Saturday, May 20, 2023

On privilege........................

 Moreover, in politics as well as in philosophy and in religion the intellect of democratic nations is particularly open to simple and general notions.  Complicated systems are repugnant to it, and its favorite conception is that of a great nation composed of citizens all formed upon one pattern and all governed by a single power.

     The very next notion to that of a single and central power which presents itself to the minds of men in the ages of equality is the notion of uniformity of legislation.  As every man sees that he differs but little from those around him, he cannot understand why a rule that is applicable to one man should not be equally applicable to all others.  Hence the slightest privileges are repugnant to his reason; the faintest dissimilarities in the political institutions of the same people offend him, and uniformity of legislation appears to him to be the first condition of good government.

     I find, on the contrary, that this notion of a uniform rule equally binding on all members of the community was almost unknown to the human mind in aristocratic ages; either it was never broached, or it was rejected.

-Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Volume II,  Fourth Book, Chapter II


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