Archive for the ‘protection of the weak’ Category

Why we need government

August 25, 2009

it is manifest that during the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war; and such a war as is of every man against every man…

…where every man is enemy to every man, the same consequent to the time wherein men live without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them withal. In such condition there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

It may seem strange to some man that has not well weighed these things that Nature should thus dissociate and render men apt to invade and destroy one another: and he may therefore, not trusting to this inference, made from the passions, desire perhaps to have the same confirmed by experience. Let him therefore consider with himself: when taking a journey, he arms himself and seeks to go well accompanied; when going to sleep, he locks his doors; when even in his house he locks his chests; and this when he knows there be laws and public officers, armed, to revenge all injuries shall be done him; what opinion he has of his fellow subjects, when he rides armed; of his fellow citizens, when he locks his doors; and of his children, and servants, when he locks his chests. Does he not there as much accuse mankind by his actions as I do by my words?

Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, CHAPTER XIII OF THE NATURAL CONDITION OF MANKIND AS CONCERNING THEIR FELICITY AND MISERY

Every key in your pocket, every precaution you take to avoid being mugged, every steel window shutter pulled down at the end of the day’s trading, every CCTV camera, every pin code, every ID check etc. etc. reminds us that we need the rule of law, backed up by force, to make society function with any degree of civility.

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Right without might is helpless, might without right is tyrannical.

August 25, 2009

Right without might is challenged, because there are always evil men about. Power without justice is to be condemned. Justice and power must be brought together, so that whatever is just may be powerful, and whatever is powerful may be just Right tends to be debatable, while power is recognizable and cannot be disputed. Therefore it is impossible to give power to justice, because power has tended to repudiate justice and declare it to be unjust and has instead argued that power itself is just. Thus being unable to make right into might, we have made might into right.

Pascal

Freedom and the Rule of Law

August 22, 2009

Men are largely interdependent, and no man’s activity is so completely private as never to obstruct the lives of others in any way. ‘Freedom for the pike is death for the minnows’ ; the liberty of some must depend on the restraint of others.

Isaiah Berlin

In a genuinely free society there is a certain irony; the pikes must be restrained to safeguard the freedom of the minnows.