Hobbesseconds Bodin argument of an absolute, unlimited, and indivisiblesovereign power. He states that sovereign power is so greater thanpeople can imagine. Either, an institution can create it, or acquireit by force. However, in both cases, the rights, consequences, andends of sovereign power remain the same. Hobbes recommendssovereignty based on the security and peace that accompanies it. Onthe other hand, he concedes it as dangerous but does not indicate itsbenefits regarding protection and security. Nonetheless, Hobbesstates that citizens have the right to resist sovereignty if itendangers their lives. He urges when fighting for unlimited power forsovereignty citizens have the right to use any available means ofself-defense.
Preservationof peace and protection of life are the results of sovereign power.Hobbes urges it is irrational to subject sovereignty to restrictionbecause it can limit its protection ability. Hence, from Hobbesianperspective, there is no escape from unrestricted sovereign power(Morris,2000).It trades protection with obedience hence, absolute protection callsfor absolute obedience and absolute sovereign power.
Accordingto Hobbes, there are some rights attained from the Commonwealth.Firstly, it is impossible for the subject to alter with sovereignwithout seeking its authority. Secondly, sovereign does not have theability to forfeit its power. Thirdly, it is unjust to protestagainst a sovereign. Fourthly, a sovereign prohibits injusticesagainst its subjects. Sovereign power is unlimited and indivisiblebecause it yields completely it is supreme over the legislature,army, judiciary, economy, and doctrine. Hobbes urges that it is neverjustified to rebel against sovereign because it determines what isright. Further, he urges that human beings should live sociablythrough law. However, they should not be obligated to obey it sincesome people are naturally altruistic.
Accordingto Locke, power rightly reverts to the people when the politicalauthority is unwilling to protect the private property. On the otherhand, Hobbes urges that revolution is not justified unless itsucceeds. He urges it can only be justified if the government failsto assure security to its citizen lives, as well as protect them frominternal dangers. It revolution succeed then, the newrevolutionaries can designate their justified rights.
Hobbesand Locke have differences in their background theories thatcontribute to these opposing views. Locke believes men have right bynature while Hobbes believes people should concede their right to thegovernment, who in return should protect their right. Also, Lockebelieves a man is a social animal by nature while Hobbes believes asociety exist by the state power. Further, unlike Hobbes, Locke urgesthat people kept and honored their promises and obligation in thestate of nature, which was pleasant, good, and most peaceful.Although Locke tried to support his argument, he did not considerhistorical events such as social contracts. Furthermore, Locke didnot regard his version as a historical event, but rather anincidental. It is not also clear when Locke worked out his politicaltheories. On the other hand, one weakness of Hobbes theory is that heurges that people do not necessarily require the consent to governand prosper. Here, he does not support the poor and the weak becausethe wealthy people might take advantage of the weak group. However,his work has an effective development especially in philosophyvocabularies in the English language.
Inmy view, revolutions are justified. Although they are violent,revolutions help people to achieve their needs. For example, theAmerican Revolution for independence was successful. The militaryforce was able to kick out the British, and in return, they set up arepublic.
Themajority of scholars and philosophers believe that Locke’streatment of property is among his most important contributions topolitical thought although it attracts numerous criticisms. Lockeemphasized the need to preserve God’s nature for all subject to themonarchy. Indeed, he is of the view that civil societies and thegovernments should stand to secure the rights to such properties inan assuring manner and with the authority to impose the rights to theproperty. However, his theory emphasizes the importance of people’slabor to increase the value of the property rather than on thenatural worth of the property. Additionally, Locke’s theorydisregards the future generations’ right to inherit theirancestors’ property as only the working population that has a rightto property ownership. According to Morris(2000),this argument disdains the democratic norm. During Locke’s time,only the property owners could vote raising questions concerning thejustifications of persons who do not own property willingness to bepart of a society where they have nothing to guard as personalproperty. In this way, Locke gives primacy to common good over thecommon ownership however, the common good appears to be elusive inthe practical world since only a certain group of population has theright to properties’ ownership.
Importantly,Locke argues that God gives earth in common to all human beings sothat all can benefit from it. He argues that the common earth becomesa private property through the mixing of land by the people who ownslabor. By improving the land, a person takes it out of nature, and itceases to be common property but instead become a private propertywhere others no longer have a right to utilize that land. Further,Locke believes that the natural restrictions on the acquisition ofproperty are initially sufficient to make the only moderateaccumulation of property owing to the assumption that a person couldonly accumulate as much as he or she could use before it spoils. Headditionally claims that creation of money leads into active,productive labor that consequently increases the wealth of thenation. In this regard, he advises for the enclosure of land to leaveenough for others. However, various scholars such as Murray objectedhis emphasis on the ability of labor to create value per productionrather than value per price. Despite various criticisms, Locke basedhis arguments on the principles of majority rule, people’s rights,and societal independent laws, factors that remained plausible at thetime. Indeed, I think his property theory is relevant even in themodern world although various adjustments remain indispensable.
Arguably,John Locke was a critical link in the historical chain joiningtolerance with colonialism. The conception of property and itspreservation create the foundation of the nature state and civilsociety accordingly. Indeed, property origin and protection arecentral to the England’s colonial settlements in America and byextension to the Earl of Shaftesbury’s Carolina. Locke’s chapteron the property is a philosophical treatise that explains the naturalproperty right by civil government, a defense of England’s right toAmerican soil, and an economic benefits exposition of the Englishplantation. He used the language of the natural law to answer thequestions posed by his patron’s colonial policies in America.Additionally, within the context of the colonial debates, Locke’sproperty chapter is an economic defense of England’s colonial aimsand methods in America. Locke’s fundamental premise that one mustlabor to use the land or any product significantly laid foundationsfor colonialists to justify their colonization of the Americans.Indeed, Locke felt that Americans had not worked enough for theirland and thus argued that Europeans had the right to use the land ofthe indigenous people.
JohnLocke assumed that the indigenous North American’ people valued thedemocracy ideas. He claimed that American Indian societies wereworking democracies that emphasized on Noble Savage philosophy. Hefurther suggested that American societies depended on voluntary andmoral agreements but not political ones to practice their way oflife. On his part, Rousseau believed that the way of life of theindigenous Americans advocated for the preservation of human freedomwhereby human being were increasingly dependent on one another forthe satisfaction of their needs. Indeed, he believed that indigenousAmericans co-existed in a free, equal, and sovereign society.Unfortunately, civilization threatened the society social andpolitical ideals since it corrupted people’s notions of equality.
Politically,Thomas Hobbes favors absolute monarchy as the best form ofgovernment. He claims that a government without absolute powers leadsto anarchy. Further, Hobbes argues that the absolute power providessecurity and peace from both internal and external threats. Thelimited and constitutional power could permit spaces for there-emergence of the state of war since human nature compels men to becompetitive. On the contrary, absolute power does not permit suchgaps to emerge because laws are always stringent. Essentially, Hobbesgives five reasons for his support of monarchy including monarchystability, monarchy power to alleviate civil wars, the monarch’sinterests being the same as that of the people, monarchy being moreconsistent than democracy because it ensures one mind, and monarchyability to enhance better counsel and advice. While Hobbes was anadvocate of absolutism, Locke, on the other hand, advocates forliberal democracy. Firstly, Locke argues that absolutism impedes therealization of the ends underpinning society social contract. He addsthat monarchy does not address people’s grievances fully since itconcentrates on both legislative and executive power that disregardshuman rights. For Locke, it does not make sense from the libertypoint of view to accept absolutism and consider people safe under theprotection of the law. Locke believes that the rule of law gives thesociety freedom contrary to the absolute power that leads tosociety’s inconsistencies.
Fundamentally,the duo’s arguments have diverse strengths and weaknesses. Firstly,monarchy form of government as advocated by Hobbes provides the onlymeasure that can effectively check the selfishness and the greednature of man and most importantly maintain society’s law andorder. Indeed, monarchy helps in controlling personal power, whichevery person strive to attain. However, it neglects human rights thatpeople should have ahead of an independent of the formation ofcommunity. On his part, Locke’s recommends for the separation ofpowers between the executive and legislative branches of governments.In this way, the government uses the right to separation of power toprotect people’s natural rights. Importantly, separation of powersallows people to coexist as equal, autonomous beings since liberaldemocracy restrain them from violating the rights of others. Althoughsome philosophers criticize the effectiveness of democracy inenforcing the social justice of the state, I agree with the Locke’sargument for liberal democracy. Undeniably, democracy accords peopleequal opportunities to enjoy their rights and enhance humanparticipation in the community.
Rousseau’ssocial theory utilizes a philosophical anthropology involving anarrative stretching back to pre-social times up to the establishmentof the civil society. He acknowledges the fact that the societycontinues to be more unequal owing to despotism as wealth becomes astandard measure of comparison among people (Morris,2000).For Rousseau, the vilest kind of contemporary society is that inwhich currency is the only measure of value. In modern societies,inequality arises from a process of human development that corruptshuman’s nature and subject them into a new, unjustifiable type ofinequality commonly referred to as moral inequality. In efforts tocombat both social and economic inequality, Roseau advocates for aformulation of laws that separate selfishness from the common good ofthe community. In this way, citizen’s freedom remains intact giventhat obeying such laws is equivalent to obeying their will. Arguably,adoption of direct democracy where sovereign citizens can continuallyengage in the self-legislation process is a good example of theRousseau theory’ strength.
Accordingto Hobbes, the state of nature is a state of war where everyone livesin constant fear. Because of this fear, no one is free. On his part,Locke claims that people exist in the state of nature characterizedby the perfect freedom to do what they want. However, the state ofnature is not necessarily good or bad but also chaotic, and thus mendo give up to secure the advantages of a civilized society. Oncontrary to both Locke and Hobbes, Rousseau argues that men in astate of nature are equal and free. He says they are “NobleSavages” but civilization corrupted their equality and freedom.Despite the critics on Rousseau’ failure to focus on historicalevidence in his political theory, experts should understand that headmittedly creates an ideal type to further his arguments aboutpolitical authority. Therefore, in my opinion, Rousseau provides abrilliant account on inequality.
JohnRawls theory of justice states it is not necessarily important thatall members of the society to have equal power and wealth, as long asthey have access to their privileges. This theory is fair because itwork to the advantage of all people, whether poor or rich. Rawlsbegun with a hypothetical Original Position because any inequalitiesderived from it is equally just. Besides, he urges that originalposition should develop principles behind a veil of ignorance becauseit gives its supporters as much liberty as possible. Further, Rawlstheory urges that because no one knows the social position that he orshe will occupy in the future, then, no one should accept socialinequalities. Based on the veil of ignorance, Rawls proposes goodprinciples of justice because it helps to determine whether somethingis moral. Rawls urges a veil can determine the morality of aninstitution, action, or custom. For example, one can consider themorality of allowing same-sex marriage.
Usingthe veil of ignorance, one has to consider the action without theassumption that they will be affected in anyway, or the position theywould hold. In this example, one should not consider him or herself afundamentalist Christian or a person practicing same-sex marriage. Bythe use of a veil, a person should consider the consequences of theaction based on other people opinions. This, according to Rawlstheory, a true morality of the action is determined. Rawls gave twoprinciples of justice where the first principle he states that everyperson is entitled to the same indefeasible claim of equal basicliberties. The second principle states that economic and socialinequalities should be attached to positions and offices under fairequality of opportunity conditions. The first principle is suitableto design a political constitution and it takes priority overfulfillment. On the other hand, the second principle is suitable foreconomic institutions, and it takes priority over principledifference.
Morris,C. W. (2000). Thesocial contract theorists: Critical essays on Hobbes, Locke, andRousseau.Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield.