The Social Contract

By Jean-Jacques Rousseau

A Brief History

During the time period in which The Social Contract was written, the French Revolution had taken root and political ideology had become the means for everything, meaning that all fighting and disputes had become over how France should be ruled. This was also the time in which may philosophical writings and teachings began to influence the people. These philosophers are referred to as the Philosophes. Jean-Jacques Rousseau was one of these Philosophes who advocated for a government change in which the people were more free and did not have to live under a tyrannical king, who at this time believed that his rule was a gift from god, this is more commonly known as the divine rights of kings. He believed that all men were created free, equal, and righteous and that government corrupted us, we are "moral savages". He also said how, in the nature of our births, we are all with free will and can do as we please, but it is through a social contract that governments are created. This means that without government we are all equal and righteous, but once we create such a government, the society that is creating such government will have to give up some of these freedoms so that they may be able to create a stable and equal government. When this was proposed by Rousseau, many began to interpret it as a means that all men were able to have a voice in government and that the king was restricting too many liberties through an unfair and unilateral social contract

Where and why was this banned?

Jean-Jacques Rousseau's The Social Contract was banned in all of France in 1762 due to the fact that it claimed all men were born naturally free and therefore had a right to participate in government since it is the only natural and legitimate policy in creating equal rights for all free men. Rousseau advocated for the sovereignty of all men and that the government should play the role in which it helps the needs of the people rather than that of the kings sovereign rule. He was not a revolutionary, but he advocated for the equal rights of all men as well as explaining how all men are born naturally free. This meant that he believed that all men should also be able to vote and participate in legislation and government, since all men are naturally equal and free. This went against Louis XVI, the absolutist French king, belief of the divine rights of man. This also began to spread new political ideology throughout France, which would start more uprisings against the French king. He also explained how by creating a new government, man gains civil liberties, liberties that during this time were not condoned by most kings. For this reason Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s works were banned throughout France to help and stabilize the king’s rule over France


I believe that the banning of this book, though a correct decision for a corrupt king, was incorrect. This is a mere show of one's freedom of speech as well as the expressing of one's political viewpoint and political philosophy. The Social Contract went against the king, as many other books at the time, and therefore was justified as being "dangerous to the public".The French Revolution was going to be bloody and violent regardless of what the Philosophes wrote. The king was corrupt and created an unfair government as well as not being able to maintain his country. The people were bound to create a rebellion since they had no voice. The Social Contract only expressed such things in words rather than in bloodshed and rebellion. With this I can not agree with the banning of this book. Yes it went against the king's rule, but that same rule was the cause of such quarrels and the cause for a need for The Social Contract to be written. This book was banned merely out of fear from a failing king. It holds no blood, gore, sex, or any other rated R material. It merely expresses a common opinion of a revolution in words and therefore should have remained unbanned. With this I conclude on how The Social Contract should have never been banned as considering this is a book that can be read by all ages, as long as they are able to read in older english, and holds nothing inappropriate at all. Even if this book went against the king's rule, it did not hold the power to make the revolution any worse or to spark anymore political ideology that was already being implemented by most Frenchmen

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