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The Curse of Rousseau
Paul Craig Roberts

The UK Telegraph on March 31, 2023, reported “Joe Biden’s America is splitting at the seams.”  The article reported results of a new survey of Americans undertaken by the National Opinion Research Center and the Wall Street Journal.  The survey finds startling declines in Americans faith in America, their communities, religion, and a sharp drop in patriotism.  Americans who prioritize patriotism fell from 61% to 38%.  Community involvement collapsed to 27%. Religion dropped from 48% to 39%, and those to whom starting a family is important fell from 43%to 30%.

If you would like insight as to why this collapse in traditional values, read Claes G. Ryn’s new book, The Failure of American Conservatism.  In brief, Ryn attributes conservatism’s failure to preoccupation with politics and neglect of corrosive  ideas that undermined religion, the family, parental authority, truth, and replaced a united people with a tower of babel. The other big conservative issue was saving the world from communism.  Dystopian novels such as George Orwell’s 1984 were associated with the Soviet Union.  Conservatives focused on outside national security threats instead of on threats from within from leftwing ideas increasingly anti-Western, anti-Christian, and anti-white.  A false history of slavery was created and used to create black victimhood.  

Rousseauvian idealism recast the explanation of evil.  Evil was removed from the human heart against which we contend with the help of religion and was attributed to the institutions of existing society, to civilization itself. In recent years we see many manifestations of this.  For example, the New York Times’ 1619 Project which says America was created on the basis of the institution of black slavery.  The institution of marriage, which limited marriage to vows between a man and a woman,  discriminates against same sex marriage. Pedophiles are deprived of sexual love between adults and arbitrarily defined children.  Normalizing perversity is seen as liberation from discriminatory institutions.  Civilization’s emphasis on moral character as a constraint on evil was replaced with the emphasis that evil resided in the institutions of civilization.  Wokeness is now a pursued goal of profit-driven corporations such as Disney and Budweiser.

The latest expression of Rousseau’s vision is the Avatar movies by James Cameron in which an idyllic people in harmony with nature try to save the environment from destruction by civilization.

In the Woke view that now seems dominant, innocent people, which seems to exclude white heterosexual males, are victims of the evil in civilization’s institutions, not themselves perpetrators of evil.  This view is taught in schools and universities and is being institutionalized in corporations, museums, and entertainment.  The result is a generalized attack on civilization and the recasting of truth as approved emotions.

The revolution against civilization erases the empirical, rational, logical foundation of truth and gives rise to individuals who do not have to control themselves, because their transgressions are caused by corrupt institutions, from the chains of which man must be set free.

As Ryn puts it, patterns of profound irresponsibility are being deeply ingrained, thus institutionalizing the self-inflicted ongoing societal and cultural collapse.

Hon. Paul Craig Roberts is the John M. Olin Fellow at the Institute for Political Economy, Senior Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and Research Fellow at the Independent Institute. A former editor and columnist for The Wall Street Journal and columnist for Business Week and the Scripps Howard News Service, he is a nationally syndicated columnist for Creators Syndicate in Los Angeles and a columnist for Investor's Business Daily. In 1992 he received the Warren Brookes Award for Excellence in Journalism. In 1993 the Forbes Media Guide ranked him as one of the top seven journalists.

He was Distinguished Fellow at the Cato Institute from 1993 to 1996. From 1982 through 1993, he held the William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. During 1981-82 he served as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy. President Reagan and Treasury Secretary Regan credited him with a major role in the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981, and he was awarded the Treasury Department's Meritorious Service Award for "his outstanding contributions to the formulation of United States economic policy." From 1975 to 1978, Dr. Roberts served on the congressional staff where he drafted the Kemp-Roth bill and played a leading role in developing bipartisan support for a supply-side economic policy.

In 1987 the French government recognized him as "the artisan of a renewal in economic science and policy after half a century of state interventionism" and inducted him into the Legion of Honor.

Dr. Roberts' latest books are The Tyranny of Good Intentions, co-authored with IPE Fellow Lawrence Stratton, and published by Prima Publishing in May 2000, and Chile: Two Visions - The Allende-Pinochet Era, co-authored with IPE Fellow Karen Araujo, and published in Spanish by Universidad Nacional Andres Bello in Santiago, Chile, in November 2000. The Capitalist Revolution in Latin America, co-authored with IPE Fellow Karen LaFollette Araujo, was published by Oxford University Press in 1997. A Spanish language edition was published by Oxford in 1999. The New Colorline: How Quotas and Privilege Destroy Democracy, co-authored with Lawrence Stratton, was published by Regnery in 1995. A paperback edition was published in 1997. Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy, co-authored with Karen LaFollette, was published by the Cato Institute in 1990. Harvard University Press published his book, The Supply-Side Revolution, in 1984. Widely reviewed and favorably received, the book was praised by Forbes as "a timely masterpiece that will have real impact on economic thinking in the years ahead." Dr. Roberts is the author of Alienation and the Soviet Economy, published in 1971 and republished in 1990. He is the author of Marx's Theory of Exchange, Alienation and Crisis, published in 1973 and republished in 1983. A Spanish language edition was published in 1974.

Dr. Roberts has held numerous academic appointments. He has contributed chapters to numerous books and has published many articles in journals of scholarship, including the Journal of Political Economy, Oxford Economic Papers, Journal of Law and Economics, Studies in Banking and Finance, Journal of Monetary Economics, Public Finance Quarterly, Public Choice, Classica et Mediaevalia, Ethics, Slavic Review, Soviet Studies, Rivista de Political Economica, and Zeitschrift fur Wirtschafspolitik. He has entries in the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Economics and the New Palgrave Dictionary of Money and Finance. He has contributed to Commentary, The Public Interest, The National Interest, Harper's, the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Fortune, London Times, The Financial Times, TLS, The Spectator, Il Sole 24 Ore, Le Figaro, Liberation, and the Nihon Keizai Shimbun. He has testified before committees of Congress on 30 occasions.

Dr. Roberts was educated at the Georgia Institute of Technology (B.S.), the University of Virginia (Ph.D.), the University of California at Berkeley and Oxford University where he was a member of Merton College.

He is listed in Who's Who in America, Who's Who in the World, The Dictionary of International Biography, Outstanding People of the Twentieth Century, and 1000 Leaders of World Influence. His latest book, HOW THE ECONOMY WAS LOST, has just been published by CounterPunch/AK Press. He can be reached at: [email protected]


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