16 June 2005

Thursday Q and A (6.16)

Alexis de Tocqueville
"Monsieur Tocqueville, since you spent years observing Americans and American penal systems, what would you say your most important observation was?"

"Americans talk very much about individual rights, but real monotony of thought and vigorous independence of mind is rare. Even those who appear to be free-thinkers really look to a constituency and expect one day to be part of a majority. They are creatures of public opinion as much as are conformists - actors of nonconformism in the theater of the conformists who admire and applaud nonconformity of certain kinds, the kinds that radicalize the already dominant opinions."
Tocqueville - Democracy in America (1832)

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