Political Theory 50 (3):477-503 (2022)

In his defenses of empire, Alexis de Tocqueville emphasized the need to achieve grandeur for France, and his writings on Algeria have shaped our understanding of his political career. In pursuing empire abroad as a remedy for weak politics at home, scholars maintain that Tocqueville abandoned the participatory politics of Democracy in America. This essay argues, however, that the focus on Tocqueville’s international turn has obscured his interest in the greatness of domestic party politics. It demonstrates that Tocqueville championed a version of grandeur tied to the latent energies of the lower classes and distinct from the Bonapartism and aristocratic nostalgia that characterized his thoughts on empire. This version of grandeur was a political reclamation of disagreement and debate that supported great party opposition to counter the malaise of bourgeois rule. The essay concludes by comparing Tocqueville’s attitude toward foreign others, whose freedoms had to be sacrificed to the cause of French nationalism, with his description of the lower classes within his own nation, whose inclusion in the franchise could foster great politics. This comparison enables us to draw modest lessons for interpreting political grandeur in the present day.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1177/00905917211043790
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 70,214
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

View all 18 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

De Tocqueville.Cheryl Welch - 2000 - Oxford University Press.
Tocqueville's Resistance to the Social.Cheryl B. Welch - 2004 - History of European Ideas 30 (1):83-107.
The Cambridge Companion to Tocqueville.Cheryl B. Welch (ed.) - 2006 - Cambridge University Press.


Added to PP index

Total views
1 ( #1,546,279 of 2,507,593 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #416,871 of 2,507,593 )

How can I increase my downloads?


Sorry, there are not enough data points to plot this chart.

My notes