Rousseau’s general will and sortition

Along with its famous opening sentence: ‘Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains’ Rousseau’s Social Contract is best known for its clear distinction between sovereignty and government. The latter was a delegated administrative function: the ‘Prince’ could either be single, few, or many (monarchy, aristocracy or democracy) but was a mere servant of the sovereign popular will. Although Rousseau argued that democratic government was more suitable for small states, he had no problem in principal with the notion of elected delegates administering government under the watchful eye of the sovereign people and subject to their dismissal if the delegated mandate was breached.
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