Highlands Ranch High School - Mr. Sedivy
- Advanced Placement European
Tocqueville vs Marx
Questions to Consider
As you continue your study of modern European history in this course, consider which of these thinkers' ideas seem most adequately to have predicted the political and economic development of the West.Both Marx and Tocqueville address the problem of revolution in the selections that you have read.
First consider Tocqueville.
What threats to democracy did he see emerging in the West?
Why did he believe that revolution was not likely to be a threat to democracy?
What dangers, according to Tocqueville, did revolution pose when it did erupt?
Do Tocqueville's liberal principles admit any circumstances under which society should resort to revolution as a means of change? Recall Tocqueville's attitude toward the government of King Louis Philippe in Source 3.
Why did Tocqueville oppose the revolution of 1848 despite this view?
Now analyze Marx's ideas on revolution.
Why does Marx see the middle class, those who owned the factories and embraced liberal ideas, as revolutionary?
In what ways, according to Marx, was capitalism sowing the seeds of its destruction?
What vision of the future did that class have, according to Marx?
Did they want the political democracy Tocqueville was prepared to accept or a broader reorganization of society? Why, why not?
How did Marx and Tocqueville differ in their views of the desirability of revolution?
Both authors also wrote on the same revolution, the French uprising of 1848, providing a further opportunity to contrast their views. As your study of the 1848 revolutions no doubt has demonstrated, it is impossible to consider the uprisings of that year a success. Whether revolutionaries' goals were nationalist or liberal, the revolutions ended everywhere in defeat. This was certainly the case in France, where the conflict of June 1848 between the government of the Second Republic and the Parisian unemployed created the political climate for the election of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte.
How did Tocqueville view the revolution of 1848?
How did Marx view the revolution of 1848?
What guiding emotion do you detect in Tocqueville's Recollections of February 24, 1848? In formulating your answer, consult the selection on which Tocqueville discusses general aspects of revolution and expresses his ideas in government.
What is Marx's view of the failure of the June 1848 revolt?
Why was the victory that emerged in 1848 an essential step for Marx toward the final revolution?
Compare the political and economic ideals advocated by the liberal Tocqueville and the socialist Marx. Your task here is made more challenging by the assertion of both these political thinkers that they advocated democracy. To understand the differences between them, review their writings to determine how each defined "democracy."
Is Tocqueville conception of democracy expressed primarily in terms of political participation?
Is there any room in his thought for social democracy, that is, a more egalitarian distribution of society's wealth?
How does Tocqueville characterize his political thought in Source 4?
Recall France's history of recurring revolution. Why might he accept a monarch in Europe and an elected head of government in America?
Sources 5 through 7 express especially clearly Marx's democratic philosophy.
Did Marx believe in political democracy?
How is he concerned with social democracy?
Who would control property, credit, and the means of production in his ideal society?
What answers does Marx have to such abuses of industrialization as child labor?
What impact would his system have on the lives of its citizens?
Finally, consider the two thinkers' views on the role of the government.
What role does Tocqueville assign to the government in the lives of its citizens?
How does that view mark him as a nineteenth-century liberal?
What sort of post-revolutionary government does Marx envision?
How does it differ from Tocqueville's ideal?
Are there areas where Marx and Tocqueville might agree?
With answers to these fairly specific questions in mind, you are now ready to answer the general questions presented earlier in this reading:
What visions of the future did liberals and socialists propose?
How did they hope to realize their ideals?
How did their ideologies differ?
Additional Relevant Info at This Site:
- AP Modern European History in Depth -
Lecture Notes and Further Reading
Modern European History Quotes
AP Class Activities
Additonal Course Info / AP Class Policy
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Mr. Sedivy's History Classes
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