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Document Details :
Title: Reconsidering Tocqueville's Imperialism
Author(s): DUAN, Demin
Journal: Ethical Perspectives
Volume: 17 Issue: 3 Date: 2010
Tocqueville’s imperialism has recently attracted much attention in Tocqueville studies. The challenge is to reconcile his imperialism to his liberalism. Is Tocqueville merely a classical liberal thinker who based his liberal theory on human rights and universal humanism? If so, then his support for imperialism would inevitably seem irrational and awkward. The present contribution questions this approach and argues that Tocqueville is more influenced by a republican tradition of freedom, on account of which he grants a positive value to both the state as a political community and to its power as a necessary instrument in the protection of freedom. On these grounds we may explain his sense of empire from the perspective of his liberal theory, while simultaneously adjusting our understanding of his liberalism.