for egalitarian uniformity. Rousseau’stheory of majoritarian rule by an histori-cally uprooted and undifferentiated massseems to Burke to be, in practice,
recipefor tyranny.In Burke’s view, the good society cher-ishes diversity, decentralization, and anelement of spontaneous evolution in re-sponse to the unexpected.
indeedfor the sake of universal values, but theseare not bloodless, disembodied abstrac-tions. Universality reveals its richness inthe proliferating variety of human exis-tence,
the same time that it ordersdiversity to an enduring transcendent pur-pose. Since the universal does not residein certain rigid, sharply defined “princi-ples,” Burke sees an important role forhuman imagination and creativity in dis-covering more fully the meaning and im-plications of universality in particularsocieties and circumstances.The America that Bloom defends phasesout cultural diversity and particularity andunifies human beings in their commondenominator. He describes the Americanproject
follows: “By recognizing and ac-cepting man’s natural rights, men found afundamental basis of unity and sameness.
race, religion, national origin orculture
disappear or become dim whenbathed in
light of natural rights, whichgive men common interests and makethem truly brothers.” In the United Statespeople are asked “to give up their ‘culturalindividuality’ and make themselves intothat universal, abstract being who partici-pates in natural rights or else be doomedto an existence on the fringe.”Bloom’s interpretation of the principlesof the American regime
strongly remi-niscent of Rousseau’s egalitarian vision in
The Social Contract.
For Bloom, theFrench Revolution with Rousseau as itsmain architect represents essentially thesame cause
wasfought and won for freedom and equality,as were the English and American revolu-tions.” Bloom
surely aware that manyAmerican and European thinkers, includ-ing Burke, have argued that the Americanrevolution represented
very differentpurpose and outlook than the French. TheAmerican revolution did not entail anysharp break with the social and politicaltraditions of England or Europe generally.These traditions were continued anddeveloped in distinctive ways on Ameri-can soil. Bloom does not dignify this viewwith an explicit refutation.In
The Social Contract
Rousseau arguesfor doing away with “sectional associa-tions,” that
groupings and divisions be-tween the individual and the state. Auton-omous associations are for him partisan in-terests that undermine the sovere.ignty ofthe virtuous general will of the people.The citizens should form
undifferenti-ated mass of individuals
that the major-ity can pronounce the common good. Theminority, as a partisan interest,
not en-titled to any protection.
must conform tothe majority will, or else must “be forcedto be free.” Bloom considers the authorsof the American regime to be similar toRousseau. Not only do they adopt the prin-ciple of “majoritarianism,” but they alsodislike minorities. “For
Founders,minorities are in general bad things, most-ly identical to factions, selfish groups whohave no concern
such for the commongood.” One of the unfortunate developments in American society, according toBloom,
that majoritarianism has beengradually abandoned “in favor of a nationof minorities and groups each following
own beliefs and inclinations.”Bloom’s disparagement of diversity andminorities
not merely directed against
“pluralism” of blatantly self-servinggroups and individuals.
type of universalism that shuns particular-ity and uniqueness for the treasured com-mon denominator in men, their sameness.Bloom’s depiction of the American ap-proach to politics calls to mind the pas-sions of the French Jacobins for spreading
in the world.“When we Americans speak seriouslyabout politics, we mean. hat our principlesof freedom and equality and the rightsbased on them are rational and every-where applicable.”
parallel with the French Revolution,