Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Happy birthday, monsieur


History buffs will recognize the name of Alexis de Tocqueville, who was born this day in 1805. He traveled around America in the early 1800s, and recorded his observations in Democracy in America

I haven't read the book, but he is quotable and still much quoted. Often he commented on our society:

Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude. 

But he also noticed the kind of people we were. And I have to say, I've run into a few of these people lately:

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. 

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