Oh My How Times Have Changed

Added on by PS Cat02.

While Bunny and Pinky enjoy the sun and ahi poke in Hawaii, I am stuck here in 40°F weather reading Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America. I'm not really complaining, it's actually very fascinating to see what kind of impressions this man had of the United States in 'the early years' (~1831). For example, this part:

It is difficult to say what place is taken up in the life of an inhabitant of the United States by his concern for politics. To take a hand in the regulation of society and to discuss it is his biggest concern and, so to speak, the only pleasure an American knows. This feeling pervades the most trifling habits of life; even the women frequently attend public meetings and listen to political harangues as a recreation from their household labors. Debating clubs are, to a certain extent, a substitute for theatrical entertainments: an American cannot converse, but he can discuss, and his talk falls into a dissertation. He speaks to you as if he was addressing a meeting; and if he should chance to become warm in the discussion, he will say "Gentlemen" to the person with whom he is conversing.

In some countries the inhabitants seem unwilling to avail themselves of the political privileges which the law gives them; it would seem that they set too high a value upon their time to spend it on the interests of the community; and they shut themselves up in a narrow selfishness, marked out by four sunk fences and a quickset hedge. But if an American were condemned to confine his activity to his own affairs, he would be robbed of one half of his existence; he would feel an immense void in the life which he is accustomed to lead, and his wretchedness would be unbearable. I am persuaded that if ever a despotism should be established in America, it will be more difficult to overcome the habits that freedom has formed than to conquer the love of freedom itself. (from Chapter 14: WHAT ARE THE REAL ADVANTAGES WHICH AMERICAN SOCIETY DERIVES FROM A DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT)

Wow. I realize a lot can change in 200+ years but to me it sounds like America has undergone a radical personality transplant.

Posted by Kim.


[ Bunny: Hi Kim, thanks for the blogging. If you have time I'd like to hear your thoughts on de Tocqueville's chapter on the 'three races' in America - 'Whites, Negroes, and Indians'. ]


[ Kim: To me, race is one of the hardest concepts for cats to understand. Why do human beings have race? Is it a power thing? Better to ask Daisy instead. ]