As Alan Ryan recently observed (“Tocqueville’s Lesson,” New York Review of Books, Dec. 9, 2010), Tocqueville in Volume Two of Democracy was concerned with "the dangers of ‘soft despotism,’ a condition in which the population were reduced to a sheep-like dependency on a state that made them comfortable, saved them the necessity of thought, and destroyed their will by enervation rather than oppression."
In the note to Volume Two to which I’ve referred, Tocqueville ruminated on what the taste for comfort might do to "the military spirit":
If the love of physical pleasures and the taste for well-being which are naturally prompted by equality [i.e., some social mobility and absence of a quasi-feudal class structure--LFC] should get such a hold on a democratic people that they should come to absorb it altogether, national mores would become so antipathetic to the military spirit that even the army, in spite of the professional interest leading soldiers to desire war, would come to love peace. Living in such a soft society, soldiers would come to think that slow but convenient and effortless promotion in peacetime was better than a more rapid rise in rank paid for by all the toils and privations of the battlefield. In such a mood, the army would take up arms without eagerness and use them without energy.... The remedy against such dangers does not lie in the army, but in the country. A democratic people which has kept its manly mores will always find courageous soldiers when it needs them.
Today, this explicit equation of courage with 'manliness' would sound jarring to many people (though admittedly not to everyone). Which is an indication of, for lack of a better word, progress.
P.S. An interesting question is: when would this have started to sound jarring? Possibly not until quite late in the twentieth century. Note for instance that William James, writing almost a hundred years after Tocqueville, shared his general view of 'manliness' and concern about 'softness': "A permanently successful peace-economy cannot be a simple pleasure-economy.... Martial virtues must be the enduring cement; intrepidity, contempt of softness, surrender of private interest, obedience to command, must still remain the rock upon which states are built -- unless, indeed, we wish for dangerous reactions against commonwealths fit only for contempt, and liable to invite attack whenever a center of crystallization for military-minded enterprise gets formed anywhere in their neighborhood." 
Afterthought (added Jan.2): "A permanently successful peace-economy cannot be a simple pleasure-economy": sounds like something that might have been said by a revolutionary who's just come to power and is trying to prepare the people for an extended period of hardship and adversity. Did Fidel ever read "The Moral Equivalent of War"?
1. A. de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, trans. G. Lawrence, ed. J.P. Mayer (Anchor Books, 1969 [and subsequent editions]), p. 734.
2. "The Moral Equivalent of War" (1910), in William James: The Essential Writings, ed. B. W. Wilshire (State Univ. of N.Y. Press, 1984), pp. 357-58.