subjects and citizens

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Thanatoast, Mar 20, 2004.

  1. Thanatoast macrumors 6502a

    Thanatoast

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    #1
    The subject praises public tranquility; the citizen praises the liberty of private individuals. The former prefers the security of possessions; the latter that of persons. The former has it that the best government is the one that is most severe; the latter maintains that the best government is the one that is mildest. This one wants crimes to be punished, and that one wants them prevented. The former think it a good thing to be feared by their neighbor; the latter prefer to be ignored by them. The one is content so long as money circulates; the other demands that the people have bread.

    - Jean-Jacques Rousseau

    thoughts?
     
  2. Sparky's macrumors 6502a

    Sparky's

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    #2
    It sounds as though the regime of Hitler, Sadam, Mao, or Castro, is being compared to Democracy, Subjects vs. Citizens. I am glad to be a citizen of the United States, with a mild government that tries to suppress crime and feed it's people.
    I am not familiar with Jean-Jacques Rousseau, or when his time was but I like his thinking process.
     
  3. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #3
    Where you have subjects, governments tell them what to do. Where you have citizens, they tell government what to do. IMO, the U.S. is moving from the latter condition to the former.

    'Rat
     
  4. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #4
    Actually it's a little earlier than that. Rousseau was Swiss, lived under the Ancien Régime in France, and died in 1778, just before the Revolution. It's not a very useful comparison, really, since anyone who lives under a monarchy is a subject and anyone in a republic is a citizen: there are (and were) plenty of "republics" which are more oppressive than plenty of monarchies. Look at France itself after the Revolution, and for more recent examples, look at North Korea, Zimbabwe, Spain under Franco, etc, etc. I think you'll find that WWII Germany, the USSR, Iraq, China and Cuba are/were all republics too. Whereas the UK, the Netherlands and Denmark are all monarchies. Which would you rather live in?
     
  5. kettle macrumors 65816

    kettle

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    #5
    Isn't it more simply, a subject is allowed to do what he pleases unless a law is made to prevent something and a citizen isn't allowed to do anything unless there is a law written to allow it?

    that's the way I see it.
     
  6. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #6
    Sounds neat, but it's not really the case. A subject is subject to a monarch who is the state ("l'état, c'est moi"), a citizen is a member of a body of people which is the state. But nowadays the distinction seems less and less relevant. And since when were laws written to allow things? Laws are almost always made to define the limits of what you can do.
     
  7. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #7
    my read: the difference is trust. the citizen trusts society to self-regulate. the subject is distrustful and believes society will self-destruct if not strictly controlled.

    every society has citizens and subjects. politics is the interplay between them.
     
  8. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #8
    Rousseau was a favorite of the nation's founders (Jefferson in particular, if memory serves). In essence he is delineating the differences between the authoritarianism of the monarchy under which most people in the world lived at that time, and the humanistic, liberal democracy the founders wished to establish in the US.
     
  9. kettle macrumors 65816

    kettle

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    #9
    ? a bit confused by your answer.

    can do or can't do?

    bill of rights anyone - the immunities of individual citizens?
     
  10. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #10
    That's the difference between laws and constitutions, surely?
     

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