Democracy Growing Up: Authority, Autonomy, and Passion in Tocqueville's Democracy in America (Suny Series in Political Theory: Contemporary Issues)

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Democracy Growing Up: Authority, Autonomy, and Passion in Tocqueville's Democracy in America (Suny Series in Political Theory: Contemporary Issues)

DEMOCRACY GROWING UP SUNY series in Political Theory: Contemporary Issues Philip Green, series editor DEMOCRACY GROW

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SUNY series in Political Theory: Contemporary Issues Philip Green, series editor





Published by State University of New York Press,Albany ©2002 State University of New York All rights reserved Printed in the United States of America No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission. No part of this book may be stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means including electronic, electrostatic, magnetic tape, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior permission in writing of the publisher. For infor mation, address the State University of New York Press, 90 State Street, Suite 700,Albany, NY 12207 Production by Kelli Williams Marketing by Patrick Durocher Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Janara, Laura, 1966– Democracy growing up : authority, autonomy, and passion in Tocqueville’s Democracy in America / by Laura Janara. p. cm.—(SUNY series in political theory. Contemporary issues) Includes index. ISBN 0-7914-5441-X (alk. paper)—ISBN 0-7914-5442-8 (pbk. : alk. paper) 1.Tocqueville,Alexis de, 1805–1859. De la démocratie en Amérique. 2. United States—Politics and government. 3. United States—Social conditions—To 1865. 4. Autonomy (Psychology) 5. Gender identity. I.Title. II. Series. JK216.T7193 J36 2002 320.973—dc21 2002017610 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1



Contents Acknowledgments.................................................................................ix INTRODUCTION......................................................................................1 1

“THE KEY TO ALMOST THE WHOLE WORK” ..................................................9 French and U.S. Discourse .....................................................................12 Interpreting Tocqueville’s Imagery: A Psychoanalytic Framework .................19 What Tocqueville Fears: Democracy’s Three Potentialities ..........................27 The Abyss...........................................................................................30 Interpreting Tocqueville’s Imagery: Tocqueville in History ..........................33 Dinnerstein’s Theory and Tocqueville’s Democracy ....................................37 Diagnosing the Democratic Psyche .........................................................43


GENEALOGY, BIRTH, AND GROWTH ..........................................................47 Democracy in France: Urchin Orphan ......................................................48 Democracy in America: Wilderness Expecting ...........................................51 Saginaw: A Scarcely Formed Embryo ......................................................55 Mother England...................................................................................59 Resisting the Mother: Democracy as Adolescent ......................................65 v




ADOLESCENCE AND MATURITY ...............................................................69 Adolescence........................................................................................71 Manliness or Individualism?..................................................................75 Democracy in School............................................................................77 Passion for Equality’s Charms................................................................80 Religion, Mores, Morality: Female Bulwark for Maturity ............................85 Democratic Maturity?............................................................................91


HOMO PUER ROBUSTUS: PROPERTY, COMMERCE, INDUSTRY .........................99 The Impulse for Enterprise ..................................................................102 Anxiety and Unsated Desire .................................................................104 Exploiting the Land, Fearing the Flesh, Ennobling Money ..........................108 Money, Marriage, and Manly Citizenship ................................................111 Middle Class Desire and the Stilling of Politics .......................................115 Workers, Owners, and the Veil of Contract..............................................117 The State as Parent ............................................................................125


IMPOTENCE AND INFANTILISM ..............................................................129 Hypermasculine Individualism..............................................................130 Public Opinion: Elle mène le monde .....................................................133 Female Administration: Male Government ..............................................137 The Guardian State .............................................................................148 Infantilism and Impotence ...................................................................153


DEMOCRACY’S FAMILY VALUES..............................................................157 Democracy as Self-Mastery: Fathers, Sons, and Brothers .........................163



Girls: Democracy’s Shadow Figures .......................................................169 Fear and Desire: Containing the American Woman...................................173 Marriage and Sex: Resurrecting Order...................................................178 Democracy’s Gender and Family Foundations ..........................................181 CONCLUSION: FAMILY, GENDER, AND DEMOCRATIC MATURITY ....................185 Notes ...............................................................................................197 Bibliography......................................................................................229 Index ...............................................................................................239

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I AM GRATEFUL to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for doctoral fellowships, and to the Killam Trust at Dalhousie University for a postdoctoral fellowship: respectively, these funds facilitated my doctoral dissertation and this book that has grown out of it. Scholars at the University of Minnesota provided feedback on early chapter drafts: thanks to John Bies, Rob Giroux, Simona Goi, Catherine GuisanDickinson, Andrew Seligsohn, John Zumbrunnen, and my dear friend Paul Soper. I have also been fortunate to learn from James Farr and Terence Ball, especially a sensitivity to the role of language in politics, and to history and its evidence of the vast possibilities for human society. I hope these lessons are well-reflected in this book. Thank you as well to M.J. Maynes and Eileen Sivert, both of the University of Minnesota, for reflective criticism that has served me well. Also in Minnesota, my friends Rita Magnan and Alice Doll cared for me lovingly and showed faith in me during the dissertation writing phase. In Halifax, Elisabeth Gold’s care was indispensable. Louise Carbert and Katherine Fierlbeck provided fellowship during my postdoctoral tenure at Dalhousie University. Katherine, having earlier advised my Master’s thesis, has long since modeled for me scholarly excellence and independence; her support of my career is greatly appreciated. I also thank Susan Sherwin at Dalhousie for Master’s feminist theory courses that opened up a universe for which I’d been searching. Winifred Desjardins, my remarkable friend, performed the selfless feat of finding me an excellent apartment for my postdoctoral time in Halifax (this one complete with a garden, which proved to nourish my imagination).Along with the ocean, rocks, trees, and beaches of Nova Scotia,Winifred supported me in the myriad ways I needed for a happy postdoctoral experience.




I thank my mother,Freda Krause,for loving me,encouraging a love of books, and looking forward to reading this one; and my parents-in-law, Rosalyn and Charles Baum, for the joy of family love and support. During the history of this book project, I learned about human development from Marilyn Ganje-Fling and Nancy Hone in Minneapolis-St. Paul; from Kerol Rose in Halifax;and,on Nova Scotia’s South Shore,from Barbara Jannasch and Akala Point. I am indebted to these forces in my life. Colleagues and students in the Political Science Department at the University of Western Ontario have provided me with a positive work environment during this book’s completion.Thanks to Richard Vernon for comments on this book’s first chapter. I am indebted to Mark Reinhardt of Williams College, and to a second anonymous reader, both for reviewing my book for SUNY Press.These excellent critics enabled me to gain fresh perspective, to clarify and expand my arguments. I extend warm thanks to both for generous assistance.Thank you also to editor Michael Rinella of SUNY Press for supporting this project and to Kelli Williams for production assistance; and to Iain Hampsher-Monk, Roger Boesche, and anonymous reviewers for History of Political Thought and Canadian Journal of Political Science for helping me hone arguments found in this book. I must add that all weaknesses that remain are my own responsibility. My doctoral advisor, Mary G. Dietz, of the University of Minnesota, has directly supported the development of the ideas contained in this book; I needed her help and she offered it, understanding my efforts and pressing me to write what I wanted to write. I waited a long time for a mentor such as Mary; I am lucky she appeared, as I am a richer scholar and person for it. Almost since I first began work on this project, about which I’ve conversed with him endlessly, Bruce Baum has been a constant, loving presence in my life. He has shared his work time with me, reading and discussing chapters; and his support has extended from the life of the intellect to the life of the emotions to the life of the kitchen and beyond. How grateful I am. Finally, affectionate thanks to my most excellent feline friend, Bast, for company while I worked, and for regular cat calls to come play.

I gratefully acknowledge: History of Political Thought, in which significant portions of this book’s chapter 4 appear in the article:Laura Janara, “Commercial Capitalism and the Democratic Psyche,” XXII:2 (Summer 2001): 317–350; and Canadian Journal of Political Science, in which significant portions of this book’s chapter 6 appear in the article: Laura Janara,“Democracy’s Family Values:Tocqueville on Anxiety, Fear and Desire,” XXXIV:3 (September 2001): 551–578.


IT HAS BEEN WELL SAID that notable works of political theory tend to be written in times of crisis, transition, or disorder in the human world.1 What guides these projects is a mounting sense of dread as the once-known order collapses, its familiar, engrained meanings disintegrating into social, political, and psychic confusion. In such moments when chaos seems to loom, the task of the theorist is to transcend the immediate to make broad sense of the crisis and chart a course into a new and valued version of political order. In the early-nineteenth century, in an act of remarkable historical insight and imagination, Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville recognized that he stood at the crux of a worldhistorical transition. His famous work Democracy in America constitutes his effort to understand this crisis and imagine human order anew. Tocqueville was born in Paris, in 1805, as France shifted from one grand historical epoch into another.A few decades later he wrote Democracy in America in a struggle to apprehend and direct the new world of democracy, emerging as it was to shatter the structured certainty of aristocracy. In this text,Tocqueville casts democracy against aristocracy as its point of departure and imaginary Other. He imagines aristocracy as a tightly woven realm of hierarchy that both protects and controls from above. Its relations of noblesse oblige, fealty, and chivalry, and its ranked order of command, loyalty, and responsibility posit the individual life—if the individual can be imagined in such a context—not as autonomous but as one small link in a larger societal and historical chain.Aristocratic social life is thus heavily inscribed with elaborate and rigid rules of manner, and professional and legal class distinctions that convey one’s place in the seemingly eternal order of mutuality.At the same time that these relations ensure a sense of place in the larger order, they permit no escape from the determinacy of class life.2 Tocqueville’s imagined aristocracy is, in other words, a world of highly structured dependencies that promise security and stability while enshrining




relations of mastery and subservience. It is in relation to this “other”-world that Tocqueville works to grasp democratic society and culture. Tocqueville’s study proves continually to be one of what he calls les passions: the anger and resentment that foment revolution against aristocratic hierarchy, and the yearning for individual autonomy and freedom that inspire passion for the idea of equality; but also the anxiety born of the flux and uncertainties of democracy, and the fear of re-engulfment by aristocratic authority mingled with desire for its lost securities.The present book is concerned with the fact that Tocqueville works to understand, convey, order, and direct these postaristocratic passions in part through recourse to vivid gendered and familial imagery. Internal to Democracy in America is a symbolic bourgeois family drama wherein a variety of feminine, masculine, and infantile metaphorical figures combine and clash in a storm of flux that represents the historical political drama that is Tocqueville’s primary topic.These metaphors are not empty, then, but rather part of how Democracy in America imagines and structures its subject matter—democracy—and thus serve as a gateway to a rich interpretation of it.The imagery not only brings added dimension to Tocqueville’s conscious insights into postaristocratic democracy (the understanding he offers as analyst), but also highlights limitations and tensions in Tocqueville’s thinking (as an artifact of a particular historical context). But in the century-and-a-half since Democracy in America was first published, this expressive imagery has gone undetected, left to act with unexamined force upon readers’ imaginations. Hanna Pitkin alone has begun to point to some of the gendered and familial political phenomena in Tocqueville’s text.3 Yet, despite the literature’s general silence on this imagery, careful attention to it elucidates Tocqueville’s “democracy,” and thereby modern Western democracy, in important new ways. This new interpretation of Democracy in America suggests that democracy is fundamentally a society and culture of flux—of percolating change and threatened chaos.4 As Tocqueville puts it,“in ages of democracy all things are unstable,” including the “human heart” (D, 582, see 460, 478, 498).Throughout his text, figurative representations of gender and family relations operate as a shorthand conceptual framework to make sense of this constant motion, and to press it into a new kind of order. In this move Tocqueville is hardly unique, participating in gendered and familial symbolic politics common to eighteenth- and nineteenth-century France and America, the primary contexts that inform his work.5 Indeed, gendered symbols and familial imagery are powerful means by which people have often imagined politics and society, particularly in times of great upheaval and change, when the work of reimagining is especially demanding.6 Notions of woman, man, mother, father, and child seem familiar, their meaning apparently self-evident, and have been reached for as lenses through which to envision and conceptualize the changing and the unfamiliar. In times



when longstanding social ties are broken, images of family also promise to renew a sense of organic wholeness in a dislocated society. But such metaphors embody complex, often inarticulate, unacknowledged, and contradictory, oceans of meaning; when examined closely they speak richly of the world they describe.The familial and gendered imagery upon which Tocqueville leans to grasp and structure the throbbing flux, fragments, and newness of emergent democracy encodes his portrait of democracy with constellations of meaning that, when unearthed, deepen and complicate standing interpretations of Democracy in America. The interpretative work of this book suggests that familial and gendered imagery may be especially prevalent in populist ages of democracy. In his chapter on “How American Democracy has Modified the English Language,” not only does Tocqueville deem language “the chief tool of thought” (D, 477). He himself observes that people in democracies are particularly inclined to “borrow a technical term from some particular group and put it into general currency with a figurative meaning.” Moreover, popular terms—perhaps such as those describing family and sexual relations—are most likely to be adopted for metaphorical purposes, as “democratic peoples willingly borrow from living languages rather than from dead ones” (D, 479).Tocqueville also reports that democrats employ these abstractions “because such phrases broaden the scope of thought and allow the mind to include much in few words”; democrats also “personify these abstractions and make them act like real men.”Tocqueville even admits to so deploying language himself: with respect to the word “equality,” he observes that he has “personified it, so that I have found myself saying that equality did certain things or abstained from others.” 7 Robert Nisbet confirms that “Democracy in America was conceived by its author in an age rich in reification,” and “abstractions of all kinds flourished during Tocqueville’s life. New words appeared to give identity to purported historical forces and trends; old words were lifted from age-old specific uses to uses of a metaphysical character.” Despite Tocqueville’s momentary admission of the use of abstractions, Nisbet doubts that Tocqueville “was aware of the breadth and depth of the use that he made of abstractions in his great study of democracy.” 8 Certainly in the symbolic family drama that attends Tocqueville’s analysis of democracy,“equality” performs as an agent with particular gender traits, as do many of his central concepts, including aristocracy and democracy themselves, as well as the state, public opinion, nature, and religion. Familial and gendered imagery may especially suit people in democracy for another reason, that Tocqueville himself did not recognize. It has to do with what Tocqueville calls the “nodal point” of democracy, namely, its “passion” for the idea of equality, and how this passion relates to the flux that democracy heralds.The point is this: Passion for the idea of equality stimulates a historically novel consciousness about gender for the fact that equality as a principle raises



the possibility of the genuine elimination of sex-based inequality. Paradoxically, however,democracy’s ideology of equality does not yield in any simple way equality between the sexes, but, instead, also stimulates an anxious reaction against the idea of leveling the sexes as a signification of the loss of order and meaning.9 Amid democracy’s conscious attack on class difference, the loss of gendered difference seems doubly threatening to the comforts of predictable social structure.Various scholars point to such a psychodynamic in modern Western history; Doris Kadish, for instance, sees anxiety in Honoré de Balzac’s “conservative argument that postrevolutionary society no longer displays pure categories but has deteriorated into impure admixtures of gender, class, and politics,” and his concomitant literary obsession with deviant, hybrid, and “other” expressions of humanity.10 Given this sort of anxiety over flux, emergent democracy may, ironically, trigger discursive appeals to symbolic ideas of femaleness and maleness, “femininity” and “masculinity,” and structures of family as means to order a society apparently on the verge of collapsing into disarray. In turn, such heightened cultural reliance on the deeply imaginative and prescriptive powers of gender encourages absolutist differentiation between actual females and males (as well as promoting gendered ethnic and “racial” difference, for example), at the same time that democracy promises to eliminate such inequalities.11 This study of Democracy in America helps us to see that gender cooperates in codifying and ordering social and political phenomena, in works of political theory as in society. But gender itself is historically constructed, varying both subtly and dramatically across time, classes, and cultures. Conceptions of gender can be at the same time “deeply held (often only implicitly) and highly unstable,” as historian Ruth Bloch observes.12 Tocqueville lived at a time of notable transition when, along with everything else, ideas of gender and family were being renegotiated. Moreover, insofar as democracy signifies flux, it invites permanent instability into such identity categories. Partly for these reasons, Tocqueville’s text figuratively constructs democracy in metaphorical terms that are themselves unstable.Though rooted in the modern conjugal family ideal and its companion gender terms, the text’s symbolic expressions of femaleness, in particular, but also maleness, shift and multiply, often to incoherent effect. Consequently, at the same time that this constellation of images serves as a means to seize, comprehend and structure democracy, its own instability injects chaos into that effort in a manner that speaks of democracy’s own flux. Attention to Democracy in America’s symbolism thus reveals a tension at the heart of gender: a tension between a drive for (typically binary) certainty and structure, on the one hand, and an impulse toward multiplicity, flux, and indeterminacy on the other hand.13 The symbolic family drama that animates Tocqueville’s complex analysis of democracy exemplifies this tension, marked as it is by moments of both rigid order and accelerating incoherence—



a paradox that sheds light on the psychodynamics and social structures of democracy as well as upon the creative, unstable, ultimately incoherent nature of gender itself. Despite this instability in gender,Tocqueville’s search for foundations for modern democracy is fundamentally bound up in the deployment of a symbolic family and gender order. In Democracy in America, on the level of symbol and in the flesh and blood lives of democracy’s inhabitants, a modern conjugal family order and associated gender framework structure and direct democracy. More specifically, the symbolic family drama that frames Democracy in America is not static but one of attempted human development, positing democracy as a growing child-subject. Following its “birth” out of a maternalized aristocracy, this subject can easily be led astray and therefore needs to be educated in civic republicanism to achieve its potential maturity. How, precisely, are we to interpret the meaning conveyed by this literary subtext of family and human development? First, the images of gender and family that Tocqueville deploys must be assessed as the historical, cultural artifacts that they are.To assign meaning to them, the relevant eighteenth- and nineteenth-century French and American political,social,literary,and artistic discourses that informed Tocqueville, as traveler and historical subject, must be investigated. Secondly, the familialized drama itself, as a particular version of family relations and childhood development, begs the application of a psychological theory that can speak to such particularities. Chapter 1 establishes the project’s sociological and psychological interpretative framework. It sets into relief the imagery that is this project’s main concern, tying it to broad historical discourses, then makes a case for the use of Dorothy Dinnerstein’s object-relations psychoanalytic theory, also very much a theory of social and political hierarchy and subjugation. Dinnerstein’s theory, it is argued, enables a new diagnosis of the various pathologies and malaise that haunt Tocqueville’s young democracy in its attempt to mature— problems, we discover, that are rooted in the very familial and gendered order that Tocqueville adopts to enable his democracy to grow up.This first chapter also articulates how this rereading of Democracy in America is simultaneously an account of the psychodynamics and gendered and familial foundations of modern democracy itself, and the egalitarian and hierarchical social structures that continue to operate in Western democracy today. Chapter 2 begins the work of the historically grounded, psychoanalytic interpretation, illustrating how Democracy in America posits European aristocracy as maternal and the French and U.S. democracies as its offspring—offspring that emerge from the coddling domination of an old mother-world in the name of autonomy and independence.We see that in Tocqueville’s text, French democracy is “born” through a violent revolutionary matricide, releasing itself from feudal order into swirling democratic flux, precisely what Tocqueville



fears will hurtle uneducated France into social chaos. In the United States, it is rather in the absence of a rejected, distant mother England and in the “cradle” of a feminized North American nature that democracy grows.That is,Tocqueville’s two democracies are on different developmental courses, each with its own implications for the future. Chapter 3 explores how Tocqueville defines maturity for himself, as a capacity to act responsibly in the face of social flux.The familial and gendered order upon which he attempts to found democracy is further examined, and shown to be ill-suited to the attainment of such maturity in democracy. The chapter tracks the development of U.S. childdemocracy into what Tocqueville calls “adolescence,” and its effort to achieve symbolic adulthood, that is, republican “manliness.”Tocqueville’s account of the education of citizens in republican association and the institutionalization of religion is probed to elucidate what, within the parameters of Democracy in America, constitutes a healthy symbolic, familial, and gendered order. The chapter identifies the achievements of this order, but also begins to illustrate problems afoot. In chapter 4, democracy’s maturation is seen as threatened by the “commerce” and “industry”Tocqueville observes in U.S. democracy. Utilizing various textual resources from Democracy in America, the chapter argues that democratic passion for private property not only distracts the middle class from political action, but the dynamics of concentrated wealth also warp citizens either by shrinking and depleting their capacities (industry’s workers) or by aggrandizing their power over others (industry’s owners). In all cases, these inhabitants of democracy fail to embody mature republicanism’s moderate and public-minded stance. Chapter 5 traces to its end the trajectory of a democratic citizenry that fails to attain genuine maturity, instead sinking into a state of arrested development and what Tocqueville calls “impotence” and “childhood.” Here we encounter democracy’s inhabitants surrendering their independence to a domineering public opinion as well as to a doting, pathologically parent-like guardian state. The final chapter (6) plumbs Tocqueville’s account of democracy’s flesh and blood family relations through the lens of the preceding psychoanalytic interpretation of the text’s symbolic family and gender order.The psychic sensibilities, both promising and pathological, that animate democracy’s broader social state also, as Tocqueville himself argues, animate family relations: a common disposition shapes all so-called “spheres” of democratic society, such that cultural ideas and sensibilities from public life, politics, family, and gender relations commingle.As such, the work of this chapter challenges the common assumption that Tocqueville’s democracy is structured in a straightforward way by strongly dichotomized public and private spheres. Rather, a common gender and family order informs all parts of the society and culture. Over all, this new



reading of Democracy in America reveals Tocqueville’s democracy, founded as it is on modern notions of family and gender, to be pervasively a society and culture of paradox, of equality and inequality, wherein relations of self-governance and mutual recognition are coupled with relations of domination and willing submission, all driven by competing and conflicting passions for autonomy and authority, for liberty and the comforts of hierarchical structure and radically differentiated identities. Ultimately, this journey into the sub-terrain of Democracy in America strives to do something more than offer a novel account of the interior of a widely read book.We contemporary Western democrats encounter this famous book in an intimate way as it both reflects and helps constitute us. Every page seems somehow familiar to us, so easily received that we often fail to read carefully and think critically about what we find there.The gendered and familial imagery that undergirds the text is part of the intimate relationship we have with this book; we accept the images so readily that we have not noticed them, precisely because they echo modern historical discourses that continue to shape our hearts and minds. In bringing to light this imagery in Tocqueville’s work and discussing its implications, then, we create an opportunity to confront dimensions of ourselves, our social structure and our culture—including psychic dimensions heretofore buried in our collective unconscious.14

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1 “The Key to Almost the Whole Work”

AFTER OPENING Democracy in America with a description of the “physical configuration” of North America,Tocqueville commences his work of social analysis.1 This he does by introducing an analogy that proves central to the book’s general portrait of postaristocratic democracy. The trope consists of a vivid comparison between the birth of a human child and its development into a man, and the emergence and development of nations: When a child is born, his first years pass unnoticed in the joys and activities of infancy. As he grows older and begins to become a man, then the doors of the world open and he comes into touch with his fellows. For the first time notice is taken of him, and people think they can see the germs of the virtues and vices of his maturity taking shape. That, if I am not mistaken, is a great error. Go back; look at the baby in the mother’s arms; see how the world is first reflected in the still hazy mirror of his mind. . . . Only then will you understand the origin of the prejudices, habits, and passions which are to dominate his life.The whole man is there, if one may put it so, in the cradle. Something analogous happens with nations (D, 31).

In this chapter,Tocqueville lays the groundwork for the text’s developmental and familialized presentation of emergent democracy. Indeed, he asserts that “this chapter provides the germ of all that is to follow and the key to almost the whole work” (D, 32). In it he crafts an analogy between humans’ ontogenetic development and the phylogenetic development of human society—a parallel later explored by Freud and other psychoanalytic theorists.Tocqueville argues that early influences and environment mould not only a human individual but also the character of nations: “Peoples always bear some marks of their origin. Circumstances of birth and growth affect all the rest of their careers.”2 He




hereby establishes that the portal through which he examines peoples, nations, and their development, is these early formed “prejudices, habits, and passions.” Through the subsequent pages of Democracy in AmericaTocqueville returns time and again to this man-nation analogy, asserting “that nations, like men, in their youth almost always give indications of the main features of their destiny.”3 Tocqueville specifies this man-nation analogy to suggest that, like a child in its “mother’s arms,” a young nation’s subsequent development is influenced by its earliest experiences. Chapters 2 through 5 of the present work investigate how the idea of a child struggling to grow up in relation to an affecting point of departure structures Democracy in America; making democracy healthy means, in the text, helping it to grow up well. In this narrative, emergent democracy—or more precisely,Tocqueville’s French and U.S. democracies— are themselves signified as the children in question.Valuing as he did intergenerational and other social ties,Tocqueville posits these young democracies as historical beings emerging in relation to very particular sites of origin. If, as Tocqueville says, an emergent people or nation, like an infant, is irretrievably shaped by what it first sees in the “still hazy mirror of its mind,” European aristocracy looms large in both French and American democracy’s imaginations. Harvey Mitchell is correct to suggest that for Tocqueville, democracy cannot be understood without attention to aristocracy, as he aims to convey “how the values of the new transformed, yet emerged in some sense from, the old.” Pierre Manent similarly sees Tocqueville presenting aristocracy as an originary point against which he works to “elaborate upon the ‘generative principles’” of democracy.4 Indeed, throughout Democracy in America, the reader encounters aristocracy as an immense fixed entity hovering in the shadows of the recent past, a past out of which democracy has emerged. But while Tocqueville is famous for configuring aristocracy as democracy’s point of departure and Other, what has not been explored is how he familializes and genders this relationship. In Tocqueville’s text, aristocracy is maternalized, and young democracy’s experiences with this mother-world are the “origin” of its “prejudices, habits, and passions.” Tocqueville turns to youthful America to study democracy because there, he believes, one can readily retrieve the story of a democratic nation’s birth and growth. Building his man-nation analogy, he says that “the taste for analysis comes to nations only when they are growing old, and when at last they do turn their thoughts to their cradle, the mists of time have closed round it, ignorance and pride have woven fables round it, and behind all that the truth is hidden.”The U.S. is “the only country in which we can watch the natural quiet growth of society and where it is possible to be exact about the influence of the point of departure on the future of a state” (D, 32). Of course, two decades later in The Ancien Régime (1856), ignoring his own advice,Tocqueville attempts to discover



the complex circumstances surrounding the birth of French democracy. But this is because he remains committed to his earlier theme, arguing that the French Revolution of 1789 will “ever remain in darkness to those who do not look beyond it; it can only be comprehended by the light of the ages which preceded it.” It is out of that history that the revolution is born, driven by the new “passion” that seeks equality “with obstinate and often blind ardour, willing to sacrifice everything to gain it.”5 Although the revolutionaries of 1789 aimed to “open a gulf between their past and their present,”Tocqueville writes that he has “always suspected that they unconsciously retained most of the sentiments, habits, and ideas which the old regime had taught them, and by whose aid they achieved the Revolution; and that, without intending it, they used its ruins as materials for the construction of their new society.”6 Though shattered, this old world leaves its mark on the new, having inspired passions and educated wills. As such, only once “having drawn from the portrait of the old regime” its “laws, its faults, its prejudices, its suffering, its greatness,” can one “understand the conduct of the French during the sixty years which have followed its fall.”7 So, to return to Democracy in America’s mother-child metaphor, if democracy is a developing child, to understand that child and its potentialities, we must consider its mother. Where in the text do we find this mother? Though Tocqueville’s English translators are often imprecise in conveying the gendered and familialized nature of Tocqueville’s ideas of homeland, founding, country, and ancestors, his original French is marked by a distinctive and telling pattern. Overwhelmingly in the text, almost too many times to document,Tocqueville conjures up the “social state” of old Europe from which the European-Americans have fled as la mère patrie.8 (Much less often, to refer to the old country as a legal state, he uses the linguistically gendered but conceptually gender-neutral term la métropole.9) Coinciding with this maternalization of the aristocratic European social state is the textual production of democracy’s emergence as a birth. Over and over,Tocqueville describes the new colonies as coming to birth (naître) and growing (grandir), sometimes they do so in a new cradle (berceau). Often the U.S. and French Revolutions are birthing processes and, time and again, the new French and U.S. democratic social states are posited in states of infancy, childhood, or adolescence.10 Such metaphorical language underscores the mother-child analogy Tocqueville explicitly deploys to characterize the development of nations. To refer generally to nations and countries,Tocqueville sometimes uses la nation and le pays but also, significantly, patrie, whose familial tone derives from the Latin root, pater, patris, as well as the Greek, pater, patros, for father(s).11 Tocqueville almost always uses this term when he refers not to aristocracy, but to the new republic of the United States and generically to republican states (though also exceptionally to historical France, which in his mind had republican periods).12



That is, while motherhood is linked in the text to aristocracy, fatherhood is associated with republics. Still, the notion of fatherhood is most frequently tied to ancestors as human agents (pays de leurs ancêtres but also les pères, pays de leurs pères and les aïeux).13 Over all,Tocqueville produces through this array of terms a symbolic family context comprised of mother, child, and father figures. Aristocratic Europe is predominantly signified as maternal, individual historical actors in France and the U.S. and new republican states as fathers, and the new democracies themselves as infants or children in courses of development.

F R E N C H A N D U. S. D I S C O U R S E To understand the historical meaning of Tocqueville’s imagery, it must be situated in the prevailing discourses of the contexts in question. As Tocqueville himself insisted, people never act or think in a state of complete historical suspension, nor break entirely with their past.Tocqueville was a Frenchman and traveler to North America; his habit of familializing and gendering historical events and processes in France and the U.S. reflects his participation in discursive habits popular in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century France and the U.S.—the residues of which continue to operate today. But in casting aristocracy as a maternal force and democracy’s emergence as a birthing,Tocqueville both employs and shifts particular imagery prevalent in pre- and post-revolutionary French discourse and colonial and postcolonial U.S. discourse. In eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe, gendered and familial symbolism came to dominate prevailing understandings of society and politics. Doris Kadish argues that this “had much to do with availability: familiar and omnipresent, at a time when class and other distinctions were uncertain, gender provided a convenient and universally understandable analogy to be used.”14 In France the imagery took its own peculiar form, with the monarchy at the center of a constellation of familial images. By the end of the eighteenth century, Lynn Hunt observes, the French sought to “get free from the political parents of whom they had developed a low opinion,” and “imagined replacing them—the king and the queen—with a different kind of family, one in which the parents were effaced and the children, especially the brothers, acted autonomously.”15 But with monarchical absolutism associated with the notion of a male Christian God and the patriarchal family, revolutionaries were preoccupied with metaphorical patricide more than matricide or even parricide. God was seen to impart power to the king as male head of all of France—a form of power called “la puissance paternelle”—which in turn trickled down to husbands/fathers who were thereby ordained as heads of family.The androcentric rule of primogeniture and Salic law underscored this male authority. Joan Landes thus notes:“The Great Chain of Being that stretched from heaven to



earth was an order of families, each ruled by a benevolent father,” and the “theater of absolutism raised the father-king from lord to central icon of the regime.”16 Reacting against this paternalized monarchy, republicans chose Marianne as a female symbol for the republic in a gender-based effort to gain distance from the past.17 However, reflecting the generative and eventually incoherent nature of gender, narratives rooted in gendered symbols are seldom wholly logical. While feminine Marianne signified the new republic, the Revolution was typically understood to require the overthrow of paternal and patriarchal, but not masculine, authority, making way as it was for fraternal democratic rule; it also meant the political exclusion of females.18 Meanwhile, the leading male nobles of the Old Regime had apparently been un-manned by the increasingly absolutist king and were thus coded effeminate by revolutionaries, that is, ill-suited to what was widely understood as the “manly” task of fraternal republicanism.19 French political discourse in the revolutionary era, reflected in paintings, sculpture and other art of the day, thus valorized republican manliness, signified by authority seized by symbolic brothers from a father.20 The rapidly expanding number of novels written in this era often featured father figures in conflict with sons.21 Despite this widespread French preoccupation with paternal authority and the Revolution as a patricide committed by united brothers, Democracy in America does not focus on the monarchy. In The Ancien Régime,Tocqueville closely examines the French monarchy and its gradual leveling effect on society, a development, he argues, that helped produce the late-eighteenth century’s revolutionary consciousness. But while the monarchy was increasingly consolidating political power in France toward the end of that century, in Democracy in America Tocqueville casts his gaze over the “last seven hundred years,” focusing on long-term developments in the epoch of aristocracy.22 So in Tocqueville’s earlier text it is aristocracy we encounter as democracy’s prolegomenon, characterized by Tocqueville as a longstanding, hierarchical class society and culture in which the upper classes held, with a sense of care and obligation, fixed hierarchical power over most members of their society.23 In this earlier work, Tocqueville confronts both democracy and aristocracy as kinds of “social state,” a psychosocial cultural formation that involves not only political leaders but all political and social actors, their dominant “passions” and “mores,” and how these sensibilities play out in relation to institutions, social relations, and structures.This alternative vantage point frees Tocqueville to produce a textual family drama somewhat distinct from those that dominated eighteenth- and nineteenth-century French discourse. In Tocqueville’s version, aristocracy is coded maternal and, intuitively, from a modern perspective, this move is far from nonsensical: the involved, dependent, and hierarchical relations of care signified by aristocracy’s noblesse oblige do have a maternal air, given modern



Western understandings of motherhood.As a republican,Tocqueville also participates in the representation of civic republicanism as “manly” (in his words, mâle, viril, and the lack, impuissance), assessing not only democracy’s citizens but also France’s aristocratic nobles in relation to this quality of manliness. But in Democracy in America, the aristocratic social state itself, as a site of mores and a psychology of class dynamics, is marked off from manly republicanism as maternal. Because Tocqueville is more sweeping with history in Democracy in America than in The Ancien Régime, the symbolic family drama that frames Democracy in America, though not absent from the later text, is there fractured, particularly because the timeline of the child-developmental narrative is no longer relevant in the same way.24 So Democracy in America’s symbolic family drama evokes ideas of family and gender with which revolutionary and postrevolutionary France struggled, without always directly mirroring them. Tocqueville’s aristocracy/democracy: mother/child symbolism can also be seen to reflect the transition from aristocratic to democratic norms of family life itself. In Old Europe, parent-child relations were notably hierarchical, authoritarian, and controlling—what to modern individuals probably seems infantilizing. James Traer observes that under the French ancien régime, generally speaking, the père de famille held broad rights to correct a child and over a child’s property.A child was emancipated from such powers when he or she married or established a separate residence for at least a year.25 In promulgating the ideas of the philosophes, the Revolution of 1789 worked to deinstitutionalize these rigid and hierarchical family relations (made that much more extreme by legislation of the monarchy in the eighteenth century), and institutionalize more fluid ones that reflected the new ideal of equality. Paternal authority over offspring softened, and children were released from legal minority at the age of twenty-one for purposes of civil rights and property holding. In 1790, a family court was created to replace the authority of the père de famille with a deliberative council of relatives, designed to regulate more democratically the relationship between parents and minor children. Parentchild relations were now more informal, intimate, and mutual, though also, as a consequence, more tension-ridden.26 In portraying aristocracy as a parent and democracy as the developing offspring,Tocqueville evokes these changing family norms.While aristocracy’s structured and predictable parent-child hierarchy mirrors the structured and predictable class hierarchy of the broader society, democracy’s more permissive and mutuality-based parent-child relations mirror the more egalitarian and individualistic relations of democracy. But given the patriarchal nature of aristocratic family relations, why not signify aristocracy as a father, after all? Tocqueville’s making aristocracy maternal may also reflect the transition to a new ideal of motherhood afoot in eighteenth-century France. Reacting to French Enlightenment thought,



society in this century began to value childhood as a peculiar stage of dependency, potentiality and, if treated rightly, development toward maturity. Enlightenment thinkers, Rousseau most notoriously, also explicated a supposedly companion notion of motherhood. In his day, middle- and upper-class mothers did not perform childcare nor breastfeed; such activity was considered coarse.With the Enlightenment, motherhood was for the first time depicted as a discrete identity and all-consuming activity, with the mother ideally selfless, doting, and singularly focused on her offspring.27 In presenting aristocracy as a mother, Democracy in America may thus signal that that former world was coddling, like the new mother.Tocqueville imagines that,“Without regarding the poor as equals, [the nobles] took thought for their fate as a trust confided to them by Providence” (D, 13). Moreover,even though prevailing cultural ideas are discernible in Tocqueville’s symbolic family drama, there is no reason to expect these influences to be reflected in Tocqueville’s imagery in a logical or coherent manner. Gender and family narratives embedded in cultural discourse are themselves typically inconsistent.As we shall discover,Tocqueville’s mother-child narrative not only adopts and twists prevailing familial narratives of the Revolution in France; his drama is also itself internally tension ridden. Such tensions and inconsistencies are not wrinkles to be ironed out or problems that undermine the point of a textual interpretation but are,rather,central material for the present analysis, as they speak fruitfully of gender’s tendency toward instability and incoherent categories. Moreover, these tensions suggest problems in the familial and gendered order upon which Tocqueville attempts to found democracy. With this in mind, there is another sense in which Tocqueville’s maternalized aristocracy seems related to its historical backdrop. French aristocracy is partly known for the power of its women as patrons, property-holders, and figures of the salons.The eighteenth century most certainly adopted forms of antifemale sexism from earlier centuries, and women in classes other than the most privileged lacked power. But as James McMillan has remarked, “the eighteenth century was in many respects a good time to be a woman.”28 Landes similarly sees the ancien régime symbolized by womanhood, even across classes. She writes that although its “central icon” was the father-king, aristocratic women in this period controlled property, participated in public debate, and influenced politics in ways that were foreclosed during and after the Revolution.29 Lieselotte Steinbrügge likewise observes that in popular opinion, “woman” was a leading force in the ancien régime: “Legend has it that in France the eighteenth century was the century of women, and the facts would seem to substantiate this view”: in this century the intellectual elite met in female-led salons, an increasing number of females made their living as writers, and many corresponded with France’s great thinkers.30 In fact, the advent of democracy in France



brought with it an evident diminishing of women’s legal and political power, and a concomitant reduction of “woman’s” stature in the popular imagination. As Landes notes, with the Revolution, women’s political rights were denied, and all women’s clubs and associations were deemed illegal.31 The Napoleonic Civil Code of 1804 helped codify this new kind of inferior status as it abandoned the Roman-based laws of the ancien régime, undoing the status of wives as legal persons in their own right, and limiting the powers of single women.32 Perhaps not surprising, then, as Doris Kadish observes, from the late-eighteenth into nineteenth-century France, females tended to be associated with allegiance to aristocratic traditions.33 Rather characteristically of the period, Tocqueville himself associated his mother with the Old Regime. More than his liberal father,Tocqueville’s mother remained throughout her life stalwartly committed to the principles of aristocratic life. Upon her release from prison on the ninth Thermidor she resumed the traditional role of châtelaine, tending to the poor and sick; and she opposed a compromise with Louis-Philippe during his reign after the July 1830 revolution, forever an Old Regime royalist who awaited the resurrection of Catholic legitimist France.34 André Jardin suggests that Mme.Tocqueville represented “a rejection of the present and a passion for a crusade that would restore everything to the way it was in the past.”35 During France’s turbulent transition from aristocracy to a new epoch, Tocqueville’s mother remained in his mind’s eye, trained to the attitudes of the day, a symbol and signal of the former world. The historical narratives surrounding Marie-Antoinette also resonate with the codifying of France’s past as maternal and/or feminine. Lynn Hunt indicates that “when the king’s death failed to establish the republic on firm grounds, republicans found an even greater culprit in their midst: the queen.” While the revolution simply reduced the king to Louis Capet and took off his head, the revolutionary era is replete with extreme representations of Marie-Antoinette engaged in obscene acts, including as an incestuous mother.36 Now, while a queen is more immediately associated with monarchy than with aristocracy, Marie-Antoinette’s treatment exemplifies the fact that the idea of women’s power in the Old Regime had stirred the French imagination deeply, perhaps in more complicated and clouded ways than the idea of men’s power. Her vilification suggests that because the idea of woman loomed large for the French as a symbol of the Old Regime, part of the work of the revolutionary era had to be to diminish her.Within a couple of decades after the French Revolution, notions of womanhood, motherhood, femininity, and domesticity had been redefined.This new model marked the rigorous containment of the female, with her powers captured and harnessed in her new, delimited role as domestic wife and mother.37 Nonetheless, being thus physically and



politically contained did not mean that her power over the culture’s imagination was similarly limited. So in many ways we can see traces, with some modification, of eighteenthand nineteenth-century French discourse in Tocqueville’s mother-child narrative. But Tocqueville’s general aim in Democracy in America was to gain insight into the nature of French democracy through comparative study of the United States—its society, culture, and history.As such, it was not only French discourse in which Tocqueville was immersed. His hectic nine-month voyage through the United States (and Canada), secured under the guise of a study of the American prison system for the French government, was undertaken as a research opportunity to observe American life and talk to Americans both prominent and ordinary. Further, during what George Pierson has called Tocqueville’s “second journey to America,”Tocqueville embarked on an extended study of U.S. official texts, history, institutions, and society from his home in France, assisted by two American research assistants living in Paris.42 One finds extensive evidence of this second journey in Democracy in America, where Tocqueville draws upon official state documents, the ideas of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and John Calhoun, as well as James Madison’s, Alexander Hamilton’s, and John Jay’s “Publius” contributions to the federalist papers. Tocqueville employs such American sources sometimes to shore up or even undergird his own point, other times to illustrate American thinking.39 Though it is hardly without blindspots, Democracy in America is the product of a thoughtful comparativist who strove to immerse himself in a largely alien context.40 So,Tocqueville was situated in United States as well as French discourse. Pertinent to his mother-child imagery is the fact that the metaphor of birth litters eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American narratives of the U.S. founding. Perhaps most famously today, Lincoln seized this enduring imagery for himself when he proclaimed that “four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth” the new nation. Gary Wills argues that Lincoln refers not to an introduction of something to North America “from abroad,” but rather a “generation on the spot” that unfolded with the Declaration of Independence.41 By the time Lincoln made it his own, such mythology had already occupied the U.S. imagination for a century, particularly in the form of the “American Adam,” posited as the founder of a new civilization in the American “Eden.” This story line likewise establishes the American founding as an “extraordinary birth, outside the processes of time.”42 Tocqueville, for his part, plays with and rejects such American myths of new beginnings. He does claim “I can see the whole destiny of America contained in the first Puritan who landed on those shores, as that of the whole human race in the first man” (D, 279, see 36–37). But that “first man” is not really first for Tocqueville. Imbued with the sensibilities of a European historian, Tocqueville could not imagine the United



States as an entity outside of time but rather unavoidably embedded in broader historical structures and processes.As Gita May argues,“Tocqueville stressed the continuity of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries” so that for him, despite popular views to the contrary, not even the American founding signified a historical rupture.43 In Democracy in America and the related travel essays,Tocqueville portrays the United States as a new thing born on a distant continent, but born nonetheless of a specific historical lineage. The parent is Old Europe, especially England and, more specifically, is predominantly matrilineal: la mère patrie. U.S. discourse illustrates the often contradictory nature of popular symbols and gendered narratives when, at the same time that eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Americans deemed the United States founding a break with the past, so too did they code England as their mother. Revolutionaries and loyalists alike commonly configured England as maternal and themselves as her children, either abused by or devoted to her.44 This imagery persisted well into the nineteenth century. Lincoln himself, despite mastering the symbolism of America as a radical new beginning, posited the American Revolution as the “matter of separation of the colonies from the motherland.”45 He also suggested it was “our fathers” on American soil who, having apparently seized maternal, natal powers from England, had “brought forth” the new nation.46 Such discursive affirmation of male primacy reflects the loss of power and status actual colonial women suffered as the colonies gained their independence from England. Gerda Lerner illustrates that in the United States, revolution against England meant a gradual expansion of political rights for “white” males but not for females, and even meant the shrinking of economic opportunities women had known in the colonial period.47 Indeed, despite their democratic rhetoric, neither the French nor American Revolutions signified advancement in the powers and freedoms of women, but rather, in many ways, the opposite. Tocqueville’s mother-aristocracy and child-democracy also conjure up changes in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to parent-child relations in the United States. In the early colonial United States, parent-child relations shared some of the rigid and hierarchical authoritarianism exhibited by European aristocracy.These relations did not have the same complexity born of a longstanding evolved class society but, again, the father had extensive rights and duties regarding his children’s choice of spouse. Still, given the nature of the economy, childhood itself in the colonies lasted only until about seven years of age when boys and girls became productive; typically by their teens they lived away from parents to work as servants or apprentices.48 By the time of the revolution against England, however, perhaps feeling the loss of their imperial “mother,”Americans, not unlike the French, began to enshrine in their culture an ideal of motherhood and childhood in family life.As John Locke’s attack on patriarchalism influenced the minds of revolutionaries,



paternal authority over children shrunk.At the same time, middle-class women were transformed into “homemakers” for the first time, and began devoting nearly exclusive time and energy to child rearing.These European American women appealed to proliferating advice books for guidance on how to raise children and make a home for their families. Womanhood, they prescribed, was to signify self-abnegation, comfort and nurturing, and childhood was to be a time for distinct individuals to receive constant maternal care.49 One might say that, in this period, the now symbolically motherless Anglo-Americans guaranteed for themselves embodied representations of the new motherhood. This transvaluation, like the one in France, not only set into relief the family as the basic cell of society, it also drew special attention to the role of motherhood and experience of childhood. 50 In Democracy in America, while Tocqueville’s maternalized aristocracy reflects the new, doting, maternal practices of care, it simultaneously characterizes the historical transition from the aristocratic to the democratic milieu. His maternalized aristocracy speaks of the new gender order taking hold of the transformed social world, and also signals that child-democracy’s development hinges on its release from the controls of aristocracy’s old, parentlike hierarchy.

INTERPRETING TOCQUEVILLE’S IMAGERY: A P S Y C H O A N A LY T I C F R A M E W O R K Contemporary changes to the status of women, to the meaning of motherhood and childhood, thus reverberate through Tocqueville’s mother-aristocracy, democracy-as-offspring trope. In appropriating strands of the shifting, popular imagery of mother and child in his own way, Tocqueville produces through his textual symbolism a particular vision of maternalism. In his writings, mother-aristocracy emerges as a site of contradiction: secure and attentive, on the one hand, and rigidly hierarchical and controlling, on the other. Looking back at France’s history,Tocqueville characterizes the French aristocratic regime as a world “so fertile in contrasts, so extreme in its acts—more under the dominion of feeling, less ruled by principle; always better or worse than was anticipated,” as simultaneously “unchangeable” and “fickle.”Through the contradictions of its thickly layered social order, customs, and manners it became “at last a mystery to itself. . . . indocile by disposition but better pleased with the arbitrary and even violent rule of a sovereign than with a free and regular government,” both “fixed in hostility to subjection” and “passionately wedded to servitude.”51 He writes that “no nation but such a one as this could give birth to a revolution so sudden, so radical, so impetuous in its course, and yet so full of missteps, contradictory facts, and conflicting examples.”52 Aristocracy is, in the life story of democracy, the originating maternal world—a regime



of authority and control coupled with security and a guiding ethos of deep interconnection. In short,Tocqueville sees a double-edged, domineering and glorious, controlling and coddling world as the generative source of democracy.This maternal realm was the kind of regime “surest to inspire admiration, hatred, terror, or pity, but never indifference,” stirring contradictory passions difficult to resolve, especially since “our memories, thoughts, and habits” of that old world still linger.53 Running through Democracy in America is the theme of democracy’s birth as a passionate assertion of independence against a grand and oppressive world now lost but not forgotten.Tocqueville reiterates in The Ancien Régime that,“Never had the feudal system seemed so hateful to the French as at the moment of its proximate destruction.”54 This old authority is one that has fomented in the hearts and minds of revolutionaries an ardent quest for equality and individual independence, as reaction against the oppressive hierarchy and unwavering structure that it signifies.Tocqueville thus presents democracy as a new autonomy-loving subject struggling to establish itself against the structured authority of maternal Old Europe. But so too does this subject feel anxious about the loss of the securities and comforts of the past, the reclamation of which would jeopardize its maturation. Tocqueville is at pains in Democracy in America to reveal democracy’s vulnerability to mediocrity, materialism, civic mindlessness, and uniquely democratic forms of despotism; he aims to indicate that democracy’s successful separation from Old Europe and subsequent maturation cannot be assumed.The symbolic family order he gradually builds for democracy performs in the text as a legitimate context that is to facilitate democracy’s healthy maturation. However, despite these foundations—what, as we shall see, prove to be a symbolic modern conjugal family order with attendant gender relations—democracy still has trouble resolving its relations with the past.Though driven by a genuine quest for autonomy amid equality, this young subject is also haunted by a subterranean fear of the new flux and indeterminacy and fragmentation that equality heralds, and a concomitant, unresolved yearning for the security and certainties once guaranteed by aristocracy.At the same time that democracy releases itself from aristocracy, so too is it haunted by its vital memory.55 Democracy in America hereby tells a tale of a world-historical moment of separation anxiety.The fact that the text’s conjugal family narrative and its gendered terms prove unreliable to guide democracy well toward maturation is central to this critical rereading of the text. Precisely as he recognizes how democracy transforms highly cohesive classes and chains of dependency into atomized individuals,Tocqueville appeals to the organic imagery of family to grasp this changed world.As he points to the new disconnectedness that social equality heralds, he reaches for the idea of family as a configuration of relations that signifies permanent ties among



people. In developing the story of child-democracy’s struggle to grow up and away from its maternal, aristocratic point of departure—in attempting to direct democracy well—Tocqueville leans upon additional gendered, developmental, sexual, and familial metaphors, such as “adolescent,”“manliness,”“fathers,” and “brothers,”as well as ideas of marriage and androgyny.Such imagery is accompanied by a bevy of symbolic female figures—not only mothers and wives but also virgins and seductresses—in relation to which infant democracy attempts to develop. In all this, properly organized symbolic family and sexual relations are defined as the means through which democracy can successfully grow up.56 As such, assessing the relationship between Tocqueville’s mother-child analogy and prevailing French and U.S. discourses is only a first step in unearthing the meaning and implications of Democracy in America’s symbolic family and developmental drama. Certainly a text so structured by gendered and familial symbols, by an author so preoccupied by with what he repeatedly calls “secret” passions, fairly begs a reading rooted in psychoanalytic theory. Several works in political theory have blazed a trail for psychoanalytic interpretation of gendered and familial imagery in historical texts. In Fortune is a Woman, Hanna Fenichel Pitkin employs psychoanalytic categories to study Machiavelli’s writings, demonstrating how psychological forces signified by gendered images inform and shape political theorizing.57 Pitkin draws on both Machiavelli’s biography and the history of Italian Renaissance gender and family relations to shed light on Machiavelli’s political thought. Pitkin’s methods are instructive, indicating that psychological interpretation of any text, produced as it has been in a particular historical context, must be anchored in social and cultural history; without such moorings, any interpretation is arbitrary. Pitkin also illustrates that the life of the author, as an actor located in the context in question, can, with other historical evidence from that period, inform an understanding of the context.With respect to present purposes, Democracy in America is the prime subject of investigation, representing Tocqueville’s conscious analysis of modern democracy, and providing rich textual resources that undoubtedly exceeded his conscious intentions. On both of these levels, Democracy in America is interpreted in relation to standing historical discourses. The project is definitively, then, not one of psychobiography. Occasionally, Tocqueville’s own life and family circumstances, exceptional though they were, are noted as they reflect the historical transition that he struggled to represent and understand in his work. He himself was a historical subject who, in an act of remarkable historical imagination, discovered himself and his society attempting the transition from aristocracy and democracy.As such, information about Tocqueville’s life sometimes facilitates historically grounded interpretation of his textual imagery; in short, as he himself recognized, he is both analyst and subject of the historical context.



Linda Zerilli’s Signifying Woman is thus also instructive for present purposes, investigating as it does on a textual level the symbolic feminine in the works of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Edmund Burke, and John Stuart Mill, in order to comment on tendencies in modern Western culture.58 Particularly helpful for present purposes, she explores how psychological forces take on symbolic proportions in texts in ways that often exceed the intentions of the author but that nonetheless reveal something fruitful about the text’s subject matter.As historical subjects, authors do not always realize what they say, and when they do not, they may very well say something revealing about their contexts. But postLacanian feminist psycholinguistic theory, which informs Zerilli’s work, is not as well suited as other forms of psychoanalytic theory to the way that Tocqueville uses his metaphors. Developing that trope of mother and child to which Tocqueville introduces us at the beginning of his analysis, one finds at the center of Democracy in America’s gender economy a particular kind of impassioned relationship between a symbolic mother and offspring, with the latter in a course of development. The psychological theory adopted must centrally address this sort of motherchild interaction and the related problem of human development from infancy to adulthood. More specifically yet, the interpretative framework must shed light on the psychological dynamics of attachment and loss, dependency and autonomy, and desire mingled with the fear and resentment evident in the narrative that frames Democracy in America. In short, it must serve an exploration of what Freud first called “separation anxiety.”A genre of psychoanalytic thought known as “object-relations theory” is well suited to this end. Object-relations theory takes its name from its effort to transform psychoanalysis from a theory of singular subjects into a theory of human development, as a process embedded in human relations. It is primarily concerned with the infant subject as well as with the “objects” of this subjectivity, the child’s parents.The parent is no mundane object, however; as a powerful agent, it is deeply significant for the subject who, ever so dependent upon it, internalizes images of it and weaves fantasies about it.The child subject—its subjectivity, sexuality and unconscious imagination—is thus understood to develop in the context of a complex relationship with the parental objects. In Democracy in America, the dominant object to which Tocqueville returns again and again, the one that so preoccupies his and his democracy’s imagination, is aristocracy. Strikingly, this force, which he maternalizes, exhibits in the text the kind of characteristics that have been associated in object-relations theory with a dominant first parent—the parent that in modern Western times is a female mother. It is in light of and against this shadow maternal realm that democracy,Tocqueville’s infant subject, attempts to grow up. Object-relations theory explores the struggles a child endures to achieve maturity-as-autonomy,



an exploration that parallels Tocqueville’s account of (and struggle with) the adventures of modern democracy, following its “birth.” Like object-relations theorists, Tocqueville is fundamentally concerned with questions of human connection. He deeply values independence and individual autonomy, but at the same time recognizes these capacities as something that can be cultivated only in the context of full-bodied social connections. He therefore laments the loss of the bonds of mutuality that he imagines shaped the aristocratic social state. In effect,Tocqueville is very much a theorist of relations himself, and of the transition from the sort of tight bonds he symbolically associates with maternal care, to the sort of independence he symbolically associates with a child growing up. The object-relations approach thus impresses as a particularly appropriate interpretative framework for Democracy in America. Unlike individualistic, drive-based Freudian or linguistic-based Lacanian modes of psychoanalysis, object-relations theory is primarily concerned with differentiated relations between self and other(s) that “throughout life are renegotiated to recreate the sense of self and other in terms of connection, separation, and in between.”59 In Configurations of Masculinity, Christine Di Stefano uses object-relations theory to interpret the works of Thomas Hobbes, Karl Marx, and John Stuart Mill. But interpreting the symbols of Democracy in America requires a strategy somewhat different from the one used by Di Stefano.While she discusses the common propensity of practitioners of psychoanalysis to underplay the instability of gender, she tends to leave this instability unexplored, working primarily within the binary produced by the construction of masculine identity in relation to the feminized mother.60 However, one of the most exciting dimensions of the gender economy of Democracy in America is that it powerfully illustrates how gender’s conservative drive to enforce binary order is bound up with a concomitant tendency to produce multiple and unstable, even incoherent identities and relations. Object-relations psychology can help us theorize gender as multifarious and unstable, and can thereby help us explore how, in gender’s drive to proliferate, it may inspire fear of social and cultural chaos. And in so apparently signifying potential mayhem, gender therefore also tends to foment conservative efforts to corral people into binary categories or, as Di Stefano puts it, “into the specified categories of ‘men’ and ‘women’.”61 This whole dynamic—the looming multiplication of gender into erratic categories, an ensuing fear of chaos, and the reactionary deployment of rigidly dichotomous gender categories—is precisely what is found in the symbolic subtext of Democracy in America. In The Mermaid and the Minotaur, Dorothy Dinnerstein offers up an impressive psychoanalytic framework that is object-relations theory based, and well suited to support an expansive reading of the gendered symbols and family



imagoes in Tocqueville’s text. Dinnerstein aims to uncover the emotional sources of historically prevailing sexual arrangements, that is, of the heavily and specifically patterned division of privilege, duty and opportunity according to sex. Dinnerstein argues that these arrangements are not natural and thus immutable, as they may appear, but neither are they the consequence of simple coercion exercised by one sex over the other. Rather, these prevailing sex arrangements—social, psychological probabilities transgressed occasionally rather than regularly—are sustained and naturalized by the psychological commitments of most women and men.Acquiescence to these dominant sex arrangements is thus due neither to hormonal dictates nor social force; rather, they are something to which most of us give a kind of unconscious “consent.” These sex arrangements are the psychological consequence of female-dominated child rearing, and are further shaped by their intersection with the innate human pleasure in enterprise. Dinnerstein sets as her task a “description of psychological forces, rooted in mother-dominated childhood, which are widespread enough to make it possible for society to enforce a prescription about male and female adult behavior.”62 She argues that while these behaviors seem natural, even fulfilling, they threaten human well-being.We tend to consent to them, however, for defensive, psychological reasons borne of two facts. First, women are almost universally in charge of infant and early child care so that females are typically a child’s first point of contact with humanity, corporeality, mortality, dependency, and nature.63 This fact combines fatefully with a second one: the human pleasure in enterprise and inventiveness and the spirit of mastery.This uniquely human inclination leads the individual, as it develops beyond infancy, to attempt to console itself for “the loss of infant oneness with the world—and to assert itself against a peculiarly human discovery—that the most important features of existence elude control.”64 When the human inclination toward enterprise is combined with the social fact of female-dominated child care, plus the inevitable but painful recognition of mortality and mortal limits, the result is a particular, pathological network of gender relations.These relations are based upon a complement between women and men that divides responsibilities and concomitant sensibilities along male-female lines to the effect of undercutting the full humanity of each sex, rendering each sub-human. Dinnerstein draws upon the mythological half-human, half-beast figures of the mermaid and the minotaur to represent this heavily gendered state of sub-humanity.65 Dinnerstein’s 1970’s version of object-relations theory, despite fruitfully illuminating how gender and even sex and heterosexual identities are socially constituted, superficially fixes the categories of “woman,”“man,”“girl” and “boy,” “female” and “male,” and “sex.”Throughout her work, Dinnerstein maintains as bundled girl-woman-female and boy-man-male, indicating that she accepts



as coherent and fixed a gender-sex binary. However, given her account of how human qualities and character traits get constituted in sets of dichotomies in relation to a dichotomous interpretation of human sexes; given her insights into how, in turn, “woman” and “man” get posited culturally as natural and inevitable human configurations; and given her appreciation of how this general process yields two putatively “opposite” kinds of human beings and thereby structures and sustains compulsory heterosexuality, her theory is remarkably contemporary. In all this, it resonates with recent feminist theories that destabilize both the woman/man and female/male dichotomies, and expose how these dichotomies entrench as given heterosexuality. Furthermore, Dinnerstein helps illuminate that while this sex-gender system produces dichotomous notions of woman/man, so too is it prone to multiplicity and incoherence— an insight that invites further theorizing today. For instance, we will see in Dinnerstein’s analysis that the modern sex-gender system’s prescription for female-dominated child rearing, while leaning ineluctably on the woman/man dichotomy as natural, also produces the supposedly unitary “woman” as simultaneously multiplicitous: as goddess, whore, virgin, good mother, bad mother, and on and on. Not only would ending female-dominated child care transform the psychological, social, and political structures of male dominance, Dinnerstein’s argument indicates, it would also dissolve woman/female and man/male as binary,“opposite” genders/sexes as we know them—and thereby dissipate gender altogether.66 The historical dimensions of Dinnerstein’s theory also need clarifying. She claims that her framework is almost universally applicable, traversing history and culture because it points “to what are so far as I know very nearly universal human conditions: that women are the first parents, and that they and children coexist in primary groups with men.”67 This suggests that the framework can be applied unproblematically to both Western aristocracy and democracy, as females were generally in charge of babies in both.68 But this is not what we need the framework to do if it is to enable interpretation of Democracy in America.The whole point of Democracy in America is to confront a historical transition from one kind of society to another, from one type of human experience to another, from one characterized by hierarchical interconnection and dependency, to another that signifies an escape to individual autonomy. So, what critical purchase can Dinnerstein’s work gain on the historical transition from aristocracy to the very different world of democracy?69 What makes Dinnerstein’s work useful is the fact that it is a theory of transition, theorizing human movement from a context of hierarchical care and authority to one of attempted autonomy. In Democracy in America,Tocqueville explicitly signals by way of his mother-child metaphor that the individual human’s transition (on the ontogenetic level) from being under the care and control of a female, into



attempted adult independence, mirrors—and thereby serves as a venue for interpretation of—the historical transition (on the phylogenetic level) from top-down care and control of servants and serfs in aristocratic hierarchy, to attempted mature democratic self-governance.70 Object-relations theory in general poses another problem that must be addressed.This variety of psychoanalytic theory, like others, has been intended primarily as a tool for understanding concrete individuals and their family dynamics. In this application, it typically assumes a family structure best reflected by historical “white,” bourgeois, conjugal families, and therein is biased.71 With more justification, however, object-relations theory can critically assess the prevailing ideology of family—the dominant ideated form of family life—found in modern Western discourse. It is precisely the point that such discourse tends to assume the “white” bourgeois conjugal family. This heterosexual nuclear family ideal, replete with females as the dominant child rearers, has been and continues to be a deeply pervasive ideology in the modern West, even as many families have not conformed to it. Symbolic expressions of such normalized human relations, their notions of authority, care and autonomy, of femaleness and maleness, are encrusted culturally in the West, animating our collective unconscious.As such, object-relations theory can elucidate symbolic, modern expressions of gender and family that operate (largely unconsciously) at the level of discourse. Because these symbols get attached to all realms of human activity, object-relations theory can help illuminate how we think about citizenship, equality, liberty, and the state and other political, economic, and social matters. It is by way of its insights into the meaning of such culturally circulating imagery that Dinnerstein’s work can facilitate an interpretation of Democracy in America. In this way, the Dinnersteinian framework helps us recognize much of what in Democracy in America remains relevant for us today, and to position us critically in relation to it. (More on this at the end of the chapter, in the detailed exposition of Dinnerstein’s theory.) The use of a psychoanalytic framework poses a final problem deserving comment.There is a danger that troubles both Tocqueville’s familial narrative and Dinnerstein’s theory of maternal fixation. Both invest heavily in the impact of an early maternal figure on subsequent matters.Ever so much of what Tocqueville finds in the democratic psyche seems attributable to democracy’s impassioned, though partly unconscious, response to the social security and hierarchy of the lost aristocratic mother-world. Likewise, Dinnerstein traces political and social power structures and military and capitalist extremities back to female-dominated infant care and the emotional disorder it produces. Both accounts are compelling, but edge toward over-determining the effect of the early mother. Certainly using Dinnerstein’s work to interpret Tocqueville’s symbols fruitfully explicates gendered and familialized psychodynamics at play in Democracy



in America. But these familial psychodynamics represent broad forces and dynamics in democratic culture and society. Using Dinnerstein’s framework in relation to Democracy in America, a text widely read for its commentary on modern democracy, enables a fresh view of the social structures that permeate modern democracy. Deploying psychoanalytic theory to grasp the psychic energies at play in the gender economy of Tocqueville’s text is valuable for what it illuminates broadly about power, authority, and submission, as well as the quest for egalitarian self-rule in democratic culture and society. This is not to say that gender and family in the lives of flesh and blood humans are not profoundly implicated, because they are. But this study of the imagery in Tocqueville’s text shows how his democracy is founded on particular ideas of gender and family as a form of order for the entire society and culture, for its politics, its civil society, its practices of intimacy.72 Related to this discovery is the fact that Tocqueville provides a critical conception of maturity, as a human capacity to act responsibly amid flux. But as this book argues, this conception of maturity is not realized by the gendered, familial order on which Tocqueville founds his democracy. This failing is evident in the tensions and pathologies that inhabit Democracy in America’s symbolic conjugal family order and its gender dichotomy.

W H AT TO C Q U E V I L L E F E A R S : DEMOCRACY’S THREE POTENTIALITIES Tocqueville believes that the “gradual progress of equality” is fated by “Providence” such that the emergence of democracy is “universal and permanent.”73 But he is concerned that “while we can already see the ills it entails,” democracy also offers goods that are as yet badly understood by Europeans (D, 13). In Europe, emergent democracy seems to produce political and social as well as psychic flux that for Tocqueville portends as a real possibility descent into some kind of chaos. He fears democracy could carry France over the brink into what he calls “the abyss.”74 Yet it need not do so. He is convinced that despite the determining hand of God in history, humans can act meaningfully when armed with knowledge. But the French are reactive and immature, speeding into their democratic future without reflection or insight.A “new political science” is needed to comprehend democracy, Tocqueville asserts, but “it is just that to which we give least attention.” Only recently released from the structured order of aristocracy, youthful French democracy remains mired in the disarray produced by its recent revolution. He laments that “French democracy,” with its “disorderly passions, has overthrown everything it found in its path, shaking all that it did not destroy. It has not slowly gained control of society in order peacefully to establish its sway” (D, 16). “Working back through the centuries to the remotest antiquity, I see



nothing at all similar to what is taking place before our eyes.The past throws no light on the future, and the spirit of man walks through the night” (D, 703). In this tumult, religion has “lost its sway over men’s souls” and “everything in the moral world seems doubtful and uncertain.”75 In the democratic social state, “new families continually rise from nothing while others fall, and nobody’s position is quite stable.The woof of time is ever being broken and the track of past generations lost.Those who have gone before are easily forgotten and no one gives a thought to those who will follow” (D, 507). Amid this mental climate,both landlord and tenant “feel a sort of instinctive terror of long-term obligations.”They are “afraid of themselves” and “they are right to feel this fear, for in ages of democracy all things are unstable, but the most unstable of all is the human heart” (D, 582). While emergent democracy “forced” nobles to “pay attention to their affairs and to their families” and gave them “a more rational and serious turn to their thoughts” that suggested “religious belief, love of order, and quiet pleasures,” the “rest of the nation, which used naturally to have such tastes, was swept into anarchy by the sheer effort required to overthrow laws and political customs” (D, 600).“Where are we, then?”Tocqueville broods (D, 17). “Carried away by a rapid current,” by the swirling fluidity of democracy, “we obstinately keep our eyes fixed on the ruins still in sight on the bank,” still obsessed with the wreckage of that old world,“while the stream whirls us backward—facing toward the abyss” (D, 13). For Tocqueville, this rapid current is “not yet so swift that we must despair of directing it; our fate is in our hands, but soon it may pass beyond our control” (D, 12). He urges the French to study democracy’s dynamics in order to direct French democracy rightly toward the healthy republican potential Tocqueville sees in it. His intention is to facilitate this understanding, and he trains his eye on the United States because there, he writes,“this great social revolution seems almost to have reached its natural limits” without “experiencing the revolution itself ” (D, 18). In his texts, revolution in France is both a glorious and bloody event that demolished a solid order and set in motion a state of turmoil upon the rubble of the past. In contrast,American democracy grows in a location distant from Europe’s aristocratic past.Tocqueville sees the French as blinded by their crumbling past; but in the American wilderness, he claims, the governing “imagination, instead of going backwards to try and get back into the past, went rushing on ahead and got lost in an immense future.”76 This is at least partly because Americans have an easier time: they did not have “to destroy an ancient order or to overthrow the whole of a social structure” to build their democracy (D, 175, 113). But, expecting that France will eventually manifest similar equality of conditions, Tocqueville “seeks lessons” in the United States, to chart a road away from the abyss and toward healthy republicanism. He explains that “I selected of all the peoples



experiencing it the nation in which it has come to the fullest and most peaceful completion, in order to see its natural consequences clearly, and if possible, to turn it to the profit of mankind.” Aiming to understand democracy’s requirements for healthy development, he “saw in America more than America; it was the shape of democracy itself which I sought, its inclinations, prejudices, and passions; I wanted to understand it so as at least to know what we have to fear or hope therefrom” (D, 18, 19).The healthy, mature republican version of democracy he comes famously to recommend is one in which citizens actively govern themselves in association while enjoying individual liberty, curbing their democratic appetite for atomistic individualism, materialism, and tyrannical public opinion. But Tocqueville is not convinced that American democracy is definitively secured as a site of liberty. Democracy in America is a study of the passions, and Tocqueville is aware that human beings always grapple with competing desires and partial ignorance of them. Foreshadowing later concepts of the conscious and unconscious mind, he considers the nature of the inner self “sufficiently revealed” for man “to know something of himself ” but also “sufficiently veiled to leave much in impenetrable darkness, a darkness in which he ever gropes, forever in vain, trying to understand himself ” (D, 487). Democratic citizens do not transcend this human limitation, remaining in part servants to unconscious impulses and desires. It is upon their rather fragile “enlightened selfinterest” that the maturity of democracy in the United States, as elsewhere, depends.Tocqueville’s hope that democratic citizens will develop enlightened self-interest, that is, combine public with private interest, is thus sober. If the citizenry fails to so mature, the result would be a third manifestation of democracy: a uniquely democratic form of despotism. Democracy in France, he observes, may verge on deep societal instability and anarchy but so too may it end in repressive order:“Beside the track which starts from equality and leads to anarchy,” some in democracy “have in the end discovered another road, which seems to lead inevitably to servitude” (D, 702). In the first volume of Democracy in America Tocqueville is preoccupied with the dangers of an energetic majority tyranny. But by the second volume, he sees that in the absence of the structural order and stability of aristocracy, democracy-as-subject may give into fear of its own flux to crave public tranquility.This postaristocratic yearning threatens to smother the initial democratic flux and companion quest for independence in favor of societal tyranny and governmental despotism.77 On this path, to assuage its desire for social structures that hearken back to a distant memory of authority-from-above, democracy counters its indeterminacy and flux by settling into a conservative, predictable form. Herein citizens relinquish their independence of mind and political liberty to a punitive, disciplining public opinion and guardian state, in exchange for certainty and stability.Tocqueville



anticipates that this new kind of oppression “is different from anything there has ever been in the world before. Our contemporaries will find no prototype of it in their memories” (D, 692). It does not resurrect the known hierarchy of aristocracy, but it appears to be a substitute for it, quieting fears, longings, and anxieties at the cost of a mature autonomy, independence, and liberty.

THE ABYSS A word about Tocqueville’s abyss. In his text, this metaphor operates in conjunction with the gendered and familial symbols that he uses to grasp and order democracy, and is central to the presentation of democracy as a site of flux. For Tocqueville, as democracy promises to recognize an inherent equality of all people, it signifies the loss of aristocracy’s rigid class order and structured security. In aristocracy’s wake, with class divisions and family lines dissolved, individuals are separated from one another and the only reliable anchor is change. It therefore seems that in democracy, as Tocqueville puts it,“man comes from nothing, passes through time, and disappears forever in the bosom of God.”Without any of the sort of moorings aristocracy had in both past and future, democracy’s individual is unfettered to float alone; finding only brief respite from the nether regions of preexistence and entombment, this atomized self “is seen but for a moment wandering on the verge of two abysses, and then he is lost” (D, 487). Unlike the parent-like noble classes and childlike lower classes embedded in the aristocratic social web, democracy’s individual faces existence alone. In these musings,Tocqueville conjures up an image of an “abyss” (l’abîme) that veritably haunts Democracy in America. It is initially this peril against which he attempts to theorize democracy,the “whole book ...written under the impulse of a kind of religious dread” (D, 12).Tocqueville imagines the ancien régime in France in particular as a world of certainty densely organized by rigid hierarchies of station and family status that are determined by birth and enshrined in law, and sustained by an elaborate culture of manners. But violent revolution has left in its wake a mentally dislocated people and fragmented society that seem poised on the edge of utter disintegration.The gaping void to which the text repeatedly refers is seen to menace the French as they stumble through the rubble of aristocracy and into democracy.As the class and family structure and meaning of the Old Regime dissolve, and as the often violent demands of the lower classes come to the fore, democracy’s flux seems to threaten to melt France into a pool of swirling confusion.78 Tocqueville writes, “The world which is arising is still half buried in the ruins of the world falling into decay, and in the vast confusion of all human affairs at present, no one can know



which of the old institutions and former mores will continue to hold up their heads and which will in the end go under” (D, 703). Saint-Simon similarly saw France “wavering between an order of things which has been destroyed and cannot be restored, and another order which is coming but not yet consolidated.”79 Tocqueville, however, shows less confidence that democracy will be “consolidated” in any straightforward way.The task he sets for himself is to snatch France back from the edge of this abyss by fostering some control over the direction democracy will take there.To escape the void and successfully grow up, emergent child-democracy must be guided—the text suggests that it needs the symbolic structure of the modern conjugal family and its gender order— now that it is beyond the controls of maternal aristocracy.Tocqueville’s abyss thus represents more than his own private existential dread. It is a trope for a particular historical and political condition. He deploys the abyss metaphor in Democracy in America, in personal correspondence and in speeches in the French Chamber of Deputies, to refer to the mounting social and mental disorder he witnesses in postaristocratic France.80 Tocqueville’s abyss shares much with nineteenth-century French artistic representations of post-Revolutionary social disorder. Incest and other aberrant forms of sexuality and family relations are, for example, themes common to French novels of this period.The abyss is also signified in popular artistic representations of “terror,” which refer either to the Terror of the Revolution, in particular, or to a general sense of tranquility lost and of impending mayhem.81 In Tocqueville’s day, notions of an abyss were also often tied to ambivalent feelings for a maternal realm. For example, as Richard E. Goodkin points out, Mallarmé’s poem “Brise marine” and Maupassant’s short story “Sur l’eau” both situate a female figure in relation to the gaping void. Mallarmé’s protagonist, who plays upon the opposition of “mer”/“mère,” longs for the maternal female figure who signifies the familial and conventional world that for him constitutes escape from that terrifying void. But for Maupassant’s protagonist, in contrast, the maternal female figure herself inspires terror as one who dangerously wields influence while eluding definition and explanation.82 In Democracy in America, maternalized aristocracy also figures in relation to Tocqueville’s abyss. Like Mallarmé’s mother figure, aristocracy is signified as a site of comfort and order that safeguards the individual from the brink. But young democracy also struggles to separate from this smothering world, one wherein individual autonomy and freedom are lost amid the rigid rules guarding social rank and family lineage. Aristocracy can engulf and dissolve the individual not as the void would, but as the dangerous alternative, as the overstructured extreme opposite to it. On one side of Tocqueville’s child-democracy, then, is an arbitrary, omnipresent, and domineering maternal figure (which gets supplanted in the second volume of Democracy in America by the despotic



democratic state); on the other side is the utter release from this ordered mother where meaning dissolves entirely. The notion of an obliterating abyss has already been assigned significance by some contemporary feminist theorists.These theorists see the abyss as associated with femaleness, interpreting it in a variety of cultural and political texts as (like in the poem by Maupassant) a subterranean cultural symbol of the chaotic effects of “woman.” In The Second Sex, for instance, Simone de Beauvoir observes that a fear of consuming darkness and overwhelming confusion circulates as an archetypal cultural symbol associated with femaleness and the womb. She writes that “Man is frightened” of this abyss “which threatens to swallow him up,” and “in many a legend do we see the hero lost forever as he falls back into the maternal shadows—cave, abyss, hell.”83 Dinnerstein herself develops Beauvoir’s observations to argue that fear of the abyss originates in infantile experience with a seemingly omnipotent mother figure. Dinnerstein writes that for infants, hunger, pain, trouble drawing a breath, loneliness, cold, or damp all produce an “anxiety so acute” that as infants we come to know a despair that “has no limits that we can conceive of, no end that we can foresee: it is eternal despair, precisely the timeless carnal soul agony recalled in the Christian vision of hell.”84 Where females control infants, children associate this abyss of despair with the female, just as they simultaneously learn to associate her with primal bliss.Adapting this line of thought, Julia Kristeva theorizes the abyss as “abjection” constituted by a fear of maternal re-engulfment.The recurring human struggle to establish borders originates in a sense of “perpetual danger” felt by an infant in relation to its omnipotent first parent, typically a woman.85 Zerilli uses this Kristevan idea of abjection to explain why “woman” is associated with impropriety and disorder time and again in texts of modern Western political thought.86 In Democracy in America, however, especially in the first volume,Tocqueville treats the absence of the rigidly structured, variously denying and comforting aristocratic mother-world as the condition of democracy’s proximity to a dark, swirling abyss. Nonetheless, aristocracy’s controls also threaten to consume any autonomy and equality attempted by the individual.While aristocracy is not itself the abyss, then, neither is it a world safely embraced. It is a maternal realm that both produces fear of the abyss and allays it, that comforts as it constrains—like the mother Dinnerstein describes. It is also worth mentioning that, unlike Zerilli’s Rousseau, Burke, and Mill,Tocqueville deliberately conjures up the abyss as the express signification of what he dreads—his own existential emptiness, the loss of aristocratic structure, and a looming historical condition of social disorder, political chaos, and cultural confusion. That is, Tocqueville’s abyss does not operate as independently of his conscious theorizing as Zerilli might expect.Tocqueville wants



to dam as best he can the river whose current sweeps French society toward disintegration, and so consciously sets himself to stare into this yawning void, to understand and try to control democracy’s relation to it.Tocqueville therefore exercises some theoretical control over the abyss as symbol. At the same time, the constellation of familial, gendered, and developmental imagery that signifies aristocracy lost and democracy born, while constituted in direct relation to his abyss, is surely not so consciously deployed. So while Tocqueville deliberately confronts the abyss and his fear of it, its full meaning—situated as it is along side the familial imagery—is more than he intends.

INTERPRETING TOCQUEVILLE’S IMAGERY: TOCQUEVILLE IN HISTORY Tocqueville thus perceives that democracy, released from the controls of aristocratic culture and Old World traditions, has three potentialities: to collapse amid flux into an abyss of license and lost meaning; to be deliberately cultivated as a site of mature republicanism; or, as he explicates in the second volume, to sink passively into a kind of despotism wherein the state and disciplining public opinion decide the fate of shortsighted, desirous subjects. As he works to educate his fellow Frenchmen about these potentialities,Tocqueville writes incessantly of les passions and their “secret” workings. In so doing, he renders democracy a developing subject, complete with its own psychic, emotional struggles.This democratic psyche is a pool of ambivalent desires and energies that combine and conflict in the hearts and minds of democracy’s inhabitants. Such a concatenation of yearnings and fears is both infantile and potentially mature; for Tocqueville, they need to be properly structured and guided to have more chance at developing well. In a lecture to the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques,Tocqueville, illustrating his concern with democracy’s passions, described the terrain of political science as “the nature of man, his abilities, his needs, . . . his passions.”87 With les passions his main point of entry into the world-historical transition to democracy, Tocqueville performs consciously as a kind of psychologist. But his largely unconsciously rendered gendered and familial metaphorical figures and their drama additionally help Democracy in America convey and manage the psychological struggle—of Tocqueville, his French and Americans—to cope with the new flux of democracy.This literary dimension of the text potently contributes to the text’s depiction of the three potentialities of democracy.The symbolic drama can be mined to speak to the meaning of Democracy in America as a text, to the foundational role of ideas of gender and family in democracy, and to the associated psychodynamics and social structures of democracy over all.Yet, despite how productive attention to this



literary dimension promises to be, it has to date escaped analysis.88 Democracy in America has long been appreciated for its analytical insights, understood predominantly through attention to authorial intentions.Tocqueville’s intended purpose is certainly central to an interpretation of his text: he worked to convey to his fellow educated French citizens, disputing among themselves the costs and benefits of democracy, the competing dangers and solace to be found in democracy.Toward this end he employed rhetorical strategies and literary devices, sculpting them to produce certain effects in his readers.A handful of scholars have attended to this conscious dimension of Tocqueville’s work.89 But language in its complexity is composed of unconscious as well as conscious operations. Tocqueville, like all of us, inescapably says more than he intends to say in his text. His words and actions emerge from both conscious and unconscious thoughts, and draw upon ideas and imagery that are both consciously and unconsciously carried by the cultures at hand. L.E. Shiner is an exceptional Tocqueville commentator with regard to these matters.90 In The Secret Mirror, Shiner attends to the series of oppositional conceptual pairs, such as aristocracy/democracy and liberty/equality, that Tocqueville is often seen deliberately to use in constructing his texts.91 However, Shiner also examines dimensions of the text less rooted in authorial intention. After excavating a thematic moral “code” in the text of Tocqueville’s Recollections, he turns back to Democracy in America briefly to show that a similar moral code operates there too, beneath the overt oppositional political concepts.92 But Shiner sees in Democracy in America a less interesting example of Tocqueville’s discursive habits, charging that for Tocqueville, democracy in the United States is a fait accompli and “need not be narratively explained but only rhetorically explored” as an effort to distinguish republican democracy from a more base and unhealthy form.93 In fact,Tocqueville sees American democracy not as a fait accompli but as a pool of potentialities that can and do shift (as is exemplified by the differences between Tocqueville’s central concerns in the first and second volumes of Democracy in America, written a few years apart).94 Indeed,Tocqueville’s main project is to articulate democracy as a thing of flux that can move in dangerous directions, as well as to define and persuade his audience of the safest possible course. Democracy in America consequently features a rich and provocative narrative-based exploration of democracy. It is one produced not only by way of Tocqueville’s deliberate comparative and historical descriptions and rhetorical devices, but also by way of extensive figurative language that stirs the reader’s imagination in particular directions. His youthful French and American democracies and their ambiguous escape from aristocracy’s ossified structure are conveyed partly by way of this submerged psychodrama; the gendered and familial categories and boundaries that the text sets serve as foundations upon



which it orders democracy. However, as we shall see, these gendered terms themselves embody an array of potentialities too similar to those of democracy, variously erupting chaotically and imposing oppressive control, and thereby serving as unreliable foundations. At the same time that the symbolic family drama works to allay Tocqueville’s anxiety for control over democracy, it escapes his command. As well as unleashing gendered and familial imagery in Democracy in America, Tocqueville explicitly discusses family and gender roles. Indeed, there is a deep parallel between this symbolic order and the actual family and gender order of his U.S. inhabitants.Tocqueville assesses the roles of actual American women and men in terms of how they (can) do battle against democracy’s dangerous tendencies, that is, in terms of how they can provide stabilizing foundations for democracy.These flesh and blood individuals and their family and gender relations can be seen to serve American democracy’s anxious desire to replace postaristocratic flux with structured order. It is clear that family and sexual relations are expressly important to Tocqueville as a key venue through which democracy’s characteristic desires and passions are expressed or repressed, where control is asserted, in healthy or oppressive ways, or where it is lost to license. Moreover, this analysis is not specific to the U.S. case; he compares the Americans to aristocratic families and those in contemporary France to comment on the democratic psyche in general. He argues that family life is not a discrete site but is always embedded in its respective “social state,” with family relations and the broader society and culture exhibiting the same sensibilities.This suggestion, that mores and dispositions transcend putative public/private “spheres,” is spectacularly true to the text’s symbolic familial and gender order, reflected as it is throughout Tocqueville’s democratic social state, in actual family life and beyond; it is also an important but overlooked dimension of Tocqueville’s explicit claims.This study finally pays this dimension of Democracy in America its due, recognizing how Tocqueville relies on familial metaphors to grasp democratic society, culture, and politics more broadly, as well as repeatedly using political language to describe family relations.Thus, when Tocqueville turns to pen his chapters on family and sex relations in democracy, just as when he deploys familial metaphors elsewhere, he illuminates the broader democratic psyche itself.95 In its immature form, this ambivalent psyche produces relations of independence and dependence, control and sacrifice, freedom of choice and “individual wretchedness,” of egalitarianism and rigid social hierarchy.The fact that the conjugal family order and its gender structure fail adequately to solve this immaturity, fail to transform it into maturity, becomes most evident in these chapters on family life in U.S. democracy.American women and girls emerge in Democracy in America as emblems of democracy’s psychic paradox, as anomalous figures that threaten American democracy while serving it.Tocqueville



goes some distance critically to unveil these troubled relations, troubles otherwise cloaked, as his text implies, by democracy’s postaristocratic passion for and ideological commitment to the idea of equality.At the same time, however,Tocqueville backs away from recognizing the fundamental failings of the conjugal familial foundations of his democracy; he appreciates the extent to which Americans achieve some control over democracy’s chaotic tendencies, apparently fostering a needed stability through the way that they construct radically differentiating gender relations. Here he seems to forget his own creed: order is not an end in itself and liberty is a prior good.96 That Tocqueville consciously analyzes concrete gender and family roles as historical and context-specific human formations underscores the fact that his gendered and familial metaphors must themselves be interpreted as historical artifacts.All of Tocqueville’s gendered, developmental, and familial symbols considered in this study are assigned meaning not only in relation to Tocqueville’s text(s) as a whole, but also in relation to historically pertinent discourses. French and American literary and artistic trends, philosophical and political developments, social concerns, and reigning ideologies of family relations are variously examined to tie Tocqueville’s imagery to the cultural “baggage” of his day. He sometimes complicates then-popular imagery and narratives, but without standing wholly apart from his discursive context. It is true that, in order for Tocqueville to perceive the grand historical movement that preoccupied him, he needed an imagination that was somewhat independent of that of contemporary society. Strikingly, he was aware of his unique historical standpoint, living in a moment of disjuncture that most would perceive only retrospectively.97 Moreover, he was an outsider when in the United States, his attention likely captured by phenomena that Americans would not register so consciously. He therefore enjoyed more critical distance than is typical for us historically embedded human beings. But at the same time, being human nonetheless, Tocqueville could not wholly transcend the world he strove to understand, and was therefore attached to the political, social, religious, artistic, and literary discourses of his day. Certainly the gendered and familial imagery he used is connected to late-eighteenth to mid-nineteenth-century French and American discourses, and therefore not wholly under his conscious command. It is also important to note that nineteenth-century France and America shared a republican heritage such that Tocqueville could readily, probably sometimes unconsciously, assimilate the republican tendencies of American narrative. Most notably, virile political “manliness,” what proves a conceptual anchor for Tocqueville, has been bound up in classical republican ideas of citizenship on both sides of the Atlantic. In the fifteenth century Machiavelli retrieved from the classics the idea of skillful participation in civic affairs, describing it as virtù. Rooted in the Latin vir or “man,” this term has



since ensured that the centerpiece of the modern revival of classical republicanism in Europe then America is the idea of manliness.98 So Tocqueville struggles to grasp, order, and direct postaristocratic democracy in part by deploying historically rooted gendered and familial symbols.At the same time that they help Tocqueville organize his thinking, serving as code for a variety of human phenomena, so too do they sometimes accelerate toward incoherence in the text. In these moments of confusion, this imagery illustrates the paradoxes and contradictions embedded in the democratic social state that Tocqueville seeks to illuminate, and also the unreliability of the modern conjugal family ideal and its gendered terms as organizing foundations for modern democracy.All of this is profoundly worth illustrating; in other words, a legitimate interpretation of Tocqueville’s gendered and familial economy need not reveal a consistently logical argument or mind at work behind it.As Charles Taylor has remarked,“the meaning of a situation for an agent may be full of confusion and contradiction; but the adequate description of this contradiction makes sense of it.”99 A psychoanalytic interpretation of Tocqueville’s gendered, developmental, and familial images must unearth what they mean in relation to their historical context as well as to the text itself, in order to shed light on the tensions among the structural and psychological forces they signify.

DINNERSTEIN’S THEORY AND TOCQUEVILLE’S DEMOCRACY Recall that “key to almost the whole work,”Tocqueville’s guiding man-nation analogy, and the fact that it is centrally informed by the metaphorical mother in whose arms the metaphorical child, democracy, develops.This “key” helps us unlock meaning in Democracy in America, but itself is in need of interpretation, a task that Dinnerstein’s theory can enable. Generally speaking, the focus of object-relations psychoanalytic theory is the earliest phase of infant development and how it affects the later personality. In the first stage of life, it is argued, a child lacks a sense of discrete selfhood, instead experiencing itself as merged with a global environment, which includes the people it encounters.Within this amorphous world, the child is preoccupied with eating, digesting, and eliminating, with the mouth and the breast.100 Object-relations theory is consequently concerned with the prevalent sociological fact that females dominate child care. It also considers the implications of a second, distant male parent who typically becomes salient only later in the child’s development. Dorothy Dinnerstein contributes to this body of work as she theorizes infant experiences with female-centered parenting as the originating point of cultural production of notions of woman and man. In The Mermaid and the Minotaur, she shows how these constructed understandings of gender do not simply structure domestic life but rather flood society so that “the private and public



sides of our sexual arrangement are not separable, and neither one is secondary to the other.”101 Her psychological framework is thus firmly bridged to a theory of society and politics, positing a “link between societal despotism, female rule over childhood, and male rule over the historical process.”102 This framework proves a powerful aid in the interpretation of the familial, developmental, and gendered imagery undergirding Democracy in America. Dinnerstein launches her investigation of society by first attending to the experiences of the infant who, like Tocqueville’s newborn democracy, emerges full of desires and yearnings into a maternal world. Infancy, she observes, is the most vulnerable stage of human development because the child is in every way dependent; separation from the umbilical cord only initiates a long struggle for independence. Dinnerstein’s central concern is that while this gradual shift from union with the environmental surroundings to autonomy is a given in human development, the social fact of female-dominated child rearing is not. As such, when females do dominate child care, the quest for autonomy is shaped in peculiar ways. Dinnerstein theorizes the consequences of this period of infant vulnerability and enmeshment with the environment when the human that the child confronts is almost always female. Similar to the way that Tocqueville casts aristocracy as the maternal point of departure for infant-democracy, Dinnerstein sees the infant’s early experience with an exclusively female mother as the origin of not only that child’s character, but also of societally prevalent psychological, social, and political tendencies. Like the top-down hierarchical relationships of aristocracy, the motherinfant relationship is fundamentally one of superior and inferior powers, of one-way control and care. For Tocqueville, the lost aristocratic world has inspired intense but ambivalent passions. What we discover in Dinnerstein’s work is that the seemingly all-powerful female parent also inspires in her offspring intense and ambivalent passions.To the human infant, this female caregiver is an unbounded, global non-self before she ever becomes a discrete, unique person.103 At the same time, she signifies all that the infant fears and fears losing. It is with her that the infant first experiences externally imposed control, pain, and disappointment; she provides, celebrates, and supports the child; she smothers, restrains, and requires submission; she touches and feeds and protects; and, no matter her dedication, it is in her absence that the baby suffers from hunger or heat or cold, loneliness or boredom.The infant both adores this mother for all she provides, and despises her for all vulnerability suffered. In her presence it feels joy and rage, and toward her it feels bottomless need, susceptibility, unmet desire for oneness and abandonment. It is in relation to her that personal sovereignty is desired, and surrender is craved. It is she who enables the child’s evolving bounded selfhood while at the same time menacing it. Dinnerstein’s aim is to elucidate the impact such a first parent has on an infant’s



attempt to gain autonomous selfhood.104 In Democracy in America, it is likewise in relation to and in reaction against aristocracy’s deep ties of social belonging, its forms of security and oppression, that Tocqueville’s infant democracy emerges.The goal is autonomy as popular self-governance, but Tocqueville is concerned that the French people of his generation both yearn for and despise that old world; in Roger Boesche’s words, they both “long[ed] for the past while yearning for the future.”105 Dinnerstein argues that any child will feel double-edged emotion about any human that rears it; these mixed feelings are an inevitable part of the primal human experience. However, in cultures where there is one primary parent (child-care giver) that is nearly always female and a second more distant male parent, infants learn to associate that early passion and emotional ambivalence with femaleness. (This holds true if several females care for the child and one or a number of males are secondary parents.) It is in the context of realizing that the beautiful and enraging experience with the first parent is actually a relationship with a female that a child’s ideas of femaleness are formed.106 In effect, “femaleness comes to be the name for, the embodiment of, these global and inchoate and all-embracing qualities” the child first experiences,“qualities very hard indeed to reconcile with person-ness as one has begun to feel it inside oneself.”107 Dinnerstein’s theory hereby indicates that female-dominated child rearing, while signifying a fixed social role for females, multiplies the idea of femaleness into an array of identities that represent the multiplicity the infant inevitably perceives in its first parent(s); when females dominate care of infants, femaleness proliferates in meaning into benevolent goddess, cruel goddess, dirty goddess, nurturer, disciplinarian, whore, seductress, virgin, and on and on.108 In Democracy in America, a similar proliferation of femaleness proves central to democracy’s attempts to mature. Dinnerstein’s underlying claim here is worth generalizing: that when a parent’s role with a child is acutely determined merely by that parent’s sex organs, sex identity is presented to the child as a highly salient indicator of a human individual’s makeup. Concomitantly, Dinnerstein argues, female-dominated child care arrangements produce in the culture an obsession with female flesh since it is in relation to the first parent that the infant initially, and so richly, experiences the flesh. In such a culture, images of available and controllable female flesh gain ascendancy. Again, humans will inevitably have mixed feelings about the mortal body as it brings us joy, pain, and restriction. As Tocqueville himself observes,“Alone among all created beings, man shows a natural disgust for existence and an immense longing to exist; he scorns life and fears annihilation” (D, 296). However, infants raised exclusively by females learn to associate the flesh and the consequential ambivalence with females in particular.109 Were this mixed delight and resentment for the body to implicate the human condition



rather than female flesh exclusively, Dinnerstein writes, it would reflect in a healthy way the complexity of human life. Aimed at females alone, “woman” gets construed as a “sub- and superhuman” creature of flesh, as a desirable and threatening bodily “she.”110 Dinnerstein traces how, in relation to this production of the idea of femaleness, female-centered parenting arrangements impair genuine maturity-asautonomy. She argues that healthy child rearing practices enable a child to integrate all the emotions—love, resentment, fear, and contentment—that a vulnerable human infant will inevitably feel toward caregivers and the environment.The emotionally integrated child would experience all these emotions in relation to the fact of simply being human. However, female-centered parenting arrangements undermine this healthy acceptance of ambivalence, leading the infant to split off positive and negative emotions and direct them differentially toward females and males. Instead of constituting genuine maturity, Dinnerstein argues this separating out of emotions is pathological. In Democracy in America, Tocqueville’s child-democracies are prone to suffer a parallel mental disorder that undercuts their potential to mature into self-governing republics. In his symbolic familial drama, each child-democracy tries to manage its ambivalence. But instead of simply accepting the mixed resentment and yearning felt toward the old aristocratic world, the democracies tend blindly to project unresolved positive feelings for aristocracy onto paternalized expressions of the new republic (in the United States) or the new parent-like state (in France). Meanwhile, the democracies’ negative feelings for aristocracy—the anger against its hierarchical domination and the fear of reengulfment by such subjugating forces—are transferred onto alternative social phenomena and coded female.As Tocqueville’s text presents it, then, his democracies fail fully to mature. Dinnerstein argues that female-dominated child care in turn produces radically differentiated,dichotomous sex identity in children.This kind of social organization stimulates girl and boy children to manage their unresolved ambivalent feelings differently, and thereby leads them to develop different kinds of personalities. So what appears to be “natural” differences between the (supposedly two opposite) sexes are in fact socially produced by the particular parenting arrangements in question. In their constituted differences, girls and boys alike collude in assigning women and men to different roles in life.This universal collusion is based fundamentally in the fact that both female and male infants, helpless and desperate for the security and bliss engendered by oneness, develop and retain a desire to possess some representative of their first parent.Any infant will have this reaction no matter whom the first parent(s). But where femaledominated child care prevails, the creature that nearly all children want to possess is a female, as the figure who will protect, nourish, and bless them.111 Such



a desire also operates at the heart of Democracy in America.Tocqueville’s French and American democracies, in the child states in which he imagines them, have separated from mother-aristocracy but nonetheless work to reconstitute symbolic mothers for themselves. In France, for instance, state administration is cast as one doting substitute mother; in the United States, feminized nature and actual middle-class women, captured as they are in the household as permanently available wives and mothers, take up this symbolic role. After elucidating the psychic developments in the infancy stage of child development, Dinnerstein turns to consider the child’s verbal, mobile stage, at around two to five years of age. It is only then, typically, after having already experienced blissful and oppressive oneness with the female parent, that the child gains strong awareness of a second male parent. By virtue of the child’s growing sense of its own self-containment (as well as the father’s lesser involvement with the child’s body), he appears to the child a never-before-seen kind of human: separate, distinct, non-invasive.The male parent is also conceptualized through the lens of newly acquired rational capacities, so that fantasies of his powers are more realistic.This developing worldview therefore perceives the first parent—already experienced as fleshy, global and magical—as not like the father at all. Under these circumstances, the mother’s vague subjectivity gets emphasized all the more “because an innocent and dignified ‘he’ is there to represent the part of a person that wants to stand clear of the flesh, to maintain perspective on it:‘I’ness wholly free of the chaotic carnal atmosphere of infancy, uncontaminated humanness is reserved for man.”112 The child can only assume that the reason that the mother and father appear to be such different types of humanity is due to the difference in their sex organs.113 So even though it is social practice that makes the difference so meaningful, the child naturalizes the difference as fixed and significant.114 In the eyes of the child, its experience of the human world limited, the father has apparently conquered the murky maternal realm to go on to participate in human history.And as the escapee of the female maternal being, he must be more reasonable than she, even a democrat, such that rule by him in the public world and in the household promises a sanctuary from that earliest of despots.115 Dinnerstein argues that in this way,“man” unrealistically comes to serve as an “apparently blameless” category of person onto which women and men alike project infantile wishes and fears.116 In contrast, female authority, putatively marked by the powers the child has imagined its mother to possess, carries the taint of illegitimacy.After all, for authority to be legitimate, it must be derived from freely given consent that can be withdrawn, an act an infant is incapable of undertaking. So, Dinnerstein concludes, even when male authority is tyrannical or consent is uneasy or withdrawn it is generally reestablished.117 In parallel, Tocqueville notes that the top-down authority structures of his



mother-aristocracy seemed for centuries inevitable to those living under its auspices. But once the idea of “manly” republican equality and individual autonomy emerged as an alternative source of authority, aristocracy’s childlike servants and serfs began to see the authority over them as that much more oppressive, illegitimate, and in need of overthrow. For Dinnerstein, compounding female-centered child care with a distant (that is, differently marked) male second parent also creates different constitutions in female and male children. She argues that a girl child, taught to emphasize everyone’s sex-organ identity, is soon aware that the historical world belongs to men. She thus tends to attach her positive feelings to the fatherobject as her one available vicarious access to the broader world of enterprise and history, and to leave attached to the mother-object her negative feelings. This disturbing strategy produces in the girl child dichotomous emotional orientations toward her parents and, eventually, leads her likewise to differentiate strongly between men and women in general.While this management strategy enables her to purge her emotional world of troubling ambivalence, it is, in effect, nonsensical and immature. A boy child, in contrast, foments a desire both to capture a woman and to fraternize with worldly father-types, an emotional stance that similarly leads the boy to distinguish between women and men as discrete types of humanity. When child care is up to a woman, then, the inevitable rage that a boy-infant experiences toward the first parent propels him to “consolidate his tie with his own sex by establishing a principled independence, a more or less derogatory distance, from women.”A girl, in contrast, is pressed to “loosen her tie with her own sex by establishing a worshipful, dependent stance toward men.”118 Significantly, in Democracy in America, Tocqueville’s symbolically mother-reared, infant democracies are both symbolically sexed male. They are constituted by a citizenry of rights-bearing, suffrage-wielding males that have rejected aristocracy’s rule in the name of autonomy and freedom. Of course, democratic society includes actual men but actual women too.Tocqueville, in his attempt to account for the different lives led by the two sexes in the United States, begins to expose the dynamics of radical sex-differentiation to which Dinnerstein points. Her framework helps explain why the American men and women featured in Tocqueville’s text accept a starkly sexist distribution of political and social rights, liberties, and duties, despite the fact that their society is impassioned by the idea of equality and individual political authority. For Dinnerstein, genuine human maturity is not achieved when males reject female (read: maternal) authority and adopt the authority of a privileged fraternal-paternal alliance. The latter, by virtue of its exclusionary, gendered nature, is not egalitarian, and Dinnerstein associates individual as well as societal maturity with mutuality and egalitarian self-governance. Indeed, the



fraternal-paternal authority may be despotic. Democracy in America provides material for a parallel diagnosis of democratic immaturity. In this text, the symbolic father authority gets located in the American founders and idea of the U.S. republic, and, in both France and the United States, in the democratically elected governments.These paternalized entities, encountered after maternal aristocracy as an alternative to her, very much represent, in the story of democracy’s birth and development, a positive escape from the involuntariness of aristocratic hierarchy. But Tocqueville himself suggests that simple allegiance to these (paternalized) forces can be pathological. Moreover, the narrative of his subtextual family drama suggests that democratic citizens who boast of their independence and freedom may have in fact childishly surrendered themselves to a new, parent-like authority/state. Unfortunately, however, the modern conjugal family order, one that maternalizes females in ways that Dinnerstein describes, does not adequately prevent these pathological developments, and may in fact encourage them. Dinnerstein concludes that female-centered child-rearing produces and sustains a culture that entrenches and normalizes heterosexuality by sharply distinguishing humans as two sexes, that assigns privilege accordingly,that contributes to an acute gendering of private and public spheres and thereby all human activities and roles, and that therefore readily, continually reproduces itself.This psychosocial system recreates hierarchy while at the same time recommending equality among men, undermining the maturation of personality, and keeping male and female adults alike locked in a state of infantilism.119 Dinnerstein’s insights into the psychodynamics of heterosexual family help us assign meaning to the mother-child metaphor Tocqueville explicitly deploys at the beginning of Democracy in America; to the meanings of the additional, symbolically gendered and familialized forces in Tocqueville’s democracy; and to the acutely differentiated identities assigned to actual males and females, as men and women, in his U.S. democracy.

D I A G N O S I N G T H E D E M O C R AT I C P S Y C H E The most potent sources of sexual conservatism are buried in the dark, silent layers of our mental life. It is this burial that keeps them potent.120 —Dorothy Dinnerstein Men make history; they develop complex inner worlds because they do not make it in circumstances of their own choosing.These inner worlds, projected outward, become part of the continuing history men do make.121 —Michael Paul Rogin

As Freud helped us to see, cultures carry beliefs like individuals do.A particular historical context carries in its culture particular imagery that acts on



inhabitants at both conscious and unconscious levels. Political change can involve a reimagining of authority in ways that recasts these prevailing symbols, renewing their capacity to make sense of and organize the new political order. The present study of Democracy in America explores how this famous text re-imagines and thereby works to reorder the changing and changed social and political world in question through appeals to particular familial and gendered imagery. In so drawing the eye to the text’s act of imagination, and how it resonates with popular Western discourse, the study also helps sensitize us to how we contemporary democrats do the work of imagining our social and political world. Indeed, while this study is about Tocqueville’s famous text, it is also a commentary on the psychodynamics and social structures of modern Western democracy.Although we today are not preoccupied with Europe’s aristocratic past in the way that European-Americans and the French were in the early nineteenth-century, we still struggle with yearnings to build both liberating egalitarian relations, on the one hand, and secure, predictable hierarchical social structures through radical differentiation among humans, on the other hand. Still familiar is what Tocqueville describes as the struggle between “the spirit of independence and democracy, and the spirit of hierarchy and subordination” (D, 389). Tocqueville argues that family relations are embedded in and reflect the mentality of the broader social state; less consciously he inscribes an economy of gendered and familial imagery on his portrait of the broader social state as a means to order as well as describe it.Tocqueville’s recourse to such imagery indicates that family and gender relations are not discrete from other practices of human life but are, rather, psychologically connected, such that symbols emerging out of one set of practices influence the entire culture.As such, individuals burdened in complex and chaotic ways by the weight of prevailing gender imagery—individuals cast as what in a particular moment stands for “woman” or “man,” or any other social identity defined through appeals to masculinity and femininity, including class, ethnic or “race” identities—cannot shed these entrenched suppositions to act for a time simply as “citizen.”This imagery and these identities know no such boundaries, and will function amid civic activities as well as beyond them. For all individuals to be free to realize mature citizenship, culturally and socially embedded notions of the multifarious “feminine” and its “masculine” other, as well as presumptions about the “natural” family, must be made conscious and critically confronted. Only then can they be detached from individuals and social groups in democracy. This task is as urgent as it ever was. For example, in the late-eighteenthcentury United States, liberal principles of natural rights, individual authority, and inherent equality were being disseminated, and emergent democracy held as its highest values liberty and egalitarianism. But rather than liberal



democracy seeking in an unattenuated way equality between the sexes as it began to among males, an apparent backlash developed against the idea of equality, autonomy and individual authority for females. By the early-nineteenth century, girls and young women gained unprecedented access to education and work outside the household and in some ways relations between the sexes relaxed. But there also emerged the “cult of true womanhood,” conveyed in a flood of advice books, magazines, novels, and poetry primarily for women, prescribing for them a domestic role based on ideas of companionship, affection, selflessness, and sacrificial motherhood.122 While men were deemed citizens and, for the first time, the “breadwinners” as well as “heads” of the now modern, conjugal family, women were defined as the essential domestic bulwark against self-interested commerce and waning morality.123 These disparate sex roles paradoxically drew upon the idea of sex equality while rejecting it, claiming that women’s unique roles were just as important as those of men. Female expertise in modern household management and the notion of an industrious “home economics” were cultivated at the same time that women were kept in the home and away from citizenship, science, and public enterprise.124 As social historians Mintz and Kellogg put it, nineteenth-century, middle-class American women lived a life “characterized by a series of latent tensions” driven by the duplicitous understanding of what it meant to be female, as both equal and not-equal to males. Nineteenth-century French bourgeois women were assigned similar roles in similar ways, once liberal commercial democracy took root. In each historical case, as democracy disseminated the idea of equality and its concomitant flux reared its head to produce social and gender fluidity, a new conservatism set in rigidly to solidify and hierarchically to structure gender roles, and, thereby, all parts of society, politics, and culture. Similarly today, in the aftermath of feminism’s “second wave” that powerfully challenged traditional gender roles, a new conservative backlash strives to re-solidify them (or, reinvent them while labeling them traditional). As democracy’s principles have fomented feminist challenges to social and political inequalities and “un”-freedoms, many citizens reinforce hierarchical structure in democracy. The “family values” discourse that has dominated public discussion in recent years, for example, bears the mark of a cultural reclaiming of male authority in the face of a felt political impotence and fear of social flux. Disempowerment mixed with indeterminacy in social relations seem to inspire, in women and men alike, desire to reestablish structures of hierarchy that seem familiar, and that will console and comfort.After all, such a reclaiming of patriarchal tradition ensures a man’s authority in the household if he can assert it nowhere else, and, despite her being marginalized economically and probably politically as well, guarantees a woman a household of her own to manage.These very tensions and struggles are afoot in Democracy in America, where conjugal



family structure as a solution to flux is tested for its capacity to provide healthy foundations for democracy. Interpreting the meaning of Tocqueville’s gendered and familial figures hereby enables a new diagnosis of the democratic psyche, struggling to mature, as a modern cultural and societal phenomenon “out there” to be understood. Suffering from an emotional disorder, it fosters a culture of equality coupled with hierarchy that often deploys expressions of gender to justify these paradoxes. Of course, unmasking the hidden underbelly of this democratic psyche also means confronting ourselves; rereading Democracy in America critically is an effective way to do precisely that.This famous text involves its readers and subject matter in a telling kind of relationship. As a “classic” study of democracy that has long since been assured a place on college reading lists and frequently quoted by public figures, we find it deeply familiar, resonating as it does at what seems a constitutional level.We also tend to engage it lightly, quoting snippets hither and thither as evident expressions of truth. As Mark Reinhardt remarks,“Some books are known too well.Widely cited, often discussed, they disappear behind a wall of commentary. . . .As interpretations settle into well-worn grooves, reading such a book becomes almost unnecessary: its power to provoke is lost because we have already encountered its ‘message’ over and over again. Democracy in America may be one of these books.”125 The fact that countless scholars have read this text without noticing its vibrant and pervasive gendered and familial imagery—without it jarring us into attention—points to our seamless absorption of its gendered and familialized foundations for modern Western democracy.126 We have a both intense and casual relationship with this famous text, then, because it reflects and helps constitute us as democrats. It therefore serves as a telling site where “our” democratic psyches, within which we create foundations and order for democracy, can be explicated as something “in here” to be understood. I hope that this new critical interpretation of Democracy in America stimulates us to confront ourselves, our ideas about gender and family, our deployment of gendered and familial imagery in contemporary politics and culture, and what that imagery tells us about the historical social structures of democracy.The most ambitious aim of this project, then, is to unsettle us democrats who typically carry an assumed love for democratic society’s habits and sensibilities all too uncritically, in order more rigorously to pursue our democratic principles while expanding our self-understanding.

2 Genealogy, Birth, and Growth

TOCQUEVILLE SEES IN 1830’s France a world dramatically transformed but its future as yet unsettled. Seeking to understand the dynamics of this emergent social state to help organize the form it will take, he turns to chart the vast territory of democracy in the United States. Submerged in the resulting portrait of democracy is a narrative of family and human development.At the center of this symbolic drama, U.S. democracy (and its people) is characterized by Tocqueville variously as an embryo, infant, child, adolescent, and man, and thereby personified as a developing subject. This growing subject emerges out of and develops in relation to European aristocracy and empire, in turn cast as a highly structured maternal realm of security, certainty, order, and control.The primary feature of Democracy in America’s subtextual family drama, then, is a complex relationship between a mother figure and her growing offspring. This narrative builds upon Tocqueville’s initial claim in the text that nations are born, grow, and develop like men, and that a nation, like a child in its mother’s arms, is influenced by the conditions of its early development. To examine Tocqueville’s analogy and how it structures Democracy in America, the present chapter examines the first stages in the lives of his French and American democracies: their relationships with European aristocracy-asmother, and the different ways that they separate from her. In bringing these symbolic family genealogies to light, the chapter accounts for the fundamental but unacknowledged ambivalence that animates Tocqueville’s young democracies: their yearning for independence, autonomy and self-rule that inspire them to reject Old Europe’s hierarchical structures; and their simultaneous fear of trading a known world of security for the untested waters of democratic flux and indeterminacy. Or, to cast this slightly differently, each of the two growing child-democracies is constituted in the text by a pool of energies with both




healthy and unhealthy potentialities. Democracy in America presents democracy’s capacity to develop toward healthy maturity as like that of a human being who has the potential to grow up into a courageously self-governing subject— what Tocqueville describes as “virile” and “mâle.” However, this happy tale of “manliness” achieved, to adopt George Lawrence’s translation, is repeatedly undercut by a darker tale of development gone wrong. In this companion story line, democracy and its inhabitants remain trapped in adolescence or even childishly dependent, submitting to subterranean yearnings to relax in the arms of a grand authority.Through this drama of symbolic human development and familial relations,Tocqueville’s text establishes democracy as a site of potential freedom and autonomy bravely seized, and a foreboding one where noisy pretence of independence veils actual fear of the responsibilities of freedom and self-rule. In this way, the text’s symbolic narrative of human development conveys from its outset that there is something troubling about mother-child relations as they are symbolically expressed by Tocqueville’s aristocracy and his democracies.

DEMOCRACY IN FRANCE: URCHIN ORPHAN Tocqueville’s own life events left him all too aware that French democracy came into the world through a violent attack on aristocracy. His own parents, married two months after the king’s execution, were imprisoned during the Reign of Terror, and many other family members went to the guillotine. Tocqueville was thus born in the “shadow of the Reign of Terror,” as Larry Siedentop puts it, cognizant of the reckless and extreme aspects of French democracy’s early years.1 In Democracy in America, he warns that, suddenly released from the elaborate structures and rules of aristocracy, French democracy “has been left to its wild instincts” (D, 13). Indeed,“During the last fifty years of transformation France has rarely known freedom, disorder always. In the universal confusion of thought undermining all established concepts, incoherently jumbling right and wrong, truth and falsehood, law and fact, public virtue has become unreliable and private morality shaken” (D, 599). In other words, French democracy is undisciplined. He says “it has grown up like those children deprived of parental care [comme ces enfants, privés des soins paternels] who school themselves in our town streets and know nothing of society but its vices and wretchedness.”2 In its concern to escape the imposing structures of aristocracy, French democracy readily abandons the ties of family lineage, class, and guild to atomize the individual. But in Tocqueville’s mind, this rapid upheaval has left French democracy an urchin with neither family ties nor societal roots.This child is streetwise but so too is it wild, its potentialities uneducated.3



If the whole “man” is truly there in the “cradle,” as Tocqueville’s mannation analogy suggests, orphan French democracy would seem to face a terrible, reckless future (D, 31). But Tocqueville shows cautious hope, at least in the first volume of Democracy in America, that this gamin can be rescued and reared aright. In his introduction he tells his French audience that “the first duty imposed on those who now direct society is to educate democracy; to put, if possible, new life into its beliefs; to purify its mores; to control its actions; gradually to substitute understanding of statecraft for present inexperience and knowledge of its true interests for blind instincts; to adapt government to the needs of time and place; and to modify it as men and circumstances require” (D, 13, 12). Though the powers of education assert themselves during infancy, they apparently can remain potent, even when at first ill-applied. In so positing French democracy as a wayward youth that can be rehabilitated,Tocqueville draws upon the street orphan featured in the literature and art of the day. Early in the nineteenth century in France, the child served commonly as a metaphor for revolution: Baudelaire depicts a child rebelling against parent and society to evoke the energies of revolution; Delacroix explicitly portrays revolution as a child.4 But such popular signification of new beginnings in France shifts as the postrevolution decades wear on; the symbolic child becomes an orphan, homeless and misguided in the streets of France, its family identity uncertain. In Hugo’s Les Misérables, the child protagonist exhibits “a total disregard for rules and regulations,” creates the “archetype of anarchism,” and in so doing,“reveal[s] the nation’s future.”5 P. Howe argues that in nineteenth-century Europe in general,“the dominant image of childhood seems to be that of the orphan, the loss of family and of a sense of origins perhaps offering a parallel to the intellectual uncertainty.”6 But the orphan took on particular meaning in the French context. The Revolution’s dismantling of the ancien régime seemed to strip France of its historical moorings: family lineage lost its previous meaning, the king as patriarchal head of state—the embodied figurative father—lost his head, and people’s relation to the state and society was profoundly transformed.7 In the aftermath, the child, as symbol of revolution and emergent French democracy, now seemed lost in its own streets, its link to the past severed.Through the first half of the nineteenth century, then, an urchin child represented for the French, in novels and elsewhere, a quest for a meaningful identity amid rootlessness and social dislocation. As Rosemary Lloyd argues, “the orphan, the foundling, the child separated from its parents, or the child rejected by family or peers, comes to represent the sense of alienation in a world whose parameters seem to have altered, when such traditional frameworks as class and trade no longer hold firm and when even the concepts of space and time



have shifted.”8 Tocqueville’s generation was at the center of this cultural struggle, feeling, as Roger Boesche notes, “adrift,” and permeated by a “pervasive sense of homelessness, a longing for a secure and honorable age, a dreaming of the heroism of the past or of the possibilities of the future.”9 Such disconnectedness, captured in part by Tocqueville’s notion of “individualism,” features largely in his analysis of democracy. The plight of actual flesh and blood children itself preoccupied postrevolutionary France.The Enlightenment philosophers had radically changed the meaning of childhood, in Europe and the United States, to an extended period in early life marked by vulnerability, innocence, and potentiality in need of cultivation. In France, schools gained new value as institutions designed to deal with these peculiar social needs; and a wave of advice books descended upon parents to delineate and entrench the new ideals of family and childhood.10 Still, many French children were abandoned or turned over to the state.11 In his capacity on the Conseil Général de la Manche,Tocqueville showed concern for foundling children; and his and Beaumont’s study of American prisons echoed the desire to rehabilitate urchins in France, and thereby France itself.12 Their report to the French government concludes with a tellingly hopeful discussion of “Houses of Refuge in America,” private institutions that housed delinquent boys and girls and “orphans, who have been led by misery to vagrancy; [and] children, abandoned by their parents and who lead a disordered life”:13 In general, children abandoned by their families, or who have escaped from their homes, and for this reason have been early reduced to their own resources, and constrained to find within themselves the means of subsistence, are received here. It is therefore not surprising that they should make rapid progress in their learning. Most of them have, moreover, a restless, adventurous mind, anxious for knowledge.This disposition, which first led them to ruin, becomes now, in the school, a powerful cause of success.14

The reality of the enfants trouvés, combined with the Enlightenment concern with children’s human potentiality, and with the postaristocratic and postrevolutionary quest for identity and order in France, entrenched in the French imagination the figure of the urchin child.15 Tocqueville’s description of French democracy as an uneducated child “abandonnée a ses instincts sauvages” also recalls the idea of forest or feral children that captivated modern Europe.16 In particular, there is the case of the “Wild Boy of Aveyron,” found in 1800 in the Languedoc region of southern France, after having lived in the forest alone for most his life. Public interest abounded as he was taken to Paris to enlighten scientists about the educability of children.Although Locke’s claim that children can always be educated was widely accepted, the scientists judged the boy uneducable, and Jean-Marc-Gaspard



Itard took him in to prove the boy could still learn.17 The story captured the popular imagination: after all, the French public had been both inspired by the Enlightenment’s belief in childhood potentiality, and witness to the wildness and disorder of the revolutionary Terror.18 Public rumor held that the child had been abandoned to the forest during the Revolution, even that he was the long-lost son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, having somehow survived execution by fleeing into the woods.The underlying wish is all too apparent: that the monarchy had returned to Paris to recreate order out of the uncertainties of postrevolutionary society.19 But whether the Aveyron boy could be educated remained distressingly unclear.20 In Democracy in America, to understand how to discipline and educate his young French democracy well, Tocqueville considers the genealogy, birth, and development of democracy in America because, unlike the more complicated French case, “we are close enough to the time when the American societies were founded to know in detail the elements of which they were compounded” (D, 32). For him U.S. democracy is also a developing child, in part born of European lineage, of the confluence of particular natural and social forces, and cradled in the shelter of a “waiting,”“empty” continent.

DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA: WILDERNESS EXPECTING Tocqueville begins Democracy in America with a study of the North American continent’s topography, “the yet empty cradle” (berceau) for “those English colonies.”21 This imagery develops the man-nation analogy: the colonies are in a stage of infancy upon emigration from England (D, 30–31). Moreover, the cradle is a telling metaphor for the fact that, while a traditionally female purview, it nonetheless signifies some distance between the child and the mother’s breast. In Tocqueville’s presentation of U.S. democracy’s development, North America serves as a site at which colonists gain distance from imperial, hierarchical England, their mère patrie. Moreover, in Democracy in America, North American nature is posited as female and maternal, such that U.S. democracy, an ocean away from England, finds in nature not only a cradle but also a mother substitute.22 Recall that in Democracy in America, French democracy grows up amid the social disorder left by the demolition of aristocracy’s complex hierarchical structures. In contrast, U.S. democracy grows in the context of nature’s unaltered wilderness.Tocqueville pays attention to this natural environment and, consistent with popular European discursive tendencies, renders it symbolically female.The Scientific Revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries had transformed organic, cosmological conceptualizations of nature as a living female entity, both nurturing and uncontrollably powerful, into a mechanistic account of female nature as passive and ready to be mastered by humans.23



Rigorous agricultural and industrial exploitation of land, now reconfigured as the servant of people, was hereby sanctioned in the modern era.24 In Democracy in America and Tocqueville’s related travel writings,Tocqueville likewise imbues natural phenomena with a symbolic femaleness, but is conflicted about just what that femaleness means.While he exhibits typical nineteenth-century pride in the human capacity to manipulate and control nature, he is melancholic over the loss of nature as magical and powerful: It is this consciousness of destruction, this arriere-pensée of quick and inevitable change, that gives, we feel, so peculiar a character and such a touching beauty to the solitudes of America. One sees them with a melancholy pleasure; one is in some sort of a hurry to admire them.Thoughts of the savage, natural grandeur that is going to come to an end become mingled with splendid anticipation of the triumphant march of civilisation. One feels proud to be a man, and yet at the same time one experiences I cannot say what bitter regret at the power that God has granted us over nature. One’s soul is shaken by contradictory thoughts and feelings, but all the impressions it receives are great and leave a deep mark.25

Tocqueville further complicates this feminizing of North American nature. For instance, in his travel essay,“A Fortnight in the Wilds,” he records how in his first months in America he and Beaumont set forth against the advice of settlers into the wilderness toward Saginaw,“‘the last inhabited point’” moving westward. Heedless of warnings (“‘Do you know that from here to Saginaw you find hardly anything but wilds and untrod solitudes?’”26), the travelers journeyed into the dense wilderness.Tocqueville sees in this untouched enclave a force for order and chaos, birth and death, creation and destruction, beauty and violence.27 He writes that “in the solitudes of America nature in all her strength is the only instrument of ruin and also the only creative force.” Here, “many generations of the dead lay side by side” while “the work of new creation goes ceaselessly forward,” alongside forces of “violence and destruction.”28 In Democracy in America, he similarly describes the Mississippi River’s life-giving and life-taking powers, its “inexhaustible fertility” and cruel withholding (D, 25). Tocqueville’s forest is other times exclusively creative, but man, easily swallowed by her:“The ancient forest is not slow to push out new shoots over these abandoned fields and day-old ruins; animals again claim possession of their domain; smiling Nature covers the traces of man with green branches and flowers, obliterating all sign of his ephemeral passage.” In this lushness nature often interferes with man’s colonizing efforts, as the “forest’s undergrowth has only bent beneath his feet and springs up again when he has passed.”29 However, at the same time that North American nature is powerful, so too is it a fragile “virgin,” its future doomed by aggressive, mindlessly



intrusive man. In his travel essay,“Journey to Lake Oneida,”Tocqueville suggests that where “man was missing from the scene,” “it was as if one heard an inner sound that betrayed the work of creation and could see the sap and life circulating through ever open channels.”30 At yet other times, this female force is rendered maternal and wifely, welcoming European cultivation and comforting men:“the valley of the Mississippi is the most magnificent habitation ever prepared by God for man”; and the rivers of the continent are “like main roads by means of which Providence has been at pains, since the beginning of the world, to open up the wilds and make them accessible to man.”31 Indeed, this land is reliable for settlers and their enterprises, unlike that of the apparently treacherous West Indies. Like a beguiling mistress, “everything seen in these enchanted islands seems devised to meet man’s needs or serve his pleasures.” But while this enticing beauty enervates men and shrouds the “death” that lurks in the waters, North America “seemed very different; everything there was grave and serious and solemn; one might say that it had been created to be the domain of intelligence, as the other was that of the senses” (D, 26). How are we to understand these multiple, often contradictory descriptions of nature-as-female? Dinnerstein observes that in cultures where females dominate child care, before an infant can distinguish cognitively between discrete sentient beings and the general, impersonal forces of nature, the surroundings appear as one and motherness gets conflated with these forces.32 This female parent seems, like nature, enabling and interfering, “both nourishing and disappointing, both alluring and threatening, both comforting and unreliable”; “hence Mother Nature.”33 In feminizing nature as a multiplicitous, contradictory force,Tocqueville reiterates the conception of maternalism that he posits in relation to aristocracy.As chapter 1 explores, aristocracy is in his texts a multifaceted force, for care and domination, security and subjugation. Now, we see that the natural world that his Anglo-American colonists encounter in North America, replete with its bounty and harshness, is maternal in some similar ways. It appears that North American nature serves as replacement or substitute for that original, rejected mother, England; apparently,Tocqueville’s Anglo-American society is unresolved about England, still seeking a maternal presence. There is something more at stake in Tocqueville’s account of the North American continent. In it, he begins to convey that U.S. democracy, its birth, growth, and development signify not innocent new beginnings, but something more ambiguous. In positing U.S. democracy as a child,Tocqueville conjures up the modern view of the child as innocent and brimming with positive potential. In signaling new beginnings, this child metaphor also suggests the lateeighteenth- and nineteenth-century idea of an “American Adam,” representative



of U.S. exceptionalism and marker of a putatively new lineage of humanity in the American “Eden.”34 Curiously, in the discourse of the day, this symbolic Adam went unaccompanied by a metaphorical Eve, her absence suggesting that in America there was to be no fall from God’s grace or expulsion from His garden. Both of these discourses—the innocent child full of potential, and the American Adam residing in God’s Eden—resonate in Tocqueville’s descriptions of a young American democracy. But both are unsettled by Tocqueville’s bleaker perspective on what this gestation involves and foreshadows. As he himself observes, “a child may kill when he does not understand the value of life” (D, 239). The violence of Europe’s revolutionary years encouraged early-nineteenthcentury Americans to construct themselves as the last frontier of moral society; in the novel by Tocqueville’s travel companion, Gustave de Beaumont, one American character reflects upon “how corrupt are the ways of France.”35 In France, however, given how the revolutionary break with the past quickly descended into “Terror,” many were repulsed by the idea of new beginnings in the American wilds. For Tocqueville, the colonizing of America is neither unequivocally good nor terrible, but both hopeful and ominous; like his contemporary Melville, he challenges and recasts the popular American signification of the United States as an innocent child. Melville’s guileless youngster Billy Budd commits violent murder; and for Melville, no one is born innocent but rather “with halters round their necks.” Tocqueville’s American democracy, though possessing an impending greatness, is likewise troubled by its past and conceived in part through dark acts.36 On the one hand,Tocqueville is certain that the society implanted in North America is destined to be grand:“Those coasts so well suited for trade and industry, those deep rivers, that inexhaustible valley of the Mississippi—in short, the whole continent—seemed the yet empty cradle of a great nation.”37 Moreover, amid the “confusion” of this wilderness, Tocqueville sees a promising family “design”:“the time must come when there will be in North America one hundred and fifty million all,” like siblings,“equal one to the other, belonging to the same family, having the same point of departure, the same civilization, language, religion, habits, and mores, and among whom thought will circulate in similar forms and with like nuances” (D, 412). It is here that “civilized man was destined to build society on new foundations.” But, on the other hand,Tocqueville observes darkly, these colonists also “present the world with a spectacle for which past history had not prepared it,” and the symbolic American siblings prove a troubled mix (D, 30). To chart the course of U.S. democracy’s growth and development,Tocqueville recovers its genealogy to illustrate that it is no Eden peopled by American Adams, but rather a complicated site created by conquest, violence, industriousness, and legitimate acquisition.



S A G I N A W : A S C A R C E LY F O R M E D E M B R Y O The democratic society that develops in the cradle of the North American continent, while shaped by forces of nature, is also forged by societal forces both promising and foreboding. During one remarkable leg of Tocqueville’s and Beaumont’s journey into the dense American wilderness, the men reached their destination, the village of Saginaw:“Thirty people, men, women, old people, and children were all that made up at the time of our visit that little society, a scarcely formed embryo, a growing seed entrusted to the wilds, which the wilds must fertilize.”38 Curiously, this growing embryo (embryon à peine formé) seems to lack roots in the past, parented by nature and various social influences, but at the same time broken off from history.39 Like an American Adam, and like Americans in general whom Tocqueville sees as willfully ignorant of the past, the village at Saginaw begins life disentangled from time. In contrast to European society, where French democracy struggles to grow up, there are no graveyards for ancestors in Saginaw, nor is there the sort of “meeting” around an infant’s “cradle of several generations.” But this growing settlement is in fact a peculiar miscegenation, composed of an original hybrid of social factors—French Canadians and European Americans, now radically separated from their lands of origin, as well as North American Indians and “half-castes”— all with “nothing in common between them.”40 Tocqueville sees in this original combination of peoples, in this embryo of U.S. democracy, the makings of a family drama based in domination and violence. He observes that, “several exiled members of the great human family have met together in the immensity of the forests, and their needs are all alike . . . but they cast only looks of hatred and suspicion on one another.”41 While European Americans take natives “by the hand in brotherly fashion [fraternellement]” they do so to “lead them away to die far from the land of their fathers.”42 Though the “American goes to the church, where he hears a minister of the Gospel repeat to him that men are brothers” and the “Indian occasionally casts a stoic glance on the dwellings of his European brethren [ses fréres d’Europe],” the two are in “contest.”43 Tocqueville is concerned that this emergent American democracy, while promising greatness, also portends violence against the North American Indians. The past, he says, belonged to the Indian whose “wisdom” and “courage,” “born of liberty,” made him “manly,” mature in his way (D, 338). But when “Providence” placed the Indians “amid the riches of the New World,” it “seems to have granted them a short lease only” and they were “there, in some sense, only waiting” (D, 30). In characterizing these relations between Native Americans and European Americans,Tocqueville deploys the idea of fraternity, making a discursive move common in the nineteenth century, especially in the U.S. Jacksonian period.44 But American public figures of the day generally used



imagery of brotherhood rhetorically to conceal state-sanctioned violence against Native Americans, while Tocqueville’s imagery helps reveal it.As Michael Paul Rogin observes, in this era,“American rhetoric filled the white-Indian tie with intimate symbolic meaning. Indians were, every treaty talk insisted, our ‘friends and brothers’.”45 But, typically imagined as the offspring of a maternalized nature, Native Americans were also seen in this discourse to lap freely upon her milk in a manner that would interfere with European colonization of North America.The U.S. chief administrator of Indian affairs from 1816 to 1830 asserted that the “earth was their mother, and upon its lap they reposed”; Indians were seen to enjoy “a world of plenty, protected and nurtured by mother nature.”46 This imagined original access to nature undoubtedly stirred among European settlers passions, in keeping with European American discourse, of symbolic sibling envy: John Quincy Adams described the Indians as the “unfortunate sons of nature” who could not be permitted an exclusive claim on the “exuberant bosom of the common mother.”47 Rogin says that the Indians’ relationship with nature-as-mother seemed to awaken “forbidden white longings”; in Democracy in America, such yearning percolates in the context of a very distant European mother.48 While Tocqueville fraternalizes European-Native American relations, his use of the metaphor imbues the brotherly ties with ominous sentiments of envy, fear, and hatred; the familial framework does not deter, but rather energizes these dangerous passions. In “Fortnight in the Wilds,”Tocqueville observes that “an ancient people, the first and legitimate master of the American continent, is vanishing daily like the snow in sunshine, and disappearing from view over the land.”49 The Indian “does not go beyond exiling his European brother from the happy hunting grounds he reserves for himself,” observing “traditions bequeathed by his fathers.”50 But the European settler, willingly to shed history, readily destroys these hunting grounds to be the one “to whom the future of the New World belongs.”51 Tocqueville describes these warring peoples as collectively propelled by a river current toward a gaping chasm—the “abyss” that later haunts Democracy in America. Only here it is not the French hurtling into postaristocratic darkness, but the Indians and settlers in America moving into the democratic unknown: “Like two parallel rivers they have been flowing for three centuries towards a common abyss.”52 It seems that rather than the Native and European Americans sharing equally the land, as democratic principle would dictate, the Indians’ bond with maternalized nature is broken to assuage European American envy and anxiety over suspected inferior access to her. In these passages Tocqueville reiterates that one of democracy’s pillars is its rejection of the aristocratic law of primogeniture that inherits the first son.Although the “Indian was the brother with original title to the land,” as Rogin points out, emergent American democracy dissolves his traditional rights to it.53 However, the



symbolic family drama in Tocqueville’s texts reveals a fratricidal rage that presses the European Americans beyond democratically sharing the land with their metaphorical brothers toward acts of “tyranny” and “oppression” that reduce the Indians to an “inferior position” (D, 317–18). After all, President Jackson himself once told the Chickasaws that their “white brothers” wanted the land they occupied, and if they did not surrender it, he would not protect them from their white brothers’ desires.54 Tocqueville observes that because of such violent conquest, “the moral and physical condition of these peoples has constantly deteriorated” and their “ruin”“is coming to completion in our own day” (D, 30). In effect, the colonists and settlers produce their own version of the French street ruffian. But this American version is not a child that can still be rehabilitated—he is a shattered man that bears the scars of his sibling’s undisciplined desires.“Mixed up with the vices they got from us,”Tocqueville observes, some Indians are now “straying sucker[s] from a savage tree that has grown up in the mud of our cities.”55 Inverting rather than abolishing the law of primogeniture to establish themselves as nature’s first son, the European Americans inform Tocqueville and Beaumont that “this world here belongs to us . . . God, in refusing the first inhabitants the capacity to become civilised, has destined them in advance to inevitable destruction.The true owners of this continent are those who know how to take advantage of its riches.”56 This family drama is thus a tragic one, realizing not the story of the American Adam, but stories of brotherhood popular to modern France and the United States: the Christian tale of fratricide that begins human history; and the republican myth of Romulus and Remus—twin brothers reared in the wilds, only one of whom survives to found a glorious republic. While William Connolly argues persuasively that, in Tocqueville’s texts, the Indian is the “first Other” as the “first sign of violence inscribed” in U.S. democracy’s boundaries, this Indian is marked as a brother.57 Interior to U.S. democracy’s family’s symbolic familial foundations is a brutality that family ties do not prevent. In Tocqueville’s writing, the envious, greedy sensibilities that European Americans unleash on Native Americans also shape American democracy’s subsequent relationship with nature. Efforts to own and conquer nature echo Dinnerstein’s account of the modern urge to master nature as representative of the first parent. Captured and controlled, North American nature seemingly performs as what Dinnerstein describes as an “infinitely exploitable mother” for the symbolically motherless colonists.58 In his travel essays, Tocqueville writes repeatedly of “axes” that will soon destroy the “still virgin forest.”59 He says that “the wonders of inanimate nature leave [Americans] cold, and, one may almost say, they do not see the marvellous forests surrounding them until they begin to fall beneath the ax” (D, 485). In Democracy in America



he observes that the “white race is advancing across the forest that surrounds it, and in but few years the European will have cut the trees that are now reflected in the limpid waters of the lake and forced the animals that live on its banks to retreat to new wildernesses.”60 But the goal is not destruction; it is mastery and containment, since “the American people see themselves marching through wildernesses, drying up marshes, diverting rivers, peopling the wilds, and subduing nature” in order to harness for settlers agricultural land (D, 485). Tocqueville himself sees nature, once cleared and mastered, as pliant and comforting, claiming that under these circumstances, it “seems to work for the people,” enabling their growth and development. Indeed, his imagery invokes agricultural land as both maternal and female sex-object.“When the Creator handed the earth over to men, it was young and inexhaustible, but they were weak and ignorant.” By the “time that they had learned to take advantage of the treasures it contained,” the land had been so populated that “they were having to fight for the right to an asylum. . . . It was then that North America was discovered, as if God had held it in reserve.” This new land “offers itself not to the isolated, ignorant, and barbarous man of the first ages, but to man who has already mastered the most important secrets of nature.”61 Of course the colonist initially “brought death and destruction in his train, but now it is the seed of life and prosperity that he bears” (D, 281). So the American wild child cultivates and is cultivated.62 The process of mastering femininized nature matures the child, and apparently also masculinizes it: “Nature and circumstances have made the inhabitant of the United States a bold man” (D, 292). In all this imagery,Tocqueville evokes symbols popular in nineteenth-century America. For instance, in the 1819 etching “Ceres in the Garden of the World,” Henry Nash Smith sees “an allegorical grouping of the major symbols of the dream of an agricultural utopia in the Mississippi Valley.The goddess of fertility leans upon the sacred plow. In the background one pioneer fells a tree with the other great Western implement, the axe, while his companion sets about breaking the newly cleared earth.”63 But again, though deploying these very symbols, Tocqueville complicates them to suggest a shadow side of envy, conquest, destruction, domination, and control. He notes that, to the European American, “This incredible destruction, this even more surprising growth, seem to him the usual progress of things in the world. He gets accustomed to it as to the unalterable order of nature.”64 As such, this “nation of conquerors” is a people “before whom forests fall and prairies are covered in shade; and who, when they have reached the Pacific Ocean, will come back on its tracks to trouble and destroy the societies which it will have formed behind it.”65



In the gestation and growth of U.S. democracy, then,Tocqueville sees that, “as the Indians have withdrawn and died, an immense nation is taking their place and constantly growing. Never has such a prodigious development been seen among the nations, nor a destruction so rapid”; he remains anxious about what the future “may hold in store” for developing U.S. democracy (D, 321, 411). Upon leaving Saginaw and reentering the dense woods,Tocqueville and Beaumont nearly lost their way and “great was their distress,” for now that they had seen the developing embryo of American democracy they needed to chart a safe course for France.66 French democracy, gestated during aristocracy’s decline, born amid the convulsions of revolution and reared by social chaos, lacks America’s advantages—its boundless resources, and its distance from Europe’s troubled past. But this wilderness democracy, as a symbolically motherless child, is itself troubled by envy and desire for domination. Additional psychic and social factors rooted in Europe’s past shape these paradoxes that mark the development of young U.S. democracy.

MOTHER ENGLAND U.S. democracy, conceived and gestated by forces both natural and social, is also, like Melville’s young and guilty orphan Billy Budd, separated from its metaphorical parent, England. In Democracy in America, England is the mère patrie of the “Anglo-Americans” and, as Tocqueville’s guiding mother-child metaphor suggests, a key formative influence on American democracy (see ch. 1). He observes that while England once oppressed the inhabitants that subsequently left for America, it also ingrained in them traditions that later framed and stabilized their new society on the shores of the New World. The “birth of the great American Union” may have taken place in North America, but habits and norms of English society, carried across the ocean, safeguarded these colonies from the kind of social chaos and uncertainty experienced in postrevolutionary France.67 Indeed,Tocqueville charges that: The efforts made by the Americans to throw off the English yoke have been much exaggerated.With twenty-eight hundred miles of ocean between them and their enemies, aided by a powerful ally, the United States owed their victory much more to their position than to the valor of their armies or the patriotism of their citizens.Who would dare to compare the American war to those of the French Revolution or the efforts of the Americans to ours, when France, a prey to the attacks of all Europe, without money, credit, or allies, threw a twentieth of her population in the face of her enemies, with one hand stifling the devouring flames within her and with the other brandishing the torch around her? (D, 113)



Still, in Democracy in America, England’s effects on young U.S. democracy are complex. In countless eighteenth-century documents that emanate from both Europe and America, England’s imperial relations with American colonists are signified as family ones,particularly those of mother and children and based in a psychology of power.68 In colonial America, loyalists cast themselves as “immature offspring” who willingly ceded their powers to the legitimate “mother” authority. Revolutionaries retained but transvaluated the familial symbols to recast England as a smothering, tyrannical, scheming mother who threatened to destroy her offspring.“We have been told ‘that Britain is the mother and we are the children, that a filial duty and submission is due from us to her,’” wrote John Adams. But, he urged, it is time these “children” reject this “mother,” an illegitimate exerciser of terrible powers.69 Sam Adams added that “slavery, my dear mother, we cannot think of; we detest it. If this [independence] be a crime, remember, we suck’d it with your milk.” John Cleaveland said:“No longer shall we know you as our mother; you are become cruel.”70 Tom Paine pressed the metaphor in 1776 in Common Sense:“But Britain is the parent country, say some.Then the more shame upon her conduct.” He argued that the colonists had suffered enough “from the cruelty of the monster,” and it was time for them to grow up.“To be always running three or four thousand miles with a tale or a petition, waiting four or five months for an answer, which when obtained requires five or six more to explain it in, will in a few years be looked upon as folly and childishness— There was a time when it was proper, and there is a proper time for it to cease.” So “let us come to a final separation, and not leave the next generation to be cutting throats, under the violated unmeaning names of parent and child.”71 These richly symbolic condemnations of English authority were borne of genuine struggle to emerge from under the weight of empire.But as Rogin argues, such provocative language exaggerated England’s powers, permitting the revolutionaries to hold England accountable for nearly all ills suffered in the colonies, despite the fact that some of those troubles had domestic sources, including the American love of money.72 Rogin surmises that impassioned charges against England enabled colonists not only to stir popular revolution against her, but also to repress subterranean fears of the violent side of American democracy in favor of exaggerated ideas of American innocence.At the same time, rejecting England undoubtedly stirred in the American psyche fear of exchanging this familiar source of material and psychic comfort for a harsh, uncultivated world. Both the need to reject her as tyrant, and the covert dread of losing her, probably triggered the discursive adoption of a substitute mother, Liberty; Rogin observes in Paul Revere’s cartoons as elsewhere that colonists not only sexed republican liberty female, but cast her as a loving mother. English imperialism and republican liberty were hereby rendered bad and good expressions of



motherhood respectively, just as the modern, conjugal family ideal emerged, and at its centre, the ideal woman as lovingly, dotingly maternal.As motherhood was reinvented as a specialized, domestic role, it gained currency as a symbol in popular and political discourse as a means to express and debate ideas of political legitimacy.73 Committing what loyalists called “parricide,” revolutionaries transformed themselves so that, no longer the children of mother England, they were the “sons of liberty.”74 A few decades later the Statue of Liberty, a (Frenchmade) female personification of liberty,was erected in NewYork harbor,the poem at its base declaring it the “mother of exiles.” Of course, stationed as she is on the East Coast in the country’s biggest harbor, she is signified as mother to immigrants only, excluding Native Americans from her comforts. Given popular preoccupations with a symbolic mother and offspring in relation to the American colonies, it is not surprising that in Democracy in America, as Tocqueville traces the lineage of U.S. democracy, he casts England as a mother and the colonists and American society as her children.75 But here she is not the singular tyrant conjured up in the texts of the eighteenth-century American revolutionaries.Tocqueville was not in principle anticolonial and, by the time he visited the United States, the country’s formal political independence had been assured for over half a century, leaving England a distant power. Still,Tocqueville also recognizes that, while U.S. democracy has secured its independence and gained immeasurably from England’s stabilizing influence, “There could not be hate more venomous than that between the Americans of the United States and the English” (D, 406). Tocqueville’s central metaphor suggests that in nations as with people, “circumstances of birth and growth affect all the rest of their careers,” and that one must therefore “go back; look at the baby in his mother’s arms” and “in the cradle” (D, 31). In studying the point of departure of the colonists, he sees in England two different mothering modes that produce two very different American offspring, North and South. He writes that the immigrants from England who arrived on the shores of America “were not alike in many respects” (D, 32–33). However, “all the immigrants spoke the same language and were children of the same people.” Born amid English factional struggles that often undermined political rights, these offspring had all “learned their political lessons in that rough school.” But England also taught the practice of local government which helped ensure that the “notions of rights and principles of true liberty,”“chaster morals,” and interest in “education,”“were more or less the same among those of [England’s] sons who sought a new future on the far side of the ocean” (D, 33). Given this English influence, it was “not open to [the first settlers] to found a society with no other point of departure besides themselves; no man can entirely detach himself from the past; perhaps unintentionally, perhaps unconsciously, they did mingle with their own ideas and



habits others which derived from their education and the national tradition of the homeland” (D, 48). In Tocqueville’s mind, these imported habits and mores protected the colonies from the social upheaval felt in France following the destruction of aristocracy. Though Tocqueville mostly disregards U.S. multiculturalism, he mentions that, in fact, immigrants arrived in America from other European countries as well, and “all these new European colonies contained the germ, if not the full growth, of a complete democracy.”76 When all of these immigrants left their homes, they had no sense of hierarchy among them because “poverty with misfortune is the best-known guarantee of equality among men.” Moreover, clearing just a small plot of land required of its owner intense labor that rendered hierarchical landlord relations ill-suited to America (D, 33). In effect, despite the differences among European immigrants, all rejected the “aristocratic freedom of their motherland” such that “there was a strong family likeness between all the English colonies as they came to birth.” However,“There were two main branches of the great Anglo-American family which have, so far, grown up together without completely mingling—one in the South, and the other in the North” (D, 34). Just a few decades after Tocqueville’s visit, these two “family branches,” these “southerners” and “their brothers in the North,” were, like disparate siblings, at war (D, 355). Once again, Democracy in America’s symbolic family narrative proves one of disharmony and violence. Tocqueville explains that though most of the immigrants were equalized by poverty and hardship,“it did happen several times that as a result of political or religious quarrels great lords went to America,” and in the South, some modified traits of European aristocracy took hold. Gold-seekers first populated Virginia, followed by craftsmen and farm laborers of lower-class origins, and then slavery, as “no noble thought or conception above gain presided over the foundation of the new settlements.” Somehow, the more democratic and republican lessons of mother England that promoted participation in self-rule were skewed by this first wave of immigrants who adopted the more feudal of her teachings. Once slavery was institutionalized, it became “the basic fact destined to exert immense influence on the character, laws, and future of the whole South.” It dishonored labor and brought “idleness into society and therewith ignorance and pride, poverty and luxury,” and as such,“Slavery, combined with the English character, explains the mores and social condition of the South” (D, 34–35).That is, as symbolic offspring, the American South developed a particular kind of undemocratic character.“From his birth the American of the South is invested with a sort of domestic dictatorship; the first notions he receives in life teach him that he is born to command, and the first habit he contracts is that of effortless domination. So, education has a powerful influence in making the southerner a haughty, hasty, irascible man, ardent in his desires



and impatient at obstacles; but he is easy to discourage if he cannot triumph at the first effort” (D, 375). In the northern colonies,“the English background was the same, but every nuance led the opposite way.”Thus, by the time of his visit,Tocqueville observed “marked differences of character between the English in the southern states and the English in the northern ones” (D, 375). Before leaving England, those who eventually settled in New England had been socioeconomically privileged such that none of them arrived in America out of necessity but rather chose to pursue a “purely intellectual craving; in facing the inevitable sufferings of exile they hoped for the triumph of an idea.” Upon their arrival in America, there was no hierarchy among them, but all were reasonably accomplished and educated. For Tocqueville, this means they “brought with them wonderful elements of order and morality.”The creed of these Puritans “was not just a religious doctrine; in many respects it shared the most absolute democratic and republican theories,” and democracy in the North was shaped by these distinctive ideas and mores (D, 36). Given the original combination of these social and historical factors, the “foundation of New England was something new in the world, all the attendant circumstances being both peculiar and original” (D, 35).The northern offspring of England was shaped by English political heritage and by the “social condition, religion, and mores” of the Puritan settlers, as well as by the natural surroundings and peoples encountered in America. In New England, the mixture yielded not only a healthy but mature democracy:“Democracy more perfect than any of which antiquity had dared to dream sprang full-grown and fully armed from the midst of the old feudal society” in Europe. Unlike the sibling to the South, then,“The American of the North does not see slaves hurrying around his cradle. He does not even meet free servants, for most often he is reduced to seeing to his requirements himself. He has hardly arrived in the world before he is confronted on all sides with the idea of necessity, so he learns in good time to recognize for himself the natural limits of power; he does not expect by force to bend the wills of those opposed to his, and he knows that if he wants to get others to help him he must win their favor. He is therefore patient, calculating, tolerant, slow to act, but persevering in his designs” (D, 375). It is this northern democracy with which Tocqueville is almost exclusively concerned in Democracy in America, seeking as he is lessons for democratizing France. But curiously, in accounting for the growth and development of this northern child,Tocqueville’s text suggests that it separated from mother England while somehow simultaneously fetal, an infant, and a mature adult.The village at Saginaw is at the time that Tocqueville visits an “embryo,” but so too does he imagine U.S. democracy an infant that grows in its new continental “cradle,” away from the distant mother. Then again, the republics of the North



already exhibit for him a kind of maturity and in them, he finds “manly” citizens. Moreover, he says society in America “had no infancy, being born adult,” and that New England’s democracy is “full-grown” and “fully armed” (D, 302–3). He adds that the Anglo-Americans “were completely civilized when they arrived” and, rather than needing a parental guardian, it was “enough that they should not forget” what they had learned from their motherland. In turn, like England, which instilled in the colonists the “knowledge” they needed for independence, the mature Anglo-Americans educate to “pass this enlightenment on to their children.”Tocqueville is apparently confused about American democracy’s development: is it embryo, child, or man? In fact, this confused array of developmental metaphors illustrates a finer point about the nature of U.S. democracy’s development. Tocqueville observes that in America, one finds “one society only” that nonetheless exhibits, simultaneously, all stages of growth. He writes that he “had noticed in Europe that the more or less withdrawn position in which a province or town is placed, its wealth or its poverty, its smallness or its extent, exercised an immense influence on the ideas, the morals, the whole civilisation of its inhabitants, and often caused a difference of several centuries between the various parts of the same area.” In the United States, however, he finds he cannot, as he expected he might, “follow step by step all the transformations which social conditions have brought about for man” to trace the “history of the whole of humanity framed within a few degrees of longitude.” In this democracy, rather, such development by stages “has been levelled out by an egalitarian civilisation.”77 The “peoples of Europe started from darkness and barbarism to advance toward civilization and enlightenment. Their progress has been unequal: some have run ahead, while others have done no more than walk; there are some who have halted and are still sleeping by the roadside” (D, 302). In the United States, in contrast, all stages of development are felt at once. Simultaneously, its psyche is in a stage of infancy, apparently replete with envious yearning for exclusive access to maternalized forces; in a stage of childhood, ambivalent about separation from the mother and about seizing independence; and in a state of maturity, with urgent desires modified by thoughtful and collective deliberation. Put another way, when Tocqueville encounters it,American democracy is in the confused, ambivalent, intense throes of adolescence.78 Erik Erikson has described adolescence as the stage at which one feels the eyes of others upon oneself, when one seeks continuity in the midst of dramatic change, when one gains consciousness only to become aware of the uncertain future, when one feels passion for a particular ideology, and when earlier crises must be revisited before genuine maturity can ensue.Adolescence is, above all, a period of identity crisis that dangles its subject between a world of dependency and one of autonomy.79 As a trope for Tocqueville’s U.S. democracy, adolescence



captures the moment of world-historical change led by the American experiment; it captures the emergent democratic passion for the idea of equality and the proud separation from the smothering forces of England. The idea of adolescence also speaks to the psychic turmoil stirred by the Americans’ rejection of secure, hierarchical, aristocratic structure in favor of democracy’s flux and open-ended freedoms. Norman Hampson notes that French commentators before Tocqueville saw America in terms of “the adolescence of humanity.”80 Tocqueville’s writings convey something similar. The question is whether this adolescent democracy can and will reject the mother-comforts of aristocracy and imperialism in order genuinely to grow up into autonomous and mature self-rule.

RESISTING THE MOTHER: DEMOCRACY AS ADOLESCENT Dorothy Dinnerstein argues that it is hard to grow up in the face of a singular, once seemingly omnipotent female parent.The main problem is that after being in such a mother’s care,“What we do try hard to outgrow . . . is our subjugation to female power.”81 Rather than fixing our eyes on the challenges of genuine maturity and meaningful independence, we continue to look backward at that old tyrant, creating our lives as a stage upon which to act out against her.This is Tocqueville’s fear for the French: rather than looking ahead toward the challenges of democracy, “we obstinately keep our eyes fixed” on the aristocratic past (D, 13).Tocqueville’s account of the American democracy of the North and its relationship with England suggests that the colonies’ separation from her is also complicated, sometimes courageously revolutionary, but, over all, unresolved.American democracy exhibits several different developmental stages at once; so too does it attempt to separate from England in several moments in different ways. First of all,Tocqueville’s English emigrants, though carrying with them some of England’s lessons, physically left England for a distant cradle in which to grow apart from her dictates. In North America they became part of a unique hybrid embryo and plunged into a nascent independence. Tocqueville suggests that England watched “untroubled the departure” of her misfit Puritan offspring and “did everything to encourage it and seemed to have no anxiety about the fate of those who sought refuge from its harsh laws on American soil” (D, 39). For their part, the emigrants, “without denying the supremacy of the homeland, did not derive from thence the source of their powers,” exercising a striking autonomy that led to a conscious sovereignty (D, 41). Tocqueville also writes that “the social state of the Americans is eminently democratic. It has been like that ever since the birth of the colonies but it is even more so now” (D, 50). It seems that the colonies since their birth



gradually increased their independence from a lingering maternal England, and what drives this gradual maturation is the exercise of republican politics. The text suggests that the colonies weaned themselves from the motherland’s resources by building vibrant republican communities, employing lessons previously acquired from England herself.“In New England,”Tocqueville writes, “local communities had taken complete and definite shape as early as 1650.” Local notions of duties, rights and interests developed so that “inside the locality there was a real, active political life which was completely democratic and republican. The colonies still recognized the mother country’s supremacy; legally the state was a monarchy, but each locality was already a lively republic” (D, 44).The stability with which English tradition provided the colonies was gradually superseded by the authority of local laws, republican activity and the resulting administrative bodies.82 Tocqueville repeatedly describes the resulting Northern republican independence as “manly.”This metaphor expresses a maturity that, alongside the rebelliousness of the land-owning élite in the South, helped trigger desire for the American Revolution which formally severed ties to England.83 The idea of “the people” as sovereign thereby solidified,“a taste for every form of independence grew,” and imperial relations with England ended (D, 51). The Revolution itself marked another psychosymbolic break with England. Tocqueville’s text suggests that the formal abrogation of the hierarchical, motherson relationship created an authority vacuum that threatened social disorder. Like a newly independent young adult, the Americans for a moment felt the instability of vanished authority, and of the percolating flux and instability of democratic society and culture. However, the forces of republicanism filled this void to restabilize the United States. Sovereignty of the people became, in the United States, “the creative principle underlying the republic.” Historically, during the American Revolution, England’s authority was rejected and George Washington was cast by Americans as “‘our political Father and head of a Great People”; revolutionaries in general were subsequently referred to as “our venerable Forefathers.”84 In Democracy in America, maternal rule is likewise rejected in favor of mutual rule by republican citizens, and some symbolic father figures, yet to be examined, also rear their heads. Suffice it to say for now that, for Dinnerstein, in the wake of a maternal first parent, desire for an alternative, paternal authority, rather than for authentic independence, is central evidence that passions for the mother remain unresolved. There is yet another way in Democracy in America that the American republic seeks independence from Mother England.Tocqueville is concerned with laws of inheritance—“all those laws whose principal object is to control the fate of property after its owner’s death.” In the United States, he claims, these laws arm the lawmakers “with almost supernatural power.” They enable the



republic’s leaders to “lay hands on each generation before it is born,” moulding the future social state to their will. These potent metaphors cast the American democratic republic as a sort of autochthon that escapes the influences of a mother, shaped exclusively instead by a powerful parental alternative.“When the lawgiver has once fixed the law of inheritance,”Tocqueville concludes,“he can rest for centuries; once the impulse has been given to his handiwork, he can take his hand away” (D, 51, including n. 1). Here the genealogical ties to maternal England, even to mother nature, fade from view; the “New World” appears independently to spawn an original human lineage whose character is dictated by republican fathers alone. But Tocqueville is anxious about such erasure of history, insisting that “no man can entirely detach himself from the past” (D, 48). Indeed, the American democracy’s denial of its maternal origins smacks of what Dinnerstein describes as the ambivalent female-raised child’s tendency to “split off ” positive feelings for the mother, in order to manage its impassioned ambivalence.This does not rid the subject of its feelings for the mother, the ambivalence about its early dependence instead repressed and therefore potent. Rather than guaranteeing a healthy separation for genuine, autonomous maturity, the hidden longing and resentment continue to operate in the offspring’s psyche, contaminating its efforts to grow up.Tocqueville’s U.S. democracy, for its part, makes several conscious breaks with England. But given that some of these breaks depend upon the erasure of history and management rather than resolution of unresolved passion, it is not clear that they signify a definitive transition to democratic maturity.85 The genealogy and conditions of U.S. democracy’s growth are littered with buried yearning, envy, and fear, as well as forgotten acts of conquest and domination, all within the symbolic family.This, coupled with the principled quest and courage signified by the American Revolution, suggest that in the subsequent life of this democracy are both hopeful and dark potentialities that render its maturation uncertain.

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3 Adolescence and Maturity

AT THE CENTER OF Democracy in America’s symbolic family narrative is the strug-

gle of democracy, born out of aristocracy, to grow up well. So what, for Tocqueville and in his text, constitutes such democratic maturity? In his published texts and letters,Tocqueville describes human maturation time and again as the healthy process of becoming “manly” (mâle, viril).This idea influenced Tocqueville’s own life in a manner instructive to his thought. Born into a rapidly fading aristocratic milieu, he, with French democracy,“came into the world at the end of a long Revolution”—a world suddenly marked by “nothing durable.”1 Though filled with attendant anxieties, he argued in letters to friends that, to be “manly,” one must acknowledge life as “a serious affair with which we are charged, and toward which our duty is to acquit ourselves as well as possible.” Though a person is very possibly “never sure of anything,” to “despair” of the absence of certainty is to “despair of being a man.”2 In the face of emergent democratic (or any social) flux, then,Tocqueville requires of himself and others to act well in its midst, accepting uncertainty as the central demand upon humanity.Though imagining a need for foundations in democracy as in any social state,Tocqueville does not a priory reach for pervasive, predictable order as essential, or even conducive, to his conception of human maturity. Indeed, conditions of flux demand and thereby invite manly maturity, while static social conditions apparently permit the opposite. In maternalizing his highly ordered aristocracy,Tocqueville conveys the idea that fixed, certain relations infantilize their subjects; in his praise for the principled revolutionary moment against this old world, he conveys his interest in these subjects growing up. To help his parentless, young democracy mature, he situates it in a particular familialized context. That is, in Democracy in America, Tocqueville’s democracy is founded symbolically on the highly specified, ordering, and limiting terms of a modern conjugal family ideal and its attendant sex-gender




dichotomy and heterosexual imperative.This chapter traces how this symbolic order structures the text, and begins the work of exploring the difficulties it poses for Tocqueville’s vision of manly maturity.Tocqueville certainly attempts to craft a portrait of democratic maturity within the parameters of this gendered, familial order: the central logic is to combine differentiated (feminized and masculinized) gender elements into heterosexual complements—to create a healthy whole comprised of dichotomously different parts. But the chapter begins to suggest that this project is flawed. As we shall see, Tocqueville himself critically rejects symbolic fraternalism, a familial term popular in modern republicanism, as any guarantee of healthy, mature citizenship. Moreover, while the familial foundations, in providing defined boundaries, do very much tend to stabilize democracy’s unpredictable elements and flux into conservative order, they also preordain a particular kind of politics rather than inviting that courageous, manly willingness to chart a course amid uncertainty. The chapter introduces an additional possibility: that in another moment, the gendered and familial foundations are inclined to transmogrify into incoherence. As such,this founding order with which Tocqueville attempts to frame and anchor democracy, in order to find a middling course between the abyss and tyranny, contains within its boundaries violent and immature sensibilities; is too rigid and thereby infantilizing, freezing social elements to predetermine political outcome; and may also be too inclined to expand beyond its own intended borders to be reliable as foundations. Tocqueville’s definition of maturation demands of humans a capacity to act well amid flux. He adds that to act well means to act with an eye not only to narrow self-interest: a critic of what he called “individualism,” he once chastised a friend for his his refusal to act beyond “individual interest” because it was not a “healthy” nor “virile repose.”3 Maturation thus means, for Tocqueville, reflectively seizing, in the face of uncertainty and fear, responsibility for oneself and for the human world (and the natural one, it would seem; see ch. 2). It is a quality that Tocqueville expected in himself, in his friends, and, to return to his guiding analogy between individuals and collective peoples, it is what nations and their citizens must achieve in order to be healthy and free. But in the wake of the collapse of the ancien régime’s hierarchical order, and amid the flux of emergent democracy,Tocqueville is uncertain whether French democracy will so mature. In Tocqueville’s text, both French democracy, in the aftermath of the Revolution, and U.S. democracy, well after emigration from England, continue to be affected by their aristocratic points of departure. The previous chapter explored how nineteenth-century French discourse configured French society as a symbolic orphan gripped by a crisis of identity;Tocqueville similarly characterizes emergent French democracy as a wayward youth.Tocqueville’s



American democracy, for its part, simultaneously experiences infancy, childhood, and adulthood—a mixed state that suggests adolescence.The present chapter thus considers the symbolic adolescence of democracy which, in Tocqueville’s writing, involves a strained quest for deep autonomy, the sort of struggle that psychoanalytic theorists associate with literal human adolescence. Erik Erikson describes adolescence as a period of “moratorium” during which the youth must integrate identity elements inscribed during infancy and childhood, resolving residual infantile struggles over issues of authority and autonomy. If this integration is successful, mature adult life ensues. However, Dorothy Dinnerstein argues that under conditions of female-dominated child care, wherein childhood becomes a primal battle for and against femaleness, this healthy integration is veritably impossible.Adolescence merely extends the earlier struggle with femaleness as the dominant source of authority and comfort, solidifying in the emergent adult a partially repressed, unresolved ambivalence toward femaleness as symbol of the infant world.4 Strikingly, in Democracy in America, almost all of the phenomena in relation to which Tocqueville’s democracies attempt to mature are symbolically female. In myriad ways, they perform as reverberations of democracy’s first battle with and yearning for maternal aristocracy. Tocqueville codes the transition from aristocracy to democracy as a familial one— as a primary struggle between a maternal point of origin and its offspring attempting to grow up. He tries to order the development of that (postaristocratic, and therefore motherless) symbolic offspring by pressing the familial drama into a particular format, into what proves a modern, conjugal family form.

ADOLESCENCE For Erik Erikson, the moratorium of adolescence involves “the integration of the identity elements” experienced and developed during childhood. Only “now a larger unit, vague in its outline and yet immediate in its demands, replaces the childhood milieu—‘society’.”5 Tocqueville’s own maturation process, in which he stepped beyond the confines of his family setting to recognize the grand transition changing the world, illustrates such a process. Indeed, Erikson observes that some “creative individuals” attempt to “resolve” the adolescent identity crisis for themselves “by offering to their contemporaries a new model of resolution such as that expressed in works of art or in original deeds.”6 Democracy in America is surely the work of one such creative individual, not only signifying a mature effort on Tocqueville’s part, but offering an account of individual maturation linked to the maturation of the broader society and culture. Sustaining his man-nation analogy throughout his text, Tocqueville deploys familial and human developmental imagery not only to describe, but to direct this societal development in democracy.



Himself marked by the transition from aristocracy to democracy about which he wrote, Tocqueville’s personal struggle to grow up during this historical moment sheds light on his textual account of democracy growing up.7 In his adolescence, realizing that the new world around him no longer shared his aristocratic family’s sensibilities,Tocqueville, like France, experienced an identity crisis.8 At fifteen, he left his family’s home in Paris to live with his father, then prefect in Metz. His father busy,Alexis spent extended periods of time in solitude, going through books in his father’s library that inspired him to question the assumptions and convictions of his aristocratic childhood.The consequence was an adolescent crisis of identity, his childhood experiences and beliefs clashing with the ideas he was discovering, his own mental and emotional identity crumbling. Mirroring the world-shattering transformation of aristocracy to democracy, this personal experience later served as a point of reference for Tocqueville. In an 1857 letter he wrote that this “incident in my youth . . . marked me deeply for the rest of my life”; he had “heaped pell-mell into my mind all sorts of notions and ideas which belong more properly to a more mature age. Until that time, my life had passed enveloped in a faith that hadn’t even allowed doubt to penetrate into my soul.Then doubt entered, or rather hurtled in with an incredible violence, not only doubt about one thing or another in particular, but an all-embracing doubt.” Like France as it rejected the certain hierarchical and religious structures of aristocracy, Tocqueville’s world shook as though in an “earthquake.” Feeling the distress stirred by the collapse of known social order into flux and perhaps even into the abyss, Tocqueville saw “the world of ideas revolving and I am lost and bewildered in this universal motion that upsets and shakes all the truths on which I base my beliefs and my actions.” He “was seized by the blackest melancholy . . . and was almost prostrated by agitation and terror.” But “strong passions drew me out of this state of despair; they turned me away from the sight of these intellectual ruins and led me toward tangible objects. But still, from time to time, these feelings experienced in my early youth (I was then sixteen) take possession of me again.”9 Understanding the difficult challenge of manliness—to face flux with courage and purpose—Tocqueville remained through his life self-conscious about his maturity.Though J.P. Mayer argues that “few men have been so conscious in early manhood of their own dispositions and their own life’s tasks,”10 Tocqueville once confided to childhood friend Louis de Kergorlay—a man Tocqueville once rescued from charges of treason through swift and decisive action—that he felt “dragged backward into the future,” marred by the regressive impulses he saw haunting the French.11 He once charged Beaumont with driving him to “despair when you speak of a great part for me. I know better than any one what I lack for a part of that kind—self-confidence,to begin with.”12



Mayer describes Tocqueville as a Hamlet, that archetypal young man whose final maturation is stalled by events he tragically fails to transcend:“The swift decisiveness in action which the practicing politician needs was checked in de Tocqueville by an unalterable inclination to contemplative analysis.”13 Erikson also imagines Hamlet in terms perhaps applicable to Tocqueville, but certainly to Tocqueville’s youthful democratic France:“feeling that he is a man of superior conscience, advanced beyond the legal concepts of his time, consumed by his own past and by that of his society.”14 The spectre of a Hamlet-like incapacity to act in the present with an eye to the future is what Tocqueville sees in his democratizing France, born as it is of an estrangement from and passionate obsession with the past. He fears that French democracy and its citizens will fail to act mindfully amid percolating flux, instead retreating from public action into narrow interests. So Tocqueville contemplates democracy as a developing subject, a symbolic growing youth constituted by a pool of potentialities, energies, and passions that may be channeled into maturity or misdirected into an unresolved adolescence. Similarly, in the governing discourses of his day, the child as symbol of France and society, though still a tabula rasa, had begun, by the mid-nineteenth century, to look like something more ominous.15 In literature, art, and social commentary, the hopeful sense of new beginnings, earlier associated with the Revolution of 1789, then with the Restoration, was being displaced by a new cynicism and ennui fueled by social dislocation. By this time, as Rosemary Lloyd articulates,“a wider range of emotions is attributed to the child, who is now more frequently presented from a dual perspective, where child’s-eye view and adult view intermingle,” the kind of half-child, half-adult perspective characteristic of the adolescent.16 The idea of “adolescence” in fact emerged during the eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries to signify a discrete period of transition from childhood to adulthood. By the time of Tocqueville’s visit to the United States, young people in its middle classes stayed in school longer and therefore typically remained in their parents’ household into their late teens and twenties. Parent-child intimacy increased as a result of these conceptual and structural shifts; parent-child conflict around questions of autonomy heightened for the same reasons.17 For similar reasons in France, nineteenth-century French literature portrayed adolescence as a period of acute tension between parents and their offspring, between old relations of dependency and new experiences of independence. However, despite the culture’s preoccupation around the time of the Revolution with paternal power as a symbol of the monarchy, especially common to stories of adolescent struggle are the psychic battles waged with mothers. Into the nineteenth century, the bourgeois ideal of woman as primarily and dotingly maternal, as the symbol of family and domestic life, became hegemonic; in literature, mothers often proved the primary



adversary for adolescents attempting to liberate themselves from domestic security to seize personal autonomy. For example, in Balzac’s “L’Enfant maudit,” the misdemeanors and sexual awakenings of youth pit the adolescent protagonist against his mother: “To see his mother approaching, to hear from afar the rustle of her dress, to wait for her, kiss her, speak to her, listen to her, caused him sensations that were so intense that often a delay or the slightest fear gave him a consuming fever.”18 Rousseau, not least of all through self-revelation, helped constitute for modernity adolescence as a turbulent time of desire and yearning for autonomy and comfort alike, both with and against mother figures.19 Notably, in such scenarios of the day, not only is the budding identity configured in relation to a female; the adolescent personhood at stake is male. In fact, in this period of history, female adolescence was rarely explored—a silence implying that, while males develop to come of age, females do not.20 (Modern Western culture still regularly assumes that a boy gains his manhood through character-based rites of passage and quests for selfhood, while girls naturally fall into womanhood by simple virtue of bodily changes.) As in these popular narratives, Democracy in America’s developing child-adolescent-democracy is also sexed male.This is also unsurprising given that, in the nineteenth century, only males were permitted suffrage. But rendering democracy male has significant implications for the meaning of Democracy in America’s familial drama. At this point, let Dinnerstein’s theory alert us: she argues that, when femaleness is exclusively associated with the first parent, it is forever bound up with infants’ first experiences in life, and therefore situated by growing children’s imaginations as some sort of extra- and sub-human, extra-temporal force. In cultures where females dominate child rearing, popular narratives of development are generally about maleness, since femaleness seems to involve no development. “He” is the subject that develops through time, while “she” is atemporal object, though a powerful one. George Sand is one exceptional nineteenth-century French writer who explored adolescence not only in relation to both sexes but also in terms of the meaning and constructedness of gender. In La Petite Fadette, she unsettles prevailing gender assumptions with twin boys whose similarities prove limited to body. Notably, it is the mother who assigns gender identities to these two brothers, composing one as “masculine,” according to stereotypes of the day, and the other as its “feminine” opposite.The mother reports:“My Landry is a real boy. All he asks is to live, to move, to work, and to keep changing places. But [Sylvinet] has the heart of a girl; he’s so tender and sweet you can’t help loving him like the apple of your eye.”While Landry is poised to begin a job that serves as apprenticeship to his manhood, Sylvinet seeks the shelter of his mother’s home; here manhood marks a break with the mother while femininity does not, even while it is the mother who assigns both identities.21 This



formulation illustrates Dinnerstein’s concern that female-dominated parenting produces femaleness as mothering (care of body and mind, intervention and intimacy) and marker of the household’s familial realm, and manliness as the supposedly opposite traits of autonomy and publicly oriented action. Democracy in America’s subtextual narrative is marked by the same modern, dichotomous gender formula, positing a symbolically male subject (democracy) as the agent that develops in relation and contrast to a symbolically maternal, fixed object (aristocracy). In Democracy in America it is boy-democracy’s maturation that is at stake, and it is primarily textually female forces in relation to which this maturation will or will not unfold.

MANLINESS OR INDIVIDUALISM? True to his man-nation analogy, the goal of maturation applies for Tocqueville to man and nation alike, such that “an American republic may grow as fast as a man, being born, waxing, and reaching maturity within thirty years” (D, 382). In Democracy in America, for democracy to grow up well, citizens must be educated in political liberty.This Tocqueville understands as “manly” participation in political association: the exercised capacity to act well with others amid diversity as well as commonalities. Now, given his familializing of democracy’s development, and his ties to modern French and American republicanism in which “fraternity” was code for healthy civic republicanism, one very well expects him to fraternalize relations of political association. In France, after all, fraternity was a cornerstone of the Revolution’s tripartite slogan, signifying, as Lynn Hunt notes,“political solidarities and the drawing of political and social boundaries within the community.”22 Still, the Revolution’s notion of civic fraternity gradually lost its luster, probably due to the conflict and violence of radical revolution and, eventually, the Terror.23 Tocqueville’s characterization of French democracy as an orphan certainly implies that postrevolutionary France was more characterized by detachment than brotherhood. But surely fraternity would therefore figure, in Tocqueville’s family narrative, as a healthy, transformative ideal wherein the urchin finds his siblings. Moreover, Tocqueville must have been touched by the American idea of brotherhood as logical sequel to the “sons’” revolutionary battle for independence against corrupt Mother England, and as a birthright bestowed upon citizens by American founding “fathers.”24 In the nineteenth-century United States, the emergent market economy both reproduced and undercut this fraternal story line, replacing the colonial mother-son relationship with the putative equality fostered by free trade, but also with the rivalry and competition of possessive individualism.25 Against the backdrop of these French and U.S. struggles with the idea of fraternalism, Tocqueville, for his part, scarcely deploys it, when characterizing civic ties.



In fact, he uses it most often in his disparaging, sarcastic descriptions of violent, greedy European American relations with Native Americans, and in his account of politico-cultural differences between Anglo-Americans of the North and South (see ch. 2). So if mature democracy’s citizens form not a brotherhood, but rather concitoyens, a fellowship of citizens, what is mature citizenship for Tocqueville? In the introduction to Democracy in America,Tocqueville characterizes associative self-rule as the republican backbone of a free democracy. In such a society, the aristocratic past is abandoned as “free associations of the citizens . . . take the place of the individual authority of the nobles, and the state [is] protected both from tyranny and license.” Rather than feeling blind passion for and against a “sacred” higher authority, such mature citizens regard government with a “calm and rational feeling” and thus treat “the law as their common work and . . . love it and submit to it without difficulty.”With “each man having some rights and being sure of the enjoyment of those rights,” there is “between all classes a manly confidence and a sort of reciprocal courtesy, as far removed from pride as servility.” Put another way, in keeping with Tocqueville’s understanding of manliness, such mature citizens “appreciate that in order to enjoy the benefits of society one must shoulder its obligations” (D, 14). But Tocqueville sees the chances for such democratic maturity troubled on many fronts. One central dilemma is the fact that democratic maturity requires acknowledgment of personal weakness. In democracy, aristocratic bonds are broken and powers relatively leveled so that most individuals are “independent and weak” and “none of them is in a position to force his fellows to help him” (D, 514).To guard effectively against the emergence of a despotic, centralized power, such citizens must combine with fellow inhabitants. But as Tocqueville ardently fears,“such a combination is not always forthcoming” under the psychic conditions produced by democracy (D, 57). In aristocracy, each person is embedded in a hierarchy of fixed stations in a chain-like class system:“there is always someone above him whose protection he needs and someone below him whose help he may require.” Moreover,“aristocratic institutions have the effect of linking each man closely with several of his fellows” so people feel numerous immediate connections, and “men have no need to unite for action, since they are firmly held together” (D, 507). But whereas “aristocracy links everybody, from peasant to king, in one long chain,” democracy “breaks the chain and frees each link” (D, 508). In democracy, the individual is released from inter- and intra-class bonds so that his interests “are limited to those near himself ” alone (D, 507).While freeing, this atomizing release produces a psychic emptiness that foments, as a substitute for the ties now lost, acute interest in private and materialist matters of the moment.This is “individualism,” as Tocqueville famously calls it. It is fed



by the fact that “as social equality spreads there are more and more people who though neither rich nor powerful enough to have much hold over others, have gained or kept enough wealth and enough understanding to look after their own needs,” and who therefore feel they “owe no man anything and hardly expect anything from anybody.”Though individually weak and in need of others for political efficacy, they misinterpret their weakness as strength. Instead of readily forming associations to ensure political liberty, they “form the habit of thinking of themselves in isolation and imagine that their whole destiny is in their own hands.”Tocqueville warns that in this mental state,“each man is forever thrown back on himself alone, and there is danger that he may be shut up in the solitude of his own heart” (D, 508).With “no common link to hold [citizens] firm,” vibrant citizenship becomes difficult to attain. This uniquely democratic problem “threatens to grow as conditions get more equal” (D, 507). In one optimistic moment,Tocqueville proclaims that “the Americans have used liberty to combat the individualism born of equality, and they have won” (D, 511). This he partly attributes to the fact that, unlike France, the United States is far from Europe’s aristocratic past. Free of the “implacable hatreds,”“passions,”“confusion,”“secret uneasiness,”“fear mixed with triumph,” and “hatreds originating in inequality” that penetrate all classes in post-1789 France,Americans “attained democracy without the sufferings of a democratic revolution,” thus,“were born equal instead of becoming so,” and could simply grow up with equality a given.26 But as Democracy in America reveals, while U.S. democracy may have charted a road away from the abyss of social chaos that could trouble France, so too may its development be stalled by other unhealthy democratic tendencies.

DEMOCRACY IN SCHOOL Though Tocqueville’s democratic citizens may not form a fraternity, they are male youth in need of schooling. In a letter to his brother Hippolyte,Tocqueville reiterates his man-nation analogy to argue that “nations, like private people, need to acquire an education before they know how to behave.”27 Accordingly, in Democracy in America,Tocqueville pays attention to the political education of U.S. males. For democracy to grow up well, it needs to be schooled in political liberty, that is, in associative self-rule.Tocqueville argues that when citizens gather as a public of concitoyens, they “feel the value of public goodwill and all try to win it by gaining the esteem and affection of those among whom they must live.” He deems this practice of association an “art” which must “develop and improve” among citizens “at the same speed as equality of conditions spreads” in order to counteract equality’s dangerous individualism (D, 517). He refers to England as “that rough school” where the emigrants who later founded



the United States learned well of “rights and principles of true liberty” (D, 33). As such, the “English who emigrated three centuries ago to found a democratic society in the wilds of the New World were already accustomed in their motherland [mère patrie] to take part in public affairs; they knew trial by jury; they had liberty of speech and freedom of the press, personal freedom, and the conception of rights and the practice of asserting them” (D, 674–75).This originary mother thus leaves a lasting mark on her American offspring as they sail across the Atlantic. But let us recall that, after arriving on the shores of America, the colonists are still gestated in the “cradle” of a new continent, nourished by nature; they mix with other peoples before being “born” as a great nation; in the village of Saginaw Tocqueville sees the peoples of America as an “embryo” that has yet to grow and develop into a clear entity; even though, simultaneously, in the towns of New England democracy is “manly” and thus mature. At once fetal, childlike and manly, England’s emigrants must still practice to achieve their political maturity, after they depart England with her political lessons in hand. In Tocqueville’s mind, the art of political liberty is learned through an apprenticeship in collective deliberation practiced in political, judicial, and civil associations. Local political associations are especially beneficial in that any citizen can participate and there best learn how to link public interest with selfinterest. He observes that “it is difficult to force a man out of himself and get him to take an interest” in matters affecting all of society, “for he has little understanding of the way in which the fate of the state can influence his own lot. But if it is a question of taking a road past his property, he sees at once that this small public matter has a bearing on his greatest private interests, and there is no need to point out to him the close connection between his private profit and the general interest” (D, 511). Any form of political association “draws a lot of people at the same time out of their own circle,” and “once they have met, they always know how to meet again” (D, 521). As such,“local liberties, which induce a great number of citizens to value the affection of their kindred and neighbors, bring men constantly into contact, despite the instincts which separate them, and force them to help one another” (D, 511). Local institutions, therefore,“are to liberty what primary schools are to science; they put it within the people’s reach; they teach people to appreciate its peaceful enjoyment and accustom them to make use of it,” and “one may think of political associations as great free schools to which all citizens come to be taught the general theory of association” (D, 522, 63). Local governance also helps ensure that the main body of citizens, regardless of individual opinions of particular laws,“show great confidence in their country’s legislation” both because “it is their work” and because “they can change it if by any chance it does injure them.”Thus educated in self-rule, citizens are transformed into self-possessed men or,



metaphorically, they escape rule from above to become their own parents, as they “feel a sort of paternal love” for the laws of their own making (D, 241). Newspapers enable active citizenry, linking people one to another to offset individualism, persuading “every man whose help is required that he serves his private interests by voluntarily uniting his efforts to those of all the others” (D, 517).The citizen-driven jury,“above all a political institution,” also “instill[s] some of the habits of the judicial mind into every citizen, and just those habits are the very best way of preparing people to be free.” Jury duty, which “puts the real control of affairs into the hands of the ruled, or some of them, rather than into those of the rulers,” teaches each individual “not to shirk responsibility for his own acts” and “without that manly characteristic no political virtue is possible.” As such, a jury “should be regarded as a free school which is always open.” In this school, each juror “learns his rights, comes into daily contact with the best-educated and most-enlightened members of the upper classes, and is given practical lessons in the law, lessons which the advocate’s efforts, the judge’s advice, and also the very passions of the litigants bring within his mental grasp”; it is “the most efficient way of teaching them how to rule” (D, 272, 274–76). Civil associations can also (though do not necessarily) educate mature citizenship. In the United States, “there are not only commercial and industrial associations in which all take part, but others of a thousand different types— religious, moral, serious, futile, very general and very limited, immensely large and very minute” (D, 513).Tocqueville reports that he has “often admired the extreme skill [Americans] show in proposing a common object for the exertions of very many and in inducing them voluntarily to pursue it” (D, 514). Such practice helps overcome the personal weakness and individualism all too characteristic of democratic life:“Thenceforth they are no longer isolated individuals, but a power conspicuous from the distance whose actions serve as an example; when it speaks, men listen” (D, 516). In the end, such “civil associations pave the way for political ones, but on the other hand, the art of political association singularly develops and improves this technique for civil purpose.” In political activity alone, no man can imagine himself wholly self-sufficient, each is pressed to associate to be efficacious, and “in this way politics spread a general habit and taste for association” (D, 521). Republican education is thus the core of democracy’s maturation, for Tocqueville. It instills a “manly,” public-oriented worldview and set of character traits and skills that favor political collectivity and struggle. He also believes, as suggested in his text’s first volume, that the habit of association is reasonably well entrenched in the United States because of the lessons from England. But he remains sober, warning that education is necessary anew for each generation:“unless each citizen learned to combine with his fellows to preserve his



freedom at a time when he individually is becoming weaker and so less able in isolation to defend it, tyranny would be bound to increase with equality” (D,513).Moreover,Tocqueville’s account of political liberty is marked by a conundrum: “As soon as common affairs are treated in common, each man notices that he is not as independent of his fellows as he used to suppose and that to get their help he must often offer his aid to them.” But at least some “affairs” must first be “treated in common” for the learning process to begin, requiring a spontaneous leap out of the individual isolationism so instinctive in democratic times.Tocqueville “admit[s] that it is difficult to suggest a sure method of awakening a slumbering people so as to supply the passions and enlightenment they lack; to persuade people to take an interest in their own affairs is, I know well, an arduous enterprise” (D, 91). And alongside individualism, additional democratic conditions can counteract political association as a hallmark of democracy growing up.

PASSION FOR EQUALITY’S CHARMS Also complicating the democratic citizen’s maturation is democracy’s leading passion, what Tocqueville calls the “passion for the idea of equality.”“On close inspection,” he writes,“one finds in every age some peculiar and predominating element which controls all the rest.This element almost always engenders some seminal thought or ruling passion which in the end drags all other feelings and ideas along in its course.” In democratic times, this element is “equality of conditions,” and the “chief passion which stirs men at such times is the love of this same equality” (D, 504). In the United States, democratic laws of inheritance that supplant Europe’s right of primogeniture promote equalization. In France, such laws strike “at the root of landed estates” and break up “both families and fortunes,” so “it is certainly not for us, Frenchmen of the nineteenth century, who are daily witness of the political and social changes caused by the law of inheritance, to doubt its power.”28 The French and Americans, once having tasted the increased equality of conditions, exhibit a strong passion for the idea of equality so that “the first and liveliest of the passions inspired by equality is, I need not say, love of that equality itself ” (D, 503). Tocqueville admits personifying equality as an agent—a “living being” that “did certain things or abstained from others” (D, 481).What this leading sentiment and force does, as an agent in Democracy in America, is either encourage democracy’s maturation or hinder it, by either heightening citizens’ manliness or undermining it.Tocqueville explains that democracy can inspire in citizens a healthy love for equality that stirs mature interest in mutual recognition and active, collective self-rule. But love for the notion of equality can also produce a jealous, myopic urge to ensure that no one has more status or



wealth than oneself. This mindset proves a tyrannical one, craving sameness and despising excellence to produce the mindless, oppressive, social mediocrity identified by Tocqueville and later elucidated by John Stuart Mill. Here, the idea of equality gains unhealthy power over individuals by stroking their egos, telling them that no one is their superior.As Tocqueville puts it, the idea of equality “daily gives each man in the crowd a host of small enjoyments,” offering recognition to this weak individual, when he is merely another body in a mass society. What appeals to democracy’s inhabitants is precisely that “the charms of equality are felt the whole time and are within the reach of all”; it “offers its pleasures free” and “to taste them one needs but to live.” Hence the “passion engendered” by this seductive presence, whose enticement is that its rewards are “both strong and general”; and in this, it is a force “ardent, insatiable, eternal, and invincible” (D, 505).The idea of equality performs in Democracy in America as a female actor whose wiles can embolden, but also threaten to consume, male democracy and its male citizens. In part, this sexualized, gendered signification of equality echoes the iconography of equality that was popular during France’s revolutionary period, as a female that supports the people, themselves represented as Hercules, a super-virile male.29 But this historical imagery configures equality as sister to, not seducer of, the people. In Democracy in America’s subtextual narrative, in contrast, the idea of equality replaces maternal aristocracy and its principle of hierarchy, constantly reminding democracy’s citizens that they are big men. Dinnerstein would suggest, however, that therein, so too is equality partly like maternal aristocracy, promising security and offering comfort. As the aftermath to hierarchical aristocracy, equality is, in effect, the adult female lover that Dinnerstein sees functioning as mother-substitute for unresolved, female-raised adult men. Dinnerstein’s men, like Tocqueville’s male citizens, hold onto the rejected maternal past (aristocracy) by replacing her with a female lover (equality), an improvement for the fact that she does not treat them as her powerless subordinates, instead making them feel powerful. Tocqueville observes that, on the one hand,“There is indeed a manly and legitimate passion for equality which rouses in all men a desire to be strong and respected.This passion tends to elevate the little man to the rank of the great,” inspiring a mature civic stance. But on the other hand, “the human heart also nourishes a debased taste for equality, which leads the weak to want to drag the strong down to their level and which induces men to prefer equality in servitude to inequality in freedom” (D, 571).Tocqueville fears that once captured by what he calls the “charms” of equality, democratic citizens “want equality in freedom, and if they cannot have that, they still want equality in slavery.They will put up with poverty, servitude, and barbarism, but they will not endure aristocracy” (D, 506).The idea of equality assures these inhabitants that



they are no longer under aristocracy’s oppressive hand, but in so doing, it may inspire arrogance, laziness, and shortsightedness, disregarding the deep challenges of freedom.“It is not that peoples with a democratic social state naturally scorn freedom; on the contrary, they have an instinctive taste for it. But freedom is not the chief and continual object of their desires; it is equality for which they feel an eternal love; . . . nothing will satisfy them without equality, and they would rather die than lose it”(D,57).In its healthy moment,the idea of equality is democracy’s central claim against aristocracy and the one that should facilitate its maturation. But this same ideological commitment to the idea of equality can distract democracy’s inhabitants from so growing up, preoccupying them with the envy that works to ensure that no one among them has more—more power, money,prestige,anything—than they.In this dangerous moment,the idea of equality, as symbolically female replacement for maternal aristocracy, serves repressed desires for a reassuring authority that will give them what they want.As we shall see in subsequent chapters,Tocqueville fears that equality hereby paves the way for new forms of authoritarianism and tutelary power. He warns that while “freedom cannot be established without” the passion for equality, “despotism itself cannot reign without its support” (D, 506). In fact, it seems that in democracy, the passion for the idea of equality produces oppressive results more easily than liberating ones.Tocqueville remarks that “only perceptive and clearsighted men” not dazzled by equality’s “singular charm” are able to “see the dangers with which equality threatens us,” but even “they generally avoid pointing them out.They see that the troubles they fear are distant and console themselves that they will fall on only future generations, for which the present generation hardly cares” (D, 504–5).The ills the love of equality produces “gradually insinuate themselves into the body social” and “when they do become most excessive, habit has already made them pass unfelt.”While the passion for equality is the distinctive sensibility produced by democracy, political liberty is a secondary, less bold, more elusive force that is a mere potentiality in democracy. For Tocqueville, this is because political liberty poses more psychic challenges and offers fewer immediate rewards than equality; in the face of equality’s universal promises, the advantages of allegiance to liberty are easily eclipsed.As such, equality and liberty in democracy are “two unequal elements,” and “it has been said a hundred times that our contemporaries love equality much more ardently and tenaciously than liberty” (D, 504, 503). These descriptions of liberty are both like and unlike French Revolutionary artistic renderings. In these historical depictions, liberty is a fragile female released by revolution and protective citizen-brothers from dangers of royal rape and tyranny.That is, as Hunt notes, in the iconography of the radical phase of the French Revolution, not only equality but also liberty were configured as sisters to the giant Hercules-as-demos, and were therefore, always



in tandem, neither wives nor mothers to him.30 Meanwhile, in U.S. history, Lady Liberty is adopted, apparently as a republican substitute for that treacherous Mother England (see ch. 2).Tocqueville, for his part, treats equality and liberty as neither wives, mothers nor sisters to the people; rather, in his text they are sexualized single females, the bold one of which easily seduces citizens, while citizens have a hard time catching the timid other. Unlike equality, with her “singular charm,” political liberty “is easily lost; neglect to hold it fast, and it is gone.” It only “occasionally gives sublime pleasure to a few,” and it requires “sacrifice” and “great effort” (D, 504, 505). Likewise in The Ancien Régime, liberty is “inexperienced, ill regulated, easily discouraged, easily frightened away, easily overcome, superficial, and evanescent.”31 In the gendered narrative that Tocqueville constructs to direct democracy toward maturity, democracy is cautioned against sexual irresponsibility: it is dangerous that equality boldly gives her pleasures for “free,” while the more elusive liberty requires citizens to be educated and mindful of responsibilities—to be mature. Still, there is something incoherent about his heterosexual, dichotomous gender framework in its commentary on equality and liberty. First, while Tocqueville predominantly configures liberty as a timid female figure to be sexually wooed by (symbolically male) democracy, he also twice refers to the “technique of association”—that art that is the hallmark of political liberty— as la science mère. Now a maternal force, liberty is hardly timid, but rather shapes “all other forms of knowledge” and “every other technique” (D, 517, 522). It is precisely this sort of transmogrification of gendered and familial imagery that marks Democracy in America’s familial foundations as unstable. In the text, femaleness in particular, as the identity associated with the many-faced aristocratic point of departure, is multiplicitous and therefore often unstable, complicating the apparently rigid boundaries of the symbolic narrative. Such multiplicity around the idea of femaleness is what Dinnerstein theorizes as the consequence of exclusive female child rearing.That early mother is experienced as ambiguous and many-edged, and when she is discovered to be female, the idea of femaleness takes on unwieldy proportions, such that actual females are seen to be in need of containment. In Democracy in America, as we shall see shortly, a parallel strategy of female containment is central to the logic of the text’s familial foundations. There is a second issue posed by Tocqueville’s gendering of equality and liberty. Democracy’s governing passion for the idea of equality can take one of two different forms:“rights must be given either to every citizen or to nobody,” thereby leading to either “the sovereignty of all” or “the absolute power of one man” (D, 56, 57). If rights are universal and acted upon such that sovereignty is shared, political liberty is simultaneously embraced. In this state of political maturity, however, the text’s heterosexual narrative fails to contain itself:



democracy achieves health by way of a ménage a trois (male citizenry, female equality, female liberty), not a dichotomous complement. Alternatively, if inhabitants are equally disenfranchised so that power rests exclusively with the state, liberty is abandoned wholly in favor of equality. Politically, this is disastrous, though the heterosexual gender grid (female equality: male citizenry) is intact. Under the sway of such a debased passion for equality, “no man is obliged to put his powers at the disposal of another, and no one has any claim of right to substantial support from his fellow man, each is both independent and weak.” Generally, such an unmanly individual is “full of confidence and pride in his independence among equals, but from time to time his weakness makes him feel the need for some outside help which he cannot expect from any of his fellows, for they are both impotent and cold” (D, 672). Individualism thus proves “the first and most striking feature of the political effects of equality” (D, 667).Apparently, it is very dangerous for female equality to have a strong and exclusive hold over democracy’s male citizenry; the text’s symbolic familial framework thus seems to demand a particular kind of heterosexuality. Nineteenth-century conjugal family and marital norms certainly demanded that final authority rest with the male of the couple. In Democracy in America, when seductive, symbolically female equality exercises too exclusive an influence over male citizens, it is treated as a mark of pathology—more specifically, as a loss of manliness; Tocqueville describes such citizens as “impotent [impuissants].” But what of the ménage a trois formed by democracy, equality, and liberty—that arrangement that signifies democratic maturity? On the one hand, this constellation of imagery suggests that the text’s conjugal family foundations cannot adequately convey the requirements for healthy, mature democracy. But, on the other hand, as we shall see in chapter 6,Tocqueville makes note of the fact that in U.S. democracy’s marital arrangements, while wives cannot have sexual liaisons with other men without endangering social stability, husbands are free to dally:“Americans think nothing more precious than a woman’s honor,” but a man’s infidelity does “not break up families” (D, 593). In parallel, the text’s symbolic conjugal family order marks as a requirement for mature democracy the combination of husband (the virile, textually male citizenry), wife (the virtuous, textually female liberty) and mistress (the seductive, textually female equality). Americans,Tocqueville observes, adopt the idea of equality as central to their postaristocratic identity, but with less fervor than do the French. In lateeighteenth-century France, passion for the idea of equality was “the deepest and most solidly rooted” idea, as well as “violent, unquenchable,” because it “took its rise and grew in the face of marked inequalities.”32 Then,“when the old social hierarchy, long menaced, finally collapses after a severe internal struggle and the barriers of rank are at length thrown down,” the French exhibit a passion for



equality that “turns to delirium.”33 In throwing off the weight of this authority, the French, like adolescents venturing from home,“pounce on equality as their booty and cling to it as a precious treasure they fear to have snatched away. The passion for equality seeps into every corner of the human heart, expands, and fills the whole.”While U.S. democracy is susceptible to such energies, the fact that it grew up far from maternal England dampens them. In France, in contrast, the desperation with which the idea of equality is seized betrays the culture’s unresolved passions for the Old Regime.“[I]t is no use telling” these men that “by this blind surrender to an exclusive passion they are compromising their dearest interests; they are deaf. It is no use pointing out that freedom is slipping from their grasp while they look the other way; they are blind, or rather they can see but one thing to covet in the whole world” (D, 505). Tocqueville’s French democracy is particularly inclined to seize violently the idea of equality as substitute for maternal aristocracy, not to resolve the past, not as a vital resource for the attainment of liberty, but in shortsighted reaction against aristocracy.And this is not all that troubles France’s maturation.

R E L I G I O N, M O R E S, M O R A L I T Y: F E M A L E B U LW A R K F O R M AT U R I T Y While focusing on education in association as the means to mature democracy,Tocqueville argues that it is not sufficient. “If you give democratic peoples education and freedom and leave them alone, they will easily extract from this world all the good things it has to offer. . . . But . . . there is a danger that in the end [a man] may lose the use of his sublimest faculties and that, bent on improving everything around him, he may at length degrade himself ” (D, 543). In Democracy in America, religious mores and morality emerge as an additional force that aids democracy in its attempts to grow up and away from aristocracy’s dependencies. In his genealogy of the Anglo-Americans, Tocqueville reports that they have to date escaped social chaos and despotism because “circumstances, origin, education, and above all mores allowed them to establish and maintain the sovereignty of the people” (D, 57, emphasis added).The terms mâle and viril, as Tocqueville’s expressions for maturity, suggest that some form of masculinity must be attained to defeat aristocracy’s (female) tyranny; moreover, it is a male citizen-subject that is stirred by the enticements of female equality and supported by female liberty. As Machiavelli’s virtù (in translation, manliness) grounded his republicanism, perhaps so too does some notion of masculinity ground Tocqueville’s. However,Tocqueville’s conception of democratic maturity achieved includes traits and phenomena configured in the text as female;“manliness” ultimately emerges as an acquired stance that obliterates not femaleness but immaturity.34 In Democracy in America, while it is (textually



female) aristocracy that is left behind, a truly mature (textually male) democracy must combine a passion for (textually female) equality with an education in association (among male citizens), in order to capture that elusive (textually female) figure, liberty. Moreover, the dangerous (female) enticements of the passion for the idea of equality must, according to Tocqueville, be checked by the stabilizing effects of religiously inspired mores and morality. In the text, these latter conservative social forces surface as yet another face of the text’s multiplicitous, postmaternal, symbolic feminine. More specifically, religion, mores, and morality are constituted as sober wifely and maternal authorities that buffer the powers of tantalizing equality to foster social stability and favor political liberty.35 Democratic maturity is reinforced as requiring marriage between symbolically male and female elements. In this moment, the wife/mother (religion, mores, morality) ensures that the tantalizing mistress (equality) does not gain too much influence over (male) democracy and its citizenry. Tocqueville understands Christian thought to recognize people as equal, and to render the idea of equality harmonious with political liberty.36 But he is concerned that the Church, even in the emerging democratic societies, does not acknowledge the egalitarian political implications of its own moral teachings.37 In an 1856 letter, he suggests that “there are, it seems to me, two distinct parts to morality, each of which is as important as the other in the eyes of God, but which, in our days, His ministers teach us with a very unequal ardor.”The first of these two parts relates to “private life: these are the relative duties of people as fathers, as sons, as wives or husbands.”38 The second concerns “public life: these are the duties that every citizen has toward his country and the human society to which he belongs.”Tocqueville argues that in democracy, however, the clergy emphasizes the first part of morality to the exclusion of the second, producing an unhealthy democratic version of religion, focused on private interests. He claims that this form of Christianity is “especially apparent in the way in which women feel and think” because “a great number of them,” while “very faithful wives [and] excellent mothers,”“do not seem to have the least idea” about public duties.“Not only do they not practice them for themselves, which is natural enough, but they do not seem even to have any thought of inculcating them in those on whom they have influence.That is an aspect of education that is as if it were invisible to them.” Here Tocqueville clarifies that women’s lack of interest in public matters is peculiar to democratic times: he says that “it was not like this under the Old Regime, which, amidst many vices, included proud and manly virtues,” suggesting that under aristocracy women either facilitated manliness or were themselves marked by it. Either way, for Tocqueville, aristocratic expressions of religion better inculcated a combination of personal and political virtues, and democracy, in order to mature, must integrate this lesson from aristocracy.



In fact, in the letter’s conclusion, he associates aristocracy and morality alike with a maternalism that produces manliness: “I have often heard it said that my grandmother, who was a very saintly woman, after having recommended to her young son the exercise of all the duties of private life, did not fail to add: ‘And then, my child, never forget that a man above all owes himself to his homeland . . . and that God demands of him that he always be ready to consecrate, if need be, his time, his fortune, and even his life to the service of the state and the king.”39 So the kind of religion that fosters concern for political life is both a relic of aristocratic Europe and an essential component of mature democracy. It wards off democracy’s inclination for self-absorbed individualism by fostering a sense of shared responsibility and, even where the religion is considered merely “useful” rather than “true,” its beliefs exert a “sway over mores,”“over laws,” and “even over reason” to help “regulate the state” (D, 547, 291, 292, 299). But the French, living amidst the ruins of aristocracy, are keen to reject all remnants of aristocratic discipline and order; and because of the Catholic Church’s deep roots in the past, the French associate it with old Europe.40 (Tocqueville himself exemplifies this urge, having abandoned his family’s Catholicism, though not Christianity, during his adolescent crisis.)41 Tocqueville worries about postaristocratic France’s “absence of beliefs,” appealing to French republicans who “sincerely wish to prepare mankind for liberty” but fail to see that “despotism may be able to do without faith, but freedom cannot.” Especially in democracy, because it engenders general flux, it is of “immense importance to men to have fixed ideas about God, their souls, and their duties toward their Creator and their fellows”; without them, “doubt about these first principles” leaves “actions to chance” and condemns otherwise potentially “manly” men to “anarchy and impotence” (D, 299, 443). In democracy people tend to be “worried and worn out by the constant restlessness of everything.With everything on the move in the realm of the mind,” they crave stability and, without religion, become more likely to “hand themselves over to a master.” Democratic flux ensures the need for a spiritual anchor; if democracy’s individual “has no faith he must obey, and if he is free he must believe” (D, 444).Alternatively, irreligious democratic peoples ardently chase material wealth as a putative substitute for the solidity and security once enjoyed in aristocracy. But the democratic turn to material satisfaction preoccupies individuals with narrow personal desire at the cost of republican association and thoughtful deliberation about public matters.42 As such, “religion is much more needed in the republic they advocate than in the monarchy they attack, and in democratic republics most of all. How could society escape destruction if,when political ties are relaxed,moral ties are not tightened?”43 In Tocqueville’s U.S. democracy, in contrast, religion is well entrenched. He observes that women there are the guardians of religion because it “reigns



supreme in the souls of women.” So even while “there religion is often powerless to restrain men in the midst of innumerable temptations which fortune offers,” democracy’s characteristic social and cultural flux and materialist love of physical comfort is offset by the “severity of mores,” guarded by women (D, 291, see 308). It defends society against the chaos and excessive democratic energies that trouble Democracy in America’s first volume, but also against the individualism that haunts the second. Tocqueville therefore appreciates the religious and moral conservatism U.S. democracy has crafted for itself. He suggests that, with hierarchical Europe an ocean away and formal political independence firmly won, Americans were not shy to entrench an alternative conservative social order; in fact, they “show that they feel the urgent necessity to instill morality into democracy by means of religion” (D, 542). Happily, he argues, Protestantism, the Americans’ dominant faith, does not evoke memories of aristocratic Europe because its European roots are too recent, and its egalitarian impulse lends it a contemporary feel. So in America it readily performs its “main business,” which is “to purify, control, and restrain that excessive and exclusive taste for well-being which men acquire in times of equality” (D, 448). On Sundays,“trade and industry seem suspended throughout the nation” as “every citizen, accompanied by his children, goes to a church; there he listens to strange language apparently hardly suited to his ear. He is told of the countless evils brought on by pride and covetousness” so that he is momentarily “free from the petty passions that trouble his life and the passing interests that fill it” (D, 542). Religion hereby “places the object of man’s desires outside and beyond worldly goods” and “imposes on each man some obligations toward mankind,” drawing “him away, from time to time, from thinking about himself ” (D, 444–45). In assigning the enforcement of religion, morality, and mores to females, Tocqueville begins to feminize this sober, responsible authority. In this, he is precisely in tune with his historical context: the rise of the middle-class conjugal household meant females being prescribed the role of domestic moral caretakers. In France, before the Revolution, Rousseau already assigned females to the home as maternal inculcators of civic values and healthy morality; later, as Jules Michelet, a nineteenth-century historian of the French Revolution, claimed,“the Revolution . . . did not hesitate in confiding its most sacred functions to woman, who, as the solace of the heart, the soul of the family, the perpetuator of mankind, was herself the living altar”;44 and, as centerpiece to the nineteenth-century conjugal family ideal, woman was culturally instituted as keeper of the domestic haven in a flux-ridden new world, in part because, as Robert Tombs remarks, in the nineteenth century,“In an age of male secularism . . . the religious sensibility of women was seen as a last bastion of Christianity and the best way of passing Christian values to future generations.”45 At this



junction of the text, then, where females are assigned the domestic role of moral guide, Democracy in America’s symbolic family drama is confirmed as a modern conjugal one. When Tocqueville discusses religion and democratic politics in New England, where, in his mind, democracy is its most mature, Democracy in America’s symbolic family drama clearly shows its bourgeois, conjugal face. In this discussion, religion is described as a buffer against another of democracy’s energies: the turmoil of democratic politics itself.With New England’s (male) democratic politics taken as an essential element of mature democracy, religion is configured as its consort,softening its tumultuous effects on society.Mirroring precisely nineteenth-century ideals of manhood, womanhood, and marriage,Tocqueville posits politics as a men’s sphere of “intellectual” activities,“independence,” and “contest,” and religion as its “passive,” “voluntary,” “obedient,” opposite. Acutely reflecting the emergent French and U.S. middle-class family ideal, the textually female realm of religion has a limited purview wholly separate from politics but, thus contained,is one that usefully moderates the rigor of the male political realm.46 Together,Tocqueville suggests, religion and democratic politics hereby form a harmonious (read: heterosexual marital) complement: In the moral world, everything is classified, coordinated, foreseen, and decided in advance. In the world of politics everything is in turmoil, contested, and uncertain. In the one case obedience is passive, though voluntary; in the other there is independence, contempt of experience, and jealousy of all authority. Far from harming each other, these two apparently opposed tendencies work in harmony and seem to lend mutual support. Religion regards civil liberty as a noble exercise of men’s faculties, the world of politics being a sphere intended by the Creator for the free play of intelligence. Religion, being free and powerful within its own sphere and content with the position reserved for it, realizes that its sway is all the better established because it relies only on its own powers and rules men’s hearts without external support (D, 47, emphasis added).

Tocqueville reinforces this dichotomous treatment of politics and religion elsewhere, writing that “agitation and instability are natural elements in democratic republics” due to “the struggle of parties” and because elected officials are continually changing.“Religion,” placed beyond the reach of democracy’s political “innovators,” is therefore an essential stabilizing presence (D, 298). Where the world of politics in democracy is “given over to argument and experiment,” the sober influence of religion leaves matters of morality “certain and fixed” (D, 292). In New England,“where education and liberty spring from morality and religion,” people “are accustomed to respect intellectual



moral superiority and to submit thereto without displeasure; and so we find New England democracy making choices better than those made elsewhere.”47 In this mature democracy, one finds order rather than license because religion not only forbids people from acting upon dangerous ideas, but even prevents the “imagining” of them. Religion confronts the “unlimited field” that the “human spirit” is granted by democracy, instructing that spirit to use its liberty soberly to prevent a descent into chaos, both inner and social (D, 292). Religion, in other words, is the strong woman behind the man. But religion performs not only as symbolic wife to democratic politics, but also as something like mature democracy’s mother, since religion is “the cradle [berceau] of [freedom’s] infancy, and the divine source of its rights” (D, 47).While religion initially brought the Puritans’ persecution, fomenting their desire to leave England, it then provided the “foundations of ancient beliefs” upon which the colonial societies could be built. England may be lost, but,Tocqueville’s colonists can tell themselves,“it was religion that gave birth [qui a donné naissance] to the English colonies in America.”48 Indeed, in being so intimately involved with male democracy’s actions and attitudes, surely religion is more than “passive” wife.And where mother is rolled into wife, Dinnerstein’s framework suggests, there lurks an unresolved past. Reflecting prevailing attitudes toward female power,Tocqueville is clear that religion is both essential to mature democracy and, simultaneously, must not be granted too much sway. He rightly warns that religion, when “intimately linked” with governments, comes to dominate “men’s souls both by terror and by faith.” If religion infiltrates the realm of government, it will gain “a power to which it has no claim, it risks its legitimate authority.”49 On the terrain of imagery, this argument is bound up in the text’s symbolic family drama. Precisely like the domesticated, politically excluded wife found in the idealized modern conjugal family, religion is to keep to its own private sphere, away from politics. Tocqueville says that “religions should be most careful to confine themselves to their proper sphere, for if they wish to extend their power beyond spiritual matters they run the risk of not being believed at all.” He admonishes this symbolically female force not to smother the symbolically male realms of life—to leave beyond its legitimate sphere of influence the “human spirit . . .to follow its own devices” (D, 445).Also feminizing religious leaders as threats to manly politics,Tocqueville says he”would rather shut priests up within their sanctuaries than allow them to leave them” (D, 546). But something more seems to be at stake in this argument. In this symbolic family drama, religiosity and moral codes also signify continuity with the maternal aristocratic past.50 Tocqueville wonders, with others in France,“how religion can be given back some remnant of its former power” there (D, 299, emphasis added). As Dinnerstein would expect, in Democracy in America, by



virtue of signaling a social force reminiscent of the aristocratic past, religion invokes that past. In the subtextual narrative then,Tocqueville works to retrieve, for France, and to maintain, in the U.S., religious and moral remnants of maternal aristocracy, to moderate democracy’s flux; he also works to contain and limit these familiar old maternal controls over democracy’s men. He insists that religion be retrieved but also contained within its own discrete sphere distinct from the male turf of politics, and the danger to be offset is clearly to citizens’ sovereignty, to their manliness. If religion exerts too much control, democracy and its citizens will rebel against that female power as illegitimate, after which their “souls would . . . plunge headlong into the delights of purely material and immediate satisfactions.” It is better that wifely/maternal religion respect the adult autonomy of aristocracy’s offspring and merely “induce them to use only honest means to enrich themselves” (D, 448).Tocqueville says that in the United States, religion has “defined its own limits.” But its influence is not to be understated, as it is “mingled with all the national customs and all those feelings which the word fatherland [patrie] evokes.”51 In other words, U.S. democracy, though rejecting its mère patrie, remains dependent upon maternal forces that sustain not only citizen manliness but the republic as father.Thus surrounded by parental figures, one wonders, has Tocqueville’s U.S. democracy grown up?

D E M O C R AT I C M AT U R I T Y ? In relation to the theme of democracy’s maturation, this chapter has begun to uncover three broad aspects at play in the gendered and familial narrative of Democracy in America. First,Tocqueville helps us imagine democratic maturity as the integration of aristocratic (read: female, maternal) and democratic (read: male, youthful) elements. Erikson’s and Dinnerstein’s work helps us theorize this dimension of Democracy in America as a positive contribution to an understanding of human maturity in democracy. Erikson says that society is either sustained or transformed by adolescence; it is a “vital regenerator in the process of social evolution, for youth can offer its loyalties and energies both to the conservation of that which continues to feel true and to the revolutionary correction of that which has lost its regenerative significance.”52 This period in a human’s development is therefore tumultuous, as the period when passion about familiar forms of authority needs to be confronted, and transformation contemplated.Tocqueville’s U.S. democracy is a metaphorical adolescent engaged in a process of rejecting old hierarchical authority. But sober religion is “the most precious heritage from aristocratic times,”Tocqueville says, and political liberty, while elusive in democracy, has been known under aristocracy (D, 544). Democracy in America thus indicates that maturity comes to this symbolically adolescent society and culture only when virtuous forces known in aristocracy—



political liberty and public-minded religion and morality—are integrated into the developing democratic psyche. That is, they must not be “split off,” as Dinnerstein would put it, as remnants of hated maternal aristocracy that still haunt the imagination. Similar to Erikson, Dinnerstein argues that if experiences and identity elements of the past are repressed rather than consciously confronted so that healthy elements can be integrated, the repressed will return to haunt the present, leaving it frozen in immaturity. Erikson confirms that “in their search for a new sense of continuity and sameness . . . some adolescents have to come to grips again with crises of earlier years before they can install lasting idols and ideals as guardians of a final identity.”53 Roger Boesche remarks that, “without question, Tocqueville looked to French aristocratic culture to foster a higher sort of personal freedom, often important to political freedom . . . while curbing desires for wealth and pleasure.”54 In so seeking to integrate the past into the present, to facilitate democratic maturity,Tocqueville does not roundly glorify aristocracy. In his mind, aristocratic association too often constituted an “irregular and intermittent kind of liberty, bound up with the class system and notions of privileges and exemptions—a sort of liberty which encouraged rebellion against law as well as against oppression, and always left a portion of the people destitute of the most natural and obvious safeguards.”55 Still, an aristocratic body “does not easily yield to the intoxication of thoughtless passions; the nobility of the past possessed “a high-mindedness, a self-reliance, a sense of responsibility, which rendered it the most solid portion of the social frame.Virile itself, it imparted virility to the other classes of society.”56 In Democracy in America,Tocqueville warns against “how we despise our ancestors,” and aims to fold aristocratic political virility into egalitarian democracy (D, 517). If this goal is fulfilled,“associations of plain citizens” form democratic versions of the once “very rich, influential, and powerful bodies, in other words, aristocratic bodies.” In this way, “many of the greatest political advantages of an aristocracy could be obtained without its injustices and dangers” (D, 697). Tocqueville reports that such a healthy combination of factors was briefly realized in France. He writes that in the early moment of the Revolution, the passion for equality and the passion for political liberty “were equally sincere, and apparently equally active; they met at the opening of the Revolution, and, blending together into one, they took fire from contact,” producing a “period of generosity, of enthusiasm, of manliness, of greatness—a period of immortal memory, upon which men will look back with admiration and respect.”57 Still, the past proved an incomplete education for the present: revolutionaries failed to “overthrow despotism,” failing to replace it “by the peaceful and free government of law.”58 The problem may be evident in the fact that, as Tocqueville points out, the French posited those first revolutionaries as their “fathers [nos



pères] of 1789.”59 In historical French revolutionary discourse, with the death of the paternalized king, the language of paternalism was generally rejected in favor of fraternité. But Tocqueville applies the fatherhood metaphor to revolutionaries themselves, which indicates, in the context of his text’s familial drama, that these leaders did not signify resolution with the past. Dinnerstein argues that when infants start life with a female parent, the father later serves as an alternative authority to the mother; though he may be a despot, his rule is still preferred. In fact,Tocqueville similarly laments that in relation to the Revolution, “so many Frenchmen . . . have abandoned their second object and fallen back on their first, declaring that there is, after all, a certain pleasure in enjoying equality under a master.” In France,“what seemed to be love for liberty turns out to be mere hatred of a [former] despot.”60 Childishly,“revolutionary hatred was directed indiscriminately against all that had gone before, both the absolute power and those elements which could temper its rigors” (D, 97).As such, the Revolution “was to ruin simultaneously the worst features of the old regime and its redeeming traits,”“the vigorous generation which began the Revolution perished or became enervated” and, as “the bewildered nation began to grope around for a master, immense facilities were offered for the restoration of absolute government.”61 For true freedom, Tocqueville’s language suggests, democracy’s inhabitants cannot simply replace the maternal past with a new paternal present: his work here captures the dangers about which Dinnerstein warns us. In Democracy in America, the more established U.S. democracy has better approximated democratic maturity to date than French democracy, which is suspicious of Catholicism, and more tantalized by the idea of equality at the expense of political liberty. In contrast,Tocqueville’s Anglo-Americans enjoy their distance from Europe, readily accepting England’s lessons in political liberty, since they do not chafe the new republic’s sense of autonomy.Accidents of history also aid the separation from Europe: the Anglo-American religious foundation was not part of English aristocracy’s hierarchical structure and, as such, “the Revolution in the United States was caused by a mature and thoughtful taste for freedom. . . . No disorderly passions drove it on; on the contrary, it proceeded hand in hand with a love of order and legality” (D, 72). In the U.S., the “lawgivers of the Union . . . had all grown up at a time of social crisis, when the spirit of liberty had been in constant conflict with a strong and dominating authority.” However, even here,“when the struggle was over, . . . the passions aroused in the crowd were still directed against dangers which had long ceased to exist.” Fortunately, the Union’s early leaders “looked at their country [leur patrie] more calmly and with greater penetration; they were aware that a final revolution had been accomplished and that henceforth the perils threatening the people could only spring from abuses of liberty.”62



Moreover,“when the inadequacy of the first federal Constitution was first felt, that outburst of political passions which gave birth to the Revolution had somewhat calmed down, but all the great men then thrown to the front were still alive. . . . The assembly responsible for drafting the second Constitution . . . included the men of greatest intelligence and noblest character ever to have appeared in the New World.”After their “mature deliberation,” the new document was universally accepted (D, 114).As such, the “same republican spirit” evident in colonies like Connecticut,“which, having come to birth and grown in the various states [après avoir pris naissance et s’être developpées]” came then to be evident in the Union as a sum of parts. But once again, in Tocqueville’s America as in his France, paternalism is at issue, as “every citizen of the United States may be said to transfer the concern inspired in him by his little republic into his love of the common motherland [a poor translation: in the original French, la patrie commune].”63 Over all, Tocqueville’s U.S. democracy’s symbolic family narrative does not clearly resolve itself into a portrait of a metaphorically adult democracy. It still reaches for alternative mother figures, and configures the new republic as a fatherland. Dinnerstein warns that allegiance to paternal figures signals not mature self-rule, but rather transference of positive feelings for a maternal past onto a powerful paternal present. Echoing notions of maturity found in Erikson’s and Dinnerstein’s work, Tocqueville helps us imagine integration of aristocratic and democratic elements as a means to democracy’s maturity. Neither his French nor American democracies can be said to have succeeded wholly on this score, the French case notably failing. In contrast to his portraits of French and U.S. democratic maturation as historical processes unfolding problematically,Tocqueville also provides us with a snapshot portrait of democratic maturity achieved. In Tocqueville’s account of enlightened self-interest, we find what appears to be an integrated compound of gendered traits and forces manifest in the individual citizen who is therefore deemed mature.Tocqueville writes that the key lesson to be learned by citizens in association is the “general theory” of “selfinterest properly understood.”This doctrine is no panacea nor is it perfectly instituted in U.S. democracy, but it “appears to me the best suited of all philosophical theories to the wants of men in our time and . . . I see it as their strongest remaining guarantee against themselves.” It “does not inspire great sacrifices” but rather “prompts small ones,” and alone “cannot make a man virtuous,” but is enabled by a discipline that “shapes a lot of orderly, temperate, moderate, careful, and self-controlled citizens. If it does not lead the will directly to virtue, it establishes habits which unconsciously turn it that way” (D, 527).This doctrine is meant to press men toward a particular sort of disposition (D, 529–30). It is instilled by the mutuality of (male, civic) association, since when inhabitants of a democracy “have to look after the particular affairs of a



district, the same people are always meeting, and they are forced, in a manner, to know and adapt themselves to one another” (D, 511). But so too does the doctrine depend on the integration of the textually female traits of order, temperance, moral consciousness, and self-control. It repairs the individual weakness wrought by equality of conditions, and redirects exaggerated claims of individualism—to absolute self-mastery and exaggerated individual autonomy—toward a middling course. An accompanying “idea of rights” ensures that the citizen is “independent without arrogance and obedient without servility,” rather than exclusively independent or obedient (D, 238).Tocqueville claims that this ideal is approximated in the New England township where, “in all matters concerning the duties of citizens toward each other [each individual] is subordinate. In all matters that concern himself alone he remains the master; he is free” (D, 66). Still, there is something unsatisfying about the “self-interest properly understood” integration of past and present, of textually female and male. While it offers some clues as to what constitutes genuine democratic maturity, the symbolically female and male elements that Tocqueville works to combine in this moment do not otherwise float freely in the text, but rather are situated in the text’s symbolic modern, conjugal family narrative. Here, femaleness and maleness are given meaning as binary forces that are to be combined rather than integrated as distinctive parts of a hierarchical heterosexual complement. Here we encounter the second broad aspect of Democracy in America’s symbolic gendered economy. Although Tocqueville goes some distance critically to direct democracy’s ambivalence about aristocracy toward a psychically integrated future, his familial, developmental tale obscures this effort because, in it, femaleness and maleness remain distinct and hierarchically ordered; they remain separate managing vessels for democracy’s unintegrated, “split off,” disparate passions. The narrative is preoccupied by female agency as object, not subject, while symbolically male democracy and its male citizens are the protagonists in question. The symbolically female forces are either an essential support or hindrance to these protagonists and, essentially problematic, are usually excessive in their energies but sometimes frail.Thus signified, these female elements must either be contained (as in the case of equality and religion) or enticed (as in the case of liberty) to serve democracy, its politics, and its citizen-subjects.They are not to be subjects in their own right of the developmental drama.This formulation is typical of the literature of the period, in which female agents are generally not construed as in a course of development, but rather as forces or powers that simply exist, altered only by competing or companion forces.At the same time, like the mother Dinnerstein analyzes, and like the cultural ideas of femaleness that that original mother sets in motion, almost all of Tocqueville’s textual female forces are somewhat



frightening, and to be reckoned with. Consequently, Tocqueville’s familial framework for democracy requires that they be captured and contained so that they service (maternally, morally, or libidinally) developing male democracy and its male citizen-subjects without gaining preeminence over them.This is achieved partly through the symbolic conjugal family’s premise of public and private as binary, discrete and dichotomously gendered realms—a framework that echoes standing nineteenth-century ideas of family and social structure. But recall that Dinnerstein argues that maturity will come to humans only when “woman’s lone dominion over the early flesh is abolished” and man no longer represents refuge from female authority.When “men start participating as deeply as women in the initiation of infants into the human estate, when both male and female parents come to carry for all of us the special meanings of early childhood, the trouble we have reconciling these meanings with person-ness will finally be faced”; we will be freed to grow up into whole individuals, instead of dichotomously gendered half-persons.64 In this moment, human traits construed as feminine or female and attributed to “woman”, or as masculine or male and attributed to “man”, will finally be recognized as human. Only then, our collective capacity for reason, intelligence, creativity, procreativity, intuition, and enterprise will be “freely and fully lived out by both” (all?) sexes.65 Democracy in America’s gendered, familial narrative does not advance such integration in the name of maturation. Tocqueville himself recommends manliness as the human capacity to act courageously and well amid uncertainty. In contrast, the aim of the gender differentiating, familial foundations of his text is to structure and direct social reality to guarantee certain outcomes.To a degree, order is undoubtedly necessarily to freedom. But how the text’s familial drama orders social elements is excessive in that it acutely delimits the purview of democratic politics: it fixes in particular ways the content, meaning, and role of sex, gender and family, and of religion and mores in democratic society and culture, as well as the meaning of citizenship, liberty and equality.The consequence is that all these elements of democratic society and culture are automatically excluded from political contestation.The question that results: does this kind of order, replete with preordained boundaries and content, invite the courageous, mature human constitution that Tocqueville so admires? Moreover, in relation to his framing familial narrative, it is interesting to remember that Tocqueville himself critically mocks the nineteenth-century European American depiction of Native Americans as brothers; in rejecting the popular trope of fraternity in relation to civic ties,Tocqueville suggests that the family framework is no guarantee against immature, even brutally violent outcomes. The third broad aspect of Democracy in America’s portrait of democratic maturation is also troubling, although perhaps more to Tocqueville’s purposes



than to those of democratic politics.The problem is this: at the same time that Tocqueville works to found democracy on a modern gendered and familialorder that would dramatically limit the purview of democratic politics, this order does not always do what it is deployed to do nor does it necessarily signal resolved passions.We have only begun to see hints of this issue, but as chapter 5 will further reveal, the text’s symbolic modern conjugal family structure is, in its reliance upon a binary expression of gender, prone to defy its own terms and break through the very boundaries it is meant to police. So far in this analysis of Democracy in America, we have an image of (male) democracy, its politics and citizens enjoying tantalizing relations with equality as mistress; in need of offsetting, sobering relations with religion as wife and mother; seeking liberty as another, timid sexual partner; and even being educated by liberty as a mother who instills the knowledge of association. In this expansive drama, though maturity is the goal, a concatenation of childish and adult desires is occurring simultaneously: is democracy still an adolescent? There too is a sense of mounting disorder; such a swirling story line featuring multiplying femaleness suggests, as Dinnerstein argues, unresolved passions and tensions in democracy’s development. So while the familial and gendered narrative in Democracy in America should, if true to Tocqueville’s love of liberty and notion of human maturity, structure a middle course between chaos and restrictive order as democracy’s path to maturity, it seems to obscure this goal. Some recent commentators also assess Tocqueville’s efforts to secure such middle ground for a democratic social state, between chaos and repressive order.William Connolly argues that Tocqueville leaves space for only a thin layer of democratic flux-as-freedom on top of otherwise stabilized social structures and identities. Connolly sees this “civi-theoterritorial complex,” above which democracy’s bounded politics and “political pluralism wanders,” and beneath which “everything fundamental is fixed,” rooted in the violence of territorial and sociopolitical exclusion.66 But for Connolly, “a democratic ethos is one that risks the production of new challenges to established cultural constellations in a variety of domains,” which, he suggests briefly, includes “press[ing] for new gender possibilities that exceed gender duality itself.”67 Mark Reinhardt also charts boundaries that Tocqueville builds around and within his democracy that sometimes “sanction the suppression of difference, linking the vitality of democratic self-government to the production and maintenance of American homogeneity and hegemony.”68 More than Connolly,Reinhardt also sees Tocqueville as a defender of diversity.Still,he charges that Tocqueville “leaves no room for democratic contestation over fundamental structures of society, culture, and identity.”69 Reinhardt assesses as homogenizing the “racial” and gender borders of Tocqueville’s democracy. But, he says, “if race and gender are the occasions for some of Tocqueville’s most



consequential attempts to conceal the costs of democracy’s foundations, religion provides the most important materials out of which the foundations are constructed.”70 Both Connolly and Reinhardt thus see in Democracy in America too much “homogeneity”; Stephen Schneck and Michael Shapiro also assess the text in these terms. Schneck argues that “homogeneity”—in religion, class, and ancestry—is required by the “rhetorical idea of [Tocqueville’s] America.” Racialized difference and attendant conflicts cannot be included by Tocqueville in his analysis because it is founded on this presumption of sameness.71 Shapiro confronts what he calls “Tocqueville’s Family Romance,” that is, his restricted comparison of “traditional aristocratic family in Europe and white bourgeois families in nineteenth-century ‘America’” as a literary map of U.S. democracy, a social state evidently founded in violence and exclusion. Shapiro argues that “Tocqueville’s world is a system of states with no place for the political expressions of nations without states, much less for captive peoples”; “Indians” and “Negroes” cannot be analyzed politically by Tocqueville because he “regards a homogeneous national culture, with shared mores, as essential to the future of a democratic nation-state.” 72 While all these commentators fruitfully locate in Democracy in America the expulsion of difference and containment of homogeneity, the present book’s analysis instead illustrates how the foundations of Tocqueville’s democracy are carved out by the assertion and entrenchment of radical binary differentiation. Democracy in America does not advise homogeneity in its symbolic order, but rather orders democracy according to symbolic sex-gender which is grounded in hierarchical, dichotomous differentiation. Layers of radical binary differentiation (that sometimes, together, prove somewhat incoherent) and exclusion as a means further to mark off difference are part of the logic that Tocqueville’s democracy holds within its boundaries—a key part of what defines his democracy.And unfortunately for Tocqueville’s project, within these borders erected by the text’s modern conjugal familial ideal one finds not a clear formula for democratic maturity, but rather a host of potentialities, including those of violence and other forms of immaturity.

4 Homo Puer Robustus Property, Commerce, Industry

IN DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA, private property and what Tocqueville calls “commerce” and “industry” are centrally implicated in democracy’s capacity to achieve healthy maturity.The text’s symbolic family narrative and its protagonist, young democracy, increasingly illustrate their capacity for pathological development, as these questions of economy come to bear on Tocqueville’s U.S. democracy. However, Tocqueville does not systematically theorize the emergent modern economy in this text. Indeed, in his writings and as a politician,Tocqueville directly confronted neither classical liberal political economy nor the advent of concentrated ownership and the industrializing mode of production. Remaining ambivalent, he rejected “socialism” out of hand as an acute form of centralization, argued that the new economy embodied freedom, and advised French governmental noninterference in industrial undertakings; and also argued that the emergent industry and its division of labor threatened social stability, political liberty, and the well-being of workers, suggested that the state should participate in industry, found unacceptable liberal theories that assumed that narrow self-interest was compatible with the general good, and always placed political questions before economic ones.1 Various commentators have concluded that in Democracy in America Tocqueville overlooks the full implications of commercial and industrial society for the rest of his analysis of democracy.2 Others argue that Democracy in America illustrates the mutual interdependence of the new economy and democratic politics.3 Yet others illustrate that Tocqueville rejected standing liberal economic theory due to concerns about individualism and collective good, although he never undertook his promised study of economics.4 This chapter suggests that, although Tocqueville addresses the mounting issue of




commercialism and private industry in democracy only briefly and piecemeal, his isolated observations of the mentality governing commercialism and industry can be fruitfully brought to bear on his complex portrait of democracy as developing subject. Moreover, on the level of the text’s symbolic family narrative, commercialism and industry perform as additional forces that waylay democracy’s maturation, reinforcing childish desires and forces within the society, culture, and state.The chapter illustrates how democracy’s principled resentment of structured inequalities, on the one hand, and its lurking fear of universal equality as the signification of social flux, on the other, together press democratic society to reconstitute structured hierarchies amid passion for the idea of equality. While at points in the text commerce and industry seem consistent with democracy’s principled desire for equality among individuals, the inequalities they produce serve democracy’s subterranean fears of flux. In sum, in Democracy in America there is evidence that commercialism and the new industry combine very neatly with Tocqueville’s developing democracy’s instincts, but exacerbate its unhealthy,“debased” tendencies that eschew mature self-rule. Instead of developing the positive energies of U.S. democracy’s adolescence, commerce and industry serve to exploit its dangerous urges that arrest its development. In Democracy in America,Tocqueville suggests that energetic commercialism and the new industry feed on sensibilities innate to modern democracy. What he calls the “nodal point” of democracy is the historically new “equality of conditions” born of the postaristocratic passion for the idea of equality. With relations of noblesse oblige and fealty torn asunder, the inhabitants of democracy feel beholden to themselves alone. In the wake of legally entrenched, socially ossified, family-based class structure, it seems that the individual can and must make his or her own destiny, and love for the idea of equality creates among democracy’s inhabitants a novel kind of personal ambition.This ambition, coupled with the democratic belief that no one is superior to another, produces a popular desire for comfort and access to moderate luxuries. Demand for cheaply produced mass goods is thereby stimulated, diminishing pride in the quality of goods that once sustained aristocracy’s guild system. In effect, then,Tocqueville sees democracy cultivating a psychology that urges industrialization and commerce.5 As he puts it, “almost all the tastes and habits born of equality naturally lead men in the direction of trade and industry”; and the “notions” and “habits” of the industrial class “are in perfect harmony with the new ideas and prevailing habits of men today” (D, 551, 684). In the sub-textual familial narrative, democracy-as-subject is an energetic youth that invests in “the body social a restless activity, superabundant force, and energy never found elsewhere.” As this energy is channelled into commerce and industry it certainly “can do wonders” (D, 244).



There is thus notable coincidence between the psychic impulses of democracy and those of commerce and industry, with democracy assisting these economic developments. But precisely because commerce and industry feed on some of democracy’s uneducated, native inclinations, they easily exacerbate them. Tocqueville fears democracy’s tendency toward materialism, especially because it combines with individualism, another peculiar democratic sensibility. Imagining that “their whole destiny is in their own hands,” isolated actors pursue well-being and wealth as private affairs (D, 507). As some of democracy’s basic instincts, private ambition, materialism, and individualism are always present in a democratic social state,challenging the development of mature republicanism. But they threaten to anchor themselves as hegemonic sensibilities when animated by the unrelenting quest for profit and private accumulation that drive commerce and industry. For Tocqueville, what helps keep materialism and individualism in check is associational citizenship.According to him, the reigning passion for the seductive idea of equality can also stir in inhabitants a healthy “desire to be strong and respected” that encourages the very sort of associations that do in fact make citizens strong (D, 57). Passion for the idea of equality thus also signals a potential for democracy to manifest itself in healthy republican terms. But what comes clear in the pages of Democracy in America is that maturity as participatory, associative citizenship is not as instinctive to democracy as the yearning to secure material comfort and the inclination toward exclusive self-interest. As such, mature citizenship, alert to the often communal nature of individual best interest, must be actively inculcated through education in participation. Still, civic efforts to waylay the effects of individualism and materialism rest on a slippery slope precisely because, unlike the competing urges, the urge to participate in associations must be conscientiously instilled.What most disturbs Tocqueville by the end of the second volume of Democracy in America is that democracy’s baser, more thoughtless urges readily facilitate the growth of democratic despotism in the form of a gently domineering state. He fears that inhabitants’ singular and narrow desire for money and wealth can easily eclipse civic activity, leading these people willingly to surrender to the state any real sense of themselves as self-governing citizens.Tocqueville imagines them “constantly circling around in pursuit of the petty and banal pleasures with which they glut their souls,” and over them,“an immense, protective power which is alone responsible for securing their enjoyment and watching over their fate” (D, 692). Tocqueville does not in any rigorous way theorize how the dynamics produced by concentrated ownership of the new industries play into democracy’s potential to grow up. He does suggest that the democratic instinct for moneymaking sits in a rather complex relationship to educated citizen activity. On the one hand, industry teaches association since people must “form associations



in order to get the things they long for,” contributing to education in collective action.6 Reciprocally, as “political freedom improves and spreads the technique of association,” it produces “a general taste for enterprise” and encourages “prodigious industrial expansion,” as witnessed in the United States (D, 244). Tocqueville appreciates the widespread, modest well-being that results as a reasonable substitute for the virtue and genius found in aristocracy. He also sometimes praises the spirit that Americans exhibit in their industrial undertakings, a drive necessary, he feels, to a growing people on a vast and uncultivated continent.7 But Tocqueville’s sketchy analysis of commercialism and industry also alludes to something darker. It vividly hints that the underbelly of commercial, industrial democracy’s energetic drive to build and accumulate is fretful, obsessive, unsatiating, and dangerous to already timid political liberty.When these scattered observations of the desires and anxieties of the emergent economy are brought to bear on Democracy in America’s rich delineation of democracy’s passions and fears, we see that Tocqueville’s U.S. democracy is undermined by its own immature desires—unhealthy urges that the symbolic conjugal family order fails to manage well.

THE IMPULSE FOR ENTERPRISE The previous chapters have set into relief Democracy in America’s subtextual tale of world-historical separation anxiety, as democracy, its inhabitants and culture struggle to separate from the highly ordered aristocratic past into flux. The ambivalent, unsettled psychology that governs this new world is implicated in the fact that rigorous commerce and private industry establish themselves in it. Marvin Zetterbaum argues that Tocqueville’s U.S. democracy moves from “virtuous or decent materialism to a more or less thoroughgoing hedonism” driven by democracy’s ardent taste for comfort and well-being.8 But on closer look, Democracy in America illustrates not one impulse that, through time, varies in degree, but rather two distinct impulses.The first is healthy, even noble, and necessary to the survival and flourishing of the Americans. It is for Tocqueville an expression of manly action in a world in which one lacks a guaranteed place.The second impulse, in contrast, is fueled by the ambivalence and anxiety that floods society after the highly ordered aristocratic past is replaced by democratic flux.Various psychoanalytic thinkers, including Dorothy Dinnerstein, have pointed to the restless modern human drive to accumulate, count, control, and manipulate money and property as a compensation for something lost.While engagement in enterprise can certainly express a healthy and necessary human urge, they argue, it can be pathologically exaggerated when the psyche uses it to substitute for something gone. What these psychoanalytic thinkers imagine has been lost is a sense of oneness with the surrounding



world—a harmonious integration of oneself with the environment.The result of this felt loss is often an exaggerated impulse to affirm the self ’s control over the environment—a drive that typically manifests as compulsive effort to capture and command that which can be controlled, accumulated, and enumerated: money and property.9 One finds in Democracy in America’s account of the United States, ahead of France in industry and commerce, this kind of relentless acquisitive drive, constant yearning, greed, and anxious insatiability for material things.These dynamics also play a central part in the text’s subtextual narrative of gender, family, and democracy growing up. The psychoanalytic line of thought suggests that such hungry pursuit of wealth implies the ghost of something—a memory of a once-comforting union with the social environment. It appears that in Tocqueville’s U.S. democracy, that offspring of imperial, aristocratic maternal England, what is absent are the sort of comforting, guaranteed bonds of mutuality in which individuals were formerly embedded. In the wake of aristocratic structure, democracy’s characteristic social atomism and dislocations produce a yearning to recreate a sense of solidity and reassurance in the world. As Tocqueville remarks,“If one tries to think what passion is most natural to [democratic] men both stimulated and hemmed in by the obscurity of their birth and the mediocrity of their fortune, nothing seems to suit them better than the taste for comfort” (D, 531). Building on the work of Norman O. Brown, Dinnerstein theorizes in the context of female-dominated child rearing the unrelenting modern quest for material wealth. She makes two key arguments: first, at its core, the drive to engage in enterprise is related to attitudes toward the flesh; and second, behind the role that enterprise plays in human development are two psychological impulses, one healthy and one pathological. It is part of the human condition, she says, to be ambivalent about the body, because it both enables and hinders our various life projects.This ambivalence begins in infancy when a child experiences corporeal joy, vulnerability, and limitation. In the course of human development, the infant’s ambivalence is eventually coupled with the grief at the loss of felt oneness with its initial caretakers.10 In its healthy moment, enterprise consoles the child for the lost bond with those seemingly omnipotent guardians; through it the child discovers and expands its capacity for autonomous selfhood. But the child also learns, through failed and hindered effort, that the body is a physical cage that limits the “I,” and that will ultimately and permanently sever it from the known world. Later, when the adult is pained by the understanding that s/he will someday die, the early infant sorrow, over both corporeal limitations and that initial separation from the parental surroundings, resurfaces to be felt again.11 Brown is concerned that humans in modern times skew this developmental process by deploying their inherent capacity for enterprise to repress awareness of mortal embodiment, to help them repress and deny



the painful realities of mortality and the initial separation from the global parental environment.12 That is, to deny their loss in infancy and their inescapable mortality, people renounce the basic joys of embodiment and use enterprise to sustain an illusion that they are in control.This imagined control is unrealistic and, as it mimics the perceived omnipotence of first parents, betrays an unresolved past.This coping mechanism also “spoils the actual, finite pleasures that successful enterprise can carry,” fueling the idea of radical self-sufficiency, and leading to “compulsive concentration of attention and energy on that which can be predicted, controlled, manipulated, possessed and preserved, piled up and counted”; that is, a “compulsive adult involvement in enterprise” that produces enumerable property and money.13 Dinnerstein argues that when child rearing is dominated by females and history by males, so that children learn to associate the body, its joy, pain, and vulnerability, with femaleness, the human relationship with enterprise is skewed in yet another way. Because under these arrangements adult males do not take care of babies, they appear to transcend messy bodily life so that children tend not to associate them with their desire and fear of the flesh.14 In this way, females have heaped upon them, exclusively, young humanity’s unavoidable ambivalence about the flesh, so that the psychic integration of inevitable ambivalence toward the body fails.These mixed feelings are instead “split off ” and projected differentially onto “woman” and “man,” while the lack of resolution stirs in the developing psyche an acute desire to control the surroundings.15 Pleasure in purposeful, effortful enterprise, or what Erik Erikson calls the “sense of industry,” is intrinsic to being human, and genuinely compensates an infant for losing its preverbal, carnal, euphoric oneness with the world.16 The compensation is constructive because it is realistic, replacing the old, though never wholly forgotten, joy and comfort with a limited new good. But female-dominated child rearing presses us to renounce once-known primitive bodily delights as we split off our positive feelings for oneness with the female mother. Then enterprise is used to (appear to) compensate for the unnecessary, unhealthy renunciation of mortal, bodily pleasure.17 Thus pathologically employed, enterprise can never accomplish the intended end. So, paradoxically, as enterprise fails fully to satisfy the felt emptiness, people chase it more ardently as the source of human meaning and fulfilment, undermining humanity’s constructive interest in it.18 As Tocqueville’s young U.S. democracy struggles to mature, it exhibits such excessive materialistic yearnings, coping mechanisms, and obsessions.

A N X I E T Y A N D U N S AT E D D E S I R E Dinnerstein argues that where child care is managed by females, the infant’s repressed passion for its mother and her material body seems to “survive, and



to seek an appropriate object” long after the child is autonomous.19 In Democracy in America, following its separation from maternalized England, U.S. democracy and its inhabitants appear engaged in a parallel, unrelenting quest to reconstitute security. In the case of the European American,“death steps in in the end and stops him before he has grown tired of this futile pursuit of that complete felicity which always escapes him” (D, 536).Tocqueville helps us recognize this yearning and anxiety that haunt postaristocratic democracy when he compares the governing sensibilities of aristocracy and democracy as they pertain to psychic security. He writes that in aristocracy, the rich and poor alike exhibit a general sense of satisfaction in the world.The rich “can hardly imagine anything different” from the material comforts they enjoy, and thus such comforts are “by no means the aim of their existence; they are just a way of living.” As such, these people’s “faculties turn elsewhere and become involved in some grander and more difficult undertaking that inspires and engrosses them.”The poor are, in a parallel way, accustomed to their deprivations and remain unpreoccupied with matters of physical comfort, dwelling instead on the “next world” (D, 530–31). Moreover, they are comforted by the fixed, lifetime bonds they share with members of upper classes who, in turn, feel a sense of duty toward them. Symbolically, aristocracy’s subjects remain in the arms of the mother-world. However, in democracy, where such bonds of obligation and defined station vanish, where conditions are considerably leveled and social standing often mobile, “the poor conceive an eager desire to acquire comfort, and the rich think of the danger of losing it.”As for the middle-class, the largest class, its members “have enough physical enjoyments to get a taste for them, but not enough to content them. They never win them without effort or indulge in them without anxiety.” Ever anxious and restless, they are “continually engaged in pursuing or striving to retain these precious, incomplete, and fugitive delights” (D, 531, see 465–66). One sees in this comparison of aristocratic and democratic peoples two distinct mentalities regarding the matter of security, which translate into different attitudes about the importance of material wealth. For Tocqueville, the rich and poor alike in aristocracy live amid lasting bonds that produce feelings of satisfaction and serenity with regards to material security.When democracy transforms such deterministic relations and their securities into flux and individualism, it stimulates material desire: the reigning idea and promise of equality presses people to want to acquire what their neighbors have, and possessions are grasped at as a kind of security against flux. But then the advent of democracy also foments a nagging anxiety that these desires for things will not be sated. Here the passion for equality is manifest in its “debased,”“unmanly,” envious, and competitive version (D, 57, 503–4; see ch. 3 for discussion of Tocqueville’s concept of equality).Tocqueville says that a man in democracy will always “be



aware of dominating positions near him, and it is a safe guess that he will always be looking doggedly just in that direction.”Thus, democracy will “never establish an equality which will content” its people, and “the more equal men are, the more insatiable will be their longing for equality.”20 This anxiety is only exacerbated by the demanding sameness that readily characterizes democratic society: “When men are more or less equal and are following the same path, it is very difficult for any of them to walk faster and get out beyond the uniform crowd surrounding and hemming them in,” and they are “up against the competition of all.”21 Material acquisition and the promise of it reassure democracy’s inhabitant, but the assurance is fleeting, and the urge to acquire ever more, infinitely energized by comparisons among inhabitants, serves constantly to instigate the individual and society toward profit and the creation of more and more even trivial material goods. Now, industrialization in a context ruled by principles of private property means that wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few while most must sell their labor to survive, to the effect that society features notable inequalities. In Tocqueville’s U.S. democracy, commercial, industrial democracy couples such inequalities with passion for the idea of equality, and in so doing seems particularly cruel: inhabitants widely believe in the idea, and fairness of the idea, that they, as equals, can acquire what the richest have; they therefore desire and chase it.They will be tempted and rendered insatiable in their wants, seeking to fulfill their seeming destiny among equals. But the inherent inequalities of such an economy mean they will very probably never secure such wealth, perhaps succumbing in this empty hope to the “madness” that Tocqueville notes is “commoner” in the U.S. than anywhere else. In other words, commercial, industrial democracy’s inhabitants feel a “constant strife between the desires inspired by equality and the means it supplies to satisfy them,” a struggle that “harasses and wearies the mind.”The result of such continual temptation, desire, and lack of fulfilment is a “strange melancholy often haunting inhabitants of democracies in the midst of abundance.”They “never get the sort of equality they long for,” since that tantalizing, seductive equality “ever retreats before them without getting quite out of sight” but still “beckons them on to pursue” it.They “see it close enough to know its charms, but they do not get near enough to enjoy it, and they will be dead before they have fully relished its delights.”22 Tocqueville hereby identifies in the United States, alongside a healthy human impulse for commercial industry, what for psychoanalysts are the effects of an unhealthy, eclipsing, life-sapping drive to acquire. He reports that “I have seen the freest and best educated of men in circumstances the happiest to be found in the world; yet it seemed to me that a cloud habitually hung on their brow, and they seemed serious and almost sad even in their pleasures” (D, 536). The “chief reason” for this dogging misery is that the citizens of the United



States, never certain they have secured themselves against flux, “never stop thinking of the good things they have not got.”This thought fills the individual “with distress, fear, and regret and keeps his mind continually in agitation,” and commerce and industrial manufacturing constantly yield a fresh universe of consumer goods to stir this misery (D, 537). So it is with “feverish ardor” that the American pursues material gain until he dies (D, 536–37).As we have seen,Tocqueville presents religion and public morality as symbolically female bulwarks against this dangerous course that symbolically male democracy may take. (Although Tocqueville now says he does not “reproach equality for leading men astray with forbidden delights” because equality promises and provides “physical delights” that are in fact “allowed by religion and morality” (D, 534). Is it only democracy’s women, as morality’s guardians, that are not allowed these delights?) But in the face of the new economy, which feeds and exacerbates materialism and individualism, religion and morality can prove insufficient deterrents.As Tocqueville remarks, when individuals in democracy cling so desperately to their material possessions,“in the end they shut out the rest of the world and sometimes come between the soul and God.”23 Let us pause to consider the implications of this psychic state of affairs for Tocqueville’s concept of democratic maturity. In some ways for Tocqueville, industry is a desirable form of association insofar as it teaches cooperative deliberation. But, he remarks, the “common interests of civil life seldom naturally induce great numbers to act together” in the way that politics can, and when citizens combine for only nonpolitical purposes, “they regard association as a strange and unusual procedure and hardly consider the possibility thereof ” (D, 522). Indeed,Tocqueville’s young U.S. democracy seems driven for wealth by an immature yearning for ever more material goods as substitute for the deep security and predictability experienced in the old mother-world of aristocracy. Invoking his developmental theme, he says that, “As for a child with his toys, so is it later for a man with all his belongings” (D, 238). In the United States, a childish passion for control of wealth easily manifests in democracy’s inhabitants a metaphorical sibling rivalry that, like the rivalry that pressed Tocqueville’s European Americans to destroy their Native American “brothers,” undercuts their relation to one another as concitoyens. Democracy’s materialism, exacerbated by endless mass production and promotion of new goods, shatters potential for republican bonds concerned with collective and individual welfare. Dynamics of jealousy, greed, and bitterness isolate democracy’s inhabitants one from another, and “one must not blind oneself to the fact that democratic institutions most successfully develop sentiments of envy in the human heart. This is not because they provide the means for everybody to rise to the level of everybody else but because these means are constantly proving inadequate in the hands of those using them.” Though the



promise is there, “complete equality is always slipping through the people’s fingers at the moment when they think to grasp is, feeling, as Pascal says, in an eternal flight.” Failure merely excites people more, activating more desperate effort until they “grow heated in search of this blessing, all the more precious because it is near enough to be seen but too far off to be tasted.The excitement is followed by weariness and then by bitterness” (D, 198). Success and failure alike distract, divide, and exhaust would-be citizens. So what of Tocqueville’s democratic manliness in commercial, industrial America? Acute materialism threatens to “soften and imperceptibly loosen the springs of action,” he says, preventing virility in these apparently childish private actors who willingly acquiesce to domination by the enticements of democracy’s central aristocracy substitute—female equality (D,534).Whereas Tocqueville associates maturity with a capacity and willingness to act responsibly amid flux, his U.S. democracy seems determined to embrace material wealth precisely because, in their minds, it minimizes flux. Meanwhile, Democracy in America’s symbolic family drama, though working to establish pervasive order in democracy to help it grow up, fails to banish such drives for immaturity.

E X P L O I T I N G T H E L A N D, F E A R I N G T H E F L E S H , ENNOBLING MONEY Democracy in America’s subtextual, familial drama suggests that the Americans’ relentless materialist drive, anxiety, and elusive satisfaction is fueled by a pathological urge to make up for something lost. In characterizing the American quest for private property,Tocqueville turns back to the metaphor of infancy: “when a baby first begins to move among things outside himself, instinct leads him to make use of anything his hands can grasp; he has no idea of other people’s property, not even that it exists.” For Dinnerstein, and as Tocqueville here suggests, in this earliest stage of human development, a child begins to engage in healthy enterprise to compensate for the inevitable loss of the infant’s blissful oneness with the global environment.Tocqueville adds that, as the young child develops and “is instructed in the value of things and discovers that he too may be despoiled, he becomes more circumspect, and in the end is led to respect for others that which he wishes to be respected for himself.”This analogy suggests that, in the wake of losing the structured securities and social embeddedness of maternal aristocracy,Tocqueville’s child-democracy should develop a rights-based stance of mutuality in relation to property.Tocqueville says that U.S. democracy is more promising here than French democracy: in Europe, because so many lack property, property rights are suspect; but in the United States,“everyone, having some possession to defend, recognizes the right to property in principle” (D, 238). Still, he concludes,“I do not wish to press



the example of America too far,” probably because, as he reveals elsewhere, young U.S. democracy’s pursuit of enterprise is animated by more complicated drives (D, 239). As we saw in chapter 2, in Tocqueville’s texts European American attitudes toward the land, and toward its first tenants, speak darkly of a greedy, often fratricidal quest to control and enumerate land as a postaristocratic form of security.Tocqueville’s U.S. democracy, born in that North American “cradle” distant from its mère patrie, continues to grapple with the idea of “mother,” as both enabler and enemy. In the text’s familial narrative, in the absence of maternal England, nature serves the Anglo-Americans as a surrogate mother that shelters and nourishes, though sometimes also overruns, the colonists. They steal this mother from their brother Native Americans, the continent’s first children, through violence and unethical political maneuverings, and secure her resources through agriculture and mining.24 In Dinnersteinian terms, such hungry conquest of a maternalized force reflects desire for maternal comfort.25 Michael Rogin argues that in nineteenth-century America, “Property promises to win back what has been lost in separation from the mother,” that is, England.26 Moreover, Rogin suggests,American democracy’s success in controlling the land and extracting enormous wealth constitutes a satisfying “maternal revenge” against England for her abuses.27 Elaborating his man-nation, developmental analogy, Tocqueville writes that a child “carries off other people’s property before he knows that his own may be snatched from him.”When a social state first institutes legal rights and liberties, a man is “much in the same position with respect to those rights as is a child faced by the whole of nature, and it is then that famous phrase applies: homo puer robustus” (D, 238, 239–40).This Latin phrase (in translation, a human being is a boy with strength) suggests that democracy, as symbolic developing youth, is capable of tremendous, even violent, desirous acts.28 Tocqueville does not immediately relate this imagery to America, where colonists “were invested with political rights at a time when it was difficult for them to make ill use of them because the citizens were few and their mores simple” (D, 239). It is also, in Tocqueville’s mind, a fortunate accident of history that the North American continent is rich in resources. Still, he says that the homo puer robustus claim “can be tested even in America,” and certainly, his young U.S. democracy hungrily devours the continent’s resources: it is a “growing creature” that needs and desires the “limitless” and “inexhaustible resources” that the continent provides (D, 621–22). Despite this ominous imagery and his concern for the fate of Native Americans,Tocqueville also says he is glad that the continent ensures “healthy food,”“easily available to feed them all” so “there is no need to dread the growth of excessive passions” (D, 285). But Tocqueville makes additional observations that point further to compulsive, threatening, materialistic tendencies



in his U.S. democracy. Like Dinnerstein and Brown, who associate “money love” with rejection of life,Tocqueville associates the accelerating American drive for wealth with death: with that mortal death that Americans encounter before achieving material satisfaction, and with the “disgust with life” that grips them in “calm and easy circumstances.”29 Dinnerstein argues that the life-repressing trance of materialism is caused when female-reared offspring fail to accept their feelings of ambivalence about mortal embodiment, instead repressing them. In so failing to acknowledge the flesh, such individuals (and their cultures) reject human sensuality, only to become obsessed with female bodies. As explored in the previous chapter, in the subtextual drama of Democracy in America, U.S. democracy draws on feminized Puritan religion as another post-England mother substitute.The young colonies subsequently exhibit puritanical attitudes toward the flesh, especially fearful obsessions with female bodies.Tocqueville observes that in the colony of Connecticut, adultery was punished by death; the Commonwealth of Massachusetts executed several people for it; and he takes time to describe one “married woman [who] had a love affair with a young man; her husband died and she married him; several years passed; at length the public came to suspect the intimacy which had earlier existed . . . ; they were both thrown into prison, and both were very near being condemned to death” (D, 41–42, 420).Tocqueville himself argues that in democracy, females are to be the vessels of religious morality, but he lingers with disbelief over the record of a New Haven girl who, in 1660, was fined and reprimanded for “uttering some indiscreet words and letting herself be kissed” (D, 42); and the fact that in 1649, Bostonian citizens formed an association “to check the worldly luxury of long hair.”Tocqueville is struck by the potential dangers to the individual of such energetic democratic politics, advising that “we must not forget that these ridiculous and tyrannical laws were not imposed from outside—they were voted by the free agreement of all the interested parties themselves—and that their mores were even more austere and puritanical than their laws.”30 He understands that these repressive, religious sentiments about the flesh have been, in American history, bound up in excesses of democratic association and majoritarianism: Puritanism “in many respects . . . shared the most absolute democratic and republican theories” in assuming equality before God; and “democracy more perfect than any of which antiquity had dared to dream sprang full-grown and fully armed” from that Puritan religion (D, 36, 39). In Democracy in America, at the same time that American society cultivates these repressive religious attitudes toward the flesh and physical pleasure, it constructs for itself a code of honor that renders noble acquisitiveness and the love of money. Tocqueville defines l’honneur as “all those rules” wielded by public opinion “by which [the esteem, glory or reputation which a man enjoys



among his fellows] are obtained” (D, 616). He argues in Aristotelian fashion that in human society, in addition to universal standards of right and wrong, societies judge individual actions in local terms peculiar to time and place.A code of honor is nothing more nor less than the local norms required by the particular social state to sustain its peculiar internal power relations and social structure (D, 616–17). For example,“that a man should regard a tap on the cheek as an unbearable insult and feel bound to kill the man who struck him” is an “arbitrary rule” that seems preposterous outside of its historical context.Yet in feudal Europe, this rule of honor “was a result of the basic principles and needs of a military aristocracy” (D, 619, see also 618). The more hierarchical a society, the more it boasts “exceptional positions,” hence the more its ruling classes or castes need to enforce rules that justify those exceptional positions. But Tocqueville argues that the United States, like all democratic social states, will feature some inequalities that likewise sustain themselves through the enforcement of a certain code of honor. In the United States,“the origin, social conditions, political institutions, and even the land they live in” encourage a code of honor based in “love of money.” Despite aristocratic scorn for such “base cupidity,” the Americans, needing “to clear, cultivate, and transform the huge uninhabited continent,” regard as noble the “restless passions” that foster “exploitation” of the land (D, 621, 284).Without so goading “human passions,” it would be difficult to compel a man to trade the old motherworld—“the pure and quiet pleasures which his homeland offers even to the poor man,” and “the paternal hearth and the fields where his ancestors rest”— “for the sterile enjoyments of prosperity under an alien sky.”31 As such, the industrial pursuit of wealth is “the characteristic trait which now distinguishes the Americans most particularly” (D, 621). Certainly this scenario involves the healthy, constructive impulse for industry that helps a child grow up. But the violence and singular compulsion that Tocqueville also associates with U.S. acquisitiveness suggest something more.

M O N E Y, M A R R I A G E , A N D M A N LY C I T I Z E N S H I P To weigh the impact of the money-loving code of honor on democratic maturation, consider Tocqueville’s account of its effect on the character of inhabitants. First, this code praises men for being rash and reckless in pursuit of wealth. In the United States, the “type of courage best known and best appreciated is that which makes a man brave the fury of the ocean to reach port more quickly” (D, 622–23; see also 402–3). In the name of winning fortune, financial ruin is common, and some even die in their intense drive to clear the forest, press deeper into the wilds, or quickly navigate the stormy Atlantic. But the Americans,“who have turned rash speculation into a sort of virtue, can in



no case stigmatize those who are thus rash” (D, 621–22). However, apparently contradicting himself,Tocqueville elsewhere reports that men of industry “like order, without which affairs do not prosper, and they set an especial value on regularity of mores, which are the foundation of a sound business”; he says that “all those quiet virtues which tend to regularity in the body social and which favor trade are sure to be held in special honor by this people, and to neglect them will bring one into public contempt”; and that “trade is the natural enemy of all violent passions.Trade loves moderation, delights in compromise, and is most careful to avoid danger. It is patient, supple, and insinuating, only resorting to extreme measures in cases of absolute necessity” (D, 285, 621, 637). How are such different passions and sensibilities possibly combined in the individual and social psyche? In assessing the boldness of American industrial men,Tocqueville trains his eye on the institution of marriage. He says that American marriages are characterized by a purity of morals that promotes stability for the men and for industry itself. Public opinion in the United States “but gently curbs love of money, for that serves the industrial expansion and prosperity of the nation. But it is particularly hard on bad morals, which distract attention from the search for well-being and disturb that domestic harmony which is so essential to men’s business success” (D, 622). This must be considered in light of Tocqueville’s claim that it is women who “shape mores” and therefore public opinion in U.S. democracy, and that it is “in the souls of the women” that religion “reigns supreme” (D, 291; see also ch. 3). It seems that in Tocqueville’s America, the reckless passions of industry and the sober sensibilities governing marital relations coexist because industry and marriage are constituted as differentiated psychic arenas, each assigned to one of the two sexes. Like the one he crafts between textually male democratic politics and textually female religion,Tocqueville imagines a harmonious marriage between (men’s) industry and trade, on the one hand, and (women’s) morality in domestic relations, on the other, which together yield a stable societal order. In both sets of heterosexual complements, the female force usefully supports by buffering and ordering the dramatic passions of the productive male, as active subject.32 But this apparent complement is never combined in any one individual, so that, for instance,“you will never find American women in charge of the external relations of the family, managing a business, or interfering in politics.”33 Conflict between the passions of industry and social stability is, in other words, softened by a social order based in radical, binary, gender differentiation. Though Tocqueville is unconcerned, his U.S. democracy’s appeal to such social foundations may very well attenuate social flux, but at the deep cost of universal, egalitarian, individual access to enterprise and citizenship.



The money-loving code of honor threatens active citizenship in other ways. Tocqueville writes that “an American will attend to his private interests as if he were alone in the world; the moment afterward, he will be deep in public business as if he had forgotten his own. Sometimes he seems to be animated by the most selfish greed and sometimes by the most lively patriotism” (D, 541). Seemingly,American males successfully combine acquisitive drive with political association. But in Tocqueville’s account, the dispositional requirements of commercialism and industry undercut democracy’s necessary education in “self-interest properly understood.” The latter is informed by the needs of individuals in the context of community and society, and recognizes that widespread political liberty is in the best interest of the individual. Such citizenship rises above democracy’s immature yearning for comfort and its materialism, ensuring that democracy’s ardent passion for equality is buffered by love of liberty, to foment mutual esteem. But where democracy’s passions are captured by the lures of intense commercialism and profit-making, this healthy disposition is lost. For one thing, the industry-loving code of honor ennobles solitude—the American pioneer does well to “face without complaint the privations of life in the wilds and that solitude which is harder to bear than any privations”—and also possessive individualism (D, 622–23):“Trade makes men independent of one another and gives them a high idea of their personal importance; it leads them to want to manage their own affairs and teaches them how to succeed therein” (D, 637).While mature democracy is marked by collective as well as individual struggle amid flux, shared decision making, and listening to the respected needs of others, money-loving sensibilities encourage individualistic ego. Echoing the competitive fraternalism of Tocqueville’s European and Natives Americans, citizens in Tocqueville’s commercial, industrial U.S. democracy competitively eye each other in their quest for money and the resources of mother nature. Historian Edward Pessen argues that, indeed, in the Jacksonian era, men envisioned themselves engaged in “great killings” as they were inspired by a “speculative spirit” that fed a “frenzied race for riches.”34 Given the disparate psychic and character demands of democratic maturation and the pursuit of wealth,Tocqueville concludes,“a human heart cannot really be divided this way” (D, 54). Add to this the fact that the unrelenting pursuit of money forecloses time for participation in civic and political associations (see D, 540), and U.S. democracy’s likelihood of growing up looks bleak. There is another level of diagnosis to be made. Not only does love of money eclipse the disposition and time needed for mature citizenship, it also serves as a venue for young democracy to act on its desire to reconstitute the securities of hierarchical order.Tocqueville observes that,



When the prestige attached to what is old has vanished . . . there is . . . hardly anything left but money which makes very clear distinctions between men or can raise some of them above the common level. Distinction based on wealth is increased by the disappearance or diminution of all other distinctions. In aristocratic nations money is the key to the satisfaction of but few of the vast array of possible desires; in democracies it is the key to them all. So one usually finds that love of money is either the chief or a secondary motive at the bottom of everything the Americans do (D, 615).

Tocqueville goes some distance to illustrate how, while the U.S. code of honor is impelled by democracy’s passion for the idea of equality, this code also prevents actual socioeconomic equality among U.S. inhabitants:“I know no other country where love of money has such a grip on men’s hearts or where stronger scorn is expressed for the theory of permanent equality of property” (D, 54). This paradox is sustained by the code of honor that justifies ideologically the socioeconomic conditions that it entrenches.That is, in U.S. democracy, rendering money seeking honorable produces class structures determined not by birth, as in European aristocracy, but by the logic of commercial industry, which concentrates wealth and requires a constantly available pool of needy workers. What is important psychologically is that in institutionalizing a new hierarchical order, this wealth-based social stratification assuages postaristocratic, postcertainty anxiety by dampening democracy’s flux and open-ended freedoms. In light of this claim it is worth considering Tocqueville’s observation in Democracy in America that “now two contrary revolutions seem to be taking place” (D, 688). His intended point is that the “heat of the democratic revolution” is fueled, on the one hand, by democracy’s urgent, uncompromising desire to tear down the ordered hierarchies of aristocracy. It is these energies most evident in the text’s first volume. But on the other hand, this radical impulse for equality is subsequently offset by “instincts” also “natural” to equality of conditions, wherein fear of flux encourages reconsolidation of power (D, 689). Here Tocqueville expresses the fear, which preoccupies him in Democracy in America’s second volume, of democratic state despotism. But this same unhealthy democratic tendency to manifest new forms of structured, centralized power drives U.S. democracy’s ready reception of private industry as a class system.35 As Tocqueville writes, democratic people are too easily “worried and worn out by the constant restlessness of everything.With everything on the move in the realm of the mind, they want the material order at least to be firm and stable”; to achieve this end, they are willing to “hand themselves over to a master” (D, 444, emphasis added).To explore this thesis further, let us turn to Tocqueville’s democratic middle-class and its passion for protecting private property.



MIDDLE CLASS DESIRE AND THE STILLING OF POLITICS While love of money and comfort would produce “sumptuous depravity and startling corruption” in aristocracy, destabilizing its elaborate order, it does not do so in democracies, reports Tocqueville. In democracy, people’s material desires are “petty” but do not oppose “good order; indeed they often require good order for their satisfaction. Nor [are they] hostile to moral regularity, for sound morals are good for public tranquillity and industry.”36 In fact, against the flux and instability that mark young democracy, its middle class readily becomes deeply conservative.As we have seen,Tocqueville observes that the individualism democracy spawns separates citizens from one another as they pursue material gain. This dynamic could contribute to democratic flux since it would seemingly make for “times of swift and constant transformation” (D, 635). But Tocqueville observes an opposite tendency in his U.S. democracy’s middle class.37 In democracy, he argues, there will always be rich and poor, but the middle class is easily the biggest. Movement between classes is far more possible than in aristocratic times, rendering democracy’s classes less cohesive and coherent (D, 541). Consequently, the middle class “is an innumerable crowd who are much alike, who, though not exactly rich nor yet quite poor, have enough property to want order and not enough to excite envy.”Tocqueville is clear that he is not “suggesting that they are themselves satisfied with their actual position”; in fact,“their eagerness to get rich is unparalleled.” But in the society he observes, members of the middle class both enjoy some property and “live in the conditions in which men attach most value to property” (D, 636). Tocqueville says that in democracy, the passions “due to ownership are keenest among the middle class.”These people “are still very close to poverty, [and] they see its privations in detail and are afraid of them; nothing but a scanty fortune, the cynosure of all their hopes and fears, keeps them therefrom.”Anxiously seeking to secure as much property as possible, they invest “constant care” and “continual exertions” to guard and increase it. In the logic of Democracy in America’s subtextual family drama, members of this postaristocratic democratic class seem haunted by the loss of mother-aristocracy’s securities, as “the thought of losing [their property] completely strikes them as the worst of all evils” (D, 636).We have seen that Tocqueville’s democrats transform aristocracy’s hierarchical law of primogeniture into a rule of shared inheritance to ensure that no son is left propertyless; this happily serves both male egalitarianism and the democratic tendency to cling to material things. But valuing property most, the middle class grows inconsiderate of political liberty: people so “bent on physical pleasures usually observe how agitation in favor of liberty threatens prosperity before they appreciate how liberty helps to procure the same.” Fearing the chaos apparently heralded by flux, they “are always ready



to jettison liberty in the slightest storm” in the name of “the trivial pleasures of their private lives” (D, 540).Therefore, “such men are the natural enemies of violent commotion; their immobility keeps all above and below them quiet, and assures the stability of the body social” (D, 636). This middle-class love of private property quiets social and political flux by setting tight ideological limits that preordain conservative outcomes.That is, the passions and fears around property congeal into boundaries around public debate that ensure that the right to accumulate private property is always assumed. In Tocqueville’s U.S. democracy, the passion for private property is an unquestioned, foundational principle that politics does not challenge, and the permitted spectrum of meaningful debate is narrowed.38 So, he observes,“because the inhabitants of democracies always seem excited, uncertain, hurried, and ready to change both their minds and their situation, it has been supposed that they want immediately to abolish their laws, adopt new beliefs, and conform to new manners.” But, “it has not been noted that while equality leads men to make changes it also prompts them to have interests which require stability for their satisfaction” (D, 644). “Although the Americans are constantly modifying or repealing some of their laws,” this formal political flux is rendered superficial by a private property-loving political order.That is, not only is Tocqueville’s U.S. democracy partly stilled and apparently secured by way of symbolically female religious and moral foundations, as chapter 3 argued. So too are symbolically male democratic politics themselves sharply delimited to minimize flux.As we have seen, William Connolly, Mark Reinhardt, and Michael Shapiro explore how Tocqueville’s healthy democracy a priory excludes from political consideration questions of religion, sex-gender, and “race.” And Stephen Schneck argues that Tocqueville’s middle-class Americans also shrink the purview of politics.39 As Tocqueville says,Americans “stop and calm themselves just when public agitation begins to be threatening” to questions of private property;“in no other country in the world is the love of property keener or more alert than in the United States, and nowhere else does the majority display less inclination toward doctrines which in any way threaten the way property is owned.”40 Democratic middle-class conservatism is not enlightened self-interest, but a concern to guarantee personal access to wealth as a means to psychic security. By the second volume of Democracy in America, then,Tocqueville’s earlier preoccupation with excessive civic energies gives way to his fear that democracy’s middle class swaps democratic “manliness” for a shallow realm of personal materialistic concern: “If the citizens continue to shut themselves up more and more narrowly in the little circle of petty domestic interests and keep themselves constantly busy therein,” they may “become practically out of reach of those great and powerful public emotions which do indeed perturb peoples but which also make them grow [les développents] and refresh them.”



In the face of such “anxious and eager” love of private wealth,“I cannot help fearing that men may reach a point where they look on every new theory as a danger, every innovation as a toilsome trouble, every social advance as a first step toward revolution.” He imagines communal and intergenerational bonds shattered if these people “finally become so engrossed in a cowardly love of immediate pleasures that their interest in their own future and in that of their descendants may vanish, and that they will prefer tamely to follow the course of their destiny rather than make a sudden energetic effort necessary to set things right” (D, 645).

W O R K E R S, O W N E R S, A N D T H E V E I L O F C O N T R A C T When Tocqueville visited the United States in the 1830s, agriculture was the most prevalent economic activity. But the factory system and its division of labor was emerging in New England and, by 1840, the United States lagged behind England alone in industrialization.41 Tocqueville indisputably underestimated the impact this emergent mode of production would soon have on the world.42 But, including and beyond Tocqueville’s deliberate articulations, Democracy in America suggests industry has political implications that seriously trouble democracy’s development. Tocqueville imagines that the new industrial hierarchy can rekindle aristocracy:“We shall now see by what roundabout route industry may in turn lead men back to aristocracy” (D, 555). In resembling the hierarchical structure of Old Europe, this economy seems to help fill the void left in the psyche of postaristocratic, atomistic democracy, quelling lingering desire for certainty through ordered inequalities that define everyone’s place. But any such reassurance is only ironic: the new “aristocracy” provides none of the securities found in Europe’s former social state because it is not constructed on formal relations of mutual obligation. “The territorial aristocracy of past ages was obliged by law, or thought itself obliged by custom, to come to the help of its servants and relieve their distress,” and lower classes felt a duty toward their lifelong masters. Modern industry abandons this code for democracy’s atomistic view of the individual. In this new era, relations between owners and workers readily manifest as ties of desperation and objectification.Tocqueville remarks, this “industrial aristocracy of our day, when it has impoverished and brutalized the men it uses, abandons them in time of crisis to public charity to feed them. . . . Between workman and master there are frequent relations but no true association” (D, 557–58). Most ominously, democracy’s passion for the idea of equality and individual autonomy—democracy’s governing ideology—casts these new hierarchical relations in the language of individual choice.This democratic language holds out the hope to all that, as equals, they too can be rich and independent;



it is a matter of personal drive. Commerce and industry are imagined by inhabitants to serve and reward individual choice and, therefore, as the economy appropriate to democracy. But Democracy in America helps us see that this discourse conceals the fact that privately owned industry, even in democracy, means wealth is concentrated among only a few so that the great majority of people must sell their labor, precisely because they own no wealth. This new order offsets flux by eclipsing for workers a viable means through which to challenge the economy’s terms.Tocqueville writes that “in America it sometimes happens that one and the same man will till his fields, build his house, make his tools, cobble his shoes, and with his own hands weave the coarse cloth that covers him.”This kind of creative and self-driven labor develops individual capacities and “greatly serves to develop the worker’s intelligence.” In contrast, “An extreme division of labor, more than anything else whatsoever, tends to turn men into machines and to deprive the things made of any trace of soul” (D, 400; see Satz, 67). As the division of labor takes hold in democracy, workmen come to spend “every day on the same detail” to ensure that “the finished article is produced more easily, quickly, and economically.” But a man so engaged “loses the general faculty of applying his mind to the way he is working. Every day he becomes more adroit and less industrious, and one may say that in his case the man is degraded as the workman improves” (D, 555).Tocqueville sees democracy’s maturity hinging on education in manliness. But such monotonous, imprisoning labor de-educates workers in political skills.“What is one to expect from a man who has spent twenty years of his life making heads for pins?”Tocqueville asks, with echoes of Adam Smith,“and how can he employ that mighty human intelligence which has so often stirred the world, except in finding out the best way of making heads for pins?”The “thought” of such a man is “permanently fixed on the object of his daily toil” and his “body” is twisted into “certain fixed habits that it can never shake off.”When mature, democracy signifies autonomy and collective self-governance amid flux. But Tocqueville concludes that such a worker in democracy “no longer belongs to himself ” (D, 556). This does not mean that industry and its division of labor are alien to democracy.When things are traced “back to their source,” democracy is seen to contain “a natural impulse” that helps produce owners and workers (D, 557). “As conditions become more and more equal in the body of the nation, the need for manufactured products becomes greater and more general, and the cheapness which brings these things within reach of men of moderate fortune becomes an ever greater element in success.”Then,“as it becomes ever clearer that the products of industry become better and cheaper as factories become vaster and capital greater, very rich and well-educated men come forward to exploit industries.” But these democratic dynamics, when permitted by a



distracted citizenry to ripen into unchecked commercialism and industrialization, directly interfere with democracy’s potential to develop well. Rather than a form of association that educates a worker in political skill and public mindedness, these hierarchical relations make him “weaker, more limited, and more dependent” (D, 556).Tocqueville therefore admonishes that democracies “should attach less importance to the work and more to the workman” because they “cannot long remain great if each man is individually weak” (D, 701). The character of owners also suffers from partaking in such an economy. Under these conditions, owners are not educated to recognize and listen to fellow citizens as equals. Rather, they learn a stance of exaggerated superiority because “at the same time that industrial science constantly lowers the standing of the working class, it raises that of the masters.”While the mind of the worker “contracts” as he studies all but “one single detail,” that of the owner “expands” from embracing “a vast field in his vision.”This difference in purview and power shatters the civic potential of the worker and distorts that of the owner. While the worker becomes more and more “like a brute,” the owner is aggrandized “like the administrator of a huge empire” (D, 556).Though such domineering power should perhaps remind Tocqueville’s Americans of the power England once held over them, they accept its terms. Now “there is no resemblance between master and workman”; as once they were in European aristocracy, people are again “links in a long chain,” each occupying “a place made for him, from which he does not move.” The subordinate is “in a state of constant, narrow, and necessary dependence,” and “what is this, if not an aristoc racy?”43 But of course it is a harsher one than that of Tocqueville’s prerevolutionary Europe, lacking its characteristic mutual obligations and ties of security.That world, replete with tight bonds that comforted as well as hindered, mirroring Dinnerstein’s view of the mother-infant bond, is supplanted by sheer dominion. Recreating the privilege without the public virtue, the hierarchical chains of command without the bonds of noblesse oblige, the domination without the sense of public duty, this economy flourishes in democracy if not actively checked, stalling democracy’s quest for autonomous self-governance. Naïve to the deep political implications of his own observations,Tocqueville says that the hierarchy of industry can largely coexist with republican citizenship. In the world of industry, men grow “more and more different” and “inequality increases within [this] little society.” But in the world of politics and society at large, “men appear more and more like” as inequality “decreases” (D, 556, 557).True, he admits, the “aristocracy” produced by industry is “one of the hardest that have appeared on earth,” featuring “some very opulent men and a multitude of wretchedly poor ones,” but it is also one of the “most restrained and least dangerous” since it “only flourishes in industry” (D, 558,



557).This is to suggest that citizenship is a bounded realm of relations that go untouched by mounting inequality generated in industrial and socioeconomic realms. Tocqueville argues further that although industry creates a class system and the poor can seldom change their lot, rich men can easily lose their fortune. There is therefore “no solidarity among the rich,” “no true link between rich and poor” and the “workman is dependent on masters in general, but not on a particular master.” Between owner and worker “there is one point of contact”—relations of exchange—but “in all other respects they stand far apart.The industrialist only asks the workman for his work, and the latter only asks him for his pay” (D, 557).Tocqueville hereby orders democracy further by imagining an economic sphere discrete from a political one. However, on psychic terrain and in terms of character development, relations in industry clearly mitigate the capacity for workers and owners to practice mutual citizenship. This industrial power plays a disturbing role in relation to the text’s symbolic family, developmental drama.To use Dinnerstein’s terms, it performs as a monstrous parent-substitute by establishing authoritative order in society and constraining its individuals. Particularly interesting is how willingly the people apparently abandon self-governance and consent to such hierarchical authority. Of course, an ideology of contract enables Tocqueville’s workers and owners alike to imagine that capitalist relations do not interfere with self-mastery.The notion of contract draws upon democratic principles, presuming participation by free and equal individuals. In so doing it assures inhabitants not only that the idea of contract is appropriate to democracy, but that the feudal ties of aristocracy have been successfully torn asunder. No longer is this a world of fixed dominance and subordination, it says; here, each man is grown up. But now Tocqueville regains critical distance, indicating that the discourse of contract conceals from owners and workers the inegalitarian structures that constitute their lives.In Democracy in America is a complex account of how democracy’s passion for the idea of equality and yearning for principles of independence produce relations based on contract. Here is further evidence that Tocqueville’s developing democracy accepts relations of hierarchy to assuage its buried desire for structured authority, while simultaneously presuming its foundational principles, equality and individual liberty.Tocqueville observes that “there has not yet been a society in which conditions were so equal that there was neither rich nor poor, and consequently neither masters nor servants.” Indeed, democracy, though driven by a passion for equality,“in no way prevents the existence of these two classes, but it changes their attitudes and modifies their relations” (D, 573). Emblematic for him of the democratic passion for equality is the psychological shift in the master-servant relation in the transition from aristocracy to democracy.Tocqueville’s short but weighty chapter,“How Democracy



Modifies the Relations between Master and Servant,” plumbs the psychology of this transition.44 In aristocracy, the social state is organized by an immutable “fixed order” of masters and servants. Because there is no mobility between classes, servants “do not understand fame, virtue, honesty and honor in the same way as their masters. But they have devised fame, virtues, and honesty suited to servants, and they conceive, if I may put it so, a sort of servile honor.”Among servants,“one is astonished to find . . . as among the most highly placed members of the feudal hierarchy, pride of birth, respect for ancestors and descendants, scorn for inferiors, a fear of contact, and a taste for etiquette, precedents, and antiquity” (D, 573, including note).This is because,“in aristocratic societies the poor are trained from infancy to thoughts of obedience.All around, wherever they look, they see hierarchies of command.” Tocqueville sees this system of permanent inequality and fixed station impressing upon hearts and minds a psychology of legitimate hierarchy, command, and obedience. It creates security as it imposes domination, provides coherence as it restricts autonomy. The master “easily obtains from his servants an obedience which is prompt, complete, respectful, and easy, because they honor him not only as the master, but as representing the class of masters. He brings the whole weight of the aristocracy to bear on their wills.”The master understands his servants “as an inferior and secondary part of himself, and he often takes an interest in their fate by the extended scope of his selfishness.”The servants in turn “sometimes identify themselves so much with the master personally that they become an appendage to him in their own eyes as well as in his.” Such a man in the extreme loses his “sense of self-interest” and “transports the whole of himself into his master’s character.” He comes to “take pleasure in identifying himself with the wealth of those whom he obeys; he glories in their fame, exalts himself by their nobility, and constantly feeds on borrowed grandeur to which he often attaches more value than do those who possess it fully and in truth” (D, 574–75).With this mentality of inequality so engrained and legitimated, the individual neither seeks nor even yearns to change his fortune and status. Like an infant content in the arms of all-powerful mother, the servant commits himself to the terms of this relationship. It is in reaction against such authority that Tocqueville’s democracy comes to birth.This transition uproots the master-servant psychology of aristocracy, “makes new men of servant and of master and establishes new connections between them” (D, 575). In democracy,Tocqueville claims, because conditions have been leveled, “men are continually changing places.There is still a class of valets and a class of masters, but they are not forever composed of the same individuals, and more especially, not of the same families.” This movement between classes ensures they are not set apart by distinctive class customs because “the servant may at any time become the master, and he wants to do so. So the



servant is not a different type of man from the master.”Given this, asks Tocqueville, what grounds the right to command and obligation to obey in democracy? The answer:“a temporary and freely made agreement,” or contract. It is only within the bounds of this limited contract that one is servant and the other master; beyond, they are “two citizens, two men.” Now “those who give the orders are no more permanent than those who obey,” and the “same equality prevails among servants as masters” (D,576). Relations based on contract thus mark the transition from the mother-child-like relations of Tocqueville’s aristocracy into egalitarian ones that create autonomous and choosing individuals. The democratic discourse inculcates the belief that “in the depths of their being” masters and servants share some “natural resemblance” that undoes any extracontractual obligations to one another (D, 574, 577).The servant in democracy does not “desert himself ” to live on “borrowed grandeur”; he is his own man (D, 575). Tocqueville is clear that this type of relationship does not apply to freed slaves in the northern United States who, though legally raised to the level of their masters,nonetheless suffer as “mores obstinately push them back.”But “white men who agree for wages temporarily to perform the wishes of others” do not think themselves “naturally inferior to those who give the orders, [and] they submit without reluctance to obey them.” Such men “have freely promised” to perform the work they do, and thus can carry into domestic service “some of those manly habits [des habitudes viriles] which are born of freedom and equality.”45 There is therefore “nothing degrading” about being a domestic servant in democracy “because it is freely adopted and temporary and because it is not stigmatized by public opinion and creates no permanent inequality between master and servant” (D, 579). Seemingly, as free and choosing masters of themselves, these servants can, alongside their masters, act as citizens. The advent of democracy thus transforms the psychology of relations between inhabitants toward one based in an ideology of equality, even though a new kind of inequality is created between them. Democracy “in no way prevents the existence” of the master-servant classes,“but it changes their attitudes and modifies their relations.”46 Looking more closely at Tocqueville’s text, however, it becomes clear that it is in spite of standing inequalities that in the United States “the master considers the contract the sole source of his power, and the servant thinks it the sole reason for his obedience.” So,“no matter how wealth or poverty, power or obedience, accidentally put great distances between two men, public opinion, based on the normal way of things, puts them near the common level and creates a sort of fancied equality between them, in spite of the actual inequality of their lives” (D, 577, emphasis added). Perhaps to compensate for the loss of aristocracy’s intimate obligations and security, democratic culture exaggerates the extent to which it has successfully attained the equality,



independence, and personal authority it sought in its acts of independence. In other words, contract reinforces an ideological belief in equality and self-rule— a belief that democracy’s inhabitants want to hold.Tocqueville remarks, even if they do not have wealth or can not get it, they want “to seem to have” it (D,566). Rank is not formally fixed, and inhabitants like to believe their destiny is wholly in their hands, even when prevailing structures drastically limit their options. The “all-powerful”passion for the idea of equality clouds consciousness as it “finally infuses itself into the thoughts even of those whose interest it is to fight against [this fancied equality]; it both modifies their judgment and subdues their will.” Between master and servant there is “no dispute” about “their reciprocal position; each easily sees what is his and keeps to it.”47 Tocqueville further lays bare the ideological nature of democracy’s equality-based contractarianism when he discusses the confused state of master-servant relations in contemporary Europe. There, where the transition from aristocratic relations to democratic ones remains incomplete and mired in revolutionary chaos, the democratic “rule” that will someday prescribe master-servant relations is not yet an “all-powerful opinion.” Its peculiarity does not yet escape notice among Europeans, though it will soon do so, by “modifying wills” and “subduing judgment.” But during Europe’s transition from aristocracy to democracy is “a moment of hesitation between the aristocratic conception of subjection and the democratic conception of obedience.” In this moment between aristocracy’s and democracy’s hegemonic worldviews, neither the aristocratic nor democratic modes of obedience make sense nor appear wholly legitimate, so the notion of obedience “loses its moral basis.” In this setting, the democratic contractual conception of obedience comes clear as contextually bound. Rooted not in some transcendent principle of justice, it shows itself to be an ideological belief legitimated by its association with the democratic principles of equality and individual choice. In this transitory moment in Europe when democratic notions of contract are abstract rather than felt, the servant no longer feels obedience is rooted in the idea of “divinely appointed duty,” but neither is he yet convinced of its “purely human aspect” as a voluntary, interpersonal arrangement.Thus,“in his eyes it is neither sacred nor just.” He may freely agree to serve another man, but is “ashamed to obey.” In this period of ambivalent transition from aristocratic controls to democratic autonomy, servants want to reap the benefits of service but “are not sure that they should not be the masters, and they are inclined to consider the man who gives them orders as an unjust usurper of their rights.” As for toddlers and adolescents struggling to outgrow parental authority, the “lines between authority and tyranny, liberty and license, and right and might seem to [postrevolutionary Europeans] so jumbled and confused that no one knows exactly what he is, what he can do, and what he should do.” Until the democratic rule



of “fancied equality” reigns in Europeans’ hearts, servants recognize inequality for what it is and “revolt against an inferiority to which they have themselves submitted,” unsure “whether this equality to which they have a right is to be found within or outside the scope of domestic service” (D, 579, 582). From this in-between standpoint, the genuine autonomy and equality sought in the war against aristocracy are not clearly assured by the new terms of contractual relations. And so before the “fixed and regulated” order of democratic contractarianism is accepted as “just,” “the master is malevolent and soft, the servant malevolent and intractable; the former constantly tries by unfair restrictions to evade his duty to protect and renumerate, and the later shirks his duty to obey.” Only after the democratic version of master-servant relations is entrenched will contractual relations be “neither scornful nor angry” (D, 579–80). Then masters can command other men who willingly submit because they all believe themselves to be free and equal.48 It is unsurprising that Tocqueville would investigate the psychology of contractual relations in the context of domestic service, given that he was a nobleman. But he considered changes to master-servant relations indicative of changes to the ethos of the broader social state. However, commentators have tended to overlook his claim that most of what he has said of masters and servants “applies to masters and workmen” in industry.49 With the dissolution of hereditary status in Europe,“the distance separating master from workman daily diminishes both in fact and in men’s minds” (D, 582).The principle of democratic contract gets entrenched and democracy’s quest to dismantle fixed hierarchies seems to have been fulfilled. But, obvious inequalities in wealth notwithstanding, in the “constant struggle about wages,” democratic contractual relations most empower owners of capital.Tocqueville observes that “one can assert that a slow, progressive rise in wages is one of the general laws characteristic of democratic societies. As conditions become more equal, wages rise; and as wages rise, conditions become more equal” (D, 583). But on closer look, with wealth concentrated in the hands of a small elite, one sees that these industrialists can collude when they will to force wages downward. Workers, though enjoying periods of “extraordinary prosperity” that suggest empowerment as equal partners to a contract,“soon develop habits of body and mind which render them unsuited to any other work,” including the political self-rule that is purportedly the hallmark of democracy.“Such men usually have little education, energy, or resources and are therefore at their master’s mercy.” In such a context, it seems nearly impossible for workers to organize themselves for action. Even if they can, a master can outwait a strike “without ruining himself,” while workers “must work every day if they are not to die, for they scarcely have any property beyond their arms.” Democracy’s contractual relations therefore leave workers, forced to bear the “needs” and “desires” of owners, in a position of stark



“dependence and poverty” (D, 584). So, in the shadow of free and equal contract stands a new democratic hierarchy featuring greedy, aggrandized owners and dependent subordinates. In Tocqueville’s analysis, democracy’s commitment to the discourse of equality and individual freedom helps justify the loss of aristocracy’s security and intimate mutualities, and suggests that democracy’s inhabitants have developed self-governing maturity. While the new economic relations in democracy constitute a historically new form of inequality, the ideology of contract molds in its favor the consciousness “even of those whose interest it is to fight against it.” Even workers take on a sort of middle-class mindset, failing to identify their interest in struggle. In Democracy in America’s subtextual tale of childdemocracy’s postaristocratic development, these veiled class inequalities serve the subterranean, unacknowledged desire for the putative comfort of fixed identities and ranks. But the strategy fails: the workers are not protected from above by bonds of obligation, and neither do they win much of the security that commercial, industrial democracy does offer: money and private property. Meanwhile, in the text’s familial narrative, though Tocqueville does not directly encode it as such, owners and the economic structure itself wield power like a substitute parent for democratic society, but with all the maturity of greedy, needy children, recalling Tocqueville’s claim, homo puer robustus. Workers are forced to shoulder the desires of these owners who, like monstrous infants, secure for themselves control over mother nature’s resources. Dinnerstein might see in these child-lords the mythical minotaur, the “gigantic and eternally infantile” force whose “mindless, greedy power” is a dangerous consequence of an unresolved infancy.50 Tocqueville describes their desire for material wellbring as a “passion-mère” from which they have not been “wean[ed]” (D, 448). Sensing these dangers to democracy’s development,Tocqueville concludes his analysis of industry with an appeal to citizens: that they “should keep their eyes anxiously fixed” in its direction (D, 557–58). But the caution is naïve.Among owners, the middle class, and workers, what mature citizens remain to perform this necessary task?51

T H E S TAT E A S PA R E N T This chapter’s analysis suggests that, from the standpoint of Democracy in America’s familial and developmental narrative, intense commercialism, private property, and industrialism not only arrest the development of Tocqueville’s adolescent U.S. democracy, but render it aggressively puerile.Though Tocqueville situates his democracy within a familial context to help it, in the absence of its aristocratic mother, to grow up well, somehow these foundations prove inadequate. With the time and mental disposition needed for republican citizenship



foreclosed, conditions arise for the emergence of a gently domineering state. In the second volume of Democracy in America,Tocqueville’s earlier preoccupation with democracy’s excess energies and potential for chaos shifts as he argues that inhabitants’ fear of such democratic flux stirs desire for firm social order and authority from above. Of particular concern here is the fact that commercialism and industry themselves promote the growth and concentration of state power. While it is commonly assumed today that capitalist enterprise eschews extensive state power,Tocqueville’s analysis indicates the opposite. Tocqueville observes that in Europe, emergent industrialization encourages the government to increase its activity and expand its prerogatives in two ways. First, in fostering complex relations among people, in exposing them “to sudden alternations of plenty and want, which threaten public peace,” and thereby in endangering “the health, even the life, of those who make money out of it or who are employed therein,” industry creates the need for fixed “rules, supervision, and restraint, and it naturally follows that the functions of government multiply as they multiply.”52 The state offsets for owners and workers both the tumult and dislocation caused by the new economy, and in so doing, legitimates the idea of a commercial and industrial mode of production; quelling revolutionary energies produced by the new economy, the state enables it. Therefore, as Roger Boesche notes, this state is not neutral but rather an authoritative pro-industry arbiter between owners and workers.53 Second,Tocqueville argues that industrialization of a democratic nation also presses the government to create an infrastructure that “aid[s] the growth of wealth.” The drive to industrialize produces demands for roads, canals, ports, and the like, which few private persons can or would fulfill, so governments begin “to undertake such matters on their sole responsibility.”The more activities the state participates in, the greater its own need of industrial output, and thus the greater its tendency to initiate industrial endeavors. Soon it becomes “the leading industrialist” itself, further solidifying governing industrial relations and forms of production (D, 686). Industry (and its owning class, the symbolic “robust child”), hereby directs the state, the central authoritative entity, to fulfill industry’s needs and desires. But in Tocqueville’s analysis, the state itself then takes on and embodies these same needs and drives: “Governments thus appropriate to themselves and put to their own use the greater part of the new force which industry has created in the world of our time. Industry leads us along, and [governments] lead industry” (D, 687).We shall explore in the next chapter how Tocqueville personifies the despotic democratic state as a “tutelary” perversion of la puissance paternelle, keeping its charges in a “perpetual childhood [l’enfance]” (D, 692). He fears this development descending upon Europe, but expects the Americans to avoid it. However, in Tocqueville’s own account, commercialism, industrialism, and the unquestioned dedication to private property in



the United States also promote pathological, infantilizing relations. In the American case though, the powerful state is characterized by the same excessive, puerile drives rooted in the inhabitants and their economic structure. In Europe, the state’s pathology is evident in the fact that, in endorsing and participating in industry, it wants “associations,” that school for democratic maturity,“under its control.” Given its vested interest in shielding industrial ventures from the pressures of critically minded citizens, and perhaps also in jealously shielding its interests from the competition of other industrialists, this largely autonomous state “looks with disfavor on associations that are not under its thumb” and works to shrink their independent powers.54 Any remaining capacity for citizens to organize to question standing economic relations is rendered a final blow. Because of its constitutional fear of anarchy, democracy’s middle class contributes to this amalgamation of state power by investing in it a further capacity to protect this class’s interest in private property.The middle-class desire to accumulate property as security leads it “to increase the functions of the central government, the only power which they think strong, intelligent, and stable enough to protect them from anarchy” (D, 677).That is,“in a democracy only the state inspires confidence in private persons, for it alone seems to them to have some force and permanence” (D, 682). Recreating security in the absence of the legal and class structures of aristocracy, this textually personified state is a comforting parent substitute. Middle-class people’s unrelenting drive to accumulate makes it difficult for them to “tear themselves away from their private affairs and pay attention to those of the community; [and] the natural inclination is to leave the only visible and permanent representative of collective interests, that is to say, the state, to look after them” (D, 671).Any recognition of the import of citizen association and “self-interest properly understood” thus dissolved, the state is welcomed as the power that will care for base democratic desires. Tocqueville thus warns of a “very dangerous phase” in the life of industrial democracies:“When the taste for physical pleasures has grown more rapidly than either education or experience of free institutions, the time comes when men are carried away and lose control of themselves at sight of the new good things they are ready to snatch.” Tantalized by the goods and comforts that seductive equality says should be theirs, inhabitants fail to see “a close connection between private fortunes and general prosperity.”There is “no need to drag their rights away from citizens of this type; they themselves voluntarily let them go. They find it a tiresome inconvenience to exercise political rights which distract them from industry.” In fact, “Such folk think they are following the doctrine of self-interest, but they have a very crude idea thereof, and the better to guard their interests, they neglect the chief of them, that is, to remain



their own masters” (D, 540). Submitting themselves voluntarily to a state that will “above all guarantee good order,” their goal is to have their “material interests flourish,” but, he warns, “it is through good order that all peoples have reached tyranny.” So, while Tocqueville deems it necessary for mature democracy to offset flux with forms of social order, he senses the new economic order is unhealthy and excessive.As he writes, democracy “which asks for nothing from the government beyond the maintenance of order is already a slave at the bottom of its heart” (D, 541). But Tocqueville too readily dismisses his own warnings, and provides no account of what sort of economic system would enable democracy’s maturation.55 Still, his scattered analyses of commercialism, private property, and industry in democracy, when brought to bear on the text’s portrait of developing, adolescent U.S. democracy, suggest that this new economy does not just stall its maturation, but cultivates uneducated, excessive, jealous energies. As Tocqueville remarks, the Americans “think it their most important concern to secure a government which will allow them to get the good things they want and which will not stop their enjoying those they have in peace” (D, 541).

5 Impotence and Infantilism

IN THE MERMAID AND THE MINOTAUR, Dinnerstein’s general aim is to reveal why people willingly surrender themselves to oppressive political and social conditions. She charges that we are ambivalent about growing up and, citing Freud, that oppression “is not wholly obnoxious to us. Identification with a powerful authority is a fatefully seductive position.Through identification the child ‘takes the unattackable authority into himself,’ thus acquiring its power,” or at least feeling it has.1 Erich Fromm, she adds, therefore “exhorts his readers to examine and overcome in themselves their chronic, hopeless yearning for a kind of protection and guidance that does not exist, to face the lonely responsibility for human fate that in fact lies in human hands.” But, Dinnerstein argues, neither Freud nor Fromm recognizes that prevailing sex-gender arrangements encourage this evasion of citizenship and freedom.2 Tocqueville makes a parallel charge. He urges the French, situated between the aristocratic world of security and predictability and democracy’s entrenchment, to seize responsibly the agency open to them. Democracy in America’s subtextual family narrative of human development further suggests that the grand order of aristocracy as democracy’s symbolically maternal point of departure deeply shapes young French democracy-as-subject, but in ways that the culture does not acknowledge.Anger and resentment against the imposing, old social structures inspire a principled quest for equality in autonomy, but Tocqueville’s emergent French democracy also contends with the advent of flux and open-ended freedoms, simultaneously inspired to reinstitute authoritative guardians. Meanwhile, Tocqueville’s young U.S. democracy, already actively structuring a new hierarchy of wealth, shows additional danger signs, its maturation potentially stalled by individualism, aggressive major ity tyranny, or passive submission to public opinion.Tocqueville struggles to direct democracy to maturity by offering this now metaphorically motherless offspring an ordered, modern




conjugal family framework as its context for development. With maternal, paternal, and sexual forces rightly arranged, the framework implies, democracy will grow up. But this chapter shows ways in which, in Democracy in America, this symbolic family drama lapses into pathology, perverting democracy’s development.That is, it illustrates ways in which the modern, conjugal family foundations for Tocqueville’s democracy are themselves complicit in this development gone wrong.The central logic of the narrative requires, for male democracy’s health, the combination of male and female energies, but with the female generally contained and subordinated to serve the antecedent male. Maleness in a course of development remains the central subject of this androcentric tale, as the symbolic expression of democratic politics and democracy itself, as maternal aristocracy’s male offspring; in the modern, postaristocratic era, femaleness is required to serve as the good woman behind the man, so to speak. However, Dinnerstein’s work theorizes that sex arrangements that locate women as domestic support to husbands and as exclusive caretakers of children incite females and males alike to play out through their lives unresolved desire for and fear of female dominion. In such a context, male dominion seems a good alternative, signifying escape from female power, while enabling adults to avoid the burden of self-governance. Looking through the lens of Dinnerstein’s theory,Tocqueville’s young democracy, situated amid Democracy in America’s symbolic conjugal family narrative, seems doomed to immaturity.

HYPERMASCULINE INDIVIDUALISM As chapter 3 articulated,Tocqueville understands individualism, a term he popularized, as a mental disposition peculiar to democracy, threatening “to grow as conditions get more equal.” In aristocracy, bonds within and across classes and generations ensure that individuals are “almost always closely involved with something outside themselves.” Democracy replaces this social web with “a calm and considered feeling which disposes each citizen to isolate himself from the mass of his fellows and withdraw into the circle of family and friends; with this little society formed to his taste, he gladly leaves the greater society to look after itself.”The middling tendencies of democracy ensure that most individuals enjoy moderate wealth “to look after their own needs,” and therefore cultivate the “habit of thinking of themselves in isolation”; assuming that “their whole destiny is in their own hands,” they conclude they “owe no man anything and hardly expect anything from anybody” (D, 506, 507).Within this democratic worldview, individualism looks like individual strength. It means radical independence and ambitious self-sufficiency and inspires pride. But,Tocqueville warns,“unless each citizen learned to combine with his fellows to preserve his freedom at a time when he individually is becoming weaker and so less able



in isolation to defend it, tyranny would be bound to increase with equality” (D, 513). In many ways,Tocqueville admires the industry and bravery of that American archetype of individualism, the pioneer. During Tocqueville’s travels, he met one that lived in “solitude,” had “slept on the bare ground,” risked the “Indian’s tomahawk,” and thereby earned his “stoic stiffness.” But this seemingly manliest of American men, this “rugged individualist,” as Herbert Hoover later called it, is nonetheless described by Tocqueville as living a life of “exile.” He is concerned that, in “concentrating on the single object of making his fortune,” this man of “pride” is “deprived of the usual contacts with his fellow men” and has “learnt to make solitude a pleasure.” “He only starts talking to ask you questions, satisfying a need of the head rather than of the heart, and, as soon as he has found out the news he wanted to learn from you, he relapses into silence.” Primarily driven by “some burning, tenacious, implacable passion of the mind” to “win affluence,”“even his feelings for his family have become merged in a vast egotism, and one cannot be sure whether he regards his wife and children as anything more than a detached part of himself.”3 Such extreme androcentric autonomy signals not Tocquevillean “manliness” as republican maturity, but an excessive or hypermasculinity. Rejecting the mutualism and public concern facilitated by female political liberty, this man seizes extreme personal self-governance. Such hypermasculinity overshoots the mark of Tocquevillean liberty, but appears in both U.S. and French discourses of the day as an expression of republican health.The notion of an “American Adam,” of which Tocqueville is critical, epitomizes radical self-sufficiency; this Adam rejects ties to aristocracy, to Europe in general and, in signifying a new beginning for humanity, to history itself. In France, the Hercules image popular during the revolutionary period, deployed in art as masculine symbol of the people, conveys similar values.This symbol was plucked from ancient mythology in which Hercules possessed superhuman power and was consequently promoted to immortality and a rank among the gods. In France, Hercules was eventually adopted to replace on the state seal the moderate, liberty-loving female figure of Marianne.4 As Lynn Hunt observes, while one finds him there often accompanied by female equality and liberty, signified as his sisters, he is the dominant figure, holding them in his hand like trophies. Such renderings exemplify efforts by Jacobins to “reinforce the virile image of the Revolution and down play any association of women with active political roles.”5 In Democracy in America, while Tocqueville eschews individualism as an excessive harbinger of democratic unmanliness, his U.S. democracy, as young male subject in search of autonomy, is nevertheless enticed by the idea of masculine superautonomy. Like an American Adam or Hercules in the wilderness, U.S. democracy seizes individualism as an escape from the cloying ties of its



mère patrie. For Tocqueville, French democracy treads more dangerously yet, not least of all because of the immediate presence of the past. In the throes of democratic revolution,Tocqueville reports,“implacable hatreds” are “engendered between the classes. Such passions last after victory, and one can see traces of them in the ensuing democratic confusion.”Amid the ruins of aristocracy, former nobles “cannot forget their ancient greatness” and “regard all those whom society now makes their equals as oppressors whose fate could not concern them.” Like the mother that Dinnerstein contemplates, these aristocrats,“reduced to taking care of themselves alone,” feel ambivalence about the increasing autonomy of their former charges.6 Meanwhile, those previously subordinated by aristocracy’s hierarchy are, like developing children, ambivalent about their newly won independence.They feel “fear mixed with triumph” toward their former superiors,“presumptuous confidence in their strength” and are “drunk with their new power.” Having escaped the smothering bonds of aristocracy, these democrats “have no inhibition about showing that they care for nobody but themselves” (D, 508, 509). Precisely as reaction against the presence of a maternal past, hypermasculine individualism is triumphant. For his part,Tocqueville struggles to work out this family drama to healthy ends. Rejecting the excessive, self-deceptive masculinism of individualism, he recommends the integration of lessons from his textually maternal aristocracy—lessons in textually female political liberty and religion. Individualism, he argues, jettisons such potentially ennobling energies, as well as those of the healthy, civic-minded form of (also textually female) equality. Because individualism “attacks and destroys all the [other virtues] too and finally merges in egoism,” that “passionate and exaggerated love of self which leads a man to think of all things in terms of himself and to prefer himself to all,” it foresakes “selfinterest properly understood.” 7 Interestingly,Tocqueville’s critique means that, in Democracy in America’s subtextual narrative, while excessive, uncontained female power is generally the cause of democratic pathology, democratic maturation is also eroded by excessive masculinity: like tumultuous democratic politics left unbuffered by female religion, textually male individualism is too much. As we saw in chapter 3,Tocqueville’s gendered economy continues to posit a complementary combination of differentiated masculinity and femininity as the hallmark of healthy democracy, with male subjectivity central but supported essentially by femaleness. But in the text, neither symbolic maleness nor femaleness are singular phenomena, each multiplying into a variety of forms: each as excess (individualism, debased equality, politicized religion), as dangerously muted (civic passivity, absence of liberty), and in balance (republican manliness, political liberty, healthy love of equality).To put this another way, in the text’s narrative, gender proliferates beyond the bounds of simple binary and beyond its implied male:female complement.When it does, democracy is



endangered. So, while male energies should be offset by contained femaleness to ensure the health of the male subject, democracy, excess in one can mean excess in the other (masculine individualism, feminine equality), and absence of one can mean absence of the other (civic manliness, political liberty). In sum, Democracy in America’s familial narrative supposedly ensures democracy’s maturation when its symbolic gender relations maintain the logic of male antecedence, complemented by essential female support.When the gendered imagoes burst out of this structure, democracy’s maturation is threatened. But analyzing democratic dangers through the lens of the text’s symbolic family narrative illustrates how, as foundations, the conservative gender grid is remarkably unreliable.

PUBLIC OPINION: ELLE MÈNE LE MONDE The apparent strength associated with democratic individualism grows more ironic yet when Tocqueville links it to a herd mentality. In Democracy in America’s first volume, American individuals are so energetically civic that Tocqueville fears the power of tyrannical majorities. By the second volume, he is concerned that democracy’s majority partakes in something more sinister yet. He suggests that democracy’s passion for equality can inspire a reflective independence of mind learned through collective deliberation, but it can also enable an unreflective group-think that often accompanies individualism. There are “clearly two tendencies in equality; one turns each man’s attention to new thoughts, while the other would induce him freely to give up thinking at all.” Because of postaristocratic democracy’s social atomism and inclination toward individualism,“it might happen that, having broken down all the bonds which classes or men formerly imposed on it, the human spirit might bind itself in tight fetters to the general will of the greatest number.” (D, 436). In Tocqueville’s French democracy, while the allure of individualism is strong, postrevolutionary turmoil keeps opinion multifarious and flux-ridden. In his U.S. democracy, in the text’s first volume,“no obstacles” can “retard, much less halt” the unfolding powers of public opinion to “give it time to hear the wails of those it crushes as it passes”—a state of affairs “fate laden and dangerous for the future” (D, 248). Such majority tyranny, which forecloses struggle and forces prevailing opinion upon individuals and minorities, transmogrifies in the second volume, the problem becoming one of mindless compliance. To understand this new world,Tocqueville looks back at its point of departure. Marking Europe’s aristocracy as one of capacity as well as landed privilege, he says “there are some very enlightened and learned individuals whose intelligence gives them great power.” In this hierarchical social state,“the multitude” are “very ignorant and blinkered” while members of the learned elite



possess a “greatness and strength which is all their own.”When in conflict with their fellows, these aristocrats “retreat into themselves and there find support and consolation,” needless of society’s opinions (D, 643). But, at the same time, this elite holds a great deal of power over the masses, which are “inclined to be guided in their views” by its learned opinions. In democracy, however, public opinion readily gains preeminence because, with the modern leveling of authority, this aggregate opinion remains “the only guide left to aid private judgment.” The “general idea that any man whosoever can attain an intellectual superiority beyond the reach of the rest is soon cast in doubt” because “men, being so like each other, have no confidence in others.” In turn,“this same likeness leads them to place almost unlimited confidence in the judgment of the public. For they think it not unreasonable that, all having the same means of knowledge, truth will be found on the side of the majority” (D, 435, 641).This way, “the citizen of a democracy comparing himself with the others feels proud of his equality with each.” However, beneath the veneer of bravado is the fact that,“when he compares himself with all his fellows and measures himself against this vast entity, he is overwhelmed by a sense of his insignificance and weakness” (D, 435). “Finding nothing that raises him above their level and distinguishes him, he loses his self-confidence when he comes into collision with them. Not only does he mistrust his own strength, but even comes to doubt his own judgment.” Herculean individualism is a mask for “isolation and impotence” (D,643). Herein lies that slippery slope, identified in chapter 3, of Tocquevillean democratic manliness: the psychic moment in which the inhabitant recognizes that his potential strength emanates not from an interior self but from external sources, and that he must choose from which collectivity he will seek strength, deliberative political association or public opinion.The former is demanding and uncertain, the latter offers ready answers. Moreover, ignoring public opinion can exact deep costs from democracy’s weak inhabitants:“The mass has no need of laws to bend those who do not agree to its will. Its disapproval is enough.The sense of their isolation and impotence at once overwhelms them,”“surrounds, directs, and oppresses” them, and “drives them to despair” (D, 643).Those who manage independent thought must take “great care to avoid a dangerous and futile contest” against prevailing views (D, 644). Despite some confidence in U.S. democracy,Tocqueville sees public opinion dominating it; even “General Jackson is the majority’s slave; he yields to its intentions, desires, and half-revealed instincts,”“bowing before” this seductive, powerful force to “gain its favor” (D, 393). For average inhabitants, life is passed “in movement and noise, and men are so busy acting that they have little time to think” or “think out new opinions”; the demands and energies of commercialism and industry ensure that standing ideas persist, not for their truth, but because “it would take too much time to examine and change them.”8 The



middle classes are especially narcissistic, refusing to “listen when one is not talking about themselves.”Thus,“once an opinion has spread on American soil and taken root there, it would seem that no power on earth can eradicate it” (D, 640).“I know no country in which, speaking generally, there is less independence of mind and true freedom of discussion than in America” (D, 254–55). Tocqueville finds solace only in those manly founders’ constitutional law which, somewhat miraculously, it seems to him, transcends the ravages of social tyranny. Dinnerstein says that “few of us ever outgrow the yearning to be guided as we were when we were children, to be told what to do,” craving as we do some authority to guide and buffer us from the demands of freedom.9 While sinking back wholly into maternal engulfment is terrifying, she adds perceptively,“sinking back partly, on the other hand, is delicious.”10 In Dinnerstein’s analysis, an initial female authority ensures that a child will seek autonomy from femaleness in particular; later, the adult will resent female power but will still crave a higher authority that is not-the-mother. Tocqueville’s analysis of public opinion in U.S. democracy similarly suggests that, having rejected aristocratic elitism, democratic citizens readily elevate popular opinion as a universal authority:“The nearer men are to a common level of uniformity, the less are they inclined to believe blindly in any man or any class,” but become “readier to trust the mass.”As George Lawrence translates it,“public opinion becomes more and more mistress of the world” (D, 435).This translation is noteworthy for how it creatively elaborates upon Tocqueville’s original words: “c’est de plus en plus l’opinion qui mène le monde” (explicitly, it is more and more the opinion that rules the world). Lawrence’s inclination to infuse Tocqueville’s language with the sexually suggestive imagery of a female “mistress” is telling:Tocqueville describes public opinion as a “teacher” and “guide” that “aids” while simultaneously controlling democratic citizens—a double-edged form of power that resembles the authority of the earlier maternal aristocracy (D, 681, 682). He indicates that democratic public opinion teaches individuals how to live among others, but also persuades them to relinquish their independence of mind. Like maternal aristocracy and the mother of Dinnerstein’s analysis, this democratic public opinion dominates “the world”—all dimensions of life— and through that domination, fosters “inertia and silence.” It is against such global authority that Dinnerstein’s infant exerts itself to establish its “I-ness.” This process is complicated by the simultaneous and “naturally keen childhood fantasy wish” to capture and retain something of that omnipotent mother.11 In the subtextual narrative of Democracy in America, in the absence of the aristocratic order’s comforts as well as its hindrances, and against the indeterminate and atomizing flux of democracy, public opinion stands in as a new female guide. Filling the void left by aristocracy, this new authority assures and guides citizens in the face of their daunting new freedoms.12 It may very well play female



“mistress,” as Lawrence suggests, to Tocqueville’s male democracy, distracting male citizens from their responsibilities. But their willing subjection to this female force is a key sign that this democracy has not grown up. But why do Tocqueville’s U.S. citizens turn to this textually female force, instead of to one more clearly distinct from their mère patrie? Dinnerstein expects that in the aftermath of a female point of departure, the chosen authority will be male, although a reassuring female authority will still be desired— in limited form.13 Still, in Democracy in America’s subtext, it is a female force that shapes “the world” so that, as Tocqueville says, democracy has “only one authority, one source of strength and success, and nothing outside it” (D, 255). It is prevailing opinion that infiltrates the realm of law by way of majority rule: “I know that American political laws give the majority the sovereign right to rule society,” and “this political omnipotence simply augments the power which public opinion would have had without it over each citizen.” Indeed, public opinion invades all regions of U.S. political life, so that “when a man or a party suffers an injustice . . . to whom can he turn?” Standing opinion “forms the majority,” and the legislative body “represents the majority and obeys it blindly”; executive power “is appointed by the majority and serves as its passive instrument,” while the police are “nothing but the majority under arms”; even the American jury system, that important school that can teach civic association, is also the “majority vested with the right to pronounce judgment; even the judges in certain states are elected by the majority. So, however iniquitous or unreasonable the measure which hurts you, you must submit” (D, 252). Moreover, religion, the text’s sober female buffer to the tumult of democratic politics, is in the United States “strong less as a revealed doctrine than as a part of common opinion”; and “no matter what political laws men devise for themselves, it is safe to foresee that trust in common opinion will become a sort of religion, with the majority as its prophet.”14 Tocqueville’s U.S. democracy submits to the power of public opinion undoubtedly because it does resemble the dictates of hierarchical aristocracy; as Dinnerstein says, it is delicious to sink back partly into maternal reengulfment, so long as simultaneously, one can believe one has achieved autonomy. And in Tocqueville’s U.S. democracy, citizens embrace their male democratic political rights as evidence of their triumph over maternal England. There is something else at play in the proliferating gendered economy of Tocqueville’s account of public opinion and majority tyranny.While the text’s second volume especially presents public opinion as a diffuse, pervasive power, in the first volume, Tocqueville is concerned with the muscular tyrannical majority because, in U.S. democracy, it is sovereign. In the subtextual gendered economy, majority tyranny is another moment of hypermasculinity, as an amalgam of actually weak, individual, male citizens. It is in one difficult passage on



this oppressive sovereign majority that its danger to Democracy in America’s symbolic conjugal family foundations is fully perceptible. In this imagery-rich passage,Tocqueville compares democracies with monarchies.While democracy’s majority-as-sovereign is composed of a sea of weak male individuals, it gains a composite tyrannical force by threatening to “renounce [each man’s] rights as a citizen and, so to say, one’s status as a man when [he] wants to diverge from the path it has marked out.”Tocqueville describes these members of the majority as embodying “the spirit of a [monarchical] court,” as metaphorical courtiers and, he notes,“in absolute monarchies the king may often have great virtues, but the courtiers are always vile.” But the corruption of these unmanly members of the excessive male majority becomes most evident in the gendered, sexual imagery that Tocqueville deploys to conclude his point: “It is true that American courtiers”—citizens praising the will of their sovereign male majority— “are constantly talking of their master’s natural brilliance; they do not raise the question which of all the prince’s virtues is most to be admired, for they assure him that he possesses all virtues . . . they do not give him their wives or their daughters hoping that he will raise them to the rank of his mistresses, but they do sacrifice their opinions to him and so prostitute themselves [maîtresses prostituent].”15 The political corruption is mirrored in Tocqueville’s imagery: the male citizens do not sell their female relatives to satisfy the degrading male sovereign majority, as a monarch’s courtiers would do; instead they sell themselves. Corrupting the heterosexual imperative of Democracy in America’s subtextual conjugal family, this scenario marks violence to the healthy development of young U.S. democracy. In Democracy in America’s familial foundations, then, unsurprisingly, heterosexuality is compulsory and homosexuality a sign of political corruption. By the text’s second volume,Tocqueville’s male citizens are seen to succumb to pathology in a different way. No longer engaged energetically in the politics of that degrading, sovereign, male majority, they turn inward to the private worlds of family, friends, and business; here they transgress manliness by granting insidious female public opinion full reign over them as now impotent, private individuals.

F E M A L E A D M I N I S T R AT I O N : M A L E G O V E R N M E N T The work of this book has been illustrating, in part, that Democracy in America’s symbolic family drama primarily requires an androcentric combination of male and female energies in which the male is preeminent and political, and the female, contained, its support.Tocqueville’s account of administration and government in democracy is structured by the same gender framework. He associates “administration” with what Hannah Arendt, influenced by Tocqueville, cast as the activities of animal laborans, namely, the bureaucratic management



of everyday activities and concerns.16 In U.S. democracy, he says,“generally it is the townships and their officers who, aided by the justices of the peace, and having regard to local needs, look after the details of social existence and promulgate the regulations necessary for public health, good order, and morality of the citizens” (D, 73). As such, administration involves domestic, daily, local matters. “Government,” in contrast, manages “certain interests, such as the enactment of general laws and the nation’s relations with foreigners” that “are common to all parts of the nation.”17 This involves legislative and executive powers at the state and federal levels, performing state- and nation-wide activities. In relation to nineteenth-century French and American discourses of societal “spheres” and gender, Tocqueville’s administration closely mirrors the affairs assigned to the modern conjugal household, ideated as the domain of the female and so-called woman’s work.18 The way that Tocqueville posits the affairs of government similarly invokes the nondomestic “spheres” of these historical discourses, constructed as general, universal, masculine, and the domain of the male.19 More particularly, his descriptions share something with nineteenth-century political theorists’ accounts of administrative and political institutions and state apparati. Mary Dietz and James Farr illustrate that, in the mid-nineteenth century in Europe, the German Johann K. Bluntschli, whose ideas influenced U.S. political theory, infused state and country both with a masculine character (while attributing femininity to the Church). Not long thereafter, German-American Francis Lieber (an acquaintance of Tocqueville’s) and others marked the state as a “man” and country as a “woman,” and the reason was itself gendered: to prevent the government from becoming paternal and thereby emasculating the male citizen.20 Tocqueville, for his part, works with the logic of dichotomy to distinguish administration from government, and centralization from decentralization, in order to distinguish healthy democracy from unhealthy forms.21 For him, concentrated administrative powers and controls constitute administrative centralization, while their diffusion constitutes administrative decentralization. Concentrating the powers of government “in the same place or under the same directing power” establishes governmental centralization, while their diffusion signals governmental decentralization (D, 87). Tocqueville begins to infuse this multilayered, dichotomous framework with prevailing nineteenthcentury sexual and gendered imagery when he binds together favorably the idea of weak administration and strong government, and associates the result with the idea of a powerful man. He observes that England, a social state Tocqueville admired throughout his life,“has no administrative centralization” but a “very high degree of centralization in government” which ensures that over all the “state” moves well as “a single man.” Similarly, he says that in Louis XIV’s France, administration was “much less” centralized than it was after the



revolution, while government “reached the greatest possible degree of centralization.” Here,“one man made the general laws and had the power to interpret them” and, as that man expressed,“I am the state.” Now, what is it about the combination of administrative decentralization and governmental centralization that produces a man? Certainly, in popular nineteenth-century discourse, the female management of the household, coupled with male citizenship and political governance, together yielded a male-dominated society and culture. Here, even the feminized household was “headed” by a man; it was with men that all final power lay. Prevailing belief held that excessive female powers would destroy this putatively stable and healthy format. In France, Rousseau had already warned that,“unable to make themselves into men, the women make us into women,” but “in a republic, men are needed”; underground pamphlets claimed that Louis XV’s mistresses feminized him, and that women involved in public life were doing the same to his ministers; during the Revolution, MarieAntoinette and her sister-in-law were accused by a radical journalist of incest against the heir to the throne, whose testicle was reputedly harmed in the assaults;22 and, following Marat’s assassination by the female Charlotte Corday, women’s political clubs and activities were increasingly condemned and finally outlawed by the Jacobins, despite their call for universal liberty, equality, and rule by the people.23 In Democracy in America,Tocqueville also posits symbolically female, centralized administration as a threat to citizen manliness.24 Building this binary, gendered framework,Tocqueville further infuses his analysis with sexual and marital symbolism, arguing that centralized administration and centralized government “give each other mutual support and have a mutual attraction.” Given the presumption of heterosexuality that permeates Democracy in America’s conjugal, familial subtext, this is hardly surprising. Still, Tocqueville warns that if administration and government combine energetically when both in their centralized forms, citizens will be pressed to “set aside their own wills constantly and completely, to obey not just once and in one respect but always in everything” (D, 87). Such highly concentrated institutional powers threaten the citizen’s manliness-as-maturity. In fact,Tocqueville’s gendered administration and government, already sexual consorts (wife and husband, perhaps), multiply respectively into mother and father to citizens.When the powers of both symbolic parents are centralized and unified, the motherfather pairing is, for Tocqueville, tyrannical, demanding that its children “‘do what I want, as much as I want, and in precisely the way I require’” (D, 92). He therefore insists that such a despotic parental coupling be prevented, but clearly it is administration that must be subdued: “I cannot conceive that a nation can live, much less prosper, without a high degree of centralization of government. But I think that administrative centralization only serves to enervate the peoples that submit to it, because it constantly tends to diminish their



civic spirit” (D, 88, 87).As Dinnerstein would say, it is female power that must “be corralled, controlled, not only because its boundaries are unclear but also because its wrath is all-potent”; in contrast to her, male power seems “a reasonable refuge from female authority.”25 Indeed,Tocqueville’s government, like that distant father that Dinnerstein describes, appears to citizens “a powerful stranger”(D,93).Enforcing the modern conjugal family’s gender logic,Tocqueville diffuses (female/maternal) administration and concentrates (masculine/paternal) government to facilitate democracy’s maturity. Tocqueville’s main concern in this discussion is what proves to be the symbolic infantilization of republican citizens.That he posits administration, the culprit, as a maternal female, follows the logic of Democracy in America’s gendered, familial narrative; as Dinnerstein’s framework helps us understand, aristocracy’s earlier maternal controls preordain in Tocqueville’s democracy a need to contain the powers of subsequent textual expressions of femaleness. At the same time, in Tocqueville’s assessment, young democracy must not succumb to extreme urges wholly to reject and cut itself off from its past; it must, for instance, capture for itself and integrate aristocracy’s important lessons in textually female religion, morality, and liberty, since it was due to such forces that “in an aristocracy one can always be sure that a certain degree of order will be maintained in freedom” because “there are always organized forces ready to resist a despot” (D, 96). He tries, on the level of symbol, to repair the strains inherent to the modern conjugal family structure that he himself deploys. So, in Tocqueville’s map of democratic maturation, democracy must also integrate the past’s lesson in decentralized administration because “a democracy without provincial institutions has no guarantee” against the “ills” of a despot. Though limited in purview, local powers check the general, potentially excessive, broad powers of (male) government, as well as provide an accessible venue to teach (male) civic participation, rendering these male forces healthy. But Tocqueville recognizes that, as democracy dissolves aristocracy’s elaborate corporate and feudal administrative structures, the resulting flux may press democrats to want to recover structure by way of concentrated state administration. Thus constituted, it would appear to guarantee security because “it can regulate the details of social control skillfully; check slight disorders and petty offenses; maintain the status quo of society, which cannot properly be called either decadence or progress; and keep society in that state of administrative somnolence which administrators are in the habit of calling good order and public tranquillity” (D, 91). Of course,Tocqueville observes, centralized administration is probably more efficient than decentralized forms but, in the name of democratic maturity, efficiency is less important than the effects these alternative orders have on the disposition of citizens. Because decentralized administration does not foreclose space and inclination for active citizenship,“the political



advantages derived by the Americans from a system of decentralization would make me prefer that to the opposite system”;“what I most admire in America is not the administrative but the political effects of decentralization.”26 Put briefly, in Democracy in America’s subtext, administration is assigned the delimited role of the nineteenth-century good mother/wife. In distinguishing between American and French attitudes toward administration, Tocqueville further illustrates what dangers these female/maternal powers hold, when in excess, for his democracy. In the United States, there is “no administrative centralization”—“scarcely a trace of hierarchy,” and “that is the reason why one is not at all conscious of it” (D, 89, 72). In contrast, in Europe’s emergent democracy, administration grows increasingly “inquisitive.” Just as modern French discourse prescribed an exclusively domestic role for women, Tocqueville complains that “everywhere” in Europe administration “meddles,” and “ever increasingly takes its place beside and above the individual, helping, advising, and constraining him” (D, 682). U.S. democracy, having left its English mère patrie to assert formal independence an ocean away, seems to have escaped this particular kind of institutional hierarchy. French democracy, in contrast, not only sits on the terrain of the former hierarchical ancien régime, but inherits the centralized state of the eighteenth-century monarchy, and therefore readily adopts an already powerful, centralized administration:“In France we seek that ultimate guarantee in the administrative hierarchy; in America election fills that role” (D, 78). Tocqueville’s Europeans, apparently less detached from the old maternal world, are “accustomed to the close and constant presence of officials interfering in almost everything,” such that American administrative decentralization “has been carried to a degree that no European nation would tolerate, I think, without profound discomfort” (D, 92, 89). But, as Dinnerstein’s framework leads us to expect,Tocqueville’s European is in fact ambivalent about such an evolved bureaucracy, undoubtedly because it evokes memories of the structured past:“He submits, it is true, to the caprice of a clerk, but as soon as force is withdrawn, he will vaunt his triumph over the law as over a conquered foe. Thus he oscillates the whole time between servility and license” (D, 94). But in so desiring and hating these evocations of the past, democratic maturation stalls: “The citizens are perpetually falling under the control of the public administration. They are led insensibly, and perhaps against their will, daily to give up fresh portions of their individual independence” (D, 688). Meanwhile, eschewing such invasive daily authority over them, one that “monopolizes all activity and life,” Tocqueville’s European Americans seem more resolved, so that “one may say that those little details of social regulations which make life smooth and comfortable are neglected in America” (D, 92, 93). In U.S. democracy,“administrative authority arouses neither jealousy nor hatred”



precisely because “its means of action are limited” (D, 95).While Democracy in America hereby suggests that healthy maturity is achieved when postmaternal powers are captured and contained in a local capacity to serve but not interfere with the male subject, Dinnerstein would see this sustained female-male hierarchical differentiation as a danger sign. In fact, nineteenth-century Americans, who, like Tocqueville, symbolically feminized administration, were not so apparently resolved about administrative centralization. Jacksonian America’s impassioned debates over the federal government’s so-called “Mother Bank” set into relief internal conflict over this explicitly maternalized force.As Michael Rogin observes, some Americans favored the extensive capacities of the Bank that made it “the most powerful institution in America.”27 Others, including Jackson, feared such power and opposed its rechartering; their central complaint was that the bank’s paper money made citizens dependent on it.28 Van Buren, himself leaning on marital metaphors, launched a “divorce bill” designed to separate the “government from the corrupting influence of all Banks and the paper system.”That is, he aimed to restore “the purity of the government” and to vanquish the “corrupting influence” of the Mother Bank’s “mony [sic] power.”29 None of this is surprising in the wake of imperial Mother England.The idea that citizens were dependent on this explicitly maternalized central power, incurring debt in relation to her, tellingly stirred discomfort in some Americans while inspiring relief in others.30 Tocqueville admits that “even in America [decentralized administration] has produced some troublesome results. But,” he adds, this is because “there is a high degree of governmental centralization in the United States” (D, 89). Apparently, his Americans are comfortable with decentralized administration, more so than the French, because it is coupled with strong central government. The desire for concentrated authority seen in French democracy is not absent in the United States, then, but manifest differently. In Tocqueville’s U.S. democracy, textually male, paternal government possesses acutely concentrated power, the gendered nature of which raises the concern posed by Dinnerstein: that unresolved feelings for an originary maternal realm encourage offspring to transfer desire for a higher authority from that maternal figure onto a paternal one. In the United States, government is “more concentrated” than it was “in any of the ancient European monarchies,” Tocqueville reports. “Not only is there but one legislative body in each state,not only is there but one single authority that can create political life around it, but generally crowded assemblies of districts or of counties have been avoided for fear that such assemblies might be tempted to step beyond their administrative functions and interfere with the working of the government” (D, 89).Tocqueville criticizes the fact that U.S. democracy’s anxiety about concentrated (female) administrative powers leads them to welcome the extreme powers of their (male) majoritarian governments.



Dinnerstein argues that standing sex arrangements produce anxiety that woman, as representative of the mother, will interfere with man’s work, interrupt his “train of thought,” and encourage him to relinquish his autonomy to “sink back into passivity” in her company; there is no concomitant anxiety that men similarly threaten women’s autonomy and work.31 In Democracy in America, American anxiety about (female) administration’s powers produces the view that radically separating out and heightening (male) governmental authority is good.Tocqueville agrees that for a democratic nation to function well, its government must be centralized, but he is also concerned that the U.S. government enjoys unchecked power, derived as it is from the absolutist powers of the majority:“In America the legislature of each state is faced by no power capable of resisting it. Nothing can check its progress, neither privileges, nor local immunities, nor personal influence, nor even the authority of reason, for it represents the majority, which claims to be the unique organ of reason” (D, 89). Indeed, “so far from being inadequately centralized, one can assert that the American governments carry it much too far. . . . The legislative assemblies are constantly absorbing various remnants of governmental powers; they tend to appropriate them all to themselves, as the French Convention did.” Subject to majority rule, the U.S. government “often lacks wisdom and foresight, because it can do anything.That is its danger. It is because of its very strength, not its weakness, that it is threatened with destruction one day” (D, 90). In the terms of the text’s gender narrative, U.S. majoritarianism infuses government with its excessive energies; the actual weakness of the unmanly, individual male citizen becomes the consolidated rule of the weak to which all must submit; U.S. government is secured as an untouchable bastion of hypermasculine power, which Tocqueville signifies as paternal. His critique of administration in democracy elicits nineteenth-century norms of conjugal family life, particularly the need for but containment of domestic female powers,and his critique of government in democracy reflects the same: this symbolic father must be the family head, to be sure, but, consistent with modern notions, he must not be a singular, absolutist, patriarchal authoritarian of earlier eras.This is, after all, democracy. Here,Tocqueville sees U.S. democracy dogged by unmanliness; the subtextual gendered narrative further illustrates this immaturity. In the text, allegiance to the majority opinion and the government it creates indicates that U.S. democracy, apparently still reacting against the authority of its old mère patrie, shifts its allegiance to the new paternal force of democratic government. But Dinnerstein shows how the conjugal family ideal itself, upon which Democracy in America’s subtext leans to promote maturity, produces these pathological results. Like Dinnerstein’s young child who assumes that the father, because he is new, will be not-the-mother, less domineering, less invasive, and more democratic, so too do Tocqueville’s Americans embrace strong majoritarian



government as justly authoritative. In echoes of Dinnerstein,Tocqueville even personifies government as “a powerful stranger” to the citizen (D, 93). Indeed, in mid-nineteenth-century American parlance, embracing symbolic paternalism did constitute escape from excessive maternalism: Jackson configured the federal bank not only as a mother but also as a “hydra of corruption,” conjuring up the story of that indefatigable and treacherous mythological snakecreature ultimately slain by none other than hypermasculine Hercules, revolutionary France’s symbol of the people. Jackson heatedly proclaimed from his bed that “the bank, Mr.Van Buren, is trying to kill me, but I will kill it.” 32 Still, despite this masculinist bravado, Jackson appealed for inspiration to the virtue of the founders as fathers. As Rogin reports, Jackson claimed that the “charter of the [maternal] First Bank, in the ‘infancy’ of the country, violated ‘the system of Govt which they devised for their posterity.’” Destroying the Second Bank, said Jackson to his cabinet, meant carrying the intentions of ‘“our Fathers’ . . . into full effect.” 33 For Dinnerstein, the father figure,“artificially pure” in its separateness from the child’s first experience with oppressive powers, promises liberation; but the child’s/adult’s yearning for an alternative authority dulls sensitivity to its potential despotism.With insight,Tocqueville sees in his discussion of female administration and male government that submission to excessive forms of the latter does not constitute genuine democratic maturity; moreover, “when one sole authority is already armed with all the attributes of government, it is very difficult for it not to try and penetrate into all the details of administration” to become all-powerful (D, 97).What Tocqueville fears reverberates in his symbolic family drama as a tyrannical male head-of-household who enjoys power beyond while also controlling the daily management of that female realm. Failing to integrate into democracy the essential, though subordinate, female element of decentralized administration, this husband/father tyrant destroys young male democracy’s chances of growing up into autonomous self-governance.34 But insofar as Tocqueville deploys a symbolic modern conjugal family drama to structure his developing democracy, to hem in dangers and promote healthy forces, it is the logic of these very foundations, as Dinnerstein’s critique shows, that produces male/paternal power as a possible tyrant.As she says, when a youngster’s life is initially framed by female power, that developing subject will remain susceptible to male tyranny. Apparently locating some middle ground between female excess and male tyranny, Tocqueville recommends that (female) administration be contained and under the control of the law, the key instrument of (male) government. Further replicating the nineteenth century’s conjugal family’s marital ideal, he argues that government must not infiltrate the terrain of administration, but admires how in New England, laws passed by government nonetheless firmly



direct administration. In these, what he deems healthy, democratic states,“there is no central-government official with the duty to make general police regulations or ordinances for the execution of the laws, to keep in routine communication with the township and county officials, or to supervise their conduct, direct their behavior, and punish their faults.”“How then,” asks Tocqueville,“is the business of society conducted on a more or less uniform plan? How can obedience be imposed on the counties and their officials and on the townships and theirs?” His answer: firm government control through law, and while “responsibility to execute the laws” is “divided among so many hands,” so too “the pronouncements of the law” are “more categorical” in the United States than anywhere else to ensure that central governmental “authority would be made great, but officials small” (D, 72, 73). So in fact, in New England, where Tocqueville deems democracy healthy and mature, legislative power does “penetrate to the very heart of the administration; the law descends into minute details; it prescribes both principles and the way in which they are to be applied; in this way the secondary authorities,” like ideal middle-class wives, “are tied down by a multitude of detailed obligations strictly defined”;“the law has carefully defined the limited sphere of authority entrusted to each of these officials” (D, 74, 73).Tocqueville’s critique of the excess power of the American majority over legislation gets lost when he readily sustains the hierarchical gender terms of his framework, admonishing that “it is both necessary and desirable that the central power of a democratic people should be both active and strong. One does not want to make it weak or casual, but only to prevent it from abusing its agility and force” (D, 696). Echoing standing ideas in France and the United States of the proper structure of marriage,Tocqueville’s analysis insists that male authority prevail, if not in violent forms that destroy the supportive capacity of female energies. In the combination of these disparate gendered forces,Tocqueville sees a healthy societal whole. The gendered, familial narrative of Democracy in America thus continues to combine male and female forces, with the male prior and the female contained and supportive, as an expression of democratic maturity. But sometimes this narrative produces the very dynamics that Tocqueville is concerned to avoid. Tocqueville’s argument about the necessity of strong government and obedient decentralized administration finally shows up, in the subtextual conjugal family romance, as an imperative that does not at all guarantee grownup citizens. He writes that “there is no power on earth in itself so worthy of respect or vested with such a sacred right that I would wish to let it act without control and dominate without obstacles” (D, 251–52). He is clear that neither democracy’s administration nor government, nor the two combined, should eclipse the citizens’ capacity to self-govern meaningfully. Power must be configured to ensure that “the people are enlightened, awake to their own



interests, and accustomed to take thought for them” because “the collective force of the citizens will always be better able to achieve social prosperity than the authority of the government.” Certainly, for Tocqueville, mature, selfruling citizens mean democracy has grown up; in fact, in this healthy state, his personified, paternal government derives its strength from citizen-sons, without whom this masculine emperor has no clothes, proving itself “astonishingly feeble; suddenly it is reduced to impotence [l’impuissance].”35 As such,Tocqueville means (male, paternal) government to dominate without tyrannizing (female, maternal) administration.The citizen is to gain manliness—maturity—largely through participation in local political association. But if many of these local sites are managed by a mother force which is ruled by a father force, how can the involved citizen offspring therein develop self-governing agency in concert with fellows? More simply, Tocqueville’s framework maintains the citizen under the rubric of a paternalized government and maternalized administration. Overall, Democracy in America’s conjugal family romance ensures that citizens remain sons in a household run by an authoritative father. As Tocqueville says,“Each fresh generation” of citizens is “new material for the lawgiver to mold,” and this fathering government is eternal, for he does “not grow old as men do” (D, 95). Permanently installed as father to citizens, then, government is also to “awaken and direct” and make “conscious and durable” that “vague instinct of patriotism [le patriotisme],” etymologically, love of the fatherland. So simultaneously, citizens are to be authors, not subjects, of government; they are to be “enlightened to their own interests” and to “reign over” the “political world as God rules over the universe” (D, 60); and they are to submit, with devotion, to the instruction of their immortal father. Where father-son imagery is deployed in French and U.S. political discourse of the late eighteenth into the nineteenth centuries, one finds this same tension around a son potentially supplanting his father’s authority—a tension that Tocqueville’s imagery fails to resolve. In modern France, as the Revolution signified the death of the patriarchal king, the revolutionary leaders were usually symbolically constituted as equal brothers, not new father figures. But desire for symbolically paternal forces was never wholly resolved; for instance, following the assassination of Marat, he was eulogized as a good “father of his people.”36 In Democracy in America itself, postrevolutionary France is an urchin orphan in search of family roots. In American imagery, colonists, configured as children to that discursive Mother England,found new parents through the course of their Revolution.Though deploying the language of brotherhood, so too did they reimagine themselves as “sons of Liberty,”a substitute mother,and posited George Washington as their new beneficent father. Moreover, with time, the revolutionary leaders were collectively cast as forefathers, fathers of the republic, or founding fathers.37 In Tocqueville’s narrative, colonists seize nature and



religion as new post-England mothers, while government and the country— la patrie—are fathers they apparently have just recently encountered.38 How can maturity be achieved when yearning for authoritative parent forces is still mixed with the quest for self-rule? Such analytical and symbolic confusion reflects a central sociopolitical confusion of the postrevolutionary age in America and France: the tension between actual young men seeking in their families to abandon the old paternal absolutism in favor of democratic autonomy, on the one hand; and, on the other hand, the new family ideal that, despite its rejection of historical forms of patriarchy, continued to posit the male father as head-of-household. Based as it was upon foundations of father-headed conjugal familialism, modern democracy could not resolve this tension around questions of individual authority and sovereignty. However, as we shall see in the next chapter,Tocqueville does not see a tension between fathers (as headsof-households) and sons in the U.S. democratic family. From another vantage point, the gendered and familial imagery that accompanies the administration:government analysis also proliferates, often to the point that the imperatives of the narrative, problematic though they are, are obfuscated. For example, in Democracy in America, many sites of local republican selfgovernance in the New England colonies—those hallmarks for Tocqueville of manliness—apparently, without explanation, transmogrified into sites of female administration, with the founding of the Union. While Tocqueville would undoubtedly say that the citizen that participates in local organization of life’s needs is not effeminized by the Union’s founding, the text’s symbolic, familial and gendered foundations only obscure this issue. He describes the Union “as an abstract entity” that contrasts with the “sovereignty of the states [which] strikes every sense”;“the former is an innovation, but the latter was born [est neé ] with the people themselves. The sovereignty of the Union is a work of art.That of the states is natural.” Now the Union bears the characteristics of the distant, generalist father figure, and the states, the particularities and naturalness of immediate maternal ties. But in the next sentence,Tocqueville’s imagery again confuses, as he concludes that the sovereignty of the states “exists on its own, without striving, like the authority of the father in a family [comme l’autorité du père de famille].”39 Here,Tocqueville’s familial economy, meant to contain flux to direct democracy to chosen ends, violates its own purpose by confusing what constitutes civic maturity; these metaphors fail to clarify Tocqueville’s analytical point. Indeed,Tocqueville’s analysis of administration:government is in general troubled by the fact that his gendered, familial symbolism fails to clarify his often confused concepts.While there are dominant tendencies in how he uses the terms “administration,”“government,” and “state” reflected in this chapter’s work thus far, he also conflates them. For instance, what he defines technically as “government”—legislatures and executives—he sometimes



collectively refers to as “administration” (e.g., see D, 60).While for him the “state” often embodies government, administration, and judiciary, elsewhere he distinguishes between the state and administration such that in the United States, the “state rules but does not administer” (D, 84, 82). Other times yet again, the “state” refers inclusively to the “social state”: society, government, citizenship, culture. For example, concerned with democracy’s capacity to manifest anarchy or despotism, he writes that in a state of democratic health, “the state would be protected both from tyranny and from license,” and if not,“the state will end in anarchy or servitude” (D, 14, 75). Part of what becomes apparent in such passages is that the institutions Tocqueville works to analyze do not constitute a binary, though the gendered imagery of the modern conjugal family attempts to transform them into such a dichotomous grid. Put another way, Tocqueville presses actual conceptual multiplicity into a binary structure to impose a historically familiar, gendered, familial order. Rather than serving as a useful code, clarifying and illuminating the terms of his analysis and relations among them, this framework generates analytical poverty. In his chapter on language in democracy,Tocqueville himself complains that reliance on “abstract terms . . . both widens the scope of thought and clouds it” (D, 482).While clouding his thought,Tocqueville’s imagery, as it eludes the structures it is meant to uphold, illustrates democratic flux and multiplicity. In Democracy in America, the familial developmental narrative functions as a dynamic framework through which democratic pathologies are to be articulated and averted, and through which democracy can chart a healthy course to maturity. Increasingly, however, we see how this symbolic family drama itself produces pathologies that democracy must avoid and generates multiplicity it cannot command, and how some dynamics in democracy cannot be accommodated by its terms.

T H E G U A R D I A N S TAT E Tocqueville does not treat order as an unequivocal good; he values degrees of democratic flux and fears how order can limit freedom. He warns that “despotism often presents itself as the repairer of all the ills suffered, the supporter of just rights, defender of the oppressed, and founder of order. Peoples are lulled to sleep by the temporary prosperity it engenders, and when they do wake up, they are wretched” (D, 240). But the family drama structuring his account of democratic maturation, as its own form of order, embodies dynamics that can favor the rise of despotism. In Dinnerstein’s analysis of family relations, the presence of a second, seemingly different parent who is almost always male, encourages submission to male power:“Having escaped [female] power, or at least learned how to keep it within bounds, all but a few of us have exhausted our impulse toward autonomy: the relatively limited despotism of the father is



a relief to us. In some part of ourselves we do not really want to be our own bosses; all we want is to be bossed a little more finitely and comprehensibly.” Acceptance of the new authority therefore requires denial of “this part of ourselves [that] tells the other part, the part that wants to shake off submission, that really we have already shaken off submission: the boss we have now is a much better boss, a boss we have chosen of our own free will.”40 In the last pages of Democracy in America,Tocqueville analyzes inhabitants’ willing submission to a new democratic authority that is not-aristocracy. Here, Tocqueville’s assessment of the centralization of the “state” in the United States and Europe is, in some ways, distinct from his first volume’s analysis of administration:government. In this discussion that closes the second volume, Tocqueville’s Americans have successfully escaped submission to a despotic government, at least to date; citizens embody republican liberty by combining textually male energies with secondary female ones. Participation in public affairs, trial by jury, free speech, a free press, and personal freedom—those “free institutions and virile mores” that the Anglo-Americans distilled from their maternal point of departure—have sustained them “against the encroachments of the state” (D, 674, 675). Never having experienced the sort of immediate revolution against Old Europe that France has endured,“being from the beginning accustomed to govern themselves,” and having inherited a tradition in which freedom “is old,” they never “had to call upon the state to act temporarily as guardian” (D, 675).Tocqueville’s word is “tuteur”; it refers not to a school teacher, as anglophones may suspect, but rather, as Lawrence indicates, to a substitute parent.This familial image suggests that U.S. democracy has been adequately parented, by England, at the very least, and is now a mature adult. For Tocqueville, this “American destiny is unusual; they have taken from the English aristocracy the idea of individual rights and a taste for local freedom, and they have been able to keep both these things because they have had no aristocracy to fight” (D, 676). Certainly such optimistic pronouncement conflicts with Tocqueville’s complaints about American domination by tyrannical majorities and public opinion, and the singular desire for material gain. Either way, Tocqueville believes that young French democracy is in even more danger than U.S. democracy of submitting to the state as tuteur. Into the eighteenth century in France, he says, “equality was introduced by the absolute power of the kings and under their eyes had already penetrated into the habits of the people long before the idea of liberty had entered their thoughts.” The subsequent violent revolution against aristocracy animated the passion for equality: “The classes that managed local affairs were suddenly swept away in that storm, and as the confused mass which remains has as yet neither the organization nor the habits which would allow it to take the administration of these affairs in hand, the state alone seems capable of



taking upon itself all the details of government” (D, 675).Tocqueville warns that this combination of centralized administration and government—here described as the “state”—wields a “type of oppression” that “is different from anything there has ever been in the world before. Our contemporaries will find no prototype of it,” and “I have myself vainly searched for a word which will exactly express the whole of the conception I have formed” (D, 691). In the terms of Democracy in America’s gendered, familial subtext, this new thing is a monstrous and deviant hybrid that integrates and exaggerates the powers of textually female/maternal administration and male/paternal government. Constituted by the commingling of two binary gender halves into symbolic androgyny, this tyrannical creature is final confirmation that the text’s notion of maturity demands discrete manifestations of symbolic maleness and femaleness. The idea of a hybrid as monster was, in fact, at play in discourse popular after the Revolution and in French literature of Tocqueville’s day; it was adopted to represent threats to moral and ordered society. For example, Landes describes the festival of August 10, 1793 in France, which just preceded the executions of publicly visible women and the banning of women’s organizations and activities. At this public event, “federalism,” by now associated with the feministoriented Girondin, was represented as a half-woman, half-serpent monster; the performance involved it being crushed by that iconographic Hercules, signifier of a super-masculine people.41 The idea of a monstrous hybrid also evokes Dinnerstein’s gendered “mermaid” and “minotaur” mutations of humanity, though, in her framework, the point is precisely that, where the two genders remain so distinguished from one another, humanity is in a state of malaise. In Tocqueville’s account of France’s new state, his strongly differentiated, textually female/maternal administration and male/paternal government do not merge happily into an integrated identity that transcends the gender binary posited by the text’s symbolic conjugal family.There is instead the clear indication that integration of maleness and femaleness corrupts democratic maturation.The French state, as a male/female hybrid, yields something terrible that cannot be named; it “not only fills the whole sphere of former authorities, extends, and goes beyond it, but also acts with greater speed, power, and independence than it had ever done” (D, 683). In the face of the recent, felt loss of aristocratic order and certainty, France’s inhabitants all too readily embrace this state as a substitute authority for that old world. Rather than a simple father replacement for maternal aristocracy, however, this new democratic state is happily both mother-like, being nearly omnipotent in its management of people’s daily affairs, and also not-the-mother, featuring leaders democratically elected and laws democratically produced. In its powers this hybrid parent dominates, actively preventing citizen self-governance to reduce its inhabitants to mere obedient children.42



The familial, developmental narrative that threads through Democracy in America is somewhat evident in Tocqueville’s later work, The Ancien Régime. However,there it is fractured,particularly by his extended analysis of the absolute monarchy, as an interim power between aristocracy and democracy in France. This modified symbolic family narrative can, nonetheless, shed additional light on why, in Democracy in America,Tocqueville’s French state is not merely a paternal alternative to maternal aristocracy,but rather a horrible paternal-maternal hybrid. In The Ancien Régime,Tocqueville develops his earlier claim that, toward the close of the Old Regime, French customs and manners transformed in a way that ushered in the Revolution. In centuries prior, the Old Regime featured “all kinds of authorities, infinitely diversified according to locality, with powers of unknown and unlimited scope”; yet, due to the stratified structure of social relations, things were “orderly.”43 Through the course of the eighteenth century, however,the monarchy concentrated its power,gradually leveling relations among the people. For a while, the French accepted this absolute monarchical power and,Tocqueville says,“naturally invoked its aid for their private wants”;“all the sufferings of the people were laid to its charge; it was loudly blamed for the severity of the weather.” As symbolically growing children throwing off centuries of aristocracy’s parent-like control, the people resented their dependence and “redeemed”themselves for succumbing by asserting their autonomy through occasional “wholesale denunciations of the government.”44 The king,then,appears to have been France’s first parental substitute,before the Revolution,for aristocracy. Tocqueville develops this narrative when he discusses theories of mideighteenth-century French economists.Though they claimed their aim was to overthrow absolute monarchy in favor of a new state formation, he says that “their idea . . . was not to destroy, but to convert the absolute monarchy.”The new eighteenth-century royal power “shared their proclivity for levelling all ranks, and making all laws uniform.” Like the father that Dinnerstein describes as a refuge from maternal authority, the emergence of this equalizing monarchy “seemed to [the economists] a very fortunate accident” because it “detested as heartily as they did the old institutions which had grown out of the feudal system, or which favored oligarchy.”45 As such, they wanted to construct a new state that, though nonmonarchical, was “in some measure, a copy of the other.”46 Dinnerstein argues that a child experiences its second parent (father) as “more separate” from itself and the maternal realm, such that “resentment of him is less deeply tinged with anxiety and guilt.And our love for him, like our anger at him, lies outside the shadowy maternal realm from which all children, to grow up, must escape.” So even when this parent “inflicts corporal punishment, it is punishment endured by a body that we perceive as clearly separate from his. We experience opposition between his will and ours, even if he is autocratic.”47 In a parallel way,Tocqueville sees in France’s leveling monarchical state, favored



by the economists, a fool’s paradise.This substitute absolutist power, they argued, must “shape the nation. It must form the minds of citizens conformably to a preconceived model”; indeed, it must as its duty “fill their minds with such opinions and their hearts with such feelings as it may judge necessary. In fact, there are no limits either to its rights or its powers.”48 Tocqueville, for his part, sees this replacement state as worse than the monarchy because, he says, at least the king had been loved “like a father”; the new “immense social power conceived by the economists” is, in contrast,“impersonal” and “not the heirloom of a family.”49 In sum, in The Ancien Régime,Tocqueville’s eighteenth-century monarchy constitutes a transition for the people to the new egalitarianism of monarchical rule.And it seems that, having already transferred their allegiance to this father-authority, their subsequent, postrevolutionary submission to a father-mother hybrid, one that reinvokes both the detailed care of aristocracy and the centralized power of the king, may make sense in relation to Dinnerstein’s theory. In ways more horrifying than those of the king, the new monstrous mother-father guardian rules over infantilized, impotent inhabitants.50 At the end of Democracy in America,Tocqueville sees that across Europe,“it is the state itself which increasingly takes control of the humblest citizen” and, like an invasive monster parent,“directs his behavior even in trivial matters” (D, 680). It is the centralization of textually maternal administration that is to blame; such female powers once served liberty, but “public administration” has “become not only more centralized but also more inquisitive and minute. Everywhere it meddles more than of old in private affairs. It controls in its own fashion more actions and more of their details, and ever increasingly takes its place beside and above the individual, helping, advising, and constraining him” (D, 682). Like an omnipotent mother,“the state almost exclusively undertakes to supply the bread to the hungry, assistance and shelter to the sick, work to the idle, and to act as the sole reliever of all kinds of misery.” In France this mother combines her powers with those of paternal government so that “now one cannot distribute one’s property among one’s children without the state’s intervening.Having taken charge of the whole of his life, it even claims to control his final act” (D, 680). Religion, even,that female bulwark that Tocqueville segregates in its own nonpolitical sphere, is “in danger of falling under government control” as the state gains power over the clergy.This despotic state reaches also into education and child rearing as it “receives, and often takes, the child from its mother’s arms to hand it over to its functionaries; it takes the responsibility for forming the feelings and shaping the ideas of each generation.” Inhabitants are not educated in self-governance, then; instead,“uniformity prevails in schoolwork as in everything else; diversity, as well as freedom, is daily vanishing.” In sum, the new democratic leaders seek to “guide and instruct each” of their “subjects”“in all they do, and will, if necessary, make them happy against their will.”To such powers these subjects turn



“for help whenever they are in need, and always look on it as teacher and guide” [un précepteur or un guide].51 The hybrid mother-father democratic state can thus “impinge deeper and more habitually into the sphere of private interests than was ever possible in antiquity.” However,Tocqueville clarifies,“I do not expect their leaders to be tyrants, but rather schoolmasters.” Here Lawrence translates “tuteurs” as “schoolmasters”;“guardians” is more precise.As substitute parent, this state stands over the people as “an immense, protective power which is alone responsible for securing their enjoyment and watching over their fate. That power is absolute, thoughtful of detail, orderly, provident, and gentle.” Repairing again to familial imagery,Tocqueville says it “would resemble parental authority [la puissance paternelle] if, father-like, it tried to prepare its charges for a man’s life [l’âge viril], but on the contrary, it only tries to keep them in perpetual childhood [l’enfance ].”52 “It likes to see the citizens enjoy themselves, provided that they think of nothing but enjoyment. It gladly works for their happiness but wants to be sole agent and judge of it. It provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, makes rules for their testaments, and divides their inheritances. Why should it not entirely relieve them from the trouble of thinking and all the cares of living?” (D, 692).Tocquevillean manliness is reduced to impotence as the state “softens, bends, and guides” inhabitants’ wills; it even “prevents much from being born,” reserving for itself the role of parent (D, 692). Tocqueville’s European inhabitants “console themselves for being under schoolmasters [en tutelle] by thinking that they have chosen them themselves. Each individual lets them put the collar on, for he sees that it is not a person, or a class of persons, but society itself which holds the end of the chain.”53 Periodic elections, which create the illusion of citizen sovereignty, mean little:“this brief and occasional exercise of free will will not prevent [citizens] from gradually losing the faculty of thinking, feeling, and acting for themselves, so that they will slowly fall below the level of humanity.” At voting time, inhabitants are momentarily thrust out of their infantilism, and thus over all alternate between being “the playthings of the sovereign” and “his masters,” between “being either greater than kings or less than men” (D, 694).

INFANTILISM AND IMPOTENCE This chapter illustrates how, in Democracy in America, perversions in the subtextual conjugal family instructively often signal the corruption of social and political conditions that enable democracy to grow up.While for Tocqueville, it is “only through association that the citizens can raise any resistance to the central power,” the transformation of that state into an infantilizing and



monstrously undefinable parent-state confirms democracy’s regression (D, 687). Equality, that textually female power that Tocqueville knowingly personifies, can divide inhabitants from one another by inspiring envy in their hearts; persuading them that the only authority among equals should be that of the state, political associations and active citizenship come under suspicion and “mistrust” as signs of individual privilege. Under these conditions, one “fears and despises” one’s fellow; one eyes another’s “power with jealousy.” Collectively, inhabitants therefore prefer to “feel the whole time their common dependence on the same master”; their “ever-fiercer fire of endless hatred” for the “slightest privileges singularly favors the gradual concentration of all political rights in those hands which alone represent the state” (D, 686–87). Tocqueville says this state is like a medieval king surveying vassals of the Crown, feeling its own “instinctive abhorrence” toward political associations and striving to “combat them whenever they meet” (D, 523). Democracy hereby supplants wholly its interest in timid female liberty with unchecked and therefore debased passion for that seductive mistress, equality. Meanwhile, religion, as sober wife to democracy and its political flux, comes under the sway of the parent-hybrid state; here, religion cannot serve its purpose of distracting democracy from wholesale materialism. Passion for equality therefore foments an unrelenting quest for ever more material wealth as reassurance that all things are equally available to all.That greedy child-force, industry, flourishes against the backdrop of such incessant consumer demand; its hierarchical structure seals the fate of democracy, guaranteeing that workers in particular lack time and the disposition for civic action. The exaggerated, self-deceptive masculinity of individualism permeates this society and culture, promising Herculean virility to the “proud” individual (D, 682). But these swaggering men are, in reality,“isolated”; they are “impotent and cold” (D, 87, 672). And in the absence of citizen bonds that foster confidence in political capacity,“only the state inspires confidence in private persons, for it alone seems to them to have some force and permanence” (D, 682). Each person’s “needs, and even more his longings, continually put him in mind of that entity, and he ends by regarding it as the sole and necessary support of his individual weakness” (D, 692).Tocqueville laments:“despairing of remaining free,from the bottom of their hearts they already worship the master who is bound soon to appear” (D, 702).The invasive guardian state “loves what the citizens love, and it naturally hates what they hate”; to promote a “community of feeling” it unites each individual not with fellow citizens, except insofar as they collude around individualism, but rather with the domineering state. For Tocqueville, therefore, the childlike inhabitant and state share a profane “secret and permanent bond of sympathy between them”: this perversion of symbolic conjugal family ties mirrors the political pathology it describes (D, 673). The text’s familialized boundaries help mark where



democracy’s maturation has not only been derailed, but where the society has been wholly corrupted. Still, the conjugal family foundations do not simply mark off such pathology; sometimes they embody it. For democracy to mature,Tocqueville sees it must integrate valuable lessons from the aristocratic, symbolically maternal past. But his democratic inhabitants, in the United States as well as in France, have great difficulty resolving passion for and against their aristocratic points of departure. Dinnerstein’s account of the return of the repressed, hyperdifferentiated, hypergendered maternal helps us understand why. Enduring preoccupation with the maternal past means not only a repressed, unacknowledged urge to recapture those prior moments of dependency; it simultaneously stirs in inhabitants desire to sustain delusional belief that they have attained self-governance—self-deception that only undermines healthy autonomy’s realistic pursuit. Often Tocqueville sees this.As he remarks, his democracts “freely admit the general principle that the power of the state should not interfere in private affairs.” But “as an exception, each one of them wants the state to help in the special matter with which he is preoccupied.”54 As a result, the “sphere of the central government insensibly spreads in every direction, although every individual wants to restrict it”; the “passions of individuals, in spite of themselves, promote it” (D, 672, n1).When so frozen in a childlike state, democracy’s inhabitants “conceive a most inordinate devotion to order” which “unconsciously leads democracies to increase the functions of the central government, the only power which they think strong, intelligent, and stable enough to protect them from anarchy.” Insatiable desire for material well-being, as the adopted signifier of security against flux,“diverts” citizens “from taking part in the government” while also putting “them in ever closer dependence on government” (D, 677, 682–83, n3).The state, for its part, helps civil associations proliferate because they get people “more and more occupied with projects for which public tranquillity is essential,” and thus assuage fear of flux while “discouraging thoughts of revolution.”55 In this scenario, the interior dynamics of Tocqueville’s subtextual, conjugal family drama drive pathologies against which he struggles. In Democracy in America, democracy’s decline into metaphorical infantilism and impotence unfolds not always despite, but sometimes due to the very familial framework that should supposedly help it mature. Moreover, the text’s symbolic gender and family boundaries, though conservative structures that limit possibilities, assign spheres, and hem in energies, are also unstable and sometimes nonsensical. One example is especially pertinent to the end of this chapter.Tocqueville argues throughout Democracy in America that his Anglo-Americans benefit from England’s—their mère patrie’s—lessons in self-rule, and that in general, French democracy is in more danger of immaturity. But ultimately, at the end of the text, he claims that U.S. democracy is



equally susceptible to the “most important of all the accidental causes” that enables the concentration of state power. In a final complaint against rule by mediocre masses,Tocqueville argues that if the state “faithfully represents” the interests of citizens and “is an exact mirror of their instincts, there is hardly any limit to the confidence they will repose in it, for they feel that everything they give it is given to themselves” (D, 678).The surest way for the “supreme power in a democratic society” to centralize its rule is “to love equality or to make believe that you do so.”Tocqueville expects that, if the state is driven by all those hallmarks of a debased passion for equality—faith in majority rule and public opinion—Americans will embrace it as the direct reflection of themselves, the people.The important differences between the young French and U.S. democracies aside, the democracies of Europe “share all the general and permanent tendencies which are leading the Americans toward the centralization of power” (D, 679, see also n25 in this chapter). So in Democracy in America’s standard modern familial narrative, on the one hand, democracy’s effort to grow up is hindered by its predictable infantile desire to install a new global guardian authority—desire that continues to loom in the wake of aristocracy-as-mother, and in the face of the difficult demands of freedom.The text’s familial, gendered foundations are intrinsically skewed to produce this outcome. But, on the other hand,Tocqueville leaves us with the suggestion that the monstrous male-female hybrid guardian state who rules from above to comfort inhabitants is merely the mirror reflection of the infantile masses themselves. The emperor has no clothes: in democracy, there is no genuinely superior authority for inhabitants to surrender to.

6 Democracy’s Family Values

PRECEDING CHAPTERS REVEAL that Democracy in America’s symbolic fam-

ily drama stipulates that, for health, democracy generally requires the primacy of male forces over contained though essential female forces, with each facilitating healthy expressions of the other.This final chapter examines Democracy in America’s sections on family, the sexes, and marriage in democracy. In them, the symbolic, conjugal, familial order upon which Tocqueville founds his developing democracy is embodied in the lives of actual male and female inhabitants. In his U.S. democracy, this familial structure appears at its conservative best, with maleness and femaleness ordered as in the symbolic drama, limiting and channeling democratic flux. Precisely for this reason, it is perhaps here that the costs to equality and liberty of Democracy in America’s gendered, familial foundations for democracy are most starkly evident.A related thesis also comes to fruition in this chapter.The work of this book has involved unearthing and interpreting the gendered and familial imagery with which Tocqueville defines and structures, in order to direct, postaristocratic democracy. In relying on such metaphors, his text exemplifies how the culture’s ideas of gender and family inform all dimensions of human life, not just the domestic and the intimate. Reciprocally, just as Tocqueville uses familial and gendered metaphors to grasp and order his democracy, so too does he lean upon political metaphors to account for democratic family relations. Democracy and its politics are tied yet again to specific ideas of gender and family. However, in Democracy in America, the modern conjugal family ideal and its gender norms prove ill-suited, both as symbols and in human practice, as foundations for mature democracy. Born amid France’s volatile transition from aristocracy to democracy, Tocqueville was acutely aware of the consequences that a change in “social state” Thank you to Bruce Baum for this chapter’s title.




means for family life as well as for politics, society, and culture.Whereas today conjugal nuclear family structure is often mistaken as natural,Tocqueville recognized family as a dynamic historical institution. In Democracy in America, he argues that the form family takes reflects the broader dynamics in which it is situated. He places European feudal family habits in the context of the aristocratic social state, and compares the aristocratic sensibilities with new democratic ones he sees emerging in France, and especially with those already entrenched in the United States. In his chapters on family relations as well as elsewhere in the text, he argues that family is in no way a discrete sphere of life, that “there are certain great social principles which a people either introduces everywhere or tolerates nowhere,” and “the changes that have taken place within the family are closely connected with the social and political revolution taking place under our eyes.”1 An aristocracy can last only if it is built upon a legalized principle of inequality that is “introduced into the family as well as into the rest of society” (D, 379). In Europe’s transition from aristocracy to democracy,“everyone has noticed that . . . a new relationship has evolved between the different members of a family, that the distance formerly separating father and son has diminished, and that paternal authority, if not abolished, has at least changed form” (D,585).The “family habits of democracy” in fact “hold together” with “its social state and laws” and “one cannot enjoy the one without putting up with the others” (D, 589). Moreover,“political society cannot fail to become the expression and mirror of civil society”;2 and, simultaneously,“the Americans almost always carry the habits of public life over into their private lives.”3 Tocqueville thus identifies a social state’s characteristic ethos as something that transcends any notion of public and private as discrete spheres. But scholars have overlooked this important dimension of his work: John Stuart Mill was the first to dismiss Tocqueville’s analysis of family for lacking “any considerable value.”4 In more recent years, although several commentators have addressed Tocqueville’s discussion of middle-class family, almost all miss or misconstrue his overarching observation that a society’s dominant mentality governs its family life as well as society and politics.5 This idea implicates our understanding of Democracy in America, of family and gender in democracy, and of democratic society and culture itself. Most recent commentators project onto Tocqueville’s analysis an exaggerated separation of family and public as discrete realms, not only spatially but psychologically. For instance, Delba Winthrop argues that in assessing nineteenth-century American middle-class family life and a world in which females lack the suffrage,Tocqueville is no mere sexist.Though his Americans may be convinced that women and men should be treated differently for reasons of nature, he sees this as a matter of convention designed to meet needs democracy itself generates. But Winthrop subsequently ignores Tocqueville’s central



concern to distinguish among healthy republican, unhealthy excessive or chaotic, and unhealthy despotic democracy—distinctions that develop his fundamental claim that modern democracy is laced with various potentialities, both hopeful and dangerous.Winthrop claims that Tocqueville exposes the inevitable shortcomings of democracy as neither “fulfilling [n]or liberating” and lacking an “end that is both meaningful and attainable,” all of which reveals that “women have little or nothing to gain from coming out into it.” Indeed, she suggests, these women “embody democracy’s finer aspirations” only because they remain outside of its spheres of politics and commerce, just as men would if only they were likewise educated and excluded.6 William Mathie takes a similar tack, ignoring Tocqueville’s effort to direct democracy away from tutelary despotism and toward civic-minded republicanism. Mathie argues that the American woman’s inferior status and exclusive role in the household, based in convention, does not “make her the victim of a kind of oppression,” but rather balances democracy’s very different, disruptive political and commercial spheres; there is no reason to think she would be happier in this outside world.7 Effectively inverting Winthrop’s and Mathie’s argument, Susan Moller Okin claims that Tocqueville uncritically accepts undemocratic patriarchalism in gender and family relations. She suggests that Tocqueville, like Hegel and Rousseau,“bifurcated public from private life to such an extent” that he had “no trouble reconciling inegalitarian, sometimes admittedly unjust, relations founded upon sentiment within the family with a more just . . . social structure outside the family.”8 Okin is concerned that while the American public life Tocqueville describes is shaped by notions of equality and justice, family relations are not. Like Winthrop and Mathie, then, Okin imagines a sharp public-private divide in Tocqueville’s view of U.S. democracy, and misses his rich complication of “equality,” as something that can manifest in democracy in different ways, as participatory republicanism, as majority tyranny, or as civic passivity and state despotism. Such standing interpretations obscure Tocqueville’s clear insistence that family is embedded in the broader “social state,” exhibiting the same pervasive mentality and sensibilities of that society and its politics.9 In contrast, Jean Bethke Elshtain argues that Tocqueville recognized that family and public life are not radically distinguished from one another, in democracy or aristocracy. She extols Tocqueville’s “insight that domestic institutions, in some way, mesh with or reflect the higher political order” such that Americans are democrats in both public and private.10 On the one hand, she says, families “labor under a strong compulsion to pattern themselves on the structure of the public power.” On the other hand, the democratic family is an essential site for the production of democratic citizens. But Elshtain immediately loses track of this helpful insight into Tocqueville’s text. Overlooking the deep paradoxes found



in his presentation of “democracy,” and just what it means for family to mirror and reproduce these paradoxical conditions, she offers a romantic Rousseauian account of how the nineteenth-century U.S. woman, though excluded from citizenship, serves some sort of straightforward “essential civic vocation as the chief inculcator of democratic values in her offspring.”11 But given this woman’s exclusion from the realm of political rights, what might these values be? Elshtain certainly complains that Americans’ “equal regard” for men and women “did not lead to social and political equality—a fact Tocqueville glossed over or lost in the midst of his praise for America’s success in raising the moral and intellectual level of women.”12 But Tocqueville does not praise the role played by American women in any simple way, instead diagnosing layers of paradox that haunt their lives. Moreover, in Democracy in America, we see such paradox beyond the domestic realm as well. Instead of coming to terms with this most telling feature of Tocqueville’s work, Elshtain resurrects a strong public-private distinction. F.L. Morton promises to pick up “where Elshtain left off,” but abandons her best insight to follow a less persuasive interpretation, arguing that in Democracy in America, family acts as a oneway functional support for democratic politics and society. Morton therefore ultimately shares Winthrop’s and Mathie’s view that Tocqueville’s democratic family is a distinctive site of altruism and cooperation, most unlike the brash, competitive public.13 In his brief analysis of “the gendered reproduction of political virtue” in Democracy in America, Mark Reinhardt counters such prevailing interpretations, recognizing that when Tocqueville turns to discuss women in democracy, he “makes it clear that he is exploring a topic that is inextricably bound up with—indeed constitutive of—the character of democracy itself.”14 Still, ideas of gender structure Tocqueville’s democracy, such that family and the rest of society are commonly informed, more pervasively and roundly than Reinhardt’s analysis is able to show. While many social historians have viewed the nineteenth-century household as a unique haven in a heartless world, Tocqueville characterizes the democratic social state as pervasively moderate, tranquil, gentle, and prosperous, with family embodying this common ethos (D, 15, 245, 564).This chapter pulls together Tocqueville’s conscious account of democratic family relations, the political metaphors he deploys to grasp this form of family, and the gendered, familial imagery that frames Democracy in America, to set into relief in a new way the paradoxical sensibilities of democracy.We have seen that informing Tocqueville’s democracy is a peculiar mentality that floods democratic society and culture.This ethos cultivates equality and liberty as a matter of principle. But postaristocratic democratic society and culture simultaneously pursue largely unacknowledged desire to reconstitute hierarchy and inegalitarian order against flux, in the name of certainty;Tocqueville’s study of U.S. family



relations offers final confirmation that this order is based in notions of radical sex-gender differentiation. Pierre Manent says that, in Democracy in America, the “family is the privileged place where the general truth of democracy reveals itself.”15 This chapter’s work completes a rereading of Democracy in America that renders Manent’s words more perceptive than he realized. This book’s first chapter introduced Tocqueville’s reliance on a man-nation analogy in which, for him, nations are like individuals: fundamentally shaped by their early years,“peoples always bear some marks of their origin” (D, 31). His French and U.S. democracies both are born out of European aristocracy, a world in which class, interclass, familial, and guild associations once fostered mutuality and security through elaborate systems of defined social identities. Democracy ushers in flux that could supposedly accelerate into an abyss of disorder. In the immediacy of revolution, Tocqueville’s French democracy feels this danger acutely, and readily trades flux for a tutelary state. His U.S. democracy separates from aristocracy with less tumult and violence; it also secures order by way of its Protestantism, the continent’s vast natural resources, the emergent class structure of industrialism and commercialism, and, as we shall now see, by way of conservative gender and family relations. Generally speaking, in the transition from aristocracy to democracy, once rigidly defined by the unrelenting dictates of class and feudal property relations and the law of primogeniture, gender, family, and sexual relations are thrust into a sea of uncertainty. But, as Reinhardt remarks,“democracy’s distinctive and potentially powerful ways of breaking up order can make people—whether they are its participants or observers, friends or foes—uneasy.”16 Tocqueville’s U.S. democracy readily responds by adopting gender, sex, and family as sites for retrenching fixed, predictable order in society.The heterosexual, conjugal family becomes a democratic ideal for his Americans.This idealized family structure also mirrors the sex-gender order of Democracy in America’s subtextual familial foundations. As we have seen, this symbolic family is deployed to organize social, political, and psychological forces to direct democracy to maturity, though its capacity to achieve these ends is limited by its own native tensions and logic. Given the basic sameness between this symbolic order and the conjugal family and gender relations that Tocqueville describes in his U.S. democracy, we must wonder if the same pathologies are not afoot in the latter. If Tocqueville’s democracy, as symbolic youth, struggles with ambivalent passion for and against its hierarchical past, how does this unresolved disposition manifest in the actual democratic family relations that Tocqueville analyzes? As part of his concern to grasp the psychic complexities and paradoxes of modern democracy, Tocqueville turns to family relations. He insists that shaping these democratic family relations is the same psychology that animates democracy’s broader social state.As code for the energies and forces at



play in this democratic social state, Democracy in America’s gendered, familial narrative speaks of hope for autonomy and repressed yearnings for certainty and authority from above. Like the child in Dinnerstein’s theory of prevailing sexual arrangements,Tocqueville’s young French and American democracies alike crave independence from the dictates of old hierarchies, but want the security and predictability that such a world provides. In the throes of such intense mixed passions, Tocqueville’s democracy combines relations of equality with those marked by hierarchy, of freedom and constraint, and individual choice alongside acts of self-submission. In Democracy in America, to understand actual family relations, it is the “white” American middle-class household to which Tocqueville turns—the formation that best approximates the governing mid-nineteenth-century U.S. and European normative ideal of family.Tocqueville has been criticized not only for focusing exclusively on this one mode of family life but for treating it as universal, thereby ignoring the different family experiences of “white” and “black” workers and farmers and others.17 But what Tocqueville explores are the psychopolitical dynamics of the reigning discursive ideal—the dominant cultural assumptions about what family should be. His analysis yields not a social history of modes of family life, then, but a nuanced portrait of sensibilities shaping and reflecting democracy’s imagination. Family, gender, and sex relations emerge in Democracy in America as key venues for democracy to assert for itself, against its flux, a historically new structure and order, alongside expressions of individual autonomy and equality-based mutual recognition. In these family relations percolates the unacknowledged ambivalence stimulated by postaristocratic democracy’s freedoms and flux. Rather than choosing exclusively the healthy,“manly,” egalitarian option of seizing the burden of freedom,Tocqueville’s Americans let their fear of flux temper equality with structured relations of inequality, and principles of universalism with practices of hierarchical, radical differentiation among humans.Though Tocqueville displays only partial consciousness of this, critical excavation of his text unveils how the democratic passion for the idea of equality stimulates a historically novel consciousness about gender. Equality as a principle promises the elimination of sex-based oppression and inequality.At the same time, paradoxically, democracy’s ideology of equality does not simply yield equality between the sexes, but stimulates anxiety that such leveling signifies deep loss of order and meaning—the fall into Tocqueville’s swirling abyss. Ironically, then, modern democracy triggers an ardent appeal to ideas of sex difference and the inscription of gendered difference on social phenomena as an alternative to coping with full-bodied freedom and flux.This dynamic is evident in Democracy in America, in which readers see that Tocqueville fears disorder, as do his Americans. He leans textually on symbolic gender and conjugal family



structure to order his orphaned child democracy; his Americans cultivate the same sort of radical sex differentiation in their conjugal family life. Dinnerstein, for her part, observes that for the female-reared child, the world turns out to be “far less controllable, far less rational, than it looked from a distance,” so that the child is inspired to appeal to structure and control as a way to reinvoke security.18 In parallel terms, in Democracy in America,American gender relations are marked by young, developing U.S. democracy’s anxious effort to reassert order as a means to manage issues of need and loss, dependence and autonomy, domination and liberty left unresolved in its separation from its European mère patrie. Tocqueville himself is ambivalent about the Americans’ rigid sex and family relations: his fear of disorder—and, apparently, of female power—impels him to appreciate the order they confer; but he is not insensitive to the burden these arrangements place on freedom, especially for females.

DEMOCRACY AS SELF-MASTERY: FAT H E R S, S O N S, A N D B R OT H E R S In the symbolic economy of Democracy in America, democracy is signified as not just any developing child, but a young male subject. Dinnerstein argues that where child rearing is dominated by females, an arrangement predicated upon radical differentiation of females from maleness, girls and boys face different psychological struggles and therefore grow up differently. In a social world that makes (dichotomized) sex identity deeply salient, girls are led to identify with that first parent because she is also female; in contrast, boys learn to identify with the authority of the distant second parent, the father, for his maleness, while seeking to retain ties to the mother as a source of corporeal and emotive comfort.These sorts of dynamics can be seen to operate in Tocqueville’s U.S. democratic family wherein American females and males—who, on the level of the text’s symbolic narrative, are maternal England’s daughters and sons—face different psychological pressures that lead them to respond differently to conditions wrought by the prevailing passion for the idea of equality. Tocqueville begins his analysis of democratic family life in U.S. democracy by observing father-son relations, and comparing them with those typical of the landed aristocracy. In describing each type, he employs explicitly political concepts, his figurative language pressing the point that political and family relations share a common sensibility. He sees that in aristocracy, family lineage links past with future and deepens predictability and lasting meaning. In such a context, family constitutes a hierarchy that reflects, and is embedded in, the chain of command that links king, nobles, servants, and peasants: “Men are linked one to the other and confine themselves to controlling those next on the chains. . . .This applies to the family as well as to



all associations with a leader.” Thus aristocratic society “controls the sons through the father; it rules him, and he rules them.” Like a noble over a serf, the father “is given a political right to command. He is the author and support of the family; he is also its magistrate” (D, 586). Like the king,“the father is not only the political head of the family but also the instrument of tradition, the interpreter of custom, and the arbiter of mores. He is heard with deference, he is addressed always with respect, and the affection felt for him is ever mingled with fear” (D, 587). Democracy transforms this political family hierarchy, signifying the rejection of such authority and chains of command. Or, that is democracy’s principled intention in separating from aristocracy: to create equality where there was hierarchy, independence where there was obedience and command, and to supplant fear with confidence. But in Tocqueville’s symbolic family drama, democracy-as-male-child entertains bold thoughts of autonomy and sovereignty while being dogged by fear of maternal reengulfment by authorityfrom-above, and while yearning for the old comforts of hierarchy. Like Dinnerstein’s boy-child attempting to separate from its domineering mother, democracy’s escape from aristocracy is only partial, the psychological remnants of that lost bond continuing to shape the present.Tocqueville’s descriptions of U.S. democracy’s fathers and sons speak primarily of the quest for autonomy and self-governance, but also of anxieties and yearnings still unresolved. Tocqueville writes that in democracy, the family, in its “aristocratic sense, no longer exists” (D, 585).All men are equal before the law and “adopt the general principle that it is good and right to judge everything for oneself ” (D, 587). Moreover, “in the United States, the dogma of the sovereignty of the people is not an isolated doctrine” but, rather, directs all facets of life; as “the great maxim on which civil and political society in the United States” is built, “the father of a family applies it to his children, a master to his servants, a township to those under its administration, a province to the townships, a state to the provinces, and the Union to the states” (D, 397). In the family, then, father-son relations reflect this new politics based on equality and individual sovereignty, and inspired by the angry desire to reject aristocracy’s hierarchical structures. Now that aristocracy’s paternal “master and magistrate have vanished; the father remains” (D, 588). This father exercises “domestic dictatorship” necessitated only by his son’s childhood vulnerability, so as the boy grows,“the reins of filial obedience are daily slackened.” He is soon “master of his thoughts” and “becomes responsible for his own behavior.”At “the close of boyhood,” the young American male “is a man and begins to trace out his own path.”As we know, for Tocqueville, being “manly” means republican self-governance or, in the context of democracy, equality-based active citizenship. In democracy this is “man’s estate,” his birthright (D, 585). Although in Democracy in America’s



symbolic family drama tensions remain between the authority of “eternal” fathers and their citizen-sons,Tocqueville says that the American father, anticipating his son’s independence as inevitable,“abdicates without fuss” to this fellow citizen, acting no longer as intermediary but merely as “a citizen older and richer than his sons.”19 For their part, sons understand that their claim to independence and freedom will not be challenged, and thus readily receive this legacy as “men”—a legacy that fathers consider to be, like citizenship, “an incontestable right.”There is then no violence between father and son since “the son has known in advance exactly when he will be his own master and wins his liberty without haste or effort, as a possession which is his due and which no one seeks to snatch from him.”20 Tocqueville also describes relations among brothers in U.S. democracy further to illustrate democracy’s egalitarian impulse for self-rule. In aristocracy, he points out, all family positions including those of individual siblings, are fixed, ranked, and heavily defined. Children are seen as “by no means equal among one another; age and sex irrevocably fix the rank for each and ensure certain prerogatives.” The “eldest son, who will inherit most of the property and almost all the rights, becomes the chief and to a certain extent the master of his brothers.” For his siblings, life promises “mediocrity and dependence.” Reliant upon their oldest brother for support,“the various members of the aristocratic family are closely linked together; their interests are connected and their minds are in accord, but their hearts are seldom in harmony.” Democracy levels these fixed ranks, deeming children “perfectly equal and consequently independent” (D, 588). (As we shall consider,Tocqueville’s transition from “children” to “brothers,” upon which he does not remark, is significant.) He concludes: “Not interest, then, but common memories and the unhampered sympathy of thoughts and tastes draw brothers, in a democracy, to one another.Their inheritance is divided, but their hearts are free to unite” in bonds of mutual recognition (D, 588–89). Among brothers in democratic family life is precisely the sort of egalitarian, respectful mode of association that promotes political selfrule, and which Tocqueville conceives as intrinsic to healthy civic republicanism. Here, too, is central evidence of the gentleness and tranquility that Tocqueville describes as characterizing a democratic social state.21 It is with these egalitarian relations between father and son and among brothers that Tocqueville is initially preoccupied in this analysis. He finds in these democratic family dynamics expressions of healthy equality, mutual recognition, and self-governance that mirror the broader historical trajectory toward egalitarianism and its potentiality for healthy republicanism. But recall that, according to Tocqueville, healthy, manly republicanism remains just one of democracy’s potentialities; in Democracy in America, he is at pains to provide us with portraits of both healthy and unhealthy democracy and the democratic



tendencies that foment each. His central purpose is to warn the French against democracy’s easy inclination away from maturity and into an arrested development marked by majority tyranny, human mediocrity, passivity, individualism, materialism, and state despotism. If, as Tocqueville says, family relations embody the same ethos that shape the rest of society, so too must they exhibit democracy’s dangerous as well as healthy tendencies and potentialities. But here Tocqueville loses some of his nerve. In his portrait, U.S. family relations do exhibit manifestations of democracy’s immature tendencies. But he only partly admits it, distracted from his guiding distinction between healthy and unhealthy democracy, and from his conviction that liberty—including of the individual—is the prime human good. To explore this problem, we must confront the fact that Tocqueville’s account of U.S. democracy’s fathers, sons, and brothers is exaggerated. In describing the transition from American boyhood to manhood, he repeatedly refers to the process of one becoming “his own master.” Yet there is something suspect here, for Tocqueville is silent on the matter of education. In other chapters of Democracy in America, indeed as a central thesis of the book, Tocqueville insists that democratic citizens must be actively educated in the habits and skills of association in order to mature into a manly republic. But in his account of family life in the United States, sons somehow acquire the status of “manly” republican citizen merely as a matter of course. Despite Tocqueville’s registered fears of individualism and reckless materialism flourishing amid an uneducated citizenry, despite elsewhere insisting on a stage of apprenticeship in republican association, he asserts that the American boy slides directly into manhood as “in America there is in truth no adolescence [d’adolescence]” (D, 585). This new claim that American males automatically come to embody mature citizenship evokes that mythological American Adam, the man of new beginnings who, sui generis, sprang fully formed from American soil to exemplify republican independence and goodness.22 But Tocqueville consciously rejects such eighteenth- and nineteenth-century myths of new beginnings in history; they also clash with his account of the complex dynamics thwarting democracy’s maturation, dynamics that Tocqueville’s citizens must actively, skillfully, allay. In so contradicting himself,Tocqueville perhaps betrays the possibility that his U.S. democracy and its citizens have not fully attained self-mastery—an uncertainty that seems to stimulate hyperbolic claims of how firmly they have won it. Perhaps in the hearts of Tocqueville’s American males, this self-mastery, and desire for it, is compromised by a competing fear of the freedom that republican self-rule signifies, and shameful but lingering yearning for the comforts of hierarchy’s certitudes. If so, these exaggerated claims of self-mastery signal an unresolved repression of the fear of reengulfment by maternal aristocracy, and of the



desire to reconstitute some hierarchical comforts.Tocqueville himself seems swept up in this republican discourse of manliness. The unhealthy potentialities that Tocqueville fears in democracy are partly concealed in his account of U.S. family life by the fact that it addresses only (one version of) European American middle-class family relations.While fathers, sons, and brothers in this class at this time could expect citizenship as their birthright, men beyond this class did not enjoy the same degree of political or socioeconomic power. In his chapter on “The Three Races that Inhabit the United States,” for example,Tocqueville accounts for how racism, a painfully egregious form of inequality, can flourish in the democratic U.S. North, conspicuously limiting equality in the midst of a culture impassioned by the idea of it. He describes how the “white man in the United States is proud of his race,” imagined as “English,” and how this renders him “proud of himself ” (D, 356, 357).Throwing open the doors to genuine universalism would undo this privilege—a privilege that insulates the “white” Northerner from potential ramifications of egalitarian flux and social uncertainty.Tocqueville sees among these anxious “whites” a similar desire to subjugate Native Americans. In lamenting descriptions of European American violence, he records the chilling words of one Anglo-American: “The true owners of this continent are those who know how to take advantage of its riches.”23 Apparently, the democratic right of self-mastery is reserved only for some in democracy’s public life and, as we shall see, in family life as well. As chapter 4 considered,Tocqueville was also somewhat aware that what political equality was being enjoyed by European American males in the midnineteenth century, by way of an expanding suffrage, was simultaneously being undercut by a new kind of class hierarchy shaped by wealth-polarizing “industry” and aggressive “commerce.” Consider also Tocqueville’s account of “master-servant” and “master-worker” relations, at the heart of which lies the fact that, the ideology of voluntary contract to the contrary, not every male is master of himself in postaristocratic democracy, nor does being a “master” over others necessarily signify republican maturity. Now, right on the heels of this account of the complex psychology marking the new economic relations in democracy,Tocqueville says he wants “to carry the argument further and consider what happens within the family” (D, 584–85). As for the study of master-servant and owner-worker relations, it characterizes democracy as a social state laced with hidden forms of subjugation and unfreedom that leave men living a “sort of fancied equality” among themselves despite the “actual inequality of their lives” (D, 577).Armed with this insight,Tocqueville commences his analysis of “what happens within the family” in democracy, foreshadowing that the happy republican relations among bourgeois fathers, sons, and brothers constitute only a first layer of democratic family life (D, 585). In this first glance



at middle-class family life, relations among the males, seemingly taken as the norm by Tocqueville and his Americans, are shown to be egalitarian. But the material and racialized inequalities that distinguish men beyond the household from each other suggest that the culture’s presumption of individual male sovereignty is partly an illusory creation of a culture ambivalent about democracy’s principles. Dinnerstein helps us imagine how the idea of equality-based bonds in the household would reassure democracy’s male citizens that they have vanquished the domineering, aristocratic mother-world, and will never again have to submit to its humiliating dictates. Moreover, amid the atomism that has replaced aristocratic interdependencies, the idea of fraternal bonds and shared civic authority assure these men that they are not alone. Dinnerstein argues that when a boy-child’s oneness with his mother fades, he seeks solace through connection with the newly discovered father, who introduces the boy as a fellow man to the historical worlds of politics and enterprise. In Tocqueville’s account, democracy’s male citizens—the symbolic “sons” of aristocracy—likewise seek solace for the lost aristocratic realm in fraternal male bonds in which they share the mantle of mother-conqueror. But the economic and “race”-based inequalities that Tocqueville observes in U.S. democracy suggest that victory over hierarchical structure is imagined, and probably even feared.After all, aristocracy’s law of primogeniture, fealty, and class determinacy, though constraining and authoritarian, provided security and a sense of belonging merely by dint of birth. In addition to these extradomestic inequalities, the equality said to underlie father-son and fraternal relations in the democratic family is not absolute, but radically offset by male differentiation from the female.The men Tocqueville describes may all be citizens who are de jure equal before the law and in public life, but the females with whom they comprise their families and the polity are denied this status. Undoubtedly, this sexism reassures the men that their political liberty is irretractable because it is based in their irretractable maleness, rather than in the vagaries of wealth, for instance.24 Still, despite the glaring inequality between males and females, these men consider themselves individual members of a mature egalitarian society rooted in the ideas of individual sovereignty and self-rule. As with the boy-child of Dinnerstein’s analysis, independence from the originary mother is seemingly won through ties to the father-figure, but actually leaves the project of growing up unsettled.Tocqueville’s first chapter on family relations says that democracy’s males have been victorious in conquering aristocratic hierarchy and attaining autonomous self-mastery. His subsequent chapters on family relations in democracy help us penetrate some of this veil to see that radically differentiating humans mollifies the repressed passions of postaristocratic democracy, but in a way that feeds democratic immaturity rather than facilitates maturation. If family and the rest of the social



state share a common ethos, what do the sex-based disparities and political exclusions say about this ethos?

GIRLS: DEMOCRACY’S SHADOW FIGURES The symbolic family narrative of Democracy in America begins with young male democracy’s attempt to separate from its maternal point of departure, European aristocracy. Dinnerstein’s framework accounts for why this multiplicitous female imago is subsequently replaced, in the story of democracy’s subsequent development, by a spectrum of female figures, variously maternal, wifely, seductive, and so forth, in relation to whom the figurative offspring—democracy and its citizenry—attempt to mature. In Dinnerstein’s developmental narrative, there is also, on the horizon, a second parent who provides a not-the-mother substitute for that initial maternal authority.This kind of story of a mother-fatherchild triangle is a classic one upon which Freud and others have based theories of human development. But notably, Democracy in America’s version is particularly and singularly a story of a male child attempting to grow up. Whereas Dinnerstein examines the common and disparate effects of female child rearing on male and female children, in Tocqueville’s symbolic drama, there is no girl/daughter/sister figure.As chapters 2 and 3 illustrate, Democracy in America’s subtextual narrative presents male democracy as a historical phenomenon that, like an actual human, struggles to grow from embryo to child to adolescent to adult; but femaleness is not in a similar course of development, instead performing as an extratemporal force that affects male democracy. Maternal aristocracy is a looming fixed entity in the past; the subsequent female figures democracy encounters, though dynamic, are not on a quest to mature in the name of selfgovernance.25 “He” is subject;“she” is an array of desirable, dangerous, agentic objects. Given these limiting conditions of Democracy in America’s symbolic gender foundations, the American and European girls that appear in Tocqueville’s analysis of democratic family relations promise to divulge aspects of modern democracy otherwise concealed in the symbolic family drama. Indeed, when we turn to Tocqueville’s analysis of actual family and gender relations in U.S. democracy, the girl emerges as a shadow figure that captures the paradox at the heart of the democratic psyche. She finds herself trapped between democracy’s quest for equality, autonomy, and individual freedom that drove the rejection of hierarchical aristocracy, on the one hand, and democracy’s anxiety over separating from that old world of certainty, on the other.The status of the girl in democracy is central evidence of the messy, compromised psychic transition from aristocracy to democracy, utterly sheltered and infantilized as she is in the former, but whose potential freedom, equality, and independence in the latter threaten deeply uncomfortable postrevolutionary shockwaves. After all, if she



were to become a republican citizen engaged in “manly” self-rule, gender differentiation as one of the last frontiers of social order and remaining sources of felt certainty would be lost. So while she is the most representative figure of modern democracy, capturing its paradoxes, so too is she an anomalous figure relegated to its borders, as her absence from Democracy in America’s symbolic family drama indicates, her independence and liberty threatening a degree of social flux that horrifies the unresolved democratic imagination. In a cultural context anxious about the fact that it was mothered by a grand, highly ordered authority, the girl as female finds democracy’s repressed passions projected onto her. In his first chapter on family,Tocqueville leans heavily on the political, public language of “citizen,”“equality,” and “incontestable right” to describe relations between fathers and sons and among brothers in democracy. His turn to the “Education of Girls in the United States” constitutes a sea change as questions of independence, individual sovereignty, and self-mastery take on ominous meanings as he dwells anew upon “burgeoning desires,” “tyrannical passions,”“disorder” and self “control.” Surely here Tocqueville reveals his own ambivalence about democracy as he projects onto females fear of social mayhem, while appreciating in males the courageous democratic quest for liberty. Still, he does not consider the new problem of democracy’s girl an anomaly found in the “otherwise” democratic family. Rather, it is for him a constitutive feature of democratic family life, and consistent with the mentality he diagnoses in the democratic social state more broadly.While Tocqueville begins his analysis of the “democratic family” by focusing on fathers and sons, it is his American girl and her fixed destiny as a “wife” that takes us closer to the heart of the complexities in Tocqueville’s portrait of democracy and its disparate potentialities.Tocqueville opens his chapter on “Girls” by reiterating his claim that in a given social state, family life, politics, and society are grounded in the same basic psychology. He notes that Protestant nations raise girls who are “much more in control of their own behavior” than Catholic girls, and that the most self-control is found among girls from Protestant countries “which have kept or gained the right of self-government.” In these Protestant democratic social states,“political habits and religious beliefs infuse a spirit of liberty into the family.” Hence, the “status of women, their habits, and their thoughts is, in my view, of great political importance” (D, 590). While appreciating the independence of mind of the American girl, Tocqueville reveals U.S. democracy’s anxieties, as well as his own, as he casts this girl’s life as one of dangerous “passions” and “tyranny” that must be “controlled.” Recall that in Democracy in America, democratic maturity generally requires a careful combination of symbolically male and female energies in which the former leads and the latter is contained. This conception of maturity is not easily achieved, requiring a citizenry meaningfully educated in association, but which



is constantly troubled by pressures for materialism and individualism. Of course democracy’s culture can tell itself that its citizens have achieved this maturity, engaging in the very same pretence exemplified by Tocqueville’s exaggerated and unjustifiably universal account of “white,” middle-class male family relations. In Dinnersteinian terms, such pretence of maturity grows out of unexamined yearning for the lost aristocratic order and its structural securities;“split off,” repressed, and denied rather than integrated into the offspring’s personality, this hidden craving rears its head.What can be seen in Tocqueville’s analysis is that U.S. democracy manages without solving these repressed desires by projecting them onto contemporary expressions of femaleness and maternalism, namely girls and women. In his U.S. democracy, females are radically differentiated from males and excluded from political rights.They are assigned a role of domestic moral teacher and guide, nurturer, and comforter, in order to recapture for democracy that which it fears it has lost: the certitudes of a structured social order, and a well-entrenched cultural morality.This elaborate differentiation of males from females, grafted respectively onto citizenship and enterprise, household labor and morality, establishes a predictable order in a world that otherwise heralds flux and the constant threat of change. Democracy in the United States projects its ideals onto males while capturing and containing its females, rendering the latter constantly available to male-democracy while ensuring that their putative capacities to dominate and humiliate maledemocracy are contained. In France,Tocqueville observes, the relics of the ancien régime still prescribe a “timid, withdrawn, almost cloistered education” for girls.Though suitable to a rigid regime in which girls’ security is carefully guaranteed, such a protective education preserves childishness, and leaves girls “unguided and unaided” amid the turmoil of democracy (D, 591). Rather than preparing them for genuine independence,it produces “virgin innocence amid burgeoning desires,”a “chaste” mind, and “naïve and artless graces.” In democracy, the firm maternal hand of aristocracy gone, her “safeguards”“shaken or overthrown,” the girl encounters an uncertain world (D, 590, 591).According to Tocqueville’s observations, U.S. democracy responds by (re)structuring the life of the girl in ways that are fraught with all the tensions that mark democracy’s broader struggle to overcome desire for aristocracy. Like her brothers, the American girl learns an “independence” that Tocqueville describes as “manly,” apparently recognizing in her signs of republican capacity for self-rule (D,593).Indeed,in the United States,Protestantism combines with “a very free constitution and a very democratic society” so that a girl enjoys some of the benefits of democracy, such as more independence at an earlier age than anywhere else he can imagine:“Before she has completely left childhood behind she already thinks for herself, speaks freely, and acts on her own” (D, 590). But at the same time that Tocqueville admires the American



girl’s autonomy and independence of mind, boldness, and “skill,” he is also “almost frightened” by it (D, 591). Democracy’s girl unsettles him, emerging as she does from the limiting structures of the Old World to seize a kind of dexterous worldliness. He writes rather ominously,“I know that such an education has its dangers” (D, 592).What seems to be at stake is that, against the backdrop of old Europe, the American girl’s freedoms exacerbate democracy’s putative flirtation with social mayhem. While Tocqueville admires the independence of American male youth, he writes that in democracy, female “youth will be impatient, tastes ill-restrained, customs fleeting, public opinion often unsettled or feeble, paternal authority weak, and a husband’s power contested” (D, 591). “[A]mid all the disorder inseparable from democratic society,” the potential freedoms of the girl must be delimited, precisely because her freedom, unlike her brother’s, is taken to signify proximity to the abyss. In the text’s symbolic terms, democracy not only elevates males from subjugation under maternal aristocracy to the status of sovereign, it also unleashes females as self-possessed agents, and thereby evokes continuing fear of femaleness as domination; in the face of this apparently familiar, oppressive force, men’s liberty and independence may once again be suffocated. Exhibiting himself some of the anxiety that this throbbing condition elicits, Tocqueville welcomes the likewise anxious American effort to educate girls in self-control, to make society “more peaceful and better ordered” (D, 592). But Tocqueville notes that, nevertheless,Americans think about their girls in terms of independence and liberty; since “there must be a great deal of individual freedom in a democracy,” the Americans “have calculated that there was little chance of repressing in woman the most tyrannical passions.” It seems, in other words, that the girl triggers passions about the tyrannical and comforting aspects of the symbolic maternal, but also demands respect as a subject of the mature democratic interest in self-rule.As such,Tocqueville’s Americans set aside aristocracy’s authoritarianism and “count on the strength of [the girl’s] free determination more than on safeguards which have been shaken or overthrown.” “Unable and unwilling” to shelter and infantilize this girl,“they are in a hurry to give her precocious knowledge of everything. Far from hiding the world’s corruption from her, they want her to see it at once and take her own steps to avoid it, and they are more anxious to ensure her good conduct than to guard her innocence too carefully” (D, 591). She thus learns to look upon the “vices and dangers of [democratic] society” with a “firm and quiet gaze.” Rid of the omnipresent hand of overweening old Europe,she “judges”society’s dangers “without illusion and faces them without fear, for she is full of confidence in her own powers” (D, 590). She does so through religion, that moderating and disciplining (female) force, which combines with her reason further to guide her in use of her freedoms, ensuring that, with “her morals pure,”“even in the freedom of



youth” she “never quite loses control of herself.” She keeps her “head” amid “permitted pleasures,”“and her reason never lets the reins go” (D, 591).The democratic girl is thus emblematic of democracy’s confused effort to grow up, actively taught to engage in a modified and strange version of self-rule: not a republican one based in engagement with others, but a private and self-delimiting one that leads her to check in herself the freedoms that democracy fears will plunge it into chaos.Tocqueville is aware that this education develops “judgment at the cost of imagination,” makes “women chaste and cold rather than tender and loving companions of men,” and, as a result, the “charms of private life are often less.” But, he concludes that such loss is a “secondary evil” which “should be faced for the sake of the greater good,” order over flux.While otherwise judging freedom the greatest human good, he makes an exception in relation to females: “At the point we have now reached, we no longer have a choice to make” but to “protect women” from the passions unleashed by the “institutions and mores of democracy” (D, 592).

F E A R A N D D E S I R E : C O N TA I N I N G T H E A M E R I C A N W O M A N Tocqueville was himself ambivalent about the powers of women. He admired his grandmother’s public-mindedness and chastised his sister-in-law for attending exclusively to domestic concerns in the midst of serious public upheaval. Yet his wife played a soothing domestic counterpart to his republic activism, an arrangement that suited him at the same time that her powers over him frustrated him.26 In his Souvenirs, he writes of meeting George Sand against whom he was “strongly prejudiced . . . for I loathe women who write, especially those who systematically disguise the weaknesses of their sex, instead of interesting us by displaying them in their true character. Nevertheless, she pleased me.”After describing her physically and recommending more adornment, he remarks that “what she said on the subject [of public affairs] struck me greatly,” her depiction of the disposition of Paris workmen later proving accurate.27 Not unlike American democratic culture, then,Tocqueville, himself growing up during the transition from aristocracy to democracy, simultaneously admires the independent and public-minded female, fears the democratic impulse to dissolve structures of gender differentiation, and desires the comforts that a differentiated femaleness can offer him. In Democracy in America, he characterizes U.S. bourgeois women as holding a deeply paradoxical status, both “very dependent within” the domestic sphere and nowhere enjoying “a higher station”; simultaneously dominated and revered, exhibiting that kind of sub- and super-human female status that Dinnerstein sees produced by female-dominated child care. Tocqueville’s texts reveal that U.S. democracy employs a second strategy in gender relations to contain the perceived threat of societal chaos. In addition to



educating girls to “control” their passions, women are also “cloistered” in their husband’s homes after marriage. While “all the men in a democracy either enter politics or practice some calling” outside of the household,“the wives” stay “at home and watch in person very closely over the details of domestic economy” (D, 598).Wives are also to keep the faith of religion to foster a pervasive morality at a time when social flux threatens moral decay. So while “religion is often powerless to restrain men in the midst of innumerable temptations which fortune offers,” it “reigns supreme in the souls of the women, and it is women who shape mores” (D, 291). In a travel essay,Tocqueville observes in “one great American city in particular” from “Saturday evening on,” when one would “expect grown-up people to be going to their businesses, and young ones to their pleasures, you will find yourself in profound solitude.” It is not only that no one works or plays:“They do not even seem alive.” Indeed,“chains are stretched around the churches, and the half-closed shutters reluctantly allow a ray of light to penetrate the citizens’ houses” (D, 713, Appendix I, E). It is through women that religion is thus effective; “by regulating domestic life it helps to regulate the state” (D, 291). Like Democracy in America’s textually female figure, religion, that sober wife/mother to male democratic politics, U.S. women are restricted from political power while granted deep cultural power in their domestic capacities. Like textually male democratic politics, U.S. men enjoy political power while being influenced by, though not bound to, the morality of their wives. In her role,Tocqueville’s democratic woman is both oddly self-ruling and dependent, both powerful and subordinate.At the same time that her culture attenuates her freedoms, its ideological passion for equality and autonomy compels all (including her) to see her as her own “master,” consciously choosing for herself this paradoxical status. Tocqueville certainly recognizes the paradox in stunting what freedoms American girls enjoy in restrictive “bonds of matrimony.” As he points out, following her education in independence (however odd it is), the American girl marries and “loses her independence forever.” In the United States, where a girl experiences “less constraint” than anywhere,“a wife submits to stricter obligations. For the former, her father’s house is a home of freedom and pleasure; for the latter, her husband’s is almost a cloister” (D, 592). Tocqueville makes sense of this by suggesting that the “Americans have applied to the sexes the great principle of political economy which now dominates industry.They have carefully separated the functions of man and of woman so that the great work of society may be better performed.”This radical differentiation is not a natural arrangement, he says, but rather one constructed such that “more than anywhere else in the world, care has been taken constantly to trace clearly distinct spheres of action for the two sexes, and both are required to keep in step, but along paths that are never the same.”28 For his part,Tocqueville



is critical of the industrial economy’s new division of labor for its effects on people’s opportunity and capacity for self-governance. But it is with some disdain that he mentions European intellectuals, wed to a stronger idea of sex equality, who claim that because women and men are in effect the same, they should bear the same duties and rights in work, pleasure, and public affairs. He is clear that such a genuinely egalitarian arrangement “is far from being the American view of the sort of democratic equality which can be brought about between man and woman.”Americans have never believed that “democratic principles should undermine the husband’s authority and make it doubtful who is in charge of the family.” Despite their “passion for equality,” they “never deny” a man “the right to direct his spouse”;“They think that in the little society composed of man and wife, just as in the great society of politics, the aim of democracy is to regulate and legitimatize necessary powers and not to destroy all power” (D, 601, emphasis added). In effect, U.S. democracy’s gender structure, as a means to offset flux, mirrors the symbolic conjugal family’s gender structure that orders Tocqueville’s democracy to enable it to mature: male and female powers are equally essential to democracy, but the former leads the latter, containing and drawing on it for support.At the same time as Tocqueville admires he also laments American women’s “cold and austere powers of reasoning” and eros-stifling moral disposition that lead them to foster stability in what he fears is, otherwise, an order-destroying, anxiety-riddled democratic society. Dinnerstein argues that the prevailing mother-son-father triangle, a symbolic version of which Tocqueville deploys to grasp and direct democracy, presses a male child to manage his continued, unintegrated ambivalence toward his mother, and entertain his basic human desire to enter the world of enterprise, by assigning females and males to exclusive spheres of life. Confined to the household, it appears that woman will not threaten the boy’s extrafamilial ties to other men. So contained, the unreliability and omnipotence she seemed to exhibit during the boy’s infancy will be rendered less threatening to his security.At the same time, his lingering infantile desire to possess her as the source of life and approval, and to bridle his unending feelings for her, will apparently be satisfied by her guaranteed presence at home as nurturer. For Dinnerstein, then, fear of an absolutist mother leads people to construct and police a heterosexual society grounded in radical dichotomous differention of the sexes, all in order to keep the apparently monstrous “her” away from men’s citizenship and enterprise.29 In Democracy in America, for U.S. democratic politics and enterprise to emerge as a site of autonomy and self-mastery, it likewise seems to need to segregate females from it. Having left behind its English mère patrie, Tocqueville’s U.S. democracy exhibits parallel desire to capture, control, and monitor females as embodied representatives of that originary symbolic mother. Cloistered in the household, female power will never



again be able to colonize, usurp, and dominate men, leaving them to congratulate themselves on their newfound autonomy. In so acting on these unresolved passions, U.S. democracy constitutes a new, rigid, and hierarchical order that, assigning roles to people at birth, obscures the meaning of self-rule. In Democracy in America, in the absence of aristocratic order, that textually female, emasculating, and infantilizing force, public opinion, erects and coercively guards this new democratic order that seeks both equality and freedom, and the security of fixed social identities.The American girl quickly learns the rules of sex differentiation to recognize that she has few options: she finds restrictive opinions about woman’s proper role “firmly established”; she is “soon convinced that she cannot for a moment depart from the usages accepted by her contemporaries without immediately putting in danger her peace of mind, her reputation, and her very social existence.”A young wife, informed by her “free view of the world” yet understanding that “a light and free spirit within the bonds of marriage is an ever-lasting source of trouble, not of pleasure,” and accepting that for her, the “springs of happiness are inside the home,” self-consciously “chooses” her sacrifice.30 Dinnerstein observes that in the context of female-centered child care, all children wish “to keep female will in live captivity, obediently energetic, fiercely protective of its captor’s pride, ready always to vitalize his projects with its magical maternal blessing.”31 The boy-child throughout his life wants to possess the mother, also observing that other males, like his father, do so.The more the boy’s maleness is emphasized, as he is defined as essentially different from his mother, the more intense his anxiety to capture this now alien figure, apparently the one who can satisfy his basic needs. The girl-child, while also desiring to possess the mother as a source of security, is taught by her radically sex-differentiating culture that she, as a female, is essentially like her mother; this dynamic produces in her a concomitant willingness to be possessed, as an interior way to maintain a tie to her first parent. In Democracy in America’s U.S. democracy, while men establish wives at home and roles for themselves in history, it is primarily the women that internalize the dictates of textually female public opinion to become her agents, coercively guarding from their domestic standpoints the dictates of the social order. Subtlely aware of the costs of rebellion, these women bend to the coercive dictates of social mores that eclipse females’ options, which presses them to issue a seeming “voluntary acceptance” of banishment “to the little sphere of domestic interests and duties” (D, 596, 592).These women are themselves participants in the cultural imagination that partly desires structured order and fears democracy’s potential erasure of sex-gender differentiation—passions that lead them to accept as good their domestic, moral designation. And so Tocqueville’s American women and men collude in the idea of gendered spheres. Dinnerstein’s framework suggests that these women “split off ” their



remaining love for aristocratic structure and rechannel it in an exaggerated way toward male democracy.They manifest this exaggerated love for democracy by embracing their duty to serve and support their husbands, the manly subjects of democracy; the arrangement assures the women they need not take on the difficult responsibility for freedom—they need not wholly grow up.32 For the men, controlling their wives reassures them that institutionalized order and its comforts still exist while, at the same time, they pursue civic activity and enterprise as evidence of their triumph over the humiliations of hierarchy.The women, likewise, breathe a sigh of relief that the old authoritarian society is vanquished, replaced by equal citizens in association. But they fear what it would mean for females to be manly citizens, for structured social differentiation to dissolve further.Thus Tocqueville can charge,“I am far from thinking that only the constraint of public opinion imposes this great change in the ways of women as soon as they are married. Often it is simply their own will which imposes this sacrifice on them” (D, 593). He notes:“I have never found American women regarding conjugal authority as a blessed usurpation of their rights or feeling that they degraded themselves by submitting to it.”The latter is an overstatement: some women in this period agitated for increased political rights and for feminist social reform. But what he captures in this assessment of U.S. women’s role is democratic society’s reactive desire for hierarchical, differentiating social structures, a desire that leads the women to “seem to take pride in the free relinquishment of their will, and it is their boast to bear the yoke themselves rather than to escape from it” (D, 602). These gender arrangements thus exemplify the complex, repressed ambivalence of postaristocratic democracy. In exposing the confusion in the life of the American female,Tocqueville reveals the veritable leitmotif of modern democracy: the paradoxical desires for equality and inequality, freedom and constraint. To claim, as he does, that “it is natural” for girls to begin their lives as free individuals who subsequently volunteer for subjection is to begin to unravel the confusion permeating the psychology of democracy, a confusion that marks and obscures the inequality found throughout U.S. democracy’s social, political, and economic relations. So when Tocqueville observes that the Americans “have allowed the social inferiority of woman to continue” while doing “everything to raise her morally and intellectually to the level of man,” he rightly concludes with irony that they have “wonderfully understood the true conception of democratic progress” (D, 603). As we may suspect, the station assigned to American women does not betoken happiness for them.Tocqueville remarks upon the “strength required for such an act of submission,” and that “one may say that it is the very enjoyment of freedom that has given her the courage to sacrifice it without struggle or complaint when the time has come for that.” She “suffers her new state bravely, for



she has chosen it” (D, 593).The married woman is “still the same person that she was as a girl,” drawing on the “inner strength” acquired in childhood, but now is “both sad and resolute” (D, 594). She is like religion in U.S. democracy which,Tocqueville says, “restricts itself to its own resources . . . it functions in one sphere only, but it pervades it and dominates there without effort” (D, 299). However, democracy’s middle-class female is dogged by the fact that, precisely because she is molded to represent and guarantee the comforts of ordered social differentiation and structured moral regularity, so too does she elicit democracy’s cultural resentment of the aristocratic past. In so doing, she continually stimulates the fear of sliding back into that aristocratic world wherein “white” bourgeois males lose their claim to individual sovereignty. Even as this adult female soothes democracy’s postaristocratic anxieties, she continually pricks them. In relegating women to the household in order to install a new certainty in society,Tocqueville’s U.S. democracy staves off some of the tumult. But these women’s deep influence—over mores and morality, bodies and erotic desire—undoubtedly triggers the opposing fear that, somehow through them, authority-from-above will reincarnate to dissolve the men’s newfound autonomy.33

MARRIAGE AND SEX: RESURRECTING ORDER For Tocqueville, marriage in aristocracy is heavily encumbered by rules of “birth and fortune”;“social conditions and the thoughts that spring from them” as well as “laws” impose great “restraint” that “does not allow” choice which, if pursued, leads to “ephemeral and clandestine connections.” Generally, any man and woman who “wish to come together in spite of the inequalities of an aristocratic social system” have “immense obstacles to overcome” including “the ties of filial obedience,” the “sway of custom and the tyranny of opinion,” so that finally the “prejudice which they have defied separates them” (D, 596, 597). So the pursuit of marriage according to “taste and inclination” in aristocracy yields “irregular morals and wretchedness” in home life (D,597). Social stability is crafted through arranged marriages that unite property and confirm class identity, and that leave hearts free “to rove at large” (D, 596). Society is so firmly structured by matters extraneous to love that the constant stream of romantic intrigue does not unsettle it. In contrast,Tocqueville claims,“equality of conditions” sweeps down “all the real or imaginary barriers separating man and woman.”This statement hints at the identity fluidity that democracy makes possible. But in Tocqueville’s U.S. democracy, while family lineage and enshrined class identity no longer dictate marriage ties, it is “paternal authority” (transformed but not eliminated by



democracy),“public opinion,” and the “social system” that render marriage based on personal inclination “part of the natural and usual order of things” (D, 597). Of course, when free choice reigns supreme it seems to threaten society with chaos. However,Tocqueville observes that in the United States, while people are free to marry whomever they desire, this very freedom of choice “keep[s] and hold[s]” a couple “by each other’s side” as well as makes “irregular morals before marriage very difficult” (D, 596, 595). On this score, marital life in the United States differs dramatically from that in democratizing Europe: while severe norms mark American sexual ties, democratizing Europe features instability in sexual relations.This is because, in Democracy in America, the U.S. and European democracies have separated from maternal European aristocracy differently, and thus have experienced their metaphorical youth in different ways. Recall that Tocqueville’s U.S. democracy, an ocean away from England’s impositions, has been structured not only by England’s lessons in political liberty, but also by the sober maternal hand of Protestant religion and a conservative, companion gender order.Tocqueville writes that no comparable social order prevails in democratizing Europe because domestic life there is not so well ordered, and “almost all the disorders of society are born around the domestic hearth and not far from the nuptial bed.” It seems that in reacting against the legacy of a controlling, confining, aristocratic regime, upon whose ashes they build their democracy, European men “develop a taste for disorder, restlessness of spirit, and instability of desires.” In contrast, in the United States, where democracy-as-child develops in the absence of aristocracy rather than in the heat of revolution against it, sober fear and desire guide hearts and minds, as exemplified by its conservative sex arrangements designed to reinvoke, not disrupt, structured order. Such conservatism is the hallmark American response to democratic flux. Fearing gender chaos as one of the potential consequences of the passion for equality,Tocqueville’s Americans foment stability by rigidly differentiating the sexes and enforcing heterosexual conjugal relations in the name of order. Unlike the European man, “when the American returns from the turmoil of politics to the bosom of the family, he immediately finds a perfect picture of order and peace.There all his pleasures are simple and natural and his joys innocent and quiet, and as the regularity of life brings him happiness, he easily forms the habit of regulating his opinions as well as his tastes” (D, 291). Tocqueville attributes this “severity of the Americans” to the fact that they “regard marriage as a contract.” It is one that is “often burdensome but every condition of which the parties are strictly bound to fulfil, because they knew them all beforehand and were at liberty not to bind themselves to anything at all” (D, 596).Tocqueville’s analysis of U.S. marriage hearkens back to his account of democratized master-servant (and master-worker) relations, also based in



contract, in which the idea of equality posits a sense of, and presumes, free choice and equality for the two contracting “citizens.” In terms of Tocqueville’s man-nation analogy, these contractual relations reflect healthy, youthful yearning for genuine independence of mind and autonomy in action.As we saw in chapter 4, however, behind this ideology of equality and its quest to dissolve relations of command and obedience, contractarianism shields and sustains new economic, political, and psychological hierarchies. Marriage in Tocqueville’s United States is similarly defined in contractual terms, also presuming free choice and equality between self-ruling individuals. But the society and marriages it yields are rooted unwaveringly in radical differentiation and inequality of two sexes sustained at home and in public by unequally dispersed political rights and an unyielding public opinion.Paradoxically,though,while Tocqueville’s American husband and wife acknowledge that the man wields superior authority, they tend also to imagine themselves autonomous individuals equally responsible for choosing or rejecting a marriage contract.A woman every bit as much as a man is seen “freely” to choose to enter into the prescribed set of obligations,“knowing beforehand what will be expected of her,” like a worker “freely” agreeing to labor when there is little alternative.The husbands-to-be, like industry’s owners over their employees, are guaranteed a future authority over their wives, an arrangement that this hierarchical democracy deems wholly legitimate.34 American men are also prescribed a laxer moral code than are American women.Tocqueville claims that “equality of conditions” could never “make man chaste, but it gives the irregularity of his morals a less dangerous character. As man no longer has leisure or opportunity to attack the virtue of those who wish to defend themselves, there are at the same time a great number of courtesans and a great many honest women” (D,598).This moral code and its double standard signal a gender order reflected in Democracy in America’s subtextual gender narrative: in the latter, maleness primarily performs as subject (democracy, democratic politics), while femaleness is its highly multiplicitous object, as the omnifarious maternal past (aristocracy), abundant mother (nature), sober wife/mother (religion), doting and invasive wife/mother (administration), seductress (equality), and comparatively elusive object of desire (liberty). In Tocqueville’s chapters on marriage, U.S. democracy’s male citizens are permitted liaisons with females other than their wives, with the proviso that they not seduce “honest” women: like textually female religion and morality, the chastity of other men’s wives (and future wives) must be preserved as a key bulwark against democratic mayhem (D, 602). Men’s affairs with other women are seen not to threaten social stability because, as in the symbolic familial framework, wives buffer the passions stirred by seductresses and, over all these females, the men retain final authority. So while “Americans think nothing more precious than a woman’s honor,” husbands’ infidelity does “not break up families



and does not weaken national morality” (D, 603, 593). Dinnerstein elucidates this common double standard as a consequence of standing sex arrangements. To curb a female-raised man’s infantile insecurity, his wife must be readily available to him, and to him alone; at the same time, his adultery does not threaten his wife’s infantile insecurities in the same way.35 In effect, U.S. democracy’s prevailing sexual norms are not about entrenching for both sexes the equality and individual sovereignty that democracy seeks in its principled, mature moment but, rather, express the reactionary impulse against the postaristocratic turmoil that universal equality and liberty would supposedly signify. In Democracy in America, U.S. democracy’s sex-based inequality is not based in some idea of natural difference between the sexes, as Tocqueville recognizes, but is a convention designed to counter democracy’s moral flux. Hence Tocqueville’s ambivalent conclusion that democracy’s sexual norms, while leading “to deplorable individual wretchedness,” do “not prevent the body social from being strong and alert” (D, 598).

D E M O C R A C Y ’ S G E N D E R A N D F A M I LY F O U N D A T I O N S When Tocqueville claims that the same sensibilities govern all dimensions of a democratic social state, including family relations, he enables us to excavate the paradoxical contours of the modern democratic psyche. He, like Dinnerstein, sees family relations as fundamentally bound up in the sensibilities of the broader society: for Tocqueville, “certain great social principles” shape life “everywhere” or “nowhere”; for Dinnerstein,“the private and public sides of our sexual arrangement are not separable, and neither one is secondary to the other.”36 Tocqueville’s symbolic gender and family narrative, framing to direct his democracy’s development toward maturity, mirrors his account of the family life that brings stability and certainty to U.S. democracy. Both family moments are driven by principled interest in equality and liberty, and by fear of freedom and yearning for the securities of structured social order. In each storyline, maleness and femaleness are radically differentiated to serve as managing vessels for democracy’s unresolved, disparate passions: maleness itself is symbol of democracy’s principled quest for freedom in equality, while femaleness bears all that complicates this quest. The historical context in which Tocqueville was embedded features the same paradoxical dynamics for and against freedom and order, and the same democratic “solution.” Some social historians have illustrated how, in both the U.S. and French transitions to modern democracy, gender was adopted as a code for society that would permit unprecedented freedoms at the same time as policing rigid social order. During America’s colonial period, while society was hierarchical in a way that consistently favored males, this structure was, as



Gerda Lerner illustrates,“constantly challenged and modified under the impact of environment, frontier conditions and a favorable sex ratio.” But after the Revolution and into the nineteenth century, in the face of the new egalitarian ideology, women were not only excluded from political rights, but their earning outside the home met with a new disapproval, they were excluded from former domains of work, and “ ‘woman’s proper sphere’ seemed narrower and more confined than ever.” 37 Similarly, during the course of the French Revolution, the call for equality and self-governance dissolved existing hierarchical barriers to political participation; many females, like many males, seized the role of civic actor, as subjects of their emergent democracy. Before long, the radical Jacobins, proving themselves amenable to male political authority alone, outlawed women’s political activity and clubs. Foreshadowing the hierarchical democracy that was to come, as Margaret George notes,“there was no male protest or outcry against the decree; nowhere . . . was it perceived that a government that could by fiat forbid women’s clubs could quite logically do the same to men’s.”38 A new age of conjugal family and gender relations, based in deep emphasis on sex identity and the radical differentiation of two sexes, began to take shape. Tocqueville’s assessment of U.S. democratic family life helps us perceive how and why, in the aftermath of aristocracy’s evolved and fixed class order in which one’s station was determined at birth, gender and family are seized as key terrain for rebuilding social structure amid the flux that democratic equality heralds. Tocqueville’s U.S. democracy, both symbolically and in terms of flesh and blood lives, is founded upon a conjugal family and gender order of freedom and equality, subjugation and inequality: it is this ethos that permeates the culture and society. Prior chapters of this book show how the subtextual family narrative of Democracy in America works to serve Tocqueville’s aim of directing democracy, hemming in dangerous energies while facilitating healthy ones, toward a mature republicanism. On the level of the text, the terms of this symbolic conjugal family drama prove either too unstable to lend order, or, in their ordered moments, prone to encourage unhealthy, immature energies. In this final chapter, we see that in Tocqueville’s analysis of U.S. democracy’s family and gender arrangements, the modern conjugal family narrative is sustained in its conservative format: the American females assume their assigned domestic roles as secondary, though essential, supports to the developing and adult male citizen-subjects. Here, the dangers of the modern conjugal family and gender order upon which Tocqueville founds his democracy are poignantly apparent, as dangers to individual humans’ political liberty, and also, as Dinnerstein’s work helps illuminate, to collective political liberty. Tocqueville partly criticizes and partly appreciates U.S. democracy’s conservative familial response to democratic flux. But Dinnerstein’s analysis



suggests how his American woman’s subordination and domestication, in serving and feeding democracy’s immature desires for and fears of the past hierarchy, arrest democracy’s maturation and guarantee its vulnerability to tutelary despotism. So long as those American males are driven, by fear of freedom and its flux, and by childish yearning for guaranteed care and structured order, to subordinate their wives and daughters (and mothers, logically), they remain immature.As Dinnerstein argues, and as we saw in chapters 4 and 5, this kind of unresolved, female-raised man willingly submits to despotic political authority, so long as it is not-the-mother, because he still yearns for a parent-like source of comfort and security. In Democracy in America, that parent-substitute that is not-aristocracy—but reassuringly something like her—is found in the emergent industrial and commercial economy and its class hierarchy, and in that monstrous father-mother hybrid, the guardian state. Dinnerstein continues her indictment to suggest that a female-raised man, because he remains childish, even more willingly endures subordination to a grand public authority if he, in turn, wields power over someone at home. She argues that, to cope with political subjugation, a man exercises power over woman “to hide from himself the depth of his capitulation to societal coercion, the depth of his failure to leave childhood behind and take his fate in his own hands.”39 Dominating a woman “takes the sting out” of his own submission to and exploitation by the social order because “what makes life under the dominion of other males livable, is in part his ownership of her, his access to her resources. He may be a slave, but he is a rich, a slave-owning, slave.”40 In Democracy in America, dealing a final blow to freedom, females, as servants rather than subjects of democracy, have deflected onto them the justifiable anger citizens should feel toward tutelary and other forms of oppressive power. On the level of the symbolic family drama, Democracy in America defines democratic maturity as the combination of male and female energies, the primacy of the former, as subject of the narrative, and the containment and subordination of the nonetheless powerful latter. Tocqueville’s U.S. democracy succeeds in deploying this strategy in its actual family relations and, even though this strategy does indeed stabilize that society and culture, this gender “solution” leaves the men and women alike in states of arrested development, like Dinnerstein’s subhuman minotaur and mermaid. Even insofar as one may consider the modern conjugal family gender system’s combination of binary maleness and femaleness a just and balanced integration of disparate elements, integration does not occur in any one of Tocqueville’s American individuals. Instead, as U.S. democracy’s society and culture radically, dichotomously differentiate humans and assign them to attendant, radically differentiated social roles, it ensures that each individually fails to embody democratic maturity. (Each of these individuals certainly fails to capture that sense of maturity Tocqueville



defined for himself: that willingness and capacity to act responsibly in the world amid the reality of flux.) Still, as we saw in the previous chapter, androgyny as integrated masculinity and femininity, paternalism and maternalism, and as a potential alternative conception of maturity, is condemned in Tocqueville’s gendered analysis of administration and government as monstrous, frightfully uncategorizable, and lethal to liberty. So, while the gender structure of the modern conjugal family ideal paralyzes Tocqueville’s U.S. democracy in an arrested state of development, having failed to integrate in the psyches of its individuals disparate identity elements in order to resolve for maturity residual struggles for and against authority and autonomy, the text condemns androgynous integration as the obvious alternative means to democratic health.

Conclusion: Family, Gender, and Democratic Maturity “For we all of us get our thoughts entangled in metaphors and act fatally on the strength of them.”1 —George Eliot

THE WORK OF THIS BOOK involves illustrating points of contact between the gendered and familial narrative that frames Democracy in America, and Dorothy Dinnerstein’s (as well as Erik Erikson’s) theory of human development. At many points,Tocqueville presses us to consider the problem of how democracy, as symbolic youth, and its citizens can grow up by integrating, rather than splitting off and repressing, disparate identity elements and passions, past and present. Deftly diagnosing the possibilities, dangers, and pathologies that haunt democratic society and culture,Tocqueville illuminates them by exposing the peculiar impact that his maternalized aristocracy has had on young democracy. Like Dinnerstein,Tocqueville is, above all, critic of human immaturity, of the abandonment of the responsibilities of freedom. His analysis at many turns therefore parallels Dinnerstein’s, pointing critically to the impact on society, culture, and the individual of conscious struggles for autonomy, buried yearnings for the comforts of hierarchy, and the resulting concatenation of tension-riddled passions. However, while Dinnerstein presses us to consider the limitations that modern conjugal family arrangements and attendant heterosexual gender prescriptions place on human maturation and social health,Tocqueville attempts to resolve the strains that his developing democracy faces within the bounds of the modern conjugal family ideal, both on the level of symbol and in terms of his flesh and blood democratic inhabitants. Dinnerstein’s work thus helps us




assess the unresolved dynamics Tocqueville builds into his text, and helps us imagine how we might, while still drawing upon the many riches of his text, reach beyond them.When Tocqueville turns to his analysis of actual family and gender relations in U.S. democracy, the costs of his symbolic foundations are most keenly revealed as costs to individual humans; the symbolic deployment of gender and family powerfully ordains who and what these individuals can be. In this moment, the gendered, modern conjugal familial order is recognizable as premised on identities assigned to people at birth—as all too much like the elaborately ordered, differentiating, comforting and controlling world of aristocracy. (To be more precise, Tocqueville’s aristocracy is rooted in a refined array of hierarchical differentiations, while his democracy is bound up in hierarchical binary differentiation that at many turns proliferates into multiplicity.) Ultimately, although Democracy in America’s familialized narrative sometimes provides Tocqueville with a moral footing from which to judge phenomena in democracy—patriarchal absolutism proves illegitimate in politics as it is in conjugal family life; and, it is horrifying that his European Americans murdered their Indian brethren because they are brethren—Tocqueville seems at a loss to fix the familialized context in a state of health. Indeed, his European Americans’ violence is not prevented by their deployment of familial terms; if anything, this expression of familiarity lends them precisely the leeway they seek to commit atrocities. In short, this rereading of Tocqueville’s text exposes the varied, usually intrinsic shortcomings of the modern conjugal family ideal and its heterosexual gender arrangements for democracy. At the same time, however, let us not forget that Tocqueville’s familial and gendered tropes, deployed to define and direct his young democracy, instructively convey the pervasive impact of ideas of family and gender in democratic society and culture. Put another way, it is fruitful fully to mine Tocqueville’s architectonic infant/man:developing nation analogy for all the insights it can lend. Mirroring and extending the family and gender relations that were taking root in Europe and that he discovers operating among inhabitants of his U.S. democracy,Tocqueville’s metaphorical language alerts us to how ideas of family and gender identities structure not only individual selves, but also general ideas of power, authority, submission, and self-governance. Given that these metaphors echo ideas of family and gender relations that prevailed in the nineteenth-century democratizing West and that are still viscerally familiar to us today, they have much to say to us. Near the beginning of this book, Democracy in America’s gendered and familial symbols were said to represent more than gender and family relations among flesh and blood inhabitants of democracy.They were said also to represent a system of power, for organizing authority, opportunity for autonomy, and relations of hierarchy. Gender and family relations, however they are defined,



in whatever historical context, involve some formulation of or statement about all these human issues. Dominant ideas of gender and family relations, as fundamental expressions of how humans do and should be situated relative to one another, simultaneously flow throughout the culture in question to define, discipline, and direct circulating power and passion everywhere. Let us take a moment to explore, aptly in Tocquevillean terms, this way that symbolic gender and ideas of family pervasively organize power in democratic society and culture. For Mark Reinhardt, Tocqueville’s description of the invasive, mind numbing, despotic democratic state as “tutelary” (what has been characterized in this book as pathologically mother-and-father-like) is usefully extended to other phenomena prevalent in modern and contemporary democratic society. Recognizing Tocqueville’s analysis of the despotic state as more generally an account of a form of power, Reinhardt says,“expands the field of political analysis, relocating the crucial sites of power and struggle.” He points to corporate capitalism as a case in point, that exhibits this form of power that involves a “set of techniques or forms of governing, a way of constructing relationships [that] is by no means limited to formal institutions of political rule.”1 Certainly gender performs in Tocqueville’s democracy as such a form of power, constructing relationships between ideas as well as people, establishing norms and judgments of legitimacy/illegitimacy around expressions of humanity and human action. Certainly gender continues to perform in democratic society and culture today as such a form of power. Democracy in America captures through its developmental narrative this general connection between ontogenetic and phylogenetic, between individual and sociocultural, levels of human existence—a connection that defies presumptions of public and private as discrete spatial or psychological spheres. Insofar as an individual’s development ineluctably involves education in forms of power, in domestic life as well as beyond, these forms of power will be reflected on a phylogenetic level, in the structure of the society and culture, in public and private moments of human life. In turn, the phylogenetic/sociocultural level of existence and its expressions of power will shape individual human development, in all realms of life.Tocqueville himself argues, though this argument has been woefully overlooked in his work, that a common ethos animates all parts of a given social state. In his U.S. democracy, the reigning family and gender order structures not just household relations, but also organizes who participates in politics and how, who sustains religion and morality and how, who cares for children and where, who drives human enterprise in what sort of economy, and who receives what kind of education to what end.While not a natural arrangement, as he recognizes, the gender, familial ideology by which his Americans live is accepted by them as good, as a bulwark against flux, and they invite it to shape the heart and mind of every individual inhabitant as s/he



moves through society, through household and social and public activities. But, as this book’s final chapter argues, this particular arrangement hinders democratic maturation. On the level of the individual, no one is enabled to integrate into oneself the array of identity elements—the symbolic maleness and femaleness—that every one encounters in growing up. On the level of the society and culture, maleness and femaleness are sustained as discrete containers to manage as disparate actually intersecting and commingling elements in democracy, especially public and private, citizenship and household. Such differentiation and separating out freezes individuals in an unintegrated state of arrested development, like Dinnerstein’s mermaid and minotaur, those quasi-human mythological figures. In Democracy in America, textually female religion and morality are bound up with U.S. democracy’s females who, while exercising a profound though delimited influence over democracy, are segregated from political authority; textually male democratic politics corresponds with male citizens who, while seizing the mantle of sovereign political authority, are personally relieved of the burden of acting as guardians of mores and morality.Are mores and morality well informed when cultivated exclusively beyond the cooperation, struggle, and quest for mutual recognition that characterizes political association? What of the politically excluded persons who cultivate those mores and morality: who are they and how reliable is their deep influence? Is citizenship well informed when citizens are segregated from responsibility for a pervasively influential world of morality? What of these persons, never guardians of mores and morality, who exercise political power: who are they? how reliable is their understanding of the diversity of private as well as public human needs within their democratic society? The concern here is not the distinction between notions of the good as a personal choice, and notions of the right as a collective public matter.The concern is that in the conjugal familial foundations upon which Tocqueville structures his democracy, one type of individual is bound up in notions of the good, and another type of individual is bound up in notions of the right, and supposedly, somehow together, these profoundly differentiated humans constitute a mature social whole. But in fact, neither individual embodies an integrated, mature democratic disposition and, therefore, neither can the society, politics, and culture. Insofar as William Connolly, Mark Reinhardt, Michael Shapiro, and Stephen Schneck are right (see chapter 3), that Tocqueville formulates a homogeneous democratic society that banishes heterogeneity from its borders, his citizens can maybe cope as political rulers without a responsibility to grasp private notions of the good, because everyone’s good is the same.The need for political respect for and support of diversity would not trouble their decision making, because there would be no diversity with which to contend. However, this study of Democracy in America reveals that Tocqueville’s



democratic society is not homogeneous, but is structured by radical binary differentiation. Male citizens, caught up in associative self-governance and notions of the right, are detached from a world of female moral governance. Can these citizens be adequately attuned to the disparate political needs generated by the society’s differently situated males and females, and symbolically male and female issues? It is this complaint against reigning forms of citizenship as exclusionary and androcentric that undergirds feminist democratic theory today. What, alternatively, might democratic maturity look like? what are its requirements? Debates today among democratic theorists, particularly over the choice between liberal and deliberative forms of democracy, revolve around these very questions about maturity. Liberal democrats like John Rawls, on the one hand, appeal to institutionalized, regulative forms of public reason and individual rights to offset the dangers of democratic immaturity, especially reckless majority tyranny. In recent years, Rawls has grounded his liberalism no longer in strict Kantian metaphysics, but in a historically situated “overlapping consensus” that asks citizens to articulate, in a particular way, their deeply held convictions.2 Rawls’s shift signals a new perspective on what kind of maturity humans can individually and collectively manifest: less reliant on abstract philosophical principle, Rawls opens his theory up with greater confidence to humans engaged in the flux and struggle of politics. Still, a deliberative democrat like Seyla Benhabib, on the other hand, from her (modified) Habermasian perspective, leans more explicitly, and more as a matter of course, on what we may construe as the mature action of individual citizens. Not wholly unlike Rawls, Benhabib frames her deliberative democracy through appeals to the “anonymous yet intelligible collective rules, procedures, and practices that form a way of life.” The practical rationality embedded therein acts as guide to citizens.3 On this view, a great deal is regularly required of citizens in the various networks of exchange in which they participate in civil society, in that democratic legitimacy is facilitated by their egalitarian and symmetrical discursive participation, in their willingness to query topics on the agenda (and to listen to such queries), and in willingness to question the rules and practice of the procedure itself (and to listen to such queries).4 In the face of Rawls’s political liberalism and Benhabib’s deliberative democracy, we must ponder just what humans are capable of, as maturing democratic citizens. Do we accept that, given potential perniciousness or simple unconsciousness among humans, the best we can do is vote for our preexisting preferences? Or can we trust the machinations of the individual psyche, asking ourselves to reflect critically upon our opinions and even to confront our unconscious inner dimensions, to assess ideas and facts presented to us by others? Do we need to stem the tide of human immaturity in democracy, or can we through citizenship actively cultivate integrated, mature dispositions? The point here is not about who is right,



Rawls or Benhabib or both, but that both are struggling implicitly with the question of human potential for democratic maturation. It is worth noting, in relation to this issue, that Tocqueville, in Democracy in America, is somewhere between the liberal and deliberative democracy poles. He not only wants to secure a firm constitutional framework but also deploys that symbolically gendered, familial foundation as a mode of preexisting order; yet so too does he look to association as a site of flux, struggle, and self-making among others. Feminist democratic theorists have indicated that citizenship—and, implicitly, democratic maturation—are bound up with gender as a tutelary form of power. Dinnerstein helps us see that in cultures that emphasize as socially significant binary sex identity, and that assign one sex to primary child care, the multiplicitous, contradictory traits that infants come inevitably to associate with their first parent eventually get bound up with the sex identity of that first parent. In turn, that sex becomes a gender (although the society’s gender ideology has already assigned the sex identity as salient) as it is attributed a tension-riddled, infinite array of traits. Even while the whole cultural system is designed to sustain a sex-gender binary, the actual multiplicity and variety of human traits and performances in and among individuals still manages to show through, causing the binary’s terms to proliferate toward incoherence. In their collective diversity, humans do not comprise two discrete categories of character, with one category compr ised obviously and singularly of females/women and the other of males/men. In their individual complexity and in their continual self-production, humans can embody or perform an infinite array of possible traits and identities.When individuals are configured to signify fixed, binary sex-gender identities, what can we say of democracy’s promise to free the individual from categorization at birth? of the promise to permit individuals to grow up, away from social determinism and into flux and self-governance? It is because of the radical differentiation of males from females, and the companion gendering of human activities in modern democratic society that contemporary feminist political theorists have, in effect, searched for alternative conceptions of human maturity in democracy. Four alternatives are important to consider (though, necessarily, briefly) in light of this book’s work. First, some theorists, especially Jean Bethke Elshtain and Sara Ruddick, argue that the distinct activity of mothering in family life, as a morally superior form of human relation based in intimacy and care, should inform citizenship to repair the abstractions of its androcentric, liberal forms.5 But the present reading of the gendered and familial narrative of Democracy in America sets into relief the fact that Elshtain and Ruddick elevate to civic status the ideal of authoritative care of dependents—an arrangement all too reminiscent of Tocqueville’s maternal aristocracy and its child-like subordinates, rather than suggestive of mature,



egalitarian and universal freedom in self-governance. Moreover, problematically, domestic mothering as a model for citizenship imports into civic activity the particularist moral and care-taking imperatives of the modern conjugal family’s household while overlooking the education in mutuality, egalitarian cooperation, and struggle that citizens learn beyond the household.6 If this is correct, the maternalist option that attempts to familialize democracy is inadequate to resolve the limitations placed on individuals and democratic politics by Democracy in America’s gendered and familial foundations. Second, others argue that democracy will be universal and egalitarian only when citizenship accommodates women as women, in the way that it includes men as men.The concern is to integrate into the category of citizen what is taken as the body difference, the binary male:female sex difference, so that the different roles played by women and men in our society will be equally valued. Carole Pateman, for instance, advocates such a move because “individuals are feminine and masculine, that individuality is not a unitary abstraction but an embodied and sexually differentiated expression of the unity of humankind.”7 But this perspective is inescapably vague about what precisely is the fundamental male:female difference, often pulling into the discussion differences we commonly see between men and women but that are far from (established as) essential. Susan Mendus, to take another example, is concerned that not only contemporary Western democracy, but democratic theory itself will remain androcentric so long as we conceptualize “women’s differences, as disadvantages, disability, or deviance.”8 Though rightly concerned with democracy’s capacity to recognize and accommodate human difference, instead of assuming that “everyone is the same,” Mendus remains focused on what she defines as differences between women and men.9 In contemporary democratic society are evident patterns of binary sex identities, and of discrimination that attends females in a way it does not attend males. But when pressed to provide an example of a universal woman:man difference that citizenship must carve into itself, Mendus tellingly repairs to the physiological issue of pregnancy. Not only is it difficult to cite any other definitive difference between males and females, through this one Mendus suggests that all males without exception do not have babies, and that all females without exception do. But many females do not have, will not have, or are done having babies.Moreover,males,whether individually or in heterosexual or homosexual couples, may be responsible for infant care. Mendus fails to alert us to these latter facts because she collapses together gestation with child care, leaving such people homeless amid her categories.This criticism is not meant to thwart affirmative action programming,designed to redress the array of historical disadvantages that various human groups have experienced through being defined as groups. But even in the face of modernity’s unrelenting binary sex-gender prescriptions,



females are not all situated the same, nor do they all want the same things; the same is true among males. For her part, Mendus encourages the binary gendering of not only individuals but of social activities and human dispositions: in her schema, females remain bound up with nurturing and child care, which means that males can remain not responsible for child care, and are assumed to be elsewhere occupied, presumably with extrahousehold enterprise.This book’s critical interpretation of the gender and conjugal family foundations in Democracy in America suggests that, in reinforcing within the category of citizen itself a male:female binary, the present inegalitarian structure of democratic society will not be directly challenged.As Dinnerstein indicates, further institutionalizing a sex-gender binary does not impel the integration of human identity elements for maturity, but rather guarantees that each individual is pressed to split off and repress elements within himself or herself. This second feminist response to democracy does not,therefore,offer an adequate conception of maturity for democratic citizens, society, and culture. A third, more promising strategy is pursued by Anne Phillips. For Phillips, two moments are required; the first, transitional stage involves the development of “representative mechanisms that explicitly acknowledge gender difference and gender inequality, and in this way ensure a new proportionality between the sexes in those arenas within which political decisions are made.” Phillips also sees in this stage a “reorder[ing of] the relationship between public and private spheres.” This transitional stage, she argues, is essential for those “subordinated, marginalized or silenced [for they] need the security of a guaranteed voice” during which democracy “must act to redress the imbalance that centuries of oppression have wrought.” But these changes, which would ensure that sex-gender difference is carefully attended to, must pave the way to a second stage: “a world in which gender should become less relevant and the abstractions of humanity more meaningful . . . when people are no longer defined through their nature as women or men. In this future scenario, the distinction between public and private spheres would have lost its gendered quality.”10 The conjugal family ideal and its companion gender imperatives that we encounter in Democracy in America continue richly to inform democratic society and culture in the contemporary West; given this durability, their rejection is no simple task.The quest for democratic maturity therefore demands, according to Phillips, a conscious articulation of how difference is constructed between and imposed upon females and males in democratic society, and a concomitant conscious restructuring of all institutions—social, political, domestic, educational, and state—to accommodate these prevailing sex-gender differences, and to redistribute social, political, and economic power and responsibilities evenly among citizens.Apparently, only then could democratic society and culture begin to reformulate in a non-gendered way its hidden yearnings for the security of



familiar structure, its subtle anxieties about flux, and its conscious interest in human equality and freedom. In this reformed democracy, it seems, historically gendered elements of human experience could be integrated by individuals as simply human elements. The ultimate aim of Phillips’s model is not to transcend difference, but to render humanity’s actual plurality, our actual infinite relative differences and common humanity, recognizable. Still, Phillips begins with the presumption of a sex-gender binary, and builds politics around that.This book has set Tocqueville’s account of democracy as flux into relief, as well as his argument that human maturity means courageous action amid the uncertainty of social and political flux.Tocqueville himself experienced the call to maturity, which he unfortunately garbed in the sexist language of “manliness,” as anxiety producing. In Democracy in America, as we have discovered, he was all too inclined to give in to the enticements of a familiar, apparently secure and predictable foundational order—his gendered and familial framework—in attempts to offset flux. But in more conscious moments, he called upon us to seize freedom as the reward for a willing and ongoing struggle with flux. The identity politics path that Phillips sends us down may be too structured by the notion of sex-gender difference, as a preexisting condition, to get us to the sort of democratic freedom to which she may subscribe. The first stage of democratic politics she recommends does strive to make conscious in order to remedy standing inequalities between women and men, but it is done for them as women and men. This conceptual investment in the woman:man dichotomy may keep entrenched the use of these terms symbolically as organizational code for all realms of democratic society and culture. Again, the aim is not to eschew affirmative action programming that alleviates for individuals oppression they have experienced for being associated with a historically subordinated group. But it is still unclear whether, as Phillips’s first stage advises, we can both participate in and change the meaning of woman:man so deeply that gender as an idea becomes meaningless and thereby subsequently eradicable.This is a difficult political challenge. Chantal Mouffe offers a fourth alternative that radically works to escape the structuring premise of binary sex-gender. Challenging the views of Elshtain and Pateman in particular, Mouffe argues for a conception of citizenship in which sex difference is irrelevant: citizenship should be “a form of political identity that consists of an identification with the political principles of modern pluralist democracy.”11 Her well-crafted goal is to reimagine citizenship so that it can “accommodate the multiplicity of present democratic demands” and the “pluralism that is constitutive of modern democracy,” so that those seeking to extend and radicalize democracy toward the goal of “equivalence” can construct themselves as a “we.” Mouffe is able to imagine this goal because of how she reconstructs the notion of identity. She argues that the social agent is an



“articulation of an ensemble of subject positions, corresponding to the multiplicity of social relations in which it is inscribed.This multiplicity is constructed within specific discourses which have no necessary relation but only contingent and precarious forms of articulation.” Democratic politics is hereby approached as a field of flux and struggle whose terms are never wholly secured; here,“the common good [functions] as a ‘vanishing point’, something to which we must constantly refer when we are acting as citizens, but that can never be reached.” Social agents are likewise understood as bound up in social flux, bearing temporarily fixed rather than unitary and permanent identity positions. “This is why there is no subject position whose links with others is definitively assured and, therefore, no social identity that would be fully and permanently acquired.” When acting as citizens, these agents identify with the role not as one among other identities, but as an articulating principle that permits plural allegiances as well as concern for the individual.12 Citizens in such a context could still speak from the partially fixed moment of “women,” for example, as a loose grouping of agents constituted by some discourses, but there would be no sense of women as an essentialized group. Mouffe’s strategy hereby promises to draw upon the open-ended potentialities of democratic flux by inviting ongoing struggle, rather than establishing borders around politics to preordain outcomes. Anxiety-producing? Yes, but perhaps the only path to the kind of mature freedom in democracy to which Tocqueville alludes. But Mouffe’s formula does not prove wholly adequate as a political solution to the problems to which this analysis of Democracy in America’s gendered, familial foundations have alerted us. She does not argue “in favour of a total disappearance of sexual difference as a valid distinction; I am not saying either that equality between men and women requires gender-neutral social relations, and it is clear that, in many cases, to treat men and women equally implies treating them differentially.”13 But why repair to the binary woman:man in social life? The present study of Tocqueville’s text illustrates that, insofar as people in democracy are dichotomously gendered, gendering informs human personality and action in all social and political activities, and symbolically operates in and marks all of those social and political activities.Tocqueville himself suggests that (and illustrates how) ideas of family are not discretely contained in any “sphere” of democracy, but rather flood the entire social state. It is difficult to imagine how, as Mouffe proposes, gender could structure human life outside of citizenship, but not citizenship itself.And why impose dichotomous order onto the actual diversity and flux of human experience and identity, anyway— onto those conditions that are the very impetus behind democracy and democratic political struggle? Mouffe rejects the idea of public and private as separate spaces and reimagines every moment as characterized by public and private dimensions; she clearly rejects the modern gendering of public and private



action.14 But, not unlike the problem with Phillips, the meaning of the woman:man binary that continues to surface in her scheme would have to be overwhelmingly transformed to facilitate this degendering of public/private; indeed, it is difficult to imagine what woman:man would then signify, and why we would remain wed to it as a primordial marker of difference in society. Moreover, Mouffe herself urges feminists to confront not only gender-based modes of subordination.15 As this book has shown, ideas of gender are used to structure more than relations between the sexes; insofar as other modes of human subordination (ethnicity,“race”, sexuality, class, etc.) are also governed and organized by ideas of binary gender hierarchy, gender itself must be radically deconstructed in all realms of human life, not just citizenship, for all subordination to be critically revealed.This study of Democracy in America has also suggested, though less centrally, that gender as social logic, while rigidly policing human identities as well as ideas and social forces, is also, as it reproduces itself, rife with tensions and multiplicities. Mouffe’s strategy would be more consistent and promising if, instead of accepting the idea of woman:man as part of an acceptable social order, she invited this multiplicitous counter-drive within gender to explode its dichotomizing raison d’être from within. Dinnerstein argues that we remain childish and fail in our attempts at selfrule and autonomy so long as we cage our human selves in the channeling vessels of binary gender. Indeed, it is only when the sex-gender binary grid as a founding order for democracy is dissolved that maturation can ensue: first, as Dinnerstein argues, as the integration (and, sometimes, as the conscious rejection) within the individual of disparate identity elements, including those historically coded female or male; and second, as Tocqueville suggests, as the resulting capacity to act courageously and consciously amid the anxiety-producing social flux that makes freedom possible, rather than yielding to desires for fixed predictability and order imposed from without. It is this vision of the mature democratic citizen that solves the “mermaid and minotaur” syndrome produced by ideas of a bi-gendered citizenship; that escapes the androcentrism actually at the heart of standard ideas of the non-gendered, abstract citizen; and that treats democratic politics rightly as a realm of never-ending struggle and flux such that it can serve as a venue for universal freedom and opportunity for meaningful self-rule. In his reading of Tocquevillean tutelary power, Reinhardt borrows from Thomas Dumm who sees the concept bound up in Tocqueville’s and Beaumont’s study of the U.S. penitentiary system. Tutelary power in modern democracy is, Dumm argues after Michel Foucault, a form of punishment and kind of imprisonment.16 In Tocqueville’s French original, the penetrating power in despotic democracy is tutélaire, that of an excessive parent-substitute that does not permit its charges to grow up. Gender in modern democratic life is tutelary power



in these senses.As a foundational and pervasive mode of power and disciplining order, it is both infantilizing and something against which struggle must ensue, in the name of maturation. Some social historians have shown that the advent of democratic government brought with it a historically novel, ardent commitment to the order provided by a sex-gender binary—a new commitment to organizing people and ideas into hierarchical, oppositional pairs.The present critical interpretation of Democracy in America illustrates how, in this central text on Western life, this dynamic floods democratic society, politics, and culture, pressing swirling, multiplicitous and flux-ridden elements, including human identities, into a simple foundational grid, to pathological ends. Reinhardt says that “we can take Tocqueville’s question seriously”—the question of how to establish foundations for democracy to prevent tyranny—“while resisting his conclusion by saying that he slides too swiftly from the claim that there will always be authority to the insistence that whatever holds the authoritative place in a social or cultural system cannot be subject to change or negotiation.”17 This book has aimed to contribute in a new way to the argument that the modern conjugal family ideal, as a still pervasive model for the installation of the binary logic of heterosexual sex-gender, is a poor foundation for democracy, on a number of counts. So long as such deployments of gender continue to structure our historical experience, we must as citizens consciously uncover and struggle against their tutelary power, in all their moments and locales, better to embrace the possibilities for freedom as mature self-governance in democracy.


INTRODUCTION 1. See Sheldon Wolin, Politics and Vision: Continuity and Innovation in Western Political Thought (Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company, 1960), 8. 2. “Although the serf had no natural interest in the fate of nobles, he would nonetheless feel obliged to devote himself to the service of the one who happened to be his lord. And though the noble might think himself of a different nature from his serfs, he might still feel that duty and honor compelled him to defend those who lived on his land, at the risk of his own life.”Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, ed. J.P. Mayer, trans. George Lawrence (New York: Harper & Row, 1966; reprint,Anchor Books, 1969), 562 (page citations are to the reprint edition). Hereafter cited directly in the text as (D, xxx). 3. She does so briefly in order to probe the gendered metaphors found in the work of twentieth-century thinker Hannah Arendt who, as Pitkin argues, was probably deeply influenced by Tocqueville’s thought and imagery. Hanna Fenichel Pitkin, The Attack of the Blob: Hannah Arendt’s Conception of the Social (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1998). 4. Reinhardt argues that a disruptive reading of Democracy in America “must begin with the recognition that democracy itself is disturbing.To disturb means, among other things, ‘to break up the quiet or settled order of ’ and ‘to make uneasy.’” Mark Reinhardt, The Art of Being Free:Taking Liberties with Tocqueville, Marx, and Arendt (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997), 21. 5. Though Tocqueville was also somewhat informed by English politics and discourses, given his lifelong interest in them, and his marriage to an Englishwoman, they are not closely examined in this book. 6. But the use of gendered or familial imagery in politics is not a given. 7. D, 481. But see Tocqueville’s comment on linguistic symbols (157, 164). 8. Robert Nisbet,“Tocqueville’s Ideal Types,” in Reconsidering Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, ed.Abraham S. Eisenstadt (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1988), 171, 172.




9. For example, Landes argues that “gender consciousness was a paramount feature of post-revolutionary life” in France,“all the more so since bourgeois claims to universality raised hopes for the elimination of all social distinctions before the law.Viewed from women’s perspective, then, the Revolution’s most important legacy may well have been the cultural inscription of gender in social life,” Joan B. Landes, Women and the Public Sphere in the Age of the French Revolution (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1988), 171. Kadish applies this thesis to literary and pictorial examples from representative French and English novels. Doris Kadish, Politicizing Gender: Narrative Strategies in the Aftermath of the French Revolution (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1991). 10. Kadish, 1, 2. 11. For example, Bloch observes that during the Revolutionary period in the United States, changes in the way that virtue was symbolically gendered “sharpened the social boundaries between the sexes in ways that continue to deny power to all classes of women.” Ruth H. Bloch, “The Gendered Meanings of Virtue in Revolutionary America,” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 13, no. 1 (1987): 58, 37–58. Steinbrügge argues that in eighteenth-century France, the philosophes were rethinking the nature of men and women as biblical notions of women as cursed gave way to modern ideas of natural human equality.“This development, however, by no means culminated in the concept of the equality of the sexes.The eighteenth century is the period when the sex-specific character attributed to men and women developed and diverged; it is the epoch in which the ideological and institutional foundations were laid for women’s exclusion from civil rights and higher education—in short, from public life. It is the age that saw the emergence of an image of female nature that allowed precisely these exclusions to be considered ‘natural.’” Lieselotte Steinbrügge, The Moral Sex:Woman’s Nature in the French Enlightenment, trans. by Pamela E. Selwyn (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), 3, 4. 12. Bloch, 39. 13. The standard binaries produced in modern Western culture are woman:man, feminine:masculine, female:male, mother:father as well as nature:culture, emotion:reason, private:public and so on—binaries that are stacked on top of one another so that woman, feminine, mother, nature, emotion, private, etc. are mutually associated in the same way that man, masculine, culture, reason, public, etc., are. 14. By the social or collective unconscious I refer to the collectively and generally unconsciously articulated imagery that is popular in the discourses of a particular culture and society. For a discussion of the “social unconscious,” see Erich Fromm, Beyond the Chains of Illusion: My Encounter with Marx and Freud (New York:Trident Press, 1962; reprint, NewYork:Giant Cardinal/Pocket Books Inc.,1963),chapter IX (“The Social Unconscious”). For a discussion of the “political unconscious,” see Fredric Jameson, The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act (Ithaca,NY:Cornell University Press,1981) in which Jameson rightly claims that the “structure of the psyche is historical, and has a history” (62).

CHAPTER 1 1. Though topography does have social implications in Tocqueville’s mind. 2. D, 31.Tocqueville reiterates the analogy on the last page of Democracy with respect to matters of agency: “Providence has, in truth, drawn a predestined circle around each



man beyond which he cannot pass; but within those vast limits man is strong and free, and so are peoples” (705). 3. D, 236, 298, 333, 407. But see 95. 4. Harvey Mitchell, Individual Choice and the Structures of History:Alexis de Tocqueville as Historian Reappraised (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 167. Pierre Manent, Tocqueville and the Nature of Democracy, trans. John Waggoner (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1996), 13. Others make the same observation, including Reinhart, The Art of Being Free, 33–34. 5. Alexis de Tocqueville, The Ancien Régime, trans. John Bonner (London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1988), 168, 169. 6. Ibid., xxi, emphasis added. 7. Ibid., 163, 168. 8. D / De la démocratie en Amérique I (Paris: Garnier-Flammarion, 1981) (hereafter in the notes referred to as La démocratie I ), 33/88, 34/88, 39/94, 40/95, 40/96, 76/139, 112/183, 76/139, except see 408/536, 507. La mère patrie usually refers to England in particular, but sometimes Europe more generally. 9. D / La démocratie I, 40/96, 44/100, 59/118. 10. See chapter 2. D / La démocratie I, on birth and growth, 26/78, 34/88, 44/100, 50/106, 114/184, 162/240, 166/246, 176/258, 259 twice, 240/334, 271/371, 385, 412, 714 appendix F; and on the cradle, 30/84. In his introduction to Democracy in America Tocqueville notes: “Those who look closely into the whole work will, I think, find one pregnant thought which binds all its parts together,” namely, the idea of equality. In the original French this pregnant thought is “une pensée mère”—a mother-thought (20/71). D / De la démocratie II (Paris: Garnier-Flammarion, 1981) (hereafter in the notes referred to as La démocratie II ), on birth and growth, 505/121, 509/130. 11. From the Canadian Oxford Dictionary. Note, though, how gendering is prone to confusion: this dictionary also claims “patriate” refers to a returning to the “mother country.” 12. D/ La démocratie I, 47/103, 95/162, 95/163, 152/228, 159/237, 162/240, 236/331, 242/339, 258/357, 283/386, 303/411, 313/422; also see 24/76 and 408/536 for two exceptions, referring to France. D / La démocratie II, 432/12. 13. D / La démocratie I, 15/ 65, 41/96, 75/139, 105/175, 177/260, 236/331, 267/367 twice, 279/382 twice, 289/395, 312/421, 339/452, 373/492, 406/530. Tocqueville also remarks,“An aristocratic body is a firm and enlightened man who never dies,” D, 230. D / La démocratie II, 440/24, 455/48, 464/59, 464/60, 472/71, 492/105. Les aïeux means foreparents, forefathers or grandfathers; grandmothers alone would be les aïeles. 14. Kadish, Politicizing Gender, 3. 15. Lynn Hunt, The Family Romance of the French Revolution (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992), 31. 16. Landes, Women and the Public Sphere, 17. 17. Kadish, 3; Hunt, 13, 26. 18. Hunt, xiv, xv, 5. But, as Richard Vernon suggested to me, perhaps there is no inconsistency in this case, for the male citizens may posit their republic as a female love-object, despite the exclusion of females from politics.



19. Modern republican theory is awash with the idea of civic manliness;consult the works of Machiavelli, Rousseau and Wollstonecraft. See Kadish, 4; Landes writes,“In a society in which one man was so far elevated above all the rest, it would seem that all subjects, male and female, shared a subordinate posture.The effect of the king’s supremacy in the grand household of the kingdom, therefore, was to ‘domesticate,’ even un-man, those who ought to have been his peers.This . . . was the angry protest of those who celebrated the virile constitutions of republics and despised the ‘effeminized’ status of men under absolutism” (21). 20. Hunt observes that anxiety about the overthrow of paternal monarchy is revealed in French novels popular at the turn of the century in which children are separated from their noble fathers and seek to be reunited, at which point resolution ensues (31–36). In the decades preceding the Revolution, French paintings also struggled with the theme of the father: Jean-Baptiste Greuze’s paintings feature good fathers with their families, and others in conflict with their children, especially sons; and those of old men who can not maintain their power—all indications of a crisis in paternal and symbolically paternal authority (36–37). See Kadish, 2–4, and her introduction, passim. 21. Hunt, 23. 22. D, 9–11.Though Tocqueville does paternalize monarchy in Democracy in America: “When kings feel their people’s hearts drawn toward them . . . the reciprocal feelings of king and people resemble the gracious intercourse of domestic life.The subjects, though they may complain about the king, are yet sorry to displease him, and the sovereign strikes his subjects with a light hand, as a father chastises his children” (313).As the people revolt, Tocqueville concludes, the king is transformed from father to master. 23. In characterizing this sweeping past,Tocqueville tends to reject the French revolutionaries’ habit of denouncing the effeminacy of (eighteenth-century) aristocrats, instead remembering a heritage of “manly” nobility. But it is actual human ancestors, not the aristocratic social state, that Tocqueville codifies as manly. 24. In The Ancien Régime,Tocqueville analyzes past moments of republican maturity and manliness in France, such that there is not the same trajectory of “growing up” that appears in Democracy in America, though the French Revolution is still characterized as a birthing. Also, the king plays a prominent role as a symbolic father from whom tutelary, centralized power is transferred to the new republic; see this book’s chapter 5 for discussion. The Ancien Régime / L’ancien Régime et la Révolution (Paris: Flammarion, 1988), 1/87, 4/101, 6/104, 61/169, 169/300. In the English translation, see especially 21–48 for Tocqueville’s account of the transition from aristocracy to centralized monarchy. 25. James F.Traer, Marriage and Family in Eighteenth-Century France (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1980), 16, 41, 47. 26. Ibid., 17. 27. For a classic articulation of this view, see Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Émile, trans. Barbara Foxley (London: Everyman, 1911; reprint, London, J.M. Dent, 1998). 28. James F. McMillan, France and Women 1789–1914: Gender, Society and Politics (London: Routledge, 2000), 3. 29. Landes, 17–18, 21–22. For a study of how women’s political participation came to be outlawed by the revolutionary Jacobins, see Margaret George, “The ‘World Historical Defeat of the Républicaines-Révolutionnaires,” Science and Society 40:4 (Winter 1976–77): 410–37.



30. Steinbrügge, The Moral Sex, 3. 31. Landes, 159, 94. 32. See McMillan, 26–41. 33. Kadish, 89. 34. André Jardin, Tocqueville:A Biography, trans. by Lydia David with Robert Hemenway (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1988), 37. 35. Ibid., 43. See Tocqueville’s letter to Lady Lewis, May 6, 1857, in Jardin, 38; and J.P. Mayer, Alexis de Tocqueville: A Biographical Study in Political Science (London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1939; reprint, New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1960), 2. Brogan writes:“We can see in the constant discussion of artistocratic [sic] manners, ideas and virtues how deep was Tocqueville’s nostalgia for the secure world of his infancy.” Hugh Brogan, Tocqueville (London: Collins/Fontana, 1973), 57. 36. Hunt, 88, 93. 37. McMillan, 44. 38. George Wilson Pierson, Tocqueville and Beaumont in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1938); and Nisbet,“Tocqueville’s Ideal Types,” 174–75 and passim. 39. D, 129, 176, 202, 226–28, 260, 261, 721–22, 724. For discussion of the impact of The Federalist on Tocqueville and Democracy in America, see Bernard E. Brown,“Tocqueville and Publius,” in Reconsidering Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, ed. Eisenstadt; and James T. Schleifer, The Making of Tocqueville’s Democracy in America (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1980), chapter 20. 40. How successful Tocqueville was on this score in relation to particular issues has been challenged by many scholars; see this book’s chapter 6 for relevant examples. 41. Gary Wills, Inventing America: Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence (Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1978), xvii, xviii. Lincoln’s imagery, and Wills’s interpretation of it, are worth further discussion. 42. Ibid., xix. See chapter 2 of this book on this American narrative of spontaneous and good beginnings. 43. Gita May,“Tocqueville and the Enlightenment Legacy,” in Reconsidering Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, ed. Eisenstadt, 28–29. 44. This, despite John Locke’s earlier effort to distinguish ideas of family relations from ideas of government. Still, Locke himself applies his theory of consent, rights, and obligation to government and family relations alike, as approximate mirrors of one another. 45. Wills, xix. 46. Wills argues that Lincoln refers here not to the founders, themselves often portrayed in popular discourse as fathers, but to a male heaven married to a female earth that together create a new nation.Wills himself adopts the imagery of midwifery to flesh out his interpretation (xv). 47. Gerda Lerner,“The Lady and the Mill Girl: Changes in the Status of Women in the Age of Jackson,” Midcontinent American Studies Journal X:1 (Spring 1969): 12, 13. 48. Steven Mintz and Susan Kellogg, Domestic Revolutions:A Social History of American Family Life (New York:The Free Press, 1988), 10, 14, 16.



49. Ibid., 45, 43, 46, 49. 50. Robert Tombs, France 1814–1914 (London: Addison Wesley Longman, 1996), 226. 51. Tocqueville, The Ancien Régime, 168, 169. 52. Ibid., 168, 169, italics added. 53. Ibid., 168, 169; D, 54. 54. Tocqueville, The Ancien Régime, 141. 55. Reinhardt suggests that democratic theorists themselves, seeking to offer fruitful accounts of democratic order and disorder, exhibit toward order and disturbance an ambivalent emotional stance lined with both “longing and fear” (21). 56. Pitkin begins to draw our attention to some of these in The Attack of the Blob, 120, 122, 170, 171. 57. Hanna Fenichel Pitkin, Fortune Is a Woman: Gender and Politics in the Thought of Niccolo Machiavelli (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), 5. 58. Linda M.G. Zerilli, Signifying Woman: Culture and Chaos in Rousseau, Burke, and Mill (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1994). 59. Nancy Chodorow, Feminism and Psychoanalytic Theory (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1989), 10. 60. Christine Di Stefano, Configurations of Masculinity:A Feminist Perspective on Modern Political Theory (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1991), xiii.At the same time that Di Stefano is critical of the way that psychoanalytic theories define “‘women’ in derivative relation to ‘man,’ whether as ‘lack’ in the presence of the phallus or as ‘other’ in relation to the son,” her deployment of object-relations theory sometimes reinforces this tendency, fortifying gender as “a dualistic power grid.” 61. Ibid., xiii. 62. Dorothy Dinnerstein, The Mermaid and the Minotaur: Sexual Arrangements and Human Malaise (New York: Harper Colophon Books, 1976), 54, her emphasis. 63. Ibid., 26. 64. Ibid., 8.This strand of Dinnerstein’s theory is developed in this book’s chapter 4. 65. Ibid., 15. 66. Related contemporary feminist theories include: Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (New York: Routledge, 1990); various essays in Marianne Hirsch and Evelyn Fox Keller, eds. Conflicts in Feminism (New York: Routledge, 1990); Chantal Mouffe,“Feminism, Citizenship and Radical Democratic Politics,” in The Return of the Political (London: Verso, 1993); various essays in Linda Nicholson, Feminism/Postmodernism (NewYork: Routledge, 1990); Gayle Rubin,“The Traffic in Women: Notes on the ‘Political Economy’ of Sex,” in Toward an Anthropology of Women, ed. Rayna Reiter (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1975); Elizabeth V. Spelman, Inessential Woman: Problems of Exclusion in Feminist Thought (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1988). 67. Dinnerstein, 162 note. Dinnerstein acknowledges that her work is “in one sense frankly ethnocentric; it is mainly couched, in its literal details, in terms of the nuclear family of contemporary white-middle-class America” (40). Also see 28, note; 68–69, 85,



162. Still, she seems to assume it has no implications for her theory. If her theory is actually Western and modern, it remains an appropriate framework for Democracy in America. 68. Whether the child-rearing mother is the biological mother is irrelevant to the theory. 69. I am indebted to an anonymous reviewer for SUNY Press for drawing my attention to this question. 70. Sociologically speaking, beyond the fact of female domination of child care, the cultural meaning of motherhood changes in the transition from aristocracy to democracy. With the advent of democracy there comes the new conjugal family’s ideal of motherhood, rooted in emergent public/private structure and its attendant ideology.While Dinnerstein’s theory assesses the psychological forces that cause the reproduction of female-dominated child care and related psychic disorders, so too is it able to shed light on production of the modern motherhood ideal,as a means to contain and guarantee access to that which is understood as the maternal, and the modern ideal father, as extra-domestic breadwinner. Probably for this reason, it must be received as a particularly modern theory. 71. See Carolyn Kay Steedman, Landscape for a Good Woman (London:Virago Press Ltd., 1986; reprint, New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1992), in which object-relations theory is both powerfully deployed and thoughtfully unsettled in a critical study of class and gender relations in England; and Elizabeth Abel,“Race, Class, and Psychoanalysis?” in Conflicts in Feminism, ed. Hirsch and Keller, for a positive, critical retrieval of objectrelations theory for social theory. 72. In this book’s analysis of the gendered and familial foundations that structure Tocqueville’s democracy,“race” is addressed only in terms of relations between Tocqueville’s European and Native Americans.But this is not to suggest that the analysis cannot be deployed to comment upon the relations between “white” and “black”Americans that he also discusses. For such an extended analysis, see Laura Janara, “Fear of Falling:Tocqueville and Beaumont on U.S. Genealogy, Democracy and Racism,” forthcoming. 73. D, 12.Tocqueville embraced aspects of democracy; he was a leading force behind Le Commerce, a progressive newspaper that pushed for an extension of the franchise, defended freedom of the press, and proposed programs to alleviate the plight of the new urban poor. Roger Boesche, The Strange Liberalism of Alexis de Tocqueville (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1987), 394. 74. Tocqueville is for France, Hereth suggests, an “archetype of the human quest for a sensible order.” Michael Hereth, Alexis de Tocqueville: Threats to Freedom in Democracy, trans. George Bogardus (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1986), 7. 75. D, 312.Tocqueville compares the chaos in France to that exhibited during the decline of ancient Rome into tyranny,“when mores had been corrupted, memories obliterated, customs destroyed; when opinions became changeable and freedom, driven out from the laws, was uncertain where it could find asylum; when nothing protected the citizens and when the citizens no longer protected themselves; when men made sport of human nature and princes exhausted heaven’s mercy before their subjects’ patience” (314). 76. Alexis de Tocqueville, “A Fortnight in the Wilds,” in Journey to America, trans. George Lawrence (New York:Anchor Books, 1971), 399. In 1838, the editor of the United States Magazine and Democratic Review claimed that in America,“The eye of man looks naturally forward; and as he is carried onward by the progress of time and truth. . . .We feel



safe under the banner of the democratic principle, which is borne onward by an unseen hand of Providence, to lead our race toward the high destinies of which every human soul contains the God-implanted germ . . . caught up in the future.” United States Magazine and Democratic Review (January 1838), abridged version cited by Edwin C. Rozwenc ed., Ideology and Power in the Age of Jackson (New York:Anchor books, 1964), 311. 77. Lefort explores how Tocqueville’s preoccupation with the crumbling of the social body—that “abyss”—as the preeminent threat of and to democracy is replaced in the second volume, written a few years later, by a preoccupation with the democratic love of order as the path to despotic state power. Claude Lefort,“From Equality to Freedom: Fragments of an Interpretation of Democracy in America,” in Democracy and Political Theory, trans. David Macey (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988). In The Ancien Régime, published in 1856, Tocqueville sees a despotic centralized state (combined with individualism) as the main danger facing democratic France: “When the Revolution overthrew simultaneously all the institutions and all the usages which had governed society and restrained mankind within bounds, it was, perhaps, only natural to suppose that its result would be the destruction, not of one particular frame of society, but of all social order” (6). But in fact,“a close inspection brings to light from under the ruins an immense central power, which has gathered together and grasped all the several particles of authority and influence formerly scattered among a host of secondary powers, orders, classes, professions, families, and individuals, sown broadcast, so to speak, over the whole social body” (7). See chapter 5 for discussion. 78. Tocqueville goes so far as to signify the Terror as a violent episode led by a murderous creature that plunges France into an abyss. He writes in The Ancien Régime: “It was not till the strange and terrible physiognomy of the monster’s head was visible, not till it destroyed civil as well as political institutions, manners, customs, laws, and even the mother tongue; till, having dashed in pieces the machine of government, it shook the foundations of society, and seemed anxious to assail even God himself; till it overflowed the frontier, and, by dint of methods unknown before, by new systems of tactics, by murderous maxims, and ‘armed opinions’ (to use the language of Pitt), overthrew the landmarks of empires, broke crowns, and crushed subjects, while, strange to say, it won them over to its side: it was not till then that a change came over men’s minds.Then sovereigns and statesmen began to see that what they had taken for a mere everyday accident in history was an event so new, so contrary to all former experience, so widespread, so monstrous and incomprehensible, that the human mind was lost in endeavouring to examine it. Some supposed that this unknown power, whose strength nothing could enhance and nothing diminish, which could not be checked, and which could not check itself, was destined to lead human society to complete and final dissolution” (3). 79. Quoted in Boesche, Strange Liberalism, 28. 80. In a famous speech to the Chamber of Deputies,Tocqueville deploys the figure of the abyss to convey the threat of mounting disarray in France. On January 27, he refers to “the present state of things, the state of opinion and of men’s minds in France” which give him “cause for alarm and sorrow.” He refers to “a certain malaise, a certain fear [that] possesses men’s minds;for the first time,in perhaps,sixteen years,there is a feeling,a consciousness, of instability, and that is a feeling which goes before revolutions, often announcing them



and sometimes bringing them about.” He points to the “disorder [that] has entered deeply into men’s minds,” and appeals to the government:“for God’s sake, change the spirit of the government, for that spirit, I repeat, is leading you to the abyss.”Tocqueville,Appendix III, D, 752, 753, 758. 81. See Kadish’s study of a variety of novels of the period. 82. John T. Booker and Allan H. Pasco, eds., The Play of Terror in Nineteenth-Century France (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1997), 15, 98, 100. 83. Simone de Beauvoir quoted by Dinnerstein, 124–125. 84. Dinnerstein, 165, note. 85. Julia Kristeva quoted by Zerilli, 10–11. 86. Zerilli, 7–8. She locates in the texts of Rousseau, Burke, and Mill a fear of chaos that the authors associate, in various ways, with “woman.” She argues that this link between an “abyss” and “woman” cannot be reduced to the authors’ personal sexual anxiety or to express authorial intention; it is an expression of “the moment when language can no longer signify a sociosymbolic crisis,” near which woman is nonetheless invariably configured. 87. Hereth similarly suggests that Tocqueville “knew that the locus of disorder is in the consciousness of the citizens and their representatives . . .‘Disorder lies not in the facts, it has penetrated deep into the consciousness,’ [Tocqueville] declared in a parliamentary debate” (112). 88. With the partial exception found in the work of Hanna Fenichel Pitkin; see the introduction to this work. 89. For instance, Schleifer notes Tocqueville’s characteristic deployment of comparisons and contrasts as a deliberate writing strategy as modes of logic (279). Hereth categorizes Tocqueville as a political rhetorician in the traditional sense—someone who deliberately deploys literal and figurative language with intent to instruct, convince, and persuade, attending to the opinions with which the audience begins, with action as the ultimate goal (91–93, 95–96). Regarding Democracy in America, Hereth writes that the “entire book is not unlike a written oration” (108). Shklar argues that all political theory comes embedded in literary style, and literary tropes are employed to aid the political theorist as rhetorician. Judith Shklar, Men and Citizens:A Study of Rousseau’s Social and Political Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969), 226. She takes Rousseau’s metaphors to be conscious strategies, and warns that literary qualities in political theory “can tell us much about a writer’s intentions, but one ought to be careful not to infer too much from language” (227). 90. Though Ankersmit also attends to Tocqueville’s metaphors as meaning-laden. F.R. Ankersmit, Aesthetic Politics: Political Philosophy Beyond Fact and Value (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1996), 295. Ankersmit explores metaphors about space, specifically, a metaphorical center compromised by democracy’s “oscillations” and “circumvolution” which tend to produce a “void”—metaphors that he says Tocqueville employs to “freeze the flow of time rather than to attempt to step outside it” (322). See his chapter 6, 294–343. 91. L.E. Shiner, The Secret Mirror: Literary Form and History in Tocqueville’s Recollections (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1988), 175–76. 92. Ibid., 176–78. 93. Ibid., 179–80.



94. In the first volume,Tocqueville is predominantly concerned with tyranny of the majority, that is, that the exercise of popular will will smother the freedom and right of the individual to voice dissent. In the second volume, written five years later,Tocqueville shifts ground, fearing that the people will slide into a passivity that will invite the state to usurp citizen powers. 95. Ankersmit says that although Tocqueville “devoted a large part of his work to an analysis of the influence of democracy on the psychology of the democratic citizen, it is the other movement, the invasion of the public by the private, that clearly interests Tocqueville most”—the fact that, with the death of aristocracy, grand politics “had to give way to the politics of the household” (310–11). 96. Tocqueville writes in a letter to friend Eugene Stoffels this defense of Democracy in America:“I have shown, and shall continue to show, a lively and rational passion for liberty, and this for two reasons. In the first place it is my profound conviction, and in the second I do not wish to be identified with those lovers of order who are ready to sell free will and our laws cheap for the sake of sleeping safely in their beds. . . . But at the same time I shall profess so great a respect for justice, so true a love for order and law, so deep and so reasonable an attachment for morality and religious beliefs, that I cannot but believe people will see plainly in me a liberal of a new kind and will not confuse me with the majority of the democrats of our day.” Mayer, Alexis de Tocqueville, 18. 97. Though from an old noble family, he wrote that “I had neither hatred nor natural jealousy against the aristocracy, and that aristocracy being destroyed, I did not have any natural love for it either.”At the same time,“No family memory, no personal interest gave me a natural and necessary bent toward democracy. But for my part I had not received any injury from it; I had no particular motive for either loving or hating it.” Roger Boesche, ed. Alexis de Tocqueville: Selected Letters on Politics and Society, trans. James Toupin and Roger Boesche (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985), 115–16. In this letter in which he describes his own birth and historical standpoint,Tocqueville again evokes the image of man wandering between two gaping chasms. 98. On the historical roots of American republicanism, see J.G.A. Pocock, The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1975) and Gordon S.Wood, The Creation of the American Republic, 1776–1787 (Chapel Hill: University of North Caroline Press, 1969). For gender analysis of the historical roots of republican virtue, see Pitkin on Machiavelli; Bloch,“The Gendered Meanings of Virtue”; and Rozwenc, 306–19, passim. 99. Charles Taylor, “Interpretation and the Sciences of Man,” in Philosophy and the Human Sciences: Philosophical Papers 2 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 24. 100. Alongside Dinnerstein’s The Mermaid and the Minotaur, see Melanie Klein, Envy and Gratitude (New York: Basic Books, 1990); D.W.Winnicott, The Child, the Family, and the Outside World (Harmondsworth, U.K.: Penguin, 1964); Nancy Chodorow, The Reproduction of Mothering: Psychoanalysis and the Sociology of Gender (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978) and “Gender, Relation, and Difference in Psychoanalytic Perspective,” in The Future of Difference, eds. Hester Eisenstein and Alice Jardine (Boston: G.K. Hall, 1980); Jessica Benjamin, The Bonds of Love: Psychoanalysis, Feminism, and the Problem of Domination (New York: Pantheon, 1988) and Like Subjects, Love Objects (New Haven:Yale University Press, 1995), among others. 101. Ibid., 159.



102. Ibid., 163. 103. Ibid., 93. 104. Dinnerstein remarks that the infant “finds its own existence reflected, confirmed, in [the mother’s] recognition of it,” but so too is the mother “the outstanding feature for the arresting, sometimes overwhelming, realm within which the self ’s boundaries must be defined.” She is authorized to control what goes in and comes out of the child’s bodily orifices, is able to constrain the child’s movements, and can demand obedience by inflicting pain or denying pleasure (166).Tocqueville sees such a double edge in the authority of aristocracy, which both secures the individual’s place in the cosmos, and constrains movement from that class position. 105. Boesche, Strange Liberalism, 27. 106. Dinnerstein, 166. 107. Ibid., 93. 108. Ibid., 133. Mona Ozouf, Kadish, and Hunt all note that female allegorical figures proliferated in postaristocratic French discourse as the society struggled to consolidate a new form of rule. Marianne, that famous symbol of revolutionary liberty, was only the main one; Hunt observes that figures of young women especially appeared repeatedly in official representations to signify “every imaginable political attribute such as Liberty, Reason,Wisdom, Victory,and even Force.”Reasons abound for this proliferation of femaleness: culturally males were viewed as concrete individuals so females could more readily be configured symbolically; to differentiate it from the king’s rule it was best to represent the republic in female terms; using men as expressions of the republic would run the risk of venerating certain individuals and undermining equality, while female symbols could not be associated with individual political actors because women were excluded from politics; the cult of the Virgin Mary still had a hold on the French imagination; and in the French language, the nouns signaling the various qualities being represented are mostly feminine.The proliferating symbolic female figures in Democracy in America differ insofar as they are set textually against the backdrop of a maternal aristocracy—a problematic Dinnerstein’s theory helps illuminate.This re-reading of the psychic consequences of the transition from aristocracy to democracy addresses the gap between the postaristocratic profusion of female symbolism in political matters and the attenuation of actual women’s political powers. See Kadish, 3, including her quotations of Mona Ozouf; and Hunt, 13, 26, 82, 83. 109. Dinnerstein, 132, 28–29. 110. Ibid., 133. 111. Ibid., 41, 169. 112. Ibid., 133. 113. Though Dinnerstein does not make the point, a child must further embrace the idea that women are essentially different from men as it encounters other children living amid the same sex arrangements. 114. Dinnerstein, 44. 115. Ibid., 176. 116. Ibid., 189. 117. Ibid., 179. Pitkin argues that even for “someone skeptical” about psychoanalytic ideas of a pre-verbal stage of development that adults do not later recall but that



shapes notions of sex-gender and authority, it is clear that “in a culture like ours, subjection to feminine power or authority carries different connotations for most people than subjection to masculine power or authority. . . . Being subordinated to a woman tends to arouse echoes of infantilization, humiliation, and helpless dependence. The power of women may be stereotypically conceived as milder and more comforting than that of men, but at a deeper level it is experienced as insidiously dangerous and tyrannical, the more so in proportion as its promise of care and security attracts us. Subjection to the power of men, by contrast, feels more like a step toward independence.” Attack of the Blob, 173. 118. Dinnerstein, 53. 119. Ibid., 83. Dinnerstein implies that dissolving these standing sex arrangements would dissolve gender and perhaps even sex as binary: “When woman’s lone dominion over the early flesh is abolished, she will no longer be peculiarly available as a dirty goddess, a scapegoat-idol” and we will have to “live out more directly, the mixed feelings about carnality which we now handle in a split-off, life-denying way.” If children had more intimate contact with man in infancy, his “procreative role [would] become real for us sooner” so his body would be imbued with as much magical quality as woman’s (155). But standing sex arrangements, for women and men alike, mean that “patriarchy remains a refuge that we are afraid to dismantle” (189). Dinnerstein hereby critiques the fathercentered androcentrism and “grave distortions” she sees in the Freudian perspective, although she sees Freud unwittingly exposing the psychological strain produced by femalecentered childrearing: while Freud assumes this sexual arrangement is fixed, Dinnerstein sees it as a social convention.The work of Norman O. Brown and Simone de Beauvoir on human ambivalence toward self-creation and enterprise leads Dinnerstein further to see how this sexual arrangement produces “life-antagonistic trends in human institutions,” including all “public” and “private” activities (xi, xii). 120. Dinnerstein, 3. 121. Michael Paul Rogin, Fathers and Children: Andrew Jackson and the Subjugation of the American Indian (New York:Vintage Books, 1976), 12. 122. Mintz and Kellogg, Domestic Revolutions, 46, 56. See Nancy Cott, ed., Root of Bitterness (New York: EP. Dutton & Co., 1972); Barbara Welter, “The Cult of True Womanhood,” American Quarterly XVIII (1966): 151–74; Lerner,“The Lady and the Mill Girl,” 10–12; and Mary Ryan,“Gender and Public Access:Women’s Politics in Nineteenth Century America,” Habermas and the Public Sphere ed. Craig Calhoun (Cambridge, MA.: MIT Press, 1992), 259–88. 123. Mintz and Kellogg, 51, 49, 55. 124. Laura Shapiro, Perfection Salad:Women and Cooking at the Turn of the Century (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1986), 32. 125. Reinhardt, 20. 126. In no way do I detract from the various scholarly analyses of Tocqueville’s Democracy in America that have helped me appreciate its complexity and develop my own interpretation, including those by Roger Boesche,William Connolly, Seymour Drescher, Michael Hereth, Claude Lefort, Jack Lively, J.P. Mayer, J.S. Mill, Hanna Fenichel Pitkin, Mark Reinhardt, Stephen Schneck, Michael Shapiro, Larry Siedentop, Sheldon Wolin, Marvin Zetterbaum, and others.



CHAPTER 2 1. Larry Siedentop, Tocqueville (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994), 1. 2. D, 13; La démocratie I, 62. 3. For Tocqueville, French democracy does not mark a new beginning, but rather a new moment that grows out of the old France, as in familial generations: “The French made, in 1789, the greatest effort that has ever been made by any people to sever their history into two parts so to speak, and to tear open a gulf between their past and their future. . . . I have always fancied that they were less successful in this enterprise than has been generally believed abroad, or even supposed at home. . . . [W]ithout intending it, they used its ruins as materials for the construction of their new society.”The old France is “in its grave,” but still ancestor to the new France. The Ancien Régime, xxi. 4. Rosemary Lloyd, The Land of Lost Content: Children and Childhood in Nineteenth-Century French Literature (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), 234. In The Ancien Régime,Tocqueville describes the early Revolution as “an era of youth” (xxiv). 5. Lloyd, 232.Victor Hugo published Les Misérables in 1862. 6. Quoted by Lloyd, 119.Tocqueville’s orphan evokes those commonly featured in nineteenth-century European novels. However, while the orphans of the French novels speak to the rough history of French democracy since its birth in the Revolution, in nineteenth-century English literature, orphans such as Oliver Twist and Heathcliff represent the established problems of social dislocation, child labor, and poverty produced by the industrial revolution. 7. As Tocqueville writes in The Ancien Régime, “The king inspired feelings such as no absolute monarch of later times has ever been able to awaken, and which the Revolution so thoroughly uprooted that we can hardly understand them. They loved him like a father” (95). 8. Lloyd, 241. 9. Boesche, Strange Liberalism, 28.Tocqueville felt dislocated himself, recognizing that the values his parents and ancestors represented no longer made sense in the broader world: “I have relations, neighbours, people who are close to me; but my mind has neither family nor motherland. I assure you . . . that such spiritual and moral isolation often gives me a sense of loneliness more intense than any I ever experienced in the primeval forests of America” (quoted in Mayer, 17). 10. Colin Heywood, Childhood in Nineteenth-Century France:Work, Health and Education among the ‘Classes Populaires’ (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 218, 219. See Lloyd, 16, 17. 11. Lloyd, 16. 12. Mayer, 40. 13. Gustave de Beaumont and Alexis de Tocqueville, On the Penitentiary System in the United States and its Application in France, trans. Francis Lieber (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1964), 138–40. 14. Ibid., 143. 15. Lloyd, 16. It represented what Nash describes as the “crisis in national identity that manifested itself in a pervasive sense of the precariousness of individual destiny.” Suzanne



Nash, ed., Home and its Dislocations in Nineteenth-Century France (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993), 5. 16. La démocratie I, 62. 17. Russ Rymer,“Annals of Science:A Silent Childhood-I,” The New Yorker, 13 April 1992, 72. 18. Ibid., 71.When this wild child from Languedoc arrived in Paris, coincidentally, a play entitled “The Forest’s Child” was being performed in the city, illustrating the hold that the metaphor of feral children had on post-Terror French society.The Languedoc boy was eventually named “Victor” after the play’s fictional protagonist. 19. See Hunt, Family Romance, on the 1797 novel, “Victor, ou l’Enfant de la forêt,” upon which the play that gave the Languedoc boy his name was based. In the novel, the forest boy has a terrible and violent family lineage that he overcomes to become a good citizen (177). François Truffaut’s 1970’s film, The Wild Child, tells the story of Victor and Itard. 20. Popular betting schemes published in newspapers invited people to lay wagers on whether the child would be “civilized.” Rymer, 70. 21. D, 30, 26; La démocratie I, 84. 22. For a different interpretation, see Matthew Mancini, Alexis de Tocqueville (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1994), 6–14. Mancini fruitfully interprets Tocqueville’s travel essays through the theory of the sublime developed by Edmund Burke. But Tocqueville’s American forest and nature are more multifarious than Mancini’s reading indicates. 23. See Carolyn Merchant, The Death of Nature: Women, Ecology and the Scientific Revolution (New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 1980), xvi , 2 and passim. 24. Meanwhile, in a companion move, the Enlightenment reconceptualized woman as somehow closer to nature than man, yielding the prevalent modern European account of females as natural, creaturely subordinates to male reason and culture. For discussion see Steinbrügge, The Moral Sex, 6 and passim. 25. Alexis de Tocqueville,“Fortnight in the Wilds,” in Journey to America, trans. George Lawrence (New York:Anchor Books, 1971), 399–400. Hereafter in the notes this essay is referred to as “Fortnight.”The mastery of nature triggered in France fears of deforestation. See Merchant, 240. In the U.S., the exhilarating advances of technology were felt to conflict with the Jeffersonian pastoral ideal in the new Eden. See Leo Marx, The Machine in the Garden (New York: Oxford University Press, 1964). 26. Tocqueville,“Fortnight,” 370. 27. Ibid., 383. 28. Ibid., 382. If this is “Eden” and the American is “Adam,” Tocqueville, relaying a story about snakes, senses evil lurking:“As we were crossing the meadow on our return, we noticed that the French Canadian who acted as our guide kept to a narrow, trodden path and was very careful to look at the ground before putting his foot down.‘Why are you so careful?’ I asked him. ‘Are you afraid of getting wet?’—‘No,’ he answered. ‘But I have got the habit when I am walking through the meadows of looking where I put my feet so as not to tread on a rattlesnake.’—‘What the devil,’ I answered, jumping on to the path.‘Are there rattlesnakes here?’—‘Yes indeed,’ our Norman American answered with imperturbable sang-froid.‘The place is full of them’ ” (400, italics in original).



29. D, 283. And so, somewhere in the wilderness of New York State, Tocqueville “silently contemplated the resources of nature and the feebleness of man” (284). 30. Alexis de Tocqueville,“Journey to Lake Oneida,” in Journey to America, trans. George Lawrence (New York:Anchor Books, 1971), 344.This theme of the pure and good forest surfaces elsewhere in this essay, hereafter in the notes referred to as “Journey.” 31. D, 25 (he extends this imagery, referring to the “exploitation of the immense continent which God has given [the states] as their domain” [370]);Tocqueville,“Fortnight,” 397. 32. Dinnerstein, 106. See her account of the feminization of nature (95–112). 33. Ibid., 95. 34. See Terence Ball,“The Myth of Adam and American Identity,” Reappraising Political Theory, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995); and Russell Hanson, The Democratic Imagination in America (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985), 124 and ch. 4, passim, on this American sense of timelessness, innocence and new beginnings. See Tocqueville’s discussion of Morton’s biblical narrative of the U.S. founding (D, 36–7). 35. Richard Slotkin, Regeneration Through Violence:The Mythology of the American Frontier 1600–1860 (Middletown, Connecticut:Wesleyan University Press, 1973), 333; Gustave de Beaumont, Marie, or, Slavery in the United States:A Novel of Jacksonian America, trans. Barbara Chapman (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1958; reprint, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999), 69 (page citations are to the reprint edition). 36. Tocqueville’s repeated descriptions of European axes chopping down the forests of America recall the gallows that Burke feared would come to dominate the Revolution, and the guillotine that eventually did. 37. D, 30. See Tocqueville,“Fortnight,” 399. 38. Tocqueville,“Fortnight,” 391. 39. Alexis de Tocqueville, Voyage en Amérique, ed. R. Clyde Ford (Boston: D.C. Heath and Co., 1909), 66. 40. Tocqueville,“Fortnight,” 391, 392. Lively rightly argues that Tocqueville lacked “sympathy for the radical repudiation of the past and the present, the strident claim that men could by an act of will, a concentration of desire, drag themselves from the morass of history and circumstances.” Jack Lively, The Social and Political Thought of Alexis de Tocqueville (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962), 68. 41. Tocqueville,“Fortnight,” 395. 42. D, 339; La démocratie I, 452. 43. Tocqueville,“Fortnight,” 354; Voyage en Amérique, 68. 44. Tocqueville resists reigning French ideas of the American Indian derived from Rousseau’s “noble savage,” and also resists the colonists’ prevalent attitude of “fear and scorn”: “As you go on in this diary and follow me going among the European population on the frontiers and among the Indian tribes themselves, you will get both a more worthy and a fairer conception of the first inhabitants of America.”“Fortnight,” 372. 45. Rogin, Fathers and Children, 5. 46. From Thomas L. McKenney, Memoirs, Official and Personal, II (New York: 1846), 124, quoted in Rogin, 114; and Rogin, 114.



47. John Quincy Adams, An Oration Delivered at Plymouth, December 22, 1802 (Boston: 1802), 8, quoted in Rogin, 6. 48. Rogin, 210. 49. Tocqueville,“Fortnight,” 351, 393. 50. Ibid., 396. 51. Ibid., 364. 52. Ibid., 394. 53. Rogin, 6. 54. Rogin, 192. In a potent letter to his mother,Tocqueville wrote of U.S. “whites” who,“rational and unprejudiced people, moreover, great philanthropists, supposed, like the Spanish, that God had given them the new world and its inhabitants as complete property.” He observes that “when the Indians begin to find themselves a little too near their brothers the whites, the President of the United States sends them a messenger, who represents to them that in their interest, properly understood, it would be good to draw back ever so little toward the West.” He describes the hardships endured by the Native Americans on the “trail of tears”Westward, concluding that the Americans of the United States are profoundly “destructive.” Boesche, Selected Letters, 70–71. 55. Tocqueville,“Fortnight,” 353. 56. Ibid., 354. 57. William Connolly,“Tocqueville,Territory and Violence,” Theory, Culture and Society II (1994): 27. 58. Dinnerstein, 247. 59. Tocqueville,“Journey,” 345; also see D, 280.When a new pioneer heads into the woods,“His first job is to cut down the nearest trees” (367). 60. Tocqueville,“Fortnight,” 372; see 399. 61. D, 280. Suggestively, he writes that these knowing modern men move into nature’s forests with a “burning passion which increases with satisfaction,” like gamblers who “enjoy the sensations as much as the profit” (283). 62. In one passage,Tocqueville configures nature as masculine.The Anglo-Americans’ masterful conquest of nature not only transforms it into land, but ultimately also into soil; in republican sensibilities, soil is revered as the fatherland (D, 283). 63. Henry Nash Smith, Virgin Land (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1950, reissued 1970), xv.The artwork is the frontispiece of Charles Mead’s Mississippian Scenery, published in 1819. 64. Tocqueville,“Fortnight,” 351. 65. Ibid., 364. 66. Ibid., 402. 67. D, 176; for discussion of England’s influence, see 132, 163, 164, 165, 194, 200, 228, 279, 471, 514. But also see 236, 251. 68. Less often they were cast as relations between an “unnatural father,” George III, and Anglo-American sons just “‘arriving at man’s estate.’” See Hunt, 71. 69. John Adams continues:“Let me entreat you to consider, will the mother be pleased when you present her as deaf to the cries of her children—when you compare her to the



infamous miscreant who lately stood on the gallows for starving her child—when you resemble her to Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare (I cannot think of it without horror), who had given suck, and knew How tender ‘t was to love the babe that milked her, but yet who could even while ‘t was smiling in her face, Have plucked the nipple from the boneless gums, and dashed the brains out.” John Adams, A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Laws,Works, III, 460–61, quoted in Rogin, 25. 70. Rogin, 26, 24. 71. Thomas Paine, Common Sense, ed. Isaac Kramnick (Pelican Books, 1976; reprint, London: Penguin Classics 1986), 84, 90 (page citations are to the reprint edition). 72. See Rogin, 27, 28. 73. Ibid., 256, 258.The specific reforms that Jacksonians undertook, which promised to return the United States to the ways of the founding “fathers,” involved legitimizing Jackson’s recently established institutions and organizations with the new imagery of bourgeois family relations and gender roles. Rogin, 260. 74. Ibid., 24, 30. 75. See chapter 1 of this work for detailed discussion of Tocqueville’s maternalized aristocratic Europe. 76. D, 33. For discussion, see Stephen F. Schneck, “Habits of the Head:Tocqueville’s America and Jazz,” Political Theory 17:4 (November 1989): 643. 77. Tocqueville,“Fortnight,” 355, 356. See D, 303. 78. I am indebted to Mary G. Dietz for this characterization of simultaneous stages of development. 79. Erik Erikson, Identity:Youth and Crisis (New York:W.W. Norton & Co., 1968), 128. 80. Hampson suggests that Tocqueville saw America differently—as the representative of the future. Introduction to The Ancien Régime, vii. 81. Dinnerstein, 188. 82. “There was provision for the poor from the beginning in the states of New England; there was strict regulations for the maintenance of roads, with officials appointed to supervise them; the townships had public registers recording the conclusions of public deliberations and the births, deaths, and marriages of the citizens; there were clerks whose duty it was to keep these records; officials were appointed, some to look after intestate property, others to determine the boundaries of inherited lands, and many more whose chief function was to maintain public order” (D, 45). 83. D, 51. “[T]he dogma of the sovereignty of the people came out from the township and took possession of the government; every class enlisted in its cause; the war was fought and victory obtained in its name; it became the law of laws” (59). 84. Quoted in Hunt, 72. 85. In The United States Magazine and Democratic Review, the editor, who refers repeatedly to the “young mind” of the nation, writes that the Americans “have no national literature.We depend almost wholly on Europe, and particularly England, to think and write for us.” Thus, because still “our mind is enslaved to the past and present literature of England . . . it would have been far better for us had we been separated from it by the ocean of a difference of language, as we are from the country itself by our sublime Atlantic.



. . .As it is now, we are cowed by the mind of England.” From the first issue, January 1838, which appears abridged in Rozwenc, ed., Ideology and Power, 317–318.

CHAPTER 3 1. Boesche, Selected Letters, 115. 2. Ibid., 62–64. 3. Ibid., 81.To Arthur de Gobineau, a public actor, he nonetheless charged that “Your book”—the tract of a famous racist theory that Tocqueville reviled as politically dangerous determinism—presses people further away from self-conscious “manly” action and “inclines the already too soft soul of your contemporaries toward softness” (303). 4. Dinnerstein, 32. 5. Erikson, Identity, 128. 6. Ibid., 134. Erikson illustrates this through his analysis of Martin Luther and Mahatma Gandhi. 7. But, to be clear, this is not to move into psychobiography;Tocqueville’s life illustrates dynamics of the historical transition that is at stake in his text. 8. Erikson, Identity, 131. 9. Letter dated 26 February 1857 to Sophie Swetchine, the Russian mystic and friend, quoted in Jardin, Tocqueville, 61. 10. Mayer, Alexis de Tocqueville, 20, 17. 11. Boesche, Selected Letters, 154. 12. Mayer, 45, 44.To his wife Tocqueville reported the same fears:“I have done nothing considerable. . . .The main point is, what proofs I can give of my capacity and my character. Have I either one or the other to an eminent degree? I am far from having proved this to myself.” 13. Ibid., 63. 14. Erik Erikson,“Youth:Fidelity and Diversity,”in The Challenge ofYouth,ed.Erik Erikson (originally published as Youth: Change and Challenge, New York: Basic Books, 1963; reprint under new title, New York:Anchor Books, 1965), 5. 15. For discussion see Traer, Marriage and Family, 16, 17. 16. Lloyd, The Land of Lost Content, 243. Consistent with the crisis of separating from the king as father, popular French novels around the turn of the century often featured orphans separated from their noble fathers. In these stories, resolution comes not when the orphans master their autonomy but rather when they are reunited with these fathers and the security they represent. In effect, French democracy’s yearning for independence from aristocracy is portrayed in this literature as complicated by a simultaneous desire for that old world of comforting hierarchy. On this matter, see Hunt, The Family Romance, 31–33. But into the nineteenth century, literature began instead to feature adolescent males in conflict with maternal females. 17. French children of the working classes still often began working as young as seven or eight as domestic servants, or in agricultural labor or industrial labor, but even this began to shift through the course of the century. By 1874, a law that raised the minimum



working age for children in workshops was generally accepted as parents and factory owners increasingly viewed children as in need of schooling. Mintz and Kellogg, Domestic Revolutions, 60, 64; Heywood, Childhood in Nineteenth-Century France, 36–38, 128–129, 313–318; Lloyd, 5, 94, 120. 18. Lloyd, 238, 94. 19. The story about Rousseau calling his benefactress “Maman” is well-known. 20. Critics helped sustain this assumption. For example, Lloyd points out that in a 1937 male-centred literary study of preceding French literature, author J. O’Brien writes: “it appears that the advent of puberty, whose physiological repercussions are so marked in girls, influences them intellectually and spiritually far less than it does boys” (5). 21. Lloyd, 132–133. 22. Hunt, 12, 13.The slogan is, of course,“liberté, égalité, fraternité!” 23. Ibid., 88. 24. Hunt cites Wesley Frank Craven, The Legend of the Founding Fathers, to note that the term “founding fathers” emerged over time, while “fathers of the republic” and “forefathers” were expressions more commonly used in the American revolutionary period. 25. Rogin, 31. But even as budding capitalist relations weakened fraternal ties, or at least modified them into a case of sibling rivalry, other political issues were familialized. Rogin, 31, 228, 54; see Rozwenc, ed., Ideology and Power, 285, Plate 13.Though the language of brothers continued to infuse the government’s war against the Native Americans, the President undercut this imagery’s power by adopting a paternal stance toward citizens, apparently fearing the political strength potentially generated by a whole society of fraternal citizens acting in concert. Rogin, 279. See Joseph L. Blau, ed. Social Theories of Jacksonian Democracy: Representative Writings of the Period 1825–1850 (New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1954), 2. The Whigs consequently dubbed Jackson “King Andrew” because, as Calvin Colton put it, “a government under the will of One, is doubtless a Monarchy whatever may be its Constitutional name”; a political cartoon portraying him as King asks, “Shall he reign over us, or shall the People rule?” Quoted by Russell Hanson in The Democratic Imagination in America, 141; Rozwenc, 286, Plate 14. 26. D, 509. The American inclination to assume, since its “birth,” equality among inhabitants is historically relative in Tocqueville’s mind. See chapter 5. 27. Boesche, Selected Letters, 66. In Democracy,Tocqueville writes,“In the little that they have done, these Indians have assuredly displayed as much natural genius as the European peoples in their greatest undertakings; but nations, like men, need time to learn, whatever their intelligence or endeavors.” (333). 28. D, 52, 53, 54. But, “though the law of inheritance has done much among us, it still has much to do. Our memories, thoughts, and habits still put substantial obstacles in its way.” 29. Hunt, 69–70. 30. Hunt, 71; see Landes, Women and the Public Sphere, 159–161, and chapter 5 of this work. 31. Tocqueville, The Ancien Régime, 168. 32. Ibid., 166.



33. See The Ancien Régime, where Tocqueville observes French historical experience with civic self-government (33, 34). 34. Machiavelli’s prince and citizens of virtù must also win female fortuna over to their side as much as possible. 35. See Boesch, Selected Letters, 347–348, 354–355, where Tocqueville links his understanding of God to political questions of liberty, equality and justice. He writes in an 1857 letter to Claude-François de Corcelle, for instance: “England . . . made me see a perfect accord between the religious world and the political world, private virtues and public virtues, Christianity and liberty” (354–355). 36. “Christianity certainly tended to make all men brothers and equals.” Boesche, Selected Letters, 343. 37. Siedentop, Tocqueville, 18. 38. Note Tocqueville’s formulation of family here: males appear as fathers, husbands, and sons; females as wives and, later in the quotations, as mothers, but not as daughters. See chapter 6 for analysis of how the invisibility of daughters figures in Tocqueville’s gendered economy and his explicit account of democratic family life. 39. Boesche, Selected Letters, 338–39.The ellipses appear in Boesche’s edited form of the letter. 40. See Tocqueville, The Ancien Régime, 120. 41. Jardin, 38, 39; Mayer, 3. 42. See chapter 4 for discussion on wealth, materialism, class division and industrial expansion in U.S. democracy. 43. D, 294.Where there is no religion, people are “carried away by an imperceptible current against which they have not the courage to struggle but to which they yield with regret, they abandon the faith they love to follow the doubt that leads them to despair” (299). 44. Quoted in Landes, 162. 45. Tombs, France, 138. 46. Like so many men of his day,Tocqueville found in his own (Puritan) wife, a soothing calmness which he accredited with balancing off his unstable nature. Jardin, 63, 50. 47. D, 200. In Tocqueville’s U.S. South,“where education is less widespread, and where principles of morality, religion and liberty are less happily combined, one finds both talents and virtues becoming rare among those in authority. In New England, Christianity acts directly upon politics, as well as stabilizing its impact on society” (288). Christianity also indirectly stabilizes politics in New England by influencing mores and “regulating domestic life,” all of which in turn helps regulate the state. See 288–289; and 16, 36 on Puritanism as republican and democratic. 48. D / La démocratie II, 432/12. 49. D, 297; also see 681. See The Ancien Régime, for a different kind of liaison between the French Church and state (89, 90, 91). 50. Jardin, 38, 39; Mayer, 3. 51. D / La démocratie II, 432/12. 52. Erikson, Identity, 134.



53. Ibid., 128. 54. Boesche, Strange Liberalism, 168. 55. Tocqueville, The Ancien Régime, 95, 96. 56. D, 230 (and see 192);Tocqueville, The Ancien Régime, 89. 57. Tocqueville, The Ancien Régime, 166. 58. Ibid., 95, 96. 59. Tocqueville, The Ancien Régime / L’Ancien Régime Et La Révolution, 133/258. Generally speaking, the republicans, during the Revolution, posited themselves as brothers, rather than any one as a father. 60. Tocqueville, The Ancien Régime, 133, 134. 61. Ibid., 132, 167. During the Restoration,“France had a glimpse of political liberty, and liked it,” but this was short lived (131). 62. D / La Démocratie I, 152/228. 63. Ibid., 162/240. 64. Dinnerstein, 150, 155, 94. 65. Dinnerstein, 154. It is not clear that there are only two human sexes, though with scientific advancement we are inclined to alter infants to ensure they conform to “male” or “female” identities. 66. Connolly,“Tocqueville,Territory and Violence,” 25. 67. Ibid., 35, 36. 68. Reinhardt, The Art of Being Free, 28. 69. Ibid., 63. 70. Ibid., 72. 71. Schneck,“Habits of the Head,” 644–45. 72. Michael J. Shapiro, “Literary Geography and Sovereign Violence: Resisting Tocqueville’s Family Romance,” Alternatives, 25 (Jan.–Mar. 2000): 27, 32, 33, 35.

CHAPTER 4 1. See M.C.M. Simpson, ed., Correspondence and Conversations of Alexis de Tocqueville with Nassau William Senior from 1834 to 1859; Boesche, Strange Liberalism, 134–37; Jean-Claude Lamberti, Tocqueville and the Two Democracies, trans. A. Goldhammer (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989), 177–81; Schleifer, The Making of Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, 73–81; Seymour Drescher, Tocqueville and England (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1964), 125–51.Tocqueville wrote two “Memoirs on Pauperism” in which he observed the transformation of the agricultural mode of production into an industrial one based in wage labor, but these observations remained mostly detached from his political theorizing. Later during the turmoil of the 1840’s in France, he became more aware of the complexity of political economy, but continued to evade related issues, as politician and theorist. In 1843 he wrote letters in which he paid heed to the exploitation of workers in private industry, but imagined it would manifest itself in any serious way only far in the future. See Seymour Drescher,“‘Why Great Revolutions Will Become



Rare’:Tocqueville’s Most Neglected Prognosis,” Journal of Modern History, 64 (September 1992): 446–47. 2. See Drescher,“‘Great Revolutions’,” 420–54 (especially 444–49); Drescher, Tocqueville and England, especially chapters V and VII; Lively, The Social and Political Thought of Alexis de Tocqueville, 80–85, 94–5, 217–8, 251; Irving Zeitlin, Liberty, Equality and Revolution in Alexis de Tocqueville (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1971), 51, 52 and passim; Debra Satz, “Tocqueville, Commerce and Industry,” in The Idea of Democracy, ed. David Copp, Jean Hampton and John E. Roemer (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993). 3. Holmes argues that the text shows that “each solves problems produced by the other. And each encourages the formation of habits that, when carried into the other domain, have beneficial consequences.” Stephen Holmes,“Tocqueville and Democracy,” in The Idea of Democracy, ed. David Copp, Jean Hampton and John E. Roemer, 44. 4. Schleifer, 73–84; Boesche, Strange Liberalism, 133–40; Roger Boesche, “Why Did Tocqueville Fear Abundance? or the Tension Between Commerce and Citizenship,” History of European Ideas 9:1 (1988): 25–45; Lamberti, 176–83. 5. Mill misses this: in his 1840 review of Democracy in America, he complains that Tocqueville conflates democracy with commercialism or, as Mill puts it, he has “bound up in one abstract idea the whole of the tendencies of modern commercial society, and given them one name,—Democracy.” John Stuart Mill,“M. de Tocqueville on Democracy in America,” Dissertations and Discussions: Political, Philosophical and Historical (NewYork: Henry Holt and Company, 1874), 141. 6. D, 539. He says, “I doubt if one can cite a single example of a people engaged in both manufacture and trade, from the men of Tyre to the Florentines and the English, who were not a free people.”This point is isolated; see Boesche, Strange Liberalism, 134. 7. While Europeans “habitually regard a restless spirit, immoderate desire for wealth, and an extreme love of independence as great social dangers,” it is “precisely those things” that “assure a long and peaceful future for the American republics.Without such restless passions the population would be concentrated around a few places and would soon experience, as we do, needs which are hard to satisfy” (D, 284). 8. Marvin Zetterbaum, Tocqueville and the Problem of Democracy (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1967), 65, 66. 9. Sigmund Freud explores this complex psychological strategy in his account of the death wish that lurks at the base of human enterprise. See Norman O. Brown’s deployment of Freud’s theory and of Martin Luther’s early modern vision of the restless drive to engage in economic activity and acquire money, in Life Against Death:The Psychoanalytical Meaning of History (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1959); and Dorothy Dinnerstein’s extension of these theories, as well as the theories of Simone de Beauvoir and Lewis Mumford, in The Mermaid and the Minotaur. 10. Dinnerstein actually speaks here of “the first parent,” but to take her critique of hegemonic sex arrangements seriously means destabilizing the assumed singularity of first parents. 11. Ibid., 121. 12. Ibid., 118. 13. Dinnerstein,122,123,135.Erik Erikson describes something similar.If a child “accepts work as the only criterion of worthwhileness, sacrificing imagination and playfulness too



readily,” which we can imagine it would under conditions in which it rejects its corporeal human essence, the child “may become ready to submit to what Marx called ‘craft-idiocy,’ i.e.,become a slave of his technology and of its dominant role typology.”Identity,127.Moreover, because adolescence is a period of flux and uncertain identity,youths are inclined to grab firm hold of “new roles of competency and invention” in the quest for identity (130). 14. Dinnerstein, 132, 133. 15. Ibid., 134; and see this book’s chapter 1. 16. Erikson, Identity, 123. 17. Dinnerstein, 144. 18. Ibid., 145. 19. Ibid., 100. 20. D, 537–38.Tocqueville remarks that even if “an absolute dead level” of equality were attained,“there would still be inequalities of intelligence” that would continue to drive dissatisfaction among men. Class society propels such dissatisfaction more viciously, however. 21. D, 537. “When all prerogatives of birth and fortune are abolished, when all professions are open to all and a man’s own energies may bring him to the top of any of them, an ambitious man may think it easy to launch on a great career and feel that he is called to no common destiny. But that is a delusion which experience quickly corrects. His power is limited on every side, though his longings may wander where they will.” 22. D, 538. For a largely complementary reading of Tocqueville on this drive for wealth, see Boesche, Strange Liberalism, 80–82, 85–87. 23. D, 532, 533. 24. See chapter 2 for discussion of Anglo-Americans and Native Americans in relation to nature and each other. 25. Dinnerstein, 247. 26. Rogin, Fathers and Children, 286. 27. Ibid., 31. 28. Violent because, as Tocqueville says in the previous sentence, “a child may kill when he does not understand the value of life” (D, 239).Thank you to Richard Vernon for assistance with the Latin translation. Puer typically means boy, but can mean child. Either translation fits this interpretation. 29. D, 538. Elsewhere he writes that democracy’s middle-class people “cleave to the things of this world as if assured that they will never die, and yet are in such a rush to snatch any that come within their reach, as if expecting to stop living before they have relished them” (534, 536). 30. D, 43.To my mind, the best account of Tocqueville’s concern for individual freedom in the face of, as well as by way of, associational politics is found in Reinhardt, The Art of Being Free, chapters 2 and 3.As Tocqueville shows in his volume 1, majority tyranny can be produced not only by public opinion but by active citizenship. Such democratic excess fails to constitute the mutuality and moderation of Tocquevillean “manliness.” 31. D, 285. Note, however, this passage’s exceptionality: in it,Tocqueville genders the old European homeland male as la patrie and the hearth of the old home as paternel. La démocratie I, 389.



32. See chapter 6 for how this plays out in the lives of actual men and women. 33. D, 601. Historically, there were of course exceptions, but Tocqueville captures the governing middle-class sensibilities of the day. 34. Edward Pessen, Jacksonian America: Society, Personality and Politics (Homewood, IL: The Dorsey Press, 1969), 96. 35. See Reinhardt for discussion of how Tocqueville’s account of “tutelary” state power can be extended to other contemporary forms of social power (51–6). 36. D, 532, 533.“So in democracies the taste for physical pleasures takes special forms, which are not opposed by their nature to good order; indeed they often require good order for their satisfaction.” 37. For a largely complementary account of Tocqueville on the middle-classes in democracy, see Boesche, Strange Liberalism, chapter 4. 38. Consider how narrow the political spectrum is in the United States compared to that in other countries. 39. Connolly, “Tocqueville, Territory and Violence,” 19–40; Reinhardt, chapter 3; Shapiro,“Literary Geography and SovereignViolence,” 27–50; Schneck,“Habits of the Head,” 638–662. 40. D / La démocratie II, 638–639/323. 41. See Pessen, 94. 42. See n1 and n2 for debates regarding Tocqueville’s appreciation of the significance of the emerging industrial and market economy. 43. D, 556. Interestingly, Boesche extends Tocqueville’s family imagery, remarking that Tocqueville, while admiring the entrepreneurial drive that a laissez faire economy encouraged,“despised the bourgeois economy for the poverty and degradation that he thought invariably traveled with it, a degradation always pretended to be an accident, but which, like an embarrassing little brother, was a blood relation” (Strange Liberalism, 135). 44. I am indebted to Mary G. Dietz for alerting me to this chapter of Democracy in America. 45. D / La démocratie II, 578/228. 46. D, 573. For Tocqueville,“equality of conditions” refers to a historical process, that is, the relative leveling of social, political and economic conditions. 47. D, 577.This analysis is tied to feminist critiques of contractarian liberalism. See, for instance, Carole Pateman, The Disorder of Women: Democracy, Feminism and Political Theory (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1989). 48. For a similar reading of Tocqueville on master-servant relations, see Harvey Mitchell, Individual Choice and the Structures of History: Alexis de Tocqueville as Historian Reappraised (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 173–74. 49. Mitchell is one exception; he sees that in Tocqueville’s analysis of the transition to democracy, “mental and material disturbances acted as one” such that the “initiation of new modes of contractual relationships” and changes in the governing ethos went hand in hand with new property relations (175). 50. Dinnerstein, 5.



51. All that seems to remain is an intellectual class. But today, universities and colleges— generally the last refuge of uncompromised political debate—increasingly have imposed upon them the logic of capital so that intellectuals dedicated to its critique have less and less space to do their work. 52. D, 684. Note that in this discussion, Tocqueville uses the term “government.” However, given the important distinction between “government” and “administration” he makes elsewhere in the text, what he expresses here is better represented by the term “state.” 53. Roger Boesche, Theories of Tyranny from Plato to Arendt (University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1996), 224. 54. D, 686. Thank you to Iain Hampsher-Monk and an anonymous reviewer for History of Political Thought for sharpening my grasp of the autonomy of Tocqueville’s proindustry state. 55. He once praised small-scale, quasi-cooperative village industries he saw in Switzerland, and medieval forms of common property in decentralized communities. See Boesche, Strange Liberalism, 137, 134.

CHAPTER 5 1. Sigmund Freud quoted with Dinnerstein, 185. 2. Erich Fromm quoted in Dinnerstein, 186. 3. Tocqueville,“Fortnight,” 363. 4. Landes, Women and the Public Sphere, 163. 5. Hunt, Family Romance, 153, 84, 70–71. See Lynn Hunt, Politics, Culture and Class in the French Revolution (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), on Hercules imagery. 6. Dinnerstein, 111; D, 508. 7. D, 506, 507. Egoism, a more extreme mentality, “is a vice as old as the world.” Individualism is distinctly democratic. 8. D, 642–43. Owners and workers are absorbed in different ways, but wholly preoccupied with their respective concerns and plights. 9. Dinnerstein, 188. 10. Ibid., 161, note. 11. Ibid., 169. 12. Pitkin rightly finds significant the idea of public opinion becoming “mistress” of the world, though she does not address the French original. The Attack of the Blob, 120. 13. Dinnerstein, 169. 14. D, 436.The Anglo-Americans exercised their Puritanism in part through tyrannical public opinion, ensuring that the law was “strongly marked by narrow sectarian spirit” (41). 15. D / La démocratie I, 258–9 / 358. 16. Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958; reprint, 1989), references are to the reprint edition. Pitkin illustrates the influence of Tocqueville’s thought on Arendt in The Attack of the Blob, 115.



17. D, 87. Dietz argues that Arendt’s The Human Condition genders not private (feminine) and public (masculine), as many have argued, but rather animal laborans (the servant of life’s necessities) feminine, and homo faber (the master of human fabrication) masculine. Mary G. Dietz, “Feminist Receptions of Hannah Arendt,” in Feminist Interpretations of Hannah Arendt, ed. Bonnie Honig (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1995), 29.Also relevant here is the fact that in modern Western thought, the “particular” has been typically associated with females and the “general” with males—a key justification given time and again for women’s exclusion from politics. 18. I am indebted to Simona Goi for pointing to the double sense of the term “domestic” here, as it relates to households and local politics. 19. Many scholars have pointed out the masculinized nature of the universal public featured in much modern Western political thought, including that of John Locke and JeanJacques Rousseau, and its influence on democracies’ laws. 20. See Mary G. Dietz and James Farr,“‘Politics Would Undoubtedly Unwoman Her’: Gender, Suffrage, and American Political Science,” in Gender and American Social Science: The Formative Years, ed. Helene Silverberg (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998), 70, 71 and passim. 21. Boesche notes that after writing Democracy in America,Tocqueville rarely made the distinction between administration and government, and argues that “it is hard to see how a centralized government could avoid giving birth to a centralized administration,” as Tocqueville’s own analysis indicates. Boesche, Theories of Tyranny, 221. In fact Tocqueville contradicts himself on the question of whether centralized government was combined with decentralized administration in the United States, though he does claim theoretically that such a combination is possible. For alternative though complementary accounts to the present one of Tocqueville on centralization, see Boesche, 221–226, and Schleifer, The Making of Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, chapter 10. 22. Hunt, Family Romance, 90. But once away from his mother, the journalist reported, the child became vigorous and robust. Hunt asks,“what better emblem could there be of feminization—that effect predicted by Rousseau—than the actual deterioration of the boy’s genitals?” (101). Marie-Antoinette was a central target of the revolutionaries who portrayed her in all manner of indecent act as evidence of the general unnaturalness of the royal family, and of the corrupting female dimension of that political family. For discussion of fear of the dissolution of standard gender roles and norms of heterosexuality as the symbolic castration of men, see Hunt, chapter 4. 23. Ibid., 118, 119. 24. D, 88. Pitkin notes that “the modern regulatory welfare state, although largely run by men, like other states, not only employs large numbers of women in such roles but is often perceived as symbolically feminine; as nurturing and solicitous by its supporters, as smothering, intrusive, and controlling by its enemies” (The Attack of the Blob, 170).What is characteristic about the welfare state is not its law-making institutions but rather its administrative involvement in dispersing assistance to people. 25. Dinnerstein, 164, 175. 26. D, 93, 95, emphasis in original in each passage. As one looks to the South where the social state is not democratic,“one finds a less active municipal life; the township has fewer officials, rights, and duties; the population does not exercise such a direct influence



on affairs; the town meetings are less frequent and deal with fewer matters. For this reason the power of the elected official is comparatively greater and that of the voter less; municipal spirit is less wide-awake and less strong” (81). 27. Rogin, Fathers and Sons, 281. 28. Ibid., 287. 29. Jackson to Van Buren,April 4, 1838, v. 547, quoted in Rogin, 292. 30. Van Buren, for his part, wrote tellingly that Banks sought “to produce throughout society a chain of dependence, to nourish in preference to the manly virtues that give dignity to human nature, a craving desire for luxurious enjoyment and sudden wealth,” and “to substitute for republican simplicity and economic habits a sickly appetite for effeminate indulgence.” Marvin Meyers, The Jacksonian Persuasian (New York, 1960), 161. Quoted in Rogin, 290. 31. Dinnerstein, 112. 32. Martin Van Buren, Autobiography, 1918,Vol. 2 (Washington, D.C., 1920), 625. Quoted in Rogin, 289. In France, the hydra was an image revolutionaries used for counterrevolution, and the queen, Marie-Antoinette, was deemed the ultimate counterrevolutionary not only as royalty but as a female in a world that saw the “feminine” as a threat to republican manly virility. Hunt, Family Romance, 94. 33. Rogin, 289. 34. Dinnerstein, 175. 35. D / La démocratie I, 91 / 159. 36. Hunt, Family Romance, 76. 37. Ibid., 70–73. 38. See chapter 1 for how Tocqueville uses the term patrie when describing the United States as nation. 39. D / La démocratie I, 166–67 / 246. 40. Dinnerstein, 189. 41. Landes, 163; see Kadish, Politicizing Gender, 1, 50, and passim. 42. This interpretation diverges in part from Pitkin’s, which briefly indicates that Tocqueville “does not consider whether, failing to be father-like, this monstrous [state] power might in some sense be motherlike,might express some nightmare fantasy of maternal engulfment.” (The Attack of the Blob, 120). 43. Tocqueville, The Ancien Régime, 155–56. 44. Ibid., 56. 45. Ibid., 128. 46. Ibid., 129. 47. Dinnerstein, 175, 176. 48. Tocqueville, The Ancien Régime, 129. 49. Ibid., 95, 128, 129. 50. As he summarizes in the opening of The Ancien Régime,“the French Revolution... was bound to assail all forms of established authority together; to destroy acknowledged



influences; to efface traditions; to substitute new manners and usages for the old ones; in a word, to sweep out of men’s minds all the notions which had hitherto commanded respect and obedience. . . .But a close inspection brings to light from under the ruins an immense central power, which has gathered together and grasped all the several particles of authority and influence formerly scattered among a host of secondary powers, orders, classes, professions, families, and individuals, sown broadcast, so to speak, over the whole social body” (7). 51. D / La démocratie II, 681 / 372. 52. D / La démocratie II, 692 / 385. 53. D / La démocratie II, 693 / 386. 54. D, 672, n1. Consider those corporations today, the heads of which actively promote governmental non-interference as a hallmark of healthy rugged individualism and “real” freedom, that accept government handouts to keep projects afloat. 55. D, 523.As Pitkin puts it,“association is power, but what matters for liberté is a certain kind of association” (The Attack of the Blob, 121).

CHAPTER 6 1. In The Ancien Régime, Tocqueville likewise notes that “if you want to ascertain whether castes, and the ideas, habits, and barriers to which they give rise, are really abolished in any nation, look at the marriages which take place there.There you will find the decisive test” (66). 2. D, 586, n1.Tocqueville deems family part of “civil society.” 3. D, 305. In some ways,Tocqueville sees family relations inversely related to those in the rest of the social state. In aristocratic society, he says, a chain of relations links people for life to members of both the noble and servant classes, as well as to members of one’s own class (561).Within aristocratic families, however, interests are shared but “hearts are seldom in harmony” (587, 588). In democracy, society is atomistic while families are tightly knit.While “nothing could have been tighter than the bond uniting lord and vassal in the feudal world,” in democracy, these same two men would “no longer know each other.” But as democracy loosens such public ties, “it tightens natural ones. At the same time as it separates citizens, it brings kindred closer together” (589).Tocqueville’s assessment here resonates with common understandings of family life in nineteenth-century, liberal market democracy: as a haven in a harsh world. See Mintz and Kellogg, Domestic Revolutions, 43–44. But this subtheme is secondary to Tocqueville’s unequivocal and general claim, that a common ethos permeates a social state, including its family life—a claim that he says explicitly applies to both aristocracy and democracy. 4. Mill,“M. de Tocqueville on Democracy in America,” 124. 5. Commentators who overlook Tocqueville’s interest in family and gender relations include Lively, The Social and Political Thought of Alexis de Tocqueville, and Zetterbaum, Tocqueville and the Problem of Democracy. Strikingly, Zetterbaum says that the “primary features” of Tocqueville’s account of democracy are what must be examined and the “individual ramifications must be passed over”; the effect of the “education of women



in a democracy” hardly equates with “his reflections on, say, the tyranny of the majority” (59). 6. Delba Winthrop, “Tocqueville’s American Woman and ‘the True Conception of Democratic Progress’,” Political Theory 14 (May 1986): 240, 244, 245, 253, 255. In general, Winthrop is concerned that democracy does not “give public recognition to moral and intellectual superiority.” 7. William Mathie,“God,Woman, and Morality:The Democratic Family in the New Political Science of Alexis de Tocqueville,” The Review of Politics 57 (1995): 26, 29, 30. Mathie adds that Tocqueville’s American women are not exactly happy in their domestic sphere either—“private life has lost its charms”—but only because the household, though very different and separate from public life, is in some ways contaminated by the inadequacies of democracy. Bloom argues that, following Rousseau, Tocqueville believes that family serves an essential moral function in democracy by differing constitutionally from public life.Women are different from, though equal to, men as the keepers of good morals, offsetting democracy’s selfish and licentious tendencies. Allan Bloom, “The Relation of the Sexes: Rousseauian Reflections on the Crisis of Our Times,” in Tocqueville’s Political Science: Classic Essays, ed. Peter Lawler (New York: Garland Publishing, 1992). Kessler also argues that the success of the U.S. marriages Tocqueville describes depends on the family’s isolation from democratic mores.Sanford Kessler,“Tocqueville and Sexual Morality,”in Tocqueville’s Political Science: Classic Essays, ed. Peter Lawler (New York: Garland Publishing, 1992). 8. Susan Moller Okin, Justice, Gender and the Family (New York: Basic Books, 1989), 19. 9. Mathie goes so far as to suggest that Tocqueville does not “attach the slightest political or even social significance to the fraternal or filial relations within the democratic family” (15). 10. Jean Bethke Elshtain,Power Trips and Other Journeys:Essays in Feminism as Civic Discourse (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1990), 47; and Elshtain, Public Man, Private Woman: Women in Social and Political Thought (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981), 130. 11. Elshtain, Power Trips, 52. 12. Elshtain, Public Man, Private Woman, 129, 131. 13. F.L. Morton,“Sexual Equality and the Family in Tocqueville’s Democracy in America,” Canadian Journal of Political Science 17 (1984): 311 and passim. 14. Reinhardt, The Art of Being Free, 68. Siedentop also rightly recognizes that Tocqueville views the family as “a microcosm” that “reflects” changes in the “structure of society,” but does not explore this matter of family any further (Tocqueville, 78). Shapiro’s analysis of Tocqueville’s exclusive focus on “white, well-to-do families” and, especially, his “inability to discern a black political struggle, involved in strenuous attempts to retain family attachments and maintain degrees of coherent domesticity,” implies that societal and political relations are deeply interrelated with family life, though this is not Shapiro’s argument (27, 35 and passim). 15. Manent’s original French translated by Mathie, 15.Waggoner translates the passage as, “it is in the family that democracy pleads its case most eloquently,” in Pierre Manent, Tocqueville and the Nature of Democracy, trans. John Waggoner (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 1996), 83. Manent’s intended point is that in Tocqueville’s democratic family, democracy shows its most appealing face and,“if the mildness of democracy is revealed in the relation of parents to children, the moderating principle resides in



the divergent roles of men and women” (83). By “moderating principle” he seems to mean that radical gender differentiation moderates equality’s flux. 16. Reinhardt, 21. 17. See, for instance, Linda Kerber,“Separate Spheres, Female Worlds,Woman’s Place: The Rhetoric of Women’s History,” Journal of American History 75 (1988): 9–50; and Shapiro, 27–28, 35–36, but also note Shapiro’s attention to the prevailing discursive ideal of family and its “romantic imagery” (29). 18. Dinnerstein, 190. 19. D, 585, 586. See this work’s chapter 5 on the tension between symbolic fathers and sons in Tocqueville’s democracy. 20. D, 585. Democratized property conditions solidify these egalitarian relations between father and son.With the law of primogeniture torn asunder, property holdings are equally divided among sons, which makes the inherited parcels of land smaller over time, often forcing fathers and sons to share land:“habit and necessity bring them together and force them all the time to communicate with each other” as equals (587). 21. D, 587, 589.The gentleness of these relations and the new “sort of equality [that] reigns around the domestic hearth” is attractive even to the partisans of aristocracy whom, after experiencing it,“are not at all tempted to return to the cold and respectful formalities of the aristocratic family.” 22. See this work’s chapters 2 and 5; Ball,“The Myth of Adam and American Identity,” Reappraising Political Theory; and Hanson, The Democratic Imagination in America, 124 and chapter 4 passim. 23. Tocqueville,“Fortnight,” 354. See chapter 2 of this work for discussion. 24. The racism of Tocqueville’s America, which posits “race” as biological, would likewise reassure “white” men that they could never be denied full citizenship, since their “whiteness” could not be taken from them.Tocqueville’s analysis does not include the U.S. South; he acknowledges but sets aside the matter of unenfranchised “black” males in the North. See Janara,“Fear of Falling:Tocqueville and Beaumont on U.S. Genealogy, Democracy and Racism,” forthcoming. 25. Freud’s analysis is similarly androcentric, unjustifiably positing womanliness as fixed and outside of history. 26. Jardin, Tocqueville, 47, 50. 27. Alexis de Tocqueville, The Recollections of Alexis de Tocqueville, trans. Alexander Teixeira de Mattos (New York: Meridian Books, 1959), 148, 149. 28. D,601.This account of U.S.democracy also applies to France where,as the nineteenth century progressed, middle-class females and males were increasingly relegated to distinct places in society:“what seemed appropriate and natural for each in modern ‘civilized’ society steadily diverged.”Tombs,France 1814–1914,219.See Tombs for discussion of gender and family relations during the transition from pre-industrialized to industrialized France. 29. Dinnerstein, 112. 30. D, 593.This sort of restrictive life “freely” adopted by reasonable beings resounds in Tocqueville’s description of democracy’s soldiers. Obedience “should be rooted in the will of the man who obeys; it relies not only on instinct, but on reason too, and consequently will often spontaneously grow stricter as danger makes this necessary” (659).



31. Dinnerstein, 169. 32. Ibid., 191. 33. Tombs observes that in the middle classes of postrevolutionary France,“If men monopolized ‘power’, women were said to exercise ‘powers’” (218). Precisely because Tocqueville’s U.S. women are granted limited authority in the household, their care of others must be imbued with enormous energy that may come to look like emasculating control. 34. This invokes feminist critiques of liberal democratic contractarianism, consent, and their implications for citizenship. See for instance Pateman, The Disorder of Women. Tocqueville’s study of honor in the United States (see chapter 4 of this work) also sheds light on the nature of these democratic marital arrangements. D, 618, 620. In U.S. democracy, the reigning code of honor praises money-making, an ethos tied up in sex inequality in the name of social stability. 35. Dinnerstein, chapter 4. 36. D, 586; Dinnerstein, 164. 37. Lerner,“The Lady and the Mill Girl,” 7. 38. George, “The ‘World Historical Defeat’,” 410–37. Just before the National Convention passed the decree forbidding women’s political activity, one lone Jacobin spoke:“‘I don’t see on what principle we can lean to retire women from peaceful assembly. Unless you are gong to deny that women are part of humanity, can you refuse them this right common to all thinking beings?’” (435). Hunt observes that on a symbolic level, “sisters had an equivocal place in the new family romance of fraternity” in revolutionary France.“Their place as inheritors from the father had been assured by revolutionary legislation, and new questions had been raised about their rights as citizens. But republican men also expressed great uneasiness about women acting in public ways.These doubts began to crystallize when Marat was assassinated by a woman.”Assassin Charlotte Corday wrote to her father,“‘Pardon me . . . for having disposed of my existence without your permission’.” Hunt, The Family Romance, 81–82.The Civil Code of 1804 further curtailed women’s rights, especially those of married women, rendering them complete dependents of their spouses:“Paternal powers were not entirely restored, but they were defended as necessary to ‘the conservation of morals and the maintenance of public tranquillity’” (162). 39. Dinnerstein, 188. 40. Ibid., 191.

CONCLUSION 1. Reinhardt, The Art of Being Free, 53. 2. John Rawls, “Justice as Fairness: Political Not Metaphysical,” Philosophy and Public Affairs 14 (1985): 223–51;“The Idea of an Overlapping Consensus,” Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 7 (1987): 1–25. 3. Seyla Benhabib, “Toward a Deliberative Model of Democratic Legitimacy,” in Democracy and Difference: Contesting the Boundaries of the Political, ed. Seyla Benhabib (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996), 69. 4. Ibid., 70.



5. Jean Bethke Elshtain, “Antigone’s Daughters,” in Feminism and Politics, ed. Anne Phillips (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998); Sara Ruddick, Maternal Thinking (New York: Ballantine, 1989). Ruddick’s theory is not essentialist, but open to the possibility of men mothering and gaining maternal knowledge.The problem is that she seeks to invest citizenship with lessons learned in the hierarchical, intimate relationship of parent and child. 6. Such an argument is fully developed by Mary G. Dietz,“Citizenship With a Feminist Face:The Problem with Maternal Thinking,” Political Theory 13:1 (February 1985): 19–38. 7. Carol Pateman, “Introduction: The Theoretical Subversiveness of Feminism,” in Feminist Challenges: Social and Political Theory, ed. Carole Pateman and Elizabeth Gross (Sydney:Allen and Unwin, 1986), 9. 8. Susan Mendus, “Losing the Faith: Feminism and Democracy,” in Democracy: The Unfinished Journey, ed. John Dunn (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), 211. 9. Ibid., 213. 10. Anne Phillips, Engendering Democracy (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1991), 7. 11. Chantal Mouffe,“Feminism, Citizenship and Radical Democratic Politics,” in The Return of the Political (London:Verso, 1993), 83. 12. Ibid., 85, 78, 84. 13. Ibid., 82. 14. Ibid., 83, 84. 15. Ibid., 83. 16. Thomas L. Dumm, Democracy and Punishment (Madison,WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1987), 128–40. 17. Reinhardt, 78.


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abjection, 32 abyss, 30–33, 70, 72, 77, 204n and democracy’s girl, 172 in feminist theory, 32–33 historical representations of, 31 and “Indians,” 56 and maternal realm, 31–32 and postrevolutionary democracy, 27–28, 161 and sex-gender differentiation, 162 Tocqueville’s control over, 33 and woman, 205n Adams, John, 60, 212–13n Adams, John Quincy, 56 Adams, Samuel, 60 administration in aristocracy, 140 centralized/decentralized, 138–41, 145, 150, 152 complement to government, 138–49, 184, 222n conceptually confused in Tocqueville, 147, 221n in democratizing Europe, 141 directed by law, 145 as female, 138–40, 142, 144, 147, 150, 184 in France, 142 historical gendering of, 138, 142 of Louis XIV, 138 as mother, 41, 139–141, 146, 150

in New England, 144 passions related to, 141–46 purview of, 138 as threat to manliness, 139, 141, 150 in U.S., 141–42 as wife, 138–39, 141 adolescence, 6, 21, 73, 85. See also democracy; Dinnerstein; Erikson; literature, French; psychoanalytic theory like toddlers, 123 as male, 74, 215n modern ideal, 73–74, 215n U.S., 73, 166 adultery, 84, 86, 110 affirmative action, 191, 193 agency, 27–28, 129, 198n, 214n. See also female; history agrarianism, 118, 217n ambition, 100–1 American Adam, 17, 53, 54–55, 57, 131, 166, 210n American Eden, 17, 54, 210n American Revolution, 11, 18, 66–67, 93, 182, 198n analogy, man-nation, 9, 10, 37, 47, 48, 51, 61, 70–71, 75, 107, 161, 180, 186 education, 77, 215n property, 108–9 anarchy, 87, 127, 148, 155 ancestors, 12, 111, 121, 200n




Ancien Régime,The, 10, 13, 14, 20, 83, 151–52, 204n androgyny, 21. See also hybrid; maturity; (sex-)gender rejected as unhealthy, 150, 184 Ankersmit, F.R., 205n, 206n Arendt, Hannah, 137, 197n, 222n aristocracy. See also class; England; Europe; nobility of capacity, 133 as comfort/security, 1, 108, 117, 122–23, 161–62, 186 as danger, 32 diverse authority in, 151 as doting, 152 European, 114 father-son relations (see father-son relations; family) French, 19–20 and love of money (see money, love of; passion) marriage in, 224n (see also marriage) masses in, 134 military in, 111 as mother, 5, 10–14, 18–20, 47, 62, 69, 71, 75, 81, 86–87, 90, 105, 107, 111, 115, 121, 125, 129–30, 132, 135, 140–41, 150, 156, 168–70, 172, 185, 190 (see also mother as symbol) as mother-child relation, 42, 122 mutual obligation in, 1, 117 as object, 22 as oppressive, 1, 42, 82, 85, 93, 132, 185 as Other, 1, 10 as social hierarchy/web/order, 1, 13, 30, 76, 130, 161, 163, 168, 182 subordinates as children, 69, 132, 151, 190 Tocqueville’s feelings for, 206n Aristotle, 111 art, modern, 36. See also literature adolescence, 73 (see also adolescence) child/orphan, 200n equality, 82, 131 (see also equality) liberty, 82, 131 (see also liberty) Revolutionary period, 13, 131 (see also French Revolution)

association. See also citizenship; citizens; jury in aristocracy, 92, 164 as art, 77 (see also liberty) among brothers in democracy, 165 civil, 78–79, 155 in democracy, 75, 77, 87, 92, 189–90 distraction from, 113, 127 excessive, 110 (see also majority tyranny) as habit, 79 inculcation of, 101 in industry, 101, 107, 117–18 judicial, 78 local, 146 between owners/workers (see industry; owners; workers) political, 75, 78, 80, 113, 146, 154, 188 as school/education, 78, 85–86, 127, 136, 170 and the state, 127, 149, 153–54 Aveyron. See wild boy of Aveyron Balzac, Honoré de, 4, 74 bank, federal. See administration; Jackson; Jacksonian America; Rogin;Van Buren Baudelaire, Charles, 49 Beaumont, Gustave de, 52, 54–55, 57, 59, 72, 195 Beauvoir, Simone de, 32, 208n, 218n Benhabib, Seyla, 189–90 Billy Budd, 54, 59 Bloch, Ruth, 16, 198n Bloom,Allan, 225n Bluntschli, Johann K., 138 Boesche, Roger, 39, 50, 92, 126 Brogan, Hugh, 201n brotherhood as symbol. See fraternity as symbol brothers,Tocqueville’s analysis of in aristocracy/democracy compared, 165 contemporary commentators overlooking, 225n in democracy, 165–66, 168, 171 through political terms, 170 and property (see father-son relations) republican, 167

INDEX Brown, Norman O., 208n infant’s passions, 104 materialism, 103–4, 110, 218n mortality, 104 Burke, Edmund, 22, 32, 205n, 210–11n Calhoun, John, 17 capitalism. See also commerce; contract; industry; owners; workers corporate, 187 in democracy, 218n government subsidies, 224n modern market economy, 75, 99 and republicanism, 215n and the state, 126 and universities, 221n Catholicism. See Christianity; Church; girl; religion, morality, mores centralization. See administration; government; state Chickasaws. See “Indians” child(hood), 5, 11, 50, 73. See also art; Dinnerstein; literature; orphan educating, 50 modern/Enlightenment ideal, 15, 18–19, 50, 53 as potentiality, 50–51, 57 working class, 215n child care. See also Dinnerstein as female task, 187, 192 and gestation/pregnancy, 191 Christianity. See also Church; Protestantism; Puritanism; religion, morality, mores equality, 86 liberty, 86 Tocqueville’s, 87, 216n and women, 88 Church, 86. See also Christianity; Protestantism; Puritanism; religion, morality, mores in France, 93 and state, 138, 216n (see also state) citizens (inhabitants). See also citizenship aggrandized, 81 as brothers (see also fraternity as symbol), 168, 215n as children/infantilized, 126, 140, 146,


152–55 critically-minded, 127, 189, 196 dependent, 141 education of, 75, 78–79, 166, 170 gendered, 44 and government authority, 146 as impotent, 153 as male (youth), 74, 77, 84, 86, 97, 138, 171, 188 as masters, 153 mature, 76, 139, 146, 185 as parents, 79 as sons, 145, 163, 165, 168 vanquishing aristocracy, 168 weak, 77, 79–81, 84, 95, 119, 136–37, 143 citizenship. See also citizens; democratic politics; Dinnerstein active as dangerous, 219n (see also majority tyranny) androcentric liberal, 190, 195 associational, 101 deliberately bi-gendered, 191, 195 eclipse of, 113 education for (mature), 77–78, 100, 140, 189 of fathers/sons, 165 (see also father-son relations) females excluded from, 13, 45, 74, 112, 136, 170–71, 174 gendered, 44, 188, 190 as gendered complement to morality (see democratic politics) and industry, 117–25, 126 as male, 139–40, 171, 177, 188 as manliness, 36 and materialism, 113 mature/healthy, 44, 70, 76, 113, 189 mistrusted, 154 not fraternal, 75–77, 96 ungendered, 193 and weakness, 137 civil society, 189, 224n class, 44, 195 in aristocracy, 127 (see also aristocracy; nobility) in democracy, 98, 120, 125, 161, 167, 168



in democracy/aristocracy compared, 105–6, 179 hierarchy as parent substitute, 183 in industrial democracy, 114 lower, in aristocracy, 30, 105 (see also aristocracy) lower, in democracy, 105, 115 middle, in democracy, 105, 114–17, 127, 135 mobility in democracy, 115, 122 noble, in aristocracy, 30, 105, 132 (see also aristocracy; nobility) in transition to democracy, France, 132 wealthy, in democracy, 105, 115 Cleaveland, John, 60 colonists, 147. See also New England ambivalent passions of, 60 as children/sons, 61, 146 multicultural, 62 and nature, 109 North v. South, 61 and puritanical attitudes, 110 commerce/commercialism. See also industry; property, private and choice, 118 and class, 114, 167 and democracy’s maturation, 99–100, 102, 106–7, 125, 128, 218n French/U.S. compared, 103 infantilizing, 126–27 as male, 171 as parent substitute, 183 and religion, 88 and the state, 126 unchecked, 119 U.S., 6 Connolly,William, 57, 97, 116, 188 contract. See also industry; master-servant relations; owners; workers and citizenship, 122 in democracy, 120, 122–25 in democratizing Europe, 123–24 marital, 179–80 marital, master/servant, owner/worker compared, 167, 180 owner/worker, 120, 125 Corday, Charlotte, 139, 227n

corruption, 137, 154–55 country as father, 147 historical gendering of, 138 court/courtisans, 137 cradle as symbol, 6, 10, 11, 49, 51, 54–55, 61, 63, 65, 90, 109. See also liberty; nature; North America; religion, morality, mores Craven,Wesley Frank, 215n decentralization. See administration; government; state Declaration of Independence, 17 Delacroix, Eugène, 49 democracy. See also despotism; foundations as adolescent, 73, 128 as adolescent, French, 73, 85 as adolescent, U.S., 6, 47–48, 63–65, 71, 91, 97, 99–100, 125, 128, 161, 163 birth of,American, 10, 11, 17, 20, 62, 65, 77, 93 birth of, French, 11, 20, 59 birth of, modern, 23, 43, 121 as child/orphan,American, 47–48, 51, 59, 69, 71, 78, 125, 129, 163–64, 179 as child/youth-subject, 5, 10, 12, 31, 40, 71, 73, 82, 109, 128, 185 contemporary Western, 5, 7, 44, 46, 190–92 dangers of, 20 deliberative (see Benhabib; democratic theory) as embryo,American, 47, 55, 59, 63, 65, 78 as family, U.S., 54 French/American compared, 17, 28, 47, 62, 85, 93–94, 108, 147, 155, 161 gestation of,American, 58 as homogeneous/diverse, 188–89 as hungry creature, U.S., 109 as hybrid,American, 55 (see also hybrid) ideals projected onto males, 171 immaturity, French, 70, 72, 85 (see also maturity) immaturity, U.S., 34, 67, 71, 78, 128 (see also maturity)

INDEX industry, commerce (see commerce; industry) as infant,American, 47, 51, 63, 71 infantilism within, 6 innocence of,American, 53–54 as lesson, U.S., 29 as male (agent), 74–75, 83, 85–86, 91, 97, 107, 130–33, 163–64, 169 as man/adult, 71, 78, 94, 110, 149 mature (see maturity; New England) North/South (as siblings), U.S., 62, 63, 75 (see also South, U.S.) North, U.S., 63 (see also New England) as orphan/urchin/youth, French, 48–49, 69–70, 75, 146, 149, 209n as paradox, 160 as potentiality, 33–34, 48, 51, 159, 165–66 separating from aristocracy, 28, 30, 129, 133, 140, 149, 161, 163–64, 169, 179 social history of, 196 as subject, 33, 47, 100, 129, 131 democratic politics, 193. See also citizens/hip; republicanism delimited, 96–97, 116 in excess, 110 (see also majority tyranny) as flux, 194 as gendered complement to religion, morality, 89, 116, 136, 174, 187, 216n as husband, 89, 174 and industry as spheres, 120 as male, 89, 116, 132, 174, 187–88 as men’s purview, 89, 174, 187 and property, 116 as struggle, 189, 195 democratic theory androcentric, 191 deliberative, 189 feminist, 189–95, 220n, 227n liberal, 189 and Tocqueville, 190 despotism, democratic, 20, 29, 31, 33, 70, 75, 123, 128, 159, 196 amid equality, 78, 82, 131, 140, 147 and centralization (see administration; government; state) as order, 148, 183 (see also order)


and religion, 87 and the state, 101, 153, 156, 195, 204n (see also state) development, human. See also Dinnerstein; Europe; psychoanalytic theory ontogenetic/phylogenetic, 9, 25, 187 Dietz, Mary G., 138, 222n Dinnerstein, Dorothy, 5, 23–27, 37–43, 185. See also object-relations theory; psychoanalytic theory abyss (see abyss) adolescence, 71 autonomy, 135 boy child, 164, 168, 175–76 child’s passions/ambivalence, 32, 38–40, 67, 103–4, 110, 135, 141, 161, 175 citizenship as male, 175 enterprise (as male), 24, 102–4, 108, 175, 218n family (modern) as pathological, 143, 185 father, 39, 41, 66, 93–94, 136, 142–44, 148, 151, 163, 168–69 female as multiplicitous, 25, 39, 83, 90, 169, 173 female-dominated child care, 24, 32, 37, 65, 71, 74–75, 83, 103–4, 135, 163 flesh, 39, 103–4, 110 freedom, fear of, 135 girl/boy, psychic struggles compared, 42, 163, 176 girl child, 176 growing up, 129 heterosexuality, 43, 175 historical context, 25 immaturity (as repression, splitting off passions), 65, 71, 92, 171, 185, 192, 195 infantilism, 38, 155 limitations in the theory of, 24–26 materialism, 110, 218n maturity (as integration of passions), 40, 42, 91, 94–96, 192, 195 mermaid and minotaur, as arrested development, 24, 150, 183, 188, 195 mistress, 81 mortality, 24, 103–4, 110



mother characterized, 38, 41, 95, 132, 163 mother-infant bond, 119, 207n mother-raised men, 183 nature as female, 53, 57, 109, 211n (see also nature) oppression, 129 power, female/male, 140, 148–49 public/private, 37–38, 175 return of the repressed, 155 (sex-)gender differentiation, 25, 40–42, 75, 96, 104, 142, 190 sexual double standard, 181 woman as atemporal, 74 women, fear of, 143, 168, 175 work, men’s/women’s, 143 Di Stefano, Christine, 23 diversity, 188–89. See also democracy Dumm,Thomas, 195 economists, French 18th century, 151–52 economy, historical. See capitalism Eden. See American Eden education. See also analogy, man-nation; association; citizens/hip; democracy; jury; liberty; state of citizens, 6, 101–2, 113, 127, 192 of democracy, 49, 77, 79, 187 in egalitarian cooperation/struggle, 191 historical, 215n and industry, 101–2, 118, 124 by past, 92 in power, 187 egoism, 132 Elshtain, Jean Bethke, 159–60, 190–91, 193 embryo as symbol. See democracy England,Tocqueville’s analysis of. See also aristocracy influence on U.S. of, 59, 61–66, 70, 78–79, 85, 93, 155, 179, 213–14n as mother/mère patrie, 6, 18, 51, 53, 59, 60, 61, 66–67, 75, 78, 83, 91, 103, 105, 109, 130–31, 136, 141–43, 146–47, 149, 155, 163, 175, 212–13n as parent, 59, 149 as power, 119 as school, 77

Tocqueville’s interest in, 197n Enlightenment, 14, 15, 51, 210n. See also child; father, historical; woman, historical philosophes, 14, 50, 198n enterprise. See also Brown; Dinnerstein; Erikson; psychoanalytic theory and child, 111 healthy, 102, 111 as male, 112, 171, 177, 192 pathological, 102, 109 envy. See equality; passions equality. See also inequality, new forms of and ambition, 219n of conditions, 100, 178, 219n debased love for (envy), 81, 84, 100, 105–08, 156, 159 degendered, 192 in family, democratic, 164–65 (see also family; husband; marriage; woman) fancied v. actual, 122, 167 as fated/spreading, 27, 77 as female, 84, 86, 132 French/U.S. compared, 84 and groupthink, 133 and independence, 133 introduced by absolute monarchs, 149 manly love for, 81, 101, 132, 159, 162 passion for idea of, 2, 3, 11, 36, 81–82, 84, 100–01, 105, 113–14, 117–18, 120, 123, 133, 149, 154, 162, 174–75, 180 personified, 80 as principle, 120, 160, 162 rights for all or none, 83 as sameness, 106 as seductress, 81–82, 84–86, 97, 101, 127, 154 of the sexes, 4, 45, 47, 162, 175, 194, 198n (see also marriage) as sister to Hercules/liberty, 82, 131 as substitute for aristocracy, 108 universal, 100, 167 Erikson, Erik, 185 adolescence, 64, 71, 91, 218–19n Hamlet, 73 industry/enterprise/work, 104, 218–19n

INDEX immaturity (repression), 92 Luther, Gandhi, 214n maturity (integration), 92, 94 Europe. See also aristocracy; England as mother, 62, 111, 131 stages of development of, 64 Eve, 54 executive, 136 family, historical aristocratic France, 14 colonial America, 18 democratizing Europe, 14 democratizing France, 200n, 225n as historical formation, 36, 158 modern ideal, 4, 6, 61, 89–90, 96, 98, 143–44, 147, 157, 161–62, 196 as natural, 44 postcolonial U.S., 18, 45, 98 social historians on 19th century, 160 family as symbol, 2, 4–5, 20. See also foundations; marriage; (sex-)gender culturally circulating, 157, 182, 196 historical, 2–3, 5 and immaturity, 98, 186 as literary map of Tocqueville’s democracy, 98 as social order/ethos/ideology, 69, 71, 161, 182, 185, 187, 190 as system of power, 186, 196 family,Tocqueville’s analysis of aristocratic/democratic compared, 158–81 contemporary commentaries on, 159–61, 224–25n embedded in social state, 35, 44, 158–59, 161, 181, 224–25n exhibits democracy’s ethos, 163–82 mirrors symbolic family, 35, 157, 161, 186 as order/social structure, 35, 182, 185–87 sexes radically differentiated as complement, 163, 183 Tocqueville’s ambivalence about, 163 “white” middle-class, 98, 152, 167, 171 “family values” discourse, 45 Farr, James, 138


father, historical. See also family, historical modern ideal, 203n father-son relations,Tocqueville’s analysis of in aristocracy/democracy compared, 163–69 in democracy, 163–66, 168 in political terms, 163–64, 170 and property, 226n as republican, 167 father as symbol, 12, 21, 144. See also ancestors; government; monarch/y; republicanism; republics; revolutionaries; state; Union; Washington France, 146 French Revolution, 93, 146 and sons, France/U.S., 146 Union, 147 U.S. republic, 43, 91 father,Tocqueville’s analysis of. See also father-son relations in aristocracy/democracy compared, 164 federalism as woman-serpent hybrid, 150 femaleness, 4, 71, 91–98. See also administration; aristocracy; Dinnerstein; equality; girl; liberty; religion, morality, mores; public opinion; (sex-)gender; woman; women as agent, 172 as atemporal, 74, 169, 226n as container/vessel, 188–89 as danger, 140 as multiplicitous, 83, 207n as object, 74–75, 95–96, 169 uncontained, 132 feminism. See also democratic theory second wave, 45, 189–90 social reform, 177 flesh. See also Dinnerstein anxiety over, 110 and religion, 110 and U.S. women, 178 Foucault, Michel, 195 foundations. See also family as symbol;



heterosexuality; order; (sex-)gender binary sex-gender/conjugal familial, 27, 33–35, 43, 69–70, 83, 98, 112, 126, 129–30, 133, 144, 147, 155, 157, 161, 175–77, 179, 186, 190, 193, 195–96 for democracy, 5, 15, 20, 46, 69 and religion, 98 (see also religion, morality, mores) founders, U.S. See revolutionaries fraternity. See brotherhood fraternity as symbol, 21, 70. See also citizens/hip;“Indians”; Jackson; republicanism; Rogin European/Native American, 55–56, 96, 113, 215n revolutionary France, 75, 93 U.S., 75 fratricide. See fraternity as symbol; “Indians” freedom, 70. See also liberty aristocratic tradition of, 149 burden of, 48, 76, 82, 130, 177, 185 of choice, 179–80 evasion of, 129 fear of, 166, 181–82 full-bodied, 162, 194 individual, 125, 149 open-ended/as struggle with flux, 114 and order (see order) of the press, 78–79, 149 second to equality, 81–82 as self-governance, 196 of speech, 78, 149 as struggle, 193 universal, 192, 194–95 French Convention, 143 French Revolution, 11, 13, 14, 15, 28, 49, 51, 69–70, 73, 75, 82, 131, 161, 209n, 211n and administration, 138, 151 as birth, 200n and centralization, 151, 204n, 223n (see also monarch, French) as matricide, 5 maturity amid, 92 as patricide, 146 and women, 16, 88, 139, 150, 182

Freud, Sigmund, 9, 44, 129, 169, 208n, 218n, 226n Fromm, Erich, 129, 1948n gender. See Dinnerstein; (sex-)gender George III as father, 212n George, Margaret, 182 girl (daughter, sorority) as symbol absence of, 169 girl,Tocqueville’s analysis of aristocratic and democratic compared, 171–73 and boys, compared, 170 Catholic/Protestant compared, 170 as citizen, 170 in democracy, U.S., 35, 169–73, 176, 183 and democracy’s repressed desires, 171 emblematic of democracy’s tensions, 173 proximity to abyss, 172 as subject/object, 172 Tocqueville’s anxiety over, 170, 172 as wife, 170 (see also women, Tocqueville’s analysis of) Girondin, 150, Gobineau,Arthur de, 214n good, the, 188, 194 good, general/public, 78, 99, 107 Goodkin, Richard E., 31 government. See also state centralized/decentralized, 138–40, 142, 145, 150 complement to administration, 138–49, 184, 222n conceptually confused in Tocqueville, 147, 221n European, 126 as excessive/tyrannical, 140, 144, 150 expanding authority of, 128, 155 as father, 67, 139–40, 142–44, 146–47, 150, 165 French, 99, 142 healthy, 146 historical gendering of, 138 as husband, 138–39 hypermasculine, 143

INDEX impotent, 146 law as instrument of, 144–45 (see also administration; law) majoritarian, 142 as male, 138, 140, 142, 144, 150, 184 in New England, 144 passions related to, 141–46 purview of, 138 as stranger, 140 strength derived from citizens, 146 U.S., 142–43 Greuze, Jean-Baptiste, 200n guild system, 100, 161 Habermas, Jürgen, 189 Hamilton,Alexander, 17 Hamlet, 73 Hampson, Norman, 65, 213n Hegel, 159 Hercules as French symbol of the people, 81, 83, 131, 144, 150 Hereth, Michael, 203n, 205n heterosexuality. See also homosexuality; marriage as binary complement, 43, 70, 84, 112, 139, 185, 191, 219n as order, 83, 137, 161, 179–80 as unstable, 84 history. See also agency and Tocqueville’s method, 21 Tocqueville’s theory of, 12, 17–18, 67, 209n, 211n U.S. in, 17–18, 55, 131, 166 Hobbes,Thomas, 23 home economics, 45 homo puer robustus, 109 homosexuality, 137, 191. See also corruption honor, code of love of money, U.S., 110–14 (see also money, love of) and marriage, 227n Hoover, Herbert, 131 household. See also family; marriage; women as female, 139 headed by man, 139 (see also husband)


Tocqueville’s analysis of, 112, 171, 187–88, 191 Howe, P., 49 Hugo,Victor, 49 Hunt, Lynn, 12, 16, 82, 131, 200n, 207n, 222n, 227n husbands,Tocqueville’s analysis of. See also household; marriage authority of, 175 infidelity, 180 and political despotism, 183 “slave-owning slaves,” 183 hybrid historical, as monster, 4, 150 state as, 150–51, 156 U.S. democracy as, 55 hydra counterrevolutionaries as, 223n identity fluid in democracy, 178 multiple subject positions (see Mouffe) politics, 193 identity crisis French, 72, 209n Tocqueville’s, 72 immaturity. See Dinnerstein; maturity impotence as symbol. See manliness incest as symbol, 16, 154. See also Marie-Antoinette “Indians” Chickasaws, 57 historical, 215n naturally equal to Europeans, 215n relations with Europeans fraternalized, 76, 96, 107, 109, 186 Rousseau on, 211n Tocqueville’s letter about, 212n and U.S. democracy, 55–59, 167 individual choice, 118 in democracy, 117 weak, 143 individualism, 29, 50, 73, 76–77, 80, 87, 99, 101, 129–33, 166, 170. See also materialism and herd mentality, 133 as hypermasculinity, 95, 131–32



as impotence/unmanliness, 70, 131, 134, 154 possessive, 75, 113 and religion, 88 as weakness, 79, 84, 130 industrialization England, 117, 217n Europe, 106, 126, 217n New England, 117 U.S., 106, 117 industry, private, 6. See also commerce; contract; owners; workers as aristocracy, 117, 119 as association, 101–2, 107 as child, 125–26, 154 and choice, 118 and citizenship, 117–25 and class, 167 concentration of wealth in, 114, 217n and democracy’s maturation, 99–100, 102, 106–7, 128, 218n division of labor, 118, 175 French/U.S. compared, 103 as gendered complement to household, 112 as infantilizing, 126–27 as male, 112, 171 and marriage, 112 and morals, 112, 115 as parent (substitute), 120, 125, 183 and politics as spheres, 120, 217n and religion, 88 and the state, 126 unchecked, 119 inequality, new forms of. See also equality; family; industry, private; marriage; owners;“race”; women; workers contract, 122 as security, 162, 168 sex-gender, 168, 176, 180–82 inhabitants. See citizens inheritance, 66, 80, 115, 215n, 226n. See also primogeniture interest. See self-interest, narrow; “self-interest properly understood” Itard, Jean-Marc-Gaspard, 50, 210n Jackson,Andrew, 57, 212–13n

as father, king, 215n as majority’s slave, 134 and mother (federal) bank, 142, 144 Jacksonian America and “Indians,” 55 and materialism, 113 and mother (federal) Bank, 142 Jacobins, 131, 139, 182, Jameson, Fredric, 198n Jardin,André, 16 Jay, John, 17 Jefferson,Thomas, 17 judiciary/judges, 136, 148 jury, 78–79, 149 as school, 79, 136 justice, 206n Kadish, Doris, 4, 12, 16, 198n, 207n Kant, Immanuel, 189 Kellogg, Susan, 45 Kergolay, Louis de, 72 Kessler, Sanford, 225n king. See George III; Louis XIV/XV/ XVI; monarch/y Kristeva, Julia, 32 land. See nature Landes, Joan, 12, 15, 16, 150, 200n language in democracy, 3, 148 Tocqueville’s strategic uses of, 3, 34, 205n unconscious dimensions of, 3, 34 Languedoc, 50, 210n. See also wild boy of Aveyron law aristocratic, 178 constitutional, 135, 190 as government’s instrument, 144–45 and majority tyranny, 145 Lawrence, George, 48, 135, 149, 153 Le Commerce, 203n Lefort, Claude, 204n legislatures, 136 Lerner, Gerda, 18, 182 liberalism classical, 99 contractarian, 220n, 227n

INDEX Tocqueville’s, 206n liberty, 29. See also freedom in aristocracy, 91–92 as art, 77 through association, 76, 102, 149 (see also association; citizens/hip) and education, 78 as female (incl. mother, timid sexobject), 60, 82–86, 97, 102, 131–32, 140, 146, 154 harmonious with equality, 86, 113 individual/collective, 113, 166, 182 as leading good, 36, 166 as lesson from aristocracy, 140 for males, 168 and modern economy, 99 as principle, 120, 123, 149, 160 and private property, 115 during Restoration, 217n second to equality, 82 as sister to Hercules/equality, 82, 131 sons of, 146 taught by England, 78, 93, 179 (see also England) Tocqueville’s love of, 97, 206n license, 76, 123. See also abyss Lieber, Francis, 138 Lincoln,Abraham, 17, 18 literature, English, 198n, 209n literature, modern, 36 adolescence, 73–74, 214–15n child/orphan, 49, 200n, 209n, 214n fathers, 200n, 214n females, 95 gender, 74, 198n hybrid as monster, 150 mothers, 73–74, 214n Lively, Jack, 211n Lloyd, Rosemary, 49, 73 Locke, John, 18, 50, 201n, 222n Louis XIV. See also monarchy, French and decentralization, 138 Louis XV. See also monarchy, French feminized, 139 Louis XVI, 48. See also monarchy, French Louis-Philippe, 16 loyalists, 18. See also colonists


Machiavelli, Niccolo, 21, 36, 85, 200n, 216n Madison, James, 17 majority as sovereign, 136–37, 143, 156 majority tyranny, 29, 116, 126, 129, 133, 149, 166, 189, 206n, 219n as hypermasculinity, 136, 142–43 and legislation, 145 and Puritanism, 110 maleness, 4. See also citizens/hip; democracy; democratic politics; government; individualism; majority tyranny; monarchy; republicanism; Union as container/vessel, 188–89 as subject, 91–98, 169 Mallarmé, Stéphane, 31 Mancini, Matthew, 210n Manent, Pierre, 10, 161, 225–26n manliness as symbol. See also democracy; maturity; republicanism acquired by education, 166 and commercial/industrial U.S., 108 and girls, 170–71 impotence, 6, 84, 87, 137, 153, 155 as maturity, 66, 69–70, 72, 75–76, 79, 85, 96, 102, 131, 147, 193, 219n in republican discourse, 13, 14, 36–37, 131, 147, 164, 167, 193, 200n, 223n as sexist term, 193 unmanliness, 6, 85–86, 116, 118, 143 in U.S. democracy, 64, 143 and wage labor, 122 and women, 86 Marat, Jean Paul, 139, 146, 227n Marianne, 13, 131, 207n Marie Antoinette, 16, 51, 222n, 223n and incest, 139, 222n market economy. See capitalism; commerce; industry marriage, historical French, 226n modern ideal, 84, 89, 96, 139, 144–45 marriage,Tocqueville’s analysis of aristocracy, 224n aristocracy/democracy compared, 178–81



aristocratic/democratizing Europe compared, 179 compared to master/servant, owner/worker, 180 contemporary commentaries overlooking, 224–25n contract, 179–80 and industry/trade, 112, 175 inequality/double standard in, 84, 180 and morals, mores, 179 and public opinion, 179–80 sex/gender differentiation within, 174–75, 180 and trade (see industry) U.S./democratizing Europe compared, 179 marriage as symbol, 21. See also heterosexuality administration/government (see administration; government) citizens/liberty, 84 (see also citizens; liberty) democratic politics/religion, morality 86, 89 (see also democratic politics; religion, morality, mores) federal bank, 142 Marx, Karl, 23, 218–19n master-servant relations. See also contract in aristocracy, 121 and citizenship, 122 in democracy, 121–24, 167 in democratizing Europe, 123–24 and owner-worker relations, 124, 167 materialism, 20, 29, 76, 87. See also honor, code of; individualism; money, love of and death, 110 democracy’s tendency for, 100–1, 105–8, 113, 115, 127, 166, 170 men/women distinguished, 107 and order, 115, 220n and religion, 107 unchecked, 154–55 U.S., 103–4, 110, 149 Mathie,William, 159, 225n maturity, 30. See also citizenship; manliness as androgyny (see androgyny) as binary sex-gender complement, 6, 89, 91–98, 130, 133, 140, 142,

144–45, 157, 170, 175, 183–84, 190, 196 (see also marriage; sex-gender) between chaos and order, 97 through citizenship, 101, 125, 131 (see also citizens/hip) democratic, 63, 75, 77, 84–85, 113, 125, 189 and the economy, 128 and enterprise, 102 as equality and liberty balanced, 92 as heterosexual conjugal family, 6, 20, 27, 34, 89, 130, 142, 148, 161, 168 (see also family) human capacity for, 189 immaturity, democratic, 76, 81–82, 85, 95, 98, 113, 117, 141, 146, 155, 188 immaturity as repression, 185, 188 as integration, 86, 91–92, 94, 132, 155, 184–85, 188, 193, 195 Tocqueville’s critical conception of, 6, 27, 69–70, 102, 107, 185, 193–95 Maupassant, Guy de, 31 May, Gita, 18 Mayer, J.P., 72–73 McMillan, James, 15 mediocrity, 20, 156 Melville, Herman, 54, 59 Mendus, Susan, 191 mère patrie. See aristocracy; England mermaid/minotaur. See Dinnerstein Michelet, Jules, 88 Mill, John Stuart, 22–23, 32, 81, 158, 205n, 218n Mintz, Steven, 45 mistress as symbol. See equality; Pitkin; public opinion Mitchell, Harvey, 10, 220n monarchy American majority as, 137 compared to democracies, 76, 137 European, power decentralized in, 142 monarchy, English. See George III monarchy, French, 13. See also Louis XIV; Louis XV, Louis XVI; Marie Antoinette absolute, 151, 200n, 209n between aristocracy and democracy, 151

INDEX and centralization, 141, 152 death of, 16, 48 and equality/leveling, 149, 151–52 as father, 12, 13, 49, 73, 93, 152, 200n, 207n, 209n, 214n as parent, 151 patriarchal, 146, 207n and religion, 87 and the Revolution, 51 money, love of. See also honor, code of; materialism; passions in aristocracy, 111, 114, 117 in democracy, 112–15, 218n in Europe/America compared, 218n morality. See religion, morality, mores morals. See marriage; religion, morality, mores mores. See religion, morality, mores Morton, F.L., 160 mother, historical. See family, historical; women, historical mother as symbol, 11, 12, 22, 31–32. See also administration; aristocracy; England; femaleness; liberty; nature; religion, morality, mores; state; Tocqueville (mother) mother-father-child triangle, 169 mothering as civic model (see Elshtain; Ruddick) as distinct activity (see Elshtain; Ruddick) Mouffe, Chantal, 193–95 Mumford, Lewis, 218n Napoleonic Civil Code, 16 nation, 11 National Convention, 227n Native Americans. See “Indians” nature. See also Dinnerstein; North America control/exploitation of, 52, 56–58, 112 as cradle, 6, 51, 78 as female (multiplicitous), 51–52, 58 as land, 109 as mother, 41, 51, 56–58, 109, 113, 125, 147, 210n North American, 6, 51, 210–11n as parent, 55


soil as fatherland, 212n New England. See also colonists; democracy administration/government in, 144 (see also administration; government) colonial developments in, 63–65, 147 as mature democracy, 78, 89–90, 94–95, 216n newspapers. See freedom Nisbet, Robert, 3 nobility, French, 13, 14, 76, 132. See also aristocracy; class noblesse oblige, 1, 100, 119. See also aristocracy North America. See also nature compared with West Indies, 53 cultivation of, 111, 161 physical configuration of, 9 as resource-rich, 109, 161 North American Indians. See “Indians” North, U.S. See democracy; New England obedience aristocratic/democratic compared, 121, 123 and soldiers, 226n object-relations theory, 5, 22–23. See also Dinnerstein; psychoanalytic theory bias of, 26 and circulating family imagery, 26 father, 37 female-dominated child care, 37 infancy, 37 for social critique, 26, 203n Okin, Susan Moller, 159 opinion. See public opinion order, 69. See also foundations absence of aristocratic, 176 as binary sex-gender/conjugal family (see family; foundations; marriage; sex-gender) and disorder in democracy, 172, 205n fear of disorder, 163 (see also abyss) and freedom 96, 140, 148 (see also freedom) as good, 148, 173n industry’s love of, 112



and materialism/property, 108, 116, 220n U.S./democratizing Europe compared, 179 yearning for/devotion to, 108, 155, 181, 183, 204n, 206n orphan as symbol, 49–50, 70, 75. See also art; child; democracy; literature owner/worker relations. See contract; master-servant relations owners. See also capitalism; contract; industry; workers character of, 111–12, 117–25 as children, 125 and citizenship, 6, 117–25 as minotaurs, 125 as parents, 125 power of, 124–25 and the state, 126 Ozouf, Mona, 207n Paine,Thomas, 60 parent as symbol. See administration; aristocracy; England; government; industry; liberty; religion, morality, mores; revolutionaries; state; Union passions. See also Dinnerstein and administration/government, 141–46 in American Revolution, 93–94 aristocracy’s governing, 104, 115 child’s, 22 for comfort/security, 105, 109–15, 127, 155 delusion of self-governance, 155, 171 in democracy’s females, 172 democracy’s governing (ambivalent), 2, 20, 33, 35, 47, 73, 80, 103, 105–7, 114, 140, 161–62, 164, 166, 168–69, 176–77, 185, 214n for enterprise, 111 envy, 82, 107–8, 154 (see also equality) for equality (see equality) for equality and liberty balanced, 92 European-American over “Indians,” 56 French/U.S. compared, 77, 141 for hierarchy/authority, 82, 113–14,

185 immature, 97, 100, 102 in industry, commerce, trade, 112 mature democratic, 76 middle-class desire, 115–17 of owners, 125 postrevolutionary/democratizing French, 27, 73 for private property/wealth, 6, 107, 109, 113–17, 125, 131, 155 revolutionary, 132 sexual, 179 unconscious (repressed, split off), 29 Pateman, Carole, 191, 193. See also democratic theory paternalism weak in democracy, 172, 179 patriarchy, 159 as absolutism, 143, 186 Pessen, Edward, 113 Phillips,Anne, 192–95 philosophes. See Enlightenment Pierson, George, 17 Pitkin, Hanna Fenichel, 2, 197n Machiavelli, 21 modern welfare state, 222n psychoanalysis, 207–8n public opinion as mistress, 221n state as mother, 223n political liberalism. See democratic theory; Rawls power education in, 187 (de)gendered, 192, 227n (see also sex-gender) in industry, 119 as tutelary, 187, 195–96, 200n pregnancy, 191. See also child care primogeniture, rule of, 12, 56–57, 66, 80, 115, 161, 168, 226n prison system, U.S., 17, 50, 195 property, collective, 221n property, private, 6. See also materialism and democracy, 99, 106–7, 125, 128 infantilizing, 126–27 middle-class love of, 114–17 as security, 103, 108, 114–16 and workers, 124–25

INDEX prostitution as symbol. See homosexuality Protestantism. See also Christianity; Church; girl; Puritanism; religion, morality, mores stabilizes U.S., 88, 161, 171, 179 psychoanalytic theory, 5, 9, 21, 27, 37, 207–8n. See also Brown; Dinnerstein; Erikson; Freud; Fromm; objectrelations theory; Pitkin on adolescence, 71 on enterprise, 102, 106 Freudian, 23 Lacanian, 22, 23 on materialism as security, 103 psychobiography, 21 public opinion, 133–37. See also majority tyranny; religion, morality, mores in aristocracy, 178 as authority, 135, 156 and contract, 122 as female, 135, 137, 176 guarding sex-gender order, 176, 179 and marriage, 179 as mistress, 135–36 (see also Pitkin) and morals, 112 oppressive/tyrannical, 6, 29, 33, 129, 135, 219n, 221n as teacher/guide, 135 unsettled in democracy, 172 U.S., 149 and women, 176–77 and weakness, 134 public/private. See also Dinnerstein; spheres as commingling, 35, 37, 157–59, 169–70, 181, 187, 206n, 208n degendered, 192 as discrete realms, 95, 120, 158–60, 188, 225n gendered, 43, 96, 176, 188, 192, 194, 222n as space or social dimensions, 86, 187, 194 in Tocqueville’s life, 173 Publius, 17 Puritanism, 110. See also majority tyranny; Protestantism; public opinion; religion, morality, mores


Puritans, 63, 65, 90. See also majority tyranny; Protestanism; public opinion; religion, morality, mores queen. See Marie Antoinette “race”/racism, 4, 44, 195, 214n in U.S. democracy, 97–98, 116, 162, 167–68, 171, 203n, 226n Rawls, John, 189–90 readers of Democracy in America, 46 Recollections/Souvenirs, 34, 173 Reinhardt, Mark, 46, 97–98, 116, 161, 187–88, 195–96, 197n, 219–20n religion, morality, mores, 6. See also Christianity; Church; girl; industry; Protestantism; public opinion; Puritanism; Puritans; women and American rigidity, 179 in aristocracy, 87 contained in private, 90, 188 as cradle, 90 and death, 174 in democracy, 85–87, 116, 187 as female/mother/wife, 86–91, 97, 107, 110, 112, 116, 132, 136, 140, 147, 152, 154, 171, 187–89 and foundations, 98, 216n as gendered complement to citizenship/democratic politics, 89, 116, 187 government control of, 152, 154 and liberty, 90, 206n, 216n and materialism, 88 and maturity, 87 and public opinion, 136, 221n as puritanical, 110 as remnant of/lesson from aristocracy, 91 sexual double standard in, 180 stabilizes U.S., 115, 216n and the state, 87, 174 Tocqueville’s grandmother on, 87 and women/girls in democracy, 86–88, 172–73, 178 republicanism. See also citizens/hip; democracy; manliness; maturity as fathering, 67



as fraternity, 13, 70, 75, 165, 216n French/American, 36, 66 in French past, 216n local, 147 mature/manly, 29, 33, 76, 85, 101, 107, 165, 182, 200n U.S., 66, 206n virtue as gendered, 206n women/girls excluded, U.S., 173 republicans French, 16, 87, 217n republics as father/le patrie, 11–12, 91 (see also father as symbol) as male, 139 Restoration,The, 73, 217n Revere, Paul, 60 revolution. See also American Revolution; French Revolution in democracy, 114, 131, 149 revolutionaries. See also colonists as brothers, France, 146 and manliness, France, 11, 92, 200n as sons, U.S., 75 U.S. founders/fathers, 18, 43, 66, 75, 135, 144, 147, 213n, 215n right, the, 188–89 rights, 44, 76, 78–79, 95, 108–9, 127, 136–37, 149, 152, 171, 180, 182 Rogin, Michael Paul, 43. See also loyalists; revolutionaries England as mother, 60, 109 European-“Indian”American relations, 56 (see also “Indians”) federal bank as mother, 142, 144 property, private, 109 Rome, 203n Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, 15, 22, 32, 74, 88, 139, 159–60, 200n, 205n, 211n, 215n, 222n, 225n Ruddick, Sara, 190–91, 228n Saginaw, 52, 54, 59, 63, 78 Saint-Simon, 31 Salic Law, 12 Sand, George, 74, 173 Schleifer, James, 205n Schneck, Stephen, 98, 115, 188

Scientific Revolution, 51 self-interest, narrow, 73, 78, 99 “self-interest properly understood,” 29, 78, 113, 116 as maturity (integration), 94–95, 127–28, 132 separation anxiety, 20, 22, 102 sexes, the. See equality; girl; husband; family; (sex-)gender; women (sex-)gender. See also Dinnerstein; family; foundations; heterosexuality; homosexuality as binary complement, 4, 69–70, 132, 137, 145, 148, 157, 161–62, 168, 173, 179, 183–84, 190 circulating cultural idea of, 157, 162 eradicating, 193, 208n, 217n and evasion of freedom, 129 fear of loss of, 4, 177 historical consciousness of, 4, 162, 196, 198n as historical formation, 4, 5, 36, 196, 198n historical U.S./France compared, 181–82 and immaturity, 43, 96, 183–84 as modern discourse, 6 as multiplicitous/unstable, 4, 23, 34, 97, 132, 217n as natural, 158 outside citizenship, 194 outside democracy, 116 as structure/foundations, 33–34, 69–70, 161, 170, 172, 181–82, 186–87, 190, 195–96 in Tocqueville’s analysis mirrors the symbolic, 175 as tutelary power, 186–87, 190, 195–96 as vessels/containers, 4, 181, 195 sexuality. See heterosexuality; homosexuality Shapiro, Michael, 98, 116, 188, 225n Shiner, L.E., 34 Shklar, Judith, 205n siblings,Tocqueville’s analysis of. See brotherhood; fraternity as symbol; sisterhood Siedentop, Larry, 48, 225n

INDEX sisterhood as symbol historical, 227n. See also equality; liberty slavery, 62 slaves freed, 122 Smith,Adam, 118 Smith, Henry Nash, 58 “social state,” 11, 13, 148 family embedded in (see family, Tocqueville’s analysis of) pervasive ethos of, 158, 160–61, 170 socialism, 99 soldiers, 226n sons. See father-son relations; liberty; republicanism; revolutionaries South, U.S., 62, 66, 76, 216n, 222–23n. See also democracy Souvenirs. See Recollections spheres, 6, 138, 176, 194. See also industry; public/private state, democratic and associations, 127, 155 and children, education of, 152 concentrating powers of, 141, 149, 156 conceptually confused in Tocqueville, 147–48, 221n degendering, 192 as despotic/tyrannical, 32–33, 76, 101, 114, 126, 150, 152, 166, 204n, 206n (see also despotism) expanding powers of, 126, 155 French (postmonarchical), 150–52, 204n as guardian/tutelary, 6, 30, 126–27, 149, 152–53, 156, 161, 187, 220n healthy, 148 historical gendering of, 138 as hybrid/mother-father/parent, 43, 127, 150–54, 156, 183, 223n and the individual, 154 as industrialist, 99, 126–27 and industry, 126–28 as man, 138–39 as medieval king, 154 and the middle class, 127 mirroring citizens, 156 modern welfare, 222n


and order, 128 and security, 127 as substitute for aristocracy, 150–51 as teacher, 153 U.S., 149 Statue of Liberty, 61 Steinbrügge, Lieselotte, 15, 198n Stoffels, Eugene, 206n Taylor, Charles, 37 terror/The Terror, 31, 48, 51, 54, 75, 204n, 210n Tocqueville,Alexis de. See also democratic theory as analyst, 2, 23, 36 as Christian, 216n as critic of immaturity (see maturity) his father, 16, 48, 72 as historical actor, 1, 2, 4, 12, 17, 36, 69, 72, 157–58, 181, 206n, 209n, 214n marriage of (see Tocqueville, Mary Mottley) his mother, 16, 48 as nobleman, 124 youth of (see also identity crisis), 72, 87 Tocqueville, Hippolyte de, 77 Tocqueville, Mary (Mottley), 216n toddler like adolescent, 123 Tombs, Robert, 88, 227n trade. See capitalism; commerce; industry; marriage Traer, James, 14 tyranny. See despotism; majority tyranny; state Union as father, 147 urchin. See child; democracy; orphan Van Buren, Martin, 142, 144, 223n virtù. See Machiavelli wage labour, 217n wages, 124–25 Washington, George, 17 as father, 66, 147 West Indies. See North America



wife. See administration; household; religion, morality, mores; Tocqueville, Mary (Mottley); women,Tocqueville’s analysis of Wild Boy of Aveyron, 50–51 Wills, Gary, 17 Winthrop, Delba, 158–59 Wollstonecraft, Mary, 200n woman/women, historical activist, 177 colonial America, 18, 181–82 democratizing France, 45, 207n, 226n French aristocracy, 15, 16 modern ideal (as mother), 14–16, 18–19, 22, 61, 73, 141, 145, 203n as partially fixed subject position (see Mouffe) postcolonial U.S., 45, 182 in public life, France (outlawed), 139, 150, 182, 198n, 200n, 227n revolutionary America, 198n shrinking powers of, 15, 16, 18, 45, 198n, 227n Tocqueville’s views of, 173 woman as symbol, 21, 25, 210n (see also Dinnerstein; equality; liberty; mother as symbol) women,Tocqueville’s analysis of. See also girl; marriage burden carried for order, 163 chastity as order, 180 contemporary commentaries on, 158–61, 224–25n

and democratic immaturity, 86, 171, 183 as England’s daughters, 163 essential supports to democracy, 35, 182 excluded from public, 159 as leitmotif of democracy, 177 like religion in democracy, 178 love for male democracy, 177 and men of trade (see industry) moral teachers/keepers of religion, 87–88, 110, 112, 171, 174–76, 188 (see also religion, morality, mores) as mothers, 41 order before freedom, 173 paradoxical status, 160, 173, 177–78 political importance, 170 power of, 227n and public opinion, 112, 176–77 (see also public opinion) representative of aristocracy, 175, 178 wives in democracy, 41,170,173–76,183 workers. See also capitalism; contract; industry; owners character of, 117–25, 154 and citizenship, 6, 99, 117–25, 154, 167 as class, 114, 117–25 division of labor, 118 exploitation of, 217n middle-class mindset of, 125 in Paris, 173 and the state, 126 Zerilli, Linda, 22, 32 Zetterbaum, Marvin, 102