Monday, March 17, 2014

"If ever America undergoes great revolutions, they will be brought about by the presence of the black race on the soil of the United States; that is to say, they will owe their origin, not to the equality, but to the inequality of condition."

     "Si l'Amérique éprouve jamais de grandes révolutions, elles seront amenées par la présence des Noirs sur le sol des États-Unis:  c'est-à-dire que ce ne sera pas l'égalité des conditions, mais au contraire leur inégalité qui les fera naître."

     Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America II (1840). iii.21 ("Why revolutions will become more rare"), trans. Henry Reeve, with revisions by Francis Bowen and Phillips Bradley ((New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997), vol. 2, p. 256); Œuvres, ed. André Jardin (Bibliothèque de la Pléiade), II (De la démocratie en Amérique), ed. Jean-Claude Lamberti and James T. Schleifer (Paris:  Éditions Gallimard, 1992), 774.
     In this chapter, Tocqueville argues against the supposition "that some concealed relation and secret tie exists between the principle of equality itself and revolution" (251) and in favor of the claim that "Almost all the revolutions that have changed the aspect of nations have been made to consolidate or to destroy social inequality" (252).  "Amid the ruins which surround me shall I dare say that revolutions are not what I most fear for coming generations?" (262)

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