This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

NOTICE:
This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

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The tendency toward materialism

In the passage below, Tocqueville comments on the tendency of egalitarian democracies promote an egoistic rationalism that not only undermines social trust but also tends toward materialism.

 “As for the effect which one man’s intelligence can have upon another’s, it is of necessity much curtailed in a country where its citizens, having become almost like each other, scrutinize each other carefully and, perceiving in not a single person in their midst any signs of undeniable greatness or superiority, constantly return to their own rationality as to the most obvious and immediate source of truth. So, it is not merely trust in any particular individual which is destroyed, but also the predilection to take the word of any man at all. Each man thus retreats into himself from where he claims to judge the world…As they realize that, without help, they successfully resolve all the small problems they meet in their practical lives, they easily reach the conclusion that there is an explanation for everything in the world and that nothing is beyond the limits of intelligence. So it is that they willingly deny what they cannot understand; that gives them little faith in the extraordinary and an almost invincible distaste for the supernatural.”[1]

Elsewhere he makes the surprising observation that, considering these tendencies, it is necessary for the elected officials to direct the attention of the people upwards by encouraging the practice of religion. In this way we can see that Tocqueville is no true believer in secularism and that he understood well the inevitable consequences of an ‘absolute’ separation between church and state.

[1] Tocqueville, Democracy in America, p. 494.

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