This is my 1st short essay in politology.
State of nature is a phrase that in political science is used to describe the human condition prior to the formation of society and living without government and settled social organization. In the 17th century, Thomas Hobbes described this condition as a state of relative equality in which men are “naturally” and exclusively self-interested, distrustful, and do not have the power above to force them to long-term cooperation despite the lack of resources, brutality, and unescapable war. Hobbs suggested that people create a government for protection
(Demsky, 2023). Government is society’s means of self-organization and distribution of authority to achieve collective goals
(Krutz, 2021). The social contract is an agreement among citizens or between rulers that defines their rights and duties
(Demsky, 2023). Another political philosopher John Locke believed in the natural rights of people to life, liberty, and property
(Demsky, 2023). Rousseau’s views seem to have had little influence in the U.S. in his time.
The terms “state of nature” and “social contract” are connected in intellectual tradition because the latter was considered to be the remedy for the first. Alexander Hamilton and James Madison argued for the social contract in form of the Constitution of the United States describing the state of nature as a dangerous anarchy where the weaker is not protected from the violence of the stronger, but even the most powerful are vulnerable unless a just government is set up to protect all parties
Hobbean and Lockean views are considered to represent two of the opposing views on why people create and maintain social contracts, and function with regard to the contracts they entered by birth or by choice. According to Hobbs, a social contract allows people to leave the dangerous state of nature and enter civil society. Locke developed social contract theory further. He agreed that the state of nature is very difficult for individuals, and their natural rights in it are not protected, despite existing mutual obligations, and they need a government for that. While Hobbs saw people as naturally cruel, selfish, and greedy, and that only a powerful government like an absolute monarchy can ensure order, Locke considered people as moral and reasonable beings who need governments with limited power, which can be overthrown in case of violation of the natural rights of its subjects
My view on the state of the social contract in the United States, in general, is that several large groups of citizens perceive that their social contracts are challenged or violated. I do agree with some of them. For example, according to studies, upward mobility in the U.S. is lower than in the United Kindom, which breaks people’s trust in equal opportunity to become prosperous, known as an Americal Dream. The situation for many working people in achieving social status is somewhat similar to the 1920s
(Corbett et al., 2022). Working poor cannot make the ends meet, and young people cannot start families due to the lack of well-paid jobs and childcare, indebtedness for education, and high housing prices. In California, the cost of living is getting so high that many leave the “empire of aspiration”
(Anagnoson et al., 2021). Small business owners struggle to compete with large corporations. Many of these people feel that their right to the pursuit of happiness is not supported by society and that the increasingly complicated rules are unfair to many, to the point that some extreme groups tried to overthrow the government on January 6, 2021.
Anagnoson, J. T., Bonetto, G. M., Emrey, J., Koch, N. S., & Michelson, M. R. (2021). Governing California in the twenty-first century: The political dynamics of the Golden State (6th ed.). W.W. Norton and Company.
Corbett, P. S., Precht, J., Janssen, V., Lund, J. M., Pfannestiel, T. J., Vickery, P. S., and Waskiewicz, S. (2022). U.S. History. OpenStax, Rice University.
Demsky, J. (2023, January 26). “American Institutions and History.” Political Science Course.
Krutz, G. S. (2021). American Government (3rd ed.). OpenStax, Rice University.