Social Contracts and Absolute Enslavement

In discussing a specific topic on The Slave Register a denizen (Michael XY) of the board brought up an interesting set of propositions culled from various places as well as his own mind.

1. an M/s relationship creates a society of two (or three or four I suppose in a poly M/s relationship) (Originally from Tanos and lili),

2. with any society brings a social contract.

3. A Master changing his mind in a way that affects the relationship itself rather than something within-the-relationship breaks the current social contract and would thus force a renewal. 

He also noted some issues that this raises. A slave would need to be freed in order to reenter a new social contract. And in some cases is this even possible? And is the slaves reacceptance of the new contract a sufficient condition of the change in mind on the part of the Master being acceptable and not a “breaking of the Master’s word”, or would it only be a necessary condition, other conditions requiring meeting as well?

I would like to look at the statement made in (2) to analyze whether this is the case all of the time, some of the time, or not at all, and if some of the time, what differentiates those societies that have a social contract from those where a social contract is irrelevant.

First to look at the definition and history of the term “social contract”. The term was popularized in the book of the same name by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Wikipedia has this to say as to its definition: “Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), in his influential 1762 treatise The Social Contract, Or Principles of Political Right, outlined a different version of contract theory, based on the conception of popular sovereignty, defined as indivisible and inalienable – this last trait explaining Rousseau’s aversion for representative democracy and his advocacy of direct democracy. Rousseau’s theory has many similarities with the individualist Lockean liberal tradition, but also departs from it on many significant points. For example, his theory of popular sovereignty includes a conception of a “general will”, which is more than the simple sum of individual wills: it is thus collectivist or holistic, rather than individualist. As an individual, Rousseau argues, the subject can be egoist and decide that his personal interest should override the collective interest. However, as part of a collective body, the individual subject puts aside his egoism to create a “general will”, which is popular sovereignty itself. Popular sovereignty thus decides only what is good for society as a whole:

So social contract theory, for its part, rests on the notions of popular sovereignty and the theory of a “general will” which creates popular sovereignty. It also has within its sphere of decidability only what is good for society as a whole.

I would like to propose the following, then. The “society” created in an M/s relationship does not require the notion of popular sovereignty, there is no “general will” requisite to create such a popular sovereignty in any event, the only relevant will within the society being the Master’s will. In any Absolute Enslavement relationship there is neither the need nor the basis for a social contract, and thus such a contract can never need to be negotiated or renegotiated, entered into or dissolved.


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