In Defence of Classical Republicanism

"In The Government of Poland Rousseau continues his attack on the typical form of the modern political regime, but he does so now in order to call for a return to what he conceives to be ancient virtue rather than the extemporize the conditions necessary for the formation of the 'general will.' The prevailing theme of the work is that of 'Ancients vs. Moderns,' and the book is characterized by Rousseau's continual confrontation of modern political and cultural practice with what he considers to be the superior modes and orders of Rome, Sparta, and Israel."

–Willmoore Kendall

Dear Michael, I just finished the course, Rousseau on the Government of Poland. This book is neither a book l'd heard of, nor a book l'd ever think would be so interesting. Thank you for bringing it alive with your commentary, connecting it both with themes in Plato and Aristotle, as well as trends in our contemporary political life. Moreover, your analysis of the book gives us a much deeper understanding of Rousseau as a valuable political philosopher who had practical insights to provide the emerging Polish nation in the 18th century, most importantly education of the young and the cultivation of republican virtue with reference to Greek and Roman civic life. Clearly, Rousseau was the kind of man who thought about ancient Roman 10 times a day! The course also provides insight into a completely different side of Rousseau. The emphasis on republican virtue is certainly a counter-balance to my image of Rousseau as the instigator of the "revolutinary spirit" which lead to the worst totalitarian tendencies of the French Revolution. Finally, I wonder if the book might have practical recommendations for the emerging nations of post-Communist Eastern Europe. While I do not recommend that they accept Rousseau's advice to revert to an agrarian nation, his warning about playing the "globalist" game does make sense, since it will reduce their ability to build a national identity. Thank you for your efforts! 

– Erik