Tocqueville on Government Regulation

“Thus, after taking each individual by turns in its powerful hands

and kneading him as it likes, the sovereign extends

its arms over society as a whole.”

“It covers its surface with a network of small,

complicated, painstaking, uniform rules

through which the most original minds

and the most vigorous souls

cannot clear a way

to surpass

the crowd.”

“It does not break wills but it softens them, and directs them,

[then] it rarely forces one to act, but it constantly

opposes itself to one’s acting; it does not destroy,

it prevents things from being born;

it does not tyrannize, it hinders,

compromises, enervates,

extinguishes, dazes,

and finally reduces

each nation

to being


“Nothing more than a herd of timid

and industrious animals

of which government

is the shepherd.”


According to me

“A ubiquitous government works the population

into a smooth and uniform mass.

Networks of law and regulation

force an extremely healthy mind

into compromise;

until the mind