Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The Social Contract: Part 1

by Viva Avasthi

“Society is a contract… the state is a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are yet to be born.” (Edmund Burke - 18th Century political theorist and philosopher)

people, society, culture, economics for teens, economics for teenagers
Edmund Burke was essentially suggesting that the well-being of the nation and all its citizens is of greater importance than the individual. In a sense, this is very similar to the quote "no man is his own island" in the way that the idea of everybody being deeply interrelated is a prominent feature of both quotes. But how many of today's governments are actually adhering to the 'contract' that everybody seems to have unwittingly signed? This intriguing idea was elaborated upon by the economic historian Prof. Niall Ferguson in the first of this year's  BBC Reith Lectures. In this first of a series of four lectures, Niall Ferguson argued the case that "today we've had a breach of [the contract]." 

On Friday, I will be explaining how Niall Ferguson defended his point of view and I will be giving a few counter-arguments both for the sake of debate and to provide you as readers with a relatively balanced perspective. However, before we engage in some serious debating on Friday (yay!), here's a chance for you to share your initial views on the subject.

 Do you believe modern governments are in breach of this 'contract'? Do you feel that governments need to be more open in terms of revealing their decision-making and so on to the public? Comment, comment, comment!

Click here to read the follow-on article.


  1. Wow, I think this is a really fascinating idea and personally, I feel that it is relevant whatever the form of leadership is in any nation. If a dictator wants his nation to become powerful, even he is bound in a social contract despite not having to listen to his government or any opposing political views.

    1. Thanks, Stephanie, I completely agree that this is a very fascinating idea! I'll be exploring what you've said and more in the follow-up article which will be posted very soon :)


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