Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Happy Birthday to Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Why the World’s First Celebrity Intellectual Still Matters
June 22, 2012

He was a man who claimed to have abandoned all five of his children, as newborns, at the door of an orphanage. He broke with nearly every friend he ever made, including some who sacrificed dearly for him, denouncing them in the most hateful and vitriolic terms. He wrote that law-breakers deserved to be treated as rebels and traitors.

Happy Birthday to Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Why the World’s First Celebrity Intellectual Still Matters
June 22, 2012

He was a man who claimed to have abandoned all five of his children, as newborns, at the door of an orphanage. He broke with nearly every friend he ever made, including some who sacrificed dearly for him, denouncing them in the most hateful and vitriolic terms. He wrote that law-breakers deserved to be treated as rebels and traitors.

Where Do We Come From?
February 08, 2012

Democratic Enlightenment: Philosophy, Revolution, and Human Rights, 1750-1790 By Jonathan I. Israel (Oxford University Press, 1,066 pp., $45) I. There’s something about the Enlightenment. Today, few educated men and women spend much time debating whether Western civilization took a disastrously wrong turn in the High Middle Ages. They do not blame all manner of political ills on Romanticism, or insist that non-Western immigrants adopt Renaissance values. But the Enlightenment is different. It has been held responsible for everything from the American Constitution to the Holocaust.

The Case Against Referendums: From Greece to California, They Always End Up Undermining Democracy
November 03, 2011

In calling for a referendum on Greece’s bailout plan, Prime Minister George Papandreou has, it could be said, embraced one of his country’s oldest political traditions: direct democracy. The idea that the citizens of a state should all cast votes to decide matters of common interest was arguably born within an easy walk of his Athens office, some two and a half millennia ago. Of course, referendums have remained a part of democratic politics into the modern era, with a formal place in the constitutions of many countries and regions, from France to Australia.

Virtually Normal
June 11, 2008

Jerusalem In 2006, after the Lebanon war, Israel's foreign ministry decided that the country had a p.r. problem on its hands. The solution? Let the world know that Israel, far from being a place of war and terror, was in fact a land of sunny beaches and beautiful women: in other words, a country that was fundamentally normal. And, so, Israel retained the p.r.