In the Leviathan, Hobbes writes of the state of nature as one of "war of all against all." The law of nature is one of battle and struggle, as humans fight each ceaselessly for power. He expresses this as a world in which there are
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.
Because in a state of nature humans live lives of perpetual brutal fighting and horror, Hobbes argues that humans must band together in self interest to form governments. Government, in essence, saves individuals from their own worst instincts. Each person gives up some freedom, but in return gains the great benefit of protection and the opportunity to live in a society that can lead to the safe accumulation of wealth.
Like John Locke, Hobbes defines government and the social contract more narrowly than traditional philosophers and Christian theology. He focuses on a strong leadership but sees the state primarily as protecting property rights and securing individuals from the impositions of other people—in other words, safeguarding their wealth and property from being stolen by others. He wanted the state, too, to be restricted in its ability to seize a person's goods.
Hobbes's view of nature was different from that of writers such as Montaigne, who wrote of the "Noble Savage" and believed that a society closer to a state of nature lived in a purer, juster, and more peaceful way.