Les leçons sur la démocratie de Tocqueville

Du fait de la guerre en Irak, 200 ans après la naissance de Tocqueville, le monde discute de la nature de la démocratie. Tocqueville est célèbre à juste titre pour avoir rejeté la nostalgie réactionnaire en considérant que la démocratie était notre destinée, nous alertant toutefois sur les dangers qu'elle recèle pour la liberté. Devons-nous partager son inquiétude ?

Tocqueville ne considérait pas la démocratie d'abord comme un système politique, mais avant tout comme un système intellectuel qui façonne les us et coutumes de la société, lui attribuant ainsi une dimension sociologique et psychologique. Tocqueville estimait que les régimes démocratiques guident le cours de nos pensées, de nos désirs et de nos passions. De même qu'il y a eu l'homme de la Renaissance et au XX° siècle l'homo sovieticus, "l'homme démocratique" est une forme de l'être humain.

Pour Tocqueville, les effets systémiques de la démocratie peuvent amener les citoyens à renoncer à leur faculté de raisonnement. Ils peuvent seulement feindre de juger des événements et des valeurs par eux-mêmes, alors qu'en fait ils se contentent de répéter les opinions réductrices de la majorité. Ce que Tocqueville appelait la mainmise du "pouvoir social" sur l'opinion est sans doute plus fort dans les régimes démocratiques - un point de vue qui laissait présager le niveau de démagogie et de manipulation par les médias dans le monde moderne.

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