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Social contract is a term with a variety of definitions. In the earlier days, the reformation movement brought about new concepts that opened the eyes of people. The origin of the social contract theories can be traced to Plato’s writings. The later day philosophers expanded further on the idea of bringing in new concepts. Thomas Hobbes’ writings in the Leviathan touched on the social contrast in respect to the English civil war. In later years, new philosophers, Locke and Rousseau, emerged and came up with new the social contract theory. This elaborates in Locke’s 1690 book, Concerning Civil Government, and Rousseau’s 1762 book, The Social Contract (Barker, 1971).
People began to ignore the government and religion. They started emphasizing on the roles and functions of the individual in society. They looked into their rights and the functioning of the society. This new vision brought about scrutiny to the existing monarchy system and their tradition on democracy (Franklin, 1981). The people did not understand the role of the monarch system in government. John Locke, a philosopher from England, and France’s Rousseau Jean-Jacques examined the queries of the people and came up with ideas on the social contract theories.
Metaphorically speaking, social contrast agglutinates central government power principles from the people while it settles on the approval of the governed. People followed the order of the society and conferred to the political/contractual obligations. They obliged to the promise of living to the deals they consented from the political promise. Then it became a norm that their consent to the government existence and powers, gave it an obligation to be obeyed unquestionably (Barker, 1971).
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In the American political system, the social contract is a key foundation that sustains it. The social contrast to the system portrays a belief that the government put in to serve the will of the people and nothing else. The people are the source of the government power, and they can select whether to dispatch or retain the power. The nature of man or state of nature for philosophers or groups (in the case of the Federalists and Anti federalists) elaborates by the writings they provided. Thomas Hobbes writing in the Leviathan elaborates the fact that there were no governments in the earlier times and the strongest individuals had the power to rule. According to Hobbes theory, people had a mutual agreement on creation of nations and states for providing the protection of their well-being. That was the only power wielded upon the state government.
However, once the state acquired the power from the people, the people denied any right to that power. This brought forward the rise of pricing on the protection the people desperately sought. Hobbes’s portrays that the people assumed that in contracting together and handing power to the monarch would bring in the sensible leadership. They were wrong because the monarch also took in most of the people’s rights when they accorded the power (Barker, 1971).
Locke proclaimed, in his work, that the people handed over a limited amount of power. He queried on the possibilities of better livelihood if the people were to think rationally and carefully on the contracts in which they would live in. To him this was the explanation of the social contract theory (Locke, 1967).
Rousseau’s in his works explains that the government main pillar is popular sovereignty. This emphasizes the fact that the will of the people gives the direction and power to the government. This is similar to John Locke’s idea in his political writings on the social contract theories. He stressed the role of the individual. They believed in the drive on masses for change This saw in their view on revolution as a right and an obligation. Revolution, in their view, was only necessary if the government misused the power entrusted to them by the people. On later days, we see these ideas had an impact on the Founding Fathers. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison are key references to these ideologies (Barker, 1971).
Thomas Hobbes, in his writing, elaborates the happenings on the English civil wars. His definition of the social contract theory was as changing point in the evolution of the definition. In, Leviathan, he touched and challenged the theories. The theories claimed that people obliged to entrust themselves on the state because it was the will of God. The rulers used this theory to their advantage claiming they were the chosen ones (Barker, 1971). The rulers viewed to posses the authority that a patriarch might have over his family. The regime changes in his times brought about by the English civil war. The chaos brought about by these wars made the people question the political obligation bases. The power the people wielded to their god chosen leaders were leading them to death and chaos (Barker, 1971).
Hobbes came up with an alternative for the people’s compulsion to obey the state above their moral obligation. The alternatives were a series of deductions implying that people use the same urges, drives and needs to motivate them. This was an assumption in his part and thought to happen all the time. With this in mind, he put forward that when life threatened, the only motivation that will come up is self-preservation. Self- preservation was the strongest interest and motivation and could not be trumped by any other interest (Barker, 1971).
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The will to live and freedom drove the community as elaborated by Hobbes. He says the desire to have freedom of motion through the movement, acquisition and an exertion was a necessity to people of all calibers of life. People delighted when their appetite for freedom relinquished. The movement, in the pre-governmental period, created many conflicts as everybody desired to freedom. Freedom at this time was a unique motivation. Violent eruptions would occur when people tried to protect others from placing barriers on their freedom of movement. Life in this natural state, pre-governmental life, was every man against himself. This was the worst state of living imaginable as the people were brutal, poor and nasty. Life was short (Franklin, 1981).
To end the constant violence and war people agreed to create an entity that uses compulsion to end the vice. People sacrificed their need for freedom to enhance their drive of the self-preservation. Self-preservation here was a key pillar to human existence. Therefore, it is a motivation that cannot be under estimated. Draconian edicts introduced to maintain the obedience of the people to their sovereignty. Compliance was the key aspect for the sacrifice of freedom to be worthwhile. The people were made to believe that it is their right to enforce the edicts. It was that if the individual resistance neglected, it would lead to a massive revolt or rebellion. The revolt will threaten the sovereign’s power and entangle the community back to the pre-governmental natural state (Franklin, 1981).
Hobbes uses the automatic and necessary human responses, schematic drawings, to create models to support his theories. Other than that, he has little evidence to support his theories. In this light, it expected that the sovereign will give orders, which must be obeyed by his subjects. There is no kindness and compassion emotion that is strong enough to subdue the move for the self-preservation used by the states (Barker, 1971).
John Locke, in his part aimed, to modify the model produced by Hobbes. He offers a parallel theory to the one Hobbees offered. Locke puts forward a benign compilation of the society based on benign assumptions on people who compromise on the idea. He eased on the tight assumption that human instinct prevents a person from fighting against it. Locke further debated that people were sociable, compassionate and were capable of realizing the danger on uncontrolled environments (Locke, 1967).
In his view, the social contract puts across a limited obligation for people to obey it. If there is sovereignty in governance, according to natural law, it will make people have an obligation to obey. Locke portrayed that when the natural law was violated, the obligation for obedience by the people was no longer necessary. He views the people as free with the right to revolt against a tyrannical state. This view allowed for incorporation of rights on the social contract and the limiting of governance. The government then obliged to use the brute force when trying to obtain what is just for the people (Locke, 1967).
Locke made the social contract a tool for legitimizing the government rule. He resolves that people obliged to obey the government only if the government serves them. If the government does not play its part, then a rebellion is inevitable. He supports his facts by portraying the fact that there are no rebellions, because the government is working well to serve its people (Locke, 1967).
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Locke profoundly influenced presiding in the 18th century in America. Thomas Jefferson was an ardent follower of Locke’s theories elaborated by his writing. Jean-Jacques Rousseau writings based its facts on nobility of people in a pastoral state of nature. Natives possessed governments of their own, which made colonists refer to them as noble savages. According to Rousseau, he deemed natural state as unstable and incomplete. People in the natural state could only pursue what they wanted, despite the fact that they were compassionate. Rousseau noble savages yearned for a society and created one subjecting everyone to give up their natural rights. In that society, every person had a say in the decision making process on their day-to-day obstacles. This participation tied to assisting the community chooses actions that benefit the best interest of all community members. Each had to sacrifice their desires, self-abnegation, to improve their society. This eliminates the possibility of a natural state. The sovereignty of the community is purely based on policy making (Tuck, 1979).
Americans do not agree with Rousseau’s views. They find his insights a sentimental and totalitarianism. Otherwise, I find that his acceptance of natural inclination is sociable and insightful. He confers that the public work can shape people. This view brought about the constitution and identity of Americans in their nation (Tuck, 1979).
The social contract theory is fresh and relevant compared to the time it was started. The government uses the social contract to enforce its rule. The progressive thoughts brought about by the theory are the same basic principles today as they were over 300 years ago. The anti federalists who argued on the constitution entrusted themselves on the social contract. Federalists who supported the constitution system also based their arguments on the social contract theory. The Anti-Federalists said that the constitution is the end of the self-rule, more enlightened federalists of later years seemed to incorporated social contract theory in the future economic and social transformation of American society. These transformations are the best description of the social contract theories in present day livelihood. The fact that we vote in leaders shows how people are wielding the power to the government. The power controlled by ability to vote out any errant leaders.
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