Political Thinkers: Hobbes and Machiavelli
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Many medieval political thinkers observed that power and authority came first from God and then from a social mandate. In "Leviathan", Thomas Hobbes proposes that power comes from the social mandate first. He makes this assertion on the basis that it is within the human nature to secure its life through banding together with others to form a community. Each community, then, is held together by a common desire for protection from the wild while maintaining isolation of the self from others. One person, and in Hobbes' view it really doesn't matter who, must be able to make decisions on behalf of the community, that person, even if he/she does not enjoy unanimous support, becomes the sovereign. Hobbes' concept of authority and power, then, stems from the belief that people have leaders because such people are necessary to maintain the unification of society and thus maintain the protection of the people from the wild. Niccolo Machiavelli had a slightly different idea as to the justification and origin of power and authority. Machiavelli concurs with Hobbes that a sovereign is necessary for the unification of the society. But, rather than being the arbitrary selection of a society, the Machiavellian sovereign is, by necessity, a member of an established and influential family, a man with long blood-lines to other rulers who, by nature of his heredity, has less cause to offend others and thus rules effectively through his urbane nature.
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