Since the beginning of time, the issue of authority has been discussed. From God, to absolute Sovereigns and until democratic parliaments, different outlooks on political power and its holder have been developed and applied. These theories have been fought or defended, they have given birth to passions, changes, wars and revolutions throughout History. Some of them have played an essential role in our modern conception of politics and definitively changed the notion and perception of political authority. The Social Contract theorists' approaches marked a turning-point in political thought. Considering that human beings are, by nature, free and equal, they deduced that the original legitimacy of governments (the legitimacy of political authority) must be the result of a social contract' passed between consenting individuals.
[...] To conclude, it can be said that the importance of the social contract theory is to reveal a new conception of political authority. This will definitely affect their successors thinking. T. Hobbes's account is, as seen, very disputable and quite unfit to illustrate the revolution of the mentality during this period. Nonetheless, he has the merit to make people think about and react to his approach, starting the crucial debate. J. Locke's theory shapes a large part of modern political thought, and probably also contributes to defining our democracy. [...]
[...] Whereas Locke believes in good human beings, Hobbes makes them passionate, in the opposite extreme. Both are wrong, human beings are even freer than that. They are free to go against their reason and free to decide not to fight. Thereafter, Locke explains that judges are needed in case of disputes about property. Actually, property can be analyzed as our body, mind, culture, education Numerous aspects of the community's life can enter this notion. This shows how important this concept of property is, but is also a bias for the government to rule everything. [...]
[...] So if rebellions should continue, according to Hobbes, hence this sanctions internal warfare and civil strife that the creation of an absolute sovereign was supposed to end'. Thus, this argument carries on with a larger description of this self-defense right: not to kill someone else, not to be dishonored, not to be endangered Which means that no police or army can be raised, so no coercive power can be exercised, so no absolute ruler can be created? The conclusion is that everyone keeps his right to self-preservation so peace cannot be established in this way. [...]
[...] This is an important issue on practical ground and politics usually deals with the pragmatic problem. This authority must be, by necessity, a human being or an association of human beings. Knowing the nature of men, how could someone holding all the power be an answer to the problem of violence and abuse? This sovereign would be able to rule on his subjects how he wants, nobody could oppose to it on penalty of breaking the social contract and going back to the ‘state of war'. [...]
[...] This is a conception of political authority that is used in the modern European states. The nation and government can be differentiated. The government can be denounced without threatening the nation as a whole. This theory definitely opens the Age of Enlightenment in my opinion. Locke's ideas about the supremacy of the Legislative is quite disputable. The legislative, being the spirit of a power, needs to be important but a spirit cannot be applied and implemented without strong expedients. However, these elements would be analyzed later notably by Montesquieu about the separation of power and the balance between them. [...]
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