Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Locke vs. Rousseau

One of my main areas of interest is in understanding the landscape of political ideas, their history and how the ideas and movements based on them have interacted and competed over time, and in getting an eagle's eye view of how they all fit together. Jonah Goldberg breaks it down into Locke vs. Rousseau:

Readers of this blog, the book or, in particular people who've heard me speak about the book at length, know that I think political philosophy, or more accurately, political visions can be boiled down to Locke versus Rousseau. The Lockean vision holds that man is the captain of his soul, that his rights come from God, the individual is sovereign, that the government exists because men of free will cede certain authorities to it in order to best protect  their lives and property.

The Rousseauian vision holds that the collective comes before the individual, our rights come from the group not from God, that the tribe is the source of all morality, and the general will is the ultimate religious construct and so therefore the needs — and aims — of the group come before those of the individual. 

Fascism, like Communism, Socialism, Progressivism and all the other collectivist isms are all based on the Rousseauian vision of the group, the tribe, the class taking precedence over the individual. 

I've also been writing for years that "transnational progressives" are trying to take the Progressive project to the world stage. This was the dream of HG Wells —originator of the phrase Liberal Fascism — who often proclaimed that FDR was the living embodiment of the "world brain." It's the aspiration of Hillary Clinton's It Takes a Village, in which the logic of everything inside the village, nothing outside the village is eventually extended, in Clinton's telling,  to the global village. 

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