State of Nature General Will Term Paper

  • Length: 5 pages
  • Subject: Government
  • Type: Term Paper
  • Paper: #92224182

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Nature.... General Will

The ideas to create just and liberal society go all the way back to ancient times. The first examples of civil society were proposed by Plato and Aristotle, who saw the ideal state to be a republic ruled by the wise men and aristocrats as "first among equal." They didn't go in depth to explain its structure, functions of government in details, etc. These were the first discourses about the state where the harmony and equality established by the laws of nature will be preserved and developed. But the history shows that Greek republic failed under the pressure of power-gaining Rome and Greek democracy was forgotten for centuries, but some of its principles preserved and where later developed by the philosophers of Enlightenment.

Enlightenment or renaissance of political thought and birth of civil political teachings was represented by a new idea of state, where the power was based not on oppression, compulsion of tyranny but on the mutual trust of people to the government. In the 17-18th century the principle of the civil state, just state and its fundamentals were developed and later laid into modern institutions. If to look on development of political thought from the historical point-of-view we would definitely find out that it was an epoch of rapid growth of capitalist relations, establishment of international trade and establishment of major world superpowers. Society demanded new approach for the protection of their values (beliefs, religious ideas and what is more important the protection of private property). The issue with private property was the main point in the development of political thought, as private property embodied social stability and protection from the side of government. The core meaning of the private property is a form of appropriation of material goods that expresses the character of relations between people in the social mode of production. The development of private property institution was caused by the development of labor and production and changes of society types: from primitive communities, to slave owning than to feudalism and later to the society of free business or capitalism. Private property caused the class distinction between different social groups, appearance of class and national antagonisms (contradictions) as well.

That's why political thought of the modern time was directed on providing the most effective form of government that would protect the interests of the society in general, or its majority taking into consideration the opinion of minority. Rejecting the Devine creation of governments, which was proposed by Thomas Aquinas, Hobbes and Locke suggested the theory of social contract. It was radically new approach to state construction, which gave the privilege to all people, as their natural privilege and right to participate in public life, rather than to royal authorities, which represented the Devine will. But if Hobbes defended absolute monarchy or to be more specific the unlimited character of the power of state, then the positions of John Locke were more liberal and democratic:

"To understand political power aright, and derive from its original, we must consider what state all men are naturally in, and that is a state of perfect freedom to order their actions and dispose of their possessions and persons as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of nature, without asking leave, or depending upon the will of any other man." (Locke, John, The Second Treatise on Government, ed by Thomas P. Peardon, Indianapolis, In.; The Library of Liberal Arts, 1952).

According to Locke's principles the main purpose of a state was preservation of natural freedom and of property, gained as a result of labor. In order to fulfill these functions he argued that state power cannot be arbitrary as there has to be a certain division or distribution of powers: legislative, executive and federative. Actually these were Locke's ideas about the right of an individual to change social and political order in the country if it prevents him from development and self-realization. These principles laid in the justification of all democratic revolutions since the War for Independence; this principle was used in the declaration for independence by the "fathers of nation":

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness." (The declaration of independence)

But in reality the principles that were stated in the declaration of independence had a reference to the aristocratic minorities: first they were only white males with property, later this quota was expended to all white citizens. But nevertheless this kind of society didn't protect every individual, but as we know it had to be its primary purpose. The value of individual is the main in society, as individual is society's unit, a person with individual and unique character traits, intellectual, social and will qualities, which only can be the results of social participation. His value may not vary on his heritage, race, sex or religious beliefs. This principle comes out from common sense and from religious teachings that God, a super-power, spiritual super human "loves all his children equally and wants them to do the same."

That's why all the importance and observance of proclaimed democratic principles of equality was worth nothing because of the existed slavery in the 19th century and further "mental slavery" caused by segregation acts.

Fredrick Douglas highlighted it in his speech "What to slave is the Fourth of July," stating that everyone had been created equal, and it was stated not just in the principles and dogmas of Christianity, but in the Declaration of independence as well. He stated that all men are equal, and social division can not be done just by the race, heritage, and that slavery was breaking the main right of the man, which was guaranteed by the law, the right to live and to have freedom. And how could a man have freedom without having freedom over his own body, his own destiny as he felt oppressed and discriminated. Douglas's speech more than opened, the very truth of slavery in the U.S.A., showing that it was a real and shameful breaking of all the existed laws that defended the integrity of the human, his life, destiny, freedom and democratic moral. Movement for equal rights was continued by Martin Luther King Jr., a prominent clergy man, public leader and civil rights fighter. His struggle and struggle of millions of his followers resulted in acknowledgement of equity of all citizens no matter what their heritage, sex and religion were. It's impossible to talk about civil rights and equality without mentioning a work of Elizabeth Cady Stanton Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions, which identifies the equality of man and woman and equal rights of both for participation in every sphere of public life, written under the influence of Declaration of Independence text:

'When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one portion of the family of man to assume among the people of the earth a position different from that which they have hitherto occupied, but one to which the laws of nature and nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes that impel them to such a course"( Stanton, Cady Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions)

It appeared to be quite obvious that theoretical works of Enlightenment philosophers faced a lot of obstacle even that ideas that laid into modern political thought were directed on creation of society that would guarantee freedoms and satisfy all people. Nevertheless the idea of state of Reason, a state where the government will work for the common good not just for the good of minorities or majorities groups succeed. The works of Enlighteners laid into more radical, life-adopted and distinct political philosophies of such authors as Marx, Fromm and Ghandi.

If Locke saw the stability of the state in existence of property, than for Marx it was an obstacle in creating an ideal society. Marx considered private property and the character of free business and capitalist relations and mode of production to be a hamper in development of civilization. As he wrote: "On the certain stage of the development material powers of society's production come to the contradictions with existing productive relations ... From the forms of production development these relations become its fetters. At this moment the epoch of social revolution comes ... Consciousness has to be explained from the contradictions of material life, from the existing conflict between…

Cite This Term Paper:

"State Of Nature General Will" (2004, December 07) Retrieved January 18, 2017, from

"State Of Nature General Will" 07 December 2004. Web.18 January. 2017. <>

"State Of Nature General Will", 07 December 2004, Accessed.18 January. 2017,