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The Role of Violence in Machiavelli's The Prince and Rousseau's Social Contract - Essay Example

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The Role of Violence in Machiavelli’s The Prince and Rousseau’s Social Contract theory Niccolo Machiavelli’s most famous work, The Prince and Jean Jacques Rousseau’s theory of the Social Contract are two of the most important works of European literature…
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The Role of Violence in Machiavellis The Prince and Rousseaus Social Contract
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"The Role of Violence in Machiavelli's The Prince and Rousseau's Social Contract"

Download file to see previous pages Both these works deal with the workings of a state, albeit of different kinds. Both these thinkers have distinct ideas and notions as to how a country or a kingdom should function. There is however, in both these works an unmistakable element of violence that shows itself to the reader who analyses the works carefully. While the presence of this violence may be attributed to the political conditions that existed while they were being written, it also owes a lot to the specific formations of statehood that are envisaged by these thinkers in their works of political theory. Both these works were written with the goal of the establishment of states that are peaceful; that is to say, both these works have intentions that are utopian. However, at some point of time during the establishment of this state or during the running of it, the role of violence does crop up as an issue that needs to be addressed and resolved. This paper shall attempt an exploration of these issues and a discussion of its implications. Rousseau’s theory of the Social Contract implies the establishment of a state where decisions are to be taken in consultation not with a few individual or a single individual but with the entire populace of a region that has agreed to become a collective. On the face of it, this appears to be a political setup where every member of the society gets a say in the implementation of the activities of the state. The mandate in a society that follows the Social Contract theory of Rousseau would have to be that of every member of the society. This is however, not practically possible as such a scenario would prevent any decision from being taken. This is because it is almost impossible that every member of a society would be in agreement upon every issue that concerns the public. Especially in matters of disputes between members of the same community, this theory would run into a great deal of problems. The only way in which the Social Contract theory can be implemented in a practical way is through coercion of the minority views that are held in a society. Members of a society who hold such views have to be led into accepting the views of the majority. One needs to remember that even though some of the views expressed by Rousseau are fairly democratic in their nature, they are still not completely democratic in spirit. This leaves open the possibilities of coercion through violence that may be practiced by the state and members of communities that share the majority view upon the minorities of a society (as far as their views are concerned; the term is not used to denote race or ethnicity in this context). Apart from the physical violence that is inflicted one also needs to take into account the mental torture that is inflicted upon certain sections of the society that may be then marginalized. The utopian vision of the thinker is thus compromised and the state reverts to the corrupt model that it had followed earlier, that had definite unshakeable hierarchies that led to certain sections of the society remaining subjugated by those above them in the social order. Rousseau’s theories also create new hierarchies since there exists two tiers in the process of governance, one of which shall consist of a person or a group of persons who may then act according to the wishes of the collective of the populace of the state. Such a ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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