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The Other Half of Socialism: Independence from Our Fellow Man

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There is a latent and relatively unknown element of socialism we've all been living through during the coronavirus lockdowns: independence from all forms of social attachment.

To properly identify this tenet of socialism, we must understand how socialism came to exist in both its modern iterations and its ideological inception. We must look at the work and thought of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Rousseau is the godfather and patron saint of not just socialism, but all liberalism.

In his most celebrated work, The Social Contract (1762), Rousseau outlined his plan for the best method of governing human beings. The name he gave his form of government is "the general will." The general will is Rousseau's nomenclature for big government.

One of Rousseau's goals in crafting the general will was not just dependence on the government, but independence from our fellow man. In one of the most famous passages of The Social Contract, Rousseau wrote:

In order that the social contract shall be no empty formula it tacitly implies that obligation which alone can give force to all the others: namely that anyone who refuses obedience to the General Will is forced to do it by the whole body. This means nothing less than he will be forced to be free. For this is the condition which, by giving each citizen to his countrymen secures him against all personal dependence.

Rousseau desired to free man of all dependency relationships. If the people are not willing participants, the government will force them to be free.

A dependency relationship is not a complicated academic term. What Rousseau meant is any relationship we have with someone else that makes any sort of dependence — depending on someone or being depended on. He found all dependency relationships corrupting and enslaving. Rousseau explained the problem of dependency relationships in The Discourse on the Origin of Inequality (1755):

On the other hand, although man had previously been free and independent, we find him, so to speak, subject, by virtue of a multitude of fresh needs, to all of nature and particularly to his fellowmen, whose slave in a sense he becomes even in becoming their master; rich, he needs their services; poor, he needs their help; and being midway between wealth and poverty does not put him in a position to get along without them.

Dependency relations are enslaving because these relationships create obligations, and any form of obligation is upsetting to Rousseau. Read this interpretation from Judith Shklar (a scholar of Rousseau) of Rousseau's view........

© American Thinker

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