For 50 years I have believed that the coercive egalitarian Jean-Jacques Rousseau was “the First Leftist,” and one of the most evil and dangerous minds to have ever lived. His disastrous impact upon generations which have lived since his death has been profound, almost incalculable. The two powerful and illuminating videos above explore these crucial ideas and horrific consequences.
Sociologist/historian Robert Nisbet, one of my favorite writers, was the quintessential critic of Rousseau, especially in his seminal book, The Quest for Community, and in this brilliant, prophetic article, Rousseau & Equality. One of Nisbet’s most insightful articles, Cloaking the State’s Dagger, places Rousseau within the total context of political thought of statist tyranny and oppression.
When you listen to the moral language and rhetoric of our culture today, you less often hear appeals to “personal responsibility” and “rugged individualism” — and more often claims of “privileges,” “disparities” and “oppression.” This latter set of ideas, once foreign to American ears, is now popular with those promising “equity” and utopia.
Individualism has been accused of being part of the “white” or “patriarchal” system, while top-down collectivist solutions are demanded along with a new social contract. In nearly every case, an idealized concept of collective justice is embedded in the proposed utopia –a new Rousseauvian primitivism — along with a rejection of the meritocratic system that has successfully created exponential growth in our civilization. The American way is to be discarded to the ash heap of history.
To understand the genesis of this conflict, knowing about Geneva’s Jean-Jacques Rousseau is essential and imperative. It all begins with Rousseau. His anti-Enlightenment ideology was the ideological inspiration of the Jacobin dictators of the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror. While the American Revolution valued individual liberty and natural rights, the French Revolution demanded coercive equality and collective rights of man. It inspired later revolutions of total terror in Russia, China, Cuba, Cambodia, and similar ongoing projects of today.
2:01 pm on September 8, 2021 Email Charles Burris