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Unformatted text preview: 430 The S ocial Contract poor: because, in fact, before the institution of laws, men had no way of reducing their equals to submission; than by attackin oods, or making some of their own over to them. Thi ecause, as the poor had nothing but their freedom to lose uld have been in the highest degree absurd for them to resi untarily the only good they still enjoyed, without getting a ng in exchange: whereas the rich having feelings, if! may $ ress myself, in every part of their posses sions, it was much to harm them, and therefore mote necessary for them to ecautions against it; and, in short, because it is more reasonable uppose a thing to have been invented by those to whom it wo e of service, than by those whom it must have harmed. T H E S O C IA L C O N T R A C T JEAN-JACQUES ROUSSEAU In 1762 Rousseau published his most important political text, The Social Contract. With its protean ideal of "the general will," it reveals him as a much more democratic theorist than hisfellow phi losophes. Critics have claimed, however, that its notion of the citizen being forced to be free" opened the door to totalitarian dictatorship. [BOOK I] CHAPTER I: SUBJECT OF THE FIRST BOOK Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains. One thinks himself the master of others, and still remains a greater slave than they. How did this change come about? I do not know. What carl make it legitimate? That question I think I can answer. If I took into account only force, and the effects derived from it, I should say: "As long as a people is compelled to obey, and obeys, it does well; as soon as it can shake off the yoke, and shakes it off, it does still better; for, regaining its liberty by the same right as took it away, either it is justified in resuming it or there was no justification took it away." But the social order is a sacred right wh of all rights. Nevertheless, this right does not come fro must therefore be founded on conventions. Before com have to prove what I have just asserted. CHAPTER III: THE RIGHT OF THE STRONG T strongest is never strong enough to be always the m rrns strength into right, and obedience into duty. H of the ongest, which, though to all seeming meant iron laid do as a fundamental principle. But are we nev explanatio f this phrase? Force is a physical power, a what moral ect it can have. To yield to force is an a not of w ill-a e most, an act of prudence. In what se duty? Suppose for a merit that this so-called right" ex that the sole result is a ass of inexplicable nonsense. For, right, the effect changes ith the cause: every force that the first succeeds to its ri . As soon as it is possible to impunity, disobedience is le ate; and, the strongest b the right, the only thing that atters is to act so as t strongest. But what kind of right at which perishes w If we must obey perforce, there is need to obey beca and if we are not forced to obey, we under no oblig Clearly, the word "right" adds nothing force: in this means absolutely nothing.nothing....
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- Fall '08