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Could a Philosopher of Liberty Want to Exclude Anyone?

To the Social Contract Press

By Punkerslut

From PeaceLibertad Blog
Image: From PeaceLibertad Blog

Start Date: August 14, 2011
Finish Date: August 14, 2011

Info: TheSocialContract.com Page

"How can a man or a people seize an immense territory and keep it from the rest of the world except by a punishable usurpation, since all others are being robbed, by such an act, of the place of habitation and the means of subsistence which nature gave them in common? When Nunez Balboa, standing on the sea-shore, took possession of the South Seas and the whole of South America in the name of the crown of Castile, was that enough to dispossess all their actual inhabitants, and to shut out from them all the princes of the world? On such a showing, these ceremonies are idly multiplied, and the Catholic King need only take possession all at once, from his apartment, of the whole universe, merely making a subsequent reservation about what was already in the possession of other princes."
          --Jean Jacques Rousseau, 1762
          "The Social Contract," Book 1, Chapter 9


     It is curious that you have named yourself after a book by an Enlightenment philosopher, who himself was unfriendly towards the idea of governments and borders. Rousseau was the forefather of Radical Republicanism and Modern Socialism. You do make a minor mistake, though: "The English philosopher John Locke, whose thinking helped inspire the American Revolution, said that society should be governed by an understood set of values he termed the social contract."

     Actually, the phrase "social contract" doesn't appear anywhere in the works of John Locke. In spite of Wikipedia's pages about these thinkers, Locke's work didn't even mention the social contract. Even so, I doubt you'd find anything worthwhile in his material. As he stated, "As much as any one can make use of to any advantage of life before it spoils, so much he may by his labour fix a property in. Whatever is beyond this is more than his share, and belongs to others." (Second Treatise, Chapter 5.) I hardly think Locke would have supporting pushing poor, working-class immigrants out of any nation, which, by their labor, becomes their own.

     Your conclusions are vastly different than either Locke or Rousseau. Among the issues you focus on, there is "Language, assimilation, culture, and national unity considerations. What shared values are necessary to the maintenance of our social contract?" The shared values necessary to a social contract? Well, as Rousseau said in the Social Contract, "Each man may have, over and above, what opinions he pleases, without it being the Sovereign's business to take cognisance of them; for, as the Sovereign has no authority in the other world, whatever the lot of its subjects may be in the life to come, that is not its business..." (Book 4, Chapter 8, of "The Social Contract.") I would've thought that a "press" named after a book would at least be headed by those who read the book, but maybe that's assuming too much.

     The concluding line of your mission statement is "We are in favor of fewer [immigration] admissions in order to reduce the rate of America's population growth, protect jobs, preserve the environment, and foster assimilation." The difficulty, naturally, is that the Social Contract thinker, Rousseau, would not have been in favor of that at all. Consider Rousseau's opinion on the difference between a "subject" and a "citizen." Which do you think he would classify you as?

"Subjects extol public tranquillity, citizens individual liberty; the one class prefers security of possessions, the other that of person; the one regards as the best government that which is most severe, the other maintains that the mildest is the best; the one wants crimes punished, the other wants them prevented; the one wants the State to be feared by its neighbours, the other prefers that it should be ignored; the one is content if money circulates, the other demands that the people shall have bread." (Book 3, Chapter 9.)

     Would you be a subject, as Rousseau describes, and obey your government, no matter how oppressive, cruel, and tyrannical it becomes, claiming to want to support your property and "public tranquility"? Or, will you be a citizen, will you challenge government, and uphold the rights of the masses as being superior to the property rights of a few exploiters and robber-barons? The subject who obeys "wants the State to be feared by its neighbours," while the citizen who makes up society's life "prefers that it should be ignored." Are you the subject who wants a powerful government that coerces and forces neighboring populations? Or, are you a citizen who wants people to only obey the laws that they agree to?

     Do you forget that one part of Rousseau's theory, Delegation? "Every law the people has not ratified in person is null and void is, in fact, not a law." (Book 3, Chapter 13.) That's right, every law must be ratified personally. Has any human being been deported from a nation on a law that they themselves personally ratified? Then they weren't forced off the land according to the law, but according to the tyranny of a few.

     These are the contradictions between the title you have adopted, a book by Rousseau, and the policies which you pursue. The globe was made for everyone to enjoy, yet you eat its produce while dispossessing others of the same right. As John Locke said, the author whom you mention but have never quoted, "As much as any one can make use of to any advantage of life before it spoils, so much he may by his labour fix a property in. Whatever is beyond this is more than his share, and belongs to others. Nothing was made by God for man to spoil or destroy." (Chapter 5.)

     I've read the book your press was named after. It should take infinitely shorter to give me a few comments of review according to the criticism I have made. I patiently await a response...

Andy Carloff

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