Today, American imperialism all-over the world, enforce the same doctrine and suppress all inconvenient separate associations, transforming those which they permit to exist into organs of other independent and sovereign states. The latest burning example is America's drone air strikes in Iran and killing of top Iranian General - Qassem Soleimani.
Thus there grew from the idea of the common will a new tyranny, whose chains were more enduring because they were decorated with the false gold of an imaginary freedom, the freedom of Rousseau, which was just as meaningless and shadowy as was the famous concept of the common will.
Rousseau became the creator of new idols to which man sacrificed liberty and life with the same devotion as once to the fallen gods of a vanished time. In view of the unlimited completeness of the power of a fictitious common will, any independence of thought becomes a crime; all reason, as with Luther, "the whore of the devil." For Rousseau, the state became also the creator and preserver of all morality, against which no other ethical concept could maintain itself.
There is much insincerity and glamorous sham fight in Rousseau's doctrine for which the explanation is perhaps found only in the man's shocking narrowness of mind and morbid mistrust. How much mischievous histrionics and hypocrisy is concealed in the words: "In order that the Social Contract may be no empty formula it tacitly implies that obligation which alone can give force to all the others: namely, that anyone who eases obedience to the general will is to be forced to it by the whole body. This merely means that he is to be compelled to be free."
"That he is to be compelled to be free!" -- the freedom of the state power's straitjacket! Could there be a worse parody of libertarian feeling than this?
And the man whose sick brain bred such a monstrosity is even today praised as an apostle of freedom! But after all, Rousseau's concept is only the result of thoroughly doctrinaire thinking, which sacrifices every living thing to the mechanics of a theory, and whose representatives, with the obsessed determination of madmen, ride roughshod over human destinies as unconcernedly as if they were bursting bubbles.
For real man, Rousseau had as little understanding as Hegel. His man was the artificial product of the retort, the homunculus of a political alchemist, responsive to all the demands the common will had prepared for him. He was master neither of his own life nor of his own thought. He felt, thought, acted, with the mechanical precision of a machine put in motion by a set of fixed ideas. If he lived at all, it was only by the grace of a political providence, so long as it found no offence in his personal existence.
For the Social Contract served the purposes of the contractors. Who wills the end wills also the means, and these means are inseparable from some danger, indeed, even from some loss. He who wishes to preserve his life at the expense of others must also be willing to sacrifice it for them when that becomes necessary.
The citizen of a state is, therefore, no longer the judge concerning the danger to which he must expose himself at the demand of the law, and when the prince (state) says to him, "Thy death is necessary for the state," he must die, since it is only upon this condition that he has thus far lived in security, and his life is no longer merely a gift of nature, but is a conditional grant from the state.
What Rousseau calls freedom is the freedom to do that which the state, the guardian of the common will, prescribes for the citizen. It is the tuning of all human feeling to one note, the rejection of the rich diversity of life, the mechanical fitting of all efforts to a designated pattern.
To achieve this is the high task of the legislator, who with Rousseau plays the part of a political high priest, a part vouchsafed to him by the sanctity of his calling. It is his duty to correct nature, to transform man into a peculiar political creature no longer having anything in common with his original status.
He who possesses the courage to give a people institutions must be ready, as it were, to change human nature, to transform every individual, who by himself is a complete and separate whole, into a part of a greater whole from which this individual in a certain sense receives his life and character; to change the constitution of man in order to strengthen it, and to substitute for the corporeal and independent existence which we all have received from nature a merely partial and moral existence.
In short, he must take from man his native individual powers and equip him with others foreign to his nature, which he cannot understand or use without the assistance of others. The more completely these natural powers are annihilated and destroyed and the greater and more enduring are the ones acquired, the more secure and the more perfect is also the constitution.
These words not only reveal the whole misanthropic character of this doctrine, but bring out more sharply the unbridgeable antithesis between the original doctrines of liberalism and the democracy of Rousseau and his successors. Liberalism, which emanates from the individual and sees in the organic development of all man's natural capacities and powers the essence of freedom, strives for a condition that does not hinder this natural course but leaves to the individual in greatest possible measure his individual life.
To this thought, Rousseau opposed the equality principle of democracy, which proclaims the equality of all citizens before the law. And since he quite correctly saw in the manifold and diverse factors in human nature a danger to the smooth functioning of his political machine, he strove to supplant man's natural being by an artificial substitute which was to endow the citizen with the capacity of functioning in rhythm with the machine.
This uncanny idea, aiming not merely at the complete destruction of the personality but really including also the complete abjuration of all true humanity, became the first assumption of a new reason of state, which found its moral justification in the concept of the communal will. Everything living congeals into a dead scheme; all organic function is replaced by the routine of the machine; political technique devours all individual life just as the technique of modern economics devours the soul of the producer.
The most frightful fact is that we are not here dealing with the unforeseen results of a doctrine whose effects the inventor himself could not anticipate. With Rousseau everything happened consciously and with inherent logical sequence. He speaks about these things with the assurance of a mathematician. The natural man existed for him only until the conclusion of the Social Contract. With that his time was fulfilled.
What has developed since then is but the product of society which becomes the state the political man. "The natural man is a whole in himself; he is the numerical unit, the absolute whole, which has relationship only to itself and to its equals. Man, the citizen, is only a partial unit, whose worth lies in its relation to the whole which constitutes the social body."
It is one of the most curious phenomena that the same man who professed to despise culture and preached the "return to nature," the man s who for reasons of sentiment declined to accept the thought structure of the Encyclopaedists and whose writings released among his contemporaries such a deep longing for the simple natural life it is curious that this same man, as a state theoretician, violated human nature far more cruelly than the cruelest despot and staked everything on making it yield itself to the technique of the law.
It might be objected that liberalism likewise rests on a fictitious assumption, since it is difficult to reconcile personal freedom with the existing economic system. Without doubt the present inequality of economic interests and the resulting class conflicts in society are a continued danger to the freedom of the individual and lead inevitably to a steadily increasing enslavement of the working masses. However, the same is also true for the famous "equality before the law," on which democracy is based.
The writer is an independent political observer who writes
on politics, political and
human-centered figures, current and international affairs
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