Critique of Rousseau

What do we mean when we say The Will of the People? Rousseau’s Social Contract

Social Contract

We need to circle back around to Rousseau. Rousseau held that the General Will (what we call the “Will of the People”) is enshrined in the sovereignty of the People. Separate from The People is the government that enforces and protects the demands of that Will. If that sounds very American, it should.

The problem is, Rousseau’s General Will actually was more communist than libertarian. There is an ambiguity in his theory, one that is wreaking havoc on us today.

Not only did he influence the Aristotelian Jefferson and the American Declaration of Independence, but he also was the most widely read of the philosophers among the Platonic French Revolutionaries. They, as opposed to Jefferson, interpreted their role in the Assembly as that of properly enforcing the General Will by, in fact, force, and they did so by guillotine, taking off forty thousand heads in the name of The People in Paris alone. So much for the French version of the government enforcing the General Will.

Later, Lenin would be favorably influenced by the heavy handed version of the Rousseauian Revolution in France. He used the French notion of the government enforcing the Will of the People on The People, whether The People liked it or not, in implementing his Marxist state. After all, Marxism is The Will of the People even if they do not know it, and government is supposed to enforce the Will of the People, so, presto – a totalitarian Marxist republican “People’s” state.

Therefore, when modern era Platonic Green New Deal Democrats speak similarly of acting by governmental force in the name of The People, they, in fact, are doing so in a perfectly republican, French, Leninist sense. They will enforce the Will of the People on us, whether we like it or not. Their duty is to enforce The General Will, even if by guillotine.

The big question Aristotelian Republican Libertarians need to address with their Platonic Democratic counterparts is, “What do we mean when we say The Will of the People” – the one enforced on us from above by the government as the Social Contract would dictate, or the one rising up from the People, which the Social Contract also would dictate? Therein is the ambiguity wreaking havoc on us today.

By the way, what is a “Will of the People” anyway? Does it exist? Can it exist? Should it exist?

How about the Will of God? Does He count? This is what we Monarchists – foes of both sides of the failed Republics with their “Will of the People” that they cannot even figure out what it means – would like to know.

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