The concept of nature of the state is an idea of government in which the authority is considered to be the protagonist in providing protection and promotion of the social and economic well being for the citizens. The idea of equality or opportunities for all is the key idea that personifies the practice of being a welfare state (Bell 2014). However, the concept is not a new idea and has a foundation since 19th century. In this regards, there are some theories opined by Jean Jacques Rousseau and John Locke in their social contract theory that reflected the role of the state in this response. Rousseau is famous for his social contract theory and the role of the nation as a welfare state. It can be argued that he propounded the theories at the time when there were a number of political and religious upheaval encircled the social life of England (Murphy and Stoica 2015). He argued for the authority of the state over individual liberty. On a contrary, the theory of Locke had manifested his arguments on the basis of state of the nature that is associated with peace, good will and mutual assistance. Based on these arguments, the essay is going to discuss different approaches of Rousseau and Locke to identify the role of state in the perspective of welfare. In addition to this, the discussion is forwarded with a proper understanding of the classical and modern implication of social contract theory and the practice of nature of the state.
Locke’s theory of liberalism
John Locke’s theory of liberalism is highly differed from the Hobbes social contract principles. Locke advocated his theory in the Two Treatise of the Government (Simmons 2014). According to Locke, person in the states of nature would willing to come forward together in order to form a government (Beattie 2017). The citizens of a state are bound morally by the Law of Nature. As a result of that there is no presence of brutality and harmful activities as far as the people are going to follow the Laws of Nature. Moreover, Locke believed that the individual rights and liberty is necessitated and people would live in fear. As a response to that people should come forward and form a state so that the neutral attitude of the state would be beneficial for the citizens to safeguard their interests (Rossi 2014). In compare to Hobbes claim over absolute authority, Locke put more focus on the individual role that is more valuable than the government. The government is bound to do their job as per the wish of the citizens. Refuting the theory of absolute authority, Locke supported the theory of separation of power. This is considered to be an iconic feature of his social contract theory.
Based on this theory, it can be argued that Locke’s theory is highly depended upon the natural rights to life, liberty and property. In this regards, it is the responsibility of the government to preserve the rights of the individuals (Lehto 2015). It can be argued that people had a natural right that must be protected by the government. For example, the UK government introduces a safety framework for the unemployed citizens of the country (Ryan 2017). However, despite this benevolent effort provided by the government it can be argued that the dependency of the unemployed people has been increased in a great deal of manner that in return perturbed the means of welfare state. As a result of that issues like bunking schools are very popular among the students and many of them are not willing to get a job.
In relation to this, the classical approach of liberalism highlights the role of the government to set some rules and regulations so that the people can get the benefits of the state. As a matter of this, it can be presumed that the citizens of the country will depend on the government assistance in every sphere of their life. It can be seen in case of the UK unemployment policies as well. In this country, the government takes a number of welfare initiatives for the unemployed and poor people. As a matter of fact, the government initiatives would lead towards an underclass group where living of standards is definitely improved but the stagnation in social mobility would be stalled.
In the modern aspects there are some implications regarding the theory of Locke’s liberal ideology. According to the liberal approach of Locke, it can be ascribed that the liberal ideology ushers the idea of positive freedom. In other words, it can be seen as the practice through which people are rewarded for doing wrong things (BBC News 2018). As a matter of fact, many people are getting convicted despite of doing best for their families.
Jean Jacques Rousseau was considered to be the exponent of the state of the nature and social contract theory. It can be argued that Rousseau’s social contract theory is the foundation of the idea of democracy that is practiced today. In his account in the name of Foundations of Inequality Among Men, Rousseau advocated a moral and political evolution of men that assimilates from the state of nature to the modern society (Skyrms 2014). Moreover, in his writings on state of nature, the necessity of freedom was highly patronized in order to make the state liberal in approach.
During the discussion on state of nature Rousseau had argued that the modern society generally compares unfavorably to the state of nature. In fact, it can be considered that the social contract theory between the state and the individual seemed to be relied upon the social contract theory in which physical freedom and liberty are considered to be the pivotal factors (Douglass 2015). The state of nature was identified by Rousseau as a hypothetical, primitive and prevalent at a time when people are uncorrupted and naïve (Hasan 2018). As a result of that the state of nature was labeled as backdated and ineffective in nature. In the perception of Rousseau, the state of nature had to b more positive and docile in order to serve the interest of the people. Therefore, it should be peaceful and civilized in manner. It should be based on the public government where the mass must have the right to choose government. In fact, the government must be impartial and equal for all the citizens (Masters 2015). The natural rights are also considered to be discussed in this context. He ascribed that all men are equal in the nature and no one has the right to govern others. As a result of that the justified authority must be benevolent towards the citizens and is generated out of agreements or covenants.
Based on this understanding, it can be argued that the nature of state and social contract theory of Rousseau specifically depicts the relation between men and the modern state. It should be the responsibility of the state to take care of the interests of the common people and the sufferers (Douglass 2015). As in the film, I, Daniel Blake the director Ken Loach was rightly portrayed an image of the people who are physically challenged or unemployed and seek government aid in terms of monetary or special privilege assistance (Ryan 2017). However, the film showed that there was lack of government assistance for the unemployed and physically challenged people. Some process and framework are there in the UK government policy but the authority did not want to use it for the benefits of the people.
In this regards, another example of Rousseau’s theory can be seen in the government practice in UK. The freedom of the people and ventilate their demands are defined as the pivotal factors in this regards. In the concept of the welfare state the government publishes a number of bills that are expected to be implied for the benefits of the people. In fact, people are often rewarded for doing wrong things and innocent people are penalized. This is a disadvantage of the modern liberal approach of statecraft (Ryan 2017). However, there are some provisions for the disabled people in terms of living allowances. The unemployed citizens are also getting financial assistance in the form of jobseeker’s allowance and other kinds of privileges.
As a matter of fact, the government organizations are also responsible to safeguards the rights of the minorities and poor people. In case of the Seattle homeless people the US government was going to raise the tax on firms to $ 47 million in order to extract surplus money that would be spent on building project for the homeless people (BBC News 2018).
Therefore, it can be argued that there are positive and negative approaches of the liberal ideologies in classical and modern sense. Furthermore, there are a number of alternative approaches in the classical and modern sense of liberalism. In fact, the concept of liberalism has widened the activities of the state in a great deal of manner so that it could safeguard the interests of the people on a more profound basis.
BBC News (2018). Amazon and Starbucks blast Seattle tax to fight homelessness. [online] Available at: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-44124326 [Accessed 31 May 2018].
Beattie Jr, J.R., 2017. Taking Liberalism and Religious Liberty Seriously: Shifting our Notion of Toleration from Locke to Mill. The Catholic Lawyer, 43(2), p.6.
Bell, D., 2014. What is liberalism?. Political Theory, 42(6), pp.682-715.
Douglass, R., 2015. Rousseau and Hobbes: Nature, Free Will, and the Passions. OUP Oxford.
Hasan, R., 2018. Rousseau on the ground of obligation: Reconsidering the Social Autonomy interpretation. European Journal of Political Theory, 17(2), pp.233-243.
Lehto, O., 2015. The Three Principles Of Classical Liberalism (From John Locke To John Tomasi): A Consequentialist Defence of the Limited Welfare State(Doctoral dissertation).
Masters, R.D., 2015. The political philosophy of Rousseau. Princeton University Press.
Murphy, A. and Stoica, A., 2015. Sovereignty: Constitutional and Historical Aspects. Bulletin of the Transilvania University of Bra?ov. Series VII: Social Sciences. Law, (2), pp.219-226.
Rossi, E., 2014. Legitimacy, Democracy and Public Justification: Rawls’ Political Liberalism Versus Gaus’ Justificatory Liberalism. Res Publica, 20(1), pp.9-25.
Ryan, F. (2017). I, Daniel Blake is a realistic depiction of life on benefits. Isn’t it?. The Guardian. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/feb/16/daniel-blake-realistic-life-benefits [Accessed 31 May 2018].
Simmons, A.J., 2014. On the edge of anarchy: Locke, consent, and the limits of society. Princeton University Press.
Skyrms, B., 2014. Evolution of the social contract. Cambridge University Press.