The Doctrine of Political Equality
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The Doctrine of Political Equality book
The great political philosophers, with few exceptions, have regarded property as the fundamental element in political power, and have looked upon a constitution as a balance of economic groups. Jean Jacques Rousseau, was experimenting with ideas scarcely less dangerous to the ancien regime than the operations of the Scotch mechanic. He denied that there was any inherent and essential connection between economics and politics. This chapter examines the doctrines laid down by Rousseau. Rousseau proclaims the doctrine of absolute political equality with a vengeance. Even Jeffersonians, when confronted, like Rousseau's followers, with the logical consequences of their doctrine shrank from applying it. When once the free-and-equal doctrine had been let loose in the New World and the Old, it was impossible to check its source. It is to be found in the census returns, which, as certainly as the doomsday book of William the Conqueror, record the perdurance of group and class interests despite the rhetoric of political equality.