20 July 2010

Postponement



Doggone it! I was sure that I had this immigration thing solved. Then I stumbled upon some more reading material that I must digest. This requires delay in my unveiling of a comprehensive solution.

In the meantime, has this thought ever crossed your mind? "Damn it! I have put off reading Democracy in American by Alexis de Tocqueville long enough."



Perhaps you ought to get on that. It is a book that is worthy of its enormous reputation. The entire text is available on line in several locations. Each chapter is nearly a self-contained little essay. You can peck away at it an essay at a time.

Relevant to nothing, here are the closing paragraphs of Book II, Chapter XXI, Why Great Revolutions Will Become More Rare. In this chapter, by the way, Alexis has offered me a relatively straightforward explanation for the rampant anti-intellectualism of the United States. But that is only indirectly related to the following. Do not let the translator's use of the term "fluctuating" throw you.

Amid the ruins which surround me [in France] shall I dare to say that revolutions are not what I most fear for coming generations? If men continue to shut themselves more closely within the narrow circle of domestic interests and to live on that kind of excitement, it is to be apprehended that they may ultimately become inaccessible nations to those great and powerful public emotions which perturb nations, but which develop them and recruit them. When property becomes so fluctuating and the love of property so restless and so ardent, I cannot but fear that men may arrive at such a state as to regard every new theory as a peril, every innovation as an irksome toil, every social improvement as a stepping-stone to revolution, and so refuse to move altogether for fear of being moved too far. I dread, and I confess it, lest they should at last so entirely give way to a cowardly love of present enjoyment as to lose sight of the interests of their future selves and those of their descendants and prefer to glide along the easy current of life rather than to make, when it is necessary, a strong and sudden effort to a higher purpose.

It is believed by some that modern society will be always changing its aspect; for myself, I fear that it will ultimately be too invariably fixed in the same institutions, the same prejudices, the same manners, so that mankind will be stopped and circumscribed; that the mind will swing backwards and forwards forever without begetting fresh ideas; that man will waste his strength in bootless and solitary trifling, and, though in continual motion, that humanity will cease to advance.



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Or perhaps you have been determined for some time finally to get some handle on world history.

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