Hobbes, Peace, and Liberty

Happy birthday, Thomas Hobbes!

To be fair to a man on his birthday, as I am wont to do, all Hobbes ever wanted was peace. He put this goal before the question of how best to realize justice, liberty, and such matters within the state. This was a matter of practicality and a hope, I believe, that much of this, like religious truth, would be relegated as much as possible to private life. This approach has a lot going for it, and libertarians who most likely prefer their Locke or Smith when it comes to the issue of the consequences of self-interest and other matters should consider it.

Lets not forget that Hobbes did take individual freedom seriously. Just look at his justification of armed resistance to government officials who seek to arrest you, especially where you face the death penalty.

The amazing blogger Mencius Moldbug lays out a map for freedom, with peace as the foundation of a political pyramid of needs. After this comes security, then law, and finally the Misesian goal of freedom and spontaneous order.

I’m not saying he’s definitely right, but he is reasonable.


About Cranky Notions
Reactionary. That fella from the Norris scandal.

4 Responses to Hobbes, Peace, and Liberty

  1. Sorcha says:

    On the extensive list of things strawmanned by libertarians, Hobbes is pretty high up there.

  2. Rob says:

    I read Leviathan a couple of years ago, and what surprised me most was that Hobbes believed in laws against “hate speech”, which is strange for a 17th century thinker. He believed the loss to freedom of expression was outweighed by the benefit of preventing feuds, duels and vendettas.

    • It makes perfect sense when all you want is peace. Sometimes, a less heated public square and parameters to debate keep us from barbarism. Look at the era Hobbes came out of. The 1600’s were an era of atrocity propaganda used to stir up violence, particularly of a religious bent. Such propaganda, exaggerating the Irish massacres against Protestants there in 1641, helped spur the Cromwell campaign of 1649.

      As Moldbug says, in a state of war, advance toward peace; in a state of insecurity, advance toward security; in a state of security, advance toward law; in a state of law, advance toward freedom. And don’t skip steps.

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