tells racy escapades. This great regularity of American morals is undoubtedly due in part to the country, to race, to religion.c But all these causes, which are found elsewhere , are still not enough to explain it. For that you must resort to some particular reason. This reason appears to me to be equality and the institutions that derive from...


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