23.2.11

Consent -meaning that voluntary membership must be assumed for every citizen in the community- is obviously (except in the case of naturalization) at least as open to the reproach of being a fiction as the aboriginal contract. The argument is correct legally and historically but not existentially and theoretically. Every man is born a member of a particular community and can survive only if he is welcomed and made at home within it. A kind of consent is implied in every newborn's factual situation; namely, a kind of conformity to the rules under which the great game of the world is played in the particular group to which he belongs by birth. We all live and survive by a kind of tacit consent, which, however, it would be difficult to call voluntary. How can we will that is there anyhow? We might call it voluntary, though, when the child happens to be born into a community in which dissent is also a legal and de-facto possibility once he has grown into a man. Dissent implies consent, and is the hallmark of free government; one who knows that he may dissent knows also that he somehow consents when he does not dissent.

Hannah Arendt. Civil disobedience