social network for christians | God’s Everlasting Covenant
In 1588, a young English woman (seven-months pregnant) looked out over the sea, and what she saw — the Spanish Armada, with 130 heavily armed ships planning to invade the island — so frightened her that she went into premature labor, the midwife being fear.
Fear, in fact, was an apt image for her child, Thomas Hobbes, who became one of Europe's greatest political theorists. Living at a time when England had been wracked by civil war and endless religious violence, Hobbes wrote that humankind, without a strong, all-encompassing government, existed in a state of perpetual fear — fear of instability, fear of conquest, and, most of all, fear of death. People lived in what he called "the war of all against all" and that unless something radical was done, human life would be, he warned, nothing but "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."
What was the solution? Hobbes said that there was only one: the people must place themselves under a single power that would reduce all their wills to a single will and that would exercise complete authority over them. This power, this sovereign — be it a single man or an assembly of men — though wielding absolute hegemony over the nation, would end the terrible conditions that made their lives so fearful and unstable. In other words....