Being a former soldier with little to boast of, I can hardly claim expertise of any subject of learning. As an avid student though, I attempt to comprehend theories and share my understanding of these. That is why my reasoning is often simplistic and, for that, I beg my reader’s indulgence.
Among the many luminaries who have expanded upon their views on political science before and after him, I choose to begin my thoughts from Rousseau’s thesis on “the Social Contract”. I do so, perhaps because his views are the briefest and most lucid on the subject; lucid enough for the likes of myself to understand.
Or, perhaps because he began his thesis with a [provocative] truism. Can a truism be provocative; or is it a contradiction in terms? Rousseau’s opening sentence, “Man is born free and yet, everywhere he is in chains”, is indeed a truism; as true today and in the foreseeable future, as it was then. And, his peers and students have called it “provocative”.
Rousseau contends that, the formation of any state is based upon a necessity that mankind, which is born free [and, therefore, equal] if living together, needs must be governed; so as to ensure freedom and equality for all, not only those stronger. And since every free man’s rights are inalienable, it is essential that mankind voluntarily give up some of these inalienable rights to the state, to empower the state and ensure equal freedom for all.
He further contends that, to ensure this freedom, the state [government] is the only authority authorized to use force. And all this is what Rousseau refers to as an [unwritten, hypothetical] Social Contract between states and their citizens.
To a simplistic mind, there appears to be but one purpose to all this i.e. ensuring justice [which inherently includes equality] for all citizens. However, the provision of justice is not a simple process.
To ensure provision of justice, the very first step is that there must be laws. Laws which are acceptable to individuals who have voluntarily surrendered some of their rights to the state to enable the state to [collectively] ensure these rights of individuals. This “Legislative” body is called as such; in our case the assembly/senate.
Next is the policing to ensure these laws are not violated, implemented in letter and spirit and violators apprehended for punitive action. Policing, the verb, is not only the functioning of the Police. It is the function of every organ/sub-organ of the executive, the state. Every department of the state is constantly supposed to be policing its domain to ensure equal justice to all peoples.
And, despite the two foregoing efforts to prevent disputes and/or crimes, when these inevitably appear, there must be a judicial system to adjudicate and/or ensure application of punitive and deterrent laws, wherever and whenever required.
These three basics for any political system to work; the legislative, the executive [policing functionaries], and the judiciary are referred to as the three Pillars of State.
All three pillars of state must needs be independent of each other to ensure equal justice for all. Because, the independence of each is the only formula for ensuring justice. But, are they, have they ever been, could they ever be? If they could, Thomas More’s Utopia might have been. But they can never be.
Power, whether flowing from guns, or wealth, land holdings or political influence must needs be solidified. If gaseous or liquid, it flows. Which is why it must be solidified to make it as immovable as possible. And, to solidify power, it must cross from one pillar of state to, at least, another.
And, the moment that happens, the consequence is injustice and, therefore, corruption. If all three combine; injustice prevails, as is the state in our country now. Since the process of solidifying power is permanent and uninterrupted, so too is injustice and corruption.
About a generation after Rousseau, another brilliant mind, but an author of many tediously boring novels, Charles Dickens, wrote, what I consider to be his masterpiece, A Tale of Two Cities. His opening lines were, “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times”. Dickens goes on to list other apposite and opposites to describe the period of his book.
Some of Dickens peers and students ascribe the [seemingly] contradictory description of that era as an attempt to catch the sense of change in this period of The Industrial Revolution and The French Revolution in Europe but, particularly in France and England, astride the Channel.
I suggest that, among others, the brilliant Dickens also stated centuries ago in this, another provocative truism, what I am attempting to comprehend today. An apposite can only exist if it has an opposite and, vice-versa. Consequently, if justice exists, the existence of injustice is a prerequisite. Rousseau’s edict still seems to hold true and Man is still bound in chains of injustice, the question should never be whether justice prevails or not but, the quantity and/or quality of justice [or injustice] that prevails in a time or place.