“To make Covenant with bruit Beasts, is impossible; because not understanding our speech, they understand not, nor accept of any translation of Right; nor can translate any Right to another; and without mutual acceptation, there is no Covenant. ” This insightful observation was made by Thomas Hobbes a 17th Century English philosopher was the first to coin the phrase social contract in his seminal book Leviathan. The notion of the social contract was found in the Leviathan. This paper will address attitudes of the 21st Century that undermine the social contract and threaten the nature of the Leviathan.
The word Leviathan conjures up images of a mythical beast with unlimited power overthrowing, transgressing every conceivable good idea of humanity, bringing dread and misery, it is pictured as the bringer of chaos. Hobbes uses the leviathan contrary to its biblical usage which was previously illustrated. The literary representation of the state the leviathan can be observed on the front cover of Leviathan as a collage of citizen making up its body which rises up from the surrounding countryside and having a solid head bearing a crown.
Therein is the juxtaposition of the biblical imagery of chaos and order. Conversely Hobbes uses the image of the leviathan to bring order out of chaos as it represents the transferring of power to one sovereign head which is the state, by means of a social contract. The necessity of the social contract is compulsory due to the nature of man as Hobbes has outlined as “a general inclination …, a perpetual and restless desire of Power after power that ceaseth only in Death. Mover, it is the nature of man to seek his own self-interest to the inevitability of his demise which makes the social contract a necessity to societal well-being. Surely the man has evolved as a species and death by nature of men the not just eventual but inevitable. The Encyclopedia of Wars by Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod Ph. D. has chronicled some 2,000 wars and battles since the Fall of Jericho in 8000 B. C. E to the United States war with Iraq in 2003.
Pursuing this further Hobbes ascertains that whenever “two men desire the same thing, which nevertheless they cannot both enjoy, they become enemies; and in the way to their End, (which is principally their owned conservation, and sometimes their delectation only,) endeavor to destroy, or subdue one and other” Thus the proclivity for violence is not just the nature but the destiny of man without a social contract. The United States was built on the principle of social contract under the notion that all men are created equal and that all have the rights to the pursuit of happiness.
Subsequently, these rights are guaranteed by the government and the government is granted power by the faith of the people as it is by faith that the transfer of power in initiated. Hobbes propose that faith in the government and its performance in upholding it part of the contract as vital to the maintenance of the contract stating “being trusted, his performance is called Keeping Of Promise, or Faith; and the failing of performance (if it is voluntary) Violation Of Faith. ”
It could be stated that the faith in the U. S. is at an all time low but the would constitute an understatement of biblical proportions Gallup an American research company reported “WASHINGTON, D. C. — Americans’ confidence in all three branches of the U. S. government has fallen, reaching record lows for the Supreme Court (30%) and Congress (7%), and a six-year low for the presidency (29%). The presidency had the largest drop of the three branches this year, down seven percentage points from its previous rating of 36%. Furthermore, obstructionist politics has brought the political system to a grinding halt which is best illustrated by the New York Times article Another Impasse on Gun Bills, Another Win for Hyperpolitics. “Not one senator in either party believes that someone who presents a serious terrorism risk should be able to waltz into a gun shop and legally buy powerful firearms.
Yet partisanship, a reluctance to compromise and the influence of powerful special interests again prevented lawmakers from achieving a consensus, as four plans went down on Monday to entirely predictable defeats. What confidence is then had by obstructionist politics as America faces threats and difficulties on a global and national scale, immigration policy, terrorism, 616 billion deficit, 18 trillion debt ceiling, Social Security and Medicaid/Medicare? The faith of the citizen is essential for the continued existence of any nation. World history is litter with the carcasses of what once was, Roman Empire, Ottoman Empire, Persian Empire, British Empire and The Russian Empire.
Each of these empires was brought down by a myriad of reason but all had in common the theme of the revocation of the right to rule by proceeded by the loss of faith of the people. Putting aside one’s self and promoting the common good is missing in American politics. Moreover, ideas are opposed to solely on party lines, politics has become a contest of will with America as the loser. Hobbes noted that politician would default to their human nature of conflict and self-interest and advocated for a monarchy to prevent such obstructionist politics.
Moreover, Hobbes stated,” a Monarch cannot disagree with himself, out of envy, or interest; but an Assembly may; and that to such a height, as may produce a Civil War. ” Subsequently, this paper questions whether the current state politics resembles the Assembly in Hobbes passage, clearly then the answer lies in an assembly that agrees on easy access to a gun for a terrorist is bad and yet fail to compromise. 2015 could be called the year in protest American, as streets were occupied by protesters, militaristic uniformed officers, and tanks, as the American public denounced it as the starting of a new police state.
It was also the year of riots in some of Americas largest cities as well as property damage and the hope of many went up in smoke as their business were burnt to the ground. The government is sometimes thought of as an esoteric body of individuals making laws and find a new way to tax the public in secret. However, the police have and will always be the most visible form of government still 2015 was a year of unpresidential scrutiny for the profession. Contentious relations between the police and lower economic neighbourhoods has been the norm due to heavy-handed policing tactics used to suppress crime within those neighborhoods.
The protest would have gone unnoticed as the cost of doing business if not for a large number of middle and upper middle-class involved additionally the protester were not just blacks, it was established from the full spectrum of colors, races, creeds, nationalities, and political persuasion that is America. The disillusionment of government exacerbated the cries of retribution, no longer was a jury by citizen (an indictment), rules of laws, and innocent until proven guilty enough. If it was not on video it didn’t happen, if it was captured on video it was doctored and the cries for justice were insatiable.
Yet, there was no protest for the double-digit rise in the murder rate in 35 of Americas largest cities, no cries for justice for 344 homicides in Baltimore in 2015 when 2014 had 211. Some would dismiss this as an anomaly but they would be mistaken as this New York Times article titled U. S. Homicide Rates Rise in Early 2016 demonstrates that the trend is continuing. “Data released Friday by the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association, based on reports from more than 60 cities, showed notable increases in murders in about two dozen cities in the first three months of the year compared to last year and a 9 percent increase nationwide.
The public trust has been broken. When a crime is increasing at exponential levels the faith in the police is at an all-time low. Chicago has had 1800 shooting and 300 homicides as of June,22,2016 which represents a 62% spike in homicides According to the New York Times. Moreover, if it was just homicides it comes be an anomaly but as it stands all felonious crimes such as rape, robbery, burglary, auto theft, carjackings and theft from autos are on the rise. At a time when the citizen need the police and the police need the citizen animosity fills the air.
Policing is the basic fulfilment and enforcement of the social contract, being the citizen form of redress on their right to exist peaceably. The social contract is a fragile balancing act of freedoms, liberties, enforcement, and politics.. Where is the power of the state if the people have lost faith in its benevolence and it ability to protect? How can it govern if it is no longer viewed as a democracy but a bully and tyrant? Unquestionably the faith in the government and all it represents is at an all time low. Freedom is the greatest commodity the world has ever known.
Free trade is feasible upon the premise that one gives up willingly something of value for something that one perceives to be of great value. Hence, the power transfer to the state raise the question what is more valuable the freedom? Security! What good is freedom if you are not free to exercise it if your progress is limited by your strength to keep it, your enjoyment only enjoyable until someone encroaches upon it. Thus, the social contract requires the transfer of liberty to the state so that the state may ensure the liberties of all.
As the political system has taken on the nature of man acting to a server their own needs embroiled in conflict to the determinant of the common good. Ineffective and unresponsive government disillusioned citizen revoking their faith, trust, and willingness to be led are the hallmarks of a broken social contract. A Social contract requires the commitment of two parties. What happened when both parties fail to live up to their end of the contract? The question remains answer.