Social contract? Social construct.

The Social Contract

The Social ContractFeliks Gross was a Polish born sociologist, and he has written extensively on the subject of citizenship, nationality, and their intersections with ethnicity and nationalism.

Gross’s studies help to understand the development of democratic multiethnic institutions, and he also helps us to understand why humanism and the secularist lifestyle are found in all places that all-inclusive democratic institutions also exist.

The Global Citizen has strikingly poor representation and political power, yet the global citizen purports that all-inclusive democratic institutions are the height of enlightenment.  Perhaps the most peculiar of all claims which the global citizen makes is that we are all bound by some sort of social contract.  Rousseau’s theory of the social contract has been a phenomenally influential piece of writing, uniquely empowering leaders and followers of the French Revolution.

It might be more easily understood if we called it the “Humanist Revolution” instead of the French Revolution.  I won’t rewrite history by insisting on that change, that’s how I want you to think about this for a moment.

If the social contract is anything at all, it is a warm and fuzzy feeling.  It is visionary, universal, and purports to be the embodiment of high ideals and aspirations.  For westerners, the social contract is highly appealing because we are hardwired for it. Gross says “it corresponds to our ethical feelings of justice and compassion.”

But, who has ever signed one of these social contracts?

Newsflash:  There’s no such thing as a social contract.  Gross eviscerates Rousseau’s social contract theory, saying, “this theory — that the early state has been formed by voluntary agreement — social contract — is not validated.  There is no evidence that humankind ever lived in such a splendid paradise.”

The danger of buying into a social contract ideology is that you are only as strongly represented as everyone else can agree on through democratic process.  Take a look around you, because we are living in the consequences of that social contract right now.  It doesn’t seem to be working out too well

“Citizenship is now tied to the very concept of legitimacy, which derives — in those theories — from the will of individuals.  Legitimacy is not divine in origin, but is the fruit of an agreement, a social bond.”  Gross is speaking in regards to the humanist perspective of the social contract, and in all cases that this idea of social contract appears we are given humanism, secularism, and the rejection of traditional lifestyles.

If we must have a social contract, then let’s be honest with ourselves about what it was really like.  Gross says, “early society, if we can call that way traditional, was closely interwoven with religious belief.  The closest attempt to an original ‘social contract’ in the formation of the state was that free association of Greek communities.”

The social contract is effective at uniting diverse groups of people, but it only works by separating people from their religion, tribal identity, and heritage.  Consequently, people separate themselves from only source of true authority as established in a theocracy and tribal union.

What the social contract does, as Gross explains, is that “it shifts the essence of political association from the collective to an individual.  Thus, the basis of civil society and the state is, in using this approach, a contract of individuals– and the state is only a consequence of the legal transaction and will of individuals, of citizens.”

Truly, the social contract is a social construct.


Leave a Reply