Friday, August 13, 2004


In the previous post I suggested that a certain Chris Bertram was either omniscient or arrogant, and I pointed out that his line of thinking empowers the beast of the state.

Well, it turns out that Bertram is a member of the Rousseau Association. There's a link on the Association's site to a biography of Rousseau. It seems that Bertram, who presumes to judge whether we deserve what we have, emulates Rousseau in his arrogance, pretensions to omniscience, and willingness to entrust all to the state:
Rousseau reacted against the artificiality and corruption of the social customs and institutions of the time. He was a keen thinker, and was equipped with the weapons of the philosophical century and with an inspiring eloquence. To these qualities were added a pronounced egotism, self-seeking, and an arrogance that led to bitter antagonism against his revolutionary views and sensitive personality, the reaction against which resulted in a growing misanthropy. Error and prejudice in the name of philosophy, according to him, had stifled reason and nature, and culture, as he found it, had corrupted morals. In Emile he presents the ideal citizen and the means of training the child for the State in accordance with nature, even to a sense of God. This "nature gospel" of education, as Goethe called it, was the inspiration, beginning with Pestalozzi, of world-wide pedagogical methods. The most admirable part in this is the creed of the vicar of Savoy, in which, in happy phrase, Rousseau shows a true, natural susceptibility to religion and to God, whose omnipotence and greatness are published anew every day. The Social Contract, on the text that all men are born free and equal, regards the State as a contract in which individuals surrender none of their natural rights, but rather agree for the protection of them. Most remarkable in this projected republic was the provision to banish aliens to the state religion and to punish dissenters with death. The Social Contract became the text-book of the French Revolution, and Rousseau's theories as protests bore fruit in the frenzied bloody orgies of the Commune as well as in the rejuvenation of France and the history of the entire Western world.
Ah, yes, "training the child for the State in accordance with nature," and "banish[ing] aliens to the state religion and...punish[ing] dissenters with death." Now, there's a philosophy that's fit for (dare I say it?) Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russian, and Mao's China -- speaking of "frenzied bloody orgies."