Hobbes viewed the nature of the state as all-powerful, autocratic, and collectivist because he believed that humans were by nature chaotic and hostile, without peace and security. The government was a machine with absolute sovereign authority that could restore peace and security.
Only this type of government could potentially free society from anarchy, so violations of individual freedom were not important. In this absolutist state, the people surrender their rights to sovereignty and the government should not have accountability to its people.
Meanwhile, Locke was a direct contradiction to Hobbes, arguing that people’s nature was inherently good. Therefore, the government should listen and respond to its people. His philosophy suggested that people were happy in their natural state with some inconveniences. However, man-made laws could exist to protect life, liberty, and property, and to provide security.
In Locke’s belief, the state exists for the welfare of the people, with the goal to provide the best for the community, essentially promoting a welfare state. Locke emphasized democracy and the concept of consent and the majority decision, with the relationship between those who governed and those governed determined by the rule of law.
Locke is known for his Contract theory, which suggests that the government must follow the rule of law and principles outlined in a contract, such as the Constitution, and a violation of such represents a breach of contract giving the right to the people to replace it.
Burke was a highly pragmatic and rational philosopher and politician. He saw the applications of theoretical models such as the social contract to real governments as highly problematic. He argued for the importance of historical and cultural context and determining the connection between rights and the government, disagreeing with the idea of natural rights.
Burke is viewed as laying down the foundations for conservatism in politics, he opposed radical decisions that did not respect the rule of law formulated over centuries. Therefore, he supported structure and political institutions, not necessarily opposing democracy.
- Edmund Burke: The Conservative Liberal
- Locke and Hobbes’s Perception of Human Nature
- Comparison of Thomas Hobbes’ and John Locke’s Social Contract Theories
- The Comparison of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke’s Views
- Thomas Hobbes and John Locke Comparison
- The Political Ideas of Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau
- Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau Political Theories
- John Locke and Thomas Hobbes Beliefs and Ideas Comparison