Humbly speaking, in default of natural sanctions, the laws of justice are ineffective among men

Humbly speaking, in default of natural sanctions, the laws of justice are ineffective among men

Of its broad meaning, however, there can be no doubt

The point in Rousseau’s theory of Sovereignty that offers most difficulty is his view (Book II, chap, vii) that, for every State, a Legislator is necessary. We shall understand the section only by realising that the legislator is, in fact, in Rousseau’s system, the spirit of institutions personified; his place, in a developed society, is taken by the whole complex of social custom, organisation and tradition that has grown up with the State. This is made clearer by the fact that the legislator is not to exercise legislative power; he is merely to submit his suggestions for popular approval. Thus Rousseau recognises that, in the case of institutions and traditions as elsewhere, will, and not force, is the basis of the State.

This may be seen in his treatment of law as a whole (Book II, chap, vi), which deserves very careful attention. He defines laws as “acts of the general will,” and, agreeing with Montesquieu in making law the “condition of civil association,” goes beyond him only in tracing it more definitely to its origin in an act of will. (more…)