Rousseau’s Nonexistent Co Existing State Essay

2217 words - 9 pages

The idea of a utopian state is one many people have hoped for or thought of, a place where all people are treated equal and free. Jean Jacques Rousseau developed the theory of sovereign government and the ‘le volante general’, meaning the general will, in his book The Social Contract. There are certain problems with his theory such as, citizens will not be in similar situations, and so if the law was decided on, it will have different impacts on different people, leaving the minority at a disadvantage. Although citizens can help to set the general will they might not be moved to follow it, leading to an imbalance in equality. The will of the rulers can be general will as long as the sovereign agree, this can lead to authoritarianism. Every act of general will binds all citizens, for the sovereign only sees the body of the state not the individuals who make it up. The legislator is in charge of giving the citizens a false sense or illusion of free will, completely destroying Rousseau’s theory of co-existing free citizens. Rousseau’s sovereign government and volante general, does not allow for the co-existence of free and equal citizens.
Rousseau’s ‘free state’, does not allow for the co-existence of free and equal citizens because a collective will cannot be established. This is due to people’s differing individual interests and life styles, causing the collective will to be a majority rules. This state will also fail to be ‘free’ because the government can have complete authority over the state, causing the collective will to be whatever they desire.
The coexistence of equal citizens cannot be established when the laws do not equally apply to each individual. Rousseau’s sovereign government is a form of democracy in which the authority of the government is created and upheld by the consent of its people. This is through their elected representatives, who are the source of all political power. The general law must come from all, however in this form of government a party or an individual dictator may claim to represent the will of the people. With the government able to represent the will of the people, even if they have good intentions, it is unlikely that what the government feels the general will is, is actually the general will felt by the citizens of the state. In a state where citizens live a variety of different lifestyles, each of their perspectives for what will be good for themselves and the state will differ. For example, a doctor with three children could feel that it would good for the state to have more community centers, for children to be active and for families to go. While a lawyer with no children could feel that it would be bad for the state to open more community centers because it gives them a place to cause mischief. The sovereign will not be able to account for the numerous amount of different situations that preside in the state. This will not allow for all to coexist under conditions of equal freedom,...

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