Tocqueville: La liberté n’existe pas sans morale, ni la morale sans foi (Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith)

TocquevilleLes Français veulent l’égalité, et quand ils ne la trouvent pas dans la liberté, ils la souhaitent dans l’esclavage. Tocqueville

Petit retour, un an après le bicentenaire de la naissance de Tocqueville, sur quelques unes de ses intéressantes réflexions (sur l’excellent blog The Brussels Journal) sur la place de la religion dans le système politique américain, toujours en contraste avec le système français mais aussi… musulman (par contre, la partie sur Sarkozy est un peu plus douteuse, comme l’auteur s’en rendra lui-même compte plus tard !):

« Classical liberals believe that the power of the state has to be minimal, which is only possible in society held together by a set of shared moral values.

“In France I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom pursuing courses diametrically opposed to each other, but in America I found that they ware intimately united, and that they reigned in common over the same country.”

“Religion must be regarded as the foremost of the political institutions of the country for it does not impart a taste for freedom, it facilitates the use of free institutions.” The Americans held religion “to be indispensable to the maintenance of republican institutions.” “Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.”

“Muhammad brought down from heaven and put into the Koran not religious doctrines only, but political maxims, criminal and civil laws, and scientific theories. The Gospels, on the other hand, deal only with the general relations between man and God and between man and man. Beyond that, they teach nothing and do not oblige people to believe anything. That alone, among a thousand reasons, is enough to show that Islam will not be able to hold its power long in ages of enlightenment and democracy, while Christianity is destined to reign in such ages, as in all others.”

“One of the happiest consequences of the absence of government (when a people is fortunate enough to be able to do without it, which is rare) is the development of individual strength that inevitably follows from it. Each man learns to think, to act for himself, without counting on the support of an outside force which, however vigilant one supposes it to be, can never answer all social needs. Man, thus accustomed to seeking his well-being only through his own efforts, raised himself in his own opinion as he does in the opinion of others; his soul becomes larger and stronger at the same time.”

“The American Republic will endure until politicians realize they can bribe the people with their own money.” “Democracy extends the sphere of individual freedom, socialism restricts it. Democracy attaches all possible value to each man; socialism makes each man a mere agent, a mere number. 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.”

“It was this desire of grafting political liberty onto institutions and an ideology that were unsuited, indeed adverse to it, but to which the French had gradually become addicted – it was this desire of combining freedom with the servile state that led during the last sixty years to so many abortive essays of a free régime followed by disastrous revolutions. […] Many Frenchmen have lost their taste for freedom and come to think that, after all, an autocratic government under which all men are equal has something to be said for it.”

“after having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.”

From Tocqueville to Sarkozy
Paul Belien
The Brussels Journal
2005-07-28

One Response to Tocqueville: La liberté n’existe pas sans morale, ni la morale sans foi (Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith)

  1. […] Frédéric Bastiat, dont, à l’instar du plus américanophile de nos sociologues, le grand Tocqueville, le combat pour la liberté d’esprit et contre la mentalité française de […]

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