Books June 2016
In praise of subsidiarity
A review of The Fractured Republic: Renewing America’s Social Contract in the Age of Individualism by Yuval Levin.
Writing near the end of Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville expressed an apprehension that this new form of government in the United States might eventually yield to a new kind of despotism under which a central authority would minister to the wishes of the people while depriving them of the independence required for active citizenship. Tocqueville foresaw a “soft” despotism that, as he wrote, “does not break men’s will but softens, bends, and guides it; it is not at all tyrannical, but it hinders, restrains, enervates, stifles, and stultifies so much that in the end each nation is no more than a flock of timid and hardworking animals with the government as its shepherd.” He feared that the democratic revolution in America might eventually produce a passive population that has traded its liberty and independence in exchange for comfort and security....
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