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Mubarak’s Successor and a Look to Hobbesian Theory

March 9, 2011

Thomas Hobbes

Hosni Mubarak

     In late January, The Washington Post reported that, “Egypt’s National Democratic Party is now the only party legally eligible to field a presidential candidate; an independent candidate would need to secure approval to run from commissions dominated by ruling party members” (Knickmeyer, 1). The liberty of the sovereign in this case, to appoint a successor, had recently rocked Egypt. As Hosni Mubarak had began in the month of January his 27th year of rule, many said they expected “Mubarak’s family and ruling party, military officers and security officials to decide on his successor” (Knickmeyer, 1). And furthermore, since Mubarak has played the role of a tyrant in his ruling of Egypt, coupled with the high probability that Gamal Mubarak, his son, was the man “most widely expected to succeed him” (Knickmeyer, 1), it seemed clear why the Egyptian people would burst into protest and rebellion at the mere thought of such right to succession. In this blog entry, I would like to dig deep into political theory, and attempt to provide a sense of justification for the right of the sovereign to choose a successor, offering up a counter-claim of my own.

     According to Hobbes in “The Leviathan”, by entering into a social contract with one another and creating a commonwealth, the sovereign is allowed certain rights. Among these rights, Hobbes claims the right of, “choosing of all counsellors, ministers, magistrates, and officers, both in peace, and war” (Hobbes, 178). In other words, the sovereign in any case always has the right to appoint a successor. Furthermore, Hobbes feels that out of aristocracy, democracy, and monarchy, that monarchy is the most stable, efficient way of instituting sovereign authority. Among the reasons why, he claims that a monarchy allows the sovereign to choose his successor, and that it will be much easier and safer do appoint a successor in this way than to allow the people, or even a sovereign group, to make a decision based upon differing opinions.

According to this part of Hobbes’ theory, Mubarak could very well have been justified in having the right to succession. However, I feel as though since Hobbes states that, “the office of the sovereign, consisteth in the end, for which he was trusted with the sovereign power, namely the procuration of the safety of the people” (Hobbes, 233), that Mubarak should have clearly lost his right to succession, as he was not procuring the safety of the people, and neither would his son if he had succeeded him. Luckily for Egypt however, Hosni Mubarak resigned! I could only imagine how things would have turned out if Gamal Mubarak actually had succeeded his father. The big question now however, is what will happen to Egypt?


Hobbes, Thomas. “Leviathan.” Modern Political Thought: readings from Machiavelli to Nietzsche. Ed. David Wootton. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2008. Print.

Knickmeyer, Ellen. “In Egypt, A Son is Readied for Succession.” The Washington Post. 11 Oct. 2007. Web. 9 Mar 2011.

“Hosni Mubarak.” Lee Bailey’s Eurweb Electronic Urban Report. Web. 9 Mar 2011.

“Thomas Hobbes.” NNDB: tracking the entire world. Web. 9 Mar 2011. <;.



One Comment
  1. Chris J permalink
    March 9, 2011 9:11 PM

    Would the Egyptian regime be a good correlate to Hobbesian theory? At least on paper, Egypt is a democracy, a system Hobbes did not look too kindly on. I feel that you first have to prove that Mubarak is operating outside the constraints of this system (ie: he is not a party in the contract that laid out the government, as a Hobbesian “Sovereign” cannot be constrained).

    Also, how do you know that Mubarak feels a monarchy is the best form of government (what evidence or statement did you derive this from)? If it was derived from a statement, how did you come across it (on a newscast, in an article…tell us where)?

    Most importantly: did Mubarak appoint all the ministers to the “commissions dominated by ruling party members”? If not, does he really have total control over the political system, or was it just his luck?

    At least from the re-enforced evidence presented, it could be interpreted that Mubarak was simply acting within the system and taking advantage of its weaknesses. He was not so much a “Sovereign” as a Lockeian Tyrant (by having stepped outside the bounds of his prescribed power, he incited revolution).

    I feel that interpretation would better explain the revolution going on in Egypt, as you did not say how the safety of the people was compromised (to justify the Sovereign’s loss of power from a Hobbesian view).

    Overall, I do agree that Hobbes can be applied to Egypt and Mubarak’s reign. I just feel you needed to establish why you were able to make this comparison through greater detail. Strengthen your evidence and your argument would become quite strong, as your analysis of theory was easy to follow and convincing (if backed well).

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