Social Theories of Hobbes and Marx
Thomas Hobbes and Karl Marx represented different eras and each made significant contributions to the development of social concepts. Achieving the common good and just society was the central issue of their works. However, the thinkers had different approaches to studying and understanding the essence of social conflict that was a driving force of social changes, and a state or social structure. In 1640 in England, the revolution began with an aim to protect the Parliament rights against the feudal survivals and self-will of the king. Hobbes was one of the defenders of the monarchy. Thus, he explored a theory of social contract and observed the state as the commonwealth. However, Marx considered the state as the starting point in building a better social order after proletarian revolution. For this reason, the social concepts of Hobbes and Marx must be researched because they have different approaches towards social conflict and state or commonwealth explanation according to the historical epochs they faced.
The Social Conflict Theories by Hobbes and Marx
The scientific researches of Hobbes (2014) and Marx (2010) considered the concept of social conflict that, eventually, lays the commonwealth foundation. According to Hobbes, people keep a position that philosopher calls the war of all against (Hobbes, 2014) before the social contract is concluded. These words are often treated as if Hobbes was an evolutionist who explored times of war, and subsequent attempts of tired people to negotiate for the sake of world peace. For this reason, a state must emerge as the consequence of such an agreement.
However, the reasoning of Hobbes hides a deeper meaning. Thus, the public or state condition of people is constantly fraught with war. According to Hobbes, humans, by their nature, are quite hostile to each other. Everyone strives to achieve honors and achieve a better social position. People are not born to love or support their neighbors, according to the natural laws. Nevertheless, they have to acquire these qualities that take a lot of effort. The strongest and the most durable ones get an opportunity to play with the enmity of various groups to establish a new order, and become responsible for it. However, even in a peaceful state of solidarity with no war, people tend to be suspicious towards a neighbor.
Hobbes supports an idea that a man is a wolf to another man. The period of peace should be characterized by unity and mutual support. Unfortunately, it does not occur because of deep distrust. If individuals have equal rights by nature, they are equal in their desire to possess a certain property. Thus, it becomes the main reason of mistrust and confrontation.
In contrast to Hobbes, the social theory of Marx (2010), focuses on the practical aspects of a social conflict, which is not only a consequence of some innate human qualities, but has been formed under the quite understandable influence of society. Marx explores a social conflict not only before a social contract is settled, but when a state is established. With the support of Engels, Marx’s has identified the first time in the social science a place of the capitalist system in the history of mankind. He shows its progressiveness, compared with the previous formations and the inevitability of its demise.
The founders of scientific communism have shown that the entire history of society, with the exception of primitive community, is the history of class struggles. Bourgeoisie and the proletariat, are two hostile classes in bourgeois society that are in the relentless struggle towards each other. Becoming an economically dominant class, the bourgeoisie has grabbed government’s power and used it as a tool to protect their selfish class interests and suppress the workers. Social conflict, from the Marx’s point of view, is characterized by irreconcilable internal contradictions of bourgeois society, based not on the wish to reach fame and recognition, as Hobbes has mentioned, but on the desire for profit. The contradiction between social production and private appropriation – the fundamental contradiction of capitalism – creates economic crises, during which a significant part of the finished products and the productive forces is constantly destroyed. As well as Hobbes, Marx sticks to the idea of equality of human beings from the very birth. It gives rise to the need to fight for social rights in the unjust social system.
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The Concept of Society According to Intellectuals’ Points of View
Hobbes’s protection of the English monarchy has significantly influenced his approach to the definition of commonwealth, as a viable organism, that is against any revolution. The thinker stresses that harmfulness of the state of war of all against all urges people to look for a way to end the state of nature. Hobbes defines natural law as the freedom to do everything for self-preservation and natural law – as the prohibition to do something that is detrimental to life. Rejecting the natural rights, people carry them to the state. Hobbes defines its essence as a single person that is responsible for the self actions because of mutual agreement between numbers of individuals. The created state or commonwealth could use force and various political and social tools to protect peace and provide the common defense.
As the primary reasons to negotiate, Hobbes defines fear and a desire to be protected from the future harm. Moreover, people create the state and come together because they want to benefit from it and gain the respect and honor that cannot be achieved if a person is along. Nevertheless, the glory inside the community may not be available to everyone, taking into account that it is based on exaltation. For this reason, according to Hobbes, the majority of people could always remain unsatisfied. Praise goes to fewer people, therefore, ultimately society is on the verge of collapse.
Unlike Hobbes, Marx does not consider a state as any summation of social benefits. Marxism emerged in the 40s of XIX century. At that time, there was an exacerbation of social and economic contradictions of capitalism that gave rise to the need for creating a new scientific theory. Marx does not observe the union of people as an abstract model of the social contract. The Manifesto of the Communist Party (2010) is based on very practical reasoning. The scientist examines the industrial relations as a basis of the existing state. In fact, it has nothing to do with the fear or the need to be protected. The masses, which play a crucial role in the world history, do not need to create a state, but the new communist system, which is the inevitable and logical result of the contradictions of capitalism and the revolutionary solutions. Unlike Hobbes, Marx examines the state not as the common good, which should be pursued, but as a relic of the past, due to the fact that it is based on the class struggle, which is a symbol of proletariat oppression. An interesting observation is the fact that Hobbes and Marx equally explore commonwealth. However, in the case of Hobbes’ Leviathan (2014), it is manifested in the state creation; however, in the case of Marx – in a revolution and the new system establishment.
Hobbes highlights that in order to set the total capacity, people should appoint one person or a gathering of individuals to be their representatives. Every member of society must submit his or her will to the judgment of the supreme person or government to support the common interests. It means even more than a consent or consensus. It is a unity, which is embodied in one person, as if each individual says that he or she will allow the higher governor to provide all the rights of private management in the same way as the other members can do.
Hobbes’ views stand far from Marx’s approach. Communist considers some form of agreement that has existed between a government and the bourgeoisie to oppress the working class. In contrast to Hobbes, Marx does not consider the possibility of transferring the highest power to a single ruler. According to him, the working class must become the supreme power itself. On the one hand, these arguments echo the position of Hobbes. On another hand, Marx attributes to the concept (which according to Hobbes proclaims that society is/forms the supreme organ of power), exclusively working class and Communists who protect it.
The chapter Proletarians and Communists (Marx & Engels, 2010) contains a brief program of transition from the capitalist social formation to the communist state by a violent dictatorship of the proletariat. According to Marx, proletariat must use its political supremacy to wrest step by step all the capital from the bourgeoisie to centralize all instruments of production in the hands of working class. Thus, the proletariat should be organized as the ruling class, and, perhaps, quickly increase the total productive forces. In the very beginning, it can be reached only by means of despotic inroads on the rights of property and the bourgeois production relations. However, these methods are unavoidable in the scopes of entirely revolutionizing the mode of production.
Hobbes determines the creation of Leviathan as the supreme good at the social contract conclusion and conditions of the highest authority creation. It is an artificial person or a god of the earth; the supreme power forms the state’s soul, judges and officials become joints, advisers are memory; laws mean intellect and will or artificial chain, attached at one end to the sovereign’s mouth and the other – to the subjects’ ears; reward and punishment create the nerves; welfare of citizens is the power, people’s security is a purpose, civil peace means health, distemper cause disease, and civil wars lead to deaths.
The power of the sovereign is absolute: it owns the right to issue laws, control over their observance, taxes, the appointment of officials and judges; even thought nationals are subject to the sovereign – ruler of the state determines which religion or sect is true and which is not. However, it should be noted that Hobbes supported the private property rights of citizens and was against violence and deprivation of civil rights.
Marx has developed a totally different approach. He defends the civil right within the framework of promoting the revolutionary ideas and explanations of the class struggle. In contrast to the mystical Leviathan, he considers the very real structure of society. It should be underlined that the manifesto does not give a detailed description of ways to manage a new type of society, but it notes that a revolution should launch it. Marx stresses that after the elimination of capitalist relations, the proletariat dictatorship must be replaced by the association of individuals (Marx & Engels, 2010). The author notes that class distinctions should disappear, and all production must be concentrated in the hands of association of individuals, thus, the public power will lose its political character.
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The research paper proves that Hobbes and Marx had different approaches to the definition of fair social structure, the state role, revolution and other issues. The Hobbes’s social contract theory highlights that people are not willing to cooperate. By the egoistic nature, people aspire to possess property, fame and recognition. It is a reason for the conflict that is solved by social contract conclusion. Leviathan or the ideal state is a result of the agreement. In contrast to Hobbes, Marx considered the state as the center of class struggle, which forms the basis of social conflict. The power of proletariat and the Communists should provide the background for a new social order that will overtop any state. Hobbes and Marx sought to achieve the commonwealth. The revolution is similar to death for Leviathan, however, it means there will be a new society for the proletariat.