The Social Contract, 1763
Jean-Jacques Rousseau stresses, like John Locke, the idea of a social contract as the basis of society. Locke's version emphasized acontact between the governors and the governed: Rousseau's was in a way much more profound - the social contract was between all members of society, and essentially replaced "natural" rights as the basisfor human claims.
Origin and Terms of the Social Contract
Man was born free, but everywhere he is in chains. This man believes that he is the master of others, and still he is more of a slavethan they are. How did that transformation take place? I don't know. How may the restraints on man become legitimate? I do believe I can answer that question....
At a point in the state of naturewhen the obstacles to human preservation have become greater than each individual with his own strength can cope with . . ., an adequate combination of forces must be the result of men coming together.Still, each man's power and freedom are his main means of self-preservation. How is he to put them under the control of others without damaging himself . . . ?
This question might be rephrased: "Howis a method of associating to be found which will defend and protect-using the power of all-the person and property of each member and still enable each member of the group to obey only himself andto remain as free as before?" This is the fundamental problem; the social contract offers a solution to it.
The very scope of the action dictates the terms of this contract and renders the leastmodification of them inadmissible, something making them null and void. Thus, although perhaps they have never been stated in so man) words, they are the same everywhere and tacitly conceded andrecognized everywhere. And so it follows that each individual immediately recovers hi primitive rights and natural liberties whenever any violation of the social contract occurs and thereby loses the...