The Washington Times
Rousseau and American Naval Officers
Dr. Gerald L. Atkinson, CDR USN (Ret.)
16 January 2000
"ADM Leon A. Edney, USN (Ret.) should have looked closely at the effect Rousseau's utopian philosophy had on Robespierre and the French people during the period of the French Revolution before he defends this philosopher as a fountainhead for the 'ethics' of our nation's future naval officers."
Balint Vazsonyi ('Uncertain freedom to learn,' The Washington Times, Nov. 23) encourages us to discuss education properly -- to "embark on a public debate about socialism." Nowhere is this more important than the education of our future core combat leadership at the U.S. Naval Academy.
When I pointed out that a new 'Leadership and Ethics' program at the Naval Academy in Annapolis had all of the markings of a "cultural Marxist" indoctrination, howls of outrage ensued. The academic dean bellowed "preposterous" on the Internet. ADM Leon A. Edney, U.S. Navy (Retired), the former holder of the Distinguished Chair for Leadership at the academy, responded ("What mumbo jumbo at the Academy," The Washington Times, Aug. 15, 1999) by denigrating GEN Charles Krulak, former Commandant of the Marine Corps, and carrying out an ad hominem attack against me.
During the course of ADM Edney's diatribe (decisively rebutted by Jean-Francois Orsini, FORUM, Aug. 22), he gave himself, and the New Age "ethics" program, away by including Jean Jacques Rousseau in the list of philosophers on whom the new Academy "ethics" program is based.
Rousseau's writings on the human condition and the utopian dream of complete egalitarianism became the foundation for the French Revolution of 1789. The architect of that event, Maximilien de Robespierre, was driven by Rousseau's philosophy to plunge France into a dark, sadistic, and bloody socialist revolution.
ADM Edney should have looked closely at the effect Rousseau's utopian philosophy had on Robespierre and the French people during the period of the French Revolution before he defends this philosopher as a fountainhead for the "ethics" of our nation's future naval officers.
Historian Otto J. Scott informs us that France at the time had one overriding problem that was unique, even unprecedented in history. "French intellectuals, middle and upper classes had grown ashamed of their country, history, and institutions. Such a phenomenon had never before arisen in any nation or race throughout the long history of mankind."
ADM Edney should review that history from the perspective of the deconstruction, multiculturalism, and Critical Theory that has engulfed our nation through the power elites of our universities, public schools, mass media, and political infrastructure. And, now, at our premiere military academies.
ADM Edney defends teaching "...real studies (such as My Lai, [the] Vincennes Shootdown, Bosnia, Somalia and, yes, lessons from Tailhook as well as many others emanating from distant as well as recent incidents)' at the Academy. All negative examples. Right out of cultural Marxist Critical Theory.
Mr. Scott informs us of the role Rousseau played in the French drama. "These efforts, deranged at base, were sent into eccentric orbit when Rousseau emerged. He was a writer whose poetic gifts approached genius but whose mental balance teetered perilously close to lunacy. A misfit, he detested privilege but detested excellence even more. His ideal was a naked savage gloriously free of all civilized restraints, whom he depicted as the noblest of beings. He preached equality of all classes, sanctity of the poor, and sovereign rights to the masses. All evil, all sin, all inequity was the fault of society."
After the mob stormed the Bastille on July 14, 1789, Robespierre gained control of the Assembly, the governing body of France after that event. The beheading of a few aristocrats in the beginning became an orgy of crazed, indiscriminate beheading of tens of thousands of people over the next six years.
As the lists grew longer and the work of the Tribunal grew heavier by the hour, the prisons, already heavy with people, grew dense. "Virtue reigned; revolutionary freedom, based on the egalitarian philosophy of Rousseau, extended throughout the land."
But then Robespierre made a tragic mistake. Like others who would place their "legacy," their "place in history," before the common good, he proposed that "the French People recognize a Supreme Being and that he, himself, be anointed that Supreme Being.
"The members of the Assembly listened and watched, and looked at one another, while a subconscious suspicion, long teetering at the back of their minds, broke through to many of them at once. Was it possible that Robespierre was, after all, a fool?"
Soon thereafter, the French Revolution devoured its architect. Robespierre's head was "spit into the basket," and the revolution ended in anarchy.
"The war went on with its revolutionary rhetoric; its talk about Liberty and Equality; its fight against the Christian religion; its worship of efficiency no matter what the human cost. Robespierre died, but folly has a virulence that outlasts its inventor. He inspired more communes, more Voices of Virtue, more Lenins and Castros and Maos, more murder and hatred, more death and misery, than any other of the Sacred Fools that have emerged to plague honest men."
And, now, Rousseau is being used by other fools to invoke the radical feminist agenda, the tool of another socialist movement, within the New Age 'Leadership and Ethics' program at the U.S. Naval Academy. And, this, with the full knowledge and cooperation of the anointed military leadership.
All in the name of the philosophy of Jean Jacques Rousseau. Yes, ADM Edney, we must insist on protecting those civilian and military professors of modern psychology and philosophy at the U.S. Naval Academy -- those who would take our future naval officers back to the world of Rousseau. Could it be that someone in the future will write a history of American civilization and point to some who were 'The Fools as Naval Officers?'
Gerald Atkinson is the author of "From Trust to Terror: Radical
Feminism is destroying the U.S. Navy."