Jean Roussea’s Social Contract Review

In Jean Rousseau’s The Social Contract, there are a lot of guidelines set as basic principles to keep an organized government. One of the key parts of government is for it to understand its ultimate purpose, which is to defend and protect the public. There are too many things that get in the way of human preservation for the individual to persevere, Rousseau argues. For the interests of mankind, it is necessary for there to be a governing force with a set of laws. This is not only for protection but also for prosperity.

What is important for governing bodies to realize though is that these laws have got to be in the common interest of the public. While some people and governments through the years have confused the governing body as the sovereign power over people, Rousseau cites the government as nothing but an intermediary between the public and the one supreme sovereign power. The source of this power is extended into the different governing branches, acting as its arms and legs. While these arms and legs demonstrate power, it is the brain (in this case, the public will) that gives it to them.

For the social contract to work it needs cooperation from both its leaders and its citizens. While it’s the leaders jobs to listen to its people, if the people don’t speak up then the governing body can’t pursue a course of action that’s in the public’s interests. While having representatives appointed, it is important to keep their minds set only on the public will and not their own personal will.

It is also important for citizens of the community to fulfill certain things asked of them by their governing body, such as pay taxes or sit on as jury. In return, the governing body cannot make any laws or restrictions that are not in the community’s interests. Part of this mechanism is to simply keep the citizens of the community active. While money can ultimately lead to laziness amongst the public, this laziness can also bring the downfall of the community. If people stay out of politics and trust their representatives to make all their decisions it is no longer the public will that is being maintained. Without this enslavement, in one form or another, is inevitable.