Rousseau and the Collectivist Concept of Freedom pt. 1


George Walsh (c.1923-2001) was one of those old-school professors who wrote little but read everything. This two-lecture series on Rousseau, delivered in the late 1980s, shines a spotlight on the great intellectual outlier of the Enlightenment. While Voltaire, the Physiocrats, Locke, Smith, and Hume promoted rationalism and individual freedom, Rousseau was a harsh, if sometimes veiled, critic of both. Walsh paints Rousseau as an early adopter of the Orwellian idea that “Freedom Is Slavery” – and the proto-totalitarian inspiration of not only the French Revolution, but the socialist and nationalist revolutions of the 19th and 20th centuries. The Salem Center’s Bryan Caplan, who heard Walsh live in 1989, has plans to make all of Walsh’s “lost” lectures on the history of ideas once again available to the curious public.

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