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Single Idea 19801

[catalogued under 25. Society / B. The State / 2. State Legitimacy / a. Sovereignty]

Full Idea

Since sovereignty is merely the exercise of the general will, it can never be alienated, and the sovereign which is only a collective being, cannot be represented by anything but itself. Power can perfectly well be transmitted, but not the will.

Gist of Idea

Sovereignty is the exercise of the general will, which can never be delegated


Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1762], II.01)

A Reaction

Part of the post-Hobbesian revolution, which sees sovereignty as residing in the will or consensus of the people, rather than in a divine right, or a right of power. In 2016 this isn't going very well. A people choosing to obey is thereby dissolved.

Book Reference

Rousseau,Jean-Jacques: 'The Basic Political Writings', ed/tr. Cress,Donald A. [Hackett 1987], p.153