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Is Rousseau best thought of as democratic or totalitarian in his social philosophy - Essay Example

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Rousseau was among those social philosophers who explored the paradox that radical political theorists, remain unable to raise to democratic politics, a duality of social interests and diverse conceptions for a modern man in the form of ‘democracy’ and ‘totalitarian’…
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Is Rousseau best thought of as democratic or totalitarian in his social philosophy

Although Rousseau have been the first political theorist to outline the form of a democratic social contract, his obsession with social solidarity precluded his conceptualizing the content of modern democratic political life 1. What he believed was a modern democratic policy within which general will involved the establishment of a democratic consensus, among divergent social interests and distinct moral conceptions of
Rousseau was among the very few political philosophers and theorists who gave a touch of taste of totalitarian to a full democratic region. He comprehend that if democracy were to be a stable and viable order, a commitment to its political practices and public goods would have to be an integral part of the will of each of its citizens, regardless of their propertied status. Although Rousseau acknowledged that in a free society the existence of such a shared “general will” should not obliterate individual wills, his attitude toward the role of associational life in a democratic order was profoundly ambivalent. Perhaps because he never witnessed a functioning pluralist democracy and vigorously opposed the status and economic inequalities of a commercial, monarchical society, Rousseau could not envision a democracy in which the political interactions of divergent interests forged a commitment to a common political life 3. In his day, status-based interests were a profound barrier to the creation of an egalitarian, democratic order; thus Rousseau never witnessed free associations playing a central role in the life of a democratic polity. ... Read More
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