Hobbes: Make up your mind!

I’m going to say it now, I have not finished the assigned chapters at the time of writing this post. But so far I believe I have a general idea.

Today’s lecture by Dr. Robert Crawford was very interesting, and brought  forward a lot of interesting points. One that struck me was (and this is paraphrasing from my personal lecture notes) when he spoke of one of Hobbes’ ideas as “Be a good ruler or you’re gonna wind up dead. Hobbes feels this is enough to keep them [rulers] in check.”

Now this is one point that has stuck with me. Hobbes views are shown to be very anti-rebellion. One does not question authority, and follows what those in higher positions say. Now, I do not agree with this, but this is what Hobbes believes. I’ll pretend to agree for all intents and purposes.

Here is where my issue lies. In our lecture and the reading, another idea is brought up. “Authoritarian states need to be aware of the natural punishment of going too far”. So, as Dr. Crawford explained, Hobbes believes that if the rulers are bad, people will kill them. That is a natural punishment. Even if rebellion is illegal, that will not stop an angry population.

So, what is Hobbes’ view on rebellion? It is wrong, and should never be done. But, he also says that rulers should be good enough that people will not rebel. Now this seems straightforward, but I still feel unsatisfied. Rebellion is wrong, but will happen if rulers are bad. Well then… wouldn’t that make it good? Or at the very least necessary?

I understand that if the people in charge follow what Hobbes says, he feels rebellion will not occur. But it still remains, if they don’t follow his beliefs, rebellion will happen. It will be needed.

I don’t know if anyone else sees it this way, but I feel a dissonance between ideas here. I’m curious to see what the class thinks in our seminars. Maybe I’ll change my mind!