Friday, May 13, 2005
A striking paragraph from Torqueville in his Democracy in America, II, page 261, captured for me the inner fear one has for the subtle progression of our nation into collectivism and sameness.
“Whenever social conditions are equal, public opinion presses with enormous weight upon the mind of each individual; it surrounds, directs, and oppresses him; and this arises from the very constitution of society much more than from its political laws. As men grow more alike, each man feels himself weaker in regard to all the rest; as he discerns nothing by which he is considerably raised above them or distinguished from them, he mistrusts himself as soon as they assail him. Not only does he mistrust his strength, but he even doubts of his right, and he is very near acknowledging that he is in the wrong, when the great number of his countrymen assert that he is so. The majority do not need to force him, they convince him. In whatever way the powers of a democratic community may be organized and balanced, then, it will always be extremely difficult to believe what the bulk of the people reject or to profess what they condemn.”
This condition, this end result of sameness, this dumbing down and leveling must not be allowed to progress to the numbing point in America.