The colonial constitutionalism of Alexis de Tocqueville: civilisation, religion and rights
The colonization of Algeria raised from the beginning a conflict/contradiction between facts and principles, namely the conquest and domination of a foreign people and the principles of liberalism and the rule of law that governed in France. Alexis de Tocqueville participated as an elected representative in the national debate on the Algerian question. Tocqueville’s position assumed a historical narrative that saw in the progress of the Christian civilization and the regression of the Muslim an unstoppable event. His opinion was favorable to the French presence in North Africa, despite the fact that he had criticized French policy in the conquered territories. In the present article I study the difficult task undertaken by Tocqueville to reconcile his liberalism with the African colonial expansion. I also develop the principles and measures that in his opinion should preside over the French government in Algeria. It is from this perspective that I approach Tocqueville's criticisms of the government system implemented in the regency, the lack of protection of the rights of the settlers, as well as his denunciations of the treatment received by the Arab aborigines and kabyles.
Keywords: Tocqueville; colonialism; constitutionalism; liberalism; rights; religion; civilization; Christianity; Islam.