Why read political writings?
There have been many times in my life where I have thought that many topics covered in political theory were a waste of time. Writings or papers that supported monarchy would fall into this category. When I read much of Hobbes, I wondered to myself, “why are we reading this, we know that monarchies don’t work and people don’t want one ruler with supreme power.” I always thought that people had figured out that some form of democracy was the right way to go. Why read Hobbes arguments if they are clearly wrong then? I know to many of you reading this, you probably answered the previous question in a million different ways; but, I had never put much thought into this.
I was able to come up with one solid answer (I know there are many more and feel free to inform me of these in a comment) as to why we would be reading such things and putting so much emphasis into authors whose ideas, the U.S and much of the world clearly rejected. I remember when reading Hobbes, the professor told us, to look at the argument and see for ourselves if we believed it. If we didn’t believe it, he challenged us to ask ourselves why it was that we didn’t believe it. In Hobbes’ argument he says that all the people need to have a contract with the ruler, giving him supreme authority; but the ruler does not need to have a contract with the people. When reading this I though, “wow, there would be no checks and balances in this system, as long as a ruler thinks that he is protecting his people as a whole, he could seriously hurt people and no one could stop him”.
I realized that I had looked at one aspect of Hobbes’ argument and instead of just saying it was wrong, I had taken the time to think about what made it wrong. That’s why we read these articles. Future generations need to look at intelligent writings like this and be able to know why they disagree with the views. If we didn’t do this there is a real possibility that people would just say it is wrong without ever wondering why. As time passed on, people would forget why the idea was wrong. Doubt would spring up whether the idea was really wrong, and this could lead to people saying the idea may not be so bad after all and then trying to implement the idea.
Thus reading history and analyzing it, serves as a way to pass on knowledge of things that we would not like to see repeated in history and things we would like society to continue to do. One of the reasons that we teach the Holocaust so extensively to all children, is so they can see the horror it caused and analyze why the things Hitler did were wrong. Thus, all generations know how dangerous the idea of debasing a certain race can be, and are not likely to do it again.