On Wednesday, October 14th, Dr. Neil Rogachevsky, a postdoctoral research Associate at the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought, came to the Honors Lounge for our weekly luncheon to give a talk on “Alexis de Tocqueville on decentralization and `local government,’ revisited.”

The French political thinker Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) was famous for celebrating ‘local government’ and ‘associations’ as a means of perpetuating liberty within democracies. Dr. Rogachevsky’s talk explored this claim with reference to Tocqueville’s discussion of the New England township in ‘Democracy in America’ and the French province of Languedoc in the ‘Old Regime and the Revolution.’ While Dr. Rogachevsky pointed out that the talk accepts the view that Tocqueville celebrated and sought to encourage civic associations, he also stressed Tocqueville’s view of the limitations of such associations in modern politics.


At the end of the talk, time was set aside for questions from the students and faculty in the audience.  During the discussion that followed, several modern day examples were brought up, including efforts in France to empower the local municipalities and the recent secession attempt in Scotland.  Prof. Cwilich brought up the modern day example of Catalonia and Spain, where certain political parties in Catalonia support the idea of independence from the rest of Spain.


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