You might ask what is so dangerous about this movement towards greater equality? Isn't it a good thing when all kinds of privileges enjoyed in the past by a small elite now become available for a large part of the population? Isn't the grand ideal of social equality that we find on the facade of every French public school, every French town hall, liberté, égalité, fraternité, something that we all can easily sympathize with? Well, Tocqueville, and that may have to do with his aristocratic background, has a special sensitivity for the dangers attending this democratic tendency. I already mentioned the problem of how to protect threatened minorities, for example, religious minorities, who may find it hard to maintain their position in a system with majority rule. How to defend the arts and the sciences if the majority is not interested in those expensive extras that we can easily do without. And Tocqueville was a lawyer, knew only too well that sometimes majority of the population would like to severely punish a man whose guilt has not been proved beyond reasonable doubt. So what to do when majority rule turns into majority despotism? The fundamental problem behind all those examples is that there seems to be a kind of inherent irreconcilability between two ideals of the French Revolution, liberty and equality. Sometimes the drive for equality may stand in the way of freedom. And sometimes the defense of liberty is hard to combine with the quest for equality. And then there is that other deep social current that is like a twin brother of the process of democratization, centralization. That process is every bit as fundamental. It has also been visible over many centuries. It is also unstoppable. And in fact centralization is intimately interrelated with the trend towards more democracy. When a wave of equality rolls over the land, many countervailing powers that in the past could stand up against the center are destroyed. And that is one of the characteristics of the French Revolution, when the prerogatives of the aristocracy was crushed, when the power of the Catholic church was diminished, when the independent power of the cities outside of Paris was curtailed. Where equality is on the rise, centralization follows in its wake, and the result is that the powers in the center, for example, the governmental, the administrative services in the capital of the country, become so overwhelming that the ordinary citizens begin to feel impotent. Who will listen to us, they ask. Who is interested in what we have to say? And that combination of a very powerful central government with a somewhat apathetic population, that is a recipe for the gradual dismantling of civil liberties. In the sphere of political democratization, Tocqueville has very sharp eye for demagogy, the habit of politicians in search of power to please the populace, appealing to their prejudices, hoping to be elected or reelected. In a monarchy, if you want to get ahead, you have to flatter for the sovereign. That means you have to please the king, or the friends of the kind, or his wife, and maybe his mistress. But in a democratic society, the sovereign is the people. So when the elections are approaching, we can see, and you know Tocqueville describes this but it is still true today, you can see that all of a sudden the democratic politicians can be seen at soccer matches, at pop concerts. And all of a sudden they are the biggest fans of a movie or a book that has been a commercial success. Tocqueville did not witness the rise of the radio and television or internet, but the mass media democracy that we are living in reminds you of some of the shrewd observations that Tocqueville made. What he tries to find out is how to steer that unstoppable process towards more equality in such a way that the civil liberties that we also cherish remain protected. And he believes that the Americans have found some solutions here, that they have pioneered some arrangements that Europeans can learn from and that they can partly apply in their own country. Let us have a look at some of them.