Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Social Contract: Section 256

When the State dissolves, the abuse of Government, whatever it might be, takes the common name of anarchy.  To distinguish, Democracy degenerates into Ochlocracy, Aristocracy into Oligarchy; I should add that Royalty degenerates into Tyranny

Commentary on Section 256

  1. Ambrose Mnemopolous Post author

    In discussing the various forms of government in their virtuous and harmful manifestations, Rousseau here follows Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy. While Rousseau uses the term “anarchy” in approximately its modern sense (“without government”), he does so without invoking explicit connotations of “chaos” or “disorder.”

    Where he departs from Machiavelli’s discussion of the various types of government, Rousseau modulates Machiavelli’s use of the term “anarchy” by using, instead, “ochlocracy” or “mob rule” to designate the chaos and disorder of a democracy in decline.

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Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778) was a Genevan social philosopher. His exerted a profound influence on the social and political thought of the Enlightenment in France and across Europe, including aspects of the French Revolution. Many of his ideas were foundational in the overall development of modern political and educational thought.