Political Science: The Midterm
Question 1: Will of All and the General Will
Rousseau argued that the most ideal solution to settle for when moving from a state of nature towards an organized society is through the social contract. He made the argument when discussing the difference between Hobbes’ and Rousseau’s states of nature as we will see in the following article.
This refers to the person’s will to be governed by a single authority. Such governance is achieved through the people’s consent and as a result, social contract. Even so, the idea of the will is not as an understanding as giving a yes or a no. Rousseau further talks of the General Will and the Will of All.
General will in general terms refers to ‘general interest’. It focuses on what is best for the community. In other words, given the situation, every person gives based on individual interests for what will be good for the entire community. The will of all on the other hand represents ‘sum of private interests. It therefore focuses on the private interests of individual members of society.
Following democracy governance, we can infer what the two means. The will of all would basically involve preferences to elect a leader. We have the government established by the ‘sum of individual interests’’. Similarly, the same government cannot favor the interests of individuals only. However, it must govern efficiently for the sake of everyone under its leadership.
We can deduce in other words that while general will is the government’s mandate, the will of all is with those governed. Fromm pens ‘general will alone can direct the State according to the object for which it was instituted, i.e., the common good: for if the clashing of particular interests made the establishment of societies necessary, the agreement of these very interests made it possible’’(21).
It is however imperative to put emphasis on the fact that Rousseau does not provide the distinction. For example, many have questioned the likelihood of having individuals exercise the ‘general will’. Nonetheless, he believes that the general will can easily be achieved through the rule of law. To other people, the notion is not any different from the tyranny that Rousseau aims to heal with his argument or theory.
Question 2: State of Nature: Rousseau vs Hobbes
While Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau explored nature’s state and tried to build what they believe was the most ideal governing body, the way in which they explored their ideas is quite different. For example, Hobbes suggested that the most ideal solution is absolute governance to limitations of nature’s state but Rousseau believes that the ideal solution is direct participation by the people. In other words, the two end up in different places even though their beginning is the same.
Similarly, the two agree that men are naturally equal in the natural state but the way in which a person lives with the other makes the two disagree. For instance, when conceptualizing the state of nature, that point that man was considered most primitive, Hobbes takes a very pessimistic view. According to Hobbes, there is always a perpetual warfare with every human being fighting the other in the state of nature. ‘’Bellum omme contra omnes; war of all against all’’ (Hobbes 185).
Rousseau on the other hand does not take a pessimistic view on the state of nature. According to him, man is not cruel and harmful naturally. However, he attributes man’s animosity and anger to society as all societal systems that enhance different elements of society. While he also agrees that war does not necessarily exist, it is not an element of nature’s state.
Man therefore, does not have a very natural disposition of war. ‘War then is a relation, not between man and man, but between State and State, and individuals are enemies only accidentally’’ (Rousseau 9).
Secondly, Hobbes and Rousseau do not agree on their view of the relationship between justice and power. According to Hobbes, in the order to prevail in the society, every individual must give up on individual rights and accept to live under the leadership of those in power. Equality, therefore, comes in from the fact that individuals are accountable to the single unit and that is a sovereign power. This is because they all respect and fear in the same level.
Hobbes also believes that fear for power sovereignty is one of the factors that make it possible to maintain peace between men. While framing his view in opposition to Hobbes, Rousseau believes that authority or power is achieved through coercion. As a result, it is not agreed on or consented. To him, no member of the society is obliged to accept such governance or authority. He also says, ‘’Force does not create right, and we are only obliged to obey legitimate powers’’ (Rousseau 9).
According to Rousseau, for a stable government, man must be willing to give up on his state of nature to create a society that is orderly. The two (the will and the creation of a stable of a stable society) are often achieved through a social contract. In this relevance, even if a man gives a mandate to a single governance by a specific authority on his behalf, he has not given up on his authorization, which is, ‘’the greatest necessity for his happiness’’ (Roseau 13). As a matter of fact, he has fully exercised his freedom.
Question 3: Marx on the Types of Alienation that Workers Experiences
Marx believes that alienation is ‘’ the separation of things that naturally belong together or to putting antagonism between things that are properly in harmony’’ (Fromm 66). The theory is largely based on the premise that the production model of capitalist takes away worker’s determination of their destinies as well as their lives. In such a case, workers are often deprived of their rights to see themselves as those who direct action and indeed, their actions. Marx also discusses four types of alienation in relation to the workplace but three are discussed below including
the worker from the work (the product of labor)
Marx believes that it should be the workers who should determine what to produce and the means to produce them. Work is part of human essence as discussed under the alienation of the worker from himself as a producer. Therefore, we can state that work is indeed part of an individual realization. Even so, it cannot be considered as self-realization if other people influence and determine it in ways that are beyond an individual worker
It is however what happens in the society and more specifically capitalist society. Thus, the focus shifts from community to individuals that ‘we’ to the ‘I’. Even in the event where workers are the majority, it is only a few, those who own their means of production that end up determining the elements of production.
They are the Capitalist class according to Marx and they ‘’appropriate labor, including that of engineers and designers, and seek to shape the tastes of consumers in order to maximize profits’’ (Fromm 68).
Alienating the worker from working (that is, the act of producing)
Marx argues in this type of alienation that in capitalist mode of product, work is simply patterned into ‘’endless sequence of discrete, repetitive, trivial and meaningless motions, offering little if any intrinsic satisfaction’’ (Fromm 69). If work is part of man’s essence and, thus, part of self-realization, then man does not get any form of satisfaction coming from self-realization in the capitalist world. What’s more, the workers are not supposed to self-realize themselves. However, their work plays a crucial role in helping others (capitalist class) achieve satisfaction.
Alienating the worker from himself (the producer)
Marx holds on to the fact that we cannot separate the essence of man from his activities as a producer. In other words, the nature of man includes all his potential. This is what he refers to as species-essence. It does emphasize the fact that man has desire and is, therefore, the tendency to work as a way of promoting his survival and psychological well being.
This nature is characterized by pluralism and dynamism. Even so, man is alienated from himself in the capitalist society. He is dejected and often becomes an empty vessel that works for the satisfaction of others and not necessarily theirs.
Question 4: Historical Materialism
The concept of historical materialism stems out from the fact that for man to survive, they must always produce and reproduce life’s material requirements. In his explanation of the concept, Marx picked up on this premise, emphasizing that people must at all times enter into a very definite social relation to exchange and produce. Production relations in this case are, therefore; the most fundamental relation and humans often enter the relations randomly, arbitrarily or at will.
Marx however believes that this kind of materialism does not necessarily deal with production elements including raw materials, tools, technology and other instruments as well as division of labor. However, in some cases as in the case of capitalist society, there are people who actually live off other people.
The distinction that is made in this case constitutes the works of historical materialism. However, the way in which it functions or works largely depends on the type of society. For instance, there is a great difference between how historical materialism works in a capitalist society and the way it works in a communist society.
In the communist society, people often such relations arbitrarily so that historical materials become more of the mode or force of production. Even so, social relations in a capitalist society largely depend on the material well being of individuals. For example, the relationship between landowners is quite different from the relationship between a worker and landowner. The nature of materialism greatly differs in the two cases.
Question 5: Marxists Economic Terms
Use-Value refers to the core function of a commodity or service. The value does not depend on a purchaser’s subjective valuation. However, it depends on the application of a particular service or product by the purchaser. The Use-value is also solely determined as per consumption and in the event of labor, Use-value does not depend on the amount of work that one has done to produce the product.
Marx says that the Use-value is indeed the ‘’substance of all wealth, whatever may be the social form of wealth’’ (Fine 9). He, therefore, does not imply that Use-value is something that matters most.
B) Exchange value
Exchange value is the ratio in which one service or commodity trades with another. It also means that when a person produces something that is not meant for sale, then that thing is not considered a commodity. It is only considered a product or commodity if it is produced for open-end exchange.
C) Commodity Fetishism
Commodity fetishism is considered the view of economic relations concerning money and commodities exchanged in the marketplace. It is the attempt by an individual to determine the exchange value of a commodity. Marx (cited in Fine 5) argues that it attempts to link the objective and subjective commodity aspects of economic value. This is additionally based on what one believes is indeed the fundamental value of the real thing.
Rousseau and Marx on property
According to Marx and Rousseau, property was indeed central to social relations. Even so, their views differ greatly. Rousseau emphasizes on the social contract in which, he gives the concept of autonomy even though he asserts that freedom is independent of the community. He also believes that private liberty is vital for man to be happy.
Therefore, one of the aspects of this kind of this liberty was right to own property. In this case, the property is that in which one can obtain legally. Using force is illegal based on the fact that it breaches Rousseau’s terms of the social contract. It is only through social contract that an individual can claim property ownership.
The right to ownership is also deferred in this case and thus, attached to moral and legal code (Rousseau 87). Property ownership in an ideal society is driven by the core code, ‘right of first occupant’. Rousseau (95) believes that legitimate ownership of private property often requires three major precedents and no previous inhabitants and should also be based on the need to own it and not greed so that the person should own more property than he can work; and finally, the person should be in a position to work on the land he owns.
Marx who is a strong communism proponent also disagrees with Rousseau’s view of private liberty as well as private property. He however offers a distinction between ‘personal’ and ‘private’ property. The former refers to production means based on wage labor and socialized production.
The latter on the other hand refers to consumer products or services that are produced by an individual. He also criticized the latter with the believe that it is a fact that led to class distinction; where property owners as well as those that do not own with the latter often suffering impoverishment, alienation in the hands of property owners, and experiencing estrangement.
However, this often occurs in a capitalist society where the individual takes precedence over the community. Therefore, Marx argues that ideal property refers does not involve class distinctions and everybody has the right to access the same resources (Fromm 113).
Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan, London: Penguin Classics, 1985. Print
Fine, Ben. The Value Dimension, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1986. Print
Fromm, Erich. Marx’s Concept of Man, New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing, 1961. Print
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. The Social Contract and Discourses, London: Dent & Sons, 1947. Print
Younkins, Edward W. Capitalism and Commerce: Conceptual Fondations of Free
Enterprise, New Jersey: Lexington Books, 2002. Print
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