The Modern Sovereign - Essay Example

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While Thomas Hobbes is known for his idea on the social contract, his philosophy and belief of the "Sovereign" can be looked into as a symbol for the world's present situation in the political context. In this theory it says that:
"When people mutually covenant each to the others to obey a common authority, they have established what Hobbes calls "sovereignty by institution"…
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The Modern Sovereign
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The Modern "Sovereign" While Thomas Hobbes is known for his idea on the social contract, his philosophy and belief of the "Sovereign" can be looked into as a symbol for the world's present situation in the political context. In this theory it says that:

"When people mutually covenant each to the others to obey a common authority, they have established what Hobbes calls "sovereignty by institution". When, threatened by a conqueror, they covenant for protection by promising obedience, they have established "sovereignty by acquisition". These are equally legitimate ways of establishing sovereignty, according to Hobbes, and their underlying motivation is the same-- namely fear-- whether of one's fellows or of a conqueror. Political legitimacy depends not on how a government came to power, but only on whether it can effectively protect those who have consented to obey it; political obligation ends when protection ceases." (1)

The word covenant also means agreement or an arrangement and in the modern age such as now, it is more practical to look at Hobbes's theory and on how it can be related to the way people live and or survive. The word "sovereignty" can also be connected to an old word which we also call "colonialism." Cheedy Jaja from the University of Florida explained this in her paper. She stated that Hobbes' colonialism also refer to the Sovereign as the one responsible for the protection of the people or groups included in the covenant (who also submitted themselves under the power of the sovereign for the purpose of protection) also has the responsibility for the distribution of materials that can sustain life. This distribution of materials to the people under his power may not be sufficient. According to Hobbes, (also explained by Jaja) this may lead again to a battle for goods or materials (possessions). This same thing happened in the past when the distribution and acquisition of things can only happen through a battle or war, the very reason why colonialism in the literal sense (through imperial conquest) happened in Europe in the past. Now looking at the present situation, third world countries along with the first world are no different in the case of striving for progress and this can be traced from their need for possessions (which can eventually be directed to the need for power) to a more complex desire for significant social status.

As the world progresses, there is also the continuing effort for the 1st world to improve its machineries (also called technology). This improvement can be looked into as a tool for a better and faster acquisition of the goods and materials to prolong and maintain both the lives of the people under a covenant (a country with its obedient people indirectly enslaved by the rules that govern the country under a ruler). This makes the idea of the sovereign visible for every country that has rules and rulers protecting them. In a bigger context, the principle of the sovereign is also at work when countries create an organization such as United Nations, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and many more, convene and create a bond of "friendship." When this happens, it is expected that something will be done like the expected protection and satisfaction should be answered as these are the main reasons for the other countries' submission under the organization or under an authority. They exert effort to meet and create rules for their own protection. An example of this is the protection against biological weapons of destruction where the members of the United Nations well protected (where they also have to follow). Same rules apply in this case of world or international organizations in a way that there is a leader country that has to facilitate changes in decisions and a leader who will benefit the most in exchange of the protection against modern colonialism and modern threat for a "violent death."


1. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. "Hobbes's Moral and Political Philosophy." April 22, 2007.

2. Jaja, Cheedy. "Hobbes's Theory of Colonialism and the African Colonial Experience: Structural and Programmatic Affinities." April 22, 2007.

3. Finkelstein, Claire. "Hobbes on Law." April 22, 2007.

4. Bartleby. "Hobbes and Contemporary Philosophy." April 22, 2007.

5. "Covenenat." April 22, 2007. Read More
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