“Alexis de Tocqueville shows that the capacity to choose the right thing is best understood in communal and political terms.
“Praising the New England townships of early Puritan America, he points out that the citizens made their decisions in common, framing laws, electing those who would govern them, setting taxes, providing for the poor, and in all things looking only to themselves and their own responsibility. These physically unimpressive settlements in the New World enacted self-government in ways that monarchical old Europe could hardly imagine in the 17th century. . .
“Tocqueville consistently reserves the word “freedom” for active engagement in public life and a concern for the common good that counters isolated self-interest. Citizens are free when they see and respect their dependence on each other. They can best continue to do what they know to be the right thing if they are committed to political self-rule.”
Source: Glenn Arbery, A Taste of Freedom,