It is difficult to tell whether Rousseau is being serious in this discourse or not. Apparently this won an award in an essay competition (and mind you when I read these essays, and then read one of the essays that I wrote in university I realise how crap my writing was back then, and probably still is), but it seems that Rousseau is being a little hypocritical since he is a very educated person who is attacking education. The other thing about this is that his argument is actually quite flawed, but then again, he did not have the benefit of Twentieth Century history.
The basis of his argument is that an educated society is a weak society in that people become lazy and are more reliant upon others to do their work for them. He points to Egypt, Athens, and Rome as an example, but once again I consider that he is misinterpreting the evidence that was available to him at the time. It is difficult to tell whether Egypt was really an enlightened society like that of Athens and Rome, and even then Egypt have a very long history. However, we must remember that there were periods of greatness, and periods when Egypt was under the yoke of foreign powers. In any event, despite invasion, Egypt hasdalways managed to maintain its own unique identity, and was always able to rise up out of the ashes.
As for Athens, despite their so called laziness and pursuit of leisure, they were not only able to fight off the Persians twice, but they also managed to hold their ground against the Spartans for over thirty years, even after their navy had been decimated: never underestimate the power of freedom. With regards to Rome, granted the Republic collapsed to be replaced by a dictatorship, but Rome lasted centuries, and still holds the record for being the longest contiguous empire in the history.
Now, I shall turn to the Twentieth century to once again demonstrate how Rousseau was wrong, and we simply need to look towards World War I as evidence. Here we have a militaristic German Empire at war against the Liberal Democracies of Britain and France. The war was seen as a test of the strength of the liberal democracies, and the liberal democracies passed with flying colours. There was also World War II and the Cold War, in which the Liberal Democracies once again both won with flying colours.
I do accept that art and science can create complacency and laziness, but we must not forget the power that freedom gives people, and the lengths that they will go to to fight for their freedom. The Viet-Cong held off the Americans for fifteen years, despite being out numbered and out gunned, and the same is true of Iraq in recent years. In both cases, the invaded people did not want to live under American imperialism because they knew and understood that the Americans were not going to offer them the sort of lifestyle that they wanted. Granted, Germany, Japan, and Korea have become advanced economies, but these miracles have not been replicated in any of the other countries that American has intervened in, and it was clear that this freedom and economic prosperity was not going to necessarily be awarded to to Iraqis or the Viet-Cong. In fact, as we have seen, the so called economic miracle never arose in Iraq, in the same way that it never arose in Haiti, Granda, or Afghanistan.