Chip Taylor Communications

Subject: History

Europe and America in the Modern Age Series

Stanford University Professors James Sheehan and David Kennedy present in-depth lectures on the concept of liberalism as a theoretical framework for examining the interrelationships between the histories of Europe and America. Produced by the Stanford University Channel. Programs available on 20 individual Click for more

4. Tocqueville's "Democracy in America"

04. Tocqueville's

In 1835, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote Democracy In America, one of the most extensive and insightful discussions of modern democracy. In this program Professor David Kennedy explores Tocqueville's impressions, observations, and projections for the future of democracy. Kennedy tells how during a relatively brief visit to America, ostensibly to study prison reform, Tocqueville was profoundly impressed by the personage of President Andrew Jackson and by the ubiquity of voluntary associations in a multi-racial America. He contrasts Tocqueville's skeptical and at times pessimistic "possible-ism" with the more optimistic "determinism" espoused by Karl Marx. Kennedy portrays a man who was profoundly impressed by the reality of "equality of condition" in America, but who was "deeply anxious and ambivalent" about potential self-destructive forces of oppressive centralization and rampant individualism. Kennedy explains how Tocqueville also saw some "prophylaxes" at work in America which served to "mitigate the pernicious tendencies of individualism and despotism...keeping American society in productive viability and just equilibrium." Tocqueville's Democracy in America is a volume that will serve historians well as new democratic societies evolve and the viability of democracy continues to be tested. 99/10DE SCA 60 min.

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