Reproduced in full from Free Domain Radio’s board on July 10, 2009:
Thank you for your thoughtful response to Statism Is Dead.
I can see the point you are making about the Constitution not being a social contract between each and every citizen of the state. That is technically impossible, as you point out, because it would require the informed, voluntary acceptance of all its terms by every person affected by it. With that strict interpretation, the phrase “social contract” has no useful meaning, because it can never exist except within a very small group. So what do we call it when it is necessary to devise a set of rules to limit the power of the state to a defensive function? Perhaps we should just call it a charter or constitution and forget the phrase social contract.
Although I can understand the problem with that phrase when applied to large numbers of people, I feel it still serves a useful purpose in the context within which it is used here. As with most words and phrases, the dictionary offers numerous meanings, and we are not bound to accept only the most restrictive one among them. When we are born into a family, we inherit a social contract with our parents based on the norms of our culture even though we lack the intelligence or independence to choose otherwise. Until we are of sufficient age, we are subject to those norms even though we never agreed to the contract.
When we move into a neighborhood or go to work for a business firm or join a social organization, we accept the terms of whatever agreements are already in existence within those structures even though we are not given a copy to study and sign. If we know of or discover any features which we disapprove, we are free to attempt to alter them or, in the extreme, to remove ourselves. This applies equally to the state, provided it is a protectorate, because, in that event, there would be no restrictions on one’s freedom to move to another state. So long as we voluntarily remain in the neighborhood, in the business firm, as a member of the social organization, or a citizen of the state, we become a “consenting” party to the existing rules. If our social club votes to exclude anyone who cannot speak English and we remain a member, it is logical to assume we either approve of the measure or feel that it is tolerable. It is in that sense that we use the phrase social contract. The bottom line is that the set of rules by which the state is regulated do not have to be called a social contract, although I personally feel that it is a perfectly good description for most purposes.
I am delighted to know that your critique is based primarily on semantics. Thanks for carting about these important issues.
For more on G. Edward Griffin, see my article, G. Edward Griffin exposes the HIV/AIDS scam.