CailynIntro 5 Essay

Submitted By Cailyn-Rafi
Words: 1613
Pages: 7

Political theory has been the cornerstone of civilized structure for centuries. With regards to renowned theorists such as Machiavelli, Jefferson, Douglass, and Smith, there are two comparative bouts that have been debated upon for hundreds of years. The first of these two comparisons is Rousseau and Burke. Rousseau, often referred to as “the father of the French revolution,” focused his theories around getting rid of old traditions in society and time and time again bringing in new ones. He felt society was always evolving, our traditions had to keep up with the world that was changing around them. Meanwhile, Burke believed in the American Revolution. Burke saw the old traditions as sacred and to get rid of them as if they had never impacted our lives would utterly ruin society, thus destroying our civilized ideals and beliefs from the inside out as we know them. The second of the two comparisons involves theories from Locke and Hobbes. Both men were natural law theorists, the natural law studied by St. Thomas Aquinas. Locke, a theorist behind the Declaration of Independence, believed that man is naturally a social animal. By nature we have society, we have structure, we know right from wrong, lawful and unlawful, and we can naturally resolve conflicts. Hobbes on the other hand stating that man is not a social animal by nature also believed that society would not be able to exist if it was not for the power of the state. Hobbes’ theories also discussed how men did not know how to distinguish right from wrong, what belongs to them and what does not because property is a will of the state, thus the ending of any violent conflict is considered to be inappropriate. I would like to meet these four theorists, Rousseau, Burke, Locke, and Hobbes to discuss with them American society today. The success it has had, the downfalls it has had, and to understand how they would amend social tendencies today as well as how they might evaluate the progress made in the country’s 238-year history. While sitting with Rousseau the discussion of his concepts influencing “The Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen,” a few points I would like to make in comparison to today’s society in America include articles one and three. Article one states, “men are born and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions may be founded only upon the general good” (Motier, 1789). The United States of America for the past few decades has been fighting for equality in which it did not have at its conception and to a certain degree still does not have today. The civil rights movement was an iconic time for our nation and although a great deal of the oppression on African-Americans has ceased, we still deal with these issues today including police brutality and shootings. This is something that goes against what Rousseau stood for and had similar interest in with Thomas Jefferson. Although legislation has been implemented to eliminate inequality in America, the traditions in which Rousseau believes should be removed, still stand tall today. Article three states “The principle of all sovereignty resides essentially in the nation. No body nor individual may exercise any authority which does not proceed directly from the nation” (Motier 1789). This is something that is still intact in our society today. Although political parties have influence over one another at times, what party controls congress, gerrymandering of districts to cause incumbents to lose their seats, and thus creating a great deal of power for the central government, are they receiving too much power? Is the state becoming the sovereign? Rousseau, although supports the change in traditions, this is a tradition he fought for, power to the state and no true sovereign. Edmund Burke and his work “Reflections of the Revolution in France” was a letter sent from Burke to a man in Paris in the year 1790. In this letter he was encouraging reform as opposed to rebellion and he was not in strong