Author's Diction~Vipin Behari Goyal: Rousseau and Broken Bridge

Friday, October 30, 2015

Rousseau and Broken Bridge

Forced to freedom by General Will

Broken bridge

Once an assorted group of travelers assembled at one end of the bridge on a river of backwater. It was essential for them to cross the bridge to reach their destination. To their utter dismay, they found that the gatekeeper  at the bridge has stopped them from crossing the bridge. He said that bridge is in dilapidated condition and it would be dangerous to cross the bridge. The bridge may collapse and they may die. Apparently the bridge was intact. These people were desperate to cross the bridge. One of them was an elite, one bourgeois, one peasant and one looked like a scholar.

They had nothing in common except their goal to cross the bridge. They saw gatekeeper as an obstacle. The gatekeeper explained that he has orders from his superiors. If he permits and bridge collapses, he would lose his job. The gatekeeper gave them an occasional stern look. He was not armed, still he conveyed his authority. Moreover, he had locked the gate with a chain and filled the entrance with fallen trees. The travelers belonged to a sovereign democratic country which ensured them “freedom” as a fundamental right. They all had the freedom to walk in any part of the country. The state represents “general will”. General will is not necessarily will of all. In will of all individual selfish motives also work. The general will is the mandate of rational people for common good.

The scholar was the rational being and he was quick to understand the situation. He evaluated the pros and cons and postponed his journey and returns back. He knew that to obey what is best for all is to maximize the freedom for each.

The peasant was born in slavery and for slavery. For him realism and idealism were two sides of the same coin. He had never argued with authority in his life. His slavery was  natural freedom in comparison to his master who was forced to freedom. He decided to cross the valley by long and arduous route.
The elite was of opinion that generally the people are stupid and do not understand what is good for them. The wisest did not govern many. General will is a farce and he is not bound by that. The representative of the masses had vested interest in all kinds of prohibitions. They were acknowledged by ban and prohibitions. It diverted the attention of people from real problems. People were forced to keep on demanding what is rightfully theirs. He summoned a higher executive.

The bourgeois suffered from a terminable disease. He had heard about a physician who lived across the bridge. He thought he had a right to risk his life in order to preserve it. The elite had gone to retire in nearby shrine. Bourgeois was alone with guard. He wanted to bribe gatekeeper to allow him to cross the bridge. He decided that first he would convince gatekeeper. He will pass his own disunity of soul to gatekeeper so that he agrees to lose his fullness of existence. Selfishness is servitude to sociability. Bourgeois was in fact a social man living in the social conditions with his artificial constitution.

He whispered in the ear of gatekeeper. The gatekeeper looked puzzled, checked that no one is around and nodded. After some time, he unlocked the gate of the bridge. Bourgeois passed on to the bridge.

Vipin Behari Goyal
English Literary Association
JNV University, Jodhpur

Artists may kindly contribute relevant pictures for the essay.