Saturday, September 28, 2013

Rousseau: Pretentious, Absurd, Dangerous

The thought of Rousseau is convoluted nonsense and merits a proper thrashing.
If I took into account only force, and the effects derived from it, I should say: "As long as a people is compelled to obey, and obeys, it does well; as soon as it can shake off the yoke, and shakes it off, it does still better; for, regaining its liberty by the same right as took it away, either it is justified in resuming it, or there was no justification for those who took it away."
Were Rousseau correct that shaking off the yoke of oppression were better than obeying it, there could be no virtue in obedience.  In Rousseau's narrative, the people - unable but to act well (in obeying) or better (in disobeying) - is an (the?) everlasting source of goodness.  The Creator, in this telling, is replaced; and the people, tender reader, will go on creating - rights, laws, heresies, bureaucracies, democracies, and other contradictions as, we are told, is their right.  I fully expect this unfortunate trend to continue until a day of rapprochement with their Creator and corresponding reacquaintance with truth.

Lest we forget, though, to obey is to act rightly.  The people that obeys does well insofar as they possess the collective manifest power to disobey.
But the social order is a sacred right which is the basis of all other rights.
Social order is sacred (and, as we see here, a broken clock is right from time to time) - but not only is it not a right; nothing is.
Nevertheless, this right does not come from nature, and must therefore be founded on conventions. 
The benefits (what might be called manifested rights or a sort of acquired privileges) afforded by force over time are in a way demonstrated by conventions.  Social convention, like all manifestations of human action, is almost entirely effect, cause in only the most peripheral, meager, and small of ways, and the wellspring of little of original worth and nothing of ultimate consequence.
Obey the powers that be. If this means yield to force, it is a good precept, but superfluous: I can answer for its never being violated.
The tender reader will dutifully note that the omniscient Rousseau vouches for man's obedience to the powers that be!  The pretension of such a stance is matched only by its absurdity.  Despite the hostile schemes, bloody streams, and painful screams staining the rotten plains of all man's history, the tender reader should rest assured that Rousseau's knowledge, which is as free of bias as it is of gaps, contains no exception to his fantastic rule: the powers that be are always obeyed.

Were such a position plausible, could there ever be a senseless struggle or can the dear Rousseau also assure us that no bloody slaughter has ever been anything but sensible?  To ask this question is to answer the implicit one: no - Rousseau is not a worthy thinker, but he is a dangerous one.

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