In Leviathan Hobbes puts forward a number of views and arguments that do make logical sense and some that appeal to us, but also seem repulsive. One might think the type of government he supports is almost like a Nazi or Communist (Stalin type communist not the true form) state. Yet his ideas are actually in existence around us and if we look around, we’d feel rather scared.
For the state to have total control over the people… is scary, and at the same time it is comforting. In Hitler’s Nazi state, which had consolidated all the power in Hitler and his cronies, everything was in control, predictable, the fact there was no opposition meant that the entire production capabilities of Germany were pooled into the Nazi War Machine. This goes the same for Napoleon’s Empire, in which he and his family held all the reigns of power, no opposition allowed. These types of states were in a sense, successful when they continued to protect the natural rights of their subjects. Did Hitler not bring Germany out of an economic crisis and allow the people to live their natural rights? Didn’t Napoleon initially protect the French people from the opposing monarchial European states? Only when those states began to endanger the citizens natural rights as opposed to protecting them, did they fall. Hitler, it was Russia, and although he attempted to justify it, he undertook an action that brought more danger to his citizens than protecting them. Same with Napoleon. So in a sense, Hobbes ideas of consolidating state power are in a sense justified.
The problem with these states are that nobody, at least from our ethnocentric view would want to live in them. We’d hate living in a state where our rights were hindered, where women’s rights are non-existent. But if we were born and raised in those states, would we care? I mean, we’re safe, from sudden violent death as Hobbes points out so everything SEEMS fine and dandy. Even in our modern states we have very limited powers. The citizen can vote, but the power is always in the state, it dictates us, prevents us from fighting each other, forces us along certain paths and stops us from drinking underage. Whether we’d like it or not, our states are actually quite Hobbesian for the power basically rests in those in the government. The average citizen… the great majority, is at the mercy of the government! So don’t think Hitler’s Germany is distant, we’re actually in not such a great situation ourselves.
So we’re in a Hobbesian kind of state where we’d like it or not! Not one where power is completley utterly restricted to the government, but where much of the power is in the government. Aside from the fact a measly 1% of us can possibly get into the government, the other 99% is pretty much at their whim. So looking at Hobbes as a mosnter and saying that our own governments are angels can be rather silly, for really, we are living in states that fulfil very Hobbesian ideals.