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Friday 21 August 2015, Rossa Minogue

Alexis de Tocqueville: Democracy in America

Podcast: Professor Giorgios Varouxakis's lecture from The Academy 2015

In this plenary lecture from July’s Institute of Ideas Academy, Giorgios Varouxakis, professor of the history of political thought at Queen Mary University of London, examines Alexis de Tocqueville’s concerns about the deleterious effects of the set of attitudes that he called ‘individualism’, which he thought inherent to a ‘democratic state of society’. Varouxakis goes on to analyse how Tocqueville’s view of how mass public engagement and the formation of voluntary associations in America to perform many of the functions reserved for the state in Europe gave him an alternative vision of how society could be run and became his main hope for the preservation of liberty in the new democratic world.

About the lecturer
Georgios Varouxakis was born and grew up in Crete. He is professor of the history of political thought in the School of History at Queen Mary University of London and co-director of the Centre for the Study of the History of Political Thought. His work to date has focused mainly on nineteenth-century political thought with particular emphasis on John Stuart Mill, Walter Bagehot, Matthew Arnold, Alexis de Tocqueville, François Guizot and Auguste Comte. He is the author of books such as Liberty Abroad: J.S. Mill on international relations (Cambridge University Press, Ideas in Context Series, 2013), Mill on Nationality (Routledge, 2002), Victorian Political Thought on France and the French (Palgrave Macmillan 2002) and (co-authored with David Howarth) Contemporary France: an introduction to French politics and society (Edward Arnold, 2003). He has also written many academic articles on political thought on nationalism and cosmopolitanism, empire, and on the intellectual history of ideas of ‘Europe’ and ‘the West’ and attitudes towards the EEC/EU. He is currently engaged in a new research project on British, French and American international political thought in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

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