De Cive

by Thomas Hobbes


Chapter V.

Of the causes, and first begining of civill Government

I. It is of it selfe manifest, that the actions of men proceed from the will, and the will from hope, and feare, insomuch as when they shall see a greater good, or lesse evill, likely to happen to them by the breach, than observation of the Lawes, they'l wittingly violate them. The hope therefore which each man hath of his security, and self-preservation, consists in this, that by force or craft he may disappoint his neighbour, either openly, or by stratagem. Whence we may understand, that the naturall lawes, though well understood, doe not instantly secure any man in their practise, and consequently, that as long as there is no caution had from the invasion of others, there remains to every man that same primitive Right of selfe-defence, by such means as either he can or will make use of (that is) a Right to all things, or the Right of warre; and it is sufficient for the fulfiling of the naturall law, that a man be prepared in mind to embrace Peace when it may be had.

II. It is an old saying, That all lawes are silent in the time of warre, and it is a true one, not onely if we speak of the civill, but also of the naturall lawes, provided they be referr'd not to the mind, but to the actions of men, by the third Chapter, Art. 29. And we mean such a war as is of all men against all men; such as is the meer state of nature; although in the warre of nation against nation a certain mean was wont to be observed. And therefore in old time there was a manner of living, and as it were a certain oeconomy, which they called leotrikon, living by Rapine, which was neither against the law of nature, (things then so standing) nor voyd of glory to those who exercised it with valour, not with cruelty. Their custome was, taking away the rest, to spare life, and abstain from Oxen fit for plough, and every instrument serviceable to husbandry, which yet is not so to be taken, as if they were bound to doe thus by the law of nature, but that they had regard to their own glory herein, lest by too much cruelty, they might be suspected guilty of feare.

III. Since therefore the exercise of the naturall law is necessary for the preservation of Peace, and that for the exercise of the naturall law security is no lesse necessary, it is worth the considering what that is which affords such a security: for this matter nothing else can be imagined, but that each man provide himselfe of such meet helps, as the invasion of one on the other may bee rendered so dangerous, as either of them may think it better to refrain, than to meddle. But first it is plain, that the consent of two or three cannot make good such a security; because that the addition but of one, or some few on the other side, is sufficient to make the victory undoubtedly sure, and hartens the enemy to attacque us. It is therefore necessary, to the end the security sought for may be obtained, that the number of them who conspire in a mutuall assistance be so great, that the accession of some few to the enemies party may not prove to them a matter of moment sufficient to assure the victory.

IV. Farthermore, how great soever the number of them is who meet on selfe-defence, if yet they agree not among themselves of some excellent means whereby to compasse this, but every man after his own manner shall make use of his endeavours, nothing will be done; because that divided in their opinions they will be an hinderance to each other, or if they agree well enough to some one action through hope of victory, spoyle, or revenge, yet afterward through diversity of wits, and Counsels, or emulation, and envy, with which men naturally contend, they will be so torne and rent, as they will neither give mutuall help, nor desire peace, except they be constrained to it by some common feare. Whence it followes, that the consent of many, (which consists in this onely, as we have already defined in the foregoing section, that they direct all their actions to the same end, and the common good) that is to say, that the society proceeding from mutuall help onely, yeelds not that security which they seek for, who meet, and agree in the exercise of the above-named lawes of nature; but that somewhat else must be done, that those who have once consented for the common good, to peace and mutuall help, may by fear be restrained, lest afterward they again dissent, when their private Interest shall appear discrepant from the common good.

V. Aristotle reckons among those animals which he calls Politique, not man only, but divers others; as the Ant, the Bee, &c. which though they be destitute of reason, by which they may contract, and submit to government, notwithstanding by consenting, (that is to say) ensuing, or eschewing the same things, they so direct their actions to a common end, that their meetings are not obnoxious unto any seditions. Yet is not their gathering together a civill government, and therefore those animals not to be termed politicall, because their government is onely a consent, or many wills concurring in one object, not (as is necessary in civill government) one will. It is very true that in those creatures, living only by sense and appetite, their consent of minds is so durable, as there is no need of any thing more to secure it, and (by consequence) to preserve peace among them, than barely their naturall inclination. But among men the case is otherwise. For first among them there is a contestation of honour and preferment; among beasts there is none: whence hatred and envy, out of which arise sedition and warre, is among men; among beasts no such matter. Next, the naturall appetite of Bees, and the like creatures, is conformable, and they desire the common good which among them differs not from their private; but man scarce esteems any thing good which hath not somewhat of eminence in the enjoyment, more than that which others doe possesse. Thirdly, those creatures which are voyd of reason, see no defect, or think they see none, in the administration of their Common-weales; but in a multitude of men there are many who supposing themselves wiser than others, endeavour to innovate, and divers Innovators innovate divers wayes, which is a meer distraction, and civill warre. Fourthly, these brute creatures, howsoever they may have the use of their voyce to signify their affections to each other, yet want they that same art of words which is necessarily required to those motions in the mind, whereby good is represented to it as being better, and evill as worse than in truth it is; But the tongue of man is a trumpet of warre, and sedition; and it is reported of Pericles, that he sometimes by his elegant speeches thundered, and lightened, and confounded whole Greece it selfe. Fiftly, they cannot distinguish between injury and harme; Thence it happens that as long as it is well with them, they blame not their fellowes: But those men are of most trouble to the Republique, who have most leasure to be idle; for they use not to contend for publique places before they have gotten the victory over hunger, and cold. Last of all, the consent of those brutall creatures is naturall, that of men by compact onely, (that is to say) artificiall; it is therefore no matter of wonder if somewhat more be needfull for men to the end they may live in peace. Wherefore consent, or contracted society, without some common power whereby particular men may be ruled through feare of punishment, doth not suffice to make up that security which is requisite to the exercise of naturall justice.

VI. Since therefore the conspiring of many wills to the same end doth not suffice to preserve peace, and to make a lasting defence, it is requisite that in those necessary matters which concern Peace and selfe-defence, there be but one will of all men. But this cannot be done, unlesse every man will so subject his will to some other one, to wit, either Man or Counsell, that whatsoever his will is in those things which are necessary to the common peace, it be received for the wills of all men in generall, and of every one in particular. Now the gathering together of many men who deliberate of what is to be done, or not to be done, for the common good of all men, is that which I call a COUNSELL.

VII. This submission of the wils of all those men to the will of one man, or one Counsell, is then made, when each one of them obligeth himself by contract to every one of the rest, not to resist the will of that one man, or counsell, to which he hath submitted himselfe; that is, that he refuse him not the use of his wealth, and strength, against any others whatsoever (for he is supposed still to retain a Right of defending himselfe against violence) and this is called UNION. But we understand that to be the will of the counsell, which is the will of the major part of those men of whom the Counsell consists.

VIII. But though the will it self be not voluntary, but only the beginning of voluntary actions (for we will not to will, but to act) and therefore falls least of all under deliberation, and compact; yet he who submits his will to the will of an other, conveighs to that other the Right of his strength, and faculties; insomuch as when the rest have done the same, he to whom they have submitted hath so much power, as by the terrour of it hee can conforme the wills of particular men unto unity, and concord.

IX. Now union thus made is called a City, or civill society, and also a civill Person; for when there is one will of all men, it is to be esteemed for one Person, and by the word (one) it is to be knowne, and distinguished from all particular men, as having its own Rights and properties; insomuch as neither any one Citizen, nor all of them together (if we except him whose will stands for the will of all) is to be accounted the City. A CITY therefore (that we may define it) is one Person, whose will, by the compact of many men, is to be received for the will of them all; so as he may use all the power and faculties of each particular person, to the maintenance of peace, and for common defence.

X. But although every City be a civill Person, yet every civill Person is not a City; for it may happen that many Citizens, by the permission of the City, may joyne together in one Person, for the doing of certain things. These now will be civill Persons, as the companies of Merchants, and many other Convents; but Cities they are not, because they have not submitted themselves to the will of the company simply, and in all things, but in certain things onely determined by the City; and on such termes as it is lawfull for any one of them to contend in judgement against the body it selfe of the sodality; which is by no means allowable to a Citizen against the City; such like societies therefore are civill Persons subordinate to the City.

XI. In every city, That Man, or Counsell, to whose will each particular man hath subjected his will (so as hath been declared) is said to have the SUPREME POWER, or CHIEFE COMMAND, or DOMINION; which Power, and Right of commanding, consists in this, that each Citizen hath conveighed all his strength and power to that man, or Counsell; which to have done (because no man can transferre his power in a naturall manner) is nothing else than to have parted with his Right of resisting. Each Citizen, as also every subordinate civill Person, is called the SUBJECT of him who hath the chiefe command.

XII. By what hath been sayed, it is sufficiently shewed, in what manner, and by what degrees many naturall Persons, through desire of preserving themselves, and by mutuall feare, have growne together into a civill Person, whom we have called a City. But they who submit themselves to another for feare, either submit to him whom they feare, or some other whom they confide in for protection; They act according to the first manner who are vanquished in warre, that they may not be slain; they according to the second, who are not yet overcome, that they may not be overcome. The first manner receives its beginning from naturall Power, and may be called the naturall beginning of a City; the latter from the Counsell, and constitution of those who meet together, which is a beginning by institution. Hence it is, that there are two kinds of Cities, the one naturall, such as is the paternall, and despoticall; the other institutive, which may be also called politicall. In the first the Lord acquires to himselfe such Citizens as he will; in the other the Citizens by their own wills appoint a Lord over themselves, whether he be one man, or one company of men endued with the command in chiefe. But we will speak in the first place of a City politicall or by institution, and next of a City naturall.

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