Occupy Rousseau: Inequality & Social Justice


What would Jean-Jacques Rousseau say about our democracies if he were among us today?

Intellectuals, political leaders, activists, and artists from both Geneva and the U.S. join forces to ask that question. Rousseau was an ardent defender of equality, justice and democratic participation. His moral and civic anger at the ways in which the Enlightenment “threw garlands of flowers over our chains” speaks directly to today’s protest movements, from Occupy Wall Street to the populist side of the Tea Party.

What is the relevance and urgency of Rousseau’s political and social ideas today? How does the author of Discourse on Inequality help us explore the disturbing and destabilizing cracks that have led to democracies in crisis, perhaps in demise?

Participants: Pascal Couchepin (former President of the Swiss Confederation), Thomas Kean (former Governor of New Jersey), Eliot Spitzer (former Governor of New York State), Benjamin Barber (Distinguished Senior, Demos), Guillaume Chenevière (former Director of Télévision Suisse Romande; author of Rousseau, une histoire genevoise), Victor Gourevitch (Rousseau scholar), Amin Husain (An organizer for Occupy Wall Street), Laura Flanders (Host of The Laura Flanders Show in development for public television), Nannerl Keohane (former President of Duke University and Wellesley College; Laurance S. Rockefeller Distinguished Visiting Professor, Princeton University), Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad (Director, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture), Simon Schama (Professor of Art and Art history, Columbia University)

Co-Curated by Benjamin Barber (Distinguished Senior Fellow, Demos) and Paul Holdengräber (Director, LIVE from The New York Public Library).

Co-presented with LIVE from The New York Public Library

Event Date & Time

Friday, March 9, 7P.M.


Celeste Bartos Forum
The New York Public Library
Fifth Avenue (at 42nd Street)


$25 General Admission
$15 NYPL Friends, Seniors, Students w/ID
(888) 71-TICKETS or www.nypl.org/LIVE