New book by Khalil Ahmad – Reconstructing the Social Contract: Principles for the Organization of Human Society

Reconstructing the Social Contract: Principles for the Organization of Human Society

By Khalil Ahmad

Society is quite a larger sphere wherein role of the state is limited; however, in Pakistan the state has taken over its society. That has distorted our society in innumerable ways.

Since the theory of state is based on a theory of society, the author of the book, Imrani Muhaiday Ki Tashkeel- e-Nau (Reconstructing the Social Contract: Principles for the Organization of Human Society) set out to have a review of the theories of society and the theories of social contract, and eventually, after attempting a critique of them, came to formulate a new theory of social contract basing it on the original “social compact” which brings people together to live. And it is this social contract between the people that as a direct result of their living together brings a market into existence through which they fulfill their various and ever newer needs. And as life got complicated and busier, the need for the “commodity” of protection of life and property arose, some of the people took up the fulfillment of this need as a business, and thus there were various solutions available in the market, from hired guards to private armies to the state.

But, with the advent of the institution of the state, the author emphasizes, the nature of the market does not change; the institution of the market essentially remains intact. What happens thus is only the addition of a player, the state, to the market, the basic function of which is still to provide protection of life and property, and individual rights and freedoms to all the players present in the market. This calls for a different role for the political parties: they as the players in the market of political ideas are sort of business-like entities proposing/selling their “product” (Manifesto) that promises the provision of protection of life and property and freedom to all economically and efficiently, that is involving least of the costs (taxes) and extending most of the benefits (provision of protection). That demands a reconstruction of the state also on the same lines.

Clarifying that a constitution is not a social contract, the author, proposes that a social contract is essentially between the people; and between a state and a people, there exists no social contract; it’s simply a contract like one that exists between a seller and buyer. Thus, in a different sense, a constitution is simply a contract which lays down the conditions under which certain persons out of the same people are invested with authority to perform certain functions (basically provision of protection of life and property and freedoms to all the citizens) and that the authority given to them is limited and specific, and at the same time, it is inextricably tied with responsibility and accountability, as happens in every contract.

Thus the book, Imranni Muhaiday Ki Tashkeel-e-Nau not only formulates a theory of society and a theory of social contract but, based on it, a theory of state also, keeping especially Pakistan in focus.

This is a two volume book spread over 800 pages and has been published by Marigold Books,Lahore ( correspondence,