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Alexis de Tocqueville

Alexis de Tocqueville

Alexis-Charles-Henri Clérel de Tocqueville  was a French political thinker and historian best known for his works Democracy in America (appearing in two volumes: 1835 and 1840) and The Old Regime and the Revolution (1856). In both of these, he analyzed the improved living standards and social conditions of individuals, as well as their relationship to the market and state in Western societies.

Tocqueville was active in French politics from the 1830s through the early 1850s, retiring from political life after the 1851 coup of Napoleon III to being work on The Old Regime and the Revolution. He argued that the importance of the French Revolution was to continue the process of modernizing and centralizing the French state which had begun under King Louis XIV. The failure of the Revolution came from the inexperience of the deputies who were too wedded to abstract Enlightenment ideals. Tocqueville was a classical liberal who advocated parliamentary government, but was skeptical of the extremes of democracy.

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