Tocqueville on False Benefactors

“Above [the citizens] an immense [government] is elevated,

which alone takes charge of assuring

their enjoyments and watching

over their fate.

It is absolute,





“It would resemble paternal power if,

like that, it had for its object

to prepare men for manhood;

but on the contrary,

it seeks only to keep

them fixed


in childhood.”

“It likes citizens to enjoy themselves

provided that they think only

of enjoying themselves.”

“It willingly works for their happiness;

but it wants to be the unique agent

and sole arbiter of that.”

“It provides for [everyone’s] security,

conducts their principal affairs,

divides their inheritances,

facilitates their pleasures,

directs their industry,

regulates their estates,

foresees and secures

their [false] needs.”

“Can it not take away from them,

entirely the trouble of thinking,

the pain of living?”


According to me

“They have displaced their instinct

with belief in the ‘common good.’

which is never ‘common’,

and never ‘good’,”


“And then also belief in

‘peace and justice’,

which is never


or just.”