Political Traditions of Rousseau and Locke

In this essay I would be analyzing and comparing the relationship between the individual and the political community understood by Jean-Jacques Rousseau from the civic republicanism tradition and John Locke from the liberal tradition. Through this essay I am seeking to explain why the political community was formed and the obligations of an individual within a political community. The importance of knowing the relationship between the individual and the political community would help us better understand our role and place in society. I will be arguing that Rousseau views the relationship between the individual and the political community in a wider scope than Locke, whereas Locke argues that the relationship is a means to preserve one’s own rights which are of life, liberty and property, Rousseau acknowledges the need to defend and protect the person and his goods but intrinsically Rousseau wants to unite individuals under the General Will. Before connecting and taking up on the conclusions of the individual and the political community, one must first examine each component individually and ponder on the origin of said component.

To understand better of the individual, John Locke states in his Second Treatise on Government regarding the state of the individual before joining a political community, which is the state we are all naturally in, “The State of Nature”i which is a “State of Perfect Freedom”ii and also a “State of Equality”iii. Locke mentions equality as a case of “no one having more than another”iv and that being all equal “no one ought to harm another in his Life, Health, Liberty, or Possessions”v. The rights to life, liberty and property which with our labor we establish, is essential in his state of nature, and to deprive one of his rights without consent is against the Law of Nature.vi Hence Men, to secure the advantages of civilized society “agreed with other Men to join and unite into a commun.

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