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By Geoffrey Kay, James Mott

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Sample text

But in contradistinction to both, sd>vcreignty for him had to remain in the hands of the parties to the contract; it had to remain with the people, and could not be taken from them. They could not submit to a sovereign power, since this would involve a contract without equivalence, and hence be no contract at all. Such a contract would lack legal force or guarantee, ana could not, therefore, be a binding act capable of establishing authority. Thus the sovereign power created by the pact was the general will^an abstraction from all the particular wills party to the contract.

This gave an immediate and concretc identity of the whole with the part. This'equivalence of all forces meant that the 'general will' (unity or universality) which was to be created by the social contract already existed before it. Not only does contract create its parties; it also specifies them as self-determining. This presented no difficulty for Rousseau sincc for him self-determination, or will, was the defining characteristic of natural man. Will was the guarantee of his purity, a defensive bulwark against the external and falsely social.

It is doubtful whether it would receive the attention it does today had it not been subjected to detailed analysis by Marx, whose critique of the Philosophy of Right remains definitive, and represents the first statement of Marxism as a distinct body of theoretical work. An unbroken continuity of thought links this critique with the economic writings of the late 1850s and 1860s. 3), Marx took Hegel's duality, wherein a political state externally determines the cohesion of civil society, of which it is supposed to be the true expression, and showed that he had failed to establish them as the integral and lived unity claimed.

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