"Il faut une science politique nouvelle à un monde tout nouveau.
"Mais c'est à quoi nous ne songeons guère; placés au milieu d'un fleuve rapide, nous fixons obstinément les yeux vers quelques débris qu'on aperçoit sur le rivage, tandis que le courant nous entraîne et nous pousse à reculons vers les abîmes."1 -- TOCQUEVILLE, De la Démocratie en Amérique, Introduction.
IN this book I investigate the working of democratic government. But it is not institutions which are the object of my research: it is not on political forms, it is on political forces that I dwell. Hitherto attention has been too exclusively directed to the study of political forms. The method of observation itself, introduced into political science with the Esprit des Lois, was practised more on institutions, on laws, the concrete individuals who create and apply them being, for a long time, wholly neglected. The very idea of political forces as distinct from political forms was not sufficiently clear to men's minds. Concealed at first by the relative simplicity of political life, in which forms and forces appeared to blend into one another, it had some difficulty in emerging even after the great outburst of political thought and the advent of liberty in the eighteenth century; that century was too much dominated by the metaphysical notion of man in the abstract, considered as the universal and unchangeable basis of the political order, and by the mechanical conception of the moral order. Again, the experience and the practice of liberty were needed for the part played by active wills and by their varied combinations in political life to assert itself and stand out in____________________
"But this is what we think very little about; placed in the middle of a rapid stream, we fix our gaze obstinately on a few débris that are seen upon the bank, while the current is sweeping us along and driving us backwards towards the abyss."