Tocqueville has offered many insights into the origins and legacy of the French Revolution. In conclusion, perhaps, we should consider three of his main points.
I He rejects the interpretation that the FR was the culmination of a conspiracy to destroy Christianity and/or the Catholic Church;
II He sees the FR as a continuation of the Ancien Régime's centralization of France and thinks that centralization weakened and undermined all local administration, making it impossible for local communities to govern themselves;
III He regards egalitarian democracy as a rabid force which, if left unchecked by any principles of merit, protection of property, or regard for liberty, will become tyrannical. He is thus a moderate democratic republican and thinks that basically classical liberal principles can be used to tame the beast.
In the next week or two, I am happy to give my views and am putting out a call for your opinions.
Thomas Fleming is the former editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of The Politics of Human Nature, Montenegro: The Divided Land, and The Morality of Everyday Life, named Editors' Choice in philosophy by Booklist in 2005. He is the coauthor of The Conservative Movement and the editor of Immigration and the American Identity. He holds a Ph.D. in classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Before joining the Rockford Institute, he taught classics at the University of Miami of Ohio, served as an advisor to the U.S. Department of Education, and was headmaster at the Archibald Rutledge Academy. He has been published in, among others, The Spectator (London), Independent on Sunday (London), Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Chicago Sun-Times, National Review, Classical Journal, Telos, and Modern Age. He and his wife, Gail, have four children and four grandchildren.