Compare And Contrast Locke And Rousseau

774 words - 3 pages

Compare and Contrast Locke and Rousseau

The turmoil of the 1600's and the desire for more fair forms of government combined to set the stage for new ideas about sovereignty. Locke wrote many influential political pieces, such as The Second Treatise of Government, which included the proposal for a legislative branch of government that would be selected by the people. Rousseau supported a direct form of democracy in which the people control the sovereignty. (how would the people control the sovereignty??) Sovereignty is the supremacy or authority of rule. Locke and Rousseau both bring up valid points about how a government should be divided and how sovereignty should be addressed.

Rousseau and Locke differ slightly on how the question of sovereignty should be addressed. Rousseau believed that men would essentially destroy themselves due to their "mode of existence"(more explanation of what is meant by "mode of existence"?) (Rousseau 39) and therefore must enter into a government that controls them. However, this control is in the form of direct participation in democracy where people have the ability to address their opinions, and thus sovereignty is in the control of the people. Unlike Rousseau, Locke believed firmly in the fact that government should be split up into a legislative branch and a ruling branch, with the legislative branch being appointed as representatives of the people. He contends that people give up the power of their own rule to enter into a more powerful organization that protects life, liberties, property, and fortunes. The two differ significantlyin that Rousseau wanted a direct or absolute form of democracy controlled by the people, while Locke prefered an elected, representative democracy that also co-exists with a ruling class.

Rousseau's plan gives the State almost no control over its people while Locke grants the State more of a decision making role. Rousseau believeed that the state should in fact have very little control over the people. Since the people control the sovereignty, the state essentially has no control other than the control that results from the general will of the people. This control is in fact established directly by the people, but also does set up rules as to how...

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