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Single Idea 19802

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

Full Idea

The general will is always right. ....There is often a great deal of difference between the will of all and the general will. The latter considers only the general interest, but the former considers private interest and is merely the sum of private wills.

Gist of Idea

The general will is always right, but the will of all can err, because it includes private interests


Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1762], II.03)

A Reaction

Hence in order to get an expression of the general will, voters must exclusively focus on the general good. I do that in general elections, only to find that the people around me vote for their own interests. I wish we all did the same thing.

Book Reference

Rousseau,Jean-Jacques: 'The Basic Political Writings', ed/tr. Cress,Donald A. [Hackett 1987], p.155