theory is often held up to ridicule and dismissed as aimingnat something completely different from the aspirations ofndemocratic politics. That, however, may be a seriousnmistake. For whatever else may be wrong with Plato’sntheory, it is not inconceivable that both elected leaders andnthose who elect them could adopt attitudes approximatingnmore or less exactly the prescribed behavior of the twonclasses in the ideal city of Socrates. In fact, that is preciselynthe kind of situation that Tocqueville worried might developnas democracy takes hold and prospers, and it is not exactlynthe tyranny of the majority. He had no name for it, thoughnhe tried to describe it:nThe species of oppression by which democraticnnations are menaced is unlike anything else thatnever before existed in the world. … I seek to tracenthe novel features under which [this] despotism maynappear. . . . The first thing that strikes thenobservation is an innumerable multitude of men,nall equal and alike, incessantly endeavoring tonprocure the petty and paltry pleasures with whichnthey glut their lives. Each of them, living apart, isna stranger to the fate of all the rest; his children andnhis private friends constitute to him the whole ofnmankind. As for the rest of his fellow citizens, he isnclose to them, but he does not see them; hentouches them, but he does not feel them; he existsnonly in himself and for himself alone; and if hisnkindred still remain to him, he may be said at anynrate to have lost his country.nWe recognize here the problem of political apathy traceablento a caricature of rugged individualism. But that is not thenworst of it. For above this race of men, Tocqueville seesnReal PeoplenThe United States, as everyonenused to know, was built by men andnwomen who were not afraid to takenrisks. Whether it was the risk ofnstarting up a new business, movingnWest, or coming to the New World,nthe people who became Americansnwere willing to bet on their ownnfuture. If this meant we were sometimesndeaf to the call of community,nit also meant that we have beennunusually resistant to the sirennsongs of the collectivists who wouldnstifle the spirit of enterprise.nFew people alive in America arenbetter qualified to appreciate thisnnational character trait than GeorgenRoche. Most intelligent conservativesnare aware of Roche’s labors asnpresident of Hillsdale College andnits many vigorous extracurricularnanother small group of men:nAn immense and tutelary power, which takes uponnitself alone to secure [men’s] gratifications and tonwatch over their fate. That power is absolute,nminute, regular, provident, and mild. It would benlike the authority of a parent if, like that authority,nits object was to prepare men for manhood; but itnseeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetualnchildhood: it is well content that the people shouldnrejoice, provided they think of nothing butnrejoicing. For their happiness such a governmentnwillingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agentnand the only arbiter of that happiness; it providesnfor their security, foresees and supplies theirnnecessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages theirnprincipal concerns, directs their industry, regulatesnthe descent of property, and subdivides theirninheritances: what remains, but to spare them allnthe care of thinking and all the trouble of living?nIn contrast to Plato’s eugenically bred guardians, thengovernment Tocqueville fears is a freely elected government.nBut why does this government of the people, by thenpeople, and most definitely for the people carry on more ornless exactly as Plato expected his guardians to rule? Thenanswer is simple: Because it practices politics as an art overnpeople who accept politics as an art. Of course, totallyndedicated democratic rulers are even less likely to be electednthan philosopher-kings are to be born to power, but that isnnot the point. What matters here is that the ideal democraticnstate practicing politics conceived as an art would be atnleast as bad as the ideal aristocratic state wished for by Plato.nIn neither of these two models are the rulers takingnREVISIONSnprograms (e.g.. Center for ConstructivenAlternatives) or as head ofnthe National Institute of Education.nBut the most revealing fact aboutnMr. Roche is that he is a Westernernfrom Colorado. In Going Homen(Ottawa, IL: Jameson Books),nRoche fictionalizes (slightly) thenstory of four generations of Coloradansnin his family. It is a wonderfulnbook, full of courage, kindness,nand the sort of characters we rarelynmeet except in the best fiction. Thentales of Grammaw Hagee andnGrampa Stewart have the authenticnring of real lives lived by real people:nAs the narrator remarks at thenend of his family history, “Thenimportant part of all this is peoplen—families, loyalty, love, courage.nPeoples. Reflections of the face ofnGod.”nGoing Home is less of a novel andnnnmore of a history, but not simply ofnGeorge Roche’s family. It is a historynof the “ordinary” men andnwomen who farmed and mined, gotndrunk occasionally on Saturday andnsang all the louder in church onnSunday morning. As Andrew Lyticnwrites in his foreword, the homenwas the center of life. Behind thendoor, women ruled. “Beyond thendoor, the man was intended to takencharge and make the living. . . .nThis was so in Tennessee as it wasnin Colorado, before the Liberalsnbegan to move progressively towardnan impossibility, the perfectibilitynof man.” The best thing we can saynof George Roche is that he is a truenColoradan. The worst thing aboutnMr. Hart and his successor, Mr.nWirth, is that they are not.nJANUARY 1987 /19n