Sunday, 3 December 2000

From "The Social Contract"

By Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

Grotius and the others take war to be another origin for the so-called right of slavery. The conquerer having, they hold, the right to kill the conquered, the latter can redeem his life at the price of his liberty; and this convention is the more legitimate because it is to the advantage of both parties.

But it is clear that this supposed right to kill the conquered does not derive in any way from the state of war. For the simple reason that men who are living in their original condition of independence are not in a sufficiently continuous relationship with each other for a state either of peace or war to exist, they are not naturally enemies [...] War is constituted by a relation between things, and not between persons; and, as the state of war cannot arise out of simple personal relations, but only out of real relations, private war, or war of man with man, can exist neither in the state of nature, where there is no constant property, nor in the social state, where everything is under the authority of the laws.

[...] The conqueror has not spared the slave's life when he has taken the equivalent of life [...]

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