"Alexis de Tocqueville's well-known "inevitability thesis" appears as an expression of his conviction that democratic government would soon be the rule everywhere. The author shows, however, that Tocqueville did not subscribe to a view of historical inevitability, but rather employed this approach as a means of turning the attention of the critics of democracy to the task of perfecting that regime. By placing the thesis in the perspective tit was intended to have, this study makes possible a new and deeper understanding of Tocqueville's central concern in Democracy in America : the problem of reconciling the demands of justice, of equal rights, for all men, with the demands of excellence. Tocqueville's attempt to solve this problem by formulating measures wholly consistent with democratic drives and principles is traced by the author. The measure in question--including not only the use of local institutions, an independent judiciary, and freedom of association, but also such quasi-political forces as religion and the spirit of commerce--are seen by the author as specific applications of Tocqueville's doctrine of self-interest rightly understood."--Jacket.