Saturday, February 24, 2007


There's a new biography of Alexis de Tocqueville out. I like Tocqueville; his shrewd writing cut paths through the miasma of revolution and general chaos of the early 1800s political scene. What we sometimes call the Tocqueville Thesis: basically, that the French Old Regime was working to reform a hopelessly archaic and inefficient system but, sadly, wasn't quick enough to beat the Revolution, which finished the job of centralization and reform that the monarchy began: still seems to me to be the most plausible explanation of the French Revolution. Of course, I consider him to have been more of a journalist than a political theorist.

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