CSS Solved Political Science 2022 Past Papers | Illustrate the Hobbesian concept of a limited right to revolution.
The following question of Political Science is attempted on the same pattern, taught by Sir to his students, scoring the highest marks in compulsory subjects for years. This solved past paper question is uploaded to help aspirants understand how to crack a topic or question, how to write relevantly, what coherence is, and how to include and connect ideas, opinions, and suggestions to score the maximum.
In this question, the examiner has asked about Hobbes’ limited right to revolution under his proposed social contract.
2- Definition of limited right to revolution
3- Hobbesian concept of limited right to revolution
4- Circumstances in which a limited right to revolution can be exercised
5- Application of the Hobbesian concept of limited right to 6-revolution in the contemporary world
6- Critical analysis
Answer to the Question
The renowned English philosopher Hobbes was born in Westport’s parish, near Malmesbury’s town in the seventeenth century. He wrote the famous book Leviathan in 1651, in which he propounded the famous Social Contract Theory. He is best known for his ideas on the social contract and the role of the state in maintaining order and security in society. In his well-known work “Leviathan,” Hobbes proposed a limited right to the revolution that would have given people the power to overthrow the government in severe situations where the Sovereign (Absolute Monarch) had failed to uphold its duty to protect the people. It is referred to as a “limited right” because it can only be used in the most extreme circumstances, most often when the Sovereign neglects its obligation to protect the people. Moreover, Hobbes was in favor of absolute monarchy and the idea that the Sovereign had the sole authority to impose order through the use of force. Overall, Hobbes’ views are relevant in the current world, but with some criticism.
“A subject could only rightfully resist government authority as a matter of self-defense and only when lethal harm against him was imminent.”Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (1651)
Definition of the limited right to revolution
It means that people can overthrow the government in dire situations where the sovereign has failed to protect them.
Hobbesian concept of Limited Right to Revolution
Hobbes, Locke, and Rosseau, among others, pondered three major issues:
- What is the origin of the state?
- Why is it important to obey the state?
- In what circumstances can people revolt against the state’s authority?
To address all of the aforementioned questions, Hobbes painted a vivid picture of the state of nature, in which people are brutal and nasty but reasoned. The right to life was inherent in the state of nature. They believed that anyone could be killed to preserve their own life. Due to a lack of resources, people started fighting one another to protect their own lives. As a result, serious chaos developed, leading to the start of the war. People then transitioned from a state of nature (peace) to a state of war. Then, people deliberated on Hobbes’s laws of nature. Out of 19 laws, 1st (The first law of nature is about seeking peace) and 2nd (The second law of nature tells people to lay down their rights to seek peace, provided that this can be done safely) became the cornerstones of the social contract. They created a sovereign to escape the war state. The people who created sovereign authority in exchange for protection and security had decided to surrender all their rights instead of the right to life. Therefore, this social contract clearly shows that people had a limited right to revolt and could go against the sovereign only when their right to life was threatened.
“The right to nature… is the liberty each man hath to use his power, as he will himself, for the preservation of his nature; that is to say of his own life.”Hobbes: Leviathan
Hence, Hobbes’s right to revolution is limited because it can only be used when the Sovereign fails to do its job and protect the people. Although Hobbes’ limited right to revolution reflects his belief in the importance of social stability and the need to limit the use of violence in society, many people have said that his ideas are too narrow and based on old ideas about government and society. Despite this, Hobbes’s idea of a limited right to revolution is still an important part of political thought, and it still affects how people talk about the state’s role and the social contract.
Circumstances in which a limited right to revolution can be exercised
Thomas Hobbes’ limited right to revolution can be exercised in the following cases:
- It can be exercised when the Sovereign has failed to fulfil its duty to protect the citizens.
- It should be exercised as a last resort after all other means of redress have failed.
Application of Hobbesian limited rights of revolution in the contemporary world
Hobbes’s idea of a limited right to revolution has led to the adoption of a democratic system of government, which makes it easier and less dangerous to change the government. However, some aspects of Hobbes’ ideas may still be relevant today in certain contexts
The social contract theory of Hobbes, according to which people give up some of their rights in exchange for safety and security, is still widely regarded as the foundation for contemporary states. For instance, the early stages of the Russian Revolution took place under Hobbesian conditions.
Furthermore, monopoly is prevalent in the modern world, where states use force and citizens are prohibited from using weapons to overthrow the government, such as in Myanmar.
In addition to it, the right to oppose or overthrow an oppressive or tyrannical government is still a necessary and justified course of action.
The limited right to revolution proposed by Hobbes may not be applicable in its original form. Nevertheless, the tenets of the social contract and the significance of limiting violence in society are still valid in the modern world.
In a critical diagnosis, the limited right to revolution has been criticized by many scholars. The following are the causes for this:
- This idea is incompatible with modern ideas of democracy and human rights.
- It has a limited scope. As in the state of nature, when people enter the state of war, they get fed up with it. They followed Hobbesian natural law and became sovereign as a result of a revolution. It demonstrates that it has a narrow view of revolution and does not allow for peaceful and regular means of changing government.
- Hobbes’ idea is unrealistic and ignores the historical and social context in which individuals make decisions about government.
- Hobbes’ arguments lack the reality that some governments may use violence to maintain their hold on power and that individuals may need to resist such violence to secure their rights and freedoms.
So, Hobbes’s idea that people have a limited right to start a revolution has some value and merit, but it also has important limits. But still, it has been widely criticized for its narrow scope and outdated views on government and society. Hobbes’ ideas grew out of the English Civil War, so they might not work in other times and places.
“Covenants, without the sword, are but words and of no strength to secure a man at all. For it can never be that war shall preserve life, and peace destroys it.”Hobbes: Leviathan, 1651
To sum up, Thomas Hobbes’ limited right to revolution is at the core of his political philosophy. It continues to be a subject of debate and discussion among scholars and political theorists and has been criticized for its narrow scope and outdated views on government and society. However, his concept of the limited right to revolution will remain relevant in contemporary discussions regarding the state’s role in protecting citizens and maintaining social order. According to Hobbes, this is exercised as a last resort after all other means of redress have failed. Hence, the limited right to revolution reflects Hobbes’ belief in social stability and the need to limit societal violence.
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