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Single Idea 19805

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

Full Idea

Just as nature gives each man an absolute power over all of his members, the social compact gives the body politic an absolute over all its members, which is the power directed by the general will, and bearing the name sovereignty.

Gist of Idea

Just as people control their limbs, the general-will state has total control of its members


Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1762], II.04)

A Reaction

A highly organic view of the state, and his favourite political metaphor. Does the metaphor include disease and madness? In the 1930s Germany went insane. The man may be happy, but are his limbs happy? If I burn my hand? Etc.

Book Reference

Rousseau,Jean-Jacques: 'The Basic Political Writings', ed/tr. Cress,Donald A. [Hackett 1987], p.156