Upton Sinclair, ed. (1878–1968). rn The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest. 1915.

A Project for a Perpetual Peace

Rousseau, Jean Jacques

Jean Jacques Rousseau

(French novelist and philosopher, 1712–1778; father of the French Revolution. A document published 1756 in which he outlined in detail a plan for a European federation, which seems in 1915 to have become the next step in civilization)

AS a more noble, useful, and delightful Project never engaged the human mind, than that of establishing a perpetual peace among the contending nations of Europe, never did a writer lay a better claim to the attention of the public that he who points out the means to carry such a design into execution. It is indeed very difficult for a man of probity and sensibility, not to be fired with a kind of enthusiasm on such a subject; nay, I am not clear that the very illusions of a heart truly humane, whose warmth makes everything easily surmountable, are not in this case more eligible than that rigid and forbidding prudence, which finds in its own indifference and want of public spirit, the chief obstacle to everything that tends to promote the public good.

I doubt not that many of my readers will be forearmed with incredulity, to withstand the pleasing temptation of being persuaded; and indeed I sincerely lament their dullness in mistaking obstinacy for wisdom. But I flatter myself, that many an honest mind will sympathize with me in that delightful emotion, with which I take up the pen to treat of a subject so greatly interesting to the world. I am going to take a view, at least in imagination, of mankind united by love and friendship: I am going to take a contemplative prospect of an agreeable and peaceful society of brethren, living in constant harmony, directed by the same maxims, and joint sharers of one common felicity; while, realizing to myself so affecting a picture, the representation of such imaginary happiness will give me the momentary enjoyment of a pleasure actually present.