Rousseaus Theory Of Totalitarianism

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Rousseaus Theory Of Totalitarianism

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Totalitarianism vs. Authoritarianism

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A political regime can be defined as structures, activities and processes by which given countries in the world govern themselves. Political systems can be based on either collectivism or individualism. It is essential for business to look at a Rousseau was aware that no particular human being knows what the general will truly is that is why he proposes that what the majority has voted, it is the general will, assuming that everybody is thinking for the common good of the community and not for his own self-interest. They maybe considered as one political group who reigns over the community. This cannot be a valid reason for saying that Rousseau was after a totalitarian government.

Remember Rousseau has insisted that the sovereign is the people and not a particular group only. And at the start of the compact, before they have voted for what they think is general will; the people should give their consent to all the laws that will be passed even in their opposition. Despite that the decision of the majority wins, the people still has participated in determining that certain law.

Rousseau was merely proposing measures aimed at creating community cohesion and preserving democracy. We can now say that his proposal was really an authentic attempt of finding a form of association which will defend and protect with the whole common force the person and goods of each associate, and in which each, while uniting himself with all, may still obey himself alone, and remain as free as before.

Rousseau In all of the "general will's" different manifestations, it is what governs and preserves a society. One problem may be that people For example, his theory is in places intolerant; indeed, leans towards totalitarianism. Essentially, for Rousseau, if a disagreement occurs between the general and the individual will, then the individual must be brought back into line.

The dissenting individual must be forced to recognize and conform to the civic liberty laid out by the social contract. Rousseau states there are two kinds of liberty. One is natural liberty, in which man in a state of nature is free of all social obligation. But in natural liberty, man is threatened by a survival of the fittest scenario, in which the strong and the cunning are free to dominate the weak. The implication is that this is not real liberty as humans are slaves to biology and instinct. Under civic liberty, on the other hand, humanity is truly free, as each citizen pledges to protect the rights and liberties of all by submitting to the laws laid down by the general will.

Humanity trades natural liberty, impulse and brute force, for rational, civic liberty, a more guaranteed and secure kind of freedom. Rousseau creates a very black and white scenario in which you are either with the general will and thus civilised and reasonable, or against it and thus an enemy, a terrorist. He goes so far as to propose that those who oppose the state may be killed. Although Rousseau proposes this fate only for those who attack the state, he is vague on what exactly constitutes an attack. Is dissidence an attack worthy of exile or death? At a later point in the Social Contract, Rousseau is more specific on what constitutes an intolerable crime against the state and the general will.

He claims that those who do not share the dominant views of the state or the general will are outside the social compact and, thus, must be persecuted. This is a kind of mentality that is hard to reconcile with a democratic society based on liberty for everyone. Indeed, it undermines his other arguments in favour of individual liberty and tolerance. Such persecution and intolerance of pluralism and dissent means it would be difficult to know what truly is the general will and what is mere fearful or pragmatic conformity. The legislator thus engineers citizens in the image he sees most fitting. But such engineering carries with it a danger of coercion, of suppression of diversity in favor of a homogeneous, subservient whole. Rousseau further encourages social engineering by proposing a state ideology to control the masses.

He proposes a divinely sanctioned state based on God-given principles and immutable ideology. The social contract and the laws, which citizens are meant to be the sole possessors and creators of, instead take on an immutable and sacred aura. They become, in a sense, unquestionable, untouchable, and therefore susceptible to blind obedience and totalitarian control. Social engineering is here proposed through a civic ideology that seems to set limits upon the autonomy of individual conscience, thought and action.

Moral, not in the old Christian sense, but as a modern citizen shaped by the three values of liberty, fraternity and equality. Liberty ensures that the individual remains a core unit of democracy. However, liberty is not understood by Rousseau as individualistic, but more in a collective sense. Liberty places certain obligations on individuals, to serve and sacrifice to the community, to the general will, to the state. Indeed, the individual forms an organic part of a greater whole. Thus, civic liberty demands a collective morality, a fraternity, an obligation to fellow citizens. Equality also ties the individual to the political community, as this value, instilled in each citizen, ensures individual political autonomy.

All citizens, being equal in its eyes, are equally admissible to all public dignities, positions, and employments, according to their capacities, and without any other distinction than that of their virtues and their talents. As used by Rousseau, the "general will" is considered by some identical to the rule of law , [3] and to Spinoza's mens una. The notion of the general will is wholly central to Rousseau's theory of political legitimacy. Some commentators see it as no more than the dictatorship of the proletariat or the tyranny of the urban poor such as may perhaps be seen in the French Revolution. Such was not Rousseau's meaning.

This is clear from the Discourse on Political Economy , where Rousseau emphasizes that the general will exists to protect individuals against the mass, not to require them to be sacrificed to it. He is, of course, sharply aware that men have selfish and sectional interests which will lead them to try to oppress others. It is for this reason that loyalty to the good of all alike must be a supreme although not exclusive commitment by everyone, not only if a truly general will is to be heeded but also if it is to be formulated successfully in the first place".

Hegel argued that, because it lacked any grounding in an objective ideal of reason, Rousseau's account of the general will inevitably lead to the Reign of Terror. Constant also blamed Rousseau for the excesses of the French Revolution, and he rejected the total subordination of the citizen-subjects to the determinations of the general will. In Jacob Talmon characterized Rousseau's "general will" as leading to a totalitarian democracy because, Talmon argued, the state subjected its citizens to the supposedly infallible will of the majority. Another writer of the period, liberal theorist Karl Popper , also interpreted Rousseau in this way, while Bertrand Russell warned that "the doctrine of general will Some Rousseau scholars, however, such as his biographer and editor Maurice Cranston, and Ralph Leigh, editor of Rousseau's correspondence, do not consider Talmon's s "totalitarian thesis" as sustainable.

Supporters of Rousseau argued that Rousseau was not alone among republican political theorists in thinking that small, homogeneous states were best suited to maintaining the freedom of their citizens. Montesquieu and Machiavelli were also of this opinion. Furthermore, Rousseau envisioned his Social Contract as part of a projected larger work on political philosophy, which would have dealt with issues in larger states. Some of his later writings, such as his Discourse on Political Economy , his proposals for a Constitution of Poland, and his essay on maintaining perpetual peace, in which he recommends a federated European Union , gave an idea of the future direction of his thought.

His defenders also argued Rousseau is one of the great prose stylists and because of his penchant for the paradoxical effect obtained by stating something strongly and then going on to qualify or negate it, it is easy to misrepresent his ideas by taking them out of context. Rousseau was also a great synthesizer who was deeply engaged in a dialog with his contemporaries and with the writers of the past, such as the theorists of Natural Law , Hobbes and Grotius. Like "the body politic", "the general will" was a term of art and was not invented by Rousseau, though admittedly Rousseau did not always go out of his way to explicitly acknowledge his debt to the jurists and theologians who influenced him.

Prior to Rousseau, the phrase "general will" referred explicitly to the general as opposed to the particular will or volition as it is sometimes translated of the Deity. Montesquieu, Diderot, and Rousseau's innovation was to use the term in a secular rather than theological sense.

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