Common Power in a Realistic Sense

November 4, 2011

Political Theory


Hobbes considers a state of nature a place where there is constant war and the beliefs of an individual prevail. To prevent a state of nature, according to Hobbes a common power must be implemented. For a common power to be successful in his eyes, it must be absolute and overwhelming so the people living under rule will be forced to obey and respect the laws. “Where there is no common power, there is no law, where no law, no injustice. Force, and fraud, are in war the cardinal virtues” (Hobbes, Leviathan). Here Hobbes is explaining through a chain of reason that those who do not live under a common power, do not live in a civilized manner. For civilizations, maintaining a common power is a means of maintaining peace and order over the population that it rules. It seems the greatest desire to live under a common power is drawn from human’s instinct emotion of fear. All humans label protection as a necessity, therefore it is reasonable to say that humans will prioritize seeking to live under a unified power they would seek out food and shelter.

To relate this type of Philosophy to a real world scenario, I would like to compare the values of Hobbes to the dictator of North Korea, Kim Jong Il.

North Korea is not a country that exactly has a high standard of living. The citizens living under this communistic government are poverty stricken, and due to famine a high percentage of citizens are malnourished. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is hardly ruled by the people who live there. Kim Jong Il, the supreme ruler of North Korea, during the time he has ruled he has hardly takes into consideration the inhumane ways people he rules are living. Most of his priorities go towards ensuring that North Korea maintains its status as a world militaristic power.

Hobbes believed that having one absolute power would be the most beneficial in maintaining order in a society. Using North Korea as my main example, I personally believe that this type of social contract is the farthest thing from the most beneficial way to rule a country for the people who live there. After watching the video I included in the post, it is obvious the people of North Korea are living in fear and in a society without order. The only aid they have been receiving has come from third party organizations that have no other affiliation with the country they live in. Simultaneously, the people of North Korea are living in a state of Nature while being subject to the negative aspects of living under a common power.

If Hobbes were alive today, would he justify the way North Korea is governed, or would he adjust his beliefs to better accommodate the way the world operates in today’s day and age?

I believe Hobbes’s should have taken into consideration that it is human nature to become easily corruptible when given power. Therefore, I believe this type of social contract should be implemented temporarily to gain power over a chaotic state and institute order. Once the transition has been made, a different form of government should be derived to ensure the needs of the people are its main priority.

http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/.element/apps/cvp/3.0/swf/cnn_416x234_embed.swf?context=embed&videoId=world/2011/09/12/hancocks-nkorea-starving-kids.cnn

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