Man is Born Free But Everywhere He Is In Chains


(CSS English Essay 1971, 1996)


  • Introduction 
  • The freedom of ancient man
  • The harmonious life of man under nature
  • The artificial life in civil society
  • Restricted life
  • Progress in Science and Arts
  • Possession of property
  • The Theory of Anarchists
  • The Hippie movement in Europe
  • Conclusion.

According to Rousseau “Man is born free but everywhere he is found in chains." What Rousseau meant by this was that in the state of nature man was leading a free and unrestricted life. But from the moment man has entered the civil society from the state of nature all his freedoms and liberty have been finished. Rousseau was a spoilt, child of genius and he loved the life of a free man, a life led by a noble vagabond without any restrictions.

Rousseau believed that in the state of /attire the human beings developed their physical, mental and moral personality to the maximum extent. The life of man in the state of nature was absolutely free; free like the lark. Man had no worries. He did not have to worry about his clothes, his dwelling place and about his food. He ate whatever fruits or roots he could get in the unglues. Man grew to his maximum height physically, just like the trees, plants and flowers which grow in nature. Man lived a natural life, a life according to the laws of nature which was a real life. Such a pristine and natural life is preached and propagated by Rousseau. He says that it was a pious and spiritual life. A good, happy and contented life.

In the state of nature man led a pure and moral life. Here he was not worried about the laws of the society, the state, marriage and family life. Man ate whatever he could get. He dressed himself with the leaves and bark of the trees. He was leading . highly moral life, as there was nothing immoral in the state of nature Man did not have any vice or any evil habits. He had sympathy and pity for his fellow human beings. Man was not greedy. He was not hankering after wealth, property, false honour, prestige and status. He was leading a blissful life, a free life without any chains or restrictions of any sort.

Man enjoyed sex in the state of nature, whenever he felt the need, the children were born as the by-product of his love. Thus man was completely free and absolutely happy. He did not have the fear of the police, the fear of the Government or the fear of the social and moral laws. Rousseau said that the healthy, pure and true life was only possible in the state of nature where man was one with the nature and was true to himself. Rousseau had also personally experienced the life in the lap of natural surroundings. He had lived for a few years in the jungle outside Paris to observe closely the life of man in the-state of nature before he committed the folly to enter the civil society.

According to Rousseau, man’s life in the civil society, is an artificial life. It is a false and untrue life. Man in the society becomes highly formal and sophisticated. He becomes greedy and wicked. The life in the civil society is not natural. It is a pretentious and showy life. Here man follows double standards. He becomes civilized and a hypocrite. He says one thing but does something else. In the society man is every where in chains. Everywhere there are a set of do’s and don’ts. Man is bound by the social, marital and the Governmental laws. Thus a man cannot be free in the society. These restrictions, restraints and limitations are the real obstacles -in the path of his progress and development of his talents.

. Rousseau did not like a restricted life full of limitations, a life , bound by social, moral, legal and religious laws. He rather propagated a life which was not limited by these laws. Rousseau believed that man was not bad by nature. He possesses self-discipline and can exercise moral autonomy. Rousseau had faith in the nobility of the ingrained nobility of the primitive man. There is, no doubt, that the so called civilized and cultured person has committed hundreds of times more cruelties, more tyrannies on the human kind than the primitive tribes and the primitive man.

According to Rousseau even the progress in science and arts, has not contributed towards the raising of the moral standard of human beings. On the other hand the advancement in science and literature has been responsible for the fall in the standard of moral character of the human beings. Rousseau believed unlike the popular belief that science and literature have made the life of man immoral instead of civilizing him. if has brutalized man and made him inhuman.

The modern civilization is based upon the possession of -property but this possession of property has been the'cause of all the evils in the modern society, because it is the root cause of inequality among the human beings. When there was no property in the society, all human beings were leading a happy, contented and simple life. Property brought about inequalities among the human beings. Some human beings became very rich, because they had accumulated huge property. Other individuals became'' poor because they had no property. The rich started exploiting the poor. They started enslaving the poor to work for them. Thus property .created economic strife and differences among the human bqings. In the beginning all human beings were equal as thev-had been endowed bv the nature with equal, physical and mental talents. Society is based upon the perpetuation of the inequalities especially economic. Therefore, society is also unjust. In the state of nature, property was the common ownership of ail. It is for this reason that Rousseau gave the call "lack to the nature." There man could again lead a happy and blissful life free from all these chains. He believed that these chains enslave us and they thwart our development.

J.S. Mill, an English thinker also was of the opinion that, too many restrictions on the human being retard the development of their personality and kill initiative in them. Mill like Rousseau believed in the development of instinctive spontaneity in man. Mill also wanted to ensure the maximum liberty to man for his welfare and good.

The anarchist philosophers like Prodhan. Prince Kropotkin and Borodin also believed in the theory that man by nature was destined to lead a free and. unrestricted life. But the society has chained the human beings. According to the anarchists man is exploited by the rich and the propertied persons. They also do not believe in the economic, social, moral or religious inequalities created by the state. The anarchists say that state, society, church and Government all combine together to exploit man. They also condemn religion as the opium which is given to the poor people so that the rich can exploit them. The anarchists want to destroy all the social, economic and political institutions which are exploiting the individual. They want to build a new-ideal society on the-ruins of the present decadent society. The anarchists like Rousseau want to give maximum freedom to man in their ideal society.

The Hippie Movement in Europe is also based upon Rousseau's slogan of “back to the nature'. The Hippies call themselves as the children of nature. They want to lead a natural life like flowers of nature. They are sick of the materialistic affluence of the Western society^ because this is based upon artificiality. They Hippies want to expose.the corruption, and hypocrisy prevailing in .the Western society. Although the Hippie Movement wqs started in USA first but it is now spread all over the European countries. An Hippies can be seen 4n all parts of the world, especially they have come to the Eastern countries for getting solace and peace of mind through spiritual means. The Hippies also do not believe in any restraints, on the enjoyment of sex, or any social, political, or legal restraints. The Hippies want to establish a permissive society, where all taboos are overthrown and where life is lived according to one's own wish and desire. The Hipies feel like Rousseau that by living in this materialistic and sophisticated society of today is unnatural.

The Hippies believe that this existing affluent society with its modern civilization has been unable to realize the real purpose of man. for which he had joined this society, after leaving the state of nature. This society has corrupted the-morals and the mind of man. It has suppressed his soul. The only way out to escape from it lies in the state of nature where all. men should live in communes on the basis of fraternity, equality and liberty for all. Here there should be no inequality, no concept of high and low. All should be equal, and live without hatred. Love not hate should be the guiding principle in the state of nature.

Although al! this may look to be Utopian, and impracticable to achieve Out no body can deny the veracity in the statement that man was born free but he is everywhere in. chains. Man should try to shed the artificial aspects of his life and try' to live a life in close touch with the nature which is more natural and true. Only thus man can realize his soul and true-self. But on the other hand the Islamic concept of social life is ali together different aqd which is ideal one for all the humanity.

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