*Look into Dr. Ron Deibert regarding the dark side of the Internet in international
German Idealism, Politics and History Through the Lens of Hegel
January 30 , 2014
Final Thoughts on Rousseau’s General Will
• Had the idea of reciprocity and equal moral wealth for all members of the state.
• He often refers to these societies as smaller ones – for the reason that it is more
achievable and manageable. The deliberative aspect (coming together) of the
members is more feasible when the society/community is smaller. Has very much
to do with the scale of the situation (specifically sizewize).
• Rousseau would likely reject nationalsocialism. Perhaps our response, saying
that Rousseau would support these examples, says more about us than it does him.
In societies such as our own (liberal, individualist) it becomes increasingly
difficult to conceptualize collectivity.
• Many criticize Rousseau as the frontrunner of totalitarianism. These critics claim
that this “infallible will” will actually crush the individual.
• In the spirit of being sympathetic towards Rousseau, the General Will has its
merits. There is no sovereign authority over the citizens (like it does for Hobbes),
and all people have equal moral value and freedom. Socialism states that we need
to eradicate pity. Unlike this school of thought, Rousseau wants to base the
general will on this pity and self love. It is reciprocity rooted in empathy.
• He is not talking about a Kantian, Cosmopolitan concept (good for all of
humanity) – he is much more concerned with the nationalist sentiment (only
applies the general will to a select community).
Roots of Critical Political Theory
• Rousseau is one of the first modern figures to articulate the basic, fundamental
point of critical political theory.
• CPT = Critical Political Toolbox
• The point of this type of theory is that nothing is natural – everything (thoughts,
suspicions, knowledge, etc.) are produced/results of something else.
• The Social Contract is developed to protect the superior status of the wealthy and
elites – to preserve the system as it is. This idea is very much furthered
(especially in the economic context) by Marx.
• Rousseau offers no economic analysis, and predicts the idea of this ideology.
Without ideology, political thought can only progress so far.
o Ideology refers to the concept of a lens. Marx rejects this notion of being
able to “put on a lens.” Marx argues that ideology refers to a threshold.
Above this threshold, there is a consciousness above reality. Ideology