The Social Contract

“Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains. Those who think themselves the masters of others are indeed greater slaves than they” 

These are the words of Jean Jacques Rousseau, a French philosopher, that can be found in his book Of The Social Contract, Or Principles of Political Right.  

The Social Contract is a unsaid agreement between people and their governments.  Many philosophers from Rousseau to Kant have touched on this topic, however Rousseau’s arguments are by far my favorites.  

He argues that in the primitive state of being there is no law or morality, people then left this primitive state in favor of cooperation with others.  However in this “new world” people compete with each other, there is private property, and a division of labor. Therefore to prevent disagreements people joined together and established governments to protect their rights and preserve their freedoms.  In turn they cede some of their rights to the government.  

I argue, with the support of other modern day philosophers, that we are now in a sort of modern day Social Contract, one in which we have given up many of our rights in order to be protected by a ruling body.  However this Social Contract does not benefit all people for it is only the wealthy that actually recognize that they are in the Social Contract and that the contract serves mainly as a method to protect their interests.  This can be shown by the many laws in this capitalistic society that allows the rich to get richer and the poor to stay that way.