HOBBES: LEVIATHAN (early 17th c.)

During the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war; and such a war as is of every man, against every man.

Whatever therefore is consequent to a time of war, where every man is without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them. In such condition, there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth, no navigation nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea, no navigation nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea, no commodious building, no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force, no knowledge of the face of the earth, no account of time, no arts, no letters, no society, and worst of all, continual fear and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. . . .

It may perhaps be thought there was never such a time nor condition of war as this; and I believe it was never generally so over all the world: but there are many places, where they live so now. For the savage people in many places of America, . . . have no government at all; and live at this day in that brutish manner. . .

In such a condition, every man has a right to every thing, even to one anothers body. And therefore, as long as this natural right of every man to every thing endures, there can be no security to any man (however strong or wise he be,) of living out the time which nature ordinarily allows men to live. And consequently it is a precept, or general rule of reason, that every man ought to strive for peace, as far as he has hope of obtaining it; and when he cannot obtain it, that he may seek and use all helps, and advantages of War. The first branch of this rule, contain the first, and fundamental law of nature; which is, to seek Peace, and follow It. The second, the sum of the right of nature; which is, by all means we can, to defend ourselves.

From this fundamental law of nature, by which men are commanded to endeavour peace, is derived this second law; that a man be willing, when others are too, as far as for peace and defence of himself he shall think it necessary, to lay down this right to all things: and be contented with as much liberty against other men as he would allow other men against himself. For as long as every man holds this right of doing anything he likes, so long are all men in the condition of War. . . . A commonwealth is said to be instituted, when a multitude of men agree, and covenant, every one, with every one, that to whatever man, or assembly of men, shall be given by the major part the right . . . to be their representative, every one, as well he that voted for it as he that voted against it, shall authorise all the actions and judgments of that man or assembly of men, in the same manner as if they were his own, to the end of living peaceably amongst themselves, and being protected against other men.

From this institution of a commonwealth are derived all the rights, and faculties of him, or them, on whom the sovereign power is conferred by the consent of the people assembled.

Because the right of bearing the person of them all is given to him they make sovereign by covenant only of one to another, and not of him to any of them; there can happen no breach of covenant on the part of the sovereign; and consequently none of his subjects, by any pretence of forfeiture, can be freed from his subjection. . . .

The sovereignty [possesses] the whole power of prescribing the rules, whereby every man may know what goods he may enjoy and what actions he may do without being molested by any of his fellow subjects . . .

The sovereignty [possesses] the right of judicature; that is to say, of hearing and deciding all controversies which may arise concerning law, either civil or natural, or concerning fact. For without the decision of controversies there is no protection of one subject, against the injuries of another. . . .

And as the power, so also the honour of the sovereign ought to be greater than that of any or all the subjects. For in the sovereignty is the fountain of honour. The dignities of lord, earl, duke, and prince are his creatures. As in the presence of the master the servants are equal and without any honour at all, so are the subjects, in the presence of the sovereign. And though they shine some more, some less when they are out of his sight, yet in his presence they shine no more than the stars in the presence of the sun.