Friday, February 23, 2018

Response to That Conspiracy to Destroy Our Freedom

(See: Just Above Sunset:That Conspiracy to Destroy Our Freedom)

"We should also expect the argument that Thomas Hobbes started long ago to continue. The idea of community, where people take public action for the public good, is a joke. Life’s not like that. We need a massive authoritarian state – a leviathan – with a single authoritarian head who will slap people around to keep them in line, who cannot be questioned.

And of course the whole concept of community is a conspiracy to destroy our freedom, which we really don’t have under a single authoritarian head who cannot be questioned anyway. But everyone has a gun, so that’s fine. A perpetual armed standoff is freedom too.”

Okay, Alan, I think you're misrepresenting Thomas Hobbes’ views on this issue. In truth, he’s actually on our side, not Trump’s.

Leaving the whole question of a "massive authoritarian state" aside for a second, Hobbes is not “anti-community”. In fact, his quote — in its full version — says that, WITHOUT community, it’s a case of every man for himself, where everyone is essentially the enemy of everyone else, a society in which "there is no place for Industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no Culture of the Earth; … no Arts; no Letters; no Society; and which is worst of all, continuall feare, and danger of violent death”, with the kicker of his argument being, "And the life of man solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short.”

I’m with Hobbes, not Trump. I see no real advantage to living a life of continual fear and danger of violent death.

In the case of guns, this would mean a world of allowing the bad guy who is carrying an instrument of murder the same constitutional right to carry it as the good guy with that same right, so nobody would have the right to take that weapon away from him until AFTER he shoots somebody with it. Meanwhile, until he does, we are all doomed to live in "continuall feare”.

Also, I’m not sure how much emphasis Hobbes places on the “Leviathan” being "a single authoritarian head who will slap people around to keep them in line", like a king. I think he uses the word "Leviathan" to mean a thing of nature, something bigger and more powerful than you and me, but not necessarily an ill-intentioned thing — something like a whale, since one definition of "Leviathan" is "a very large aquatic creature, especially a whale", if you happen to think of whales as not wanting to hurt us.

This is at that same link:
For by Art is created that great Leviathan called a Common-Wealth or State, (in latine Civitas) which is but an Artificiall Man; though of greater stature and strength than the Naturall, for whose protection and defence it was intended
I gather Hobbes would have us think of our government as an invention of nature, the purpose of which is to protect us from harm. I don't think Trump or the NRA would agree, but in their defense, Hobbes was, like, an actual world-famous philosopher who actually thought about stuff, and those other two aren't.

Here he is again:
The office of the sovereign, be it a monarch or an assembly, consisteth in the end for which he was trusted with the sovereign power, namely the procuration of the safety of the people, to which he is obliged by the law of nature.
So Hobbes seems to believe that his great “Leviathan” can be called either a “Common-Wealth”, “State”, “Monarch” or “Assembly”, but whatever, the purpose of it is the “protection and defense” of its constituent people.

The fact that he comes right out and says this seems to indicate he doesn’t believe a civilization is an “every-man-for-himself” community, in which good men (with guns) and bad men (with guns) get to enjoy shooting each other to death, while the rest of us are forced to watch.

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