When Thomas Hobbes published Leviathan in 1651, one of his main concerns was to attack the idea that subjects had rights over their sovereigns. This notion, he thought, would lead eventually to civil war of the kind he had just lived through. In his famously grim view of the State of Nature, everyone has the right to everything, and because this leads inevitably to competition, everyone is afraid of everyone else, a state he calls “diffidence”. This in turn leads to a perpetual state of actual or potential war; the only alternative is for people to give up their “right of nature” to a common power, thus exchanging freedom for the security of civil society.
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