The Democratic Element in Hobbes's Behemoth
AbstractIn this paper, I examine Hobbes's Behemoth as an extended description of and reaction to the dynamism, both positive and negative, of new conditions of democracy. It is not just disorder per se to which Hobbes is responding, but disorder resulting from a democratizing world and the demands of mobilized populations. On one level, he attacks democracy as a realm of elite competition that destroys a public good, yet on another he recognizes the necessity of constructing political principles as responsive to a politicized people and accepts the relevance of the people's judgment. Correspondingly, in this history of the English Civil War, Hobbes emphasized the ideological contention over ideas as a primary political force, with the implications this has for how the king must persuade the people to obey him and for how Hobbes's own positive political philosophy might be made a source of motivation for people.
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