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Sociologias

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Abstract

GAHYVA, Helga. From Boulainvilliers to Tocqueville: from freedom as defense of privilege to freedom as defense of differences. Sociologias [online]. 2012, vol.14, n.31, pp. 168-190. ISSN 1517-4522.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1517-45222012000300008.

From the second half of the 20th century on, several social and political writers have turned their attention to Alexis de Tocqueville's work. By doing that, these writers re-read Tocqueville from the perspective of liberal democracy. The basic assumption was that there was, in his approach, precious clues for the understanding of modern democracy dilemmas. This perception, though, supposes some nexus between the concepts of liberalism and democracy which is far from Tocquevillian intellectual scenery. In this article, I intend to identify the conservative bias inherent to Tocquevillian analysis. In this sense, his work will be interpreted in the light of French liberal tradition, in which it is located. It must be added that this tradition is connected to the two races quarrel, as defined by Henri de Boulainvilliers in the end of 17th century. It deals with the genesis of a triple polarity in Tocqueville's work: in a positive axis, liberty, heterogeneity and decentralization; in a negative one, equality, homogeneity and centralization.

Keywords : Conservative thought; Democracy; Germanism; 19th century; Liberalism.

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