4 Ways to Tell if You are a Hobbesian

Sure, you may Thoreau-ly enjoy your fair share of different political theorist and philosophers. Heck, you might John, Locke and Drop It with the best on the dance floor. But perhaps you feel that Hobbes is your one true spirit animal – read on to find out. (no social contract needed)

1. You have a twin, who is more of an emotion than an actual tangible being. Hobbes said “my mother gave birth to twins: myself and fear” in response the inevitable invasion by the Spanish Armada.

Because nobody suspects the Spanish Inquisition (or Armada)

2. You’re kind of a Debbie Downer about life; Hobbes believed that man’s state of nature was “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” Obviously he never outgrew his emo-depressive middle school phase. Or maybe he was just recovering from watching the Fault in Our Stars.

      Obviously listening to nothing but Suicide Silence while living in fear worked for him.

3. You are a fan of authority. Preferably absolute sovereignty. It may not necessarily be a king, but, hey, someone has to make sure everyone checks themselves before they wreck themselves. Human existence without a leader is the State of Nature. And the State of Nature leads to war, death, etc, etc. Hobbes believed that fearing death and needing resources was reason enough for people to make a social contract and submit to governments. All-out civil war would occur without a strong government.

There was liberty and justice for all:Lorde…

4. Leaders can never be bad in your book. Because their intention and purpose is good, their legitimacy always remains. There is not really a distinction for you between leaders by an agreement or leaders by force – you’re obligated to obey them as long as they protect you because your right to self-preservation is important. Hobbes found both types of leaders legitimate, as long as they were protecting the people’s personal interest.

According to Hobbes, their decisions were always legitimate. According to Daughtry fans, no.

  While Hobbes’ ideals of fear driven life seem a little far fetched, in situations where the results and future are uncertain, it seems that Hobbes’ ideas on human nature and social contracts become the norm. This was seen in the “abandoned island” game that some discussion groups played. We were divided up in groups of 5, told we were left on an island and were given skills and roles. It was similar to a RPG game except instead of being a mage or a warrior, you were a mighty fisherman or a chef. Each roll had different benefits to the team and to their individual self and could combine with other shipwrecked people to reap more benefits. (For example: The medic could make more medicine if the fisherman showed the medic where to find particular plants.) Each group was given a theorist and we had to design a strategy for survival. In our discussion, we noted that the while the ideas of Locke and Rousseau can be observed in “normal” society; they seem very idealistic when you’re rationing your food and medicine on an abandoned island in the middle of the ocean. When a degree of uncertainty comes into play, rather that’s uncertainty about the future, about an outcome, etc, the ideas of Hobbes shine through as humans become more fearful and self-interested. Hobbes also makes no distinction between leaders through force and leaders through covenant. He believed both were valid and legitimate. In our discussion, the Hobbes groups both chose to elect an official leader. However, when watching ‘similar’ scenarios, such as Survivor or any other reality TV competition, it seems that an unofficial leader seems to come to power without consent and ‘rule’ some of the contestants. In situations with uncertain outcomes and real or imminent fear, it seems that there really is very little distinction between the two types of leaders.

There’s no shame in being a Hobbesian. . . only fear


“The Haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate”