Tocquevilles syfte med ”L’Ancien Régime et la Révolution”

Jag sitter och snabbskriver ett litet papper om Tocqueville och historisk institutionalism. Men på 8000 tecken hinner man ju knappt säga hejsan hoppsan!

Här kommer ett utdrag ur ett brev som Tocquville skrev i respons till en man som skrivit till honom med anledning av Tocquevilles bok Den gamla regimen och revolutionen. Citatet är hämtat ur Richard Swedbergs bok om Tocqueville (s. 280). (Det är viktigt att bära med sig att Tocquevilles institutionsbegrepp är mycket smalt: typ lagstiftning.)

You say that institutions are only half my subject. I go farther than you, and I say they are not even half. You know my ideas well enough to know that I accord institutions only a secondary influence on the destiny of men. Would to God I believed more  in the omnipotence of institutions! I would have more hope for our future, because by chance we might, someday, stumble onto the precious piece of paper that knew the recipe for all our wrongs, or on the man who knew the recipe.

But, alas, there is no such thing, and I am quite convinced that political societies are not what their laws make them, but what sentiments, beliefs, ideas, habits of the heart, and the spirit of the men who form them, prepare them in advance to be, as well as what nature and education have made them. If this truth does not emerge, at every turn, from my book, if it does not induce the readers to reflect, in this way, unceasingly on themselves, if it does not indicate at every instant, without ever having the pretense of instructing them, what are the sentiments, ideas, the mores that alone can lead to public prosperity and liberty, what are the vices and errors that, on the other hand, divert them irresistibly from this, I will not have attained the principle and, as it were, unique goal that I have in view.


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