The Social Contract was written in 1762 and addresses the legitimacy of political authority. One specific topic that Rousseau writes about to discuss political authority is the power of the sovereign in book II of The Social Contract. Rousseau describes the sovereign as the law or authority. In The Social Contract, Rousseau describes the sovereign as the voice of all the citizens and the sovereign cannot be disobeyed or divided. Rousseau goes on to talk more about the sovereign and how it runs, but the most interesting topic that he discussed is in Chapter 5 entitled “The Right Of Life And Death.”
In this book, Rousseau aims to discover why people gave up their liberty and how political authority became legitimate. In his case, sovereignty is vesting in the entire populace, who enter into the contract directly with one another. He explained, “The problem is to find a form of association which will defend and protect with the common force the person and goods of each associate, and in which each, while uniting himself with all, may still obey himself alone, and remains as free as before.” That was the fundamental problem which Social Contract provides the solution.
“A citizen is a political and moral agent who in fact has a shared sense of hope and responsibility to others and not just to him or herself” (Henry Giroux). A good citizen will not only wish for the better of themselves and their loved ones, but also of the entire world as well. A good citizen will stand up for what they consider important. As the quote by Giroux states, it is a responsibility to others as well, as the brave citizen is doing the entire community a favor as well. The analysis included in this paper will allow a reader to fathom what it means to bring change about, to get one’s voice heard, and to stand up for one’s beliefs, hopes and desires. This paper will be proceeded in a manner that not only summarizes the key ideas presented in Soul of Citizen, but also a connection to past events, along with present events and incidents.
In his writing he states that he believes that people consent to be governed meaning that the government should work for all the people and not the select few with money and land. Jean-Jacques Rousseau believed that people should have a vote on every issue because the government was meant to serve them. Even though Jean-Jacques Rousseau was mainly writing directing his writings to French government originally, his authorship for certain influenced the American
Philosophers such as John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau both created systems in what they believed the ideal government should look like. In the Second Treatise on Government, “Locke held that human beings are born with natural rights of life, liberty, and property; they establish the state to protect these rights”. John Locke’s view on government conceptualizes the idea of the natural rights: life, liberty and property. It conveys that every citizen is born with natural rights and that the government is morally obligated to uphold them. By pushing for rights and freedom, Locke convinced people to think about self-upliftment, which establishes that the people should fight for justice. Rousseau, on the other hand brings more of an idea that the government ought to serve the general will, using his social contract. “The clauses of this contract...the total alienation of each associate, together with all of his rights, to a whole community” (The Social Contract). By having a utilitarian approach, Rousseau believes that the general will of the population supercedes every other criteria, meaning that with anything that the government does, it must have the people’s consent. This ideology reinforced ‘no taxation without representation’, as the people began to believe that it is their right to decide what is just. However, none of these ideas could have impacted
Rousseau is theorizing from the concept of the general will, which promotes individuals to become conscious citizens who actively participate as a community to form policies for a governing structure. The general will advocates for a commitment to generality, a common interest that will unite all citizens for the benefit of all. Rousseau states, “each one of us puts into the community his person and all his powers under the supreme direction of the general will; and as a body, we incorporate every member as an indivisible part of the whole” (Rousseau 61). The general will is an expression of the law that is superior to an individual’s
The political philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Karl Marx examined the role that the state played and its relationship to its citizen’s participation and access to the political economy during different struggles and tumultuous times. Rousseau was a believer of the concept of social contract with limits established by the good will and community participation of citizens while government receives its powers given to it. Karl Marx believed that power was to be taken by the people through the elimination of the upper class bourgeois’ personal property and capital. While both philosophers created a different approach to establishing the governing principles of their beliefs they do share a similar concept of eliminating ownership of
At some point they cannot survive by themselves and everyone needs to come together for the common good In giving everything to the community the individual receives everything he or she has lost plus "more power to preserve what he has" (189). Lives must be lived in and for the group; the life as an individual must be merged into the life of the state, and the people must be involved in all aspects of government. There can be no clubs, separate churches, power groups, or political parties, because these would create separate rights for individuals, and give some individuals more power than others. By creating this, Rousseau annihilates power struggles between the rights of a group and individual rights. In this system, there is no one ruler of the community. A citizen who puts his or her community first is ruler, and ruled. The political government is one united system, it does what the community wants it to do.
Locke indicates that, by giving up some of one's rights, the state gains legislative power and is obliged to use this power to make laws that benefit the people, who hired it. Locke writes that, "This legislative is not only the supreme power of the common-wealth, but sacred and unalterable in the hands where the community have once placed it...over whom no body can have a power to make laws, but by their own consent, and by authority received from them." (XI 134) Rousseau argues that the state should not be able to acquire legislative power, but simply acts as an executive. He claims that the legislative power comes from the people, for the sovereign is simply the general will of everyone, in which the state should obey and enforce. Rousseau states that, "Each of us puts his person and all his power in common under the supreme control of the general will, and, as a body, we receive each member as an indivisible part of the whole" ( ), showing that the aggregate mind of the people, the general will, has the legislative power as "all" powers are given to it.
All men must consent to this “two-way commitment between the public and the individuals belonging to it” (8). This social compact between the subjects of a state creates the states “unity, its common identity, its life and its will” (7). Rousseau then laid out the two crucial parts of a state and their crucial separation: the sovereign, or the people, and the government. At the end of Book I, Rousseau summarized his proposed social contract by stating that it “replaces…physical inequalities as nature may have set up between men by an equality that is moral and legitimate, so that men who may be unequal in strength or intelligence become equal by agreement and legal right” (11). Rousseau’s social contract in theory would give each individual, regardless of physical strength or education, guaranteed freedom from the chains of the state.
We must question to what extent democracy relies on external factors of stability in order to be accepted as legitimate. I would very much argue that the wealth and stable economy of each democratic country plays a large part in its citizens accepting democracy as a legitimate governmental system. Let us first look at the UK, Britain has always had a strong democratic nature to the country and relies on the electorate to vote for the MP’S in the House of Commons. However in late 2010 the London riots shocked the world and showed how the legitimacy of democracy relies on prosperity of the economic situation of a country and when this does not exist it creates a social backlash devaluing the legitimacy of the democracy. Similarly grease one of the oldest democracies in the world has also felt this effect and now the government there has all but collapsed all due the financial support of the democracy failing sending the country into mass chaos.
Therefore it is the people who hold the power within the state, and also the legal subjects within the republic. Rousseau refers to the individuals as citizens when they are acting passively, and sovereign when acting as an active group for example, devising laws. He writes 'this public group, so formed by the union of all other persons...power when compared with others like itself' (lines 41-43 Rousseau extract). Rousseau's evaluates his solution, perhaps tersely earlier in his work by suggesting that 'the total alienation of each associate, together with all his rights, to the whole of the community' (lines 17-18 Rousseau extract). The main aspects that incorporates Rousseau's version of social contract theory is that he wants to make a distinct separation of the 'will of all' from 'general will'. Will of all or individual will, is private wills and specific to each of the state's members, while general will is a common will for all and reflect the common good for state members. By separating the two wills, can help to reduce conflict that may arise between the two, and by evaluating all the opinions of each member. It is possible to see what issues are more pressing, and cancel out individualistic wills, if the majority of individuals share the opinions, thus making this majority, the general will. Rousseau sums this up when he writes, 'There is often a great deal of
In Two Treatises of Government, John Locke (1823) argued that natural rights such as life, liberty and property could not be taken or given away by individuals. These “inalienable” rights limited the power of the king, who acted only to enforce the natural rights of the people. If these rights were violated, the people had the right to revolt and create a new government. Although Locke supported the idea of a representative government, he wanted representatives to be men of property (Locke 1823). Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1988) also wrote about representation in The Social Contract. Rousseau felt that individuals should enter into a social contract in which they gave up their rights to the entire community, rather than to a king. Rousseau viewed a
During elections in countries with corrupt governments, for example, it has to be decided whether the guarantee of every individual’s right to vote or who wins is more important. (Wong, Lecture, October 24) Moreover, deep divides continue to exist and separate groups in democratic countries by race, religion, language, and class, resulting in tension and, in some cases, oppression. Thus democracy, despite its emphasis on liberty, equality and plurality, can still be problematic.
Churchill’s claim that “democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried” is deliberately provocative and intended to challenge the reader’s simplistic ideal that democracy is without faults. There are an estimated 114 democracies in the world today (Wong, Oct 3rd lecture). A figure that has increased rapidly in the last century not necessarily because democracy is the best form of government, but primarily for reason that in practice, under stable social, economic and political conditions, it has the least limitations in comparison to other forms of government. Be it the transparency of a democratic government or the prevalence of majority rule, all subdivisions of democracy benefit and hinder its