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Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau in Context to modern Governments

November 5, 2010

Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau all have their own interpretations of social contracts and a sovereign. Their concepts of each issue determine how their theories would translate into modern day world politics. The way each individual goes about their thinking of how the sovereign should work determines the way each of them thinks about governments and how they should be set up and run.
For Hobbes, the sovereign’s first task is “namely the procuration of the safety of the people; to which he is obliged by the law of nature” (Hobbes chapter 30). The sovereign according to Hobbes has the task of keeping its entire people safe. For the sovereign to keep its people safe and do its job properly, Hobbes asks for the people to give up their right to freedom or free will to obey the sovereign and his supreme rule. This set of plans for rule would make Hobbes an authoritarian monarchist. In today’s forms of government Hobbes would translate definitely to a monarchy.
Locke argues against the promotion of monarchy that Hobbes promotes. This shows Locke would not believe a authoritative monarchy would be the best suited form of government for a country. Locke did not believe in this one majority absolute ruler idea. He believed that people would want to form a commonwealth and unite together, but that there should be no absolute rule, contrary to what Hobbes believed in. “There can be one supreme power, which is the legislative…there remains still in the people a supreme power to remove or alter the legislative, when they find the legislative act contrary to the trust reposed in them” (Locke Chapter 13). Locke seems to place a large emphasis on liberalism but still show something that would resemble a monarchy. Overall in today’s politics Locke would be said to be a liberalist.
Rousseau believes that the sovereign is the collection of the people. The sovereign consists of the whole population. The sovereign is supposed to represent the general will of the people. He is also the legislative power of the state, but laws are made up by the people within the commonwealth. The sovereign does not make all the rules for the people to abide by. The sovereign’s duty is for the general population and to represent the people best. For Rousseau a republic form of government would be best suit. Rousseau would most likely lean towards a democratic government.

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