The Deplorable Truth

A common thread throughout history is often that common people are trampled by the greed of the upper classes attempting to gain more power. In the winter of 1848, Tocqueville observed the growing anger of the peasantry and proletariat classes as they were continually disenfranchised and discriminatinated against.

He wrote, “The deplorable truth is that for jobs and a life at the public expense is not, with us, confined to any single party, but it is the great and permanent weakness of the nation itself…” (Page 33) This is true of France and many other countries not only during this time period but also still in the present.

How is this idea present not only present in France at this time but also across Europe and even in present day America? Do you agree with this sentiment or do you believe Tocqueville is being too pessimistic?

One Reply to “The Deplorable Truth”

  1. I think at its core or at least to a certain extent, I agree that most will prioritize their own interests when they are in a position to do so; which is what Tocqueville is arguing on page thirty three, that the motives of both those operating in the current system of government as well as those who will soon overthrow them are chiefly concerned with “salaries and positions.” However, the problem for me comes when he uses this to discredit or minimize the motives of the February Revolution by framing the entire event as simply a power grab for power’s sake. I would argue if people only operate to make their lives better and usually as a result, improves those who live similarly to them, then there should be a diverse set of representation so that everyone’s interests are prioritized. To put it simply, if wealthy people in politics take action only to make wealthy people’s lives better than wealthy people should not be the only ones making decisions for the entire country. Therefore, I see his view on human nature as even more reason to make power evenly distributed, so people do not have the opportunity to make decisions that only benefit themselves and I believe it actually makes me more sympathetic to the plight of those revolted. I would also argue that one of the goals of revolution was to create a system that doesn’t allow those abuses of power by passing ordinances that would let more than landowners vote and be represented in that way.

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