The Social Contract
"Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains."
Rousseau's Social Contract had a primary goal of showing how although man apparently has to be governed and abide by laws, liberty can be regained and political institutions can be made legitimate. Rousseau believes that Natural Liberty is an impossibility at this point but that man can regain another type of liberty, Moral Liberty. Moral Liberty allows them to be "masters of themselves." Rousseau states that there has to be a "form of association" which protects the person and property of each individual member of the community from the resistance and force of the rest of the community, yet still allows the individual to ultimately obey no one but himself and remain as free as before even though he is part now a of the community as a whole. Rousseau's solution to this dilemma is to form a type of political organization that puts each individual under the guidance and direction of the General Will. The General Will is what is in everyone's interests. Each person is subject to rules of law that they willingly agree to. The people that structure this group and make the laws are called the "sovereign" and the "government" which is what he considers the executive branch of the association, enforces the laws. The sovereign and the government much be separate entities. Each individual agrees to give up their personal rights for the rights of the whole community in general. They agree to obey and follow the rules of the General Will, those which the community has agreed to and established.
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