Democracy, More Like DemoCRAZY
An issue with the concept and philosophy of democracy is that idea in which is theorized to uphold can sometimes contradict themselves. Democracy in itself cannot be definitely defined, but instead is left up to interpretation by many philosophers and theorists, all of whom have wildly varying convictions of how an actual democracy should function. The ideals in which one person might claim to the be fundamental basics of their version of a democracy could also the Achilles heel in their defense against it. There is no constant in democracy, but some arguments do provide a reasonable justification to what they claim to be a democracy. Some interpretations are better than others, some can defend themselves …show more content…
The government’s role in Rousseau's democracy is simply to administer and apply laws, not make them. In order to ensure and maintain the general will of the people, especially since the people must unanimously vote on any law in a public assembly, Rousseau encourages the idea of an “official censor” that would protect and encourage the people to “act in accordance with popular morality” (83). Rousseau also advocates for a “civil religion” that works under three main properties: everyone subscribe to a religion (this is to “make him love his duty”), all religions must be tolerated, and everyone should subscribe to the “civil religion”. The last of that list is to have sermons that teach how to be a proper citizen a loyal to the state. All of what sees in a democracy branch from his idea of united mind and moral, a general will. As stated earlier, no fundamental idea of democracy is without fault, and Rousseau’s is certainly not an exception. First and foremost, the idea of a general will and a unanimous collective overlooks and crushes the concept of individual freedoms and liberties. In fact, it is entirely possible for the general consensus to agree upon a policy to be implemented into the general will, only to have that policy force some kind of freedom onto those who do not want it. And in addition to that, those who are opposed to forced freedoms, or any kind of matter that does not conform to the general will, and then silence. Any kind of thought
When Jean Jacques Rousseau wrote his Social Contract, the idea of liberty and freedom were not new theories. Many political thinkers such as John Locke and Thomas Hobbes had already evolved with their own clarification of liberty and freedom of mankind, and in fact John Locke had already publicized his views and ideas on the social contract as well. In Rousseau’s case, what he did was to transform the ideas incorporated by such substantial words, and present us to another method to the social contract dilemma. What would bring man to leave the state of nature, and enter into a structured civil society? Liberals believes that this was the assurance of protection - liberty to them implied being free from destruction and harm towards one’s property. Rousseau’s concept of freedom was entirely different from that of traditional liberals. According to Rousseau, liberty is meant to voice out your opinion, and participation as human being. “To renounce liberty is to renounce being a man” (Wootton, 454).
Democracy is defined as “A system of government in which ultimate political authority is vested in the People.” The Declaration’s
Rousseau wanted the state to be a legitimate democracy, a society that united together the people in freedom, equality and civic devotion. Rousseau believed that an individual fulfils his moral potential not in isolation but as part of a community where all members are committed to helping each other. This belief led Rousseau to ancient Greek society for which he felt a great admiration. He believed the Greeks lived in 'organic communities', cities where the citizens set aside personal interests in order to attain the common good. Rousseau's ideal state was one of a smaller size but one where the citizens were welded together in the spirit of 'fraternity'. People would therefore have the opportunity to get know each other, resulting in an enthusiastic contribution to all public affairs. Such a political environment produces free and committed citizens. In contrast, the large modern day states are ruled by an absolute monarch, creating 'servile subjects', which Rousseau despised.8
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.
Rousseau thought that man was born weak and ignorant, but virtuous. It is only when man became sociable that they became wicked. (Cress, 80) Since civil society makes men corrupt, Rousseau advocated “general will”, more precisely the combined wills of each person, to decide public affairs. General will would become the sovereign and thus it would be impossible for its interests to conflict with the priorities of the citizens, since this would be doing harm to itself. Virtue came from the freedom of men to make decisions for the good of the
Rousseau describes democracy as a form of government that “has never existed and never will” ; yet twenty-six countries in the world are considered to be full democracies. How can this be possible? Rousseau’s concept of democracy supports the most fundamental and basic premise of democracy – one in which all citizens directly participate. While his idea of democracy cannot be considered an effective indictment of what passes for democracy today, it is not Rousseau’s account which is flawed but that in modern society is would be practically impossible to achieve this idea of democracy.
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
With this, all peoples are equal and completely free or, to put it more eloquently, “in giving himself to all, each person gives himself to no one” (Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. Basic Political Writings. Hackett Pub. Co., 1987. p. 148). In this respect, Marx and Rousseau share common ground. They both believe that a community or state ruled by all needs to exist to ensure freedom for all. Marx and Rousseau agree that control that comes from above/without/utilizing force can never be rendered legitimate. Likewise to Rousseau, the core of Marx’s notion of freedom is epitomized in this phrase: “Liberty is, therefore, the right to do everything which does not harm others” (C., Tucker, Robert, and Engels, Friedrich. The Marx-Engels Reader, First Edition. New York: W. W. Norton, 1972. p. 40). The break between the two is most noticeable concerning Marx’s central idea that the procurement of the rights of production is the key to freedom. When human beings are estranged from their labor they are estranged from themselves, from each other, and, ultimately, made subjects because of it. Freedom necessarily means that human beings must have the right to produce freely as production is a natural extension of oneself. As we shall see, this problem is only exacerbated by civil society.
Due to state laws and policies, Marx and Rousseau both agree men are not living in a free society. In western democracies today, both philosophers’ ideas are clear and visible.
To better understand Rousseau’s thesis and social contract he proposed, we must first understand why Rousseau felt compelled to write and his main criticism of society during the 18th century. In sum, Rousseau argued that states (specifically France, though never explicitly stated) have not protected man’s right to freedom or equality. Rousseau began The Social Contract in dramatic fashion. He wrote, “man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains” (1). This quote is still used today, and is a powerful description of Rousseau’s central issue with society. He believed that every man is “born” naturally free—he has full autonomy and can do what he chooses. However, Rousseau argued that man is bound to the injustices of society.
1. Why does Rousseau think that participatory democracy is the only true democracy? What is his critique of representative democracy? • Rousseau thinks that participatory democracy is the only true democracy because it allows all citizens to be involve in all issues of public interest. • His critique of representative democracy was that sovereignty and will does not admit of representation.
Knowing this, one might look at the function it serves. For Jean-Jacques Rousseau, religion, specifically a civil religion established by the Sovereign, is an instrument of politics that serves a motivating function. In a new society people are unable to understand the purpose of the law.
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
As the individual relinquishes all he had to the sovereign, it would suggest he was going to become a slave to the state. However, this is exactly what Rousseau was trying to avoid. This sovereign was not concerned with a simple majority; in fact Rousseau expressed distain for existing forms of civil state and their limited freedoms; “ England regards itself as free, it is grossly mistaken; it is free only during the election of its Members of Parliament. As soon as they are elected, slavery overtakes it, and it is nothing.” (Rousseau, as cited in Garrard, 2012, p.33) His general will was a more a greater, almost spiritual consciousness, which Rousseau outlined, somewhat abstractly, as “a form of association which will defend the person and goods of each member with the collective force of all, and under which each individual, while uniting himself with the others, obeys only himself and remains as free as before” (Rousseau, 1968 p.60). The laws or constraints “never formally stated, they are everywhere the same, everywhere tacitly admitted and recognised” (Rousseau, 1968, p.60). Yes, you would give up natural liberty, but you would gain civil liberty, thus achieving freedom, however now within the constraints of the general will, a structure that
Now though he noticed that people have private interests, he believed that in the aggregate will all the private interests will cross one anther to some degree. If not then there exist some common interests for all social participants. Therefore his sovereign is popular sovereign in the form of everyone’s democratic right. Rousseau opposed interests of associations formed by some members of the society. He said that