You are on page 1of 15

Order and Disorder in Rousseau's Social Thought

Author(s): Lester G. Crocker


Source: PMLA, Vol. 94, No. 2 (Mar., 1979), pp. 247-260
Published by: Modern Language Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/461889
Accessed: 18-03-2015 04:45 UTC

Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at
http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp

JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content
in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship.
For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.

Modern Language Association is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to PMLA.

http://www.jstor.org

This content downloaded from 128.235.251.160 on Wed, 18 Mar 2015 04:45:09 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
LESTER G. CROCKER

Order and Disorder in Rousseau'sSocial Thought

T HE CONSIDERATIONS that defined the two pragmatic alternatives. The halfway house
problem of order for Rousseau revolve has not worked, and never will.
around a central idea: man has perturbed Rousseau saw the physical universe of God's
the natural order. creation as a stable order of well-regulated mo-
To be sure, the three steps in Rousseau's tion. The living world, as described in the Dis-
conceptualization of "order" themselves lack the cours sur l'origine de l'inegalite, existed at the
order of strict logic, but there is no doubt that cost of violence and death, with creatures prey-
for him they cohere. First: God's creation- ing on one another for food, but this interaction
nature and cosmos-is a rational and, implicitly was nature's balance and-viewed in the large,
or potentially, a moral order: "la bonte de Dieu in the fashion of Pope-constituted a harmony.
est l'amour de l'ordre."' Second: the moral Within this harmony man originally lived. His
order did not actualize itself outside of God until state (condition) is defined in negative terms.
mankind embarked on the experience, and the He was not wicked and not unhappy; if he did
experiment, of discovering the moral realm not know virtue (because he was "innocent") or
(Discours sur l'origine de l'inegalite). Third: happiness, he knew the satisfaction of fulfilling
man has broken with the natural order, and he the elementary needs of subsistence. The nega-
has never found a remedy for the chaos intro- tives stop here. In the light of the natural har-
duced by this cosmic breach.2 In brief, then: the mony, Rousseau's state of nature is more than
natural order gives birth to its own antagonist, a one of nondisorder. It is a positive order, the
being whose unique awareness of its moral qual- original order. This is testified to by the stability
ity fractures the prevailing cosmic order and of recurrence, by the harmony (transparence)
accompanies, if it does not cause, its violation. between man and his natural environment, by
This revelation, which came to Rousseau at the unfragmented unity within man himself, a
Vincennes in 1749 and determined the course of private self and a public self having no existence
his life thereafter,3 can be encapsulated in a whatsoever.
sentence. Only through culture can man re- The revelation of the "crise de Vincennes"
create an order that will be a satisfactory re- concerned the loss of order and the cause, but
placement for the forever lost order of nature. not the remedy. The cause-and all else in
The premise is that there can be neither a replica Rousseau's political thought starts from here-
of the lost order, as fancied by the primitivist was the incompleteness of the social union, a
utopians (e.g., the "Nouvelle Cythere" of Ta- state of partial independence and partial de-
hiti), nor a compromise or meeting point that pendence; as he later described it, an "union
would conciliate nature and culture, in the vague trompeuse," an "association partielle et incom-
fashion of Diderot. For Rousseau it is an abso- plete," which left man standing with one foot in
lute either/or: "Donnez-le tout entier a l'Etat, the state of nature and the other in the social
ou laissez-le tout entier a lui-meme."4 But this state, thus forever divided. Society as we know it
epigram covers a complexity of ideas, whose is an "ordre social pretendu qui couvre les plus
core is the conviction that the only road out is cruels desordres" and "un vrai brigandage."6
the artifice of a new order, a construct of reason Only later, through reasoning and reflection, did
and will, not of nature: "l'ordre social est un Rousseau invent (or perhaps discover) the
droit sacre qui sert de base a tous les autres, means-the one and only means, he was certain
cependant ce droit n'a point sa source dans la -not of restoring order but of establishing a
nature.">Rousseau's pithy statement allows only new order, wholly man's, admittedly the work of
247

This content downloaded from 128.235.251.160 on Wed, 18 Mar 2015 04:45:09 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
248 Order and Disorder in Rousseau's Social Thought
artifice, and yet, in Rousseau's mind, "natural." the pessimism, the rebellious despair of the
The Discours sur les sciences et les arts, then, Discours sur l'inegalite are transformed. By now
provides only a glimmer of what was to follow. Rousseau had a clearly conceived outline of the
The arts and sciences are fomenters of degenera- remedy for mankind's ills. He was to make him-
tion and disorder, which masquerade under the self the prophetic voice of that remedy, and he
names of order and progress, so that we fool- would insist that there was no other way.
ishly take appearance for reality. The great out- What he saw was that faith in progress was a
burst comes in the Discours sur l'origine de hopeless delusion, the faith that enlightenment
l'inegalite. I shall not attempt to recapitulate its and wise laws would bring about voluntary
account of the etiology and the symptomology of commitment to "virtue"-the preference for the
the social disease. It explains the human rupture general good over one's own, or an identification
with nature-through the development of metal- of the latter with the former, which is the es-
lurgy, agriculture, property, social organization sence of being a "citizen." Partial measures, he
(and so culture).7 It portrays in vivid hues the maintained, could never create order. This is the
host of dire consequences: pride, competition, fundamental difference between Rousseau and
exploitation; a wolflike desire for domination the mainstream of political thought in the En-
(war among men), of which inequality is the lightenment. A way had to be found to a genuine
sign; and a clash between the demands of nature and final resolution of the rupture between man
and society (war within man), of which unhap- and nature, to a purgation of the conflicts among
piness is the sign.8 men and within men. The opposition of freedom
As inequality, injustice, and the state of war and obligation, the antagonism between the in-
are the phenomena of social disorder, so aliena- dividual and the whole, required a radical solu-
tion is the essence of disorder within the self. tion. To accomplish this, Rousseau discovered,
Rousseau designates three modes of alienation. there had to be a whole; and that was precisely
Alienation from nature came first, and is ir- what was missing. There was only an aggregate
reversible. Alienation of each from all in the of parts."
community followed the aborted fabrication of How then to create a whole? But first, what is
community. Alienation from one's authentic self a whole? A whole, Rousseau tells us, is a body
resulted from an almost omnipotent new force, in which all the parts lose their independence,
"opinion," which gave rise to the mask, the per- their self-centeredness-in fact, their very selves.
sona, the role, which eject or reject the true At an earlier date he had noted the problem in
self.9 Of the first mode, we may say, following this way:
Rousseau's own explanations, that it is built into
the human condition, by virtue of man's unique La differencede l'art humain a l'ouvrage de la na-
attributes of freedom and perfectibility, the re- ture se fait sentir dans ses effets. Les citoyens ont
flective having acquired primacy over the reflex- beau s'appeler membres de 1'Etat [which is the work
of "art" or "artifice"], ils ne sauraient s'unir a lui
ive. The second is a built-in potential, stemming
comme de vrais membres le sont aux corps; il est
from man's natural resistance to dependency
impossible de faire que chacun d'eux n'ait pas une
and the egoistic propensity of each to make his existence individuelle et separee, par laquelle il peut
own order in relation to himself and thus to cre- seul suffire a sa propre conservation.
ate disorder around him. The third is another (Vaughan, i, 298)
inescapable virtuality: amour-propre, which
leads to existence "en dehors de soi." The This is the problem Rousseau proposes to solve
alienated man experiences himself not as in "Economie politique." The true community,
self-determined but as other-determined; he is he emphasizes here and in later writings, can
"compelled by social circumstances to act self- only be created on the analogy of the biological
destructively, to cooperate in his own self- body. The point is capital: the body is the para-
mutilation.""' The society men had created digm of order; on it, the true society and state
presumably to satisfy their needs was warping must model themselves. If alienation, in its three
their selves. modes, is at the core of the human disease, the
In the article "Economie politique" (1755), remedy-here is Rousseau's great paradox-is

This content downloaded from 128.235.251.160 on Wed, 18 Mar 2015 04:45:09 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
Lester G. Crocker 249
to be found only in effectuating a complete ideal state it is possible to realize the teleology
alienation. Alienation from the natural harmony of God's (and Rousseau's) plan, which is unat-
is now irreversibly built into the human condi- tainable in immoral states, where the lower in-
tion. Its partial character ("cette association stincts prevail.
partielle et incomplete") explains the various The third mode of alienation, from one's au-
conflicts to which we are subjected. A great leap thentic self, signifies the loss of unity within the
is needed to achieve an alienation that ends person. And here is Rousseau's third great para-
alienation. dox. There is no way to restore the unity of the
What does it mean to complete alienation? self except by losing the self. The split cannot be
Let us refer to the three modes of alienation. mended. The self, too, must be transformed,
First, alienation from nature must be accepted sublimated into a higher unity, that of the col-
and carried to a conclusion. "Efforqons-nous de lective self, le moi commun, and then recovered
tirer du mal meme le remede qui doit le guerir. in an entirely new, fabricated, nonnatural form.
Par de nouvelles associations, corrigeons, s'il se The egocentric atom must become part of the
peut, le defaut de l'association generale .... new body. This means, to use Rousseau's word,
Montrons-lui [i.e., the anarchist] dans l'art that it must be "denatured." He makes this point
perfectionne la reparation des maux que l'art in numerous passages15 and, more important,
commence fit a la nature."12Here is another of he makes it in his three masterpieces: it is, in
Rousseau's great paradoxes. He intends not to fact, their substance. Men, they tell us, are not
"lose" nature but to re-create it by a process of naturally citizens, since they do not have reflex-
transformation. Several times, in Emile, he in- ive social behavior. The objective is to make
sists that we must not confuse what is natural in them act reflexively as units of the whole.1"
the original man with what is natural to man in This ability is for Rousseau the essence of
the social state.:< being a "citizen." Contrary to the other philo-
Second, the war among men will be ended by sophes, he did not believe that change in overt
their absorption into a true community or col- behavior was of value unless the inner man was
lectivity that will reflect the requirements of changed. Such a change means a radical recon-
man's higher, social nature without frustrating struction of the individual's way of thinking, his
the other. Rousseau will make the design explicit outlook on life, his way of conceiving of himself
in La Nouvelle Heloise, the Contrat social, and -it means a new self. That is why Rousseau's
the projects for Corsica and Poland. This goal techniques, as he tirelessly repeats in every one
requires the extinction of personal interest as a of his relevant works, are all focused on "captur-
motivating force, or once again, to be more ing wills" and controlling minds ("l'opinion").
exact, its transformation or translocation.'4 The There is another face to the problem. If the
political body must be made into "un corps "detestable moi humain" is to be transmuted, by
organis6, vivant, et semblable a celui de educational processes and the various techniques
l'homme. ... La vie de l'un et de l'autre est le of habituation and conditioning that Rousseau
moi commun au tout, la sensibilit6 r6ciproque develops in detail, there is an implied supposi-
et la correspondance interne de toutes les par- tion, namely, that one may legitimately speak of
ties" ("Economie politique," p. 241). In such a community of men and women as having a
an organic state, true order can be established by self-the moi commun on which Rousseau
the creation of an artifact that imitates nature dwells in "Economie politique" and the Contrat
(but not the state of nature). As communal ex- social-that can absorb and transmute the nat-
istence put an end to the original state of har- ural self, thereby achieving by "art" what nature
mony and equality, a different kind of com- failed to do. Many political philosophers have
munity can reestablish these conditions in a denied any validity to such a supposititous and
form nature has never known, never prepared us factitious entity. Herbert Spencer, for instance,
for. Artifice is placed at the service of one aspect considered the differences between the individual
of man's nature to enable it to defeat the other body and the collective entity to be irrecon-
by transforming it (donner le change is one of cilable: in a society, consciousness exists only in
Rousseau's favorite expressions); thus in the the parts; in the body, consciousness exists only

This content downloaded from 128.235.251.160 on Wed, 18 Mar 2015 04:45:09 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
250 Order and Disorder in Rousseau's Social Thought
in the whole. The notion is still debated today, commun, sa vie, sa volonte." And Rousseau
and liberal thinkers would generally agree with now calls this new self "cette personne pub-
Spencer. lique." He draws the consequence: "Comme la
Rousseau's thrust was to overcome this anti- nature donne a chaque homme un pouvoir ab-
thesis. The entire structure of his political theory solu sur tous ses membres, le pacte social donne
stands or falls on this point. "Le Corps politique au corps politique un pouvoir absolu sur tous les
est donc aussi un etre moral qui a une volont6."17 siens" (Bk. II, Ch. iv; p. 372).
In the first version of the Contrat social he La Nouvelle Heloise is the novel of disorder
puts it this way: a real society must be "un Etre (the archetypal nature-society conflict) con-
moral qui aurait des qualites propres et dis- verted into order through the remaking of Julie
tinctes de celles des Etres particuliers qui le and Saint-Preux and their absorption into a moi
constituent, a peu pres comme les composes commun. The enterprise ultimately fails, be-
chimiques ont des proprietes qu'ils ne tiennent cause the moi humain is too strong and the pro-
d'aucun des mixtes qui les composent" (Bk. I, tagonists are socialized too late. Emile is the first
Ch. ii; p. 284). guidebook to behavioral engineering from in-
Let us look at these two elements. First, if the fancy on. It, too, may be said to fail, as the
political "body" were not an "Etre moral," the sequel, Emile et Sophie, shows, because there is
conscience of the individual might be superior to no society appropriate for the remodeled Emile.
it, and then the harmony and unity of the The Contrat social and the various supple-
"body" would be destroyed. If it is an "Etre mentary political tracts set up the theory and the
moral," Rousseau goes on, then it is the sole institutions of a society of citizens. In each
criterion of right and wrong, and all its laws are treatise, the remedy is based on the notion of
legitimate. Second, if it did not have a will, it correcting the partial alienation in which we are
would not be a "body," in the sense of a "per- living. Throughout, the theory is the same, as
son," and could not play the role of a "self." Rousseau affirms. And the draconian methods of
But if it is a self, then its judgment not merely denaturing the moi humain, of transforming and
supersedes that of its constituent parts but be- transposing the self, of maintaining constant
comes identical with the real judgment of each surveillance over the lurking danger of a re-
individual component, which has, and can have, nascent moi humain are also constants. Men must
no other judgment. That is why Rousseau can be educated to reflexive social behavior and
say that the law teaches each citizen "a agir never trusted not to relapse.
selon les maximes de son propre jugement, et a If only both components of the new "body"
n'etre pas en contradiction avec lui-mmee"--an can be combined-the remodeled units and the
idea basic to the Contrat social as well.'1 When institutional structure-then order will be re-
the self is identified with the whole, there is no created by "art." Unity, harmony, stability are
personal interest except the public interest, and its three elements. Unity will be forged by law-
the order of an organic society is achieved, an givers, leaders, and guides, in the various ways
order made possible by overcoming the three foreseen by Rousseau. Harmony will come from
modes of alienation. the surrender of the selves and from the equality
This supposition of a public self, an organic of a just society, in which there is no exploita-
whole into which individual selves can fuse, tion of some by others. Stability will result when
alone makes possible the famous fourth para- each unit, like each member of the body, has its
graph of Book I, Chapter vi, of the Contrat so- function, with no opportunity to change it.20
cial,'9 and also its sequel in the following para- The three elements are the indissolubly inter-
graphs, in which renunciation of the basic dependent constituents of order. They imply a
elements of individual selfhood (judgment, unanimous will with univocal values-a whole,
rights, will) becomes only a conversion of these an organic "body."
elements into the new self: "nous recevons en What of freedom? All political theorists have
corps [italics added] chaque membre comme been aware of the antinomy of freedom and
partie indivisible du tout," the "tout" being "un order. Hobbes makes the sacrifice of the one the
Corps moral et collectif," which has "son moi price of the other. Locke wants to have a por-

This content downloaded from 128.235.251.160 on Wed, 18 Mar 2015 04:45:09 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
Lester G. Crocker 251
tion of each. The absolutist mind of Rousseau ever, fearful that this process of participation
demands both. The original freedom of indi- might also degenerate into a source of disorder
vidual independence, part of the original "na- (disunity, disharmony), surrounds this sole po-
ture," must of course be eliminated-and com- litical right with tight controls to be sure that it
pletely, not partially. Independence, which did goes as it ought.22
not cause disorder in the state of nature, has In Rousseau's dream, law and liberty, disci-
been its very cause in society. In Rousseau's pline and freedom, sacrifice and fulfillment, far
conceptualization, liberty is not preserved and from being irredeemable opposites, are reduced
protected (as it is in Locke and the historic to an identity. Order is intended to serve a moral
American documents); it is transformed pari state, but no morality is possible without order.
passu as the self is transformed. It is lost in its But where does the ordering process begin? The
original and usual sense; it is regained according new man comes from the new state, but the new
to the definition of a new self, of its will and state cannot exist without the new man. Rous-
obligations. This, as Rousseau frequently insists, seau was aware of this circularity and of the
is a quite different matter from mere obedience absence of a solution. He was not able to suggest
to laws. That is why in Emile he can speak in how the utopian moment could insert itself into
one breath of freedom and control: "Sans doute, history. It would require the rare coincidence of
il ne doit faire que ce qu'il veut; mais il ne doit a charismatic lawgiver, one who could grasp the
vouloir que ce que vous voulez qu'il fasse."2' truth as Rousseau expounded it, with a de novo
Or, as he puts it in the Contrat social, "l'impul- social situation.
sion du seul appetit est l'esclavage, et l'obeis- Rousseau's problem was further complicated
sance a la loi qu'on s'est prescrite est la liberte" by the matter of equality. He had signaled in-
(Bk. i, Ch. viii; p. 365). (Politically, the reflex- equality as the bane of social order. He never
ive verb is valid only in the general sense that swerved in his belief that the law must apply
each, having become a part of the body of the equally to all. In his view, then, equality is a
public person, has agreed that its will is his own necessary component of order. Equality is anti-
true will.) The purpose of deception (which thetical to freedom if the word is taken in any
Rousseau constantly recommends and in which individualistic sense. Modern philosophers are
we see his "transvaluation of values," before aware of this truth: "Leave men free, and their
Nietzsche's) is simply this: "afin que les peuples natural inequalities will multiply almost geomet-
soumis aux lois de l'Etat comme a celles de la rically. . . . To check the growth of inequality,
nature . . . ob6issent avec liberte et portassent liberty must be sacrificed."23Though Rousseau
docilement le joug de la felicite publique" (Bk. never expressed such a belief, it underlies his
ir, Ch. vii; p. 383). What a contrast with exist- system, and without this premise the system
ing societies, in which "loin que l'interet par- would make no sense. In theory, then, Rousseau
ticulier s'allie au bien g6neral, ils s'excluent l'un opts for equality. Yet here is still another para-
l'autre dans l'ordre naturel des choses et les lois dox. The very control and direction required,
sociales sont un joug que chacun veut imposer first to establish the organic society of the col-
aux autres, mais non pas s'en charger lui-meme" lective self and then to protect and preserve it
(Bk. I, Ch. ii; p. 284). against nature, make inequality indispensable. In
The absolute surrender of all rights to the fact, Rousseau is not an egalitarian, except in
state is not quite absolute. It leaves one right, the sense explained above; not in the communist
which is in effect a duty, the two terms now sense of communal property and even less so in
being quite indistinguishable in Rousseau's con- the anarchist sense of no man's having a su-
ception: participation in the determination of perior to command him. A close look at any of
the general will. Rousseau's "liberty" comes his proposed societies, from the community of
down to this. It is, in other words, the sovereign La Nouvelle Heloise on, shows him to be firmly
functioning of the collective body, so that a man committed to hierarchical structures. With its set
is free not because he keeps any rights but be- roles and places, hierarchy is essential to order.
cause by abandoning them he becomes a citizen, Moreover, superior ability, in those restricted
a part of the body's functioning. Rousseau, how- fields and echelons where Rousseau would allow

This content downloaded from 128.235.251.160 on Wed, 18 Mar 2015 04:45:09 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
252 Order and Disorder in IRousseau's Social Thought
it to demonstrate itself, is bound to surface and the projected concordance, which is some years
have its way. Far from being opposed to this, away.
Rousseau depends on it. His societies, from the Most relevant to our study are the words "cul-
first to the last, are elitist. He counts on an ture" and "cultivation," with their cognates and
aristocracy of superior men to do the job of metaphorical effluences. The words are intrinsi-
modeling and controlling the herd.24 And cally ambiguous, referring either to social cul-
Nietzsche may well have been inspired by Rous- ture or to cultivation of the earth or of the in-
seau's constant, though implicit, distinctions be- dividual. Rousseau is hostile to the former in its
tween a master morality and a herd morality. historical forms (with a few exceptions, notably
What has happened to nature in this Dan- the culture of Sparta). But his "system" (as he
tesque edifice of human rationality and "art"? calls it) relies on "cultivation." He attributes
Has Rousseau lost it in going beyond it? Here primacy to culture, but only insofar as it serves
again, as with "freedom" and "self," everything and perfects nature.
depends on definitions, and Rousseau never feels In the two Discours, in the polemical writings
that words are his master. Moreover, we must surrounding them, and in the political tracts on
constantly remember that "nature" and "nat- Poland and Corsica, the words "cultivation" and
ural" are normative words for him, even though "culture" are used as a recurrent sign of moral
he pretends that they are descriptive and uses deterioration, enslavement, inequality, and the
them arbitrarily to express his own preferences. decadence of nature's life-supporting instincts.
In the midst of his most intricate and subtle arti- Later, to be sure, Rousseau was to extol agricul-
fices, in the thick of his most convoluted rea- tural pursuits ("cultivation") and oppose them
sonings, he never ceases to affirm, often to the to the sophisticated "culture" of the cities.26
reader's amazement, that he is following the The metaphor serves to denounce the inherent
path of nature and the natural. Yet if we keep in vice of men in the social state: "tels sont les
mind his distinction between what is natural to fondements de cette bienveillance universelle ...
original man and what is natural to social man, dont chacun voudrait receuillir le fruit, sans etre
his statement that he is dealing with "abstract oblige de la cultiver" (CS, 1st vers. Bk. I, Ch. ii;
man" (Emile, p. 12), and his antithesis of the p. 282). By 1759 he had come to regard man in
man and the citizen, we shall understand that for the state of nature with a jaundiced eye: "la paix
Rousseau-at least insofar as that exceptional, et le bonheur ne sont pour lui qu'un eclair; rien
"perfectible" creature man is concerned-nature n'est permanent que la misere qui resulte de
is not a given but an entelechy to be realized. In toutes ces vicissitudes." A "continual flux," de-
Emile alone, he repeats this idea five times. barring the cultivation that can come about only
Rousseau's teleological theory of nature em- in a fixed society, perpetuates disorder: "quand
bodies the concept-which Hegel would later ses sentiments et ses idees pourraient s'elever
conceptualize in a systematic cosmic philosophy jusqu'a l'amour de l'ordre et aux notions sub-
-that history is (or, for Rousseau, "should limes de la vertu, il lui serait impossible de faire
be") the realization of a built-in "idea" and of a jamais une application sure de ses principes ...."
superior kind of freedom-goals achievable only In society, where rivalry and jealousy are at
by placing the locus of value and of self in the least as powerful as the bonds of identity, we
state.'2 Nature is not lost; a higher order of the can no longer count on nature (CS, p. 282).
natural is realized. Rousseau gives man the right For this reason cultivation is necessary if chaos
and the power to gain this end. is not to prevail.27
The vocabulary and imagery of Rousseau's In Emile, figures of speech expressing the
rhetoric provide us with further confirmation, of quintessence of Rousseau's purpose are even
a different sort, of his conception of "nature" as more striking. "L'homme ne veut pas etre
transmuted and yet retained or reborn in a sys- faconne a demi," he instructs the abstract
tem of strict rational control. A thorough study mother; your role is to "garantir l'arbrisseau
of his word fixations would be revealing, but naissant du choc des opinions humaines. Cul-
such an enterprise must await the completion of tive, arrose la jeune plante avant qu'elle meure:

This content downloaded from 128.235.251.160 on Wed, 18 Mar 2015 04:45:09 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
Lester G. Crocker 253
ses fruits feront un jour tes delices. . . . On of corruption and of the individual's revolt
faconne les plantes par la culture, et les hommes against an admittedly imperfect social order.
par l'education" (pp. 5-7). Rousseau drives the point home in Julie's fol-
The rhetoric and the theme are most vital in lowing letter. Her conscience, her better nature,
La Nouvelle Heloise. Saint-Preux's preparation makes happiness impossible in this domain of
for life, his cultivation of "quelques talents agre- pure nature, and her self is split asunder: "je
ables" (p. 31), has not made him fit for the rougis en pensant a moi; tous mes bons senti-
trials of passion and the "obstacles" (another of ments se depravent, et je me consume en vains et
Rousseau's favorite words) society puts in the steriles regrets que n'anime pas meme un vrai
way of natural impulses. Saint-Preux is at war repentir" (p. 114). The supplanting of this wil-
with society, at war within himself. He will have derness by Julie's garden, which is associated
to be "remade." That will be the task of Wol- with her redemption, is the key in this counter-
mar, aided by Julie, the woman of the menage a point of symbols.
trois; it is a task Wolmar will be unable to ac- It is given to us in Part iv, Letter 11 (pp.
complish completely-despite Milord Edouard's 470-88). Julie's "Elysee" is a secret garden,
assurances that Saint-Preux's passionate love previously a semiarid, useless place, to which
can be overcome, provided wisdom is "culti- Saint-Preux is admitted as a teaching device. I
vated" (p. 193). shall not comment on its isolation, which adum-
Julie's secret garden gives us the master key brates Rousseau's personal problems. Saint-
to Rousseau's system. It is foreshadowed in the Preux's impression is of a wild ("sauvage")
first part of the novel, when Saint-Preux, tem- growth, that is, a natural one, "agreste et aban-
porarily exiled, describes the countryside of the donne; je n'y vois point de travail humain." Not
Haut-Valais: so, Julie explains. "Il est vrai, dit-elle, que la
nature a tout fait, mais sous ma direction, et il
Un m6lange etonnant de la nature sauvage et de
n'y a rien la que je n'aie ordonne." Everything
la nature cultivee montrait partout la main des seems to grow naturally; but everything is the
honmmes,ou l'on eut cru qu'ils n'avaient jamais work of artifice, everything is "guide," the result
pen6tre. ... la nature semblait encore prendre of complex maneuvers, of "industrie." And all
plaisir a s'y mettre en opposition avec elle-meme.
. . Ajoutez a tout cela les illusionsde l'optique... depends on one factor: "la main du jardinier ne
se montre point" (italics added).
(pp. 76-77; italics added)
Everything is "natural," but everything is
The kernel of Rousseau's conception is pres- artificial, and we find it to be natural only be-
ent in undeveloped form in this description. But cause it is artificial, the product of human will
he depicts still another "garden" (Pt. I, Letter and rationality. In a civilized setting, in order to
36), which he seems to propose as the symbolic recover nature, men are "reduits a lui faire vio-
antithesis of both Saint-Preux's dimly perceived lence, a la forcer en quelque sorte a venir habi-
juncture of art and nature and the full-blown ter avec eux." This is the work of cultivation.
allegory of Julie's garden. This is the forest But it is much more than a "recovery" of nature.
where she plans to have secret assignations with It adds something nature does not provide-
her lover. The antithesis is displayed both in the even as nature makes no provision for the citi-
character of the "natural" and in the purpose it zen. What is deemed "natural" is determined by
is to serve. Here, in contrast to the first land- the human conceptualization of what is natural.
scape, there are "des asiles deserts et plus som- In fact, we disfigure nature to make it conform
bres. L'art ni la main des hommes n'y montrent to the preconceived idea of what it should be;
nulle part leurs soins inquietants; on n'y voit and this is precisely the nub of Rousseau's
partout que les tendres soins de la mere com- methodology for the "ordering" of individuals
mune. C'est la, mon ami, qu'on n'est que sous and societies. For man, with his rational and
ses auspices, et qu'on peut n'ecouter que ses aesthetic requirements of order ("mon seul prin-
lois" (p. 112-13; italics added). The wild gar- cipe actif est le gout naturel de l'ordre," says
den, then, the truly natural one, is the sanctuary Wolmar), nature, left to itself, would be a

This content downloaded from 128.235.251.160 on Wed, 18 Mar 2015 04:45:09 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
254 Order and Disorder in Rousseau's Social Thought
chaos. Julie makes this plain. Planning and cul- sentiments de la nature ne sait ce qu'il veut" (p.
tivation create an order in which man experi- 10), since the inevitable result can only be con-
ences the fulfillment of the natural. Nature must tradiction, hence disorder. The important thing,
be "guided" to realize its "true" self, "true na- in Rousseau's mind, is that by artifice we will be
ture." As Marcel Proust was later to write about rescued from the ills of artifice, and nature will
Venice: "Les demeures disposees des deux cotes be saved. "Quel est ce but? c'est celui meme de
du chenal faisait penser a des sites de la nature, la nature" (Emile, p. 7).
mais d'une nature qui aurait cree ses ceuvres The bewildering panoply of artifices, hidden
avec une imagination humaine."28 This guid- trickery, and manipulation used to control
ance corresponds conceptually to the "liberte thoughts and emotions in Emile and the political
bien reglde" of Emile and the "chacun a besoin writings is, as we have seen, directed by this
de guides" of the Contrat social. There is a per- compelling purpose. It also explains why the
fect analogy between the arid "natural nature" task of surveillance and control is a never-
(which Julie's adroit cultivation has transformed ending one. Nature's nature is always ready to
into what Saint-Preux recognizes ecstatically as reassert itself against the gardener's, if he but
nature in its ideal form-"un desert [wilder- relax his watchfulness. Nietzsche was to say:
ness] artificiel") and the unguided, disorderly "Everything that eludes the hand and discipline
natural passions of the lovers (which she had of man returns almost at once to its natural
sought to indulge in the earlier "forest"), meta- state. The type remains constant: one cannot
morphosed by Wolmar's guidance into a realm 'denaturer la nature.' "29 Rousseau warned sev-
of order where "natural" values are enthroned. eral times of the lurking danger of the resurgent
In similar fashion, the servants' natural aversion moi humain. The nature of men cannot be per-
to servitude is transformed by careful cultiva- manently altered: "On peut les contraindre et
tion, according to an always concealed plan, into non les changer: on peut empecher les hommes
a selfless zeal to serve their masters, and in such de se montrer tels qu'ils sont, mais non les faire
a way that natural personal rivalry loses all devenir autres" (NH, Pt. v, Letter 3; p. 566).
other (nonsocial) dimensions (Pt. iv, Letter 10; Even before the extensive development of
pp. 440-70). For both nature and man in so- Rousseau's system of personality control in
ciety, "cultivation," or culture, is the sole rem- Emile, the techniques dictated by his theory are
edy for man's disruption of order. The three applied by Julie to the education of children.
gardens represent three possibilities in man's "Mais ce bon naturel veut etre cultive. C'est des
relation to nature, including, symbolically, his leur naissance que doit commencer leur educa-
own nature. In the first, la main de l'homme is tion." ("Cultivation" and "education" are again
operative and visible. In the second, la main de paired.) Saint-Preux adds: "elle m'a fait voir
l'homme is absent and nature takes its own sous cet air de negligence la plus vigilante atten-
course. In the third, la main du jardinier (the tion" (Pt. v, Letter 3; p. 561). Her artifices are
cultivator) is operative and invisible. The third directed by her idea of what is natural, and they
garden represents the best, or ideal, course. depend on their being unperceived by the child,
The order thus created is man's, not God's; just as the gardener's maneges and those of
but in some unfathomable way it reflects God's Emile's preceptor must be hidden.30 Julie sum-
order. Julie had felt this on entering church: marizes her method by returning to the basic
"Une puissance inconnue sembla corriger tout a imagery. "Je ne suis, m'a-t-elle dit en riant, que
coup le desordre de mes affections et les retablir la servante du jardinier; je sarcle le jardin, j'en
selon la loi du devoir et de la nature" (Pt. III, ote la mauvaise herbe; c'est a lui de cultiver la
Letter 18; p. 354). bonne."
However this may be, the ordered society of One can easily see the theoretical problem:
Clarens is the work, not of God, but of the athe- the weeds are also natural. Rousseau's "natural"
ist Wolmar. The key to it and to all Rousseau's is then a choice. It is the very work of culture
planning for the "true society" is the parable of (and of cultivation), their proper work. In the
Julie's garden. As he writes in Emile, "Celui qui, state of nature, it is no more valid, or possible,
dans l'ordre civil, veut conserver la primaute des to distinguish "weeds" from other plants than

This content downloaded from 128.235.251.160 on Wed, 18 Mar 2015 04:45:09 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
Lester G. Crocker 255

right from wrong. Everything simply is, until de faire, ne devint en fort peu de temps le der-
man introduces considerations of value, includ- nier des scelerats."35
ing those values he decides to include in the All that we have noted thus far makes it clear
word "natural."They correspond to his ordering why Rousseau turns to the state, as he conceives
propensity. It is when he reached the agricultural it, as the apotheosis of order. The state solves
stage of cultivation that he entered the order of the antinomy of order and liberty by effectuating
culture, which is (or is intended to be) the realm absolute subjection to the general will, which is
of the cultivation of order. Then there are assumed definitionally to express and embody
weeds. They must be eradicated in the moral moral law in its objective political form (the
sphere of human existence as in the horticul- welfare of the social body), and by eliminating
tural. In short, culture and cultivation, properly arbitrary subjection to all volontes particulieres
conceived, create the "nature" that corresponds (Vaughan, i, 239, 242, et passim). By fusing
to our sense of order.31 individual identity and collective personality, by
Rousseau's ideas on natural law agree with redirecting and sublimating nature, the state
the preceding analysis of his conception of "na- remedies the disease of natural man's persistence
ture" and "natural." In his reply to Diderot's in society, a coexistence that is the source of
"Droit naturel" in the important second chapter disorder. In the new order, natural law can again
of the first version of the Contrat social, he de- play a role. "Rendez-les seulement honnetes et
nies natural law as a functional element in exist- vertueux, et je vous reponds qu'ils sauront assez
ing societies.32 In none of his political schemes de droit."36 But a deeper and more important
does he count on natural law. In the state of point is involved here. "Natural man" pre-
nature, nature's only law is to do what one sumably knows what is good by instinct ("le
wants as far as one can, although the universal premier mouvement de la nature est toujours
law is mitigated in human beings by feelings of droit"). This endowment has been vitiated by
compassion. The social problem has one of its reflection ("l'homme qui pense est un animal
roots right here: because men still want to fol- deprave"), by society. In Rousseau's plan, this
low nature's law, that is, natural instincts-infi- immediacy will be recovered in the new form of
nitely more, indeed, than they did in the state of reflexive response, even as the organs of the nat-
nature-nature and the given natural law of sat- ural body respond to the needs and directives of
isfying impulses have become forces of disorder. the whole ("le materialisme du sage").37
Even though social existence brings about the The new order, then, is a "natural order" in
emergence of moral natural law, the original law that it retrieves or re-creates in new form the
remains powerful. Rousseau tells us often that basic lineaments, which may be viewed nega-
personal interest stands in opposition to duty.33 tively as an end to misdirected self-love and the
This idea grew stronger in his mind as the years cannibalism of amour-propre, of alienation from
went on. In his autobiographical self-justifica- one's self and one's world; or positively as the
tions he returns to it several times. "L'interet restoration, through harmony between each man
particulier est presque toujours en opposition and his new, collective self, of nature's lost unity
avec l'interet public." Natural goodness is suffi- and the achievement of a plenitude of self-fulfill-
cient only for the solitary, living outside of soci- ment. No longer is Glaucus disfigured. The orig-
ety; in society, he repeats, natural impulses are inal lineaments are recovered, not in substance
harmful. "La vertu parmi nous oblige souvent a or kind, but in form: "un etre agissant toujours
combattre et a vaincre la nature." Virtue is par des principes certains et invariables" (Sur
"travail et combat," and nature's law does not l'origine de l'inegalite, p. 59). In this society, the
go that far. "I1 nous en faut une autre alors qui loi du plus fort is no longer "natural," since the
commande, et que la nature se taise."34In other self no longer has the same needs, demands, or
words, Rousseau firmly believed that men in so- rights that it had as an atomistic unit. It has a
ciety are naturally evil. "Le moyen d'etre new "nature."38
honnetes gens sans combattre?" he asks Tron- Yet how different this new nature is from the
chin. "... il n'y a pas un seul homme au monde old can be epitomized in its reliance on virtue,
qui, s'il faisait tout ce que son coeur lui propose which, as Rousseau says, is contrary to (orig-

This content downloaded from 128.235.251.160 on Wed, 18 Mar 2015 04:45:09 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
256 Order and Disorder in Rousseau's Social Thought
inal) nature. The new concept of liberty is in- would be remade by the hand of man, reshaped
separable from the idea of virtue, inasmuch as into a form it had never known. Only then could
liberty (properly conceived) has been made order prevail.
identical to obedience (properly conceived): Through the foregoing analysis, we may have
"ne vouloir jamais que ce que veut la soci6te." reached a clearer understanding of a persistent
Virtue is a new principle of order, born of so- problem of interpretation. What have appeared
ciety and necessary to society; but because laws, as antithetical or antagonistic elements in Rous-
and virtue on its own, are ineffective, the present seau's thought-nature and culture, liberty and
order always has been and will be defective. submission, individual self-fulfillment and the
Evidently, if the new order is to come into authoritarian state-exist as such only in the
being and to prevail, the state must be repres- minds of his interpreters, who necessarily view
sive, disciplinary, and all-powerful. The public these conditions as they know them in their own
interest and the laws must have a "natural societies, in their logic and their philosophical
force." The "just society" (Rousseau's goal) axioms. They do not exist as opposites for
and the liberal society of individual freedom are Rousseau, except as a starting point, as the in-
patent irreconcilables. Although it is conceivable herent conditions of historical (i.e., unplanned)
that on one model of justice the former may be societies, conditions that his constructed soci-
defined in terms of the latter, Rousseau, like eties are designed, specifically, to surpass and
other utopians, does not entertain such a model. abolish. In his monumental and novel structure,
His intent is to integrate the moral nature of the antinomies are sublimated into unity. Cul-
man into the political order, and this end ture recaptures nature in its own way, repairing
requires a strategy of stifling, if not eliminating, it; the individual, a citizen, finds his fulfillment
the immoral nature of men living in societies. in the organic whole and his freedom as a par-
The moral order will not thrive outside the polit- ticipating unity of a larger "public person" or
ical order, on which, Rousseau twice tells us, it "collective self." Nature and society can be
is dependent. The body politic can no more reconciled, but not if we accept nature as it is
tolerate disharmonies than can the animal body, given (in men living in a social situation) or
of which it is the strict analogue-not without society as we know it. Liberty and authority can
falling into the disorder that is its peculiar dis- be reconciled if they, too, are transformed, if
ease. All this leads to the desired behavioral liberty is reconceptualized as willing integration,
outcome, to what J. G. A. Pocock has called hence submission to a regenerated authority
"the fanaticism of civic virtue."39 that, however absolute its control, is exercised
In the nineteenth century, Robert Owen, who only for the moral and material welfare of the
was apparently influenced by Hartley and Hel- collective person or "body," as it is in the nat-
vetius, thought that men were shaped by their ural body of the private person.
environment and could be changed for the better This transformation of antitheses into a
in a society based on cooperation. He was op- higher unity, one that preserves the conflicting
posing Adam Smith and the general drift of elements in new forms that transcend those ele-
eighteenth-century psychology, according to ments, embodies a logic that suggests or fore-
which self-interest is the law of work and pro- shadows Hegel's. If we follow this perspective,
ductivity. He went to the New World to found we can propose a further step in reconciling the
his utopia, New Harmony. It failed. The con- apparently antagonistic, contradictory elements
trast with Rousseau is illuminating. Rousseau of an important aspect of Rousseau's philoso-
had no such illusions. Self-interest is the natural phy, his concern with the innate individual con-
human motivation; therefore no voluntary, co- science and the supervening ethical character of
operative utopia could ever exist. Men had to be the state. In Rousseau we find in germ, though
coerced into becoming "citizens"-never overtly, without any clear conceptualization, Hegel's dis-
except for stubborn rebels, but by a transfor- tinction between morality (the subjective will)
mation of their natural selves. Then a kind of and ethics (Sittlichkeit), the objective moral will
innocence would be reborn, through reflexive or self-conscious ethical idea that is realized in
virtue, and with innocence, unity. Nature, too, the state conceived of as community. The first is

This content downloaded from 128.235.251.160 on Wed, 18 Mar 2015 04:45:09 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
Lester G. Crocker 257
inward conviction and intention. The second is only the means involved in the abstract plan and
objective right or law; its efficacious reality in applications to local situations. The intention,
(contrasted with its metaphysical reality) de- the intuition of the goal, and the analysis de-
pends on its becoming immanent in the subjec- lineating the grand scheme-these never wav-
tive will. If we recognize that Rousseau did have ered from the time of the conception of "la
these notions in mind, then the apparent an- morale sensitive" and "Economie politique."
tinomy, hitherto unresolved by commentators, of The argument developed here is admittedly
the Profession de foi (subjective conscience) synthetic to some degree. But its value is more
and the Contrat social (the objective ethical than heuristic; it is, I believe, faithful to the
general will) is dissipated by the dialectic in inner coherence of Rousseau's writings, which
which the former is transcended (or suspended) he himself claimed were consistent and which he
without being abolished, in the higher synthesis described as "a system."
of the true community. In similar fashion, we Appraisals of Rousseau's grand plan of social
acquire a clearer understanding of the meaning salvation differ dramatically. But however we
Rousseau gives to the word "liberty," a word may evaluate the validity and potential effects of
that commentators often mistakenly assume to his creation, we cannot help admiring its ingenu-
be univocal and to have the meaning they at- ity, its consistency, its architectonic brilliance.
tribute to it. The "should do" Rousseau identi- Diderot, like many others of his time and our
fies with liberty is heteronomously determined. own, would have preferred accepting our defec-
But, as we have seen, the thrust of his logic and tive order to paying Rousseau's price for im-
his rhetoric is to overcome the antithesis be- provement, his proposed conversion of nature
tween autonomy and heteronomy. To transpose and liberty. What that price was can be seen
his concept again into Hegelian terms, autonomy vividly in the world of Clarens, in La Nouvelle
is not cancelled by its negation, heteronomy; it is Heloise.40 Imperfection and conflict may be
at once preserved, suspended, and superseded in what are really best. But in Rousseau's mind
the synthesis of the general will. For Rousseau, there was never any doubt. Order-his order-
as for Hegel, true freedom is true necessity, the was a means to harmony, happiness, and justice.
moral law whose hypostatization is the will of It functions as a universal key to his politics,
the state or community, the law. and by its omnipresence ends up, effectively, as
It need scarcely be pointed out to those who a chief value in itself, proving again that ends
are familiar with Rousseau that his thought is and means cannot be dissociated. He was and
not so clear-cut in its development and exposi- had to be the prophet of a new order, the
tion as this article has necessarily made it seem. "guide," teaching mankind "la route du vrai
If it had been, it would not have endlessly agi- bonheur" (OC, i, 687)-the only road, he was
tated the minds of its countless interpreters and quite certain of that. It followed that his road
commentators. He worked out his reasoning was to be a lonely one.
painfully as an internal dialogue, a process that
gives it a problematic quality. But hesitations University of Virginia
and waverings among possibilities concerned Charlottesville

Notes
1 Emile, ed. P. Richard (Paris: Garnier, 1951), pp. plary or striking statements and do not constitute a
347, 332. More specifically, Rousseau twice says that complete repertoire of supporting texts.)
the cosmic physical order guarantees a corresponding 2 "Quel spectacle! Ou est l'ordre que j'avais observ6?
moral order: Reveries du promleneur solitaire, (Euvres Le tableau de la nature ne m'offrait qu'harmonie et
comzpletes, ed. la Pleiade, 4 vols. (Paris: Gallimard, proportions, celui du genre humain ne m'offre que
1959- ), r, 1018-19, and letter quoted in n. 1. ((Euvres confusion et d6sordre!" (Emile, p. 337.) In La Nou-
cormpletes hereafter cited as OC.) He also makes this velle Heloise (hereafter NH in parentheses), Julie
point, with political connotations, in Fragments, OC, writes to Saint-Preux, in her "grande lettre" of explana-
iii, 554. (Quotations in this paper are limited to exem- tion: "je serais a lui si l'ordre humain n'eft trouble les

This content downloaded from 128.235.251.160 on Wed, 18 Mar 2015 04:45:09 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
258 Order and Disorder in Rousseau's Social Thought
rapports de la nature" (Pt. iiI, Letter 18; OC, II, 340). not a unified whole" (Karl Lowith, From Hegel to
In other words, the natural order is both contradicted Nietzsche [New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston,
and superseded by the human order, which, however, 1964], p. 235). If we keep in mind that "bourgeois" is
wreaks havoc with the lives of the protagonists. used in the Hegelian sense of absence of community,
3 For the nonspecialist reader, I recall that in the the statement is correct and pertinent. Marx's thesis
summer of 1749, while Rousseau was walking to that political democracy cannot overcome the individ-
Vincennes to visit Diderot, who was imprisoned there, ual's alienation from the community or state was es-
he rested under a tree and in the Mercure de France sentially an updated version of Rousseau's rejection
came upon the announcement of a prize contest pro- of liberal reformism.
posed by the Acad6mie de Dijon. The subject, "Si le 12 CS, Bk. I, Ch. ii; p. 288. Cf. Emile: "il faut beau-

progres des sciences et des arts a contribu6e corrompre coup d'art pour empecher l'homme social d'etre tout a
ou h 6purer les moeurs," produced a "mystical" ex- fait artificiel" (p. 393).
perience, or "illumination," an intuition of what was 13 He had given the reason in the first version of the
wrong with human societies. The grand scheme of a Contrat social: "Ainsi la douce voix de la nature n'est
remedy was to develop in his mind over the next few plus pour nous un guide infaillible. ... la paix et l'in-
years. In his prizewinning essay, Discours sur les nocence nous ont echappe pour jamais" (Bk. i, Ch. ii;
sciences et les arts, he makes a tentative suggestion that p. 283). Rousseau's dualism thus stipulates two "na-
the king should take into his counsel men of genius tures" in man, the given and the acquired.
who are not necessarily noblemen. Although this sug- 14 "Economie
politique," Vaughan, I, 239.
gestion, which follows the reformist "line" of the 15 I choose at random one example of many: "Celui
philosophes, is completely at variance with the scheme qui se croit capable de former un peuple doit se sentir
he will develop, we can already glimpse in it the en etat de changer, pour ainsi dire, la nature des
elitist quality of his thinking. hommes. Il faut qu'il transforme chaque individu, qui est
4 Fragments, in The Political Writings of Jean Jacques par lui-meme un tout parfait et solitaire, en partie d'un
Rousseau, ed. C. E. Vaughan (Cambridge: Cambridge plus grand tout, dont cet individu recoive en quelque
Univ. Press, 1914), ii, 326. (Political Writings here- sorte sa vie et son etre; qu'il mutile, pour ainsi dire, la
after cited as Vaughan.) constitution de l'homme" ("Fragments," Vaughan, i,
5 Du Contrat social (hereafter CS in parentheses), 324. This contention is made even more strongly in CS,
1st vers., Bk. I, Ch. ii; OC, in, 289. It is the "natural" Bk. It, Ch. vii; p. 381). See also the forceful statement
that tells men in society to disregard the common good: in Emile, p. 9.
"mais que fait cela contre mon interet particulier, et 16"Or, former des citoyens n'est pas l'affaire d'un
lequel au fond m'importe le plus, de mon bonheur aux jour; et, pour les avoir hommes, il faut les instruire
depens du reste des hommes, ou du bonheur des autres enfants. . . . Si, par exemple, on les exerce assez t6t a
aux d6pens du mien?" (NH, Pt. iii, Letter 18, p. 358). ne jamais regarder leur individu [i.e., their self] que par
6 CS, 1st vers., Bk. i, Ch. ii; p. 282. Emile, p. 596. ses relations avec le Corps de l'Etat, et a n'apercevoir,
Dialogues, OC, I, 887-88, 926. Also, in the Confessions, pour ainsi dire, leur propre existence que comme partie
he speaks of "je ne sais quel ordre apparent, destructif de la sienne, ils pourront parvenir enfin a s'identifier en
en effet de tout ordre" (OC, I, 327). quelque sorte avec ce plus grand tout .. ." ("Economie
7 "De quoi s'agit-il donc precis6ment dans ce Dis- politique," pp. 255-56).
cours? De marquer dans le progres des choses le mo- 17 "Economie
politique," p. 241. Cf. Henry Adams:
ment ou le droit succ6dant a la violence, la nature fut "without thought in the unit, there would be no unity;
soumise a la loi; d'expliquer par quel enchainement de without unity, no orderly sequence or ordered society"
prodiges le fort put se r6soudre h servir le faible, et le (The Education of Henry Adams, ed. Ernest Samuels
peuple h acheter un repos en idee au prix d'une felicite [Boston: Houghton, n.d.], p. 429).
reelle" (Discours sur l'originee de inegalite, ed. J.-L. 18 "Economie politique," p. 245. Since the state is an
Lecercle [Paris: Editions Sociales, 1965], pp. 67-68). "Etre moral," there is no inherent contradiction be-
8 The idea of the obligatory pursuit of selfish en- tween it and the individual conscience; both are based
hancement at the expense of others, who are con- on divine precepts, on the awareness of right and of the
sidered objects to be exploited, was not lost on Karl general good. That is why Rousseau can say that the
Marx. law teaches the individual "not to be in contradiction
9 "Un troisieme ordre de besoins qui, n6s apres les with himself." However, the individual conscience, in
autres, ne laissent pas de primer enfin sur tous, sont the social situation, does not easily operate "dans le
ceux qui viennent de l'opinion" (OC, II, 530). See silence des passions"-as Rousseau explains in the
Lester G. Crocker, "Rousseau et 'l'opinion,'" in Studies Discours sur l'origine de l'inegalite. Because of the
on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century [Geneva], 55 clash between men's egoistic ("original") instincts
(1967), 395-415. and their supervening moral and social nature, they
10 Lewis Feuer, "What Is Alienation?" in New Poli- need "guides" to teach them to differentiate between
tics, 1, No. 3 (1962), 4. desire and obligation.
11 "Rousseau's writings contain the first and clearest 19 "Trouver une forme d'association qui defende et
statement of the human problem of bourgeois society. protege de toute la force commune la personne et les
It consists in the fact that man, in bourgeois society, is biens de chaque associe, et par laquelle chacun, s'unis-

This content downloaded from 128.235.251.160 on Wed, 18 Mar 2015 04:45:09 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
Lester G. Crocker 259
sant a tous, n'obeisse pourtant qu'a lui-meme, et reste vation (pp. 264-65), but he is one of the few excep-
aussi libre qu'auparavant" (p. 360). This idea is re- tions (p. 371).
stated at the beginning of Ch. viii, with some 28 Proust, La Fugitive, ed. la Pleiade (Paris: Galli-

amplification. mard, 1954), im, 629.


2' E.g., "Dans l'ordre social, oi toutes les places 29 Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power, ed. Walter
sont marquees, chacun doit tre elev6 pour la sienne. Kaufmann and R. J. Hollingdale (New York: Vintage-
Si un particulier form6 pour sa place en sort, il n'est Random, 1967), p. 362. The French phrase betrays the
plus propre a rien" (Eimile, pp. 11-12). See Lester G. influence of Nietzsche's lifelong reading of Rousseau.
Crocker, "Rousseau and the Common People," in 30 Pp. 578-79, 584-85. Here, as in the political
Studies in Eighteenth Century (Canberra: Australian treatises, the strategy of deception is carried out by
National Univ. Press, 1976), pp. 73-94. those who wield power and do the planning. See Les-
21 P. 121.
My colleague Roger Shattuck has suggested ter G. Crocker, "Docilite et duplicit6 chez Rousseau,"
to me the similarity between this way of thinking and Revue d'Histoire Litteraire de la France, 68 (1968),
Christian belief as expressed in the liturgy: "O God ... 448-69.
whose service is perfect freedom." By accepting bond- 31 Other word or image fixations of Rousseau's
age to the good, one achieves inner freedom. A religious could be studied profitably-for instance, "joug" and
residue subtends much of Rousseau's thinking, though "subjuguer," "prendre le change" and "donner le
it does not direct it. change." Of the latter phrases we may briefly remark
"2 How far it is just stage play and ceremony to that "prendre le change" often means a movement away
ensure total commitment to, or identification with, the from nature, "donner le change" a way of accomplish-
will of the rmoi cortmun I have discussed elsewhere ing its ends.
32 Because it develops too late, after the passions
(principally in Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the Prophetic
Voice [New York: Macmillan, 1973], pp. 180-82, and have made it powerless; see also CS, Bk. n, Ch. v; pp.
in "Rousseau et la voie du totalitarisme," in Rousseau 376-77. Since we cannot count on a sense of personal
et la philosophie politique [Paris: Presses Universitaires moral obligation in men or expect them naturally to
de France, 1965], pp. 108-14). The general will is al- separate themselves from themselves so as to put their
ready known to those who formulate the proposals, and duty first (CS, pp. 478, 686), Rousseau ultimately
ratification may even be dispensed with when advisable. concludes that all men need guides (CS, Bk. ii, Ch. vi).
Rousseau's problem is to convert a metaphysical entity 33:See n. 5 above and "Economie politique," p. 243,
into a political reality. This is the purpose of the vote. whence the definition of virtue as an unnatural attribute
Participation makes the result an act of sovereignty, requiring sacrifice.
makes it therefore the will of each and all, hence a 34 OC, i, 670, 823, 1027, 1052. The "silencing of

political reality. nature" refers, of course, to the selfish "original" na-


23 Will Durant and Ariel Durant, The Lessons of ture of man, not to the moral dimension of his nature
History (New York: Simon, 1968), p. 20. that unfolds in the realm of social life.
24 About Wolmar, one of his great imaginary models, 35 Letter of 2 Feb. 1757, in Correspondence com-
Julie says: "L'ordre qu'il a mis dans sa maison est plete, ed. R. A. Leigh (Geneva: Institut et Musee Vol-
l'image de celui que regne au fond de son Ame, et taire, 1967), iv, 162.
semble imiter dans un petit menage l'ordre etabli dans 36 Considerations sur le gouvernement de Pologne,

le gouvernement du monde" (NH, Pt. II, Letter 20; Vaughan, II, 473.
p. 371). 37 "Que d'ecarts on sauverait a la raison, que de vices
25 Cf. Bertrand Russell: "The
time-process, according on empecherait de naitre si l'on savait forcer l'conomie
to Hegel. is from the less to the more perfect, both in animale a favoriser l'ordre moral .. ." (Confessions,
an ethical and in a logical sense. Indeed these two sen- p. 409).
ses are, for him, not really distinguishable, for logical 38 Marx, like Hegel, found in Rousseau the source
perfection consists in being a closely-knit whole, with- of his major commitment to the idea of the fulfillment
out ragged edges, without independent parts, but of individual selfhood in oneness with the political
united, like a human body . . . into an organism community or state. Marx's emphasis on total partici-
whose parts are interdependent and all work together pation is clearly anticipated in Rousseau.
towards a single end; and this also constitutes ethical 39 Pocock, "Gibbon's Decline and Fall and the World
perfection" (History of Western Philosophy [London: View of the Late Enlightenment," Eighteenthl-Century
Allen and Unwin, 19611, p. 706). Studies, 10 (1977), 302. Twice Rousseau insists that we
26 The two are specifically contrasted in a passage must give laws an inflexible, natural force, impervious
of his Lettres a Grilmm, OC, in, 63-64. Rousseau, of to personal interests and passions; this transformation
course, is not without his apparent contradictions. In would unite "liberty" and morality (Emile, p. 70;
the Confessions he explains that he studies plants to "Economie politique," p. 239).
know them in their natural state, "avant qu'ils aient ete 40 Men, writes Lewis Feuer, can become "desperate
cultives et denatures par la main des hommes" (p. 643). in this collective microcosm for a sense of their own
27 "Sans culture," he writes to Beaumont, men would individualities. ... It is a closed circle, a squirrel cage
have no idea of the divinity (OC, iv, 952). In the Con- from which there is no release . . . an oppressive per-
fessions, he attributes his own virtues to study and culti- petual absorption in which the individual longed to be-

This content downloaded from 128.235.251.160 on Wed, 18 Mar 2015 04:45:09 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
260 Order and Disorder in Rousseau's Social Thought
come an independent norm. This recovery of the sense the person may be compelled by social situations to do
of one's own individuality, as distinct from the roles violence to his own nature" (pp. 13-17). This analysis
which . . . the group imposes, is what lies behind what applies exactly to the world Rousseau created in his
is often called 'the quest for identity.' . . . Alienation lies novel. The enterprise of overcoming alienation in a
in every direction of human experience where basic "total" world may only inflict new forms of alienation.
emotional desire is frustrated, every direction in which

This content downloaded from 128.235.251.160 on Wed, 18 Mar 2015 04:45:09 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions