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Single Idea 19797

[catalogued under 25. Society / B. The State / 2. State Legitimacy / e. General will]

Full Idea

To avoid the general compact being an empty formula, it tacitly entails the commitment that whoever refuses to obey the general will will be forced to do so by the entire body. This means merely that he will be forced to be free.

Gist of Idea

Citizens must ultimately for forced to accept the general will (so freedom is compulsory!)


Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1762], I.7)

A Reaction

Rousseau obviously enjoyed this paradox (which sounds like US foreign policy). Apart from anarchism, any political system will need a bit of force to back it up. Should democratic voting becoming compulsory, if the turnout declines too far?

Book Reference

Rousseau,Jean-Jacques: 'The Basic Political Writings', ed/tr. Cress,Donald A. [Hackett 1987], p.150