According to Hobbes, the emergence of state is preceded by the so-called natural state, a state of absolute, unrestricted freedom of people who are equal in their rights and abilities. People are equal to each other in their desire to dominate and to have the same rights. Therefore, the natural state for Hobbes is in the «state of war of all against all." The absolute freedom of the individual finds its way in the desire for anarchy, chaos, continuous struggle, in which the killing of man by another man is justified. (Gaskin, 1998) The way out of this situation is in formation of the social contract that provides for the limitation of rights and freedoms of individuals by the state. This delegation of authority is a voluntary decision of the citizens, and a political regime is entirely supported by their will, embodied in their representative, i.e. the ruler. According to the contract, only the sovereign has unconditional, full and unlimited power in the state. At the same time, the sovereign may be an individual or a group of people. (Strauss, 1999)
In the understanding of Hobbes, social contract is aimed at curbing the "wildness" of the natural state of people. The tasks and functions of the sovereign are the formation and maintenance of law and order to ensure the safety of people, their peaceful life, which is the basis and prerequisite of prosperity and true freedom. Thus, the main purpose of the social contract was the formation of the institute of rule of law, internal and external security, integrity, and physical safety of the people. (Strauss, 1999)
The power of the state, in the opinion of Hobbes, should be absolute; the state is entitled to take any coercive measures against their citizens for the benefit of society as a whole. Therefore, the ideal state for Hobbes was an absolute monarchy, absolute power in relation to society.
As for the rights of the state, Hobbes identified six basic points.
- The first right - "sword of justice", i.e. the right to punish offenders, because without this right, safety cannot be ensured;
- The second right - the "sword of war", the right to declare war and sign peace treaties, as well as determine the number of armed forces and the amount of money needed to wage war;
- The third right - the right to judge, to address cases where "applying the sword" is necessary, and impossible without a debate protection of citizens from injustice on the part of other citizens;
- The fourth right - the right to establish ownership laws since prior to the establishment of the government everybody had the right for everything, and that was the cause of war against all,;
- The fifth right - the right to set the submission to state power by which it was possible to conduct balanced regulation of all functions of the government;
- The sixth right - to prohibit harmful teachings that lead to a breach of peace and order within the state and aimed at undermining national unity.
Hobbes gives public authorities all the rights arising from its nature: it leaves citizens the right only to physical life. Even in spiritual matters he gives full authority to the state. In addition, he strongly rejects the concept of separation of powers as a division of sovereignty between factions fighting each other, parties and classes. (Strauss, 1999)
Nevertheless, Hobbes leaves the individual the opportunity to oppose the will of the sovereign. This opportunity is the right to revolt. It appears only when the sovereign, contrary to the natural law, obliges the individual to kill or maim himself or denies to defend him against enemy attack. Protection of your own life based on the supreme law of all nature is the law of self-preservation. Even the sovereign does not have the power to transgress this right. Otherwise, he risks to lose his power. (Gaskin, 1998)
Hobbes, Thomas, and J C. A. Gaskin.(1998) Leviathan. Oxford: Oxford University Press, Internet resource.
Strauss, Leo.(1999) The Political Philosophy of Hobbes, Its Basis and Its Genesis. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Print.