return to list of latest ideas

Single Idea 19794

[catalogued under 25. Society / A. State of Nature / 4. Natural Rights / b. Alienating rights]

Full Idea

The social compact reduces to a single clause, namely the total alienation of each associate, together with all of his rights, to the entire community. Since this condition is equal for everyone, no one has an interest in making it burdensome for others.

Gist of Idea

If we all give up all of our rights together to the community, we will always support one another


Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1762], I.6)

A Reaction

He speaks elsewhere of basic natural rights which can never be alienated, such as self-defence. It is what small groups do all the time, if they start off as equals. Difficult to manage with large groups. Factions are the problem.

Book Reference

Rousseau,Jean-Jacques: 'The Basic Political Writings', ed/tr. Cress,Donald A. [Hackett 1987], p.148