Wednesday, January 28, 2009

On not being able to smoke a cigar in Golden Gate Park

In John Kekes' The Art of Politics, (p. 205) he quotes the great Alexis de Tocqueville, author of the classic 1840 work, Democracy in America.

A democratic government may
cover the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate...The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are continually restrained from acting. Such power does not destroy, but prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes and stupefies people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.
Soft despotism.


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