Las enseñanzas de Tocqueville sobre la democracia

Parece apropiado que, debido a la guerra en Iraq, que el mundo esté debatiendo la naturaleza de la democracia a doscientos años del nacimiento de Alexis de Tocqueville. Tocqueville es merecidamente famoso por rechazar la nostalgia reaccionaria y considerar el triunfo de la democracia como nuestro destino, mientras que advertía de los peligros que conlleva la democracia para la libertad. ¿Debemos seguir compartiendo sus preocupaciones?

Tocqueville concebía a la democracia no sólo como un régimen político sino, sobre todo, como un régimen intelectual que da forma a las costumbres de la sociedad en general, y de ese modo le dio una dimensión psicológica y sociológica. Tocqueville argumentaba que los regímenes democráticos determinan nuestros pensamientos, deseos y pasiones. Así como había un hombre renacentista y, en el siglo XX, un homo sovieticus, "el hombre democrático" es una variedad del ser humano.

Para Tocqueville, los efectos sistémicos de la democracia podían llevar a los ciudadanos a privarse de su pensamiento razonado. Solamente podían aparentar que juzgaban los eventos y los valores por sí solos; en realidad, meramente copiaban las opiniones toscas y simplificadas de las masas. En efecto, lo que Tocqueville llamó el dominio del "poder social" sobre la opinión es probablemente más fuerte en los regímenes democráticos -punto de vista que predice el crecimiento de la demagogia en la época moderna y la manipulación de los medios de comunicación.

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