1. According to this theory, the state came into existence as a result of contract between the people and the sovereign at a particular period human history.
The theory divides human history into two parts—human history prior to and after the existence of the state. The period before existence of the state is termed as the ‘state of nature’.
The philosophers do not agree regarding the life of people in the state of nature but all I agree that a stage did come in the history of the human race when the ‘state of nature’ was exchanged with civil society. The theory i associated with the names of Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau.
Hobbes stales his theory with the description of the life of people in the ‘state of nature’. According to him, the stale of nature was a state of perpetual warfare.
There was a constant fear and danger of violent death. Finally reason dawned upon the people and they decided to create a political authority which could guarantee them security of life. People surrendered all their powers to a sovereign. It was a unilateral agreement.
The sovereign had absolute powers. The contract was irrevocable. The sovereign personified the will of all. His command was law. Hobbes’ theory is criticized on the ground that it is based upon a wrong view of human nature. He does not realize that the unit of primitive society is not the individual but the family or the tribe.
He makes no distinction between the state and government. His unilateral contract is not legally true. He completely ignores the idea of popular sovereignty.
Unlike Hobbes, Locke draws a tolerable picture of human life in the state of nature. People enjoy the rights of life, liberty and property. In spite of congenial condition in the state of nature, people experienced certain inconveniences which were put to an end by the creation of civil society.
Locke makes a double contract, one between the people themselves and another between the people and the government. Locke establishes a government with limited powers. He was the first to make a distinction between the state and the government.
According to him, the state of nature was the happiest period, of human life. Primitive man lived a happy and carefree life. This blissful life was, however, destroyed by the origin of the institution of property. The noble savage lost his natural equality and liberty.
The institution of government, laws and property came into existence. This is quieting condition was put to an end by the creation of a political community.
Natural freedom was sought to be converted into a sort of civil freedom. People in their individual capacity surrendered their owners to the community as a whole. The community then elected the government with limited powers. Rousseau combines the ideas of absolute sovereignty of Hobbes with those of popular sovereignty of Locke.
To reconciles the liberty of the individual with the authority of the state, Rousseau’s concept of General Will is indefinite, vague and abstract. He gives only a limited number of executive powers to the government.
Hobbes and Locke had their own motives. Hobbes wanted to support the absolute powers of the king and Locke wanted to establish constitutional monarchy. Rousseau had no such motives. He stood for freedom and democracy.