Rousseau: 'The Social Contract' and Other Later Political Writings

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"Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains."

Rousseau's The Social Contract progresses the case for democratic constitutionalism derived from popular sovereignty. He defines "freedom" as participation and the duty to observe laws one has a hand in making.

Rousseau exhibits a strong disdain for monarchial government. He states, "An essential and inevitable defect, which will always make monarchial government inferior to republican government, is that whereas in republics the popular choice always elevates to the highest places enlightened and capable men... those who rise under monarchies are nearly always muddled little minds..."

The Social Contract is a brilliant eighteenth-century masterpiece. Rousseau's ideas of "liberty, equality and fraternity" would be refined thirty years later in the French Revolution.

 

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