In this article, I argue that Hegel’s critique of Rousseau’s conception of general will is not only a particular instance of Hegel’s more global critique of contractualism. Rather, it foreshadows the resumption of the same theoretical project on different speculative grounds: the project to elucidate the conditions for an ontological realism of the political body. Consequently, I shall argue that one may, indeed somewhat paradoxically, speak of a Hegelian realism. This realism appears essentially as the requirement to consider each moment as irreducible. It is precisely this conception of the irreducibility of the general will – and so of the political reality of the collectivity – that Hegel praises in Rousseau while still ultimately deeming his development of it a failure. One may see then the relevance of such a realism for any project in critical philosophy: to consider the political as irreducible, i.e. as autonomous – which is not to say as independent – in relation with the social.