Rousseau and Private Property

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Jessica Trinh
Essay #1
LBST 301
2 March 2006
Rousseau's View of Private Property
Land and private ownership has been the reason for many wars and debates throughout history. There are various people whom believe that land should be used as private property, Rousseau, Jefferson, and Smith, and others whom believe land should only have public use, Marx and Engels. Rousseau believes that land should be used for private property and that it is necessary within the social contract to demonstrate the status of citizenship. Rousseau's The Origin of Civil Society describes how horrendous life would be if we were in a state of nature because of the brutish lifestyle that we would have to endure. In the civil state we have given up many of our freedoms that we would have in the state of nature to ensure that we live a peaceful and civilized manner. He believes that an aspect of the civil state would then include ownership of private property. He states, "All men have a natural right to what is necessary to them" (70). It is apparent then that he means that in the civil state all men have the right to own private property because of the necessity man has for land. He understands that the right of private property would then entail that they would have to follow the rule of "first occupancy" (70). Rousseau understands the flaw of weakness in this idea of "first occupancy," (70) but he supports this idea by stating, "First occupancy [...] is guaranteed to every man enjoying the status of citizen" (70). If the right of private property is given to man by a mutual understanding then it is obvious that private property if essential to mankind and its citizenship. His most important idea of his civil society is that ''as owners they are trustees for the common wealth. Their rights are respected/by their fellow citizens and are maintained by the united strength of the community [.. .]" (71). In this quote Rousseau is stating that private property allows the owners to be...
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