Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
The Political Philosophy of Jean-Jacques RousseauThe Impossibility of Reason$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Mads Qvortrup

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780719065804

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719065804.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM MANCHESTER SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.manchester.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Manchester University Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MSO for personal use.date: 14 October 2019

Checks, balances and popular participation: Rousseau as a constitutionalist

Checks, balances and popular participation: Rousseau as a constitutionalist

Chapter:
(p.48) 3 Checks, balances and popular participation: Rousseau as a constitutionalist
Source:
The Political Philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Author(s):

Mads Qvortrup

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9780719065804.003.0003

Often presented as a proto-totalitarian, Rousseau has traditionally been seen as an opponent of constitutionalism, checks and balances, and the separation of powers. Following a brief overview of the history of constitutionalism (from Moses to the French Revolution), this chapter compares Rousseau's political writings with the writings of constitutionalists like James Madison and Baron de Montesquieu. It shows that Rousseau shared the view that checks and balances are necessary for preventing the corruption of power and that he advocated a system of the separation of powers (and spoke highly of the British constitution. Yet, contrary to the other constitutionalists, Rousseau was a democrat. Whereas Montesquieu and Madison wanted the elites to check the elites (through the introduction of second chambers and constitutional courts), Rousseau emphasised that the executive ought to be checked by the people. He thus anticipated the political system that was instated by the American populists (including Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson). However, unlike other constitutionalists, Rousseau did not believe that institutions themselves would be sufficient for creating a good polity. He ceaselessly emphasised that political education was necessary for creating a good society.

Keywords:   Jean-Jacques Rousseau, constitutionalism, political writings, James Madison, Baron de Montesquieu, checks and balances, separation of powers, democrat, political education

Manchester Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.