Comes now the great Daniel J. Mahoney, author of penetrating intellectual biographies of Bertrand de Jouvenel, Raymond Aron, and Charles de Gaulle, among other books, to discuss his latest work, The Other Solzhenitsyn. Mahoney, coeditor of The Solzhenitsyn Reader, offers in this discussion a tremendous introduction to the Russian dissident writer’s oeuvre and a rebuttal to his many critics.
We might say that some Western writers who, from their position of faux outrage, frequently critique their governments, societies, and cultures have Solzhenitsyn envy, earnestly wishing their work had even a fraction of the impact of the Russian anticommunist’s corpus of writings. Not that they admire Solzhenitsyn’s political or moral philosophy, or his belief that freedom is ultimately born of spiritual commitment. They only yearn to have it said that their words put a “sliver in the throat of power.” Such was the praise given Solzhenitsyn in 1962 after the publication of One Day in the Live of Ivan Denisovich.
This new edition of Liberty Law Talk is a conversation with Daniel J. Mahoney of Assumption College regarding Alexis de Tocqueville's counsel in Democracy in America on how Americans can best combat an unbound egalitarianism and the prospect of soft-despotism. Tocqueville's writings have been significantly featured over the past few years given his warnings and sense of the dangers of overly centralized government, so this conversation with a noted Tocqueville scholar will add greater depth to our understanding of what the author of the best book ever written about democracy can teach us regarding the challenges and opportunities that America…
Christianity, Democracy, Socialism: Reconsidering Alexis de Tocqueville’s 1848 “Speech on the Right to Work.”
On September 12, 1848, Alexis de Tocqueville delivered a brief but remarkably penetrating speech before the French Constituent Assembly entitled the “Speech on the Right to Work.” As we sometimes forget, Tocqueville was an active statesman as well as a political thinker of the first rank. He was a soul torn by the conflicting demands of thought and action. He had not worked to bring about the revolution of February 1848—in his view France had seen far too many revolutionary upheavals in the sixty years since the original French Revolution of 1789. But he did everything within his power to work for the establishment of a moderate constitutional republic in France in the tumultuous months that followed the February Revolution.