Thursday, October 22, 2009


(Good o'l Coop. Picture from

Alrighty, so for most of this post I'm going to assume that everyone has seen the movie High Noon. If you haven't, you should, if only just because Jeff Bridges' daddy is in it. If you haven't seen it, click the link and at least waste two minutes reading a synopsis.

So here's the question: Would Americans truly sit back and let the bad guys come, refusing to help the hero? What does Tocqueville have to say about this?

Well, there is Tocqueville's assertation that a Tyranny of the Majority (mob rule of a sort) can occur when everyone looks out for their own well-being to the exclusion of the COMMON GOOD. This is seen in High Noon, as instead of helping the sheriff to oust the bad guys, every person in town simply gives their own personal reason for not helping. Wimps! John Wayne agrees. Tocqueville says most definitely that this is possible. Tocqueville probably would have said that the townspeople in this movie became a Tyranny of the Majority that DID NOT ACT as opposed to a Tyranny that does act. By not acting, this "mob-majority" chose the path for everyone, effectively overunning the minority voice (Cooper as sheriff).

Does Tocqueville belive that this situation would actually occur in America? Or would the people rise up against the bad guys in protection of what is right? Well, it depends. Tocqueville argued that churches and "voluntary associations" could help to stop a Tyranny of the Majority from ocurring, but in the movie the church didn't help one bit. No other voluntary associations were present in the movie, perhaps skewing the view of what may have happened otherwise.

One interesting thing protrayed in the movie is the fact that there ARE individuals who would help the sheriff, who chose to deny the help! Amidst the "mob," there are people who are ready to help defend the town----why would the sheriff not accept the help? One man was half-blind (and perhaps drunk) and another was little more than a child. Good enough reasons to deny their help?

I think that in real life the sheriff may have possibly taken all the help he could get, despite the helpers' "flaws". Even the kid. Forming such a group could have well formed a nucleus of resistance against the bad guys that would have been able to convince others to help. If some of the townspeople heard that there were three willing to fight the bad guys, then perhaps the three could have multiplied, becoming a voluntary association of protectors that would itself form a majority.

Following this view, I can safely say that I believe what is seen in HIGH NOON does in fact represent Tocqueville's America, GONE WRONG. The preventive measures against Tyranny of the Majority noted by Tocqueville in his book are missing, thus showing what could happen to America itself without those protections.


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