Socialism’s nuances and ideological subtleties can be latent, unknown, and often unrecognizable. To truly grasp the depth of the socialists’ arguments, we must first look at socialism’s ideological origins—specifically, Jean Rousseau’s invalidation of Original Sin.

As socialism ascends in prominence, many of its proponents are open and outspoken with their socialist political positions. These socialist themes are easily recognizable to the average American. For example, hearing a politician discuss equity, redistribution of wealth, and heavily taxing the wealthy are readily identifiable socialist tenets.

However, some of socialism’s nuances and ideological subtleties are latent, unknown, and often unrecognizable. To truly grasp the depth of the socialists’ arguments, we must first look at socialism’s ideological origins. In general, liberalism’s fundamental premise, and socialism’s foundational premise specifically, is Jean Rousseau’s invalidation of Original Sin. Jean Rousseau is the godfather and patron-saint of liberalism; almost all of liberalism emanates from his work and thought. As Rousseau once pontificated:

The fundamental principle of all morality, upon which I have reasoned in all my writings and which I developed with all the clarity of which I am capable is that man is a being who is naturally good, loving justice and order; that there is no original perversity in the human heart, and the first movements of nature are always good.[1]

The most important component of this quotation is, “that there is no original perversity in the human heart.” To those conversant with the Judeo-Christian tradition, the word “original” should resonate.

The word “original” is associated with the Augustinian doctrine of “Original Sin.” Original Sin is the concept from the Old Testament where Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden, violating God’s orders, sinning. The punishment for their sin, which was the first and original sin of Man, was expulsion from Eden. Eden was a utopia on Earth where God provided everything for Adam and Eve without the concepts of scarcity or labor. With their expulsion, God introduced scarcity, changed the nature of the human condition from utopian to tragic, and punished Adam and Eve with labor. Adam must labor by the sweat of his brow, and Eve must labor via childbirth.

By invalidating Original Sin, Rousseau supplanted the creation story from the book of Genesis with his own. He outlined his own creation myth in, The Discourse on the Origins of Inequality (1753), also known as “the second discourse.”

Rousseau maintained that we are born naturally benevolent; corruption, evil, and vice are introduced to us externally via society. Once civil society formed, our corruption ensued. Read his account of this process below:

The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, bethought himself of saying This is mine, and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows, ‘Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.’

For Rousseau, private property was the genesis of society, and therefore the origin of our corruption. Once the first person acquired private property, society ensued, and then the ills that accompanied society followed. He theorized that:

the moment one man began to stand in need of the help of another; from the moment it appeared advantageous to any one man to have enough provisions for two, equality disappeared, property was introduced, work became indispensable, and vast forests became smiling fields, which man had to water with the sweat of his brow, and where slavery and misery were soon seen to germinate and grow up with the crops.[3]

Note Rousseau’s insistence that once “property was introduced, work became indispensable.” In other words, labor was not necessary prior to the first person’s acquisition of private property. This further substantiates Rousseau’s repudiation of Original Sin and his belief that labor is not necessary for Man.

Rousseau understood labor to have had a profoundly negative effect on the world. He proclaimed: “Iron and wheat civilized man, but ruined mankind.”[4] What did Rousseau mean by this? Gene Starobinsky, author of the truly brilliant book, Rousseau: Transparency and Obstruction (1988), understood it in the following way:

Why this unfortunate consequence? Because men, able now to produce more than they really need, fight over possession of the surplus. They want not just to enjoy the fruits of their labor but to own them. And they want not only actual goods but the abstract signs of possible or future goods.[5]

The moment one person began to use labor to overcome the condition of things in the state of nature, ownership and surplus ensued. Once surplus and ownership entered the picture, scarcity then followed. Without labor and private property, scarcity is not a de facto aspect of life.

Rousseau interpreted this sequence of events in terms of its social impact. Labor, private property, surplus, and ownership detrimentally impacted human relations:

In a word, I could prove that, if we have a few rich and powerful men on the pinnacle of fortune and grandeur, while the crowd grovels in want and obscurity, it is because the former prize what they enjoy only insofar as others are destitute of it.[6]

Some people own and possess things merely to lord over others. Some people are cruel to others, taking a sadistic pleasure in having while others are lacking.

“Iron and wheat civilized man, but ruined mankind,” indeed. The importance of this phrase and the implicit concept it contains was not lost on Rousseau’s followers, especially Karl Marx. Marx paraphrased Rousseau with his famous aphorism: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”[7]

The covetous nature of private property produced not only hurt feelings, but created an unnecessary economic condition: scarcity. If a person owns something that is not being used and is being saved for the future or sold for profit, it is not freely available; it is guarded and coveted. These resources that were otherwise abundant have since grown scarce. And again, as labor did not exist in the state of nature, the scarcity caused by labor and private property did not exist either. This was in part because labor did not exist, but it was also due to the way Man lived in the state of nature: we lived as isolated atomized human beings belonging neither to families, nor groups.[8]

Rousseau’s interpretation of the nature of social life in the state of nature is revealing. He believed that if Man had neither “a fixed dwelling, nor any need for one another, they would hardly encounter one another twice in their lives.”[9] We lived solitary lives, without the need of others, and we would barely ever encounter other human beings. Rousseau then made a leap in logic as he hypothesized that due to this atomized and isolated nature, Man only desired and consumed that which was in his immediate grasp at the immediate moment: “His desires do not go beyond his physical needs. The only goods he knows in the universe are nourishment, a woman, and rest.”[10]

Scarcity is unknown in a world without Original Sin and Man’s need to labor. In the state of nature, human beings

lacked the capacity to desire anything that was not immediately present, they made no demands on nature that nature could not fulfill. For them, the miserliness of nature passed unnoticed. Scarcity was neither a spur to development nor a source of social instability.[11]

Labor, scarcity, and the tragic nature of the human condition are simply not cards in the deck of life for Rousseau and his socialist disciples.

Rousseau did not see labor, private property, and possession as having any potential benefits. This negative development was harmful not just to those without, but also to those who were in possession of these coveted resources. Rousseau’s assessment of the course of events could not be more negative:

On the other hand, free and independent as men were before, they were now, in consequence of a multiplicity of new wants, brought into subjection, as it were, to all nature, and particularly to one another; and each became in some degree a slave even in becoming the master of other men: if rich, they stood in need of the services of others; if poor, of their assistance; and even a middle condition did not enable them to do without one another.[12]

Rousseau used the word “subjection” and even goes so far as to call these circumstances “slavery.” Labor brought about a dependence on our fellow Man, which to Rousseau, is a form of slavery. Karl Marx paraphrased Rousseau again, sharing nearly an identical viewpoint: “Society itself—the fact that man lives in society and not as an independent, self-supporting individual—is the root of property, of the laws based on it and of the inevitable slavery.”[13]

Many contemporary socialists are fully on-board with this belief. The online publication The Guardian published a group of articles belonging to a series called “Broken capitalism.”[14] Richard Reeves, an author in this series, wrote that:

For some critics of capitalism, workers lost the power struggle right at the outset. As Marx (Groucho, this time, not Karl) once put it, “What makes wage slaves? Wages!” Whatever material gains workers managed to achieve came at the price of a profound loss of sovereignty. . . . We imagine ourselves free but effectively barter our freedom away in exchange for pay, effectively handing over our passports as we punch in.[15]

In the state of nature, dependence and social relations are not mandatory. The negative trade-offs associated with dependence are not mandatory either. The ownership and possession of some at the expense of others fosters mutual dependence, and anytime someone is not living completely independent of his neighbor, the resulting mutual dependence is a form of slavery.

But the problems from dependence and possession do not end there. As labor spread, inequality spread with it. One specific aspect of the inequality labor generated related to the division of labor. For example, some people were skilled at home building, while others were not. Those who were skilled received praise and the esteem of others, a term Rousseau referred to as, “amour propre.”[16] The problem with amour propre is that some people did not receive it, leading to hurt feelings, shame, and envy. Rousseau explained that

Each one began to consider the rest, and to wish to be considered in turn; and thus a value came to be attached to public esteem. Whoever sang or danced best, whoever was the handsomest, the strongest, the most dexterous, or the most eloquent, came to be of most consideration; and this was the first step towards inequality, and at the same time towards vice. From these first distinctions arose on the one side vanity and contempt and on the other shame and envy: and the fermentation caused by these new leavens ended by producing combinations fatal to innocence and happiness.[17]

The most salient of the negative emotions that amour propre generates in a discussion on socialism is envy.

Winston Churchill described socialism as the politics of envy.[18] Margaret Thatcher, in her last day in Parliament, articulated her beef with her socialist political opponents: “What the honorable member is saying is that he would rather that the poor were poorer, provided that the rich were less rich . . . So long as the gap is smaller, they would rather have the poor poorer.”[19]

Thatcher astutely observed that for her socialist opponents, it was not about bringing others up, but instead about dragging others down. It was not about the poor rising, but instead about taking from the rich. This is the hallmark of the emotion of envy. When it is not about someone rising to the level of another person, but about the lower person yanking the higher person down; when it is not about someone having what another person has, but about the other person not having it altogether; and when it is not about someone winning, but about another losing, we have the epitome of envy.[20]

It should come as no surprise that socialism, the creed promising an equitable utopia, is so closely connected with envy. As Alex de Tocqueville said of institutions that promote equity:

One must not conceal from oneself that democratic institutions develop the sentiment of envy in the human heart to a very high degree. It is not so much because they offer to each the means of becoming equal to others, but because these means constantly fail those who employ them. Democratic institutions awaken and flatter the passion for equality without ever being able to satisfy it entirely. Every day this complete equality eludes the hands of the people at the moment when they believe they have seized it, and it flees. . . . [T]he people become heated in the search for this good, all the more precious as it is near enough to be known, far enough not to be tasted.[21]

Rousseau, a man concerned with the esteem others get for their skills, as well as the shame and inferiority those who fail to garnish this esteem feel, longs for a world in which there is greater equality. To achieve this, he must take this capacity away from others.

So what is Rousseau’s plan to take amour propre away from others? What is his solution to the issues created by labor, social relations, dependence, and private property? How does he plan on making the world a more equitable place? The answer is “the general will.” In his most celebrated work, The Social Contract, Rousseau outlined his vision for an egalitarian form of government that is clearly the basis of socialist and communist systems of government. He famously opened the work by saying, “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains. Here’s one who thinks he is the master of others, yet he is more enslaved than they are.”[22] Having discussed this notion of masters, slaves, and dependence in The Discourse on Inequality, we now know what he meant by those words. Marx, again making a similar statement, proclaimed that, “The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.”[23]

By casting off the chains of traditional social relations, labor, and private property, a new world is possible. The Social Contract is the recipe for that better world. Arthur Melzer, a scholar of Rousseau, referred to Rousseau as a “passionate egalitarian,” and the general will as a “rigidly egalitarian doctrine,” Rousseau “realistically clung to.”[24]

The general will is the thrust of The Social Contract. In this work, Rousseau essentially hoped to alleviate the issues he addressed in the second discourse through his intensely egalitarian matrix. This doctrine can be highly contradictory, and at times, is extremely difficult to comprehend.

For example, Rousseau proclaimed that

Finally, each man, in giving himself to all, gives himself to nobody; and as there is no associate over whom he does not acquire the same right as he yields others over himself, he gains an equivalent for everything he loses, and an increase of force for the preservation of what he has.[25]

How one gives himself to everyone while simultaneously giving himself to no one is perplexing. Rousseau repeated vague and hopeful sentiments throughout the work: “So long as the subjects have to submit only to conventions of this sort, they obey no-one but their own will.”[26] If people are submitting to something, they are not obeying only their own will.

Another example of a difficult concept to grasp from his social contract theory emanates from the personnel governing it. To establish his social compact, it will take a special person. A person Rousseau described as a being of

superior intelligence beholding all the passions of men without experiencing any of them would be needed. This intelligence would have to be wholly unrelated to our nature, while knowing it through and through; its happiness would have to be independent of us, and yet ready to occupy itself with ours; and lastly, it would have, in the march of time, to look forward to a distant glory, and, working in one century, to be able to enjoy in the next.[27]

Where one can find this type of person is anyone’s guess. Rousseau even admitted that, “It would take gods to give men laws.”[28] It would take a being of supernatural and god-like abilities to fit this description.

The average person reading this would feel that this is out of the grasp of just about any living being. It would appear establishing a social contract dictated by this type of person is an impossibility. What gives Rousseau the hope he can accomplish it?

Let Rousseau tell you, with his optimistic enthusiasm:

He who dares to undertake the making of a people’s institutions ought to feel himself capable, so to speak, of changing human nature, of transforming each individual, who is by himself a complete and solitary whole, into part of a greater whole from which he in a manner receives his life and being.[29]

Rousseau feels he capable of fundamentally altering human nature. He elaborated, as he felt that this person must be capable of

altering man’s constitution for the purpose of strengthening it; and of substituting a partial and moral existence for the physical and independent existence nature has conferred on us all. He must, in a word, take away from man his own resources and give him instead new ones alien to him.[30]

Rousseau concluded this utopian egalitarian rant with this sentence:

so that if each citizen is nothing and can do nothing without the rest, and the resources acquired by the whole are equal or superior to the aggregate of the resources of all the individuals, it may be said that legislation is at the highest possible point of perfection.[31]

In a different work, Rousseau summarized his beliefs on the issue with a succinct and pithy thought: “It is certain that all peoples become in the long run what the government makes them.”[32] Rousseau, by implementing his general will, can change human nature.

A logical question to ask Rousseau would be, why? Why does he think this is possible, why does he think he can find this being of superior intelligence, and why does he think he is capable of changing human nature?

The answer lies in his belief in the contrast between the state of nature and civil society. Rousseau repeatedly mentioned in the second discourse that, “savage man and civilized man differ so greatly,” and that, “the human race of one age is not the human race of another.”[33] What Rousseau is alluding to here is, “the progress of the human mind.”[34]

Rousseau believed in a specific type of progress: progress in human nature. Jean Starobinski understood that the state of nature was really about finding a way to, “measure historical distance . . . ‘a zero point.’ ”[35] The state of nature was Rousseau’s way of demarcating the difference between natural Man, and modern Man. Once that first person acquired private property and society commenced, natural Man disappeared, modern Man arrived, and human nature began progressing.

This type of progress is different from progress in technology, science, medicine, or even how we treat people. This type of progress means that each successive generation is superior to the previous one. We are better than our parents, our parents better than our grandparents, and our grandparents infinitely better than antiquity. The further back in time one progresses, the greater the obsolescence of the past.[36] This superiority of the present means the norms of the past are unfit to govern modern Man. We must destroy the norms of the past and create new ones to suit our new and modern constitutions.[37]

The progressive and malleable nature of Man is not the exclusive reason Rousseau thinks his egalitarian utopia is possible. According to Rousseau, there is a natural equality in the state of nature, but that natural equity was corrupted by social relations.[38] Rousseau reiterated this point multiple times in the second discourse: “[A]s there is hardly any inequality in the state of nature, all the inequality which now prevails . . . becomes at last permanent and legitimate by the establishment of property and laws.”[39] In the state of nature, we were naturally equals. It is through society, labor, private property, and social relations that our natural equality was corrupted.

While there are other points worth discussing when it comes to Rousseau creating the ideological origins of socialism, the main tenets are sufficiently covered. Briefly, to give the reader a sense of what I am referring to, it is common knowledge that socialism believes in big-government and opposes religion. Rousseau believed that the larger the size of the government, the greater the citizens’ affection for the government will be;[40] Rousseau also had a distaste for religion’s ability to detract total loyalty from the general will.[41]

As the main tenets of Rousseau and socialism have been addressed, it is now important to observe how these ideological values are manifesting themselves in contemporary political discourse.

As Williams Sewell, Jr. wrote in Work and Revolution in France: the Language of Labor from the Old Regime to 1848: “Socialism is more than a doctrine that the means of production should be collectively owned; socialism also assumes that labor, as the foundation of all social life, should be the foundation of the political order.”[42] The socialists of the French Revolution were inspired by Rousseau and the Philosophes.[43] Their philosophical descendants in France believed that, “rather than representing human labor indirectly, through property, socialism insisted on direct representation of labor itself.”[44]

This is why labor and socialism have become such strong focal points for political representation. The socialist party in England is called “The Labour Party” for a reason. The communist newspaper formerly printed in the U.S. was called The Daily Worker for a reason.

A socialist political actor representing labor, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), advocated for an ideological value she referred to as “a living wage.” She emoted that

I think it’s wrong that a vast majority of the country doesn’t make a living wage, I think it’s wrong that you can work 100 hours and not feed your kids. I think it’s wrong that corporations like Walmart and Amazon can get paid by the government, essentially experience a wealth transfer from the public, for paying people less than a minimum wage.[45]

AOC expounded on her position thusly: “I can tell you that most people want to be paid enough to live. . . . Imagine attacking a Jobs Guarantee by saying ‘people prefer to earn money.’ “[46] AOC is essentially advocating for money and wages merely for existing. This is not a request to compensate people in exchange for their labor. Rudyard Kipling captured the essence of this rationale in his poem, “The Gods of the Copybook Headings”: “And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins, / When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins.”[47] The invalidation of Original Sin means that labor is optional in life.

And what of Rousseau’s belief, and that of his disciples following him, that private property is not a permanent fixture of the human condition? Must human beings have to have possession of things? Or are possession and ownership arbitrary social constructs, things that can be invalidated in contemporary society with the right teachings and conditions?

Interestingly, the social-science does NOT support this socialist claim. In Property and Freedom, Richard Pipes detailed several social-scientific research experiments that explicitly refuted this claim.[48] These experiments tested whether the concept of ownership and possession were taught by society, or if they were innate in human nature by studying infants and toddlers. The children studied lacked the capacity to truly accept instructions from adults to learn the concept of possession at this stage in their mental development. Despite this, there was one consistent aspect of infant life and inter-infant conflict: the word “mine.”[49] The infants would fight over ownership and possession of things. The concept of possession and private property was not a social construct learned through society; it was hard-wired into the very nature of these children.[50]

If you do not believe that private property and possession are hard-wired into human nature, then private property and possession are not essential to the human condition either. AOC tweeted that, “The hoarding of wealth by the few is coming at the cost of peoples’ lives.”[51] To the socialist, the concepts of private property, possession, and surplus are neither necessary, nor definite aspects of the human experience. This is what makes the accumulation of wealth—which is not earned through labor, mind you—so appalling to the socialist.

In an effort to eliminate surplus and possession, AOC rolled-out her income-tax plan. She advocated for another socialist platitude, one that centers on, “the inequitable distribution of wealth.” AOC proposed a tax plan that taxes 70% of all income on $10 million or more.[52] This stance is predicated on the belief that wealth is distributed in an inequitable fashion and should be redistributed more equitably.[53] The implication here is that someone, or something “distributed” wealth in the first place. The quarrel is then with a fictional branch of the government that distributes wealth. It implies that we have a “Department of Wealth Distribution” in the same way we have the Post Office, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Department of Motor Vehicles. The Department of Wealth Distribution accidentally erred in distributing wealth, giving a few much too much, and the majority of the population much too little.

Unfortunately for the socialists, no such office exists. Wealth is not distributed, it is earned. Thomas Sowell, professor of economics, set the record straight on this act of equivocation in The Vision of the Anointed: “To say that ‘wealth is so unfairly distributed in America’ is grossly misleading when most wealth in the United States is not distributed at all. People create it, earn it, save it, and spend it.”[54] Wealth is not distributed, it is earned through labor. So long as one does not believe in labor, or more aptly, that the concept of labor is essential to the human condition, then the origin of wealth is open to interpretation.

The premise wealth redistribution is predicated on is a desire for a more equitable world. The liberal socialist believes human beings have a natural equity to begin with, but that natural equality is corrupted by society. Remember, this is a point Rousseau reiterated multiple times in the second discourse.[55]

An interesting rebuttal to this comes from refuting Rousseau’s notion of the individual as the central unit of life in the state of nature. Again, Rousseau invalidated family life and averred that we lived as isolated individual units in the state of nature.

Thomas Sowell again had the perfect rebuttal to the socialists, who, following in the footsteps of Rousseau, believe in a natural equality. He asked: “If you cannot achieve equality of performance among people born to the same parents and raised under the same roof, how realistic is it to expect to achieve it across broader and deeper social divisions?”[56]

Dr. Sowell asked this rhetorically, knowing the axiomatic truth that human beings are not equals. We never have been, and we never will be. The closest possibility we can generate in making humans equals would be siblings born from the same parents, raised under the same roof. Even under these conditions, as anyone with siblings can tell you, we still do not generate equality. This quest is therefore a fool’s errand built on faulty ideology.

One additional nuance to the ideological premise of invalidating Original Sin is with contemporary socialist arguments for feminine-centric issues. Socialists have set their sights on issues relating to women and labor, such as “H.R. 1882: Menstrual Equity For All Act of 2019;”[57] “national period day,” which is a national movement aimed at, “elevating the issue of period poverty and demanding real change to making period products more accessible for all and ending the #TamponTax;” or the consequences women face in the workplace from pregnancy, known as “the pregnancy penalty,” or “the motherhood penalty.”[58] This penalty is the negative side effects, consequences, and externalities related to marriage, pregnancy, and motherhood that either negatively affect a woman’s professional performance, or carry a stigma perceived by their colleagues and superiors relating to these issues.

These issues all relate to the invalidation of Original Sin, but unlike the majority of socialist issues, which are predicated on the invalidation of labor for men, these issues are directed at invalidating labor for women. These are all issues associated with Eve’s involvement in Original Sin. These are identical ideological issues, all predicated on the same premises, albeit on different fronts.

All the ideologies of the political left—liberalism, socialism, communism, progressivism, intersectionalism—emanate from Rousseau’s invalidation of Original Sin. Conservatism is an opposition to these ideologies which still believes in Original Sin. God punished Adam and Eve and all of Man vicariously for their sins. We must labor and are forever banned from utopia on Earth. The conservative position believes the human condition is tragic, not utopian. Milton Friedman, economist and Nobel Laureate, succinctly articulated the state of the human condition as it applies to modern times:

Because we live in a largely free society, we tend to forget how limited is the span of time and the part of the globe for which there has ever been anything like political freedom: the typical state of mankind is tyranny, servitude, and misery.[59]

The conservative acknowledges that the human condition is tragic, and we must deal with the negative and tragic aspects of the world we inhabit. We cannot allow, “the miserliness of nature” to pass unnoticed.[60]

With a belief in Original Sin and the biblical creation account, utopia on Earth is impossible. In the biblical creation myth, God banished Man from Eden and placed two angels at the entrance with flaming swords to prevent man from ever returning to utopia on Earth. To those abandoning Original Sin, utopia on Earth remains a possibility.

The biblical aspect of socialism’s utopianism is easily grasped by examining the thought of the Abbe Sieyes, a disciple of Rousseau. Sieyes piggy-backed off Rousseau’s foundational ideology. He proclaimed that “religion . . . was the first enemy of man. . . . the perfectibility of man is arrested, his efforts diverted; rather than increasing his knowledge and his pleasures on earth, these are transported and led astray in the heavens.”[61] Or once again, as Karl Marx put it, “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”[62]

By embracing religion and Original Sin, we know we cannot have utopia here on Earth. We are aware that it exists exclusively in the afterlife. Religion acts like a drug, getting us high, numbing us to the pain and suffering of the present by promising us a better afterlife. We can tolerate the miserliness of nature and the tyranny, suffering, and misery of the human condition, so long as there is something better awaiting us in the world to come. Jonathan Turner understood Marx’s assertion to mean that “it encouraged them to accept their situation in the present (with false premises for a better future).”[63] To those who invalidate Original Sin, they believe we can bring utopia and heaven here on Earth in the present. Why wait until the afterlife?

Edmund Burke, the first conservative, understood the nature of the human condition akin to Friedman’s interpretation. He stoically observed:

I have sometimes been in a good deal more than Doubt, whether the Creator did ever really intend Man for a State of Happiness. He has mixed in his Cup a Number of natural Evils . . . and every Endeavor which the Art and Policy of Mankind has used from the Beginning of the World to this Day, in order to alleviate, or cure them, has only served to introduce new Mischiefs, or to aggravate and inflame the old.[64]

How happy God wants Man to be is up for debate; God does not want our lives to be easy and without tribulation. Had God wanted our lives to be easy and happy, God would not have mixed in the cup of life the natural evils Burke spoke of. Burke understood this in his day, the late 1700’s.

Burke did not believe in Rousseau’s assertion that we lived as isolated individuals, independent from others. He stated that, “Men are never in a state of total independence of each other.”[65] Burke also did not believe Man had the ability to change human nature, nor did he believe that government has the ability to mold human beings: “Plans must be made for men. We cannot think of making men, and binding nature to our designs.”[66]

Burke also understood the essence of socialism’s inchoate roots. Burke’s prescient foresight concerning the machinations of those not believing in Original Sin was as applicable then as it is now:

It is the common doom of man that he must eat his bread by the sweat of his brow, that is, by the sweat of his body, or the sweat of his mind. . . . Every attempt to fly from it, and to refuse the very terms of our existence, becomes much more truly a curse.[67]

These are the very terms of our existence. By fighting them, we only make things worse than had we accepted their terms in the first place.

This is why socialism always fails: it is completely based on faulty premises. Rousseau’s foundation of logic was flawed from the beginning. Every premise he uses is not only made-up, but wrong. Each faulty premise is then used to reach a faulty conclusion, and that faulty conclusion is then used as a new faulty premise to reach a new faulty conclusion.

The next time a socialist makes a point, it should now be easy to recognize the ideological origins for their contemporary political argument. We must never forget what Edmund Burke understood: It is the common doom of Man that we must labor. We must accept this as an enduring and unalterable truth. By illuminating the inaccuracies of socialism, we can begin to turn the tide and move forward in a more constructive way. Hopefully, we can soon rid the institutions of education, both k-12 and postsecondary, of the toxic and corrupting influence of socialism.

The Imaginative Conservative applies the principle of appreciation to the discussion of culture and politics—we approach dialogue with magnanimity rather than with mere civility. Will you help us remain a refreshing oasis in the increasingly contentious arena of modern discourse? Please consider donating now.

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Notes:

[1] Rousseau, 1762, p. 28.

[2] Rousseau, The Discourse on Inequality, ( p. 44.

[3] Ibid., p. 51.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Starobinsky, Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Transparency and Obstruction, p. 298.

[6] Rousseau, The Discourse on Inequality, p. 67.

[7] Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme.

[8] Rousseau, The Discourse on Inequality.

[9] Ibid., 29.

[10] Ibid., p. 26.

[11] Levine, The General Will: Rousseau, Marx, Communism, p. 44.

[12] Rousseau, The Discourse on Inequality, p. 31.

[13] Marx, Theories of Surplus Value.

[14] The Guardian, 2019.

[15] Reeves, “Capitalism is failing. People want a job with a decent wage – why is that so hard?”, paras. 25-26.

[16] Rousseau, The Discourse on Inequality.

[17] Ibid., p. 26.

[18] The Churchill Project, “Socialism is the Philosophy of Failure.”

[19] Thatcher, as quoted by Murdoch, “Thatcher: ‘They Would Rather Have the Poor Poorer.”

[20] Schoek, Envy: A Theory of Social Behavior; Mora, Egalitarian Envy: The Political Foundations of Social Justice.

[21] Tocqueville, Democracy in America, p. 189.

[22] Rousseau, Letter to Beaumont, p. 2.

[23] Marx, The Manifesto of the Communist Party.

[24] Melzer, The Natural Goodness of Men: On the System of Rousseau’s Thought, p. 155.

[25] Rousseau, The Social Contract, p. 14.

[26] Ibid., p. 34.

[27] Ibid., p. 42.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Ibid., pp. 42-43.

[30] Ibid., p. 43.

[31] Ibid.

[32] Rousseau, Discourse on Political Economy.

[33] Rousseau, The Discourse on Inequality, p. 69.

[34] Ibid., 71.

[35] Starobinski, Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Transparency and Obstruction, p. 294.

[36] Kessler, “An ‘Ever Better’ Constitution? Progressivism as Ideology and the U.S. Constitution,” 2018.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Rousseau, The Discourse on Inequality.

[39] Ibid., p. 37.

[40] Rousseau, The Social Contract, p. 77.

[41] Ibid., pp. 141-142.

[42] Sewell, Jr., Work and Revolution in France: The Language of Labor from the Old Regime to 1848, p. 265.

[43] Ibid.

[44] Ibid., p. 277.

[45] Cortez, as quoted by Kessler, “”Ocasio-Cortez’s misfired facts on living wage and minimum wage,” 2019.

[46] Ibid.

[47] Kipling, “The Gods of the Copybook Headings.”

[48] Pipes, Property and Freedom, pp. 70-73.

[49] Ibid.

[50] Ibid.

[51] Cortez, as quoted by Kessler, “”Ocasio-Cortez’s misfired facts on living wage and minimum wage,” 2019.

[52] Mound, “”AOC’s 70% Tax Plan is Just the Beginning,” 2019.

[53] Ibid.

[54] Sowell, as quoted by AEI, “Quotation of the day on unfair income and wealth distribution,” 2014.

[55] Rousseau, The Discourse on Inequality.

[56] Sowell, as quoted by AEI, “Quotation of the day on unfair income and wealth distribution,” 2014.

[57] Govtrack, “H.R. 1882: Menstrual Equity For All Act of 2019.”

[58] Period. The Menstrual Movement, 2019.

[59] Friedman, Milton Friedman on Freedom: Selections from the Collected Works of Milton Friedman, p. 19.

[60] Levine, The General Will: Rousseau, Marx, Communism.

[61] Sieyes, as quoted by Sewell, Jr., A Rhetoric of Bourgeois Revolution: The Abbé Sieyes and What is the Third Estate?, p. 12.

[62] Marx, Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right.

[63] Turner, Human Institutions, p. 74.

[64] Burke, The Vindication of Natural Society.

[65] Burke, Letters on a Regicide Peace.

[66] Burke, “Letter to a Member of the National Assembly.”

[67] Burke, Letters on a Regicide Peace.

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