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Alexis de Tocqueville

1805-1889. French social philosopher.

Books by Alexis de Tocqueville

The debates of that great assembly are frequently vague and perplexed, seeming to be dragged rather than to march, to the intended goal. Something of this sort must, I think, always happen in public democratic assemblies.

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In America the majority raises formidable barriers around the liberty of opinion; within these barriers an author may write what he pleases, but woe to him if he goes beyond them.

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Though it is very important for man as an individual that his religion should be true, that is not the case for society. Society has nothing to fear or hope from another life; what is most important for it is not that all citizens profess the true religion but that they should profess religion.

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In a revolution, as in a novel, the most difficult part to invent is the end.

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It is almost never when a state of things is the most detestable that it is smashed, but when, beginning to improve, it permits men to breathe, to reflect, to communicate their thoughts with each other, and to gauge by what they already have the extent of their rights and their grievances. The weight, although less heavy, seems then all the more unbearable.

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The most dangerous moment for a bad government is when it begins to reform.

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The main business of religions is to purify, control, and restrain that excessive and exclusive taste for well-being which men acquire in times of equality.

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Grant me thirty years of equal division of inheritances and a free press, and I will provide you with a republic.

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In other words, a democratic government is the only one in which those who vote for a tax can escape the obligation to pay it.

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There are two things which will always be very difficult for a democratic nation: to start a war and to end it.

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