How do the respective views of Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau on liberty relate to the policies of modern governments? Discuss one or more examples.
Hobbes argued that despite the natural equality and liberty amongst individuals, the anarchy of pursuing survival made life "nasty, brutish, and short." Therefore, he suggests the establishment of a supreme sovereign power (e.g. King) would be the only way to create order and peace as well as secure the natural rights of equality and freedom. This supposedly rational decision, by the people, to acquiesce power (freedoms) to an absolute sovereign in exchange for laws and enforcement that make life possible, is an understood by Hobbes as an implied agreement he called the "social contract."
Locke agreed with Hobbes in respect to the brutish state of nature and the ability for a social contract to transcend the violent affairs of nature. However, they diverged because Locke did not view the people as acquiescing any freedom to the sovereign ruler in this agreement -- given the natural rights of life, liberty, and property were inalienable -- impossible to be taken or given away. Thus the sovereign ruler can never hold absolute power, as the natural rights of individuals checked an unrestrained reign. Whereas Hobbes argued that once the agreement was made to establish a sovereign ruler one must obey without the liberty to revolt, Locke argued that if the sovereign violated any natural right, the individual, or the people had the liberty to depose the ruler. This differing view on the liberties of individuals were also predicated on with whom the social contract was supposedly made between. For Hobbes the contract was only amongst the people themselves -- hence once the agreement was reached the sovereign was held to no limits. Yet, for Locke, the social contract was between the people and the ruler. However, it is important to note, that despite Locke's insistence that liberty (along with life) were inalienable natural rights, his primary commitment was to the natural right of property -- and therefore protecting property was the way government could promote the "public good". The implications of Locke's view on liberty for modern government concerns a preference for representative government -- since neither men nor property owners have any rights.
Rousseau argued, like Hobbes and Locke, that the nature of individuals was freedom and equality, yet in contrast, he also believed they were peaceful and happy! For Rousseau it was the emergence of property (ownership claims) that introduced violence and injustice. Therefore, the (Hobbesian) social contract was not a contract or agreement at all, but a trick by the rich to consolidate power over the masses. The solution to protecting life, liberty, and property, without surrendering freedom, still required a social contract for Rousseau just not between the people and a sovereign ruler, but between people individually and the whole community -- as a collective society with a "general will." The implications of Rousseau's views on liberty for modern governments concern a preference for direct democracy over elected representatives.