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Social Philosophy

The Social Contract Tradition

John A. I. Bewaji
University of the West Indies

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ABSTRACT: The classical contract tradition of Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau have enjoyed such fame and acceptance as being basic to the development of liberal democratic theory and practice that it would be heretical for any scholar, especially one from the fringes, to critique. But the contract tradition poses challenges that must be given the flux in the contemporary socio-political universe that at once impels extreme nationalism and unavoidable globalism. This becomes all the more important not in order to dislodge the primacy of loyalty and reverence to this tradition but from another perspective which hopes to encourage that the anchorage of disclosure be implemented. The contract tradition makes pronouncements on what is natural and what is nonnatural. It offers what many have contended are rigorous arguments for these pronouncements that are "intuitive," "empirical," "logical," "psychological," "moral," "religio-metaphysical." What I offer in this essay is a challenge from the outside. I ask: 1) on what empirical data are the material presuppositions of contractarianism built? 2) what is the epistemological foundation of contractarianism? 3) is contractarianism not derivable from any other form of sociological presupposition except that of the state of nature? 4) does any human know a "state of nature"? 5) given the answers to the above questions, to what extent are the legal and moral foundations of contractarianism sacrosanct? I attempt to answer these questions in what can only be a sketch, but my answers suggest that it is very presumptuous of contractarianist to suppose that they have captured the only logically valid basis of democratic practice universally.

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The classical social contract tradition of Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau have, in spite of their variation in themes and emphases, enjoyed such fame and acceptance as being basic to the development of liberal democratic theory and practice that it would be almost heresy for any scholar, especially one from the fringes or margins of mainstream (socio-political) philosophical academia, to post frontal, side, arial, rear or sub-surface attack and critique. But the social contract tradition poses challenges that must be accepted on various counts, with new insights and interpretations, given the fluxed reality in contemporary socio-political universe that at once impels extreme nationalism and unavoidable globalism. This becomes all the more important, not simply in order to dislodge the primacy of the loyalty and the reverence of devotion from the followers of this tradition as well as its most virulent critics, but from another perspective which hopes to, if possible, encourage that the anchorage of disclosure be completely implemented - derobing the ideological king of Western political theory for critical anatomical examination.

The hallowed social contract tradition makes certain unusual pronouncements regarding what is natural, what is non-natural and what is merely contrived by humans. It supposes that these unsubstantiated pronouncements are valid and offers what many have contended are rigorous "intuitive", "empirical", "logical", "psychological", "moral", "religio-metaphysical" and other forms of arguments for its assertions regarding contractarianism. Seminal contemporary contributions to the further entrenchment of the intellectual place of the tradition in Western and non-Western political discourse, either by way of affirmation or through coherent critiques have been Rawls, Wolff, Raphael, McBride, etc. I do not intend to go over grounds that they have effectively and efficiently covered, as such a task cannot devolve on me, given the fact that their perspectives bear a verisimilitude with that of the original authors of the contractarianism discussed here, a progeny that I disclaim.

What I offer in this essay is a challenge from the outside. As an outsider who shares no patrimony to the mystique of social contractarianism, I am of the considered opinion that the time is ripe to ask a number of pertinent endogenous and exogenous questions, namely: a) on what empirical data are the material presuppositions of social contractarianism built? b) what are the epistemological and methodological foundations of social contractarianism? c) is social contractarianism not derivable from any other form of sociological presupposition except that of state of nature? d) does any human know a state of nature? Or framed variantly, can any human conjecture a true state of nature? e) given the answers to the above questions, to what extent are the legal and moral foundations of social contractarianism sacrosanct?

I attempt to answer these questions in what can only be a sketch, as time and space (of a World Congress of Philosophy) constraints preclude a longer presentation, but my answers suggest that it is very presumptuous of the social contractarians (Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau; and by extension, those who have embraced the tradition lock, stock and barrel) to suppose that they have captured the basis of social contract and, hence, provide the only logically valid account of 'democratic practice' universally. The challenge has the effect of calling for care in understanding the internal turmoil that 'democratic practice', that is, Western democracy, have persistently generated over the centuries, but especially in this century as humanity turns into the next millennium in another couple of years.

One final note is apposite in this introduction. I have deliberately elected to speak here of 'democratic practice' and of Western democracy. I have not indicated whether liberal or otherwise. This is because, as a bystander to the American political system - a system acclaimed to be the best case of democratic practice in contemporary human polity - I am miffed by the cantankerousness of its principal players (especially the legislators in their ability to vainly pillory the American Presidency for political gain), the freedom without responsibility of the populace and the "holier than thou, I see you today, I am blind tomorrow" foreign policy of official Washington. If I were to qualify 'democratic practice' as I have observed the American system negate the ideals of liberalism, I will not use 'liberal', because of the odium it has generated in its real life American situation, I will prefer to request for "disciplined" democratic practice.

Thomas Hobbes' Leviatha

In The Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes (1651) executes one of the most poignant statements of the Western cultural psyche, an understanding of the moving force behind the evolution and development of culture in the West, without which there would have been unimaginable suffering and destruction, that is, the right to private property. This has resulted in the postulation by Hobbes of what he called the social contract, the state of nature, or the sovereign as the arbiter, the superior power that holds in check the mutual antagonism and the destructive self annihilative war that Western human nature involuntarily, instinctively and compulsively engenders. As Hobbes states,

Again, men have no pleasure, but on the contrary a great deal of grief, in keeping companies, where there is no power able to over-awe them all. For every man looketh that his companion should value him at the same rate he sets upon himself; and upon all signs of contempt, or undervaluing, naturally endeavours, as far as he dare (which amongst them have no common power to keep them in quiet, is far enough to make them destroy each other), to extort a greater value from his contemners, by damage, and from others by example (p. 264. Emphasis mine in italics).

When Hobbes indicates that each man looks to have "his companion should value him at the same rate he sets upon himself", we note that it dramatically inverts the Kantian Categorical Imperative and the Golden Rule of the Christ. While the Kantian principle will have it that we act such that the rule of our action can become a universal law, that is, we should act such that the maxim of our action or the example of the intent and content of our behaviour, may be legislated for humanity because of the justness and moral probity and other regarding nature of such act, and while similarly the position of the Christ would be that we love others as we love ourselves, on the contrary the Western Hobbesian position speaks to our valuing ourselves alone and demanding that others respect this value. It enshrines an egoistic individualism, without a parallel in previous human history, that pervades the Western psyche, an individualism that craves respect without wishing to give same to others their full due except under duress or threat of calamity by an overarching third party; in fact, as is obvious from the Western Hobbesian understanding of human nature, the 'other' person is conceived in oppositional terms - an enemy that must be contained, subjugated or destroyed.

Hoobes identifies three causes of strife in the state of nature as: (a) competition, which causes the invasion of others for gain; (b) diffidence, which causes invasion for safety; and (c) glory, which causes invasion for the maintenance of reputation and defense of the same among their kindred, their friends, their nation, their profession, or their name (p. 264). He argues that when humans lived in a state of nature, life was full of misery:

Hereby it is manifest, that during the time when men lived without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war; and such a war, as is of every man, against every man ... on society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short (p. 264-265. Emphasis in the italics mine).

In Hobbes' reasoning, it is clear that the sovereign occupies the position that Deity occupies in monotheistic religious schemes. The sovreign is the law giver (as is drilled into unsuspecting Christian youth in patriarch Moses' decalogue and the Christ's Sermon on the Mount), the upholder of such laws that he deems fit to give and the watchdog over the obedience of such laws as he gives. Without the sovreign, Hobbes is of the opinion that there would be no right or wrong, no justice or injustice, no common values and every act would be permitted for there would be no liberty or commodious living. He says,

The passions that incline men to peace, are fear of death; desire of such things as are necessary to commodious living; and a hope by their industry to obtain them. And reason suggesteth convenient articles of peace, upon which men may be drawn to agreement. These articles, are they, which otherwise are called the Laws of Nature ... (p. 266).

He went on to elaborate with care the distinction between 'right of nature', and 'law of nature' and the nature of the 'contracts' deriving therefrom. But the contracts emanating from the law of nature, which is only a euphemism for the protection of self-interest or self-preservation, becomes void unless there be a sovereign, a 'common power' to monitor obedience of the (egocentered and otherless) contracts so formed by striking fear of punitive expedition greater than the benefits derivable from breaking a covenant into the hearts of those who would have tried to break their sides of the contract; thereby creating injustice, which is no more than the not performance of covenant (see pp. 268-269). In this regard, Hobbes says,

The only way to erect such a common power, as may be able to defend them from the invasion of foreigners, and the injuries of one another, and thereby to secure to them in such sort, as that by their own industry, and the fruits of the earth, they may nourish themselves and live contentedly; is, to confer all their power of strength upon one man, or upon one assembly of men, that they reduce all their wills, by plurality of voices, unto one will: which is as much as to say, to appoint one man, or assembly of men, to bear their person ... as if every man should say to every man. I authorize and give up my right of governing myself, to this man, or to this assembly of men, on this condition, that thou give up thy right to him, to authorize all his actions in like manner. This done, the multitude so united, is called a COMMONWEALTH, in Latin CIVITAS. This is the generation of that great LEVIATHAN, or father, to speak more reverently, of the mortal god, to which we owe under the immortal God, our peace and defense (p. 271).

For Hobbes, then, many consequences, contractual rights, duties and obligations flow from this pact. Some of these are a) that all prior covenants contrary to this new one are voided by the new one; b) that the sovereign cannot do wrong to his subjects or be so accused (as the mortal god) because volenti non fit injuria; c) that the Leviathan cannot be committed to die, and d) he alone can institute what opinions and doctrines are conducive to peace, as he has acquired the collective wisdom of the people who agreed to appoint him.

We may observe here that the Hobbesian social contract ultimately ends in a dictatorship of the Leviathan. Consequently, Hobbes' contractarianism ends in a cul de sac - a dead end as a theory of political organization. We shall examine this further presently, for now, let us turn our attention to the second of our trio contractarians, John Locke.

John Locke's Two Treatises of Civil Government

John Locke was, in my own judgement, one of the most civilized of the intellectuals of his time. His Two Treatises of Civil Government are great testimonials to his intellectual genius and integrity. He started Book 1 with a consideration of the rationality of slavery, and Sir Robert Filmer's apologia for totalitarianism. He concluded, contrary to the general trend of the period, that both slavery and totalitarianism were inconceivable debasements of human nature and rationality. Locke carefully examined the views of Sir Robert, and raised fundamental questions regarding the religious, moral, political, economic, cultural and natural grounds for the supposition that humans were destined to either divine rulership from Patriarch Adam or, for that matter, from either parentage, conquest or necessity. In Book II, titled "An Essay Concerning The True Original, Extent and End of Civil Government", Locke advanced his ideas concerning the true origin of the state and that of political authority in society. While Hobbes postulated a state of nature in which there was perpetual war between contending individuals for the scarce resources available, and the state as the only possible check on the rancour that is innate to human nature, Locke understood human nature as one 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 (p. 118).

The state of nature that Locke describes is one of "equality, wherein all power and jurisdiction is reciprocal, no one having more than another" (p. 118), it is clearly not a state of "license", it is a state in which "reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind who will but consult it" (p. 119). Locke went further to discuss what constitutes a serious theory of punishment, based on reason and derivable from law of nature that unconditionally binds humans everywhere.

Compared with Hobbes, it is obvious that Locke was almost an incurable optimist, regarding human nature and the goodness and rationality innate to that nature. Locke then argues that humans get out of the state of nature through the voluntary choice of entering a compact, contract or consent of association with other humans for the procurement of the facilities of life which would have been beyond their reach had they gone solo (p. 124). But one cannot contribute what one does not have, and one of the powers that humans lack is that of taking the life of oneself or that of the other. Thus, when thieves or enemies attack one, the only justification for the use of force that may ensue in death to an aggressor, according to Locke, is only for the purpose of self preservation, so that irreparable damage or mischief may not be done to oneself in the unlikely event that civil society fails to ensure the protection of one's life (p. 126). For this reason, according to Locke, one cannot, even in the extreme situation of social aberration called slavery, enter into any compact that does not ensure personal safety or promote one's happiness (pp. 127-128).

While one may grant Locke the above with the proviso that it apply to matured humans who have the full understanding of the responsibilities to the self and to others that attend the freedom that they can claim under the Lockean system, it is important that we note that a crude interpretation that ahistorically attributes this freedom to all humans will be errant. It is not obvious the level of freedom that infants can appreciate or properly claim. If we are ready to treat some offenses as originating from minors and meet out corrective measures rather that punishment, then we would be indicating that minors need assistance to mature and be responsible adults. (This notion is seriously abridged in the Western world as painfully illustrated by the consequential events of misplaced education and a culture a-drift in the USA and other Western societies where children discipline is thrown overboard, creating a culture bred of state of nature theory inured in extreme liberalism and fattened on extreme individualism weighing more on the side of superficial children rights and less on responsible child-rearing, forgetting that before children become responsible adults there must be responsive and responsible parenting).

One other minor digression is indicated here. To be very charitable to Locke, one would have to suppose that he was most probably thinking of peonage, not Western slavery when he asseverated that systems that promote personal safety and happiness override other matters. If one does not use this principle of charity, taking Locke in the most favourable reading, one will not be able to understand the failure on the part of Locke to see the evilness of the type of slavery that took place in the New World, by contrast to systems of "slavery" in various other traditional societies except the West. In various traditional systems of servitude, except in Ancient Greece, the human rights of the serves were not denied and the barest essentials of safety and happiness were instituted. In Ancient Greece, as in Trans-Atlantic slavery, the humans involved (that is, the slave owners, the slave masters and the slaves) were not humans: the slave owners were property owning sub-human animals of the state of nature construct, the slave masters were sub-human despots with terrible complexes only assuaged by tyranny over the defenseless slaves while the slaves were sub-human as they were property, to be treated anyway their owners saw fit or unfit. Hence, Locke was either too ignorant or too civil to understand the Western psyche regarding the enslaved "other", and his theory of state was also too civil for his associates - especially those who have found his theories more handy in explaining government and state.

Locke provides a very detailed examination of the origin of civil government; for he examined the fact that children and infants are not forced to remain in the commonwealth, except for as long as they are minors. In providing the contractarian account of the origin of the state and government, Locke says,

Men being, as has been seen, by nature all free, equal, and independent, no one can be put out of his (her) estate and subject to the political power of another without his (her) own consent, which is done by agreeing with other men (women), to join and unite into a community for their comfortable, safe, and peaceable living, one amongst another, in a secure enjoyment of their properties, and a greater security against any that are not of it (p. 164. Parenthesis mine).

While this statement by Locke may not have been recorded in history for direct verification by posterity for accuracy, it is important that we note that this is Locke's understanding of the origin of civil government. The notion of estate indicates property, which is common to other contract theorists, but his notion of estate does not cover property rights in other human beings, such as Western slavery mentioned above. To doubt this, or to think otherwise, would, for Locke, tantamount to embracing false theories and doctrines.

Jean Jacques Rousseau's Social Contract

Jean Jacques Rousseau started the Social Contract with the assertion of the natural freedom of human beings at birth. This freedom is innate, inalienable and basic. It is common to all of humanity. But somehow humans find themselves in chains, in a state of alienated freedom or in a state of contrived unfreedom. Humans lose the natural freedom with which they were born and they are left with only a semblance of the real thing. He says,

Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains. One thinks himself the master of others, and still remains a greater slave than they. (p. 181)

He was concerned about how this change came about. In trying to unravel the causes of the change, Rousseau took account of diverse factors. The first that he noticed is force (p. 181). Force, for Rousseau, means compulsion. And compulsion means making a person or people do things against his/her or their will. This, he argues, is unnatural; and if a person or people voluntarily obey such force, one cannot complain; while if they resist such force, it is better still; and, to regain their freedom is infinitely better still. All the process of establishing the system under which members of the society shall live constitute the process of determining the social order (p. 182), and the social order is not a natural order; it is devised by humans in society. In my view, Rousseau is correct in regard to the fact that social order is not natural to the extent that it involves the creation of a complex social milieu with complicated educational and sustenance mechanisms that civil society entails. However, it seems to me that Rousseau is flagrantly mistaken in supposing that humans are born free. For the human fetus is a peculiar anomaly which is indefinitely attached to its progeny and parentage through physical, genetic, economic and social forces, first through the umbilical cord, second through provision of first life sustaining facilities without which the infant is doomed to certain death, and lastly through skill forming and culture providing education which makes independence possible for the individual that emerges from years of parental and community nurture and environmental care. It is this singular fact which makes the transmission of cultures and survival of societies a serious possibility, and further, it is this factor of gradual inheritance of independence and learning through apprenticeship to take care of the young which make Rousseau's position valid in his fear of how social order could arise out of force and be maintained by force.

If the process of establishing the social order is determined through the use of superior force, Rousseau would be amazed as to the type of sustenance the arrangement would have and whether it would endure. For, according to Rousseau, force cannot establish right, and the wish of the strongest can only subsist for as long as the strongest remains the strongest. Immediately the position is reversed, or whenever there is the possibility of disobedience without penalty, the obligation, out of need to avoid untoward consequences, to obey the dictates of the force, vanishes, for force does not create right (p. 185):

The most ancient of societies, and the only one that is natural, is the family; and even so the children remain attached to the father only so long as they need him for their preservation. As soon as this need ceases, the natural bond is dissolved. The children (are), released from the obedience they owe to the father, and the father, released from the care he owed his children, return equally to independence. If the remain united, they continue so no longer naturally, but voluntarily, and the family itself is then maintained only by convention (p. 182. Italics and parenthesis mine).

We may immediately note two things in passing here. First, Rousseau spoke of father and son or children because he wrote during a period when there was no gender consciousness that would have informed discourse in a patriarchal, male dominated society in which he lived. This, I believe, accounts for why he speaks as if when the child is born to a father the child is born by the father. The second thing craving our notation is this: Rousseau conjectures that humans were born naturally free which we mentioned earlier. But the fact is that infants were not born naturally free, as they remain attached to their mothers through the umbilical cord and remain dependent, as he observed, for a long time after birth for what he called preservation, sustenance and protection. Since we have commented above on the natural unfreedom of the infant, it remains only to insist here that it may be that the same reason that accounted for the gender bias of his discourse indirectly informs the inability of Rousseau to see that infants (the human young generally) were never born free. The recognition of this factor would be momentous toward a proper understanding of what educational attitude would be beneficial to society! More will be said on this later, time and space permitting.

For Rousseau, the second factor that leads people into unions, apart from force, as noted earlier, is self-preservation. It is this need for self-preservation which makes the child voluntarily relinquish his freedom to his father, in return for care, provision, and protection. The members of the family alienate their liberty (equality and freedom which they possess in their natural states as human beings) only for their own advantage to the head of the family who is their father (p. 182). This deliberate alienation of liberty, freedom and equality by members of the family is repaid by the love that the father has for members of the family. This love, going by Rousseau's understanding of the relationship, is also not an altruistic one; it derives from self-interest, as the father derives pleasure and satisfaction from leading and commanding the family. In the cases of the state, for Rousseau, since there is no immediate filial relationship to engender love for the followers or members of the community and society, the chief derives pleasure from commanding the people.

The third factor that leads people to association, according to Rousseau, are conventions. By convention, Rousseau understands the first original gathering and agreement process by which a people become, so to say, a people. This he calls an original unanimity, on one occasion at least, which, by inference, gives the majority the right to lead the minority electorally (p. 190). But this convention is also a product of expedience, and it is a contrivance that comes about from the necessity to maximize the innate individual self-interest intrinsic to the Western psyche, using the greater pool of force available to more people. This is in contrast with each person trying to accomplish similar objectives separately and at cross purposes. It is also a fiat that may lose its force because of any individual violation of its clauses due to any unilateral minimal modification, without the consent of the persons who have entered into the compact, thereby returning to each the original conventional liberty they had voluntarily renounced in the hope of a greater liberty derivable from the common pool of greater protection that derives from the commonwealth.

Thus, Rousseau says, in chapter 6 on " The Social Compact" (I wish to quote at length from the passage to allow Rousseau to speak for himself here), that,

I suppose men to have reached the point at which the obstacles in the way of their preservation in the state of nature show their power of resistance to be greater than the resources at the disposal of each individual for his maintenance in that state. That primitive condition can then subsist no longer, and human race would perish unless it changed its manner of existence.

But, as men cannot engender new forces, but only unite and direct existing ones, they have no other means of preserving themselves than the formation, by aggregation, of a sum of forces great enough to overcome the resistance. These they have to bring into play by means of a single motive power, and cause to act in concert.

The sum of forces can arise only where several persons come together: but, as the forces and liberty of each man are the chief instrument of his self-preservation, how can he pledge them without harming his own interests, and neglecting the care he owes to himself? This difficulty, in its bearing on my present subject, may be stated in the following terms:

'The problem is to find a form of association which will defend and protect with the whole common force the person and goods of each associate, and in which each, while uniting himself with all, may still obey himself alone, and remain as free as before'. This is the fundamental problem of which the social contract provides the solution (pp. 190-191).

The important consequence of the contract so ordained by each man with the other man is the creation of the sovereign. The sovereign, in Rousseau's reasoning, is not a person, but an authority. It is not even an aristocratic group, but an aggregation of the individual voices and wills of the contracting members of the society. Because of this, the sovereign cannot become law unto itself in a way that people in the state has not deign it fit to be the individual and several recipient of the benefits derivable thereof. Thus,

Each of us puts his person and all his power in common under the supreme direction of the general will, and in our corporate capacity, we receive each member as an individual part of the whole.

At once, in place of the individual personality of each contracting party, this act of association creates a corporate and a collective body, composed of as many as the assembly contains voters, and receiving from this act of unity, its common identity, its life, and its will (p. 192).

The social contract, once formed, engenders minor inconvenience for those who may not realize that it is in their interest to be obedient to its authority. It involves the possibility of coercion, where 'renegades' are 'forced to be free' or forced to obey the laws that they have freely made for their self-protection (p. 195). This is not an evil as such, for it prevents the greater evil of individuals fending for themselves and failing in the process, ending up with the greater inconvenience of having to live in the state of nature. Through the aggregation of the individual wills there emerges the collective will which is stronger and more able to effectively and efficiently guarantee the individual rights that would otherwise have been threatened because of individual incapacity to protect their rights on their own.

The appeal of this theory, like the creation story found in the Genesis consists first and foremost in its intuitive appeal, conceptual simplicity and theoretical elegance. In fact, the social contract theories have captured the imagination of all many, becoming almost as divine as the system of Euclid in Western scholarship. And one cannot but be impressed by the acuity and perspicacity of the trio contractarians that we have examined here. But the genius that provided the impetus to the development of this type of democratic construct has not gone without serious challenge from various directions. Before we conclude this discussion, we will examine some of the criticisms of the social contract theory - both the endogenous types that have suggested complete rejection of the theory and those endogenous ones that have suggested emendations to remove the weak points of the theory.

Criticisms of Contractarianism

The usual criticisms of contractarianism have been endogenous to Western cultural orientation and, because of that, have not been audacious enough to challenge the fundamental assumptions of contractarianism. Some of the criticisms have, in fact, been anticipated by the contractarians. For example, the criticism that the state of nature was never a historical reality experienced by humans was carefully discussed by John Locke, who, perhaps, was the most intellectually robust of the three classical contractarians we have discussed in this essay. His response was that the history of human society makes clear determination difficult for the historicity or non-historicity of the postulated compact. In a sense, the admission that this contract was never supposed to have been a real life one deflates the seriousness of the critique, but nevertheless, it is clear that after admitting that the compact was not a historical one, one still finds that contract theorists still use their postulate to warrant the sovereign and the allegiance people are supposed to owe to state authority as "constituted authority".

Another, similar but not the same, criticism has been the argument that the "social contract" indicated in the contractarian theory is simply a hypothetical one, designed as an analogical apologia to justify the legitimacy of democratic principles and practice on which Western societies have sought to found governmental systems and nothing more. But then, it is suggested by the critic, this hypothetical methodology is prospectively stretched too far as if it were a factual reality, thus creating the logical gap between the intention and the actual outcome of discourse. Hobbes and Rousseau are partly guilty of this error, but it is clear that what the contractarians were doing was more important than mere hypothesizing. They were concerned with the justification, more than the mere historical origin, of government.

It has also been argued that the government that is derivable from the contractarian contraption is not uniformly the same; that Hobbes derives a Leviathan dictator, Locke a state that is shot through with democratic principles that surpasses the mere legalisms of contractarianism; while Rousseau came up with a state that indicates minor incongruities of forcing dissenting members to be free, even against the wishes of these 'recalcitrant' members. One way of assuaging the implications of this particular criticism is to look at the historical factors that led to the development of these contrasting contract approaches by each of the contractarians. These are complex social, historical and intellectual issues beyond the scope of this present discussion, and as such, could be addressed in another study by people competent in these intellectual areas.

The contractarians all suppose that the state of nature is one in which human nature tends only toward negative expressions. This is very much similar to the understanding of human nature found the Christian religion where the negation of the good in human personality, albeit through the sinister artifice of the Serpent typified as the Great Fall of Patriarch Adam and Mother Eve from Divine Grace, leads to the projection of the good ad infinitum to the supernatural, such that a dependency of humans on the supernatural becomes inevitable, to counterbalance the inherent weakness and predatory nature of humans, and also to bring about redemption and ultimately lead to the realization of the positive that has been in abeyance, latent and negativised by the negatives in human nature.

In the case of the contractarians, the balance of the negatives in the human socio-political and economic nature inexorably leads to the creation of the state, a big brother who is permanently breathing down the necks of the recalcitrant humans who would never have done the right thing unless coerced. Or, minimally, the state enforces the wiles and ideas of the individual person who needs the enforcer.

By painting the picture of gloom and doom, the stage is perfectly set for the state authority as an inevitability. But even if we grant this gloomy picture of human nature in its 'natural' state, the inevitability of the contractarian state as the only possible arbiter is not logically established, as there are societies that have not, given this picture, gone to the point of setting up state powers as they have remained stateless societies. Hence, it has been contended, that if the fear of the gloom has not compelled some societies to statecraft it can only evidence the logical gap in the contractarian argument, namely, that the gloomy picture painted in which humans in the state of nature are in perpetual grief because of mutual suspicion, the avarice and covetousness that arise as a result of the natural scarcity of resources and mutual exclusivity of conflicting needs are not inevitable paths to statecraft.

Upon a careful analysis of the contractarianism of Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau, it will be seen that there is no doubt that the position which private property has occupied in Western consciousness has indicated the contractarian apologia for statecraft as the only means of averting the extinction of humanity through inordinate greed, dispossessive quest for personal enrichment to the detriment of other equally deserving humans in the same environment and the mutual self-destruction that would have followed the war of all against all which is intrinsic to human nature in Western culture.

It is clear that Western culture is built on the position that only the fear of violence and mutual annihilation impels humans, through passions, to peace. In other words, peace arises out of the recognition of the futility of the antagonistic war of all against all (omnium bellum contra omnes). On the contrary, the critic will argue that it is not passion but reason that leads to the human need to contemplate the arrangement for peace and statecraft; that is, the state as a craft, a contrivance of the highest human genius. This is evident from the simple fact that passion has no time to contemplate, but only to gratify in whichever way possible, but only reason can be used in the service of passion to work out the best means of gratifying the needs that passion forces upon humans.

Also, when Hobbes conjectures that humans place a value upon themselves and desire that others recognize this value, exerting through force this recognition, if need be, it is clear that Hobbes has inverted the Kantian Categorical Imperative and the Golden Rule of the Christ. Clearly, it is obvious that forming a compact with others to pursue the recognition of the store of value one places on oneself only goes to show that one should place equal value first on the other human, in order to be able to get into a contractual relation with the other, based on trust. Obviously, the development of concepts of self valuation, contract formation and trust are not concepts that passion is capable of forming, nor ones which persons in states of passion can adumbrate. Hence, the conviction, on our part, that the contractarians did humanity a disservice by enunciating a one-sided notion of human nature. This failure on the part of the contractarians deliberately creates a fiat, it supposes that there was a point in the human past that steps were left unadopted to protect the weak and the young in so far as it did not pander to the glory and psychological gratification of some person(s). Herein lies the weakness of the suggestion that fatherly love is selfish gratification of base ingratiation and that leadership could not have developed from genuine need to create a better society for the self, contemporaries and generations unborn.

Finally, the idea of the dependence of infants on parents as arising from the need for self-preservation is jejune. If the human infant ever has any serious ability to procure self-preservation at all, it is as a dependent, as the severance of the umbilical cord that unites the infant to the mother is a painful one, as this cord had always been the means of nurture for the infant in-situ. At birth the dependence is natural, and no amount of contractarian contraption could will away the dependence of the human infant, unlike most other animals, on their parents. Saying that the father (one would imagine here that the contractarian here properly means the mother) derives pleasure (and fulfillment from maternal caring for the infant) for the service provided, through directing and presiding over the affairs of the family, is not good reason to warrant the labours that go into the nurture of the human infant. In fact, this is good enough reason to say that humans were never born free, but only come to acquire freedom in maturity.

Government need not derive from the state of nature

The state of nature theories (and, by extension, theorists) and Western political philosophy (mutantis mutandis, Western political philosophers) have assumed that the only way for deriving representative, just, humane, democratic culture and practice is through the formal consent, compact, or contract that the electoral systems have formalized. In making the assumption, they have undertaken to impose on other societies a mode of civil government that is not intrinsically indigenous, though not totally alien to their historical experience and the aspirations that their civilizations have developed over numerous millennia. In other words, Western intellectuals only conceive of civil society as a means of preserving individuality while other older societies have seen the individuality has no meaning outside of community.

Thus, while the expedience of electoral practice might be the only 'objective' barometer for clear measurement of contemporary governmental popularity and legitimacy in the complex arena of international politics, it is important that the point be made that democratic cultures had developed and thrived in ancient civilizations outside the West without the acute contentiousness, intrinsic mutual antagonisms and warring fratricidal destructiveness that is typical of the possessive Western individualist, whose sense of community is forged only as a matter of self-preservation and not because of the natural and inescapable innate social inclinations of humans. Not to recognize this fact will tantamount to telling only one side of the story about human political organization. It will be telling one true story as if it were the only true story instead of telling that one story as one of the many true stories about the development of similar phenomena.

In cultures where ownership of property is not the first principle of association, where the recognition of the existence of others as the crucible within which one's existence is made possible and meaningful is understood, where there is mutual trust between members of family that transcends that temporary link forged by incapacity on the part of infants to fend for themselves and the transient obligation of parents and adults to provide for minors, where, even when there are wants and needs that scarcity may make difficult not to contend with others to fulfill but such contentiousness are not without the primary understanding that life is more important and associations and associates more permanent than immediate material satisfaction and gratification, it will not be difficult to see why deriving good political cultures from neighbourliness, and, consequently, hypothesizing political cultures that endorse first social and communal well being as the harbinger of individual and personal well being of members may be a better alternative and why civil society would have developed and prospered without any prejudice to the nature and internal peculiarity of Western political history. It is no wonder that civil society developed in older civilizations of the world before Western civilization was mid-wived by these older civilizations, especially that of the Nile Valley.

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Thomas Hobbes (1651). The Leviathan. Reference here is to "An Egoist's justification of unlimited monarchy". Reading 26 in Alston, William P. and R. K. Brandt (Eds.) (1974). The Problems of Philosophy. 2nd Ed. New York: Allyn and Bacon Inc. pp. 263-274.

John Locke (1620). Two Treatises of Civil Government. New York: J. M. Dent and Sons Ltd.

Jean Jacques Rousseau (1762). The Social Contract and Discourses. Translated with Introduction by G. D. H. Cole. London: Everyman's Library (1913).

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