Saturday, June 10, 2006

Hobbes for President (GOP?) hmmm

Sorry...I'm not gone yet...I'm in the airport yes, but no, I'm not gone. And courtesy of AT&T, I'm now subjected to the day's news via my good buddy Toby—the black box.

I read something from someone I've never noticed before on The title caught my eye. He's got a good clear writing style if I ask me. Nathanael Blake's piece is titled "Rousseau, Hobbes, and Haditha." Knowing me, I hope you understand why this title would catch my attention.

I like the way Blake forms his arguments--his basic premise is that conservatives in general have a better understanding of fallen human nature, and are more inclined to expect atrocities and deal with them without getting over the top about it. This, versus the liberal outlook that just can't understand how an atrocity, once committed, could have been the fault of the individual perpetrator.

Yes and no.

Yes, because I am a conservative who has a strong belief that man is fallen--dead in our trespasses and sins, with no hope except in Christ.

No, because I don't think I speak for every "Reagan conservative," since he (the Gipper) tended to mix a lot of superfluous optimism into his brand of Christianity. American's like to hear that they are good people--so why would a politician say otherwise?

One more problem I have with his explanation: he claims that conservatives take after Hobbes’ view of human nature, and liberals after Rousseau. Correct on Rousseau. He is decidedly wrong with regard to Hobbes though.

Everyone remembers Hobbes’ well-known assessment that life is "nasty, brutish and short," that man is in a perpetual state of war and fear, for which there is no remedy except to create the "Leviathan," or totalitarian state if you will--thereby solving all of man's fears and need for "war of all against all."

Blake is wrong about Hobbes, whom I strongly believe represented a relatively optimistic view of humanity. I believe it takes a great amount of faith in human nature for someone to imagine that man's destiny and well-being can be best safeguarded by entrusting it to one man or one unified entity. Why do we have such a decided division of power here in the US? Because our founder understood power—so did John Locke, a man in strong disagreement with Hobbes and a great influence on the founders.

Yes, I'm a big fan of Lord Acton's blunt assessment: "Absolute power corrupts absolutely." Hobbes plainly disagreed—he doesn't represent me—nor, I hope, the state of American conservatism in general.
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Anonymous Jackie said...

Very interesting. I find it fascinating that there can be Hobbes and Rousseau who were, on the surface at least, coming from opposite ends of the spectrum and yet still be completely wrong. But that is because they are only opposite on the surface. On closer inspection, Rousseau was simply more consistent that Hobbes (although only slightly so). They both totally miss the truth regarding human nature and that is their base.

2:40 PM, June 14, 2006  

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