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At the end of the first part of Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville arrived at the famous conclusion that ‘there are on earth today two great peoples . . . the Russians and the Americans’—and, in seeming anticipation of the Cold War, suggested that ‘each of them seems marked out by the will of Heaven to sway the destinies of half the globe’. Nor was the juxtaposition simply guided by landmass or population: America and Russia represented two opposed political and social structures for Tocqueville, the one an energetic ferment of democratic practices, the other the domain of unending tyranny and mute servility.
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