The book very strenuously excavates into history and logical reasoning, the premise on which the state was established and how further must it sustain…
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in this work, has submitted to answering the question – ‘Can there exist a political society wherein morals and justice converge?; where man’s social limitations meet natural limitations and where men acquire a fair ground?’ In answering this question, the author accomplishes the most important feat which demands that the ladder of questions aroused inside the reader be climbed step-by-step.
The book is divided into 4 parts. Part 1 is given a head start by establishing what the first societies were like and how slavery cannot be enumerated in them. Also to further prove his opinion he explains how the right to kill or force is no right in itself and cannot even be justified in any case. Thus he relates the primitive conditions to the need of a social pact.
The second part, in essence, strains on how the state functions through the common interest of its people and in what particular way can laws, which are also in obedience to this common interest, be set to the govern the state. And to a great extent, the reader will recognize the principle importance of such laws both from the perspective of the people towards the unit sovereign and the sovereign towards its people.
In respond to this, the reader might fairly be expected to ask whether there can prevail a form of government suited to every environment and if it does not, then what form of government caters to what type of sovereign. Part 3 not only answers this question but also, in general, scrutinizes the cogs, in separate, of every mentioned governmental mechanism so that the reader can criticize various aspects of various forms of governments. Part 4, while, explains last step towards sustaining the sovereign – electing the incumbent.
In general, the book serves to present efficiently the crux of the subject, however the reader might find it entangled with obsolete examples and incomplete chain of reasons, especially in the part where he mentions that people submit to public subsistence, the surplus of what they produce and later he explains that the sovereign must strive to make every citizen independent of every other’s resources but fails to dismiss the contradiction.
To sum it up, The Social Contract is a must read for those inquisitive about the possible political systems and their successful or unsuccessful existence.
Next read: Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli