Rousseau as Totalitarian?

Topics: Political philosophy, Communism, Democracy Pages: 2 (525 words) Published: March 24, 2013
Rousseau, known as “Father of Modern Democratic Theory”, was being accused by other people as a “Father of Totalitarianism”. This is one of the contentious issues which attack Rousseau’s social contract; he is seen to be advocating totalitarian solution rather democratic. Others may have only misunderstood the concept of totalitarianism but I tell you there is no clear evidence showing he is in favor of totalitarian.

Why, then, some considered Rousseau as a totalitarian? Maybe it goes with his controversial concept of general will. The general will can be perceived as an objective truth to which every citizen must conform. Therefore everybody was under the control of the general will. Since totalitarianism is defined as a political system where the state holds total authority over the society and seeks to control all aspects of public and private life whenever necessary; this means that the general will can be use as a totalitarian device. But the methods suggested for discovering the general will were basically democratic. This concept was introduced to prevent exploitation and this will only take effect if it is willed by the citizens. In this case, we can see that Rousseau was proposing that the best way for a community to make decisions was really to use democratic procedures. Hence, we cannot condemn him being a totalitarian advocate just because general will reigns. After all, even if it controls every citizen, it still comes from all and it tends always to the preservation and welfare of the whole and every associate. Another thing that can probably make people thinks of Rousseau’s social contract as a totalitarian is due to his view of “majority binds the rest”. 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...
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