Montesquieu 's Spirit Of Laws And Jean Jacques Rousseau 's On The Social Contract

1620 Words Apr 12th, 2016 7 Pages
What entity dictates life on the most fundamental level? Is it the government or the people who permit the government to exist? This is the main point of contention between Baron de Montesquieu 's Spirit of Laws and Jean-Jacques Rousseau 's On the Social Contract. Interestingly, their interpretation of different forms of government converge on the sovereignty of a democracy, but that is where most of their common ground lies. While Rousseau shares similarities on the sovereign authority of a democracy with Montesquieu, he departs by arguing how regardless of government, sovereignty always rests in the hands of the people. He also disagrees on how the populace should participate in the democracy and on their representation in government, making his principles more relevant today.
Baron de Montesquieu sees the people as sovereign exclusively in a democracy and act through elected bodies or ministers. Since the people have the sole power to enact laws, the rules of suffrage are vital to a successful democracy. Following closely is the need for a fixed amount of active citizens in an assembly. As such, the essence of his democracy revolves around the need for love of the laws and of the country. (Montesquieu Bk. 4 Pt. 5) Likewise, frugality is important because it allows all of society to share a similar level of enjoyment and advantages that a democracy brings. When the populace look to frugality, enhanced public services are made available. Consequently, there is a law of…
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