1. So I enjoyed the comments about ME in the thread below, but I don’t know what to do with them.
2. I, in fact, don’t agree that the big American choice is Locke vs. Tocqueville or how to mix the two appropriately. Neither is an American, to begin with.
3. What Americans need is a Lockean dogma! Dogmatic natural rights? If that’s what “we” believe, we shouldn’t be posting that oxymoron right here on the web where everyone can see it.
4. Locke more political than Tocqueville? He might be more politic or reserved. Or, thanks to Strauss, it’s all too obvious now.
5. But Locke’s chapter on PROPERTY is pretty theoretical and very deconstructive (especially when read in light of the ESSAY—Zuckert and esp. Lee Ward). God, contrary to what the Bible actually says, is made past tense and is said to teach nothing more than we were put here to enjoy ourselves effectively. And at a certain point God is replaced by the human invention of money, suggesting perhaps that “capitalism” will be the cause of the withering away of religion (see Mr. Jefferson on our Unitarianism of the future).
6. So Tocqueville faces an America where every heart is animated by the love of money. And so everyone understands the human being as essentially a being with interests, and so education is merely technical (universal literacy but no higher education and even no educating of souls [see the different opinion of the Puritans]).
7. But the limit to the American love of money and pop Cartesian skepticism about anything higher is the religion the Americans accept without discussion. That’s the DOGMA Tocqueville talks up. So it’s easy to see why he’s not about constructing some American civil religion that would empty even that dogma of its distinctive content. [NO time now: But the Straussians generically overstate and misunderstand the place of self-interest rightly understood in Tocqueville. It is true that it’s a doctrine, but it’s one that reconciles pride and love—more soon on that.]
8. For a different idea of who’s more political: Compare Tocqueville and Locke on the family. Locke is all for the emerging trend of grey divorce, and he’s equally for inventing your way out of the natural connection between sex and reproduction.
9. And compare Tocqueville and Locke on the importance of institutions that resist calculation and draw upon instinct to overcome the mistaken [Lockean] judgment of individualism.
This isn’t adequate or anything. But I only have a few minutes, as usual.