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Righteous Indignation

The French thinker Jean-Jacques Rousseau was an ardent opponent of liberty as a maxim but ironically wrote about the importance of righteous indignation. To that concept, piece by piece he supported people proudly claiming their beliefs for all to hear without a care whether or not it offended people; people who disagree should then also proudly voice their opinion in opposition until they henceforth, and obnoxiously, debate their respective positions semi-academically until they arrive at some mystical Ultimate Conclusion. I do believe that this is where the ever-so smug Marx got his concept of dialectical materialism from. Go figure; he was an ideological free-rider as well as economic one. As much as I hate what they think the sum of all of our Ultimate Conclusions are (as to which I will gladly discuss further), I do agree with them. People need to talk to each other again.

We’ve all seen it, the dreaded hob-goblin of the internet: The Basement Troll, complete with fedora and a smug sense of superiority. The Basement Troll spews filth by digitally puking on our collective lives with their half-arguments and keen sense of cognitive bias supported by hatred. These creatures of the depths hate the human race because they refuse to participate in our little “Rat Race” and have been therefore banished and they remain ever so smug because of improper socialization.

Essentially, when you discuss ideas amongst friends and family you’re all working together to try to agree on something. This is proper discourse. I’ve experienced it once, with a coworker. He was a full-blown socialist and I am a registered libertarian. He actually had whole arguments with a claim and some support and our disagreements ultimately came down to a difference of priorities, and we both left feeling better having not dehumanized each other and instead opted for an engaging conversation that made us both actually evaluate our personal philosophies. For example, he thinks that the internet lines that the government pays to put up for providers to charge us for is wrong because the internet is just information, but I thought that the government ought not build those lines at all in the first place because the companies still already charge us and they would have likely found a better way to get the internet to us if the physical lines were truly cumbersome. You see, our proposed “opponents” are pretty much family if you think about it. Through the six degrees of separation concept we are all connected, so we should treat them logically when discoursing. If they spaz out because they can’t think of a specific or valid reason to conscript society further via taxation for their own self-interests (ironically proving the concept of tyranny of the majority) then that is their fault and not yours.

Maybe we should not embrace Rousseau’s idea of righteous indignation to the fullest extent, because he was noted to be very uncharismatic and struggled to convey his opinions to those closest to him. As silly as it sounds, believe it or not, people don’t like to listen to others yell their different opinions at them. I guess what I’m really trying to say is politely engage in the questions while passing the gravy at the dinner table and offer whole arguments with a claim and support; you may make another libertarian yet. So this holiday season don’t forget to treat your crazy family rationally. Maybe hear them out, politely disagree if you must, but don’t shout or get angry. Keep the maxim of liberty at heart, but don’t make liberty a dogma and don’t be afraid to push your intellectual boundaries. We live in an age where people have no clue what negative freedoms are—and if you don’t either you have some homework to do—but will cheer when President Obama says he wants to get rid of them and replace them with positive freedoms, which is actually a play right out of Rousseau’s handbook. It’s called the Force the Peasants to be Free by Getting Rid of Their Choices maneuver.


Jesse Campbell is a former marine with one combat tour in Afghanistan, a father and husband, and currently in his junior year of his political science degree. He likes anything outdoors and dogs…lots and lots of dogs.

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