the Specter of Hobbes

Corey Robin has written a quite excellent piece for The Nation about the continuing impact that Hobbesian philosophy has on the contemporary liberal democratic state. Robin argues that Hobbes was the first counter-revolutionary thinker, who successfully detached the idea of liberty from political action and participation. The result was that individuals could now find themselves completely free to pursue their own interests, and therefore enjoy full personal liberty, even under authoritarian forms of government. For Robin, this focus on personal interest and security over public action has affected both Democrats and Republicans today. The only objection I have is that he anachronistically calls Hobbes as a counterrevolutionary. As Robin admits, this term only arose after the French Revolution, yet he leaves this choice of language somewhat in the air. Still, considering my recent interest in Hobbes, this article was a great read.

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