The Anticlimax of Enlightenment

350px-doi_rousseauI stayed up all night and watched the Presidential election. It started as a G&T-fuelled night among old friends, colleagues and nerd alike and it ended up with four of us, sprawled on the sofa at 9am, discomforted and slightly sick.

As I lumbered through the city centre to get to my apartment, dodging passers-by and street market stalls, I tried to adjust to the unexpected Trump victory and to soothe this sense of guilt that still haunts me.

While ruminating on the failure of journalists (me included) to truly grasp and understand the reality of things just outside their comfort zone, a brilliant book came up to mind and, instead of going to sleep after a 36-hour electoral marathon, I’m still sitting in my chair with this pamphlet in my hands.

It’s Rousseau’s Discourse on Inequality.

Like many of us right now, Rousseau was confused by technology and politics, and the effects they had on morals and equality. He was puzzled, as we are right now, by a world that was spinning faster than before, by the growing corruption among the emergent intellectual class and new forms of entertainment that looked a lot like new forms of enslavement.

If you’re perplexed and downhearted right now, Rousseau will help you. Or he’ll scare you to death, either way.