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The Origin of Civil Society

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Essay title: The Origin of Civil Society

Argument Summary - The Origin of Civil Society

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Rousseau’s ‘The Origin of Civil Society’ talks about Social Contract, which stands for Laws of people and what they should abide by rather than a Monarchy.

Rousseau begins The Social Contract with the sensational opening sentence: Man was born free, but he is everywhere in chains, (Rousseau 55) and proceeds to argue that men need not be in chains. If a civil society, or state, could be based on a genuine social contract, as opposed to the fraudulent social contract, men would receive in exchange for their independence a better kind of freedom, namely true political, or republican, liberty. According to Rousseau, such liberty is to be found in obedience to a self-imposed law.

Civil society, as Rousseau describes it, comes into being to serve two purposes: to provide peace for everyone and to ensure the right to property for anyone lucky enough to have possessions. He writes, “What he gives is the whole man as he then is, with all his qualities of strength and power”(Rousseau 50). It is thus of some advantage to everyone, but mostly to the advantage of the rich, since it transforms their de facto ownership into rightful ownership and keeps the poor dispossessed. It is a somewhat fraudulent social contract that introduces government since the poor get so much less out of it than do the rich. Even so, the rich are no happier in civil society than are the poor because social man is never satisfied. Society leads men to hate one another to the

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