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Rousseau: journal 1

Jean-Jacques Rousseau the author of The Social Contract is the topic of this journal. In class we address the difference between Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Thomas Hobbes. We looked into the different approaches the two men took on the topic of the government and its people. Rousseau and Hobbes come to the conclusion of the importance of the sovereign. Rousseau discusses the will of the people as being the same as the will of the sovereign. That the sovereign is the people, it is one body governed by the people. The sovereign for Hobbes is one that comes form an absolute power. Hobbes has a narrow definition of society when it comes to dealing with the state. He views society as one that is exclusively linked to European government with rulers. There is no consideration for tribal governments and other forms of government that do not resemble that of European governments. He goes on to write about the state of nature. The state of nature is one that is disorderly and lawless; where there is no law there can be no injustice. There are two important words to take away from the Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes that is covenant and fear. The fear leads people into the contract and the glue that binds them to the contract is self-interest. Self preservation is natural and that allows people to give up some liberties in the quest of self preservation. But liberties are not birth rights but products of society and the contract society makes between people. Jean-Jacques Rousseau discusses the social contract also and how there is a difference between the public and private. The public is general apart of the social contract and the sovereign. Private deals more with the particulars like property and the relationship between master and slave. Public and Private are apart of the social contract. As we explore the social contract we see how it deals with how one can obey self interest and still work under the social contract. When one gives up some rights they do so in purist of gaining more rights, which ultimately benefit them in their self preservation. An example would be the right owning property. Under the social contract property is own by the government. The government allows people to buy the land and claim it as there own. Even though they feel as though the land is considered to be the citizen’s it is actually the property of the sovereign. The issue that I would like to focus on is that of the public versus the private. An example of the conflict between the public and the private can be seen in book I chapter six of the social pact paragraph two through four. These paragraphs discuss how in ones attempt to fulfill his/her needs for self preservation they need to team up with others. They unite to from “a sum of forces that might prevail over those obstacles’ resistance?. With unity they are able to advance and to have these opportunities of advancement people agree to the social contract. By being apart of the city of Chicago I am given the agreement that the local government will work in the best interest of the people. According to Rousseau the sovereign can only work in the interest of the people because it is made of the people. The city of Chicago decided to put a bid in for the Olympics in order to bring jobs to the city. In this way the city is working for the people. In other instances the sovereign also works in ways that better it self. The city of Chicago has postponed the advancement of Wal-Mart building stores in the city. The city does not agree to some of Wal-Mart practices towards its employees. This disagreement has kept Wal-Mart from building a store in the city. Though bringing the Olympics to Chicago is good because it brings jobs; if Wal-Mart was allowed to enter the city there would permanent jobs. The Wal-Mart example shows how the sovereign does not always take into account the needs of the people. Instead of insuring permanent jobs the city is following its own political beliefs that are in conflict with what might be best for the people. Book II chapter one paragraphs two through three also discuss the conflict between public and private. These paragraphs talk about how the private can never always agree with the public. “Indeed, while it is not impossible that a particular will agree with the general will on some point, it is in any event impossible for this agreement to be lasting and constant.? This may explain my feelings towards Chicago’s decision not to allow Wal-Mart into the city; me as a particular does not agree with the decision. The social contract is a two fold relationship between the self and sovereign. I disagree with the Chicago’s government for declining Wal-Mart but by being apart of the sovereign and committing to the social contract I still abide by the sovereign’s rules. Following the rules I am participating in the social contract.