For weeks now, violent riots have overtaken American cities across the country. Hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage has already been done, thousands of businesses and livelihoods have been destroyed, and dozens of people have been killed. Statues of some of our country’s greatest heroes, including black men, have been torn from their posts and thrown into lakes and harbors. Taxpayer-funded museums are decrying “rugged individualism,” “hard work,” and “planning for the future” as being symbols of “white culture” that must be seen as inherently evil. Everything must be torn down and destroyed. Every statue, every pillar of society, every symbol that is deemed counter to the new ruling ideology must be erased from history. But where did this idea come from? For historians, this should sound eerily familiar. It has been seen as early as 1789 in the French Revolution as it devolved into an orgy of bloodlust and destruction, and as recently as 1979, as the Khmer Rouge forced millions of Cambodians into forced labor camps, starving, torturing, and executing over a quarter of the Cambodian population. Even the current iteration of this ideology, labeled Critical Theory, or more colloquially as Cultural Marxism, stems from one man by the name of Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
Rousseau’s most influential work Second Discourse on Inequality outlines that man’s natural state is one of perfection, the ancestor of the myth of the noble savage. In Rousseau’s mind, man in a state of nature (that is to say, one absent from civilization or society) is good, is pure. It is in fact society itself that corrupts him. As distractions are developed and brought about like religion, art, or politics, man is drawn further from his natural state of perfection. Thus, the only reasonable action to return him to that state is to tear everything down, to erase society from existence and start anew. In the annals of philosophy, this has been a source of heated but enjoyable debate for hundreds of years.
But when translated into the annals of history, it takes a dark turn. As was alluded to before, the French Revolution, and the Cambodian Genocide both find their ideological roots in Rousseauian philosophy. In fact, it was taken so literally that the French insisted on starting their national calendar back to year zero. After tearing down statues, burning books, destroying large swaths of France’s great cities, and slaughtering the majority of the aristocracy, clergy, and educated peoples of France of course. In the case of the Khmer Rouge, the first order of business was likewise to execute any learned people. Religious leaders, professors, artists, and politicians were all made to face the wall. Statues, books, places of learning and business were all destroyed without hesitation. Ordinary people were driven into agricultural labor camps or indoctrination facilities, their hair shorn, and their clothes dyed black. None could be allowed to stand out, none could be seen as “different.” All had to be set to zero.
We are seeing this exact same process occur before our very eyes. Take the statues as a start: It started with Confederate monuments, something that had been discussed for years, and had a fair argument to be made for proper, sanctioned removal. Then it became Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. Then it was Hans Christian Heg, a man that spent his adult life fighting against slavery and gave his life for the Union. Now we are seeing the destruction and defacement of Christian statues of Jesus Christ and Mother Mary on private and church property. This insidious ideology is already spreading to private property and religious icons. And it will not stop there.
While these foot soldiers of Rousseau gleefully assault individuals, destroy property, and decry whatever the latest chant du jour is that day, the intellectual followers, the priests of this new non-theistic religion, are hard at work tearing down any vestige of civilization that could stand in their way. Though it has since been removed, the taxpayer funded National Museum of African American History and Culture recently posted a graphic belittling symbols of white culture like “independence and autonomy,” “the nuclear family,” “objective, rational linear thinking,” and “written tradition,” even “being polite.” This is a clear intellectual attack on the pillars of modern civilization, including what few tools opponents to this toxic ideology have to defend against it, such as “objective, rational linear thinking.” Ultimately, this is the goal of the followers of Rousseauian philosophy. To destroy anything that can stand in their way, before destroying everything else that can’t. Attempting to placate or pacify these people will not stop them, it will only embolden them. This will not stop until this destructive ideology is destroyed, or our civilization is no longer.