Rousseau And The New York Times

It All Started With Rousseau

‘The General Will is always righteous.’ Moreover, provided the State is ‘well-intentioned’…interpretation of the General Will can safely be left to the leaders since ‘they know well that the General Will always favors the decision most conducive to public interest.’ Hence any individual who finds himself in opposition to the General Will is in error: ‘When the opinion that is contrary to my own prevails, this simply proves that I was mistaken and that what I thought to be the General Will, was not so.’ Indeed, ‘if my particular opinion had carried that day I should have achieved the opposite of what was my will and I should not therefore have been free.’

From Paul Johnson’s Intellectuals, i.e. that class of people who find the sort of reasoning encapsulated in Rosseau’s quotation persuasive.

Incidentally, it was not too long after Rousseau’s theories were put into action that the body count began resembling the score of a pinball game. No doubt those who were so assiduous in the use of the guillotine were led to do so because they were “inflamed” by angry rhetoric from conservatives in England.

New York Times Attacks!

By now all know that the left, chronicled by the Gray-as-dust Lady, immediately proved, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, that right-wing hate was responsible for the Tucson shooting. In the Weekly Standard, PJ O’Rourke writes (HT HotAir):

In the matter of self-serving, bitter, calculated cynicism, there wouldn’t seem to be much left to prove against the Times. Judging by what I’ve heard from my fellow conservatives, the issue is decided. The New York Times is a worthless, truthless, vicious institution. But I disagree. I think things are worse than that.

For leftest intellectuals characterized by those who write for the New York Time, there are only two reasons anybody would ever disagree with whatever view (du jour) they hold: stupidity or hate.

As an example of “stupidity”, in a debate with Motor City (as was) Madman Uncle Ted Nugent, actress Roseanne Barr accuses Tea Party members of being dupes of rich, evil—only one modifier is actually necessary—capitalists. By implication—and assumption—the ignorant rank and file are incapable of independent reasoning: they never would have come to the belief that unchecked growth of government will lead to tyranny had they not been coached. This alone is proof that the People (Rousseau’s General Will) need guidance from On High. A world led by Roseanne Barr must be superior than one helmed by, say, Ronald Reagan.

Yet somehow Barr forgot the wealth of George Soros, of Hollywood, of the myriad companies which begged for bailouts and subsequently awarded their employees six-figure bonuses, of herself. Well, after all, money isn’t the root of all evil.

But the love of it is. Those who have and seek it and who disagree with the catechism can only therefore filled with hate, even to the point where they are driven insane. Don’t like abortion? Then you must hate the poor. Against racial quotas? Then you must be a vile racist. The same is true if you disagree with anything President Obama says or does. Nervous about the FCC’s takeover of the internet? Then you must hate…well, something; probably whichever victim group hasn’t had enough press at the time your incoherent ravings about the FCC become known.

Opposed to Big Government (of which the New York Times feels itself a member)? Then you hate the People. You are in error and, as Rousseau has taught us, are against freedom itself. And that cannot be tolerated. Therefore, for you no punishment is severe enough. You will face protest marches, you will receive death threats, you will see yourself burned in effigy. None of these actions are motivated by hate, but are brought about by the same kind of well-meaning, kind-hearted wrath which drives a parent to beat his child with a switch.

Take your punishment like a man and learn to think properly.

Wodehouse Weighs In

As with many things, PG Wodehouse provides the answer: “It occurred to Lord Emsworth, as it has occurred to so many people, that the distribution of money in this world is all wrong” (from Blandings Castle and Elsewhere). This being so, the important thing is to do is very little.


  1. Ray

    Liberals have been told all their lives, by other liberals, how wonderful they are, so Liberals know they are intellectually and morally superior people. Consequently. if you disagree with a liberal, you must be evil or stupid, or even, as Rhan Emanuel put it, a f-ing retard.

  2. Hoi Polloi

    Unfortunately, Briggs’ excellent analytical skillz should stick with statistics. When it comes to politics Briggs analyses is filled with biases and huge error bars which makes it in fact worthless. Stick to the fact Bill. There’s more between heaven and earth then them and us. What we need now is cool facts analysed by cool people, not another political rant.
    Otherwise, always respect.

  3. Mikey

    H Polloi,

    Sorry, Briggs and Ray are spot on. Read Thomas Sowell’s “Intellectuals and Society” to find out where the intelligentsia came from, how it thinks, and why it fails so often. Why is Paul Erlich still so respected by the Left when his predictions have been so completely wrong? Why does Paul Krugman feel he can comment on just about anything?

    Sowell has it figured out. Because of their focus on what they think is the ideal world they find themselves ignoring reality. Because theirs is the world of ideas they believe they are qualified to comment on problems within our society whether or not it is their area of expertise. Because other intellectuals praise them in spite of their being wrong they carry their heads high.


  4. OK, HP missed it, proving the point. Briggs is spot on here. The intelligentsia simply must express support for positions and ideas expressed by peers because they know the proper way to run a society. It’s in their genes.
    Perfect example is the change over a few decades of “journalists” going from reporting the news to constructing a narrative. A compulsive need to “frame” or “conceptualize” the news into a story. The NYT money quote?”

    ….pressure that news organizations feel to define the context of a story, to set up a frame for it, sometimes before the facts can be fully understood.”

  5. Doug M

    Not just liberals are incapable of rational reasoning. It goes both ways. Every call by the ‘birthers’ is an attempt to make the president illegitimate, and his ideas therefore unworthy of debate. Same goes for the calls of ‘socialist’ or even worse ‘communist.’

  6. Hoi Polloi

    49er: No I didn’t missed it. Every side claims it’s own moral high ground, “you’re either with us, or against us” (not a liberal quote I believe). Don’t let me go into this political debate, there a re plenty of examples for both sides. My point was that a statistician should look at the plain figures, not emotions.

  7. TomVonk

    Every side claims it’s own moral high ground, “you’re either with us, or against us” (not a liberal quote I believe).
    You are deeply mistaken by seeing symmetries there where there are none.
    It is probably due to your very superficial knowledge of history and philosophy.
    What you mentionned is not so much a quote but a concept.
    And one which is central and fundamental to any left-progressist ideology.
    The origins of this concept can be traced to Marx and Lenin who said in 1920 :
    “It is with absolute frankness that we speak of this struggle of the proletariat; each man must choose between joining our side or the other side. Any attempt to avoid taking sides in this issue must end in fiasco.”
    Of course most of the socialist and communist leaders expressed the same thing in their words , some literally according to your “quote” like f.ex K.Gottwald , 1st Secretary of the Czech communist party (Adress to representatives of the Czech Parliament 1929) :
    “Some say that we are controlled by Moscow and that we travel there to learn our wisdom …… Yes we travel to Moscow to learn and do you know what wisdom we learn ? We learn from the russian bolsheviks how to cut your throats . And you know that the russian bolsheviks are masters at that . Those who are not with us are against us and one day you will regret for having not taken us seriously .”
    There is absolutely no symmetry between left/progressives and right/conservatives in these issues and this has nothing to do with high moral ground.
    Right/progressives believe that an individual evolves according to his abilities and merits with a dose of randomness. They believe in the freedom of everybody to choose his way . That’s why they can never develop a concept with the ominous “us” like in “Those who are not with us are against us.”
    On the contrary the left/progressives believe in a NECESSARY evolution. Whether it is Marx’ “historical necessity” or a more modern variant of the same thing “social justice” , they believe that every individual must obey sooner or later to this compelling necessity.
    But precisely because it is a necessity (I remind that Marxism defines itself not as an ideology but as a science!) , everybody must see it .
    There can be no exceptions . Hence very naturally the concept that mankind separates only in 2 parts between those who see the necessity (“us”) and those who are either blind or evil (“against us”) .
    Clearly , like Lenin said , no man can be left to discuss freely or , heavens forbid , avoid taking side .
    Today’s environmentalists are by that metrics clearly worthy followers of Lenin and this concept too .

  8. TomVonk


    Strangely I can’t se my post that I just sent . It must have disappeared in the mysterious depths of computer program where nobody ever came back from .

  9. Briggs


    Sorry, it got caught in the spam filter. No idea why.

  10. As a fully-reformed member of the brainwashed baby boomer generation, I have to say I couldn’t agree more with the original post. I’m having an absolute blast watching the statist/leftists collective heads (!) spin lately. Anything we can do to increase the spinning is well worth it, IMO.

    @TomVonk: Good points, thank for making them.

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