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Thursday, 27 September 2012

Rousseau’s views on freedom

Rousseau’s views on freedom       
According to Rousseau, people combine together to form a social contract under which everyone foregoes, same amount of freedom and has same responsibilities. Foregoing some freedom for protection of the society is not subjugation to slavery. Rousseau avers that administration should be divided into two parts consisting of sovereign who represents the whole of the general will and the government, which represents the authority to deal with particular matters like Law. While the sovereign has the legislative authority, the government will be the executive.

Rousseau says that the strength of the government is derived from the people and is absolute. The monarchy has the greatest power while the democracy has the least power. Since bifurcation of administration into sovereignity and government is advocated, he says that the power of the government depends on the size of the bureaucracy. He therefore advocates aristocracy or monarchy type of administration to take care of this relationship between the bureaucracy and the government (Wraight, 2008).

But it must be understood that Rousseau used these words (Wraight, 2008), aristocracy, democracy and monarchy in connotations different from traditional one. By monarchy and aristocracy, he means forms of democratic governments like the presidential governments or cabinet ruled governments of the present day. By democracy, he meant direct democracy where people select the head of the government directly and not the representative form of government.

Rousseau prefers different types of governments for different types of states. He feels that small city states offer the best atmosphere for individual freedom to flourish. For states larger than city states, he advocates an elected aristocracy and for very large states a benevolent monarch, all of them however being subservient to Law(Wraight, 2008).

Comparison of thoughts of Hobbes and Rousseau
Hobbes was a staunch advocate of monarch in its native form in the sense that King can almost be considered divine (Hobbes, 1651). That is why he extols the merits of monarchy over aristocracy and democracy. Rousseau on the other hand has no propensity towards any type of system but advocated different types of administration for different sizes of the states. His upholding of the superiority of law over the head of any type of government clearly shows he is a true democrat (Wraight, 2008).

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