GWF Hegel defines "civil society" (Buergerlichegesellschaft [check]) as a series of agreements that stretch virtually around the human world.   But association through mere agreement, without an additional contractual provision, is not society properly speaking.  Human beings always did have agreements--understandings among men in hunting situations--but have not always had society.  These agreements, as I have already said, are not so much about what to do as simply not to fight in doing what they do.  The agreement is sealed by a "mere" handshake, a gesture which determines that this or that party does not conceal a weapon.  Humans can and always have had agreements because they had language.  When they added to their agreements the element of contract, on the other hand, they passed from what Rousseau would call a state of nature into a state of man, or society, properly speaking.    We cannot understand what society is without considering the role of contract in human relations.   Rousseau's begins his theory of society with a look at agreements as central to understanding human society.  For the moment, however, and to rectify a long-standing deficiency in this blog, I will raise the issue of "contract."  It is not too much to say that any contract is "the" social contract talked about by Rousseau.  Humans evoke the social contract in every contract they enter.  Society itself is simply the sum of all contracts in everyday life. 

The question addressed here is:  what happens to an agreement when it is turned into a contract.   This is a critical issue as we try to understand how small units--associations through mere agreement--that are typical of very small groupings, say of hunters and horticulturalists become, on the other hand, relationships through contract.   A contract is more than an agreement.  In a contract two or more persons have of course agreed to have an enterprise in common; but they also have agreed to submit disputes that arise within this agreement to be settled by some outside, impartial person who is not party to the original agreement.  The word im-partial obviously means "without party."  Or, not party to...   Now, within the agreement per se there is no provision for the use of force to settle disagreements.  All that parties to an agreement say is that they will not themselves, as original parties to the agreement, use force to settle any dispute that may arise.   Force may be used to settle these disputes, but it must be used by an impartial third party.  This point I have stated frequently.  The entire feeling within a contract is different than it is in a mere agreement, aside from the formal provisions of the contract.  In the mentality of a contract force is allowed to settle disputes; but, as I say, this force may not be used by the principals themselves.  To understand not only a contractual agreement, but to understand society as a whole, attention must be focused on the so-called third party, the enforcing party (government?), of the agreement.  Humans call this party into existence, not by voting or some other method of appointing a ruler, but in the simple act of coming together in an agreement, with no provision in the agreement as to how to settle disputes. 

Principals settle the disputes that they may have by first appealing to a so-called third party. The triadal relationship between the principal parties themselves and between these two parties and the third party constitutes, essentially, the basic structure of what we call "formal society."  I will go so far as to say that all there is to society, insofar as this is a human group and not an aggregation, which itself may be structured, is this triadal relationship.  All that we know about society may be exhausted, I am suggesting, in the word "contract."  An agreement strictly speaking is something else.  An agreement in this context is primarily a "negative" relationship.  An agreement excludes everything there is to the previous relationship of dominance and submission, or baboon fascism as I have called the structure.  An agreement allows none of these primal forces to determine group structure.  The structure of an agreement excludes all primal elements, but includes (and in this sense we may speak of the positive side of an agreement) those provisions that specify respective roles in the parties' main enterprise.  We may consider an example.  Hunters agree not to fight among themselves over the spoils of the hunt; but they agree to, on the other hand, divide the spoils equally or according to some pre-arranged formula.  These kinds of "positive" things we spoke of earlier [cite].  I may appear to repetitively belabor these same issues; such repetition is necessary to gain a clear idea of what we are talking about.  When we compare the simple agreement, finally, and the contract we find that agreement and contract are opposite in the matter of the willingness to include force in settling disputes.  The agreement does not allow force to settle disputes; the contract does allow force.

The issue now raised, in logical order, is the issue of the relationship between the principals as a group, who have already entered into an agreement, and the third party.  All force that originally inhered in the relationship between the two principals, in a State of Nature and before the agreement was instituted,  is extracted from that primal or natural relationship and transfered, rather, to a third party who now has all the force that there was in his own possession. This--the role of mediator holding power--is all there is to government.  However, the "right" to initiate a "proceeding" [word still not defined] still resides with the principals.  In other words, without some voluntary act by one or the other principals, no action--use of force--is "allowed."  The will to invoke force in the relationship is left with the principals, one or the other of them; the pure capacity to use force now resides with the governing force (king, prince, politician, dictator, bureaucracy, or whatever).  The leader or mediator, as the third party, has no "right" to use force except to resolve a dispute between the principals.  We cannot consider the issues of society and government resolved at this point, however.
The triadal relationship between the principal parties themselves and between these two parties and the third party constitutes, essentially, the basic structure of what  we call "formal society."   The principals may argue.  The leadership, or third party, may for its part "listen" [word to define?] to the arguments of the principals.  The leadership "weighs" the argument; then "decides" the issue; and accordingly the leadership implements force to en-force what are ascertained to be the provisions of the contract.  I believe this is all there is to a contractual relationship; but it may be, too, all there is to society as understood as a contract.  Rousseau's expression "The Social Contract" is helpful.  Democracy, such as the West has allegedly, does take its basic concepts from the civil laws of contract.  Of course it can be readily seen that, in this triadal structure, even strictly interpreted through precident, the third party ultimately has all the descretionary power--to decide between arguments and to implement force--while the principals in the agreement have no descretionary power.  The sole recourse of a princpal is argue in such a way that the third party will decide in his favor.  So what power the principal is left with is the so-called "power of words."  This is no great power, as this professor has learned from his own experience.  We have, however, sketched the outline of society.  What we still must learn, however, is where nature--here called race--stands in relation to the structure of society.

Last edited by richard_swartzbaugh (2010-08-26 16:07:52)


In either case--as parties to a plan or project, or as neighbors who recognize one another's property boundaries--such inclusion or exclusion demands an agreement of some sort.  First let's consider working together, stressing the word "together"; there's going to be an agreement, a promise made in the language between the parties, that brings them together.  They are together in the agreement, as a sort of framwork or container that they share; and the manner they are together is defined in the agreement.  They may not be "together" in any other sense; that is, they may be different kinds of people living different and otherwise separate lives.  They are together in, and only in, the agreement.  This should now be clear.  But there are, as I say, other kinds of agreements, ones that have no provision for inclusion or togetherness, but, quite the contrary, separate people. I say they separate people, not people from animals or animals from one another. 

In writing this blog I have refined my general position several times.  I take time to insert the most recent revision with which all material must agree; otherwise my own material, such as it is, is declared by me invalid.  My most recent revision of the general Theory of Force is as follows:  Equals-in-force cannot readily collaborate for the reason that these equals have no good way of settling disputes among themselves.  This statement is central to everything else I will say in what follows.   Collaboration, or working together, may be productive.   But incidental to this collaboration is the fact that disputes arise inevitably; and these disputes hinder and even destroy the productive work that there is to do.  Dispute resolution, not the advantage of human beings working cooperatively, is the theme of this blog.  To have a productive collaboration, men need between them an agreement.  Within this agreement the men are equal:  if they are equal in all ways they remain equal within the agreement; if they come into the agreement unequal, they are made equals in the terms of the agreement.  Equal means always, however, in respect to force.  If they are equal coming into the agreement with regard to force, this force is taken away from them; if they are unequal in regard to force when they come into the agreement, this force is again taken away from them.  Within the agreement the men are equal with regard to force, in other words, because within the agreement neither man has any force at all.  I will mention the handshake:  the handshake finalizes the agreement as each touches the hand of the other, and ascertains in doing so that the other does not conceal within his hand a weapon.  The handshake is symbol of--no force here.

It is precisely equals-in-force who would, where each asserts his point of view within the close confines of a collaborative arrangement, destroy the arrangement and perhaps one another.  Were the men unequals-in-force there would be no such destruction.  In fact, the collaboration could continue.  The man with the superior force would simply en-force his own point of view.  All disputes would be resolved in favor of him.  Under conditions of hunting and gathering, where there is perpetual hunger and need, and the margin of survival of the people is very slim, such expeditious settlement of disputes is the norm.  It is precisely the issue of how to settle disputes between equals-in-force that belabors the whole cooperative process of large scale societies.  Communist theory is based on the assumption that collaboration is superior to competition--that goes without saying.  But the strategy of heavy-handed dictatorship is superior to equalitarian societies in the issue of dispute settlement.  In fact, equals in property and "rights" are more likely to be disputatious, I aver, that societies with unequal wealth and rights.  By this line of reasoning dictatorships are more efficient economic systems.  The point of statecraft has been, we may suggest, to bring equals together while negating the sinister fact that it is precisely equals who, through equal force that they possess, can readily destroy one another.

To continue with my older and perhaps outdated material:  Animals cannot understand or enter into agreements.  Thus when we construct a fence to keep animals in or out of a space, there is no agreement in this arrangement.  When, on the other hand, we declare a space of land to be "ours," and we talk to other people and admonish them to stay off this land, then, assuming they promise to comply, that arrangement is an "agreement."    These latter agreements--which I call agreements of exclusion--are the basis of property.  But the distinction between agreements of inclusion and those of exclusion may be complex.  For instance, in laying down a plan (as did our primordial hunters planning a hunt), there is likely to be a plan in the first place to cooperate to achieve some goal, that goal being often, say, a killed animal to be eaten.  That is the way human hunts usually go.  I return to my Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert.  They know, following a successful kill, how to butcher the animal.  Meat is cut into strips and these strips are transported to camp, where they are set out to dry.  The distribution of the meat commences, first to contributers to the hunt and then to relatives of the hunters.  This distribution I have described elsewhere here. [cite]  But this entire arrangement among the Bushman is implied in any agreement to hunt--that the meat will be divided, according to the rules of the group (there are always rules, never simply random sharing).  All this is part of general human behavior, and behavior that is, as I say (and as Rousseau before me said), that begins with simple human agreements.  An agreement is not, again as I say, a true contract because it is not enforcable.  More precisely, the enforcement of the agreement among Bushmen (say) comes out of the personalities of the parties to the agreement, and out of cultural expectations and so forth.  Bushmen live in a direct manner among themselves, and do not submit to laws beyond the simple customs of their own group (I called them exemplary "fascists," in a way, but simply to underscore the presence of "force" in their midst that would obviate the necessity of externally imposed laws).

Property is essentially an agreement of exclusion.  At this point I use the word "agreement," but have omitted the word "contract."   Property may be an agreement, simply, but need not be a contract.  An agreement has the basic human elements of language, promise, reference to future and so forth that the contract has.  An agreement does not have the one thing contract has, however:  that is, the provision for enforcement.  Essentially the provision for enforcement of the agreement is outside the agreement itself.  An agreement may exist on its own, apart from a contract, but still within a contract.  A contract is basically an agreement that enforces another agreement.  This point needs emphasis.  A contract may be described as an agreement that one or both of the principals in a "first" agreement make with another, outside party (now called a third party) for the sole purpose, virtually, of enforcing the first agreement.  But this second, enforcing agreement must be signed by three parties, not just two.  The third party must have an outside role in relation to the first agreement, as "independent" of that agreement; otherwise the rules of enforcement of the first agreement would not be "fair" and "equal."  This goes without saying.  We may conclude this paragraph, finally, by saying that this structure existed in human history and prehistory far before Rousseau's great proclamations, the enlightenment, the rise of American democracy and so forth.  An agreement which is enforced--this could and no doubt did exist when human beings were first human, could use language, make promises and refer to future events.  This three-part structure of human relations was never recorded, of course, since writing appeared only long after language itself.

Property has existed as long as there was language.  This is a safe conclusion.  No society has ever been without property, for the reason that every human society, from pygmies to Frenchmen, has had agreements.  Every agreement has two provisions:  one to include persons and the other to exclude persons.  For instance:  planning a hunt, two or four hunters agree to collaborate.  That is true.  But it is understood among the men that, as the hunt concludes, the meat will be divided among the men.  The rules of division of the meat--essentially the possession by one man of meat to the exclusion of the other men--are as much a part of the culture of the Bushmen (say) as rules of the hunt itself are a part.   The Bushmen do not have much in the way of personal property; therefore there is not much among them by way of distinctions of men through property.  This is not to say the people are "communistic," at all, because there is nothing much among them to share or to impart status distinctions, either one.  Actually, in the thing that matters--food--there is careful allocation to each according to his or her expectations.  Each person and his family gets a portion of the killed meat, and the division is very precise and fair.  This distribution of meat within bands of hunters/gatherers is the foundation of all conceptions of property everywhere; and no theory of equality could possibly overturn such a deep-rooted tradition.  But there is more.  A society, without even abandoning concepts of property, could virtually drown itself in a fussy preoccupation with "fairness."  That is what happens to modern day democracies.

I have said that property is a type of agreement, or possibly even a provision within a general type of agreement.  That is true.    It is also true that property "negates," ultimately, the point of an agreement in which men come together to cooperate or collaborate.  This final negation of the individual or particular agreement, at which time the agreement is terminated, does not contradict the agreement in general but only underscores the fact that an agreement is a process, not merely a fixed conception.   The negation of the cooperative provision of an agreement furthermore "propells" society itself into an ongoing process of synthesis and division.  This is a never-ending thing; it--the negation--is an engine, so to speak, of change and process.  The basics of modern society--synthesis or cooperation followed by individualization and separation--destine societies to come together and finally to terminate themselves, as they "divide" their own riches.  Property in these terms is a negation of the affirmation, but a necessary phase in this never-ending process. 

I want to make one further important point.  No social theory can successfully downplay this essential structure, or, what is sometimes commonly done, deny the basic humanity in human relations and return, instead, to some animal order of instincts--of pure "force,' in Rouseeau's terms--that would return humans to an earthly paradise of animal instincts.   Instead, what is proposed here is to show how the  contractualisation [neologism] of relationships--and legalism is what we are talking about--pushes these relations to the brink of self-negation, by expunging from them all subjectivity and individuality.  These are issues we will raise shortly, along with the "correction" of this over-objectification in certain realities foreseen in force theory.

Last edited by richard_swartzbaugh (2009-06-02 13:57:27)


I have already said:  an agreement is between two persons; a contract is simply a second agreement with a third person, with provision for enforcement of the first agreement.   Thus a three-sided arrangement emerges, based on human language (and promises and reference to the future), that is the virtual structure of society for all times.  This I hold to be true.  At present, however, while the original emphasis was on the first agreement (between two persons), the emphasis will now be on the "second" agreement, between the two parties and the third, enforcing, party.  This agreement is the true basis of property.  As Rousseau said, ownership of property is not an absolute right.  In so-called nature, says Rousseau, force is the only "right" of ownership.  In civil society, on the other hand, the right [here is a word that must be consistently defined] to property is conditional, according to the "second" agreement with the enforcing party.  The third party (of the second agreement) "agrees" to enforce the first person's claim on certain defined property.  The first person for his part agrees to give up his "absolute"--force based--claim on his property.  (A town can require a person to cut his lawn, that would be a condition to ownership.)  What I am saying here, so far, is Law 101 in lawschool.  All this has been discussed exhaustively in legal proceedings.  What I am adding, or may be adding, is in the realm of anthropology, more precisely, in the consideration that this basic structure can or could be found in dealings among men, many them wearing loincloths and carrying spears.  It might be proper to say that the three-part "legal" structure can be ascertained, dimly but certainly and substantially, in human language itself.

The question arises:  is the agreement between one or both principals in a (first) agreement and, on the other hand, a third party an agreement between "equals"?  I have already talked about equality as a provision of agreements.  I suggested that a fundamental problem of bringing together equals in an agreement is that these parties are equal in force  l so that the force of each would cancel the other out.  "In Nature," using a cliche word that should come here to have a more specific meaning, equals do not exist.  However, even talking about relative equals--and "relative equals" do exist in so-calledNature-- the issue is the same.    Rousseau makes the point that all agreements are between equals, insofar as this relationship is an agreement.   We will be more to the point by saying that [here apparently I have departed somewhat from my original position] that so far as there is an agreement, any participation in the agreement stipulates that all parties in the agreement are equals.   They are equal more precisely by virtue of the fact that none of them has any force stronger than the other which would be used to settle differences.  Neither of them has in effect any force at all. 

Equals (almost) never trust one another, for the reason that there is nothing between them that would en-force any agreement they might have.   We are speaking of course hypothetically:  Equals do not exist "in nature," even in human nature so long as this is a nature that humans share with animnals.  Equals exist only as abstractions in language; as equals, and only as equals, in the sense that only human beings can be equal, will humans enter into agreements.  Human beings enter into their properly human space.  We may say in these terms that equality is a specifically human trait, that appears with and through language and abstract symbols.  Thus when I say that equals do not trust one another, because they have nothing between them that will enforce agreements, I do not mean to say that equals exist prior to agreements.  It is through the agreeement--with the provision that no force shall be used within the agreement but (this force) shall rather be relegated to a third party outside the first agreement.  Equality in these terms is created as an explicit or implicit provision of the agreement I have already talked about.

To enter an agreement in these terms is to divest oneself of force as a personal possession and to hand that force over to an "outside" party.   A person becomes an equal party only, then, by entering the agreement.  Agreements--all of them--are by definition between equals.  An agreement is an understanding between humans (or those capable of understanding agreements) under the assumption that neither party is disadvantaged in the agreement, or doing something he would not voluntarily do.  Rousseau makes this point clear when he talks about slavery.  Therefore, when we say that there is an agreement, additionally, beyond the first agreement, and that this agreement is precisely to transfer force out of the hands of the principals and into the hands of a third party, this is still an agreement between equals.  The third party now has force; the principals have no force.  There is in these terms an inequality of force conceded to the parties.  On the other hand, we may say that the force that the third party now possesses has relevance only to the terms of an agreement.  We may anticipate here some of the problems Rousseau delt with.  Under the terms of the second agreement (with the third party) the force that may be applied (but is not necessarily applied at all, except in the extreme case of violation of contract by one of the principals) is specified in the agreement, now called a contract; and this force is of course likewise limited by the contract.  If for instance there were once something called a "social contract," between persons and a government, the power--force of the government--would be limited to that contract, the (mythical) Social Contract.  Of course in actual practice government does not feel itself so constrained by any original Contract; the government we know most often considers itself all powerful, and democracies (awash in their own virtue) are no exception. 

But this is a problem for later or for other writers; here we are speaking only theoretically.  In all his confusion Rousseau could have been right:  there is something that is both "of nature" yet inherent in what human beings do "naturally," as human beings, that predisposes them to limite the power of government.  Government is the usual third party to agreements; as such government has a "right" given to it under terms of the contract to exert force; finally government is the only party in the contract (the three-sided agreement) to have the right of force.  But when the first agreement is dissolved, then government--as per the contract--also would relinquish its power.  The government often does not relinquish this power, as it should do; government on the contrary retains some sort of power which over time grows to large proportions.  Power to government is like the fat on certain persons who eat too much and store excess food as fat.  But as I say, that is not my problem here.  As an anthropologist I am looking at the primal relationships that people had, and that they continue to have as a result of their hunting/gathering past. 

Property we may say is what is left over, and persists, after the dissolution of a basic agreement.  The original agreement was between principals to cooperate in some enterprise.  I could be more clear if I related this arrangement to something in contemporary business practice.  The business is in effect an agreement; but that agreement can and usually does come to an end.  What is left over, as they result of the business, is the property--money and things--that arose out of the business, but now is in the hand of the original principals.  Yet--and this is important--the agreement between the principals and government does not cease.  After overseeing the completion of the original agreement, government (the third party) now "licences" or gives title of property of the original businessmen; this title excludes persons from access to property to the same degree and extent that it allows such access.  Thus the function of goverment persists, only in different forms, even as individual agreements pass in and out of existence.

Last edited by richard_swartzbaugh (2009-05-25 15:32:16)


We may assume, if only temporarily and for purposes  of argument, that an agreement to mutually recognize one another's property or territory is, in effect, an agreement to suspend relationships altogether.  In dividing property, and occupying the respective properties that come into being, men effectively part company of one another.  Each occupies his own property and territory, and insofar as the properties are defined as separate from one another, the owners themselves separate from other owners.  Property in effect creates small territories in which men are independent of one anothers.  This could be a space of land, but it could be any item of property.  Property is a consequence of any agreement to cooperate.  Property is effectively the fulfillment of an agreement to cooperate.  Yet through property the coming-together of the parties is terminated.  Still, with the division of the product into units of property, and the termination of the original agreement, men still want to be able to enjoy their property without intrusion by other men.  The word "freedom" is suggestive here.  I do not want to get too far ahead of my main argument.  On the other hand, among the agreements that there are is one to suspend, essentially, all agreements whatsoever.  I call this a negative agreement.  We are talking about an agreement not to agree.   Yet this is an altogether important relationship in the history of humanity, inasmuch as the agreement not to participate in agreements stipulates a restful period of mutual respect without contact.  Men simply state that they wish to live apart.  This is a highly serious consideration and may be the basis of lawful or civil society.  We may suggest that the agreement not to coexist within agreements means that men can coexist outside agreements, yet without fear.  The contrast is striking between this civil law and life among primitive tribespeople, who if they are not in some arrangement of cooperation or in a formal alliance, they are likely to be blood enemies who will kill one another on sight.  This is the state of society in New Guinea, for instance, where there is constant warfare.  I have emphasized agreements wherein men cooperate.  However, these agreements come to an end; these definite and finite agreements should be followed we are saying, by further agreements--negative in that they specify no contact at all--so that men do not lapse into mutual slaughter.

There is an area of speculation that has been overlooked but which we could now exploit.  That is, what happens in the aftermath of an agreement, when the agreement, having gone through its phases of inclusion and exclusion (division of property), now passes out of existence.  An expired agreement leaves a void.   I have already said that an agreement in an important sense is society itself, in its fundamental elements.  An agreement between two persons is only a small society, but is society nonetheless.  Then, with the expiration of the first agreement, that society passes out of existence.  Of course with many people more or less, on various terms, in touch with one another there are, then, agreements constantly coming into, and passing out of, existence.  This is a topic that should occupy us now.  Do human beings, exiting as they must finally do their particular agreements, subside, then, into a primitive "state of nature," a savage bellum omnium contra omnes. We conclude they do not sink to this level, precisely.  It is necessary at this point to observe that there is a sort of "general contract" among humans that may (vaguely, at any rate) correspond to what Rousseau called The Social Contract.  The correspondence between the general contract and what Rousseau dipicted as a Social Contract may not be precise.  But we must assume that humans do not revert to savagery simply because one relationship is ended; there are general concerns and general reasons that human beings want to maintain, generally and for all times, a certain "civility" that holds people in check as they plan new agreements and look for new relationships.  Thus, in fact, while contracts and agrements expire, they leave a sort of wake in the waters of social relations; [right now i am looking at the word residual to say what i mean] there are "obligations," in othe words, left standing just by virtue of the fact that there were ever contracts in the first place.  These might be called "agreements of termination."  What these "residual" agreements mean, simply and to the point, is that there continues to be, seemingly in perpetuity, something we can call "society" even though that which brought this community together--the simple agreement--ceases to exist.

Basically this residual (?) agreement states:  "to no man, whether with him I am in or out of an agreement, will I do harm."  Of course, it is well to make this promise as an additional post-agreemtnt agreement.  There is in an agreement between equals--and this final agreement of course is between equals--that has no stated was of enforcing the agreement.  Thus a further agreement must be forged with a third party as enforcer of the first agreement.  This too--the agreement between the citizen and the third party (the now-govermentment) cedes the element of force to the third party, while the agreement cedes "rights" to the individual.  Force passes to governement, rights to the citizen.  We keep asking questions.  We must of course go on to ask the question:  is the citizen a "real person" or individual?

Last edited by richard_swartzbaugh (2009-05-16 12:57:32)


Society consists of an agreement, then, among human beings to the effect that every person will leave every other person in peace.  That--peace and good will--is the only specific provision of the Social Contract as described by Rousseau, who was otherwise altogether vague. ( I allow some room on my part for "constructive misunderstanding.")  Human beings are bound in these terms by an agreement that, in engaging a third party for purposes of enforcement of the first agreement, becomes a contract.  This contract does not appear at one time, however, as Rousseau mistakenly suggests, but as a result of countless small agreements that, in needing to be enforced, produces as a by-product a kind of enforcement in perpetuity which we call government.  I have talked about this earlier.  Government is, as I say, the accumulation of conceded (by principals in agreements) force that simply does not go away but persists as a sort of resevoir of force ready for future use.  Government in these terms becomes formidable in relation to its subject parties.  I use the term "subjects."  There is a coincidence in this word:  the subject is still "subjective,' that is a willing and willful private individual.  The subject in this sense is the personal manifestation of the subjective side of reality. This is to say that, as I described in an earlier section [cite], the subject exists in relation to an object.  What is being suggested here is that reality, as a whole, is being split into two sides, the subjective an objective sides.  The element of force, however, is passed out of the subjective side of reality into the objective side, the side that enforces--by force--agreements. We are not here to propose any "inequality" between the sides of reality, at this point, or any so-called injustice between them.  We are not saying, either, that the transfer of power or force out of the subjective realm into the objective realm was involuntary, or that government did--or could--wrest force from its subjects.  The issue of "injustice" is an entirely different issue than what we are talking about here.  In fact, there was no single act, in the way of some primal-original Rousseauian Social Contract, in which power was transfered to the third party.  That would be to say, too, that so-called democratic process--the act of voting--would enable that transfer. Democracy only legitimizes what has already happened in fact:  the vesting of force in a general standing third party to all agreements.   What is being said, on the other hand, is that it has been through the individual agreements, small as they may seem, when repeated constantly through the entire history of the human race, from the most primitive bushmanoid tribesmen to the large national states of our century, that has produced the concept of "enduring power" of the third party, or goverment.  Such agreements number in the billions and are as common, almost, as there are conversations throughout each day in every part of the world.  My problem at this point may be called a philosophical--that is, very general--problem.  The issue at hand is not so much the relation between a government and a citizen--and indirectly citizens among themselves--as the issue is a split between subjective and objective sides of reality, and the consequences of that split.

It may be observed--and here we return to the topic of equality--that equality in present-day democracy consists not in something gained by subjects, but in something lost.  Precisely, what is lost to civilian parties is force.  Equality in these terms consists of the fact that each person has divested himself of all force or power.  Precisely this divestment is itself enforced by the third party as a legitimate provision of its third party, governing, status.    Except for the fact that power is taken away from principals they would still have power, and be uneual. Citizens are equal first and foremost in their powerlessness.  Essentially principal parties are equal in their impotence, we may say, when potency is precisely the defining quality of subjectivity.  In other words, persons are objectified.  It is a defining trait of the citizen that he or she is an object--a powerless one--in relation to a powerful one.  As I said before, other than for the fact that power is separated from principals , these persons would still have power, and be unequal.  I made the point earlier that equals cannot trust one another because there is no means between them--between the two of them--that could settle disputes.  And yet persons will not enter into an agreement (as Rousseau said) except as equals.  The resolution to this apparent impasse is to create an authority above both of them, here called the third party or "government," that would "impartially" hold power and relegate power, as a kind of balast to the ship, to stabilize the agreement and ensure equality.  We are left with the paradox that equality cannot exist except where this equality is enforced or forced.

We may now consider more directly the relations between citizens themselves, who are now in enforced relations of equality.  These relations are not subjective ones.  There is no longer any force in the subjects themselves; they are subjects, but not subjective.  The only principle controling their relations is a force above them, but is not of them;  this force above them is an absolute (absolutely pure) objective force.



Agreements appear, normally and in the first place, when two (or more) person perceive that they have an interest in common.  I come back always to the bushmanoid hunters who, wanting food, plan a hunt.  The hunt itself is their "interest in common."  So it is some one thing, or perhaps several things, that bring men together and cause them to forge an agreement between them.  In the absence of such a mutual interest we may assume that they would not be together at all, but would be off in their separate directions.  There would be between them no plan, no discussion.  There would be no reason to associate particularly if there were better things for them to do elsewhere.  There is no escaping this conclusion.  Of course, where there are accustomed relations, the men probably could locate one another on short notice.  Over time, however, and as many agreements pass in and out of existence, there appear, as I have already said, agreements in perpetuity.  These are not so much agreements as such, but frameworks, for future specific agreements.  We might call these ready-made contract-type agreements that are imposed at some time or other agreements that spontaneously appear.  Finally, there are agreements--this will be the original part of this presentation--wherein parties agree to have relationships around and because of the fact that there are no mutual interests at all.

I want to be clear on this point.  It is stated in the contract, which is the agreement to submit a prior basic agreement to terms of enforcement, that there is to be precisely no matter upon which the parties agree.  The content of the agreement is the fact that there is nothing to agree (or disagree) on.  Thus parties who have nothing in common come to be contractually bound together.  This is the final--and self-contradictory--stage of the agreement process, wherein agreements flow in and out of formal contracts.  I call this final contract the "paradoxical contract."  The name is appropriate, since the terms of the agreement contradict every prior agreement.  The paraxoxical agreement reverses the philosophy of every earlier agreement, reversing the stipulation that parties in an agreement shall have an interest in common.  This may seem to violate common sense.  Actually, the most sacred contracts of our collective lives have this precise and explicit understanding, that they stipulate expressly that parties in the agreement are "diverse," that they do not have interests in common.  In fact, any interests in common, other than that the parties are simply "human," would be vaguely conspiritorial.  Adam Smith suggested this in his famous assertion that relations between businessmen, as long as they were private (non-contractual) agreements, were just that--conspiratorial.  Thus we have passed, over the entire course of human history, to a philosophy of agreements that is precisely opposite to the philosophy wherein human associations (so long as they were human) originated.

We may keep in mind that in the "General Contract," which specifies that there shall be no specific interest in common, has several basic features of the original agreement which does specify mutual interests.  For one thing, the General Contract does stipulate equality of parties.  Within the contract, and according to the contract's terms, people have assumed to have entered the contract voluntarily and with no compromising their basic interests.  (We say nothing presently about their ability to leave the contract; they may no freely leave the contract, until allowed to do so by the third, enforcing party.)  I stated earlier that the idea of equality arose, not out of modern democratic theory, but in the everyday activity wherein men enter and leave agreements.  I talked about the phases of the agreement:  men enter the agreement acknowledging a mutual interest; they form a plan for the satisfaction of their mutual interests; and in the final phase they divide among themselves the product of that agreement, which is the thing among them that they desired to possess.  In the final phase, the terms of the contract now being met,  the men are free to separate.  Never in this arrangement are the men compromised by being "unequal" to one another; no advantage goes to one man at the expense of another.  Just by agreeing to the contract each man has said, implicitly, that he is not disadvantaged.  But we must go on.  The terms that are agreed to do not have to end with that contract; these terms may persist in something like "social space," to coin a phrase, that exists like present-day cyberspace as a vast nebulous area where nothing, having existed, ever ceases to exist.  So the equality that inheres in the individual contract is passed into this outer space of society; but, like the universe itself, eventually impinges and forms a confining (also an enabling) framework for future action.

I said earlier that the General Contract exists in perpetuity.  That is true.  It was also stated that such an agreement, like agreements in general, specify that parties will be equals.  It is also specified, or explicitly acknowledged, that these parties will have no real interests in common (other than that they are all "human beings).  These things are true.  What has to be emphasized here, however, so that the fact does not escape us, that this agreement or contract is in perpetuity.  That is, it does not end; it goes on forever!  This agreement in perpetuity, or General Contract, describes democracy as it exists in theory, as a framework or institution wherein humans have no reason to be together, nothing in common, yet every man is "equal" to every other minds.  Normal agreements come into existence and pass away; democracy does not.  Elsewhere [cite] I have described democracy as a "bad marriage."  That is precisely what describes the political institutions of our day.



Human beings have marriage; animals do not.  Marriage is an agreement, simply, which has become a contract.  In an agreement (we are saying) parties give up their right to use force to settle disputes that might arise in the course of carrying out terms of the agreement.  It is through the relinquishing of force that the agreement is finalized.  There are traditional symbolic gestures that express final agreement, for instance the handshake which, as anthropologists tell us, prove to the two parties that neither conceals or holds a weapon.  All these examples are supposition.     But there is still another consideration.  That is, having each given up force as a way to gain advantage within the agreement, there remains the problem of settling disagreements when they, as they almost inevitably do, arise.  For the purpose of enforcing provisions of the agreement, then, force is still used, potentially--but the force that has come out of the agreement goes ifinally nto a third party.  Thus force is extracted from the first agreement but made a definite provision of what we are calling the second, or contractual agreement.  We may finally say that historically, in the evolution of society from its most primitive beginnings to its form in modern society, the sole source and significance of the concept of equality is in equality's reference to the primal or simple agreement.  Furthermore, we may define government in this context of the purveyor of force.  Government takes over the force relinquished by private individuals insofar as these parties desire to enter into agreements; and enter, as we have already said, as equals in impotence.

Marriage is obviously not a contract between equals in the following respect.  Male and female partners are in no sense equal persons "in Nature"; the male is physically stronger, etc.  There is no need to discuss the differences between male and female persons, who may as well be different species so far as we are concerned.  We are only concerned here with the equality between male and female persons as the assumption of the agreement itself, qua agreement.  Marriage although perhaps the oldest enduring specific contract in the history of humanity nevertheless retains the feature of all contracts, or agreements in general, that within the marriage partners are equal to one another with respect to force.  This is essentially the so-called Rule of Thumb, which is a common expression but one originating out of common law on the issue of marriage.  That is that a man will strike his wife with no object longer than the length of his thumb.  This Rule of Thumb, as it is called, is perhaps the oldest enduring statement of contractual purpose:  that force, which "in Nature" is possessed overwhelmingly to the advantage of the male, should be taken out of the relationship as per the agreement the male and female have between them.  Furthermore, it is not unreasonable to suppose that the Rule of Thumb what remains of an original primordial contract, certainly as venerable--but more ascertainable--that Rousseau's Social Contract.  Marriage--and the Rule of Thumb--may in fact have been the original Social Contract.



Two or more human beings, insofar as they are human (have language), may enter into an agreement.   An agreement is the basis of a contract, but an agreement is not yet a contract.  We will talk first about agreements.  Here I will be plodding down the same path as Jean Jacques Roussea, who is the entirely original mind on the topic of a so-called Social Contract. Rousseau was not a flawless writer.   I am not alone in thinking Rousseau's path was an entirely winding, convoluted one that did not lead anywhere definite.   I may be alone in thinking that my own path is straighter, more systematic and my conclusions are finally more definite.  Where Rousseau and I agree are on two basic points.

(1) The place to start thinking about human relationships, so long as these relationships are human, is with some concept of an "agreement."  Rousseau contrasts the agreement (which word now must have a consistent meaning in my writing) with "force," (p.2)  " order is a right...which serves as the basis for all other rights; it [social order] does not not...flow from force.  Yet it does not flow from nature either.  It therefore rests upon agreements..." [italics mine.]

(2) Rousseau provides the great insight, and the one that will guide me here, that an agreement in sensu strictu has the implied assumption of equality among parties to the agreement.  I go on to say that this equality, which was present in a planned venture of two paleolithic hunters tens of thousands of years ago, is the same equality talked about in the sacred documents of democracy in the last two hundred years.  Theoriticians did not invent equality; rather equality emerged as a fact--a fact within the simple agreement--from the beginnings of human time.

(3) Rousseau presents the nuclear family, of man, woman and child, as "the only group that is in any sense natural."  That is my opinion. 

Rousseau and I take the same point of view as to what the basic structure of an anthropological/sociological philosophy of man in his relationships is to be.  Rousseau begins with an opposition of the fundamental concepts of force on the one hand, and agreement on the other.  This is what I propose to do, too, not as a real follower of Rousseau but because this--opposing concepts of force and agreement--what the subject matter demands.  To continue...  An agreement, as we said earlier, is a specifically human relationship requiring language, a conception of a future state of affairs, and so forth.  An agreement is possible among humans, so long as they are human, at the very earliest stage of human culture.  Thus, two men at the stage of Eolithic or early paleolithic culture, may enter into an agreement, as, for example, they agree to participate, together, in a hunt and as they also plan the details of that hunt.  The point to be emphasized here is that the two men are together in the hunt, in a relaltionship that is set entirely within the framework of the idea of the hunt.  This is what in fact it means to be a hunter in the human sense of the word:  all hunting that is truly human hunting requires planning and prior agreed upon commitment to participation.  It is with this agreement, which we may identify as "said primal agreement," that we must start our philosophical anthropology.   The one remaining point, however, but the point we must make as we anticipate a further extrapolation to the society that evolved in more recent times, is that this primal agreement, as I have stated it, is not then and there enforced or enforcable.  Or, what is more precisely the case, the only enforcement possible of the primal agreement would be through the physical and personality force of either individual, whichever individual, obviously is stronger.  The said primal agreement refers to no party outside the principals of the agreement, whom we will call hunter 1 and hunter 2.

A contract is something added to an agreement.  In the basic agreement there are two parties, the principals.   This relationship is clearly stated in the laws as they have come down to us, in every civilized society, from the beginning of history.  We will call this basic agreement the "first" agreement.  This is the agreement between the aforementioned two hunters planning a hunt.  These hunters however do not have a contract between them, or any provision, written or verbal, that alludes to an enforcement of the agreement in the event of default by any party.  They are we may say "naked" to one another within the agreement, with only their skin--or rather their "force"--between them.   Where a contract is involved the relationship between the two principals is expanded to include a "third party."  A third party necessitates a second agreement in addition to the first.  So far I have not gotten beyond the introductory class in law school.

Government and what we call "modern society" appeared over time, mainly as residue (a sort of coral reef, so to speak), of countless small agreements.   There is now an agreement initially (in the "first" agreement) between the two principals (called in civil law the first and second parties); then additionally there is, through the contract, a second agreement that the two principals (of the first agreement) create with another, third, party for the sole purpose of enforcing the first agreement.   We may assume that sometime as social groups became larger, and especially as humans passed from a hunting and gathering way of life (where populations were very small) to agriculture, agreements involving third parties were more common.  It is imaginable that third party agreements, or contracts, were still theoretically possible under hunting and gathering, but the small size of the social groups and their high mobility almost precluded any permanent overseers of agreements.  Disputes would be settled by the band leader--this was perhaps his largest role.  To be governed meant that one allowed disputes in which he was involved to be settled by some person outside his "first" agreements.  Government appeared, finally, early on in human history; it was not as the result, as Rousseau maintained, of a suddend collective awareness (or "enlightenment") of some so-called rights of man, but as the result, over much time, of countless small agreements between men which became enforcable and enforced contracts.  The administration of contracts is and always was the largest business of government.  There is almost nothing to goverment except the role of enforcer of contracts.  The "second" agreement with government to enforce a simple "first"agreement takes certain forms.

"Second" agreements take the form of registered contracts, licences, title to property and  so forth.

Last edited by richard_swartzbaugh (2010-08-26 16:09:26)