Rousseau asserts that citizens require basic protection. The problems that plague society can only be solved by having citizens of a certain character who are dedicated to the general will.
In contrast, those who are poor are given little if any protection by the police or legal authorities.In the very worst cases, the poor are blamed and complaints are viewed with suspicion by the authorities. This is unacceptable in Rousseau’s view in a civilised society. If it is accepted with and by such a society then such a society can not be regarded as civilised. It would then appear that the society in which we live, breath, and have our being is uncivilised. If this were not in fact the case then homelessness would have been abolished. We see now that even though this country is colder than the Arctic people are still sleeping, living and dying on the streets and in our cities. Why I ask myself is this the case? Is it that we perceive a man without a house as less than a man and thereby not worthy of the same consideration and protection as a man with a house. Rousseau rejects the notion that ” MIGHT IS RIGHT’. In the social contract he suggests that instead of regarding ourselves within a society we should regard ourselves as part of ‘a whole’.
In this context he writes:
‘Each of us puts his person and all his power under the control of the general will and as a body we receive each member as an indivisible part of the whole.’
Rousseau believes that citizens within a civilised society have certain inalienable rights. The ‘general will ‘is always for the common good’ within a civilised society. The ‘common good’ can never be wrong because it’s purpose is the common good of the citizens.The general good is that which should guide all decision making. The most important criteria for any law is that it should not discriminate between citizens- so once again we find ourselves asking whether the condition of homelessness removes a person from citizenship. Do we as a society believe that a homeless person is not a citizen?? A person who is homeless has lost his right to protection under the law, if that is indeed the case, then he is perceived by society as a lesser being.The question we must all address is whether or not we are living in a ‘civilised’ society, if we allow the homeless to remain homeless.