The Social Contract, Or Principles of Political Right (Du contrat social ou Principes du droit politique) (1762) by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, is the book in which Rousseau theorized about the best way in which to set up a political community in the face of the problems of commercial society which he had already identified in his Discourse on Inequality (1754). The Social Contract helped inspire political reforms or revolutions in Europe, especially in France. The Social Contract argued against the idea that monarchs were divinely empowered to legislate; as Rousseau asserts, only the people, who are sovereign, have that all-powerful right. The stated aim of the Social Contract is to determine whether there can be a legitimate political authority. In order to accomplish more and remove himself from the state of nature, man must enter into a Social Contract with others. In this social contract, everyone will be free because they all forfeit the same amount of rights and impose the same duties on all.
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Holding men in wretched subservience, feudalism --- alongside religion --- was a powerful force in the eighteenth century. Self-serving monarchic social systems, which collectively reduced common people to servitude, were now attacked by Enlightenment philosophers, of whom Rousseau was a leading light. His masterpiece, The Social Contract, profoundly influenced the subsequent development of society and remains provocative in a modern age of continuing widespread vested interest.
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