This chapter summarizes key themes and presents some final thoughts. This book has attempted to show that what sharpened Tocqueville's perception of the ever-present perils of democracy was his aristocratic culture, which he translated into the structuring myth of Democracy in America: namely, the return of the despot. In this light, it is possible to reconsider a problem with which students of Tocqueville have long grappled: Is the “soft” tutelary despotism described at the end of volume 2 incompatible with the view of American democracy set forth in volume 1? Are there in fact “two democracies” and indeed two distinct books, one in conflict with the other?
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