What did Hobbes think about a representative government?

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Hobbes wasn't really all that concerned about representative government. In fact, he was rather hostile to the whole idea. All that mattered for him is that government should keep the peace and prevent people from tearing each other's throats out.

The only time that the absolutist government that Hobbes endorsed...

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Hobbes wasn't really all that concerned about representative government. In fact, he was rather hostile to the whole idea. All that mattered for him is that government should keep the peace and prevent people from tearing each other's throats out.

The only time that the absolutist government that Hobbes endorsed was in any way representative was when it was first established. Then, the government represented the interests of those men who set it up by providing peace, stability, and security in a world previously riven by conflict.

But once the civil power had been established, the question of representation was no longer relevant. As part of the original covenant between sovereign and people, the sovereign was invested with untrammeled power. For Hobbes, this was the only way that a sovereign would be able to fulfill his side of the bargain. Once the government was up and running, it would not be possible, then, for the people to defy the sovereign—even if they had good grounds for believing that he was abusing his power. Such defiance would defeat the whole purpose of establishing such a system of government in the first place.

For Hobbes, any notion of representative government was a dangerous delusion, as it would inevitably involve the dilution of sovereignty, thus making it more difficult for the sovereign to fulfill his constitutional role as protector of the peace. Any moves toward representative government would undermine the absolute power of the sovereign, thus potentially jeopardizing the very stability of the political system.

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For Hobbes, in the state of nature, humans are constantly at war with each other, only able to hold as much personal property as they can defend by their own physical strength. Reason will eventually suggest to them the notion of a social contract. In other words, it is worth ceding liberty to a strong ruler in exchange for law and order.

The first thing that should be noted is that the essential concern in this system is private property. This reflects a tradition of English political thought rooted in the Magna Carta, which prevents the sovereign from seizing the property of subjects without reason. Rather than "human rights" in general, the concern here is property rights.

The major example of representative government known to Hobbes was the Athenian democracy; he was fluent in Greek and actually translated Aristotle's Rhetoric into English. The system of taxation called "liturgy" allowed the Athenian democratic government to expropriate large amounts of money ad hoc from wealthy individuals for specific civic purposes (often for building triremes, a type of warship). Hobbes and other English writers speak of this as an example of the "tyranny of the mob." In other words, they see representative government as a system that undermines the fundamental private property rights for which people cede power to governments.

For Hobbes, the Athenian democracy was a system that was radically unstable and prone to a type of civic strife known as "stasis." It was unjust with respect to property rights.

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Seventeenth century English political philosopher Thomas Hobbes made his most elaborated statement about representative government in his 1651 book Leviathan.

Hobbes believed that the sovereign of a people is empowered by the people to be the embodiment of their single will and voice. The sovereign is informed by representatives, but because individuals are too innately evil and self-interested, they cannot be trusted to govern.

He believed that a state is defined as a "person" that has arrived at agreement of the masses, and in doing so, produced a singular voice. The "person" who carries this voice is the sovereign. It is the duty of all, then, to submit to the power of the sovereign, whose power is absolute yet derived from those who consent to be governed in this way.

This "leviathan," as he allusively named it, is the "Mortall God, to which wee owe under the Immortal God, our peace and defence."

This leviathan, or absolute monarch, would, in essence, save us from ourselves.

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Thomas Hobbes did not like the idea of a representative government as we know it.  He believed that an absolute monarchy was the only viable form of government.  However, that is not to say that Hobbes thought that there was no place for the people and their voices in government.  He did think that the people ought to be able to have representatives who would convey their ideas to the monarch.  The important thing was, though, that those representatives would have no power.  They could ask the king to do things, but the king was the one who would ultimately decide.  So Hobbes believed in representation, but did not think that the representatives should have any actual governing power.

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