The social contract is a political theory that emerged during the Age of Enlightenment. Its focus is on the relationship between the individual and the authority of a state.
In theory, men are born with natural freedom. In this condition, people are governed only by their moral constraints. According to theorist Thomas Hobbes, existence in this situation, with men having the “right to all things” in the world, would exist in a state of plunder, rape, murder, and war, making life “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”.
To avoid such a miserable fate, people contract with each other to establish a political community through a “Social contract” in which they all gain security in return for subjecting themselves to the power of sovereignty.
According to this theory, the law is not a natural thing but generally accepted as long as there is a benefit commensurate with the natural rights lost as a result of its adoption. Hobbs argues in his book “Leviathan” that the governmental construct is not actually a party to the original contract and that individuals are no longer obligated to submit to it when the agreed-upon protections are no longer fulfilled.
It was John Locke’s work on understanding the relationship between inalienable “Natural” rights (freedom of speech, the right to life, self-defense, freedom of religion, freedom from violent crime, the right not to be enslaved) that formed the basis of the Declaration of Independence, with Jefferson writing: “governments are instituted among men, deriving their powers from the consent of the governed”.
The founding fathers viewed the social contract with a certain level of suspicion and contempt because they were well aware of the state’s capability to exceed its prescribed powers. Thomas Paine described it thusly: “government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one”.
Putting all of this succinctly: we agree to follow the laws, and rules of a state, pay taxes, fight its wars and allow certain institutions a measure of control over our lives in return for security from foreign threats, the right to not be defrauded, secure borders, and the right to a safe society free of crime and civil unrest.
I would argue that the social contract in the United States has never been on such thin ice. If you were to step back and think for a moment, what powers the federal and state governments have reserved for themselves at our expense, against the backdrop of civil unrest, exploding crime rates, failing international power, and insecure borders, it’s actually shocking.
The current government reserves the right to impress you into military service if you are of a certain age, garnish wages in a self-prescribed percentage for its own use and imprison you if you don’t comply, mandate you submit to forced experimental drugs, monitor your private communications, control your ability to keep and bear arms, freeze your financial accounts if you are a political enemy, indoctrinate your children, financially provide for illegal aliens and foreign enemies, restrict your speech and right of free travel. It actually borrows money from citizens who haven’t even been born yet. Let that one sink in.
Our government encourages leftist riots but won’t allow me to go to a restaurant unless I show proof I submitted to an experimental vaccination. It allows illegal aliens entry into airports by using an arrest warrant for identification. It provides billions of dollars in aid to countries that want to annihilate us. We didn’t agree to let them do any of this, and if asked, we wouldn’t.
While I am not advocating a revolution, it would appear something needs to be done. But what? Montesquieu in Spirit of the Laws warned: “When once a republic is corrupted, there is no possibility of remedying any of the growing evils but by removing the corruption and restoring its lost principles; every other correction is either useless or a new evil.” We are, at this time, not even assured a free and fair mechanism for elections. How then does a republic remedy a government acting against it? How do we make a government aware it has become intolerable to us?
Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “When the people fear the government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.” Perhaps, somehow, the ruling class needs to be reminded of this.