100%agreement is not possible in reality?First, if a given citizen is outvoted but truly believes that she has voted for the common good, the general will is no less unified. She simply must accept that what she thought the general will demanded was incorrect. Thus, she should support the body politics’ decision. Disagreement, therefore, is neither a threat to the general will’s expression nor the freedom of the individual herself. 35
Second, the degree of agreement necessary will depend on several external factors (the size of the state, the population, etc.) Rousseau offers two general rules for regulating this process: “ the first is that the more important and serious the decisions, the closer the prevailing opinion should be unanimity; the second is that the more hastily the matter under consideration must be decided, the smaller the prescribed majority should be.”36
On the civil stateLet us draw up the whole account in terms easily commensurable. What man loses by the social contract is his natural liberty and an unlimited right to everything he tries to get and succeeds in getting; what he gains is civil liberty and the proprietorship of all he possesses. If we are to avoid mistake in weighing one against the other, we must clearly distinguish natural liberty, which is bounded only by the strength of the individual, from civil liberty, which is limited by the general will; and possession, which is merely the effect of force or the right of the first occupier, from property, which can be founded only on a positive title.37
Man losesMan gainsNatural libertyMoral libertypossessionproperty38
What is moral liberty?THE PASSAGE from the state of nature to the civil state produces a very remarkable change in man, by substituting justice for instinct in his conduct, and giving his actions the morality they had formerly lacked. Then only, when the voice of duty takes the place of physical impulses and right of appetite, does man, who so far had considered only himself, find that he is forced to act on different principles, and to consult his reason before listening to his inclinations. Although, in this state, he deprives himself of some advantages which he got from nature, he gains in return others so great, his faculties are so stimulated and developed, his ideas so extended, his feelings so ennobled, and his whole soul so uplifted, that, did not the abuses of this new condition often degrade him below that which he left, he would be bound to bless continually the happy moment which took him from it for ever, and, instead of a stupid and unimaginative animal, made him an intelligent being and a man.39
We might, over and above all this, add, to what man acquires in the civil state, moral liberty, which alone makes him truly master of himself; for the mere impulse of appetite is slavery, while obedience to a law which we prescribe to ourselves is liberty.