Rousseau On The Social Contract Analysis

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Rousseau’s writings On the Social Contract critiques many aspects of modern society, including the use of representatives in most governments. With this critique, Rousseau attempts to persuade the readers that having a representative form of government is tantamount to being enslaved. This begs the question, is modern society wrong to use representative forms of governments or is Rousseau being courted by a utopian visage? Rousseau is persuasive in his arguments, however the impracticality of populaces sans representatives is a firm counterbalance. Rousseau’s main argument against the use of representatives in the political sphere is that utilising representatives thwarts any attempt at truly reaching the general will of the citizens. He states…show more content…
On the contrary, representatives do not signify laziness from the citizen. The logic and necessity of representatives comes from the size of a given population. The use of representatives does not create the state that Rousseau denotes as doomed to fail “in a well-run city everyone flies to the assemblies; under a bad government no one wants to take a step near them” (218). Rousseau’s impression of representatives implies that they are being used in lieu of the citizens actually attending themselves or tracking the legislature. While it is true that the representatives speak in place of the citizens, they are speaking the will of the group they represent. Those in question cannot be detached from their voters as Rousseau seems to believe they will be, if they are detached from the voters then they will not be able to perform to the general will. Representatives allow for the general will of the many to be heard by a few; the many has given their voice to the representative, but that does not mean the many no longer cares about the outcome. If anything, people will be more invested in seeing how the general will will be directed. Representatives would be chosen carefully as they are the voice of a given group of people. The deliberations over the potential representatives would certainly illicit the presence and care of the citizens. The…show more content…
Having a cold, not liking crowds, having to travel a bit to the gathering location; all of those and other inconveniences should be forgotten and ignored. However, when a population of citizens who can voice their opinions at the gathering grows too large it is no longer a good way to follow the general will, it becomes nothing more than a ruckus. Consider the caucus style of voting the U.S. utilises in some states; these are relatively small groups of people, in most cases no more than a thousand per district due to poor voter turnout, but only some voices are heard in deciding whom to vote for. Not everyone’s will is accounted for, and it takes hours. Rousseau’s picture of a government run without representatives would either be an incredibly slow, and inadequate to fulfilling the general will of the populace, or be incredibly small so the general will is
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