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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/10101/soft-despotism/

Soft Despotism

June 9, 2009 by

Although Montesquieu in the eighteenth century was regarded as a great thinker, he does not figure much today in discussions of political theory. Most people view him as a figure merely of historical interest. Rahe shows that the modern view is seriously mistaken: Montesquieu offered a penetrating discussion of the problems of modern political regimes. FULL ARTICLE

{ 2 comments }

Marcus June 9, 2009 at 4:32 pm

Here’s a more common translation of the Tocqueville quote:

“Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications, and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent, if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks on the contrary to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing. For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness: it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances – what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living? Thus it every day renders the exercise of the free agency of man less useful and less frequent; it circumscribes the will within a narrower range, and gradually robs a man of all the uses of himself. The principle of equality has prepared men for these things: it has predisposed men to endure them, and oftentimes to look on them as benefits.”

Byzantine June 10, 2009 at 12:42 pm

“Rahe also notes that Wilson “gave white supremacy a tremendous boost” (p250) by his patronage of D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of A Nation.”

A rather unfortunate swipe; Birth Of A Nation is not about “white supremacy.” The “nation” to which Griffith’s film referred is the post-bellum (and multicultural) United States. The film was not anti-Negro per se. It was anti-Radical Republican.

Otherwise, I greatly enjoyed this review.

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