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George W. Bush a Savage Man?

November 9, 2010

I’d like to start by saying that George W. Bush obviously did not have the exact traits of a savage man described in Rousseau’s Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality among Men. However, I think it is apparent that if savage man were in our society today, they would have many of the characteristics of George W. Bush. In Rousseau’s piece, savage men are said to live among beasts and raise themselves to the level of animal instinct. Hobbes says that savage man is naturally intrepid and not afraid of anything. Intrepid is defined as invulnerable to fear or intimidation. Savage man begins with simple mental operations: he can will or not will to do something; he can desire or fear something. Reason develops and perfects itself through the passions. We seek to know only because we desire or fear something. These passions result from our needs. Savage man, however, has no needs.


I believe that during the presidency of George W. Bush there were many times in which correlations could be made to him as being a savage man. The war in Ira is where I see the savage man most present. George W. Bush had no fear in sending troops to Iraq and definitely chose not to have the will to pull them out. Even though it was not him in Iraq he was in charge and could have pulled them out had we not gotten in to far. He was not intimidated nor had any fear. It is almost as though he wasn’t thinking at all. In Rousseau’s piece it is said that savages are not wicked because they do not know what it is to be good. Bush continued to carry on this evil in Iraq and the reason for this could be that he wasn’t sure if it was doing good or bad. Or maybe it could be that he had all that he wanted, just like a savage man, and was just continuing this savage work because his needs were close at hand.


In Discourse, by Rousseau, it is said that there is no reason for savage man to cease being savage. His needs are close at hand, and he has no idea of the wonder of nature, or any conception of future. This failing to have any conception of the future is another characteristic of Bush. What was going to come out of keeping our troops in Iraq for such an extended time? How would doing this possibly brighten the United States future? It makes me wonder what was truly going on in his head. Now I know not all of this is Bush’s fault, but because of his title everyone blames him and he did have the most authority. To finish I would like to bring up my last correlation in which it was said that savage men were not prone to quarrels, as they were solitary, and they had no idea of property or vengeance. It doesn’t seem as though Bush was prone to quarrels either and was this a rash act of vengeance. I think that the idea of George Bush being a modern day savage man can leave many people making even more connections between the two. In the end I would consider him a modern day savage man.


  1. erikamir permalink
    November 9, 2010 7:34 PM

    I do not agree that George W. Bush depicts the savage man. When I think of George Bush I think of Immanuel Kant. “Enlightenment is a man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one’s understandings without guidance from another” (522). I do not consider George W. Bush an enlightened man because of his inability to reason for himself. I believe that after 911, Bush did handle himself well but should have thought more about the consequences of going to war in Iraq. I do agree with you to the extent that he didn’t what to be good but his immaturity is no excuse. As Rousseau said that man is the true founder of civil society, you have to know what is best to make a difference.

  2. chris070310 permalink
    November 9, 2010 9:02 PM

    Bush is in fact a savage man who Rousseau depicts his image as. He definetly did not believe in his actions to be good or bad, which made him to continue in his wrongful decesions in office. I believe, his actions were for the best at the end of America, by creating dirty hands to go against morals of America and not his own. George Bush was in fact a savage man, who was too inconsiderate to think of his actions and the repricautions for the people under his leadership. However, the question is, is George Bush responsible for the anti-productivity to America, or the people who put him in office and if so, does that make them savage people.

  3. thacarter4 permalink
    November 9, 2010 10:35 PM

    Even though I’m no fan of George Bush, I feel that calling him a savage is somewhat misguided for several reasons. For one thing Rousseau thought of the savage as a noble character, most people would look back at Bush’s presidency and debate his nobility. Also, the savage really can’t exist in modernity or if he’s been exposed to society so Bush clearly doesn’t qualify by Rousseau’s definition. In fact Bush doesn’t really qualify by any of the definitions of savage, the war in Iraq may not have been well calculated in hindsight but the original plans for the war seem to be pretty well thought out. Saddam Hussein and his army were routed pretty quickly, he was captured and a democratic government was installed, had there been no insurgency the war would be over. Also the judgement about Bush not knowing right from wrong seems a little harsh, he made a judgement about Hussein’s rule in Iraq and that played a large part in his decision making. Whether or not the evils of Saddam outweigh the evils of the war is debatable, but clearly Bush showed some capacity for understanding good and bad in deciding to go to war. The last comparison, that Bush is not inclined to conflict because Iraq is a limited engagement, falls apart when we consider the war in Afghanistan. Bush started two large scale wars in office, this may make him more fearless but also indicates that he was prone to quarreling.

  4. Christine Irish permalink
    November 10, 2010 12:43 AM

    I understand the point that you’re trying to make with your post but it seems to me that you’re missing the main idea of what the “savage man” was supposed to be. He was a loner who wanted nothing to do with society. He only fought battles to protect himself. He was physically strong and able to take care of himself. Most importantly, he didn’t establish property as his own.

    Besides being intrepid, I don’t think George Bush has any of those qualities, so to me it would seem incorrect to label him as such. In fact, I think he was quite the opposite.

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