The Corner

Rousseau, Rich & Me

Political theory sunday seems to have a half-life. From a reader in response to today’s syndicated column in which I wrote, “”Saying that the courts should follow the Rousseauian General Will of the people isn’t “moderate” at all —

indeed, it’s a form of radicalism.”:

This is ironic considering my comments on Rousseau

when I emailed you about Niet. this weekend. You are

just wrong on this, and howsoever much I love what you

and Rich Lowery do (and I love it very much since I

have been coming back for more for the last-almost

12-years, since I was 14), you-especially he-have this

thing against Rousseau that is totally wrong. There

is nothing in 1) The Social Contract, 2) the First

Discourse, 3) the Second Discourse, 4) the Letter on

Stage Spectacles, 5) The Confessions, 5) The Discourse

on Political Economy, 6) The Discourse on the Origin

of Languages, 7) The Essay on Heroic Virtue, 8)

Narcisse, or, the Self-Admirer, 9) the first parts of

the Letter to Count Weilhorski on the Government of

Poland or 10) several letters from Rousseau to

Voltaire, Diderot, etc. that in any way contradicts

originalism, traditionalism, conservatism, capitalism,

or anything else that you hold dear (also, just incase

you were wondering about this, Rousseau was not

French, he was a citizen of Geneva). I have read the

entirety of everything I have just mentioned (so for

the Letter on Poland, I have only read a little of

it), plus parts of “La Nouvelle Eloise,” and a little

of Emile (I don’t know if Emile’s educational theory

is as bad as Lowry thinks it is, it may be, but the

whole of Emile I think is less than 600 pages, all the

reading I have described to you is about 1500 pages).

And all of it is 1) very good, 2) often as

nationalistic as John O’Sullivan (so the thing Lowry

has against Kant, the one bad thing about Kant, his

love for a UN before we-sadly-got one, Rousseau is

innocent of), 3) the greatest stuff out there against

euthanasia and the so-called “right-to-die” and at no

point is the “general will” confused with the impulse

of the mob-though Rousseau hated all indirect

democracy, and therefore he did not approve of our

Anglo-American system (he knew how M.P.’s in England

were elected, I think his views on this were stupid,

but they only occupy one footnote in the Social

Contract), anyway, believing that we should all be

like Geneva (or Rome before the Empire) where everyone

in the “city” can vote, and thus, we should all live

in city-states is something that Aristotle too

believed-and all the Alastir MacIntyre-Leon Kass

people never have to defend their hero’s conservatism

to you guys, even though Aristotle DID defend

infanticide and euthanasia (which is bad stuff,

right?).

You and Lowry are great, but-like Burke, you seem

to think that just because Robespierre *said* he was a

disciple of Rousseau, he was in fact one. Justice

Brennan quoted George Washington, but you’d never

saddle the Father of the Country with that moral

relativist idiot’s “work” on the Supreme Court, people

at NR should read more Rousseau before they attack

him, they will find that there is precious little to

attack.

Thank you for your time.

Recommended

The Latest