Inferring Freedom And Equality Essay, Research Paper
Honors World History: G
28 October 1995
Inferring Freedom and Equality
Many of Earth’s organisms and processes depend on each other to survive the natural world. Jean Jacques Rousseau employed this aspect of natural dependency to connect the ideas of freedom and equality together. Rousseau theorized many ingenious ideas for an upcoming legitimate government. The American Constitution and the basis of this nation’s bureaucracy adopted many of his opinions, along with John Locke and Thomas Hobbes, into the making of legitimate society. The American government still displays many factors from Rousseau’s model of a legitimate society after two hundred years of evolving into the late 20th century nation of America; also, Rousseau would be pleased of the result of a government abiding by a constitution with many of his doctrines.
First of all, freedom, or “forced to be free,” and equality presuppose each other in some instances, but sometimes they are interdependent. For example, if you look into the lower class, people within that class are equal among others in that class. Also, they have freedom inside the boundaries of their status quo. As the view broadens to the whole society, that certain class loses some of its freedom and equality to the aristocracy. In this example, the amount of freedom and equality you receive all depends on money and power. Wealth corrupts the balance of freedom and equality between the social classes in the nation. In all, everyone in a legitimate society has some equality and freedom, however, the how much you get relies on where you stand in the social triangle. In every valid government, every citizen has freedom of their basic rights, but the sense of equality will never be distributed equally between them. This problem is constantly going to true because of the definition of general will: an individual has to alienate some of his natural rights to join the body politic (Rousseau ?). Therefore, power is distributed to the government, and the people of the nation are not equal. One person will always have power over another. If everyone was equal, chaos would break out into the world, because when nobody governs or rules the citizens, they can do whatever they please. Freedom is preferred in the society rather than equality. A person with freedom would have most rights in the Constitution, but a person with equality would live in a chaotic society, because there is no governing house. That situation would be similar to the state of nature (definitely not a society). Altogether, the presence of freedom and equality together differs with the scope of the condition.
America’s concepts of freedom and equality have varied over the course of its history. When the American government was new, only white male property owners had total use of the Constitution’s given rights. Early America also exercised the idea of slavery, where the master/slave relationship exists. That relationship totally opposes Rousseau’s view of a legitimate society. By his beliefs, the American government would qualify as one with inequality and no freedom for all citizens or subjects. But as an intolerance against slavery grew, the masters were forced by the Union to change their illegitimate system to a more legitimate system. This newly built system resulted in all males, property owner or not, having privileges to all rights in the Bill of Rights and the American Constitution. But this method still leaves out a single group of people, women, from the concept of freedom. Also in America, the “separate but equal” issue rose to the surface of controversy over the topic of freedom. All these examples demonstrate where freedom is non-existent to all people in the nation. They also display the same idea of freedom within the private will, but that freedom is surrendered to the general will to support a legitimate government. In some cases in the American history, some citizens abandon more rights than others. But as the view travels closer to the present, the difference of the people’s rights between each other gradually diminishes to a negligible amount. This perception of America’s freedom shows an increase of knowledge towards a near-perfect republic.
Rousseau would have several compliments and almost no criticisms about today’s government. First of all, Rousseau would be pleased of the representative government, a derivative of his republic, and the checks and balances system of today. This type of government partially employs the use of total equality. But again, a legitimate government cannot have total equality because of the alienation of certain rights to join the body politic. Our government follows the outline of a legitimate government. The checks and balances system balances the amount of power among the three governing houses. The voting restrictions would also satisfy Rousseau, because every adult citizen can vote. Then, the results of the ballot show the opinion of the whole adult population (only if everyone participates). But there is a disadvantage of letting the whole population vote for offices. The uneducated citizens may vote without thinking the issues and outcomes of his/her ballot. Overall, Rousseau would be very delighted by the result of his beliefs and theories into the American government.
The American government has been outlined in the opinions of great philosophers, Rousseau, Locke, and Hobbes to name a few, that resulted in a success. It has survived the barriers and secessions that tore other countries to shreds. Those great philosophers’ ideas have created the most stable and powerful government in this planet. Also, the government does not employ a parallel existence of freedom and equality. But that existence is impossible in any legitimate society, according to the description of the body politic and the general will. The individual mind has matured a long way toward this form of structured government, but the basic concept of the government is the natural laws of a human being. Although, man has evolved into a being of great reason, distant from the state of nature, he must look into nature to find correct and sanctioned regulations and theories.