The basic role found within the provisions of political philosophy is to assist in exposing political manipulation and at the same time in articulation the demands and identity of the people who want to take part in the political scene. Well,it is a subject that has drawn a lot of debate and received different perceptions all aimed at setting up a government that is thought fair in governing its people. The human nature has been replicated in politics, but with some limits as advocated by the majority group. All said and done, the question remains, “How far should we take social conditions into account when setting up a government?” Social conditions seem to play a very significant part in the process of forming government in a democratic process. The challenge has been realized in maintaining these social conditions, despite the influence of considerably simple and unproblematic interests and motives which are, but once in a while interfered with excitement and societal changes. Relations of justice antecedent to the positive law by which they are established must therefore be acknowledged. According to Montesquieu and Secondant, “Law in general is human reason, in as much as it governs all the inhabitants of the earth: the political and civil laws of each nation ought to be only the particular cases in which human reason is applied”. Thus, this term paper seeks to render a big support of the importance of considering social conditions when setting up a government.
The maintenance of social conditions in any form of government is needed for justice to prevail. Social conditions beef up the role of the government in promoting justice among its people. Relationships are expected to secure conditions in order to do well and flourish. The responsibility of the government is to sustain an environment of peace, safety, order and freedom. In the federalist paper number 4, the author says, “…the safety of the whole is the interest of the whole, and cannot be provided for without government…” Through this, it promotes healthy relationships in growth and ensures that they thrive in the context of community, family and church. In addressing the challenges faced in maintaining these social conditions, Alexis de Tocqueville tackled the subject of soft despotism. Soft despotism is a term that he coined defining the manner in which a nation that is overrun through “a network of relative small complex rules” could demean. This is very much different from hard despotism since it is not certain and obvious to the people. Soft despotism gives the citizens of the land an illusion that they are in power when in the real sense they have no impact and control over the government. In such a scenario, there is a lot of uncertainty, doubt and fear in the general masses.
Tocqueville made suggestions that democracy was able to breed its own kind of despotism although without dictatorship while analyzing the American democracy. Tocqueville highlighted on the subject of an immense power that is highly protective. This power took all responsibility for the happiness of everyone on condition that the power still remained the only agent and its judge. Well, Tocqueville gives some light to the effect caused by different levels of taking social conditions into account when setting up a government. Tocqueville defined a power that would look like a parental authority although at the same time endeavoring to keep the masses in “permanent childhood” by mitigating any form of burden in people concerning thought and the cares of life. Circumstances of this nature could emerge if the progress of democracy were accompanied by the need of social conditions leveling. The risk was that a fixation with equality was much attuned to increasing centralization of state-power. In the leveling of social conditions, Tocqueville saw subversion of the intermediate associations reflecting social discrepancies by the state as the power of the government was being minimized. Tocqueville reiterates that ‘men will be perfectly free, because they will all be entirely equal, and they will all be perfectly equal because they will be entirely free." But, he warns, their passion for liberty and their passion for equality are unequal: "They want equality in liberty, and if they cannot have it, they want it still in slavery." From all this, social conditions seem to play a very imperative role in setting up a government. The effective performance of the government apparently revolves around these social conditions.
The failure to consider social conditions while setting up a government is destructive. Soft despotism as defined by Tocqueville is actually one of the arrangements that communally corrupt the people of the land and the democracy of the state in general. People will always vote for the political aspirants who offer to use the state power to give them things they want. The political group of people delivers as far as the people of the land do, according to the things it says it is important to provide for an individual’s desire. This softness in such kind of despotism that comprises of the voluntary surrender of the people in their freedom and the tendency to look routinely to the state for what they need. Tocqueville shows how the failure to consider social conditions works to the disadvantage of the voters. After the effectively taking each community member in the powerful grasp and styled them at will, the highest power then extends to cover the entire community. The society becomes fully covered with small complex rules, uniform and minute which act as a means through which most of the original minds and the strongest characters cannot break through to the top of the crowd.
Social conditions and their inclusion in the setting up of a government determine its success. Jean-Jacques Rousseau sought to establish a political association where individuals, who were naturally free, could come together as part of the sovereign and establish laws that apply in an equal manner to everybody. Jean-Jacques Rousseau applied the “General Will Concept” as a way through which people get into a social contract. The general will is formulated by the individuals who, on the other hand, abide by it as citizens of the land. The separate rights, wills and desires of every person in the society is put together as a single unit in what is commonly referred by Rousseau to as a general will. Therefore, this is one way through which social conditions have been a key determinant of the establishment of an excellent government. All the same, we can largely agree with Rousseau’s stand on the general will that it is not the will proposed by the majority of group. Instead, it is a will of the political organ that is taken as an entity having a life of its own.
Every person is expected to put his or her personality and power under the sole direction of this general will where each member in the body is received as an invisible part of the entirety. Rousseau’s goes on to say “There is often a great deal of difference between the will of all and the general will. The latter considers only the general interest, where as the former considers private interest and is merely the sum of private will”. This means that there are no personal interests or ambitions of a particular group that override the interests of others. Thus, the general will is in some way endowed with a lot of wisdom and goodness that surpasse the wisdom of an individual. The society is unified and coordinated through the general will. It is therefore important to note that the inclusion and consideration of social conditions act as the backbone of the fair governance.
All people are actually born free. However, the freedom of nature cannot be attained until people get into a social contract. Rousseau believes that natural freedom can be achieved through the application of general will to the ruling factor that guides the functions of the government. Getting into this kind of social contract requires the relinquishing of individual freedom. This is a social condition that disregards the state of nature. The powers of every individual are taken in the direction of having a common interest. According to Rousseau, social freedom is bigger than a state of nature. He further asserts that people are not absolutely free in a state of nature, since they are governed through their desires rather than reason. Thus, the general will is logical and must be the ruling arm.
Whichever way that deems fit for the setting of a government, political philosophers predispose their arguments to social conditions in a great deal. Rousseau is very confident that the general will is ever right. He says that the general will is not like something that seeks to transcend the state, but rather the will of the people and as citizens in their position as sovereign members. People may realize mistakes in their discussions for a number of reasons. All the same, the accuracy of the ‘general will’ is ruined mainly through the natural tendency of people to make consultations with the specific will they hold as individuals. Such kind of individuals will be compelled to be free based on Rousseau’s proclamation. This is very true because this social condition given to the people and to the fatherland gives him the leeway to stand against all individual dependence.
The mutual duty and obligation of the political association guarantees the dependence of people based only on the law that they have enacted and not on the will of any other person. The general will is ever committed to common justice and utility through the virtue of its generalization. The general will to actually be such is expected to be general in its object and in its reality that it must emanate from all to take course in all. Thorough civic education is important for the discussions held by the people of the land to have the integrity they need to come up with the general will to triumph over the specific interests. Rousseau advocated for the omnipotence concept of the lawgiver. The rulers of the land are in some manner attuned to the commands executed through the general will and capable of incorporating such commands into the particular laws.