300 years ago, a watchmaker in Geneva, Switzerland, fathered a son who became the first powerful voice against inequality in an urbanizing Europe in which the costs of capitalism and private property were already clear. Jean-Jacques Rousseau proclaimed in his Social Contract that men, though born free, were everywhere in chains. In time, he became an inspiration to the French revolutionaries.
Astonishingly, three centuries later, inequality continues to dog capitalism and taint democracy's legitimacy -- worse now even than back then. Equality and equality's advocates continue to take a beating in an America whose democracy counts dollars rather than votes, and in which the disparities between rich and middle and middle and poor deepen day by day. Take, for example, these harsh realities:
If we care about democracy, it is time to "occupy Rousseau," take his deep critique of property and empire and representative institutions seriously. That is what we will be doing tonight, Friday, March 9th at the New York Public Library in New York at 7:00 PM when I will ask scholars like Simon Schama, Guillaume Chenevière, and Nannerl Keohane and politicians like former Governors Eliot Spitzer and Thomas Kean and former Swiss President Pascal Couchepin, and journalist Laura Flanders as well as Schomburg Center director Khalil Gibran Mohammad and OWS veteran Amin Husain to help bring Rousseau to Zuccotti and allow him to help us expose inequality and address the peril in which it is putting our nation. If you want to participate, visit LIVE at the NYPL and grab a ticket, and OCCUPY ROUSSEAU with us!
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