Some Remarks on John Stuart Mill’s Account of Tocqueville’s Concern with the Masses in Democratic Societies


  • Átila Amaral Brilhante
  • Francisco José Sales Rocha



This article shows that both J. S. Mill and Tocqueville favoured a civic culture that supported liberty, diversity and prevented the uncontrolled power of the masses. The central argument is that after the early 1840s Mill definetely incorporated in his political thought Tocqueville’s idea that, in order for democracy to function properly, the power of the masses should counterbalanced. Initially, Mill tried to find in society a power to rival the power of the masses, but later he advocated a new framework to political institutions which would guarantee the presence of educated minorities in government, and thereby create the opposition of ideas that he deemed necessary to prevent the tyranny of the masses. Intending to prevent the excesses of democracy, John Stuart Mill attributed more importance to the building up of political institutions, while Alexis de Tocqueville emphasized the importance of participation in politics at local level. Despite this, the former owed a lot to the political thought of the latter.