Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes

in his book Leviathanpublished in 1651 amid the chaos of the English Civil War, the philosopher Thomas Hobbes took the name of the biblical serpent “Leviathan” to represent the need to establish a strong and centralized government which could effectively maintain social order and ensure the safety of its citizens. Hobbes believed that the natural state of man was permanent war and therefore human life consisted of a “solitary, poor, disagreeable, bestial, and short” existence. Hobbes wondered how we could keep ourselves from falling into the anarchy that inevitably degenerates into a world of violence and horror. He considered that the only way out of this state of nature was for individuals to agree to create a centralized, powerful and sovereign government; with absolute authority to govern them effectively and protect them from their own disputes and from external attacks. This ruler would have the power to make laws and enforce them, and would use military and police force to maintain order, peace and security. For this, the sovereign would impose taxes on his citizens. In short, Hobbes’ idea was that individuals will sacrifice some of their natural rights and freedoms in favor of the sovereign in exchange for living in a safe, calm and stable society. The concept was important because it illustrated how societies can move from a state of nature to a state of civilization.

Daron Acemoglu y James A. Robinson they give Hobbes’s conceptual framework a twist to incorporate the teachings of classical liberalism that show the importance of achieving limited government to secure individual liberties. In his job The narrow hallway. States, societies and the fate of freedom, the authors recognize that political and economic freedoms are essential for progress and long-term prosperity. The book argues that it is necessary to restrain and limit the power of the state. That is, it points to aChained Leviathanso that it does not become a tyrannical state that the authors call “despotic Leviathan”. With tremendous effort, Acemoglu and Robinson review a large number of different companies. They point out that those which have achieved a higher level of economic development are those societies which have achieved a balance between the capacity for action of a strong government as the guarantor of life, property and access to education and health, but which is not so oversized as to affect individual freedoms. A strong but limited governmentnon-despotic or oppressive of the economic and political freedoms of society.

the book’s title, the narrow hallway, refers to the balanced relationship between the power of the state and the power of civil society which is essential for the success of a country and to avoid the excesses of authoritarianism or anarchism. Too bad despite us libertarians, in all the cases analyzed where the Leviathan is almost totally absent, freedoms are diminished. Either because people have to submit to rules or clan codes and customs that severely restrict their free will, or even to the point of falling into outright slavery. This situation generally affects women more seriously.

In contrast, in countries that have achieved significant development based on freedom and rule of law, this is due to the fact that the equilibrium reaches a certain institutional stability when the state contains a professional and meritocratic bureaucracy and is held in check by a vigorous private society, vital and independent. It is also necessary that the political and economic institutions are stable and allow the economic and political inclusion of the vast majority of individuals, avoiding by all means discrimination. This is what happened in the Anglo-Saxon and northern European countries of origin, and in a few other countries such as Japan or Taiwan. Societies with unstable and exclusive political and economic institutions generally struggle to achieve meaningful economic development.

In conclusion, a strong and mobilized civil society with sound values ​​is necessary to keep a liberal democracy alive. But, analyzing what happened in Brazil, Chile, Peru and other countries, it is clear that it is not a question of “making a mess”, nor of taking by force public buildings, nor to set fire to subways; but to create institutions of civil society, such as independent research centers, democratic political parties with internal elections, private universities, NGOs that support free education and work for independent justice and the defense of a free press.

Finally, election monitoring is essential to ensure that voting results are fair. It is useless to mourn as victims what we have not been able to defend as citizens. No need to claim a posteriori that the defeat was due to an alleged fraud. It is essential to act again ex ante and to mobilize as responsible citizens around the motto “to be a prosecutor”.

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