State - Making of Leviathan Pt 2, Nelson.docx

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Western University
Political Science
Political Science 1020E
Bruce Morrison

CHAPTER 4 - MAKING OF LEVIATHAN  The government exercises the sovereign power of the state; it is not itself the state  Although Hobbes prefers monarchy for pragmatic reasons, it now makes no difference what the form of government is, mixed or otherwise, for the government is entirely distinct from the state  The state creates society and remains a sovereign entity above society and beyond the claims of any social grouping for political authority apart from the state  Hobbes’ theory of state sovereignty legitimized monarchical absolutism, and more powerfully than earlier doctrines of ruler sovereignty that were under increasing attack  Hobbes had put sovereignty more absolute and indivisible than Bodin’s beyond the power of any group to control or limit  The prevailing justification for absolutism was divine right, a concept of ruler sovereignty premised upon religious assumptions  He argues that the sovereign authority cannot and need not interfere in all aspects of life  Was not willing to conceded control of the economy and everyday life to the state. Civil society as it was to become known, must be free from sovereign authority  In the long run, therefore the bourgeoisie would adopt the Lockean theory of popular sovereignty rather than Hobbe’s theory of state sovereignty  In Bodin’s theory the sovereign would ideally if not legally be constrained by natural law  He defines natural law as little more than rules of self-interest or prudence the most fundamental of which is to seek peace and follow it  Natural law is meaningless apart from the imposition of positive law, that is, without the sovereign state  Locke’s theory of contract nonetheless was crucial in laying the essential foundations of the contemporary liberal-democratic and constitutional theory of the state  Locke’s critique of Filmer is that since all political power is based upon consent, not upon divine right and patriarchy as Filmer claims, no rational being would agree to submit to absolute monarchy  Locke will insist that the theory of contract cannot logically justify Hobbe’s absolute state sovereignty anymore than it can justify Filmer’s absolute ruler sovereignty  Initially, and contrary to Hobbes, Locke defines the state of nature as a condition of peace and harmony because the SON has a LON to govern it, which obliges everyone  Locke defines property broadly such that the inalienability of the right to life (by definition inalienable, even for Hobbes, since no rational creature would consent to part with it) is extended to estate and personal liberty as well  Locke’s theory of natural rights is key to his concept of popular and limited sovereignty. That sovereignty must not only be derived from the people but remain with them is logically imperative  Sovereignty must be limited for the assertion of inalienable rights precluded any notion of absolute sovereign authority, popular or otherwise over any individual  The real difficulty, however, was that the doctrine of popular sovereignty did not in itself solve what would become the defining problem for Locke  The fundamental principle that power should not be concentrated in any one branch of government remains a fundamental constitutional concept in all modern liberal democratic states  A government dependent upon the popular will is less likely to violate people’s rights  Democracy poses a potential threat to the underlying class structure of the state  That class inequality has now been couples with universal suffrage creates inherent tensions within the modern state and constitutes for some analysts a potential legitimation crisis  It is best to understand Rousseau’s theory as a modern version of the classical theory of the ideal state, as an attempt to found the ethical basis of the ideal as a means to judge the inadequacies of the real, rather than as a representation of any existing or potentially existing state  Where shall we find a
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