Compare and contrast theories of Thomas Hobbs and Karl Marx as they relate to political philiosphy.

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larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Thomas Hobbes believed that human beings were basically selfish and self centered; he also believed that in a state of nature, each person was entitled to any property which he could possess. This lack of political control resulted in that which Hobbes called the "war of all against all," a situation in which there was

No arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short

Hobbes believed that a strong government was necessary to prevent human beings from utterly destroying each other. He believed that human beings must of necessity surrender certain basic rights to prevent utter destruction. This could only be accomplished by means of a strong government structure.

Karl Marx believed that there was also a struggle, but rather than between individuals, it was a struggle of classes, in which the capitalist class abused and exploited the working class which he called the proletariat. He also saw greed and the desire for property as the ultimate cause of the ills of mankind:

Under private property ... Each tries to establish over the other an alien power, so as thereby to find satisfaction of his own selfish need. The increase in the quantity of objects is therefore accompanied by an extension of the realm of the alien powers to which man is subjected, and every new product represents a new potentiality of mutual swindling and mutual plundering.

To Marx, this situation resolved itself in a violent struggle in which the workers overthrew the business class, whom he called the capitalists. At that point, private property would be abolished, and each person would by his very nature be compelled to work for the good of all; a situation in which the good of the majority was more important than the rights of the individual. In this situation, government (which Hobbes saw as a necessity) was unnecessary and would gradually wither away.