Hobbes, Locke, and Democracy There


But since the government's first responsibility is to maintain peace and security, there must be a unanimity of purpose in the government. This is more easily achieved with a single ruler, such as a Monarchy, but it also risks the loss of the consent of the people by becoming detached from the people and their needs. However, in a democracy, the will of the people is paramount as they are the one who will elect those in governmental positions. But since democracies often result in a representative form of government, parliaments, congresses, etc., there is often a plurality of voices in the government. This makes having a single unified purpose very difficult as many voices often mean many differences of opinions. This leads to a split in the loyalty of the people between the different political forces. According to Hobbes this is the limitation of a democratic form of government, but to Locke, it restricts the authority of the government in people's lives while maintaining the protection of life and property what is so important. As a result, Locke's ideas have been integrated into the modern world in unique and interesting ways.

In the real world, representative forms of government are currently in place in many nations around the world. Strictly speaking, since most representative forms of government have some sort of legislature, or group of lawmakers, they are often split by politics and unable to agree on a unified course of governmental action; and therefore are not acceptable forms of government according to Hobbes. However, people are unwilling to grant sovereignty to a single person, as history is replete with examples of elected tyrants. Therefore, people often reject the Hobbesian notion of a strong centralized ruler and instead choose the chaos of a legislature.

Locke's idea of popular sovereignty has been much better received in the real world. In many nations, the people do elect their representatives and have given their governmental institutions a varying amount of authority over their lives. While different nations may vote for their representatives in different ways, different nations also have different ideas on how to designate authority. Some have a system where the leader of the majority party in the legislature automatically becomes the head of state. In other nations, the United States for example, the people vote for both a legislature and an executive. While this bestows a certain amount of authority on a single person for the benefit of more efficient governance, it also divides the total authority into different branches of government, with specific powers for each. While the United States does have an a single President who acts as the executive officer of government, it also has limited the power of that executive, while simultaneously creating a branch of government which contains a group of people with equal power to the President.

In terms of the philosophy of Hobbes, the modern world contains too much of a distrust of authority to allow a single person to rule with absolute power; therefore, Locke's idea's on limited government have become more widely spread. While divided government may remove the single focus of an individual ruler, it also allows for more freedom and less intrusion into the daily lives of people. Hobbes' ideas of a strong centralized ruler no longer fit in the modern world, but Locke's ideas of limited government, while they may have been intended to limit and temper the authority of a Monarch, are just as effective regulating representative forms of government as well.

Works Cited

Hobbes, Thomas, and…