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Zaid Rassam


Is the state necessary and unavoidable?

Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau do not tackle the issue of the state directly. But saying this they do indeed support the creation of a social contract and effectively creating a commonwealth as a result. For Hobbes, the state of nature, which was the previous way of life before the social contract was created, gave him a dim view on nature as a result of violence between the people. Hobbes argues that all men ultimately pursue what they think or believe to be in their own best interests. This claim by Hobbes covers all actions carried out by humans such the desire to for power and land. Everything we do is solely motivated by the desire to increase our own positions in the world we live in. We only care and are concerned with our own selves. Hobbes wrote that "during the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war; and such a war as is of every man against every man" 1

Hobbes also argues that in addition to being self-interested, humans are also seen as reasonable because they can pursue what they wish as efficiently as possible. By having the quality of being reasonable and rational and knowing what is the best for each human being they can judge what is best for them selves. So we have the capacity to formulate what are the best means to what ever we desire.

By having these qualities as a human, Hobbes goes on to create a very convincing argument for why we humans should submit to a higher or political authority. The

T. Hobbes, Leviathan, ch. XIII, p84


they will want to first guarantee the avoidance of their own deaths which only concludes that the place they live in now is not the right place to be. and ants. “It is true that certain living creatures. All these things are included in the state of nature yet there is no over whelming power to keep order and keep everyone on the straight and narrow. XIII. instead it is the worst place to be as it the place of unavoidable war. and yet have no other direction than their particular judgments and appetites.113 2 . This for Hobbes is a dangerous situation to be in as there is know guarantee that anyone has the capacity to live a long life. there are not sufficient sources to live a long. as bees. fair and safe life men are naturally self interested. whereby one of them can signify to another. nor speech. live sociably one with another. p. Hobbes mentions an argument asking why certain creatures that live on this earth have the capability to live with one another and man can not do the same. what he thinks expedient for the common benefit”2 To which Hobbes provides a number of explanations as to why man can not do the same. ch. Hobbes first answer is that men are continually in competition with the other man where 2 T. Leviathan.Zaid Rassam @00234017 argument is as follows. given that humans are self interested and solely go out to pursue what they desire and hope that nobody attempts to steal from them or kill them they will submit them selves to the laws and rules of a sovereign or Leviathan. Hobbes. In the State of Nature according to Hobbes men are equal to one another. Hobbes assumes that as a result of the situation humans are placed in.

Hobbes recognizes that the matter is still in their hands and they can change the way they live. The first by birth. on this condition. somebody who will enforce contracts and punish any wrongdoers.114 3 . if they are born into to the 3 T. Someone can only become sovereign in two ways.Zaid Rassam @00234017 as these feeble creatures are not. So in this case Hobbes suggests that man should erect a man to keep them within the law and to direct their actions to the common benefit. And Hobbes suggests that the only way to erect such a figure which is able to keep people and what they own safe is to have a sovereign. Leviathan. Hobbes states that creatures agreement with each other comes naturally compared to the human which is “artificial”. By recognizing this basic rule of reason man will be expected to create a Social contract that will provide them with a way of life that Is not available to them in State of Nature in which the currently reside in. Hobbes. Every man should say to every man “ I authorize and give up my right governing myself. and authorize all his actions in like manner. which then consequently results in tension and war. to this man. XIII. ch. Although the people are in danger of being flung into a war.” 3 When this is done everyone agrees to give up their rights of nature to someone and a state or a commonwealth is created. Another answer Hobbes provides to this question is that these creatures see no right or wrong in their actions. or to this assembly of men. The head of this commonwealth is called a Leviathan which means Mortal God. p. that thou give up thy right to him. where as human’s think of them selves wiser and more able to govern which then strives them to bring about their own ideas and ways of life.

So a commonwealth is necessary according to Hobbes if men wish to live a safe life. But this does not mean a man can do anything he pleases but must consider other people when carrying out an action. This is where morality comes into it for Locke. Hobbes points out that although the men of this new society maybe subject to the punishments that are carried out by the sovereign it is in their own interests to stick with this social contract. Locke sees the state of nature as place where each man has their own right to conduct their life the way they see fits them without the interference of others. Therefore Hobbes sees that there is no place for man in a state of nature. which stems from the requirement for order and security. This is a called a political commonwealth. but quite contrasting. seeing that it only leads to wars between men. According to John Locke the state of nature is not the state of war Hobbes envisions it to be. men are equal.Zaid Rassam @00234017 government and the other is when men agree among themselves to submit to a certain man or men in the confidence that they will be protected by him or them against anyone who tries to hurt them. So he realizes that the only way to escape this system is by all men submitting all their power to a sovereign that will protect their property and lives from men that are harmful towards them. He argues that although there is no higher power such as the leviathan. The reason for this is because as there was no over whelming legitimate power that was able keep the humans in control in the State of Nature now there is a superior man who can force each person to co-operate and live in a just way where everybody has an equal and fair share in life. 4 .

or possession. Locke. So you can easily notice that Locke perception of the state of Nature is not that the same of Hobbes perception. Locke believes there are two sides to the state of nature one which is peaceful and one that can ultimately lead to war by a minority few and to prevent this from occurring Locke asserted that man will recognize the need of a higher power to keep the minority. “That being all equal and independent. unwritten laws. taking property.Zaid Rassam @00234017 meaning that they also are bound by the law of nature. no one ought to harm another in his life. p. health. 1989. Locke’s vagueness of his perception on the state of nature shines through when he recognizes that a power to the people would be required as he points out that although this Law of Nature would be followed by the majority of the men he also expects there to be a minority that would go against these moral. Second Treatise of Government. in place and punish them if required. which suggests that they can take care of their possessions in a method they believe will suit their desires as long as they are carrying out their actions within the laws of nature as quoted above. liberty. The law of nature is quoted by Locke. But saying this. This denotes that everybody is permitted to perform their actions when and as they wish. who seek not live a life of peace. 9 5 . or his life and the victim defends himself which he has a right to do so.” 4 The creator of mankind created every man equally signifying that each man has the same amount of power and influence. A state of war only exists when somebody is aggressive towards another’s freedom which could include enslavement. Hackett Publishing Company. Locke paints two contrasting images of the State of Nature intentionally so that he proves that man does need to be forced into submission to a higher power but instead have a 4 J.

Locke. Humans had to find new ways to satisfy their needs to live a life they are comfortable with. unlike Hobbes and Locke. But then Rousseau indicated that a problem occurred when the population started to increase. the State of Nature is a nonviolent place to live in with freedom to do what you like.Zaid Rassam choice to give up their “rights and power to an all powerful society. He believed that the State of Nature was a peaceful place to live in. Jean-Jacques Rousseau had a similar perception to Locke when referring to the State of Nature. p. xiv 6 . considered to be the vital reason in the increasing amount of inhabitants that searched for a way out of the State of Nature to a more secure environment.” 5 @00234017 Even though according to Locke. Private property had risen as a result of more inhabitants living in the State of Nature which ultimately lead to humans being more cautious and owning private property incase of it being taken away from them. A rise in jealously and competition between inhabitants was evident. Hackett Publishing Company. 1989. But the one thing that Rousseau. called the naturalized social contract was the development of private property. Second Treatise of Government. the people are willing to give it up in order to gain security from the aggressors who are only a minority and do not represent the whole State of Nature. This meant that competition between humans was minimal. 5 J. This was mainly due to the abundance of necessities available to the small population. Therefore Locke claims that the presence of a state or a commonwealth which is created after the agreement of there being a social contract by the humans is an excellent preference for them to live by hence it being unavoidable.

156 7 . But apart from this.Zaid Rassam @00234017 Rousseau believes that once the introduction of private property is made the situation of unfairness and inequality becomes more distinct and visible because some people own property and others may need to work for it so there already is that element of social class. 1762. p. His most famous quote from that book was “Man was born free. 6 J-J. This is when the property owners seek to create a governing body that will protect their property from those humans that do not own property. He argued for a social contract between members of Society. As a result of Rousseau’s dislike of this way of governing he sets out to create a fairer government in which everybody is treated equally and nobody is treated better then anyone else. and everywhere he is in chains” 6 This quote originated from Rousseau’s perception that humans were born into the state of nature which was a liberated place to live in and now are under control by a society that favours the privileged. each individual would be happy and living a good life. But this government that is created only benefits the humans that own private property although before the contract was made it said it would be in the interests of everyone including the ones that do not own land or property. Any self interest which came into conflict with the common good which would be the aim of this Society would be viewed as immoral and therefore not permissible. This contract would in fact be an exchange of rights and freedoms. so that all could live happily in Society. Rousseau’s book the Social Contract deals with this problem of inequality that has been produced from the issue of private property. Rousseau. The Social Contract.

Zaid Rassam @00234017 So here you have three theories from different backgrounds that no matter how they perceive the state of nature they are in favour of a state or a governing body as it is in the best interest of all men. which are also controlled by regulations. He wanted a state that had laws which contributed to all people and break the barriers of class that were highly noticeable in past governnmts. The Nature and Development of the Modern State. to which the organized activities of the administrative staff. most of whom who have obtained membership by birth. 2003. This 7 G. Therefore a state is necessary for people that like to live a safe life and have their possessions protected from the minority who try to challenge the laws. Palgrave Macmillan. This system of order claims binding authority. So he see’s it as compulsory to create a higher power and put a leviathan in place to keep everything in order if they want to live. p. are oriented. He does not see the state of nature as a war zone but a peaceful world where everybody follows the law of nature which holds morality in a high place. “The primarily formal characteristics of the modern state are as follows: it possesses an administrative and legal order subject to change by legislation. Rousseau see’s that there was not a fair and sufficient government in place because it only supported the privileged that owned property. 2 8 . The most influential definition of the term state was provided by Max Webber. Gill. the citizens.” 7 Hobbes sees the state of nature as a place of war where everybody is permitted to act as they like and there is nobody to punish them for their wrong doings. not only over members of the state. but also to a very large extent over all action taking place in the area of its jurisdiction. Locke has a similar view on crating a leviathan but only out of free will and choice.

Bibliography 9 .Zaid Rassam @00234017 subsequently means that placing a higher power to keep men within the laws is unavoidable.

The Social Contract. Second Treatise of Government. Hackett Publishing Company. The Nature and Development of the Modern State. Gill. 1762 @00234017 J. Palgrave Macmillan. 2003 10 . Hobbes. Leviathan G.Zaid Rassam J-J. 1989 T. Locke. Rousseau.