Tocqueville and Racial Inequality

A problem arises in this discussion seeing as some members of society do not believe that slavery should be abolished immediately seeing as the slaves are not fit for a life of freedom. They do not possess the qualities necessary such as intelligence, religion, and ‘normal’ habits in order to be free, and Tocqueville agrees to some degree, that he will resemble, as mentioned in the text, a depraved child and not a man. He argues that these are conditions that are brought on by slavery itself and that we cannot teach an individual how to be free if he is still a slave as it is counter-intuitive.

For example, a slave will never truly grasp the concept of marriage because for him it is just the creation of another generation of slavery and not the cherished ceremony that is desired by most free individuals.

When it comes to religion, it is complicated to convince the slave to turn to Christianity because some countries are against preaching to slaves as it could awaken instincts of liberty.

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If the society cannot even allow slaves to be part of a religion, which advocates love for all and no discrimination, there is a grave problem in the mentality of slave owners.

In my opinion, I do agree with the fact that converting a slave into a free being would take generations of freedom beforehand. I would compare this situation to the institutionalization of prison inmates. Even when they are released, they have been accustomed to a certain way of living and for the majority, cannot function in normal society without those boundaries that were set on them by the judiciary institution.

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Tocqueville goes on to explain that if slavery is not abolished within a short delay, it could take thousands of years before the ‘perfect circumstances’ arise. Moreover, the colonies are now being flooded with uncertainty because slaves want slavery abolished soon, which creates tension within the lives of slave-owners. They do not have certainty anymore on what they know to be theirs and they do not risk opening new enterprises if they will not reap the rewards. This lack of entrepreneurship cause by slavery can also be seen in ‘Democracy in America’ when Tocqueville explains how the states of the South are much less prolific than the state to the North even though they have slaves working for free in their enterprises.

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Tocqueville and Racial Inequality. (2020, May 17). Retrieved from

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