Journal entry: Summary for Book I, II, and III
Leviathan is a book written by Thomas Hobbes. It shows the basic arrangement of a societal contract conjecture from a political viewpoint. Hobbes’ work has remained the framework on which other political thinkers have outlined the social contract theories. Hobbes’ work comprises the foundation in which other political theories are now based in the world today in many of the democratic nations, although in varying degrees. Through analyzing Thomas Hobbes’s book, it is highly evident that Hobbes introduces a new and important idea in the political realm and his concepts bear commonly broad themes with the social contract conjectures even in the present world. However, his theory bears some aspects that make it almost incompatible with the modern-day forms of democracies.
Thomas Hobbes writes his book, the Leviathan during a period of war, especially in the civil war in England. Hobbes’ initial premise held that all people are in a state of nature and that within this particular state of nature, individuals are competitive and selfish towards one another, leading them to pursue more power on a constant basis. Hobbes believed that the desire in human beings to constantly seek more power, only ceases upon death. Further, in this state of nature, Hobbes argues that people seek to preserve their own situations and are highly fearful of death through others.
Hobbes illustrates that in a state of nature, there as well prevails a state of rule. The law states that, as a natural event, individuals seek to obtain peace and justice, which contributes to the political structure of mutual advantage where everyone is in a state of consent. According to Hobbes, people would tend to give up their personal freedom and make social contracts with other people of similar minds since more than anything else; individuals want to avoid premature death. By taking away individual freedom, the social contract formed develops a commonwealth that places every individual on an equal playing ground, which in return acts to prevent other people from acting selfishly in their state of nature.
In order to preserve as well as sustain the societal contract that is formed by the people in the society, a state acquires the communal strength of the commonwealth, which in return assists in protecting the people. Whatever the sovereign does, it is considered legitimate because the people themselves authorized and mandated its rule in an effort to stay out of the state of nature. In regard to Hobbes’ model, express endorsement of the state through the people is not indispensable. If the state has the capacity to control and manage a population out of fear, then it can also protect the people. Whereas the sovereign has the power to behave in any manner, the people do not have the same authority, as noted by Hobbes, “nothing may be performed without the sovereign’s permission.” The sovereign enjoys absolute rule and cannot be questioned unless otherwise, it fails to protect its people. Any form of political freedom that a person might want is not legal. In efforts to ensure a sovereign other than one of nature, the state must possess this complete control.
In comparison, people in democracies also give up certain personal freedom in order to preserve and protect stability as well as offer authority to a cooperative whole. What Hobbes believed of a sovereign ruler, one can see that in the present day, in a democracy, the state bears a similar role to undertake for all the people. These are the similarities between the broad elements of Hobbes’ constructs and the arrangements in the modern democracies, although specifics of a number of current social contract theories vary. Moreover, the first major difference in the theory in the contemporary world is with whom the contract is made.
The contract supposition in Leviathan only existed between the subjects without including the government. On the contrary, contemporary social contracts are frequently on the center of democracies since a democracy provides the people with certain aspects of order in their lives, while still permitting them seek some aspects of their own personal desires. The idea is to create equilibrium, in order for the political parties to be strong enough to rule, but not as strong as to impede people’s freedom.
In modern times, democratic governments operate in a relationship with their citizens through making contracts with the state as well as each other, even though the contract is not just an arrangement between the citizens. Instead, it becomes a three-part contract in which the populace openly consents to a central government, which is both protective as well as accountable and one that has an agreement between one another.
Another difference from Hobbes is that in contemporary democracies, people must directly mandate the power of the government, which is often performed through voting. Moreover, political freedoms, which are not provided to the people in the Leviathan, are a major element in the modern world of democracy. Subjects can question as well as modify the occupant of the political authority, and persons in political positions enjoy no complete rein. They reshuffled on a continuous basis and may also lose their positions in the political realm. In the modern-day world, there is an unwavering belief that citizens have inalienable rights, which should never be threatened or even diminished by the state. A sovereign government that is not accountable to the people is more likely to misuse power and infringe on the rights of its subjects.
Hobbes would possibly agree that the divisions of power in modern democracies would result in a situation of nature among the governing bodies. Conversely, through placing checks of power that each may perform on the other, the divisions of power counteract any likelihood of any division dominating over another. Placing political power in one set of hands in the contemporary day has led to tremendous misuse of power. Hobbes maintains that in order to attain peace, which is naturally required by humanity, then an individual needs to comply with fundamental laws of the commonwealth.
The desire for a more democratic government with balanced checks of power in the United States can be tracked to the enlightened as well as the profound influence of colonial thinkers. These colonial thinkers believed that progress and development were highly correlated to human reason unbolting the coverts of the natural world. Many of the revolutions that were witnessed in American society starting from the 18th century made it possible for drastic transformations in terms of the Americans’ opinions, principles, and sentiments. Other issues and problems, as well as ideas, influenced the social norms and values, gender and cultural roles, and political morals as American society advanced into a democratic country. Debates as well as disagreements concerning the government power, different economies, new state’s liaison with other countries, and the federal control of the western problems, changed the American political landscape.
Basis structure of the U.S government
The structure of the American government is defined by the constitution. The American federal government is divided into three major branches namely; the executive branch, the judiciary, and the legislature. The executive branch is made up of the president as well as his cabinet. The executive is mandated with the power to enforce the laws of the constitution.
The United States judiciary is made up of the entire judicial. It is the judiciary’s obligation and duty to ensure that the laws made by the legislature are legitimate and do not infringe upon the rights of the citizens. On the other hand, the legislature is made up of the senate as well as house representatives. The legislature is mandated to create laws and other regulations that are in line with the greater befit of the people.
Constitution and its amendments
The constitution is the highest law in the United States of America. The constitution is mandated with the autonomous power of the people of America through the framers as well as the consent of the legislature. The constitution in the United States gives the government authority and also offers significant limitations on the government, which protects the primary and basic rights of the people in American society.
The need for a constitution in America grew due to the problems resulting from the Articles of Confederation that established a strong league of a partnership between America and put a lot of powers in the congress of the confederation. However, these powers were extremely limited and the central government always conducted diplomacy as well as made war, set measures and weights, and was the final arbiter of the conflicts within the state. Importantly, it could not raise financial resources on its own and was absolutely dependent on the states themselves for the financial support is needed in order to operate. Each state had to send a delegation of two to seven members to the congress, who voted in blocs with each state thus, getting one vote. However, any decision of the consequence needed an undisputed vote that led to a government that was totally paralyzed and ineffective.
An association that was meant to change the Articles commenced and efforts to attend a convention in order to discuss the changes and transformations to the articles, which were later, sent to the state legislatures in the year 1787. In May the same year, delegations from 12 of the 13 states convened and began the work of redesigning the government. They also began to work on drafting a new constitution for the United States. The major aim of the constitutional convention was to develop a government that had enough powers and authority to act on a national level, but also without much power that the fundamental freedoms, as well as rights of people, would be at jeopardy. One way to achieve this was through the division of powers of the federal administration into three branches namely, the executive, judiciary, and the legislature. Another way was to create checks of balance in order to ensure that no one of the branches of the government had dominancy of the other.
The procedure of ratifying the constitution was also started in the constitution which provided much more popular debate in America. The constitution simply took effect once it had been approved by nine out of the thirteen state legislatures and a unanimity vote was not required. Ratification for the constitution proceeded with debating much more intensely than ever. Amendments were made and endorsed in accordance with the fifth Article of the original constitution. Among the modifications that were made to the American constitution included; the first amendment, which required that there needed to be no law or legislation in respect of institutionalization of a religion or barring the implementation thereof. The second amendment was well regulated around the Militia, which stated that the Militia being essential to the security of the people, the right and freedom of the people to keep or bear arms, was not to be infringed. The third amendment required that no solder may in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the permission of the owner, or in the time of war, but in a manner prescribed in the law. The fourth amendment rotated around the rights of the people of America and required for the rights of people to be respected and held. Other amendments included the fourth amendment up to the twelfth amendment.
The Constitution and establishment of political rights and liberties
The constitution plays a very crucial role in American society in establishing political rights as well as individual freedoms for all the people within the American society. The constitution in America acts as the primary protector of all the rights and liberties of people. The constitution protects both the rights and liberties of people in a variety of ways. First, the constitution sets up a fair form of government. Through the constitution, the American people have been able to fully set a government that is fair and just for all the people. One cannot be free without the wings of justice in existence, and thus, a fair and just government will always ensure that the political rights, as well as the basic rights of other citizens, have been completely met. Secondly, the constitution sets up the rules for which the government should work by creating boundaries. Moreover, the creation of boundaries limits the government from infringing the rights of people. Through the creation of boundaries, the government is also held accountable. Thirdly, the bill of rights outlines individual freedom and liberty in American society, which is one of the parts that protect the fundamental rights of the people. The American constitution also ensures checks of equilibrium among the branches of the government so that there is no chance that one branch is prevailing over the other. Through maintaining such checks of equilibrium, the constitution, through the judiciary oversees that laws and legislations are followed to the later. The constitution also sets grounds and the basis on which an individual can be accountable and arrested or infringed his/her right, but permits certain measures to be pursued in order to ensure a fair and just system. In addition, all the political parties in America are recognized under the constitution, and the constitution provided for the political parties’ acts which ensure a fair and just political system. Therefore, the constitution makes up a very critical component in the American society, which protects and ensures equality for all those who live within the American society.
Branches of the federal government
The three main branches of the central government encompass the legislature, the judiciary, and the executive. All the three arms of government labor in order to run the country. The constitution provides for this structure in order that no one branch has more power than the others. The legislative division of the central government is explained in the constitution of America and it is made up of the senate and members of parliament. The legislative arm of the national administration is the arm that makes the laws and determines whether a bill will pass as a law or not. The legislative arm also approves the appointments of federal judges. It also passes the national budget and also has the power to declare war.
The executive arm is also explained under the constitution. It encompasses the president and his cabinet ministers. The executive arm of the national government undertakes as well as implements laws. The judiciary is described in the constitution and it is comprised of the courts of the land. The judiciary in American society interprets the laws as well as punishes lawbreakers.
A check of balance is where each of the arms of the government can control the powers of the other arms. This structure was established through the constitution of America in order to prevent any of the government’s branches from dominating the federal government. The constitution, therefore, provides the mechanisms for balancing the powers between the three branches of government.
The function of public views, the media, political parties, and interest groups in the development of governmental policies
Interest groups, public opinions, political parties, and the media are one of the important mechanisms through which people in the United States make their needs, ideas, and views known to the elected officials. Citizens in America can often find an interest group, the media, political parties, or opinion groups, which focus on their concerns. Public opinions play a critical role in influencing the functions of the government and the development of government policies. Through public opinions, citizens are able to express their satisfaction or dissatisfaction in the manner the government operates or makes its policy. The political system also participates in a crucial manner in influencing the development of government policies through acting as a watchdog and criticizing the government to improve in its service delivery to its subjects. On the other hand, the media acts as a highly significant function in holding the government accountable. The media gathers and collects information of importance to the general public concerning the government priorities, planning programs, and development of policies. Media also provide citizens with news and information about the government as well as reporting the public’s views and opinions about the government. Moreover, media creates public awareness as well as an understanding of government policies, services, and initiatives. Through such information from and to the government, media influences the development of policies in the county.