We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

“Thus you see, he is a Composition of Whim, Affectation, Wickedness, Vanity, and Inquietude, with a very small, if any Ingredient of Madness. … The ruling Qualities abovementioned, together with Ingratitude, Ferocity, and Lying, I need not mention, Eloquence and Invention, form the whole of the Composition.”

– David Hume, in a letter to his friend and fellow Scot, Adam Smith. (H/T, Stephen Hicks).

Hume was writing about JJ Rousseau, whom Hicks has mentioned as one of the most destructive and evil thinkers in recorded history. His other choice for that slot is Martin Heidegger.

7 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Corsair

    Paul Johnson discussed Rousseau in his book ‘Intellectuals’, but rated Bertold Brecht as even worse IIRC. Quite an achievement, as Rousseau was unutterably vile and his legacy has poisoned human thought for 200 years.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    Rousseau’s Social Contract always bothered me, because it was enacted without my permission and gives me no means of opting out. Even so, references to it have been used to explain how tyranny is for your own good for the last 200 years.

    Doesn’t really sound like a contract at all…..

  • RRS

    “Rousseau, in spite of all these things, was one of the most sinister and most formidable enemies of liberty in the whole history of human thought.”

    Isaiah Berlin

    Freedom and its Betrayal – Six Enemies of Human Liberty Princeton University Press 2002

    Being the compilation of his lectures in 1952 o0ver a very different BBC, under the aegis of Anna Kallin.

    As is said: “Read the whole thing!”

  • Laird

    Sounds like a pretty fair description to me (with the possible exception of the inclusion of the qualifier “if any”).

  • RRS

    To get the thrust of the insideousness of Roussea’s wrting, the crux lies not with “social contact” concerns, but rather with:

    “Man is born free, and yet everwhere he is in chains.”

    He is not talking about chains imposed by tyrany.

    He refers to the “self-forged” chains man assumes in order to seek or attain his “rational” wants within society.
    Rousseau asserts that what is wanted – is “the surrender of each individual with all his rights to the whole community.”

    That is not by contract but as self-assumed chains.

  • Sorry, but the “Social Contract” is an unutterable evil and for this reason alone Rousseau deserves to spend an eternity in the pit.

    This logical device has been used by states ever since to ratchet up the size and power of governments, with the proviso that “If you don’t like it, you can always leave”.

    So I left… I now live the life of an exile and perpetual traveller in the far east and the countries I pass through don’t give a shit who I am, where I live or try to tax me for being there – they just want me to bring foreign currency into their country to spend it on whatever I like and I am happy to oblige.

    So I hope Rousseau is being tormented by demons in the lowest pit of hell for his evil – pass the pitchfork please Adolf…

  • Paul Marks

    Rouseau regards being employed by someone as slavery (thus showing he has not got a clue what slavery is). But
    freedom can be attained by total subjection to the collective.


    Easy – you see you are part of the collective (this Rouseau owes to the Abbe de Mably – spelling alert) so if the collective controls everything, then you control everything.

    “So he believes in settleing things by majority vote”

    Not exactly – you see people could vote to get rid of the collective.

    The people may be mislead by evil traditional ideas (as the Marxist say – false c….) so the “will of all” (the majority vote), must be trumped by the “General Will” – what people truly believe (accept they do not know they believe it).

    Que evil Red Chinese brainwashing session……

    Anyway, the “Law Giver” will let you know what you truly believe (for example that you do not really wish to leave – you just think you do….).

    It is a bit like Rousseau’s view of education.

    On the surface it is total freedom – the children out and about and allowed to play games.


    The tutor tells them what to believe (sorry – tells them what they truly believe).

    And when the children grow up, they beg the tutor to stay and “guide” them in all things. After all they are quite helpless.

    The tutor is really the Lawgiver.