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Single Idea 19854

[catalogued under 25. Society / B. The State / 4. Citizenship]

Full Idea

In a society where a man has to live at others' expense, he owes in labour the price of his keep; and that is without exception. Work, then, is an indispensable social obligation. Rich or poor, powerful or weak, every idle citizen is a thief.

Gist of Idea

We all owe labour in return for our keep, and every idle citizen is a thief


Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Emile: treatise on education [1762], Bk III)

A Reaction

Presumably rich landowners who live on rents can justify their position by good husbandry, at a higher level than tilling the soil. But Bertie Wooster won't last long in Rousseau's new world. This is a big challenge to the welfare state.

Book Reference

'Les Philosophes', ed/tr. Torrey,Norman L. [Perigee 1980], p.166