We’ll discuss Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Discourse on the Origin and Basis of Inequality Among Men. Rousseau sets out to demonstrate how the growth of civilization corrupts man’s natural happiness and freedom by creating artificial inequalities of wealth, power and social privilege. Contending that primitive man was equal to his fellows, Rousseau believed that as societies become more sophisticated, the strongest and most intelligent members of the community gain an unnatural advantage over their weaker brethren, and that constitutions set up to rectify these imbalances through peace and justice in fact do nothing but perpetuate them. Rousseau’s political and social arguments in the Discourse were a hugely influential denunciation of the social conditions of his time and one of the most revolutionary documents of the eighteenth-century.
Henry George was evidently familiar with these ideas but didn’t fully agree with Rousseau.
Political Economy Book Club meetings are free and open to everyone, tho donations to help pay the rent are appreciated. PEBC Coordinator Bob Matter requests an RSVP at the phone number or email above.