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Despotism can come in many forms. In Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville cautioned readers about the possibility that democracy would result in a soft despotism of expanding paternalistic state power that gradually undermines self-government. Soft despotism does not “tyrannize, it gets in the way: it curtails, it enervates, it extinguishes, it stupefies, and finally it reduces each nation to nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.” Since the early Twentieth Century, de Tocqueville’s warnings have gone unheeded. The result is a soft despotism of scientific experts and administrative bureaucrats.
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Added by insideronline on April 3, 2009