Discussing the Prospects of European Democracy with Alexis de Tocqueville

Dalia Eidukienė


This article analyses the concept of democracy proposed by Alexis de Tocqueville, a famous French historian and sociologist. Special attention is paid to the definition of democracy, the dialectics of freedom and equality as well as the issues of relationship between democracy and centralization of power, democracy and individualism, and democracy and the tyranny of the majority. Tocqueville‘s liberal theory is an excellent example of the political project of the early modern period; it was in step with or, in many cases, ahead of France‘s political evolution, thereby contributing to the formation of the intellectual climate of the later 20th century. More than that, Tocqueville‘s political thought remains relevant even today. He is valued as an innovator, who, as Zbigniew Brzezinski put it, „understood earlier and interpreted better than anyone the uniqueness of the American experiment... His judgements are to this day remarkably prescient and incisive“ (Brzezinski 2011). Consequently, Tocqueville‘s book Democracy in America is a text that is worth being reread. In each political period the readers of this text rediscover anew the meaning of the messages communicated by the author. This depends on the political consciousness, political culture and the „quality“ of the recipients, i.e. on their ability to process and adapt the received information to their times, their state, their specific situation or a specific subject. Tocqueville invites his readers to engage in communicative reading (i.e. dialogue and discussions), which is an important part of modern political communication and political practice. It is also one of the most important attributes of politics and a reliable instrument that makes it easier to form modern political theories and solve political problems.


Article in: Lithuanian

Article published: 2013-04-02

Keyword(s): democracy; equality; freedom; defects of democracy; tyranny of the majority; individualism; communication

DOI: 10.3846/cpc.2013.02

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Coactivity: Philosophy, Communication / Santalka: Filosofija, Komunikacija ISSN 2029-6320, eISSN 2029-6339
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