Mittwoch, 25. Februar 2009

DiaQuote: Tocqueville On Knowledge Of How To Combine

My favourite political thinker is Alexis de Tocqueville, and I just came across one of his great quotations from "Democracy in America", 1835 again. I used to have it hang on a poster in my room:

"In democratic countries, knowledge of how to combine is the mother of all other forms of knowledge; on its progress depends that of all the others."

It's true for knowledge, and it's true for people and processes. And it's about HOW - can't get much better in my book!

BTW, it's from Book II, Chapter 5 about Public Associations in Civil Life.

I saw that Marshall Ganz, a long time organizer and Harvard Kennedy School of Government professor, is supposed to have translated this to the Obama campaign, in a perspective that mirrors my own take on people in relationships to one another who begin to relate themselves to a common purposes and a common goal:

"We may be finally be coming to understand what De Tocqueville saw - the promise of democratic politics is in people's ability to enter into relationships with one another to articulate common purposes and act on them. Organizing to bring people back into politics is not a cost, but it is an investment - an investment in rebuilding the infrastructure of our public life that has been under assault for far too many years."

Oh, and please do check out the Practicing Democracy Network at Harvard KSG. Their "mission is to develop leaders committed to practicing democracy - engaging fellow citizens in collective action." I'll have to go and look for fellow Germans to set up such a network over here!

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