Justification for Royal Absolutism

Dec 2008
62
#21
I went through the relevant parts of Hobbes' Leviathan. Being a philosopher, he most likely wasn't too interested in presenting pragmatic arguments in favor of an absolute monarchy--at least not like I was looking for, something like "After the Stuarts came to the throne, the English economy perked up, etc." Certainly a primary one would be that (in his eyes) the only thing that held society together at the seams, was a strong absolutist government. Anything less would either grow towards it, or dissolve into anarchy, what Hobbes termed the "state of war." He also said that rebelling against such a monarch was not a wise thing, because there was no guarantee that it would succeed, and that others might follow your example. But it didn't get more specific than that.

Having said that, as someone who has always supported Locke's view of the social contract (government by consent of the governed, as long as it protects your rights) over and against Hobbes' support of absolutist monarchy, I gotta say that Hobbes really does make a decent case. Right now I'm going through Locke's Second Treatise, so I don't have to start rooting for the British the next time I see Mel Gibson's The Patriot. :D
 
Last edited:
Jan 2009
3,333
Minneapolis, MN
#22
I know not what thou seek'st, Paul, even after reading three pages of this. But if you are interested in Locke, you may know that his Two Treatises on Civil Government were written as a rebuttal to Sir Robert Filmer's Patriarcha. This was written during Charles I's reign. It was published in 1681 during the reign of James II. Locke's first treatise was a direct refutation, and his second was a continuation, being a generalization.

Algernon Sidney who, like Charles I, kinda lost his head wrote an even more specific refutation of Patriarcha. Discourses Concerning Government was divided into three parts like Filmer's tract with the same titles. Those were:

* THAT THE FIRST KINGS WERE FATHERS OF FAMILIES
* IT IS UNNATURAL FOR PEOPLE TO GOVERN OR CHOOSE GOVERNORS
* POSITIVE LAWS DO NOT INFRINGE THE NATURAL AND FATHERLY POWER OF KINGS

Beyond that, I recommend the book The Struggle for Sovereignty: Seventeenth-Century English Political Tracts by Joyce Malcolm. I linked to the Publisher's site which provides a description and a link to the table of contents.

Most, perhaps all, of the tracts can probably be found on the Internet if you prefer.
 

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