Tocqueville and the Relevance of His Theories on Equality Today Essay

640 WordsDec 2, 20123 Pages
Tocqueville and the Relevance of His Theories on Equality Today Alexis de Tocqueville believed that equality was inevitable and that society loves equality more than it does liberty. He stated that the “chief passion which stirs men at such times is the love of this equality,” referring to equality of conditions (Tocqueville, 504). According to him, democracy cannot exist without equality and equality further leads to individualism (Tocqueville, 506). This paper will discuss why Tocqueville’s analyses on equality are still relevant in today’s Western society by focusing on equality of conditions, democracy, and individualism. In Democracy in America (1840), Tocqueville stated that “every citizen must be put in possession of his rights, or rights must be granted to no one” (Tocqueville, Marxists Internet Archive). These rights include “the right to enjoy the same pleasures, to engage in the same professions, and to meet in the same places – in a word, to live in the same manner and seek wealth by the same means,” (Tocqueville, 503). This concept of equal rights for all continues to hold high value in today’s society because the moment a person or group is not treated equally, there are petitions, media reports, and protests for equal treatment. Equality always wins. The biggest contemporary example would be same-sex marriage which had to be legalized to allow for equality among same-sex couples. Democracy was a big focus of Tocqueville’s work. He asserted that democracy and equality must co-exist, “equality forms the distinctive characteristic,” (Tocqueville, 504). The difference between aristocracy and democracy, according to Tocqueville, is that “aristocracy links everybody in one long chain” while “democracy breaks the chain and frees each link” (Tocqueville, 508). Agreeably, democracy grants equality by freeing those links and allowing them

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