The terrifying legacy of the French Revolution, inspired ideologically by Jean Jacques Rousseau, expands far beyond its violent excesses, confiscatory taxation and expropriation of private property, or the state excessively regulating one’s right to live. That the great inspiration fulfilled the macabre of the French Revolution, beginning with the fall of the Bastille in 1789 before an angry mob organized by left-wing elitists, to the rise of a far more authoritarian tyrant than the deposed monarchy in Napoleon, was a harbinger of things to come.
To better understand the horrors of revolutionary France, The Social Contract is Rousseau’s account of a man wholly indignant over all mankind had achieved long before Friedrich Nietzsche wrote on nihilism. Even before The Social Contract were two of Rousseau’s more obscured works — A Discourse on the Sciences and Arts and its “sequel” The Discourse on the Origin of Inequality — that provide insight into why contemporary academia advocates purifying the masses in order to recreate a more perfect, egalitarian society to reflect how Rousseau fancied himself: a puritanical visionary who recognized only the supremacy of man.
A Discourse on the Sciences and Art reflects Rousseau’s perspective that all advancements in the arts and sciences taint mankind. By breaking with John Locke, who believed education nurtures young children’s intellectual curiosity because, as “the mind is a tabula rasa… as we say, white paper void of all characters,” it can only be imprinted through “EXPERIENCE,” Rousseau likewise rejected the doctrines of predestination, preconception, fatalism and powers of intuition echoing the Judeo-Christian belief that the Fall of Man forces all mankind to accept God as their supreme guide in order to save their soul from eternal damnation. To Locke, human experiences engender the simple ideas leading people to innovate more complex ones. The sensual nature of the Lockean dialectic laid the groundwork for the dueling foundations of modern left and right-wing politics.
In Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1697), Locke ascribed education to enhancing discourse in public affairs simply by educating children early on to read, write and learn basic arithmetic through a graduated process. Here again, Rousseau diverges from Locke, citing that experience corrupts absolute, whereby education creates total inequity between people due to a greater opportunity and capacity for some individuals to learn over others. Contradicting himself within the first line of A Discourse on the Arts and Sciences, Rousseau manufactures the vague generalizations to build the Left’s intellectual foundation when proclaiming “I am not abusing science… I am defending virtue before virtuous men.” (First Discourse, Vol. I, p. 4) Rousseau’s stunning condemnation of education includes his revised historical account of how culture, through the arts and sciences, toppled the once-great ancient Greek and Egyptian civilizations as the price a nation must pay for permitting free expression within the academies.
Rousseau’s condemnation of education as the enemy of the General Will is accompanied by the logic whereby men could not be gods except of course, when “The Sovereign” creates a civil religion per “the general will”. Evoking Socrates’ description of “the philosopher king,” Rousseau cites the father of philosophy’s favorable view of contemporary artists and philosophers and how through discourse, encouraged piety and virtue, while understanding neither. Ironically, Rousseau believed that intellectuals like Socrates superseded the role of God by personifying the moral compass for all to emulate, qualifying them therefore to govern as enlightened despots.
Public education that excludes entirely revisionist curriculums clashes with the left-wing platform so reliant on political correctness. Free thought must therefore be constantly suppressed by the state by flooding the media with disinformation through various methods of mass communication. Rousseau even lists the specific fields in The First Discourse he finds most dangerous, which interfere with man freely acting on his natural vices by tainting man acting on his natural predisposition with “human pride”.
“Astronomy was born from superstition; eloquence from ambition, hate, flattery, and falsehood; geometry from avarice, physics from vain curiosity; all, even moral philosophy, from human pride.”
— Jean Jacques Rousseau, A Discourse on the Arts and Sciences. Vol. I, p. 12
Intelligence to Rousseau becomes the natural barrier stunting mankind’s “humanity” given nothing is so destructive to its character than the unfiltered flow of information stimulating the need to nurture the individual’s curiosity that might clash with the state’s supremacy. “Science may create easier means to live life daily,” writes Rousseau, “but corrupts absolute the moral imperative.” Through his disdain of pleasure, the hypocritical Rousseau fancied himself a Stoic. In practice, however, he was entirely amoral.
Rousseau contends the arts’ lone purpose is to serve as a vehicle for individuals to seek popular recognition. Self-actualization was immoral to Rousseau, and the arts unleashed for him the intellectual quality of creativity which contradicts the purposes of fealty to the state through courage, generosity and temperance. The purpose for living, according to Rene Descartes, is for the individual to acknowledge “I think, therefore I am.” Where Cartesian philosophy adopts a Christian variant of body/mind duality, Rousseau’s atheism rejects this, as with any expression of the humanities, for lacking moral virtue. Education’s greatest danger, killing military valor, discourages people from living solely to serve the state, where citizens must willingly die for the greater glory of the Sovereign.
Following these assertions, Rousseau addresses the need for a civil religion, provided it never supplants the totality of the state’s supremacy. Of all religions, Rousseau feared Protestant Christianity, the Christianity of the Gospels, most given no true Christian strictly adhering to the Gospels answers to an authority claiming to be higher than God. This split from what Hobbes writes of man’s constant state of war in its natural state described as “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” necessitated the mass purge of all people for their “complex thought processes involving notions of property, calculations about the future, immediate recognition of all other humans as potential threats, and possibly even minimal language skills.” Man’s true purpose for living, according to Rousseau, must disavow any unsavory knowledge that might reverse man’s innate ignorance by suppressing the individual’s ambitions. Finally, Rousseau’s most fundamental rejection of Hobbes is in his revision that mankind as innately “isolated, timid, peaceful, mute, without the foresight to worry about what the future will bring” so long as they remain enslaved by the state. To be a slave to the state, the state must suppress all intellectual curiosity that kills the ignorance bliss brings, else no one would obey the spirit of the law without challenging the status quo.
A civil society evolves through a series of historic stages according to the concept of dialectic materialism by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, which explains how human nature originated with formation of nomadic tribes and mass migration prior to the introduction of cities. A more permanent interpersonal relationship develops between man and woman, resulting in conjugal love and the rise of paternity. The concept of property ownership arose with the advent of agriculture that yielded the unsavory qualities of pride and prejudice and demands by the individual to profit from his work. Rousseau declared the development of the arts, agriculture and metallurgy and finally, the state of war as the beginning of humanity’s decline due to the rise of inequality based on the fittest to survive.
“All ran to meet their chains thinking they secured their freedom, for although they had enough reason to feel the advantages of political establishment, they did not have enough experience to foresee its dangers.”
— Second Discourse, Vol. II, p. 54
This fallacy drives Rousseau’s a priori assumption rejecting the need to learn the history of mankind’s triumphs and failures, whereupon a people agree to enter into a social contract become governed by men of ill-temper as described in Book I, Chapter 7 of The Social Contract.
This, however, is not the case with the relation of the subjects to the Sovereign, which, despite the common interest, would have no security that they would fulfill their undertakings, unless it found means to assure itself of their fidelity. In fact, each individual, as a man, may have a particular will contrary or dissimilar to the general will which he has as a citizen. His particular interest may speak to him quite differently from the common interest: his absolute and naturally independent existence may make him look upon what he owes to the common cause as a gratuitous contribution, the loss of which will do less harm to others than the payment of it is burdensome to himself; and, regarding the moral person which constitutes the State as a persona ficta, because not a man, he may wish to enjoy the rights of citizenship without being ready to fulfil the duties of a subject. The continuance of such an injustice could not but prove the undoing of the body politic. In order then that the social compact may not be an empty formula, it tacitly includes the undertaking, which alone can give force to the rest, that whoever refuses to obey the general will shall be compelled to do so by the whole body. This means nothing less than that he will be forced to be free; for this is the condition which, by giving each citizen to his country, secures him against all personal dependence. In this lies the key to the working of the political machine; this alone legitimises civil undertakings, which, without it, would be absurd, tyrannical, and liable to the most frightful abuses.
Rousseau advocates killing mankind’s common humanity by placating to its worst fears, not its best hopes, while forcing those failing to abide by these conditions “to be free” through suppressing all free expression not in compliance with the state. Rousseau’s advocacy for an absolutist body politic is impossible if the masses are free to express themselves under its “civil religion”. Without vesting total omnipotence in the state, the agenda of mass assimilation through coercion will inevitably fail.